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Grape Jelly

June 27th, 2022 at 03:24 pm

One of my  recent posts I commented about Pinterest and how it makes me try new things. A positive was I found a blog that mentioned some books about eating and living during the Great Depression. My parents lived through that and I remember them talking about how hard it was. As a result, I often have that Great Depression mentality of worrying about the future, reusing stuff, finding resourceful ways, and not wasting food.

Over the weekend I had the oppoortunity to go to the library and checkout a book called "A Square Meal - a culinary history of the Great Depression" by Jane Ziegelman and Andrew Coe. I wasn't sure what it would entail, but discovered it elucidated so many things during that time that I had not been fully aware. 

The book started out before the Depression, in the early 1900s and how things had changed as more of the population decided to leave the rural farm life and head to urban areas. 

Apparently even before the stock market crash, there was a bread line in New York City that was substantial, but the rub was it was open from midnight until 1 a.m. because the area businesses didn't want the line around during business hours.

After the Depression hit, the bread lines were plentiful, but only men went; it was thought it was there might be too many rough men in line for women and children. There were a few places that catered to women and their children, but many women refused to go because it would be an admittance of being not able to take care of themselves and needing a man to protect them.

Many of the cities who offered "relief" or "welfare" would publish the names of those who were on the rolls. I can only imagine what that did to the dignity of so many and probably kept some from applying. 

We often talk about someone having "spring fever" as in acting a certain way. Apparently there was something truly called spring fever: it was when people, when winter was winding down, but before spring was arrived, who no longer could have vegetables or fruit, fresh or canned, and their bodies would get weak and lethargic. This was made even more so when food was hard to come by and people were eating mostly starches to try and survive. 

Under President Herbert Hoover's administration, he wanted states and charities to step up and take care of those who were poor and hungry. Many churches and charities did, but there were so many it was impossible. The government did eventually get involved by hiring "experts" who were to talk about how to feed folks and then someone had the bright idea of giving food based on one's employment: a carpenter should receive more food since his job was far more taxing than that of a store clerk. As a result, so many people starved. Yet, Hoover's administration said the data didn't show that big of a difference in the overall health and that people losing weight was a good thing and the flu numbers weren't as high. Talk about skewing the data!

FDR, when elected, did do many beneficial things, taking charge and having the federal government start programs to feed as well as employ many. But even he and his administration made mistakes, especially withdrawing money too soon and a recession came about. The book was scary and fascinating all at the same time.

My Papa and his family were hard scrabble, yet he would say they never received a government hand out. He said his patches had patches on his overalls. His mom was the one who worked at home, cooking, cleaning, and figuring out how to get by. His father had left and I never knew why. His uncle Alex worked at a local restaurant and other odd jobs. His aunt Dorothy worked various jobs. His grandfather and grandmother lived with them and they moved often. So, all these adults and my father and his little brother trying to scratch out a living. If someone offered them something, they took it; one time a neighbor had a grape arbor and after picking what they wanted, offered the rest of the grapes to my grandmother. She and the boys went to pick them all. She made grape jelly and canned it. 

Papa told me once when I was making grape jelly he was sure it was good, but he didn't want it. He said for many days  after the grape jelly his mom made, that's all they had, bread she had baked and grape jelly for meals. It almost makes me feel guilty when I see the bowl of fruit on my island and my full pantry!

Looking forward to election day

November 2nd, 2020 at 03:49 pm

Let me point out this is not a political post. 

That being said, I'm looking forward to election day because I'm simply tired of all the nasty political advertisement and social media posts. I want to tell them all, go back to kindergarten and learn how to play nice. It's not just one side, it is both sides. Egad. 

In other news, DH picked the last of the herbs and the leeks and green onions. We did a third planting of onions and they are small, but hey, food is food, right? I plan to use some of the onions and leeks and roast them with potatoes and bell peppers as part of our supper tonight. 

We had a nice time on Halloween. We put a bowl of candy in the middle of the driveway and sat in the opening to the garage door and instructed the kids to take two pieces of candy. It was fun seeing the kids dressed up and the kids and parents were very polite. We have quite a bit of candy left over. I have some cookie recipes on using it up, so I may put the candy in the freezer and then make Christmas cookies with the leftover stuff. 

Last week the stock market wasn't very good. Sure hope it rebounds. We haven't spent as much as usual simply because there isn't a lot we need or want. Almost all of my Christmas shopping is done. Just waiting on DH to tell me about a musical CD he wants so I can order it. I may start thinking about addressing Christmas cards in the next few days and will need to buy stamps. I guess I'm old fashioned. I like sending and receiving cards. One of my friend's daughter just started college and I have been mailing her a card each month and her mom visited her dorm room over the weekend and said she has the cards tacked to her bulletin board and was so happy to get "real mail." 

Hope your day is a good one.

Life Lessons from Church Choir

October 11th, 2020 at 05:23 pm

I have always loved to sing. When I was in eighth grade, I was asked to join the church's adult choir. I was beside myself with joy. Usually that was only for people starting high school and beyond. I didn't realize it then, but I learned some valuable life lessons.

1. The choir is made up of different talents and personalities. Hopefully they all add something to the music.

2. There is one goal -- to make beautiful music.

3. Teamwork is important. There's at time and place for soloists, but the ultimate goal is to blend together.

4. You cannot judge someone by how they look. It is their voice that counts.

5. Not everyone likes the same music.

6. Not all music is appropriate for everything.

7. Some songs are far easier than others.

8. Some are more gifted than others -- I was always envious of those who had perfect pitch.

9. Some of the best musicians don't read music.

10. Don't forget to have a great time!

So, what does this have to do with finances?

Well, in money matters, some people are risk takers while others are not. Some just can make money easily, and others have to struggle. Good choirs have wonderful conductors and for most of us, those with good financial efforts have had someone conducting us along the way, giving us the hints we need. Just like not all music is appropriate, not all investments are appropriate. And there are swindlers out there, sad to say. Church choir really did give me some great examples for life, even finance. I was not the soloist, but I enjoyed the team work. I liked learning new songs and different pieces. I just loved to sing.

Past tense. Asthma has stolen my breath in order to be able to truly sing, but it has taught me other things. I need to enjoy life as it comes, even in those bad times. When a hard piece would be introduced, it would have been easy to give up, but there's just something glorious about learning and mastering a new piece. Same with life and even finance. OK, that fund is hard or boy, putting money aside is difficult, but what a sense of accomplishment when something is mastered.

Hopefully I will continue to learn and use these life lessons. One thing I will admit that is even if cannot be in the church choir anymore, I can still enjoy music. So maybe that is the best lesson of all.

Is Cash King? Will we be a cashless society soon?

January 26th, 2020 at 08:40 pm

A couple of days ago NBC reporter had a story on whether we would be a cashless society. He really didn't answer the question, but talked about his experiment where he kept all his receipts after using his charge card for a week, and then all the receipts for using cash. It wasn't really a fair experiment in my book because he admitted he had to keep getting cash and that he had to replace a hard drive so that really drove his spending up. I think he should redo it and just see what he spends if he only has cash and when he runs out, he can't head to the ATM. He did admit that he was a mess as far as money so maybe there was some value in his cash v. plastic trial.

I know I blogged about counting pennies and taking them in to put in our vacation fund. Fortunately our credit union lets us bring change in and doesn't charge us. I did take some wheat pennies into a coin shop. I knew they weren't worth much, but figured anything over the penny was better than nothing. I realized a dime for my troubles, but it was an errand that didn't cost me anything but a few extra steps since I was already near the coin shop. The young man who waited on me said that wheat pennies aren't collected very much anymore and most people just melt them down for the copper.

Most of my friends rarely carry cash. They bring out that credit card for everything. And those friends are the ones who complain about being short of money. Two of my friends use cash for most things. That is not to say they don't use credit cards or pay with checks, but for some of the mundane things, they use cash. DH almost always pays cash. I had read some articles years ago that said if people saw the cash they were spending, they would be more mindful.

A couple of years ago a friend who never carries cash had an issue with his debit card. It is one of those that is both a debit and credit card. Something happened that made the bank lock down the card and it was over the weekend and he could not get a hold of anyone. He had no cash at home. No checks. And he and his spouse do not keep food in the house -- they shop before most meals unless they go out. He said he never thought what it would be like not to be able to buy gas, buy groceries, or even a cup of coffee. When he got in to the bank early Monday morning, the bank manager said it would take a couple of days to figure out what was going on and unlock the accounts and he suggested from now on my friend should keep some cash at home in case there is another problem.

So, if we do become a cashless society, what happens when there are glitches. With all the technology problems, hackers, etc, I can see this happening if we depend on cards, Apple pay, or whatever else is out there.

Retirement Rant

December 22nd, 2019 at 07:57 pm

First of all, as you probably are aware, I try not to be political in my posts. And although this will sort of start out that way, please understand, I am not trying to be.

I'm tired of some of the folks on my Facebook friends list complaining that those rich people love Donald Trump because their 401Ks are doing well. Then go on to say those rich people don't understand the working people. This week, I had had enough.

This is not a pro Trump or even an against Trump thought. I'm just glad the market has shown some improvement and my retirement accounts are showing some gains. But what got me is this latest person was basically saying I'm rich because I have retirement accounts. I finally commented that not everyone who has retirement accounts is rich, and those people who have them made sacrifices through their working careers to put money aside. Since I worked in education, there were no matching funds for my 403b. My Roth is funded by money made by me.

So, I thought for awhile. We went to high school together. I chose to attend college. I worked to put myself through school. Neither of my parents finished high school, so going to college was a big deal. Between scholarships, grants, and working, I paid for college. When I graduated, I worked various jobs, sometimes two jobs, to make ends meet until I could get hired as a full time teacher. When I was hired full time, I opened a 403b and let me tell you, at $15,000 a year, paying $100 a month into that 403b wasn't always easy. As I made more money, I increased that. I started a very small IRA on my own. And when I could, opened a Roth IRA a number of years ago. I'm not rich. DH worked at the library and library salaries are notoriously low and he was not a librarian. I earned my master's degree and then went on to get 32 hours beyond my master's to get the step increases that come with that. No school loans. We tightened our belts so I could get this course work in.

DH is older than I am so the goal was to get the house paid off before he retired. We were paying extra each month so our mortgage was decreasing. When we had a family member die and there was a small inheritance, we used it to pay off the house, the car, and to buy the year and a half I subbed for my retirement. When I subbed, the state didn't take out money for the teacher pension, so I had to pay for it to help my pension. Other than the small inheritance, everything else was earned. I know a friend of ours when he heard we had a small inheritance told us he would go on a fancy trip and buy lots of stuff. We said no, we wanted to pay stuff off.

When we no longer had a mortgage payment, we started putting money away. As we had more savings, we then could look into investing. I still shop frugally. I use coupons, buy loss leaders, make a lot of things from scratch. Am I rich? Probably not. Am I comfortable. Yes, happily so.

I get tired of people who could have done something more trying to make me feel guilty because I have retirement accounts and my house is paid off. I learned a lot of lessons watching my parents. They struggled and it wasn't because they were not lazy or felt entitled. They just never had jobs that paid much. My dad kept drilling into me as a young person I needed to get an education and improve my quality of living.

The specific person I am writing about had many more opportunities than I. Both parents were college educated. I'm sure they would have helped put her through college. She chose to be the party gal and live that sort of life. Not everyone needs to go to college to make a great salary. I'm not saying that. But whatever one's career, they need to keep learning and be diligent as an employee and work to help themselves when it comes to saving money and helping themselves.

I feel like I can safely rant here because I think we are kindred spirits when it comes to bettering our financial lives. I have learned so many things reading your blogs and the forums.

Weather, Crafting, and Organization

February 2nd, 2019 at 08:50 pm

What an interesting week!

Monday I went to Kroger to pick up my prescription. It is the one medicine my insurance doesn't cover and they have the cheapest price. I have a coupon from the manufacturer for money off, but still have to pay over $250 for it. I had to wait a bit so I decided to pick up a couple of things while I waited and holy cow, did things get crazy. I bought my items and took them to the car and came back and in that short bit of time, the parking lot went from calm to crazy. People were circling looking for places. I went back in to get my prescription and while I waited, there were people who would get a card and almost run, throwing things in the cart. Really? Nothing was happening yet weather wise. The Polar Vortex wasn't even on our doorstep yet! Egad!

DH and I did a few errands on Tuesday and came home and stayed there until Thursday. Tuesday night the weather got colder and Wednesday wa the extreme below zero wind chills. Fortunately we did not lose power or have pipes freeze. We were happy to be home and safe and felt sorry for those who had to get out in it.

I've been looming and crocheting trying to use up yarn that I have purchased for the hats and scarves I'm making. DH and I cleaned house on Wednesday so that kept us busy and gave us some exercise too. DH normally goes to the mall to walk, but he didn't want to get out with it being so cold. So, not the same exercise, but better than sitting around.

We have been enjoying our Netflix subscription. I turned to DH last night and said who would have thought 20 years ago we would "stream" movies in our house. I remember thinking the VCR and tapes was pretty darn cool years ago and now you just sit home and the movies come to you.

We did spend some money today. We took our cars to the place where you wash them yourself. We did both cars to get the salt and grime off until the next go round. We also went to a flea market and I found some things to use as Christmas gifts and they were either 50% or 75% off. Last year I collected lots of little items and wrapped them up individually and gave them to a friend so she had 25 gifts to unwrap from December 1st to the 25th. She really liked it so I wanted to do it again this year. I don't want to give her junk just to give her a gift, but things she might use. She likes Curirier and Ives stuff and I found two trivets that were still in the containers. That will be two gifts and she can use them on her table for hot stuff. I found a box of Christmas mugs like new and it was 75% off.

I'm still doing the Ibotta thing and it is slow going, but hey, it is free money. I guess doing most of our grocery shopping at Aldi keeps me from cashing in a lot, but we also don't buy a lot of the things they give you cash for.

We had our weekly date night last night. We had gone to the bank and DH doesn't carry money in his wallet, but all those plastic cards like his license and loyalty cards. I saw he had a Cracker Barrel gift card and I suggested he use that when we ate out. He said he didn't think there was much money on it and I said well, whatever it is, it isn't helping him by staying in his wallet and even if it is 50 cents, that 50 cents. We went there and ate and when he ran it through, there was $4.70 on it. For a $22 meal, that was $4.70 he didn't have to spend out of his pocket.

The other day we were watching one of those daily programs where they have snippets of different things to improve your life and this one gal was talking about organizing your pantry. I always perk up when those things come on because my pantry is overcrowded and I clean it out and try to organize it, but it never looks wonderful. Anyway, this gal was talking about getting these containers and doing this and that and when she showed the pantry, there were like 4 or 5 things on a shelf. Really? Yeah, it looked tidy, but not a whole lot of cooking going on there. That's how she wanted it to look. I'm going to say it out loud, my pantry will not be looking like that.

I saw an article claiming January was the best the DOW had since 1987. I'm not really sure of that, but guess we will see when we get our financial statement.

Busy, busy

March 18th, 2018 at 09:00 pm

It's been a busy week.

It's also been a tough week. My asthma has really kicked up and I'm having issues breathing so I'm having to do breathing treatments. It makes me tired having to struggle and coughing so much. But I know it will eventually get better.

I did an art project with the fifth graders I volunteer with this week. We used some fancy yarn that was leftovers from donation yarn that no one could use at church. We made baskets by weaving it in and out of plastic drinking cups I had cut for that purpose. Some of the kids really did a fabulous job. Some decided it was too much work and quit. I had taken in a Gullah basket to show them before I did the project. I spent quite a bit of time getting the cups ready as well as making sure I had enough materials. I hate to sound negative, but I wasn't too shocked that so many kids decided it was too much work to try and do this project. I think it took most of them that finished it about 15 minutes to complete it.

We did get our names put on the list for a new driveway. We have to wait a bit since there are five people ahead of us. I dread the construction and parking in the street, but will be glad to have a smooth, new driveway. We saved almost $8K for it just in case, but the bid came in at $5500. So, we will have money left over to put on the next project we will be saving for. As nice as it is to own our home, there's always something to fix or replace isn't there? Our driveway is original with the house which was built in 1979 so I guess the fact it has lasted this long isn't something to sneeze at. We have a hill so I guess it is a tricky pour.

We finally got our last group of tax papers so our taxes are done! Amen!

I finished the book "Confessions of a Shopaholic" by Sophie Kinsella. I know it is fiction, but I think the author probably nailed the rationalization of why people spend foolishly.

Last night we went to a nearby small town and had dinner at an Amish home. Our friends are friends with this couple and the Amish couple do this every so often to make money. She served it buffet style. And it was amazing. Not good if you are watching calories, but yowza! Fried chicken, meatloaf, pulled pork, lasagna, dressing, chicken and noodles, green beans, mashed potatoes and gravy, green salad, pickled beets, two types of pickles, cottage cheese, homemade rolls with butter and/or homemade apple butter. And pie. Four different kinds of freshly baked pie. Oh, my! There was a large group besides us and after they all left, she handed my friends and us a container and said take some home! So we brought a few things home for another meal. I'll have to supplement a little bit, but still, that was a great deal. Everything was homemade. What a treat! Not something I'd want to do often though.

I still have some ironing I want to do today after my breathing treatment and before supper. I haven't felt like doing a whole lot, but have been pushing myself to try and get some things accomplished or otherwise when I do get over this, I will be so overwhelmed.

Hope everyone has a good week.



Awash in papers

March 4th, 2018 at 08:11 pm

My desk looks like it is awash in papers. Egad, I'm getting overwhelmed!

Sunday afternoons are usually bill paying time for the week. So, I have a few things made out and ready to mail. Some other things I paid online.

I have been working on publicity for my church for Holy Week and Easter as well as a rummage sale coming up in June. I am not a procrastinator so I feel better when I have stuff lined up, even if it isn't submitted yet.

Pretty soon I'm taking out the accordion file so I can start organizing tax papers. We don't receive some of our documents until the middle of March. I like to have things organized so when we do get them, we can take them to our tax preparer and get them done quickly. I'm curious how our taxes will look this year since this is the first full year I've been retired. We talked to our tax guy last year and he made some suggestions on what we could do, so hopefully we did what we needed to do so we don't owe a lot.

I have been decluttering a little at a time. We took in a box of really good stuff to church for the rummage sale. Our ladies aren't procrastinators either and have been asking for stuff already so they can get it marked ahead of time. This was the first year they had a "do not donate" list. Unfortunately there are always some people who want to "donate" things that really aren't good stuff, but just a way for them to get rid of junk and not have to deal with it. I checked, none of my donated stuff is on the do not donate list. I crocheted 3 towels for the rummage sale and I pinned the washing instructions from the yarn covers on them so the new owners will know how to take care of them.

Well, back to the papers. Hopefully I will get things straighten up so it doesn't look like a file cabinet exploded.

A State Storyteller for Education

January 31st, 2018 at 02:59 pm

There are times when truth is truly stranger than fiction. Today's article in the paper proved that. Illinois is hiring a state storyteller to tell the good things going on in education to the tune of $47K.

Illinois has big financial woes. Many of our larger city school districts are low performing. Most school districts that depend on local taxes are hurting big time. Starting salary in my city for a teacher is $39K. Most young teachers can't afford that because they owe so much in loans. Or if they take the much needed job, they live at poverty level if they have a family. Yet, our state is going to hire a storyteller. I'm wondering if this storyteller is going to tell fictional stories because the truth is pretty scary!

In other "factual" news, I almost have the room straightened up where we had the carpeting stretched. The guy showed up, on time, and after he finished, he said the job was more than he anticipated and that he had to restretch the whole room. I asked if he was going to raise the estimate and he said no, that wouldn't be fair to me. He also fixed a closet door in another bedroom because I asked him to show me how the bifold doors worked. He showed me, fixed it. So, I gave him $25 more than he said and he thanked me profusely.

Today I volunteer at school. I am working with some fifth graders on writing. It is sad how poorly they write and spell. A couple of them give me attitude claiming I don't know how to write and I just laugh as I work on their papers with them and correct the many grammatical and spelling errors. One of them said I didn't know what the teacher wanted and i finally told him that I have known the teacher longer than he has been alive, and I was the one who used to demonstrate in this teacher's class the writing model.

Our local paper is raising their rates yet again. This is the second time in a year. We seem to get less for more money and the mistakes continue to escalate. DH loves getting the paper and we can afford it, but it irks me we have to pay more and the quality isn't there.

Sad Observation

October 27th, 2017 at 07:51 pm

Last week a weekly local paper in their legal notices listed all the delinquent property taxes in real estate for the year of 2016. I should have kept the paper and tallied up how much the county is owed by these folks. It's no wonder we have problems paying our bills in the county. I always read through it to make sure our names are not in it, in case we weren't credited with our tax bill payment or forgot something. Sadly, I saw names of people I knew. Two couples seem to have their names in it each year. I wonder if they pay the penalty and pay them off or if they are eventually going to have their home sold or auctioned off for taxes.

One couple that I know was listed and it just makes me sad. Their taxes weren't hugely expensive. I don't know the wife, just of her, but I know the mister and he works six days a week. He's 62 years old and he looks twenty years older. He works as a butcher in a chain grocery store -- he has for over 38 years that I know of. We were shopping and I noticed him going through the clearance rack getting some bread, cereal, and some other item, all incredibly marked down for his lunch. I wonder if they are living hand to mouth. It's not anything I would ask. I know he drives an older car so it isn't like he's blowing money on fast automobiles. I also wonder why he doesn't pack a lunch instead of buying something each day unless the store frowns on them bringing lunches.

I sort of wonder what happened in his life. I was in high school when I met him; I was working for Coca-Cola working at grocery stores giving out samples in the late 1970s. He was a butcher then and single, and seemingly doing well. Then our lives separated because I went to college and he was moved to a different store. Then about three years ago he was transferred to the store we frequent and we recognized each other and greeted each other.

I know I'm blessed. I have a wonderful husband and we usually see eye to eye on expenses. We both have pensions and we have money saved. Our home is paid off. And we are enjoying retirement. My friend asked me how I could retire before he did -- he's 8 years old than I. I said I planned for retirement and left it at that. I sort of wonder if that is why they are having problems. I think a big part of life's troubles is due to lack of planning. I realize there are things that happen in people's lives they can't control, but for so many, they grumble about not being able to retire because there was no forethought.

Anyway, it really kind of made me sad thinking of my friend. I hope they get the taxes paid on their home. I don't know them well enough to even inquire about finances. Just someone from my past and my observation.

Potpourri

October 17th, 2017 at 03:55 pm

I was hoping to post that yesterday was a no spend day, but then I remembered I went to the chiropractor and paid my copay of $20. Oh, well. It was well worth it for the adjustment.

When we were going to the thrift shops Friday I did find .11 in the parking lot of one of them. I added it to the coin jar.

DH picked a bunch of peppers over the weekend. I'm slowly using them. When the chiropractor asked if the garden is still going, I said yes and told him about the peppers. He said he was jealous because they are over $1 each at the grocery. I'm sure a freeze will be coming soon, but we are still getting tomatoes.

DH has finally agreed that is OK to have meatless meals once in awhile. It not only saves money on groceries, it also is healthier for us. We rarely eat red meat any more, but I think eating mostly vegetables and fruits is far better. I am going to make spaghetti sauce this afternoon using peppers, onions, and mushrooms, and then I grate Parmesan cheese on top of the spaghetti and sauce on our plates.

I wrote a tough email to a friend. She retired years before me and ever since she retired, she has gotten herself involved into caring for a sick person. First it was her mother-in-law. Then a neighbor. Then her husband, and now an aunt on her husband's side. Part of it is she is way too nice, but part of it is she takes over and then other family members don't step up and she then is upset when people don't help. I can see doing it all for the spouse, but now she is living an hour and ten minutes away from home, and has no free time. She is not happy, but doesn't want to hear she is being taken advantage of. Yet I am not alone in thinking this. Her brother and sister have both told her that and she says she believes when it comes her time to need care, someone will make care of her since she has. Knowing what I know about some of her family, I don't think that is going to be the case. Part of my email pointed out all the times she didn't do stuff when she wasn't doing care taking. Her son and his girlfriend had her doing something for them every day even though it was inconvenient. Her church had her babysitting for church services and although we all appreciate loyal folks, she would give up something fun because she had to babysit. Funny how these folks found replacements now that she isn't available. I'm not saying she should have just left them in a lurch every time, but if something special comes up, cancel and go have a little fun. Right now she is miserable because she has no television, no radio, and she told me her data plan on her phone is at 94% so she can't even get news or email because she doesn't want to go over. She is a better person than I am.

I need to call the furnace folks and have them do the annual check for furnace and air conditioning. That won't be cheap, but I learned the hard way years and years ago. I didn't call and we had a problem and of course it was on a weekend. The service call for the annual check is far more reasonable.