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!
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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'.
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.
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!
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!!!
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 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!
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 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.
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.
My washer finally died. It's been a lingering death the last few months, but I kept hoping it would make it through until Spring. Nope. So, I shopped some washers and dryers today. I am definitely getting a dryer also. The dryer has been the problem child of the pair for years. This pair is about 6 years old. The appliance store clerk gasped when I told her it was only 6 years old, Its not the age, its the mileage! I do 5 or 6 loads of laundry, 5 or 6 days a week. That pair has given its all. So anyway, they had a pair exactly like the ones I have, for just about the same price I paid 6 years ago? Funny! $799 one year warranty, delivered, installed, haul away the old ones. Then for $999 they had a pair with a ten year warranty, 3 years on parts and labor, also delivered etc. Whats the big difference for $200? I called my appliance guy to get his take, he hasn't called me back yet. The washer died in mid cycle last night, lots of loud grinding, a few bangs, and a really hot smell. Dead as a doornail. I unplugged it. Then I somewhat reluctantly made my way down to the basement, washed off the old wringer washer, and finished the laundry. I have Grannys old wringer washer, and it works fine. I am still drying towels, but other than that, I can wait a few days to decide what to do about a new pair. Thank you Lord for the emergency fund!
I was just clicking thru some blogs, and came across one referencing good advice from Grandpa, about life and love, etc. It made me think about my two Grandmas. They had both lived thru the depression, but from the way they talked, you might not have known it was the same one! Gramdma was an only child, her father worked for the railroad, a pretty nice job in the early part of the century. She married the boy next door who also worked for the railroad, and they lived a very comfortable life. The depression was a big slap in the face for them. Father and husband both lost their jobs, both families sold/lost their homes and they ended up moving onto a farm in the country, together. The togetherness wasn't a problem, but my Grandma had never been poor, always lived in a small city, and was used to a certain life style. Her memories were of everyone being very unhappy about the circumstances, although she did used to talk about the fun, home things that they did. She learned to can, and grow a garden, enjoying farm life very much, and they did get by. Grandpa worked again as soon as jobs became available, although he never went back to the railroad. They certainly lived a much simpler life after that, and stayed on the farm until they both passed away. My Grandpa was very bitter about the whole thing, he had a considerable amount of money in the stock market, and lost it all. He was very grouchy when my Mom was growing up, and didn't have much nice to say about anything, it was all "the governments fault" whatever it was. My other Granny was born in the US to immigrant parents, the oldest of 11 children. This country was so much better than what they had left, it was like a holiday! They lived in the South when she was growing up, and all of the kids worked out as soon as they could, and some of the jobs they had! Her Father worked in the coal mines, and they moved a lot, she eventually married an engineer for the mining company. They were still living in the coal camps when the depression hit, Grandpa had grown up on a farm, so they came "up north" and bought a farm. Granny really loved farm life. She always said that it didn't matter if you had a lot of money, the farm would give you everything you need. Food to eat, fuel for the stove, and the means to get whatever else you needed. Granny was the big type A in that relationship, Grandpa kind of floated quietly in the background, doing his thing, but I know that he really loved living on the farm too. Granny talked about work. Her pride and avocation was being a hard worker. She gardened and canned and worked out in the fields when necessary, and talked about how proud she was when she would wash the mens' white T-shirts and they would be out on the clothesline, all bright white and spotless, in a row. She mended things until there was more mend than garment. But they had fun too, taking the carload of kids to the lake on a Wednesday night, the beaches were all free then. So both my Grandmas came from very different places, and the advice they considered important to pass along? Well, surprisingly similar. Always expect to work hard. SAVE YOUR MONEY! Family is important, we all need each other. Don't expect to receive every time you give. Some things you do just because it's the right thing, and don't toot your own horn about it. (the last two are kind of the same) Good advice culled from 80+ years of living (each) who could ask for anything more!
I wrote the check this morning for our property taxes, and then dropped off the paperwork for our income taxes at the bookkeepers office. We live in a small town, all of the tax people are local, no H&R Block for 50 miles. I also had brunch in town with my three best girlfriends, and we talked taxes. Everyone hates them, (taxes), tries to figure out ways, legal and maybe not quite so legal, to avoid or reduce them, but nobody has a better idea! Everybody wants a great community and services, but couldn't they be a little less expensive? The largest portion of my property tax bill is the millage for the Intermediate School District. Thats the county tech center, and the county handicapper school. Both very necessary! Next came the actual county operating money, which the county board is always trying to stretch 7 ways to Sunday. It never goes far enough, especially in Michigan, where the governor is changing the budget every week with her socks! Then the local school district with operating millage, and a special millage for technology and building upgrades, I think we are in year three of five with that one. The township operational money next, although most of that goes to run the township cemetery, and volunteer fire dept. And close behind, the local library (4 townships support this one) and the County nursing home. Now we could all agree that we wouldn't want to cut any of those things, but you would just think that some think tank somewhere might be able to figure out a better way to do it? Somehow? Maybe? I would be willing to listen to some smart suggestions to solve any or all of the above. But the really smart people probably know better than to get involved, look what happens to them in Washington!
Well, I'm pretty sure I know what to do with the bonus check from work, my car died on the way home this morning (heavy sigh). It is super cold here right now, and it overheated for some reason, and I blew a heater hose, not necessarily in that order. So Hubby had to come and pick me up, luckily he didn't work last night. And DS was going to pick up the car, but he says it's too low slung for our equipment trailer, so we had to call a wrecker. And wait for an hour for the wrecker to get there. So now the car sits in the shop, at the farm, until it warms up and thaws out enough to get checked out. I just hope I didn't crack the block, I don't think my bonus will cover an engine replacement. I am very lucky to have four mechanics in the family, but auto repairs are b**** expensive even so. Oh well, got my fingers crossed, breakfast and bed for me, I still have to work tonight.
I always have a few "resolutions" in the back of my mind, but I know that it helps to write them down, so here goes:
1. Pay off medical bills.
2. Pay off workwear credit account.
3. Increase amount going to savings every week.
4. Get serious about Hubbys 401K.
5. Open Roth IRA.
6. Need two vehicles in GOOD working order.
7. Plan major home improvement projects.
8. Get back to church regularly.
9. Do some "couples" stuff.
10. Try not to be so nervous about finances.
Hey, if the news services can do it, why shoudn't I? Overall, its been a better year than I expected at times.. Started out with extra medical bills from Hubby's foot surgery, and news that we had a Grandbaby on the way! Got the medical bills paid off just in time to find out that he was going to need sholder surgery, and would be off for at least three months (turned into six months). Grandbaby arrived, new parents bought a house, worked a lot of overtime, but NEVER had to dip into emergency fund! (I can't believe it!) 401K rebounded decently. Got all fired up and paid off the long suffering dentist bill, and am now attacking the family doctor bill with pitchforks and machetes (isn't that what the natives do in the movies?) I did wonder a few times, but it turned out that 2009 wasn't so bad in the end.
I have a daughter who is just starting to plan a wedding for June of'11. I have been trying to (gently) get them to pick a date, so we can shop for a reception hall. I imagine that June dates fill up fast. So, I have been doing a little calling around this week, OMG! There are four places in a reasonble driving distance, and the prices are pretty similar (expected that) they average around $1000, not including the food! Then probably another $2000 for the catering, DJ, decorations, etc. Not to mention the dresses, flowers, rings. I think that we need to have a talk about what they expect their wedding to look like. Now they have not asked for a single thing, or help, but I was planning on offering to help out, at least. The grooms Father passed away in the Summer, and I don't think his Mother is in a position to put out much financially, so I am very curious to see what they have in mind. I was laying awake earlier, my mind just whirling with possibilites. My daughter will yell at me, but I can't help it, I'm a planner. I like to put it all down on paper, neatly in black and white, it helps me feel more in control. There is nothing more to do for now, but wait to see what happens. I'm not good at waiting (already guessed that didn't ya).
Is worth two in the bush! No birds today, but CASH in hand! Our bonus at work finally came thru! There has been big speculation at work about whether we would get a holiday bonus this year. This is only the second holiday season that I have worked there, and last year there was a big controversy about the bonuses. Apparently, there has been a bonus given every year since the home opened, based on a combination of seniority and hours worked during the year. I got about $100 last year, and was completely thrilled, I had only been working about 11 weeks. This year, the boss announced at the October staff meeting that everything was on track for the bonus this year, no problem. Well, you know that just about the time you figure that there is no problem, there is one! Then the rumor went around that the head corporation isn't making any money, and there would be NO bonus this year. The next week it was supposed to be , so many dollars for every shift you worked for part timers, and some amount of cents for every hour for full timers, very confusing. Well,, when I went into work last night, there was my check, for about $400!!! Still much grumbling, some of the old timers had been getting 2 or 3 times that much, but I am HAPPY!HAPPY! My first thought was more Christmas shopping, but Hubby and I have it planned out pretty well, so I think that I'm just going to sit and think on it a while. I am very tempted to pay on the Dr. bill, but I have the payments all planned out, and it's going fine so far. I'm just going to let it sit quietly for a while, you never know, something unexpected might come up. HA, who am I kidding, something is always unexpectedly mowing down my checkbook. At least this time, I have a little insurance. We do have an emergency fund, but it has to get pretty bad for me to take money out of there, it takes forever to replace it sometimes. So Mums the Word now!
As a kind of follow-up to the theft blog, I just read an article on the 10 most shoplifted items in 2009. Their list included electronics, high end clothes, baby formula(?),shaving razor refills, makeup, and some others. I worked in retail for a few years, in a dollar/dime store, and our top 2 (way above anything else) were home pregnancy tests and candy! The candy I always presumed were kids, we would find empty candy wrappers stuffed in corners all over the store. And the candy aisle was directly in front of the checkout! But the home pregnancy tests, I hope weren't kids. We would stock 5 each of three different kinds (15) and at the end of weeks totals, maybe 6 had been paid for, and they were ALL GONE! So we finally put them behind the counter, and I don't think that we sold 3 a week. Maybe people were too embarassed to ask for them? On the other hand, condoms were already behind the counter, and we had plenty of people ask for THEM. Another big target was haircolor! This was a little different. They would take out the contents, or part of the contents, and leave the empty box, neatly reclosed, on the shelf. We finally started sealing the ends of the boxes with clear packing tape before we put them on the shelf. This did slow it down quite a bit, but it still happened. First aid supplies was another, open a box of band-aids and take out some, but not all. How many people count the band-aids in the box before they buy them? I guess if you are determined enough, you can figure out a way to steal most anything (sadly). If only they used their power for good instead of evil!
A topic that I haven't seen addressed much, how about financial strain due to theft. I am speaking from firsthand experience, unfortunately. My DD#3's musical instrument was stolen at school. Now, you might think, no problem, it happened at the school, they must have to relpace the instrument (french horn, hideously expensive), OH NO NO NO. We had to make a police report, and our homeowners insurance is expected to cover it. Minus the $500 deductable! Standard financial advice has been to raise your deductable, it will lower your rates. And it did, but that means you have to pony up the 5 big ones! I was NOT HAPPY with the attitude at the school. It was in a locked band room, and the school was closed for three days last week because of flu. How did someone get into the room, and walk out with the pretty large case, and no one noticed? Well, they are "looking into it". Anyway, now I am going to have to figure out how to shuffle money around to get the darn thing replaced! Luckily, the insurance adjustor didn't give me 2 seconds of trouble about replacement value, she said depreciation on musical instruments is very little, and it's only 2 years old. So we should be able to get the exact same instrument. But now what? Is she going to have to bring it home every night because the band room is not secure? And what would they DO with a french horn? I can just imagine a van in the alley... Psst, lady, you wanna buy a nice french horn?
I have been studiously avoiding thinking about that "Holiday" coming up, but since most of my blogreads today mentioned it, I guess it's time to get my head out of the sand. Haven't got a single present bought, don't know what most anyone is going to get, just give me an F, and I'll get over it. I am NOT ready for Christmas, not ready to think about it, not ready for lists, cards, prep work, nothing. I know this sounds strange, but I really enjoy the Christmas season, I'm just not ready this year! I'm still trying to process the end of Summer, I have no idea where Fall went, (oh yeah, this is it) could'nt believe that Halloween has come and gone. I want a do-over! Flag on the play, stop the presses! I remember when I was younger, my Mother told me one time that the older you get, the faster time goes. Well, she was right! She didn't tell me though, that it would go so fast that I would routinely miss large chunks of it! Like I've been sucked into a black hole for days at a time. But, Christmas will come, whether I like it or not, better get used to it. I just want to wait until after Thanksgiving!
The villian in every cartoon said that at the end of the episode. And me , just today. I was looking forward to getting the dentist bill paid off this week, finally! But, DD#2 needed some cash to fill a prescription. What can you do. You pony up the cash, of course. I was really, REALLY hoping to be done with this bill! I have a dental appt. next week, some day he's going to start repossesing my teeth. The dentist himself never says anything, but I always get the "little talk" from the receptionist, when can you make a payment? the interest is adding up....etc. etc. They have been very fair, I know they have. It just happens that every time I get close to the big -0- balance, somebody needs something thats not covered. I have been paying on this for more than a year, (uh oh), maybe more like two years, come to think about it. What do you do when your debt snowball is still rolling ahead of you, instead of melting? You make a cup of cocoa, tomorrow is another day!
Spent the day doing something fun (for Me) cooking and freezing squash.. We have had a run of unexpectedly nice weather, and the box of winter squash that I packed so carefully on the porch is still good! I love squash! Hubby was hoping for a pie (just like pumpkin), but I was too busy/lazy to roll a crust, so he'll have to wait for next time. Oh, and I baked 10# of red potatoes too. We got a 50# bag 2 weeks ago, and I need to get them used up. I think that I'll save some out for frying, and cube the rest, and freeze them. I whittled another item off my to-do list last night, finally got a clothesline put up in the sewing room. Now I don't have hangers on every door drip drying. The list is getting smaller! TTFN
Sometimes trying to be frugal is confusing, or maybe it's just me,(being confused), read on and you tell me.
My Hubby loves the Farmers Almanac! When to plant, where to fish, it's kind of like the local entertainment guide for rural folk. I picked it up tonight, because I was going to be sitting for just a moment, and I hate idle hands. Anyway, inside the cover, on the title page is all of the usual info, and a lovely woodcut style print of sheep and...raccoons? I wasn't aware that coons (as we call them) had become a farm commodity! See what happens when you don't keep up with the local news? I am in the know on fish farming, and we do have several more exotic farms in my homestate, (elk, buffalo, deer), but somehow I missed the scoop on coon farming? Most farmers I know have dealt with their share of coons, mostly trying to get them to vacate the barn, and quit sponging a free meal. (boy can a coon make a huge mess in the feed room!) What frugal endeavor could a coon be involved in? Could they be trained to do something? although they are mostly nocturnal. (night shift workers?) They are good climbers. (linemen, tree trimmers?) Security? They can be sassy! (try chasing one out of the cat food dish!) I didn't read far enough to get the whole story, If I find out something interesting, I will let you all know. Although, I think that Daniel Boone did have some success in this field............ Coonskin cap anyone?
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