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Archive for March, 2010

The Charity "Pros"

March 30th, 2010 at 08:37 pm

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!!!!!!

My Banking - It Ain't Brain Surgery

March 26th, 2010 at 01:17 am

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!

Beans & Rice, Ain't That Nice

March 23rd, 2010 at 01:37 am

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!

Corned Beef? Of Course!

March 17th, 2010 at 06:44 pm

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!

The Way Back Machine

March 15th, 2010 at 10:03 pm

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!

Got Our Refunds

March 14th, 2010 at 12:20 pm

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.

2010 Resolution Update

March 5th, 2010 at 08:37 am

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!

Wheres MY Allowance?

March 3rd, 2010 at 07:38 pm

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.