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!