I was digging thru a couple of largely ignored cupboards a few weeks ago, looking for some hunting thing that Hubby couldn't find. What a bunch of stuff! I was going to say junk, but it really wasn't. I have been avoiding some areas for the last couple of years, thinking that I was going to have a really kick-a** garage sale at some time....... in the future....... Yeah, it never happened. I'm not packing this stuff back in, so I started just giving it away. I don't really feel like all of the prep time, goofing around, etc. that goes into a garage sale anyway. And we are not talking big ticket items here, Example : a pkg of light bulbs with he tiny little bases. I probably grabbed the wrong thing off the store shelf, I don't think I ever owned anything that used that kind of bulb, and they were only $1.10 brand new. About a half dozen diapers, newborn size, left over from when my Granddaughter wore that size, last year! 3 or 4 goodie bags for kids from my daughters baby shower! We made them up with some little things to keep the kids occupied during the shower. I don't have time to mess with selling that stuff, so I started giving it away. A couple of the big things i freecycled, a new board game, some candles, most i took to work and left on the table in the break room with a note "take me home" My boss took the handful of homemade Barbie clothes for her granddaughter, goodie bags, crepe paper streamers, a sandwich baggie of leggos, half used colored pencils, kids size mittens, all disappeared in a gratifying hurry. All went to someone who wanted them, and I don't care if I ever have a garage sale! Oh, and the Christmas tree that I dragged up from the basement? My daughter is going to take it. I was commenting that I really would have liked a smaller tree, I was going to look for one on sale after Christmas this year, and she offered to trade me! She has a tabletop tree that was given to them last year, and were talking about looking for a big, full size tree on sale this year, after the holiday (clearance shopping? that's my girl!) Problem solved! I still have a few things, a half finished latch hook pillow top, a game board with no pieces, (but still good, its a card game so you could still use it with a deck of cards and a few pennies,) and a small photo album. Then I'm going to get brave and open another drawer! Why Not? Oh, and the pink snowman? Well, that was a pump top soap dispenser I bought for myself a few years ago, It was so cute, and I was going to use it my my kitchen sink. Well, when you filled the little guy up with orange, anti-bacterial dish soap, he turned a really bilious color, sort of like he had a really bad spray tan, if you know what I mean. So, its been hiding in a corner, until I got a bottle of pink hand lotion for Christmas! Now he's a beautiful blushing pink! Now that I can live with!
Now stop me if you've heard this one.... I was just clicking thru some articles about earning extra money by taking a second (or third) job, and this title caught my eye "Mystery Shopping and Belly Dancing". Not simultaneously, I hope. But it reminded me of this..... True story: I had a neighbor 20+ years ago, who got a job evenings at a topless bar in the area. I do some sewing, so she came to me to make her a few costumes. (bottoms only obviously) Anyway, she came over one day complaining about how the dishwasher was acting up, and how hard it was to find a reliable repairman. And then as the conversation wound its way onward, we came to the part where she told me she was making around $250 a night in tips. I laughed! I told her S*****, if you're making $250 dollars every night it tips, go buy yourself a new dishwasher! She looked at me with the most amazed look on her face! You could see the little light bulb over her head glowing! "Oh Yeah" she says in this wondering tone of voice....... You can't make this stuff up.
I was just reading an article about the value of networking, (in my opinion) also known as gossip, chit chat, chewing the fat, hey! whats new??? We all do this, and it may be more valuable than you realize. A little idle socializing has helped my DD#2 find a job, after being unemployed for 6 months! Way back in July, I made our semi-annual visit to the local meat packing establishment. We have done business here for 20+ years, and know the owners by name. Small, family run place, great people! Anyway, we do the usual hi-how-are-you-hows-the-family-doing thing, and I mention that DD#2 has moved back home because she lost her job, no unemployment etc. etc. (She was working in utility customer service.) Just one sentence. A couple of weeks later I had to go back and pick up the rest of the order, and Mrs. owner asks me if DD#2 has found a job yet?, nope, and have you heard of anything? Well, they might need some help in the office, their regular lady is out sick for a while, but she promised a friend of hers that she would give her son a try, but you never know how thats going to work out.....(this woman talks very fast, so this ran on for a minute or two)....and I might just give your girl a call. Sure, anytime! says I, thinking this is obviously one of those things that will never happen, a polite - well, I'd help if I could - kind of thing. Well, knock me down with a salami, a couple of weeks later, she DID call! DD#2 wasn't even home! Mrs. owner says just have her come in at 8AM tomorrow! She worked the whole day! Shes been there more than a month now, three or four days a week, but long days, so shes got about 40 hours every week! She loves them, they love her! Its a small, family run place, they cook lunch for all 8 employees every day! I can't believe it! You can bet the farm that I have mentioned what a great place this is, to just about everyone I see these days! Tit for Tat! And about the salami, not really, those things are heavy!
I was just reading a blog about Halloween candy, what kids like, what kids don't, that famous ???? item every once in a while. For us the yuck item was the Smarties candies. Those little pastel colored tabs in a long cellophane tube. None of my kids liked the mouthful of powder taste, they used to kick around in the cupboard until I got tired of moving them, and tossed them out. I always felt guilty for throwing them away, so I did eat a few first. Which got me thinking about certain items that I have eaten over the years, even tho I really didn't care for it, just so it wouldn't go to waste. Remember the cabbage soup diet? I knew a gentleman who did actually lose quite a bit of weight on this diet, you make up this huge kettle of soup and eat nothing else for like a week at a time. Easy idea, but the soup really sucked! Excuse my french. I made the soup, it was bitter and nasty, and I ate every bite. I didn't lose a pound unfortunately, because I did all kinds of stuff to it to get it down. Put it over noodles, rice, bread, lots of crackers, all helped, but negated the low cal factor. I pureed some and used it for a base for beef soup, marginally better. I poured it over a roast in the crock pot, that was probably the best idea. I still cant look a bowl of cabbage soup in the face, even the good stuff, every time I think of that soup. Yuck. I was quite proud of myself at the time, for figuring out a way not to waste all that stuff, but I was much younger then. I think if it was today I might just feed it to the compost pile. Compost is valuable too!
Also known as "Kids...You Can't Sell Them To The Gypsies Anymore" That was a big threat in my house when we were little, be good, or I might sell you to the Gypsies! What exactly the gypsies wanted with a bunch of really bad kids I could never figure out..oh well. A short true life tale of personal finance follows. I work with a very nice, 60 something lady, in the health care business. She is a lovely, caring person, never a bad word about anything, until it comes to money. She and her husband are both retired auto workers. Now here in Michigan, unless you are very newly retired, "retired auto worker" is synonymous with "set for life." Those workers have retirement benefits that make government retirees look like the hired help. Medical, dental, pensions, survivor benefits, you name it, the UAW has gotten it for them in spades. But this Lady is back to work. Why, you ask? Because they lent money to one of their children. They put a mortgage, and a bunch of credit card debt out, to help one of their children start a business. The business failed. I didn't ask what kind of business. Anyway the banks were heavily involved, and one or both of their pensions is garnished until I don't know when. So the Lady went back to work to pay some bills. The husband has a bad back, and simply can't work anymore. Their secure, comfortable retirement is gone. So the moral of the story is, love your kids, free babysitting is great, but tell them to borrow money from the Gypsies, after all, they have all that kid buying income coming in!
I have to say that I'm somewhere between skeptical and a snort of disbelief, when I read that the economy is recovering. Don't take that oxygen off just yet Doc! Case in point: I had some nice big man sized clothes that came to us when my FIL passed away over a year ago. We got them because my Hubby is the same size. Only problem, my FIL was 5'4" and Hubby is about 6'. So after shuffling them around in the closet for a year, I put them on the local freecycle website. I had 29 replies in the first 8 hours! Several people wrote me about how expensive bigger sizes are, and they can't find them at the local WallyWorld (yeah, you know), I ended up splitting them up into several bundles. Our local newspaper ran a front page story this week, on how to apply for free and reduced price school lunches. Who to call, where to get the paperwork, if you apply and are denied, you can re-apply any time your income changes. This is front page news?! We have a group at church that makes hats and scarves, and they go to the local mental health support group. 8 or so years ago, when we first started, we offered the school social worker, who is also a member of our church, first dibs on any she might want for the school. She said at that time, she really didn't need anything, she had other sources that more than covered the few requests she had. Now I hear that she has called US wanting to know if the offer is still open! Well of course it is! Would any of us want to see a child go without a hat in a Michigan winter? I am thinking that a bare-bones lifestyle may soon be considered the "normal" way to live. It doesn't hurt my feelings any, we have been doing it all along. But, I do fell a little badly for the thirty-somethings, that grew up hollering "let me eat cake!" (apologies to Marie-Antoinette) They expected that they could "eat cake" forever, and it doesn't look good at this point. They will have to first bake the cake, with a mix they got on sale, and use a coupon, to improve the bottom line. The new normal. Voila'.
I just skimmed thru a blog posting, written by a blogger making a living by giving out good financial advice, who was doing some self-rationalization on why he is (probably) going to buy a house with no down payment. He made the usual good points about prices going down, interest rates going down, wanting to build equity etc. etc. Followed by 60+ comments warning him of everything from appliance failures to sudden hurricanes, all of which HE, and not a landlord, would now be responsible! True, all true. But my question is this, didn't most of us grow up in a household where our parents were paying a mortgage? Did the fact that they were also responsible for all of the various and sundry, repairs/bills that go along with that escape some of us? I can't imagine how? Our dinner table conversation was liberally peppered with comments about the washer being on the fritz again, and how much did it cost to have it fixed the last time. Patching that bathroom roof one more time, until the money was there to re-roof the whole house. Yikes, the insurance went up again! Didn't we just tweak the policy to get a better price? Helping Uncle Ed fix a couple of windows, and then he was going to help Dad with the porch floor. How has (apparently) an entire generation missed all of this? Now admittedly, the economy is far different than it was 30 or even 20 years ago, but I can't believe that an entire generation has grown up in rental housing, chasing the landlord (or ducking, as the case may be) blithely ignorant of the realities of owning something! If you own a car, you are responsible for repairs, maintainence etc. Why would you not realize that a house is the same principle? I grew up in farming country, I remember the comments about people who moved on because they just "couldn't make it" on the farm. Families lost their homes then, just like now. Now, I will admit (loudly) that being able to find a job and regroup WAS a lot easier in past days, but no one, at any time is guaranteed a perfect life. Sorry, I digress. (often) I just can't imagine how they missed all that!
Just a quick cutie. I went to the beauty shop to have my hair trimmed last week. I told the girl to take off "oh about an inch". Nod, nod. We were chatting, the hair was falling, and when it was all over, WOW, that was a lot of hair on the floor. Looked to me like way more than an inch. So, I went home, and Hubby looks at me and says "I thought you were only going to get a trim?" I told him I had only requested an inch or so off all around, he looked at me for a minute and says "It must be the new math." OMG! He's not always the quickest on the uptake, but sometimes he really spouts a zinger! I tease him about his work because he's always complaining about pipes cut wrong, ordering the wrong parts etc. (he works factory maintainence) Anybody in the later 40's or so, might remember back in the late 60's early 70's, some learned educator came out with "the new math". It was supposed to be an easier way to teach kids the math basics, they even had classes for the parents, so they could learn how to help their kids with homework. Well, it didn't take very many years, and it fell by the wayside, pretty much, math is math. So anytime that a lack of math skills becomes obvious, we blame the new math! All I can say is it's a good thing that hair grows everyday!
Spend or save? a hot topic in the financial world today. Which is better for the economy? I don't know, but if President Obama happened to email me some day (yeah) I could tell him a few things. A short, first hand lesson in modern economics. I was the President of the county 4-H council for several years, and part of that job was helping to set the annual budget for programs. I admit that when I first stared looking at some past budgets, I thought we must be doing something very wrong, we weren't taking in anywhere near the amount of money , as shown in those previous years. Then I learned the secret to modern funding: you didn't actually have to HAVE the money, you just write it down to make the bottom line look better! OMG! I couldn't believe it. The county agent wanted the program to look much more prosperous than it actually was, or the state might cut the funding that we DID get, thinking we really didn't need it! We allocated funding that didn't exist, for workshops and other things that no one ever used/requested, and just hoped that requests for those funds never came, or we would have had to cover them from other categories. My first lesson in government finances. This had apparently been going on for years. It might still be, but I doubt it. The state is now so broke, that I'm sure they have audited every possible source of income, because in theory, they could have reclaimed some of that money if they wanted to. It should be no surprise that the average Joe/Jane is spending money they don't have, they learned it at Uncle Sam's knee! I don't think you can spend your way out of a crisis, and if you don't learn how to save, everything will be a crisis. I don't feel like the government is interested in a real spending plan, and I don't think that they have any more idea than I do, how to get out of the mess we are in. But the phantom budgeting isn't helping.
Something I noticed.....I started cooking only with olive oil, after dabbling with it for years. When I had a house full of people, it was too expensive to use all of the time. But now that there are only two or three of us..... Anyway, I noticed that when I pan fry with olive oil, the pots and pans wash up like a dream! No overnight soaking to get the stuck-on-like-cement bits off the bottom! I suppose that there is some scientific explanation about the different fats and chemical reactions etc. etc., but I don't really care, I just know that it makes my dishwashing a whole lot quicker and easier, I'm up for that!
I need to be one of those lizards with the two eyes which can go in different directions. Actually, sometimes in the AM, before I put my glasses on...... mmmm, not going there. I had a very enlightening morning. Its the weekend of my 30th class reunion. About 9 of us got together for breakfast this morning. These are all girls (?) that I hung around with in school, some stayed local, some are here from all over the country. This is the first time that I felt we are all living in the same universe, country, life etc. Its quite a diverse group, executive types, SAHM's and everything in between. I have seen most of these same girls every 5 years at the other reunions, and maybe its just the dinner/party atmosphere of the actual reunion, which is tonight, but this is probably the nicest conversation that I have ever had with some of them. At this moment in time, for better or worse, we are ALL on the same page. EVERYONE is hurting/nervous financially. Not one person was sure that their job will still be there in a year. We are all scrambling to decide how to fund a retirement when pension plans have taken a major hit, probably, (we decided), no social security to speak of, we're buying/selling/refinancing/losing our homes, and still raising families! If the pollsters want to know how Americans are doing compared to five years ago, I can tell them who to talk to! I always feel slightly silly/stupid/uninformed at these things, because it seems like everyone else is doing so great! And I'm still OK. Nothing wrong with OK, it's just...OK. Some of us thought we saw it coming, some were completely surprised, but we all agreed that we won't be looking at finances in the same way, maybe ever again. It's easy to get so lost in the day to day, work, home, kids, school cycle, that its hard to believe things can change so fast, and permanently! It may now be too late to correct some of those old financial gaffes. The girl that's losing her house may never be able to buy another. By the time the fallout disappears, financial, credit-wise etc. she may not be able to get the cash together to get financing again, and if she does, she will be hustling to get it paid off and be able to retire at any reasonable age. Another knows that she will probably never retire, she will have to work until she is physically not able to do so anymore. There is an unemployed teacher, and a nurse (a nurse!) Now to be fair, they could both certainly go elsewhere and find employment, but that would mean uprooting their families, and employed spouses, and there is no guarantee it would be any better! Will the spouse find a job? They will lose benefits/pensions at the job they have, will they find something comparable? We are all on the cusp of almost 50, statistics prove older workers have a harder time (than usual) of finding good paying jobs. Employers want young, cheap kids that they can train. I saw a mention on the national news this week about the unemployment benefits extension possibly being voted on,passed. The economist they had said that of every 5 people unemployed today, 4 of them will not be able to find a job. Mathematically speaking there simply are no jobs out there for the other 4 to find! Anyway, no matter how involved your financial life has become, how many coupons you clip, how many buckets of laundry soap you make, you can't afford to ignore the big picture. It catches up with us all in the end!
I always loved the old war movies, when the submarine captain would look thru the periscope, and see what was happening "up there." I wanted a periscope of my own! To see what was coming, and dodge that torpedo! I was reminded of this when I read a blog just now about student debt. The writer was lamenting about his bad spending habits for part of his student years, and how he wished he knew then what he knows now etc. etc. I had a similar conversation with my DD#2 a few days ago.. She was commenting (whining) about her $50 a month student loan payment. She has a friend in her FIFTH year of college, and has taken out many "generous" loans to finance it all. Yes, she has a part-time job, but she doesn't make enough for gas for the car most weeks. Her Grandmother has co-signed a lot of these loans, because her parents credit rating is in the sub-basement range. So I asked her how much she thinks her friends payments might be, when (if) she finally graduates? She was speechless! (and thats something) And if she thought about Grandma, who is on the hook for a lot of that balance if she defaults? A big dose of reality! Even when you think you've got your eye on the periscope, a torpedo can find you!
Another major hit on the emergency fund. The electric range (hereafter referred to as the stove) decided last week that it knew better than me! Turned the oven on to bake a chicken, and the next thing I knew, it was HOT, it had turned to self clean, problem is, I don't have a self-cleaning oven! We unplugged it, and it seemed fine. Next day, it did the same thing, only the oven hadn't even been on that time! OK, OK I can take a hint. The stove had to go. We ended up at Sears, lucky us, stoves were on sale! But I wanted to wait and check at our hometown appliance store, I always buy local if I can. Turns out, we went back to Sears. We got the stove and a new range hood, for the same money just the stove would have been local. Hubby hasn't let me forget yet, it was HIS idea to stop at Sears. Okay, okay, you do have good ideas sometimes honey. But it was another heavy sigh moment. We have now replaced all but one of our major appliances in the last 6 months, and I'm not even going to name the last holdout, it's older than the others were, and I don't want to give it any ideas. I'm very glad that we had the money on hand, but poor Hubby has been working as much overtime as they will allow, and we aren't getting ahead any. Now we have a couple of estimates for some outside work that we wanted to have done, and I don't know whether to go ahead and get on the schedule, or wait until later? how much later? will it get too late to be done this Summer yet? And there is a possible expense concerning a family estate coming up. We probably have enough cash on hand if necessary, but I don't want to wipe out our whole reserve. Why are these things never easy??? I have a long list of yard projects that I want to finish this year, our DD#1 is getting married in our backyard next summer. But I'm hesitant to even spend $50 on mulch, because once I start, it has to be finished, or it will look worse than it does now! So, in conclusion, I am completely undecided about everything..............maybe I should have asked the stove before I unplugged it the last time!
I confess!!! I can't hide it anymore! I have become (sob) An Addict! I am addicted to (gulp) Yahoo Answers! It started out innocently enough, but don't they all! I needed some advice about an electrical problem. I've glanced at the Answers boards a few times, so I thought, what the heck, give it a try! Oh boy, that was the beginning of the end. Junkies LOVE company, and there they are, all those people just waiting for my opinion! THEY think I'm important! THEY pay attention to what I have to say! And it's so EASY to just click over to see whats going on! I neglected my reading, how are all those unlucky-in-love heroines going to get along with out me. I neglected my TV news time, Katie got a new hairdo? I neglected my dish washing time, well, not really or the kitchen would smell. And they LIKE me, they really LIKE me! I got a few best answers, and it was the beginning of the end. Of life as I knew it. When I got online to pay the auto insurance bill, and got involved in how to get lipstick out of the wedding dress, and FORGOT to pay the insurance bill!!! That was rock bottom for me. I have never just FORGOTTEN to pay a bill!! I knew I had to do something. Cold turkey is not for me, so I started using a timer when I logged on. Then I noticed how stupid some of the questions are, like someone is just making them up! You know, someone desperate for attention, wanting to be important to total strangers, you know, someone like........ME! It was the proverbial slap upside of the head. I should be out gardening. I should be putting away clean laundry. I should be...paying the bills for heavens sake!! I don't even want to think about how much time has been wasted in the last 2 or 3 weeks, but thank you Lord, I did wake up! And trite as it may be, time is money! So, farewell to the uneducated masses, I will be making supervised visits only now. And to all of the people who wrote in to ask questions about how to grow better pot (yup, you know, the m******** stuff) get a life!
Somewhere along the line of your life, you get to the "tipping point." That point at which you realize, that some major purchase you are contemplating, may very well outlive you! Ours is the lawnmower. We bought a lawnmower this past week. A brand new riding lawnmower. The first new riding mower that we have ever owned! Our married life has consisted of a series of used (mostly VERY used) riding and push mowers, sometimes both, sometimes singly. All of them were given to us by various family members and friends, most were headed to the curb before we got them. Luckily I have a very handy Hubby and Father, who managed to keep them going with a variety of fixes and prayers. (does anybody even know what baling wire is anymore?) But we had hit the end. The riding mower we were using is almost... as old as I am (there is a FEW years difference)... and while the engine got rebuilt last Summer, the deck is trashed. Chunks are falling off as you cross the yard. They don't make replacement parts anymore (it's so old) etc. etc. We actually started out looking for a good used mower, but as we visited a few likely prospects, I began to imagine a world where you didn't have to know the secret formula to get the mower to run. One that doesn't use a quart of oil during each weeks mowing, one that you don't have to hook the battery charger to for an hour before you start, one that you don't have to hang on to the hydrostat lever because it will suddenly run away with you, you know, one that you don't have to dance under a full moon and chant to the lawn Gods... sorry, I got a little carried away there, but you get the idea. That thought was suddenly sounding pretty good to me, and as we talked about it, I realized, if a new mower lasts as long as the one we are using now, we will be too old to mow lawns anymore, and won't ever (hopefully) have to get another one! Being the main lawn mowing person in the family, this was something I could really get behind! So, after a little more shopping, and some dickering with the local dealer (those guys at Sears etc. can't dicker) we came home with a lovely new Cub Cadet mower! I love it already. (if self love is narcissism, I wonder what lawnmower love is?) If we take care of it, (we will), that will be the last mower we will ever have to buy.... now I feel old!!!
I just stumbled across a blog that commented on the strange thing this lady got once for Mothers Day. Actually, I thought it was great! Her family rented a roto-tiller and tilled her garden for her. I would have loved that! I have received some lovely things, flowers, dinners out, but I must confess that the more unusual items were probably my favorites. This year, for example, I got exactly what I asked for, a brand new shop vac! The old one has been spewing the dirt right back out the top for over a year, so you only dared use it outside. In fact, the old shop vac was my birthday present quite a few years ago. I even went to the store with dear Hubby, and picked out what I wanted. He does listen to me sometimes! Some other requests I have made over the years... a cordless drill! When I want to make holes, I don't want to drag extension cords around! Having the dogs nails clipped! We had a dog once, an extremely hairy dog, who hated to have her nails clipped, and of course, they grew very fast! After wrestling with her for longer than I want to remember, he took her in to the vet, THREE minutes and $10 later, it was one of those smack your forehead moments! Why had I been fussing with her for so long!?!? Then there were a couple of mmmhmmm kind of presents. I got a battery charger once, so I could charge the battery on the lawnmower, the lawnmower that I had been bugging him to buy a NEW battery for all Summer....I never could figure that one out, why not a new battery instead of charging the old worn out one??? I have no idea!!! How about the present that I almost got... we went to an auction one time, and there was a box of glassware that I wanted, and bid on, and won, so we are loading up afterwards, and I'm telling him about the cute green glass swan shaped dish, how cheap it was, what a great bargain, etc. etc. so we stopped at his parents house on the way home, and what does he take out of the box and give to his Mother?! The swan dish. (dumbfounded silence here) I said nothing, my MIL was the sweetest lady in the world, but duh???? And the only real eye roller I can think of.....A pellet gun.....yup.....I looked at it in the box, and I haven't seen it since. Haven't really missed it either. I think there was a profound lack of motivation that year. The KIDS even remind him of that one once in a while, I just smile and say...nothing...I'm not completely silly, a little guilt can be a valuable thing sometimes.
This is the DD#2 out of work, part 2. To catch you up : DD#2 laid off beginning of April, broke arm end of April, no savings, no insurance. She was worried about someone coming after her in court when she can't pay her medical bills. Unlikely. But she does still owe almost $1500 on her 7 year old car. I was thinking that maybe I should just pay it off. The cash out for the loan is around $1200. She has applied for unemployment, which I am sure she will get, but the paperwork is lagging with massive unemployment in our state. (Michigan) Then she can pay me back. She did still have enough in the bank to cover the car payment, insurance, cell phone for April, and I hope to heaven that the state will have gotten thru her paperwork by next months due dates. She has not asked me to do this, I haven't even said anything about it yet, but I'm considering it. My sister also told her to apply for some help from the state, for the medical bills. The worst that can happen is they say NO, she won't be any worse off than she is now. This reminds me so much of our early days, Hubby and me, eternally broke, and one mini disaster after another. Actually, those early days lasted about 20 years, go figure!
These words came out of my DD#2's mouth last night, guaranteed to strike fear into the heart of any parent. She has had a rough month. She got laid off from her job, right at the beginning of April. The company has disputed her unemployment claim (and that of all the others laid off at that same time) so that takes time to work thru the system. She borrowed enough money from me to pay her car insurance, she still had enough in the bank for her other bills. Now she came home two nights ago with a broken wrist! She was biking with some friends, and tried to avoid another bike in from of her....you get the idea. She went to the emergency room, had x-rays, had a consult with the specialist on call, and has a splint until next week, when they will put on the cast. She is looking at several thousand dollars worth of debt, at least. She doesn't know what to do. She can't pay anything until the unemployment situation is resolved (I'm sure she'll get it, I think the company is just jerking them all around) but not paying could ruin her credit for years! And to add insult to injury (literally) she got a call for an interview from another company yesterday, and had to tell them that shes out of commission for at least 6 weeks! They probably won't call her again. Not with hundreds of other prospects out there. So I don' know what to tell her. No, I don't think that any health care organization will waste the money to sue her, will it ruin her credit? Maybe? Definitely? I told her to call all of the places, as soon as she gets a bill from them, and explain the situation, she owns nothing but a 7 year old car, that she is still paying on, and currently lives back at home with her parents. They may be willing to wait, but what if they aren't, you can't get blood from a stone. We'll have to wait and see.
Woweeee! Another resolution to cross off my list! I made the last payment on our only store credit card, and it finally cleared the bank! That makes it official. We are finally out of debt. Time to decide where to go from here. Actually, I'm sure that it won't be a tough decision, at least for a while. There are some maintainence issues on the house and barn, that had to wait until we got other things under control. I was so sure 4 years ago, when we were mortgage free, that money could go right into "fixing up" but, as you all know, life is what happens when you're making other plans. Actually, the home improvement issue was another thing on my New Years Resolution list, I'm killing two birds with one stone! I think? It sure feels nice to be making some positive progress! UhOh, now I'm a little torn. Posted on the wall right in front of me is a printout of Dave Ramseys "baby steps". I know we don't have nearly 3 to 6 months of expenses saved. Dang. But if I wait that long to start some of these fix-its, the season will have passed. You can't do some kinds of outdoor work in Winter in Michigan. How much more time will some of these things be able to wait? Oh man, now I'm not in such a good mood. I think too much. Groan.
In this era of online banking, is there really any need to save those old bank statements? The rule used to be, save them for 7 years. If they agree with the website record, why would you need them? I can't imagine that any bank doesn't back-up their info, with the most expensive programs available, why would you presume that it would be compromised? I was packing away the statements from 2009, and tossing from 2001, when this occurred to me. Granted, the piles are getting slimmer, only a couple more years, and the ones that still included the cancelled checks will be gone. But, I could use that space for something else! Maybe my used tea bag collection.
I just heard on the radio that astronaut Neil Armstrong has written to the President protesting the cuts in the space program budget. He says that it will put the US "in a long slide into mediocrity." Well, there are days when I would welcome a little mediocrity. My Random House dictionary says that mediocrity is "normal or ordinary", Oh heck yeah, sign me up for a double order! My weeks tend to look more like this. Monday, shivering uncertainty, the paychecks from Friday are gone already? Thats FIVE days away! Tuesday, gut churning panic, what money for what field trip is due when? Today! Wednesday, nail biting horror when I open the bank statement to discover a debit that no one recorded, and the account is now overdrawn. Thursday, glassy eyed then comatose, get home from working overtime, and discover that the ingredients for the quick supper I planned have been eaten by hungry kids after school, and I now have two cans of soup, some wilted celery, and a box of cracker jack to transform into a meal for four. Friday, giddy euphoria, PAYDAY! Then mental exhaustion trying to figure in my head the price of the cheap pizza parlor pizza, versus getting the ingredients for homemade, knowing that the meal will be late. Saturday, bill paying day (need I say more). Consider the euphoric properties of Valium, wonder if slugging a lot of cold medicine comes close? Sunday, weekly mega dose of guilt. Church or laundry, or clean bathrooms, or family outing, or yard work, or overtime...... you get the picture. It makes mediocrity look GOOD! Oh yeah!
I just read a blog about someones confession of their biggest financial mistake, oh the memories. I am sure that Hubby and I made so many, I don't know where to choose from. But there are a couple that always come to mind. When we got married, we were broke. I mean BROKE. Hubby got laid off two weeks before the wedding, and i was a full time college student. This was the very early 80's, and there were no jobs anywhere. Pretty similar to now. He was doing odd jobs, and we made enough to keep the power on, but not enough for a phone, and we ate at his parents house most nights. Anyway, he had gone somewhere with a buddy, and it must have been Summer, the weather was nice. When I looked outside, they were throwing a football around. When the buddy left, he came in with the football, and I said something about buddy forgot his football? Ah, no Hubby says, I bought the football. HE SPENT OUR LAST $13 ON A FOOTBALL! (It still makes my blood boil to think about it) I was so mad, I could hardly speak! But wait, it gets better. The next day, we are still fighting (my voice did recover) so he jumps in the car and goes speeding off, and RUNS OVER THE FOOTBALL! Yeah, you read it right, ran over the football that he just couldn't live without, and spent our last $13 in the world on. I still can't comprehend the logic (there was none) of that whole thing. Now for my biggest gaffe. This one came to mind, but I'm sure there were many others. 20 years ago, I decided that I would like to have contact lenses. I had been wearing glasses since I was 12 or so, and there was an ad in the paper for $49 contact lenses. So, I get an appointment, have the eye exam, they try the lenses out, and I'm wearing them. Then I find out that there are a lot of OTHER fees that go along with the lenses! The exam fee, the contacts are $49 EACH, solutions, the little machine that cooks them, etc. etc. So, I meekly pay all of this extra money, it was over $250 altogether, and come slinking home to cry on Hubbys shoulder. He was much more gracious than I was probably. I should have told the eye Dr. to forget it, and exactly why, but I didn't. I was a much more timid person when I was younger, I just went along to avoid a fuss. Oh well, we were all young once, and we did get smarter about money, eventually. Sort of. I think. BTW - that was the only pair of contacts I ever owned, I never could find a solution that didn't make my eyes red, I looked like I was on a bender all of the time, with none of the fun!
Warning...A little more eye rolling ahead. There are several food givaways monthly in our area, at different locations. My BIL volunteers at three of them. One of the things that he has commented on the last couple of months, are the "professional" recipients. Meaning people that travel around the area, to hit every one, every time! Its like a job! I have no objection to giving help where help is needed, but???? There was a van at the pantry last week, that was so full of food, the man had to take some out and re-pack! to get the stuff from that day in! He couldn't even go home and unload before he hit the next pantry? There are people who get in line at 3 or 4AM, so they can get thru fast, and go to another pantry somewhere else. And then there are the outright cheaters. We have a neighbor lady, who lives alone, who lists her 2 grown children as part of her household, so she can get more stuff. Then the 2 sons also come separatly to get there own! There was a certain ethnic lady who came to collect for a family of 16, but wouldn't take just anything! She wants to bargain with you for just the stuff she wants, and makes nasty remarks in a foreign language that many of us understand, about the workers, when they don't let her change the rules! And, even the workers are not immune to lapses in good judgement. It's always difficult to get volunteers, so sometimes you end up with a few that are ???? The lady who helped packing boxes, and walked out the door with one for herself 11 times before she was told "that was enough"! The man who was sorting the bakery stuff, and taking the smashed, moldy etc. out to the dumpster, only he was stuffing most of it into his car! All absolutely true! No matter what nice thing you try to do, someone will think of a way to muck it up. The flip side tho, the three moms standing in the parking lot trading items back and forth, because this ones kids won't eat this anyway, someone should benefit from it! And, the guy who brought his guitar, and sat in the hallway and played for the enjoyment of everyone! Thats why we need to help!!!!!!
I just read a blog that made me laugh. In fact, I have read several lately about having money/investments in multiple banks. When did this get to be such a new and radical thing? I can't imagine why it has never occured to those consumers, that you can choose different banks for different services. Maybe because we landed in the era of "big banking" where one bank could "do it all" for you. We have savings in a credit union, this is the only place that Hubbys employer will deal with to debit from his paycheck directly into the savings account. Its also in a neighboring town, so harder to get to when we're tempted to withdraw money. (for us, this is good) We have checking and savings in our local (regional) bank, this is where my paycheck is direct deposited, and an automatic sweep puts money into that savings, every time I get paid. This is the account I pay bills from. We also have savings in another regional bank, they have a branch in our hometown, and also the town where hubby works, so he can cash his paycheck there if he wants, without a fee. We don't have any money in CD's at the moment, but the third local bank usually has better return rates on CD's, I always used them before. I consider this all to be plain, everyday banking. If we had money invested? That would be a different story. I don't have any desire to watch the ups and downs (especially the downs) on a daily or weekly basis. Hubbys 401K is invested in a Vanguard fund, and I do glance at the quarterly statements, but not very closely. I was looking at online savings a while ago, but then the rates have dropped on them also. I think that when we get the emergency fund to where I like it, then I might revisit a few of those. I think that being frugal involves not only saving money, but trying, even in a small way, to be smart with where you keep it. Hubbys Grandpa (true story) used to complain that he kept cash buried in jars in his backyard, but he had to dig them up every few years and exchange the cash, it would get MOLDY! I laugh every time I think about that! And I thought I had problems!
I have seen several references lately to the $1 a day challenge, feed yourself, or each member of the family for only $1 each day. I think that we did this one time, inadvertently. Hubby used to switch back and forth between 2 part time jobs, one in Fall, one in Spring. The Spring time one was better paying, that is after you actually received a paycheck. The way the payroll was set up, you got paid on the 15th and 30th of each month, but you were always one period behind. So when he would start out, it was an entire month before he got a paycheck. FUN! I remember one year we ate beans and rice for pretty much the whole month. I thought we did pretty well in the creative department. We had Mexican style, stirred a package of taco seasoning in, and some stewed tomatoes. Carribean, green pepper and pineapple chunks (kids really liked that one). Italian, added a little canned spaghetti sauce and grated cheese. Western, chili powder, stewed tomatoes and canned corn. I did use a little meat, but I think that 8 hot dogs could last a week, if you slice them real thin. I don't know that I would want to do it again, but sometimes you don't know what you can do until you have to!
I had forgotten to get a corned beef brisket on the weekend, so I ran to the store after work this morning. They were already marked down! Lucky me! It's simmering away as we speak. My MIL worked at a meat packing plant during WWII, and told me one time how they make corned beef, or how they did it then anyway. A long and drawn out process, as I remember. I wish it were available all of the time. We only see it here around St. Pattys Day, and occasionally during the rest of the year. So, in the words of The Irish Rovers, "You're Never Gonna See No Unicorns" but enjoy St. Patricks Day anyway!
Remember the old cartoon that had Sherman (the boy) and The Professor (talking dog) and they traveled back thru time investigating all kinds of historical people and inventions in "the way back machine"? It used to be on ( I think) as part of the Rocky and Bullwinkle show. Well, I had my own "way back machine" this past week. I have been making costumes for the school play here in our town for 8 or 9 years now. The teacher who has been the director of all of these great productions is retiring this year, and the school has indicated that they aren't interested in storing all of the costumes that we have accumulated over the years. So, we emptied every box and sorted thru them all, and we will be donating them to a similar place. It was so much fun! I had forgotten a lot of them, and there was a big pile! The first year, I came to "help" the lady who had done them the year before, we met once and she left for California! Talk about baptism by fire! When I looked back over the plays, I tend to remember the not so good stuff. The year half the cast had pink eye! - The Music Man. The year I had the stomach flu - Alice in Wonderland. The year one of the principles had her appendix out 2 nights before the performance, and the guy who stepped in was so hilarious, he brought down the house as one of the three little pigs - Fractured Fairy Tales. The year that almost killed me, 76 costumes for a huge cast - Once Upon A Mattress. But looking thru all of the costumes and that wasn't all of them by any means, for the last few productions the cast members could buy their costumes afterwards, Oh MY Gosh, what I remember most was all of the fun! Stuff that worked even when we weren't sure it would, we did The Wizard of Oz with a 60's theme, lots of psychedelic prints and tye dye. Those Good Grief eye rolling moments, we did Lil Abner with 4 of us designing the dogpatch outfits, and when four girls got on stage for a musical number, we realized they had almost identical costumes! (great minds think alike) Sometimes, I think we all need to be reminded of the good things. We remember the bad stuff, the hard stuff, uncomfortable moments, or I do anyway. I needed that last big mental hurrah to remind me why I did all of that work over the years. It reeally was a lot of fun, and the kids were wonderful! I want to remember all of the great times, the people who stepped in to help just when I was sure I would lose my mind, and smile and laugh about those "good old days"! Who wouldn't!
I saw a blurb on the national news last night, that the IRS is already warning people that it may take longer to get your tax refund this year. We received both our state and federal refunds in the mail this past week. They were less than $500 total, and that's a number I can live with. I am always looking for that elusive "break even" point. I don't want the gov keeping my money for me, but I don't want to have to pay in much either. So we have been jockeying around with the withholding the past few years. Although, I don't think this is a true representation of how well it worked, for 2009. Hubby was off work for almost 6 months of the year, and on sick pay. He made a lot less, so they would have withheld a lot less??? I guess we'll have to wait another year to see how it works out.
Well its 2 months into the new year, and I just peeked back at my resolution list for the new year. I am actually doing better than I thought! The big #1 is almost a reality, paying off the medical debt. I will write the last check this morning! Wahoo!!!! And I'm making some progress on at least a couple more. Paying off the workwear debt is under way, and planning the home improvements, list is in my mind, need to get it on paper. The only major bump so far is DD#3 needing her wisdom teeth out, but I do have that figured into the budget for the month. Luckily, when we had to reschedule from October, her dental benefit year restarted ,and I only have to pay about $600 out of pocket, instead of over $1000. Well, once they are out, you never have to worry about them again. And this is a contract year for Hubby's job, and they are already talking about strike/lockout. The last time they negotiated the contract, the company locked them out for 6 weeks too "hurry negotiations", and the health and dental stopped. Lovely! Actually, I'm glad that I thought of the contract. That would be about the time that summer taxes are due! I'd better make a note in my budget folder to be getting that money put away early. Boy, it never ends!
I was just reading a blog about the pros and cons of giving your child an allowance, and this brought back memories. I remember a great debate when I was about grade school age between the kids on the school bus. Who got an allowance, who didn't, what chores you had to do, some kids got paid for good grades on their report card, etc. I did get an allowance, 5 cents a week, when I was in elementary school. Then I think it went to 25 cents in middle school, but by the time I was in high school, I was babysitting every weekend, and had more spending money than my Mother. I did give my kids an allowance. I knew they needed to learn how to manage money, and they couldn't do that if they never had any. It was not tied to chores, or good grades, or anything else. Oh yes, they all had chores to do, "we all work because we all live here together" was my motto. And I don't think that witholding the allowance because they didn't do their chores ever happened either, they ALWAYS did their chores. That sounds very whip and chair, but it wasn't really. With four kids, nobody wanted to get stuck with whatever the slacker didn't do, after a certain point, they kind of policed themselves. When they got to be 11-12 they did jobs around the neighborhood and got paid, so they made their own spending money. When they got into high school, and got a "real" job, the allowance stopped. I did tender a loan occasionally for a major expense, but they always paid me back. Although DD#2 is allergic to the word budget, and I sit down with her every few months to help her figure out why she's broke (again). Some people are just like that. Anyway, I was just thinking that my kids got about $10 a week by the time they were in high school, and I need an allowance like that! Fun money is one of the things that the experts tell you to build into your budget, so you don't get too bored, and sink the whole thing. However, they didn't tell me which bill to stop paying, so I could spend money on something fun! Maybe I need to re-read that section, I think something was lost in the translation. Wouldn't be the first time.
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