A Family that Dives Together…

“One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.” Hector Urquhart

I married a dumpster diver. There-I said it. I’ve been telling The Hubs this for years but this is the first time I’ve ever made this proclamation publicly. When he still had his pick-up truck I never knew what he was going to come home with. Once he found an old guitar in someone’s trash. He couldn’t leave it there to be crushed by the trash truck so he picked it out and brought it home. We still have it. It only has 3 strings and no one in the house plays but that doesn’t matter. This guitar just HAD to have a new home so now it lives in mine.

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The true reason I’m making this public now is that, after almost 35 years of marriage, he’s turned ME into a dumpster diver. While I’m not going to dig through anyone’s trash cans I’m not opposed to bringing something useful home that someone else has left at the curb to be disposed of. Case in point: last week I was on an early evening walk. These walks happen more frequently these days as it’s a wee bit cooler here in North GA at 7pm than it is at 5pm, which is when I usually walk right after work. In the interest of getting it done more quickly, I’ll usually walk in a neighboring subdivision rather than get in the car and drive to one of our nearby AWESOME parks, as the drive takes a little bit of time. Anyhow, during last week’s walk I came upon a home with a “For Sale” sign out front. Also out front was a kettle grill that appeared to be in pretty good shape. It also had a hand written sign attached that said, “FREE!” I called The Hubs to tell him about it, but, alas, got voice mail. I was afraid it wouldn’t still be there by the time I got home walking at my somewhat leisurely pace so I stepped it up a bit and high-tailed it home. As it turns out The Hubs was in the basement when my call came and he didn’t hear the phone (note to self-time to put a phone in the basement!). He couldn’t imagine why I would want someone’s old kettle grill since we already have a gas grill AND a Big Green Egg. I don’t want it to USE, I want it to SELL!! We no longer have a truck and it wouldn’t fit in the Jeep, so he wondered how we were going to get it home. “In the back of my car,” I said. Once he got over the shock of me putting something dirty and dusty in my car, he agreed to go with me to see if it was still there. It WAS! We brought a giant trash bag to put any trash in (turns out there was still a good bit of unburned charcoal in it) and a tarp to put it on. We put the seats down in my car, loaded it up, and brought it home. On closer inspection we found that the mechanism that allows for air flow adjustment is rusted stuck but a little penetrating oil should do the trick in getting it working again. Next yard sale this lovely will be front and center to be sold. Cha-CHING!!

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Now, before you think I’ve completely lost my mind, I’m not getting into the habit of going through people’s trash to find things to use or to sell. However, if something looks to be in pretty good shape and someone is just throwing it away, I’m not opposed to bringing it home to either use if I have a use for it, or to sell to make a little bit of pocket money. The Hubs thinks he’s created a monster-he might be right!

So tell me-have you ever taken something someone has left at the curb home with you? Be honest!! Leave a comment and we can celebrate our thriftiness together!

Be well and God Bless-until we meet again…

The Hubs’ Change Jar

“A journey of a thousand miles starts with a single penny.” Unknown

More often than not, I’m in bed each night by 9pm. Recently there was a rare occasion where I stayed up past my bedtime talking to the Hubs about my need to think of something to write about. He said I should write about his change jar. Great idea, so here it is…

When the Hubs and I were first married he had a side job as a bartender at the all-ranks club on the base where we were stationed. Many a night the security police flight working the swing shift would make it worth his while to keep the club open past closing time, so they could unwind a bit after getting off their shift. One of my favorite memories of those days was sitting on the living room floor with him rolling his tips into coin wrappers. We lived in Belgium at the time, so the tip money would be both American and Belgian currency. It was amazing to me how much accumulated in a short period of time. A lot of the time, that money was my grocery money. These days I don’t need rolled tips for my grocery money, but the Hubs still sets aside his coins for fun money.

His change jar is nothing fancy. He took an empty jar that once had pretzels from Sam’s Club in it, cut a hole in the top, and put the lid back on. Every day when he comes home from work any change in his pockets, along with the occasional 1-dollar bill and the coins he finds lying on the ground that he CAN’T pass up,  goes into the jar. I can’t tell you how many times I thought he was going to be hit by a car because he couldn’t leave a stray penny lie… About once a quarter he’ll sit on the floor and roll the coins into change wrappers and count up the bills, so he knows how much he has. Sometimes he’ll take some of the dollar bills with him to a motorcycle swap meet or a gun show. It’s funny-his brother calls the dollar bills his “stripper money”. LOL!!

Back in the days pre-Older Wiser Money Miser, I would dip into the change jar (usually when we were on vacation) and hit the outlet mall. One of my personal favorites is the Dooney & Bourke outlet in Destin, FL. I’m glad those things hold up as well as they do because it’ll be a long time before I need to buy a new bag! The last trip we took the change jar money was our eating out money. We had vacation money set aside but the change jar money was a nice added extra that helped stretch our vacation funds.

Saving money this way is painless! It’s done slowly so you don’t miss it, and it really adds up. One thing the Hubs wanted me to tell y’all is to actually wrap the coins yourself. DON’T take them to the Coinstar machine and have the store take 7% (or more!) of your money! You can usually get coin wrappers for free from your bank or you can find them cheap at your local dollar store. Some banks require you to put your name on the wrapper just in case the count is wrong. If you receive pre-printed return address labels from charities soliciting donations those are perfect for slapping on a coin wrapper. Put the wrapped coins back in your change jar until you’re ready to spend them-it’s much easier to spend paper money than it is coins so you’re more likely to save the money for its intended purpose if you make it hard to spend!

So, do you have a change jar? I’d love to hear some of your strategies for saving a little fun money for yourself!

Be well and God Bless-until we meet again…

The Day the Ketchup Ran Out

“If I could snap my fingers and be non autistic, I would not. Autism is part of what I am.” Dr. Temple Grandin

Since I started blogging I’ve started following other blogs for inspiration. One of the blogs I follow is written by Laurie Stone. Her blog post about the day the chocolate ran out struck a chord with me, admittedly because of a Facebook memory that had popped up recently. A tragedy, at least in my household, had fallen upon us. It was, [cue the dramatic music here]

THE DAY THE KETCHUP RAN OUT.

My son was born in 1983 a normal, healthy 8+ pound boy. By the time he turned 2 he was not speaking so we did what every parent would do-we took him to the doctor to find out why. The Hubs was in the Air Force at the time and we were living in Italy, so the doctor was not just down the street-it was a 3-hour one-way trip on a bus on a Friday. Still, it needed to be done so we made the appointment, got on the bus, and off we went. That appointment lead to another, which lead to another, and yet another. These trips ultimately lead to a diagnosis which, at the time, I had no idea would shape my world for my remaining days.

Autism means different things to different people-they don’t call it a spectrum for nothing! In his younger days, until he started speaking, life with my Sonny was a difficult one. The therapists taught us how to communicate using American Sign Language, which we used in conjunction with spoken language until we finally learned how to communicate with each other. The difference was amazing, and a whole lot less frustrating for all of us. He went through school, graduated, went through a job training program, and he’s working and thriving today. He still lives at home and will for the foreseeable future. I cannot imagine life around here without him, autism and all.

Which brings me to The Day The Ketchup Ran Out. One of our rituals (people with autism LOVE rituals) is a Saturday trip to the grocery store. I make the menu, clip the coupons, make the list, and off we go. I count on Sonny to keep tabs on certain things in the kitchen and one of them is our ketchup supply. He eats practically EVERYTHING with ketchup. Rice, vegetables, mashed potatoes, you name it. Even if something is fixed with a sauce or a gravy, it still gets the ketchup treatment. It’s weird and gross as heck to me, but that’s how he rolls so who am I to judge? Then one day about 3 years ago, this happened…

Ketchup Ran Out

We had just been to the grocery store and he didn’t say anything, so I had no reason to think we were out of ketchup. It was when we were sitting down to dinner that evening that he finally said something to me. The look on his face was nothing short of pitiful. He would have to sit down and eat a meal with NO KETCHUP. In an autistic person’s world, this is a HUGE deal. I don’t remember what I fixed that night, I only know that he had to eat it “dry” or go hungry. He ate it and survived the night. You can be sure by that time 24 hours later the house was fully stocked with ketchup! This was 3 years ago, and it hasn’t happened since. I very much doubt that it will ever happen again!

Life with a guy with special needs living in my house is a huge challenge sometimes, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I wouldn’t have my Sonny any other way.  He’s perfect just the way he is.

To learn more about autism, please click here. It’s not always as scary as it sounds.

Be well and God Bless-until we meet again…

Special Friday Post-Christmas in July

Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.

“A deal is a deal, except for when it’s not…” Older Wiser Money Miser, July 2018

I’m posting a special Friday post to commemorate the upcoming “Christmas in July”, also known as AMAZON PRIME DAY!! For the uninitiated, Amazon Prime Day is a special day of deals that occurs once a year. You must be an Amazon Prime member in order to take advantage of the deals. The complete guide to how Amazon Prime Day works can be found here. Amazon has extended Prime Day to a day and a half-it begins at 3pm ET on Monday, July 16 and will end 36 hours later.

Amazon Prime Day offers a GREAT opportunity to make purchases taking advantage of some awesome deals, but it’s also a prime opportunity to get sucked in and buy things you don’t necessarily need but end up buying because of the dreaded F.O.M.O. Before you buy anything, be sure it is something you truly need and will use. The temptation will be great but if you use a good bit of restraint and common sense you should be OK.

IF you find something you truly need, and IF it’s in your budget, by all means take advantage of the sale. If not, step away from the computer, put your card back in your wallet, and DON’T MAKE THE PURCHASE!! If you should decide to shop on Prime Day, I would be most appreciative if you would shop using the link here. I will earn a commission for each sale at no additional cost to you. Thank you.

Be well and God Bless-until we meet again…

Recurring payments – friend or foe?

“When you pay attention to detail, the big picture will take care of itself.” George St-Pierre

Technology these days makes it very easy to pay for things without your being aware of it. When I started on my frugal journey one of the things that surprised me was the number of items I had set up on autopay. It was only after I really started paying attention to my finances that I realized how many of these things I was subscribed to. Some of them hit before I had a chance to cancel them, but they were cancelled immediately so the charges won’t recur. When this happened once too many times to make me happy I did a good scan of my accounts to look for recurring charges. When I found them, I went to the vendor website and cancelled the recurring charge. It took some time, but it was worth taking the trouble since most of the recurring charges were for items I was no longer using. How crazy is that? Some of the items it was just a simple “click” on their website to cancel the charge but on others I had to actually get on the phone, stay on hold for what seemed like forever, and talk to someone whose job it is to talk me out of canceling. They’re good, but I was better! I figure I have probably saved myself at least $100 per month by taking the time to do this, which makes my wallet very happy. The vendors, not so much…I recently got a postcard in the mail from a vendor whose account I had removed from autopay because I no longer need their service. The postcard had all kinds of gloom and doom predictions if I didn’t renew the autopay to the subscription. Oh, the HUMANITY! I think I’m good, thanks.

While I did my analysis the old-fashioned way, I thought I’d take a look and see if technology was available to do the search for me. Lo and behold, it is! I truly think there IS an app for just about everything. While I’ve never used any of these products I wanted to make you aware that they are available so that you know what your options are. I’m not a paid endorser of any of the products listed and accept no liability for their performance. (Yep-it’s those pesky lawyers talking again…) Special thanks to creditcards.com

https://www.truebill.com/

https://www.asktrim.com/

https://claritymoney.com/

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/hiatus-manage-subscriptions/id977040079?mt=8

It’s a worthwhile exercise to really take a close look at your financial statements so you can get a handle on your spending, including your recurring charges, so you can keep track of where your money is going. Make it work for you!

Be well and God Bless-until we meet again…

Leftovers – A Cook’s Best Friend

“The most remarkable thing about my mother is that for 30 years she served the family nothing but leftovers. The original meal has never been found.” Calvin Trillin

Someone in a Facebook group I frequent asked the question, “Do you eat/serve leftovers?” I would have thought the obvious answer is, “but of COURSE” but I was surprised by the number of people turning up their noses at the very thought of serving a meal made up of leftovers. As I write this, I’m sitting at my desk eating a midday meal of leftover spaghetti and it is nothing short of FABULOUS! There’s something about tomato sauce with herbs and spices sitting in the fridge overnight that does something wonderful to the flavor. The meal was good when I fixed it for my family last night but it’s so much better today now that the flavors have had a chance to blend. Yum-O!! Chili is another food that just tastes better when it’s had a chance to sit for a bit.

In addition to the better flavor, serving leftovers is a food budgeter’s best friend. What a waste it would have been to throw away the leftover food after the meal I fixed last night. While I don’t typically eat out at lunchtime, on the days I don’t have something from the previous night’s meal to take to work I usually have a frozen meal for my lunch. On rare occasion I can find them for under $2 in my grocery store but typically they’re usually around $2.50-$3.00 apiece. Since I buy my ground beef in bulk at Sam’s Club, use store brand pasta, and use a store brand can of crushed tomatoes as the base for the sauce, my homemade spaghetti usually costs between $1 and $1.50 per serving. It doesn’t sound like much savings, but over time it definitely adds up! An added bonus is that I know exactly what’s in it.

While I haven’t started doing it regularly yet, once I get better organized I plan on starting to cook in bulk on the weekends to make my weekdays a little easier. I started that process earlier this week by smoking a pork butt I found on sale before the 4th of July holiday. I paid a bit over $13 for this lovely and smoked it on my Big Green Egg for 10 hours. Oh, my HEAVENS was it good! The size of this piece of meat was MUCH too large for my family of 3 to eat at one sitting so after pulling it I portioned it out and put it in freezer bags. That one day of cooking will provide my family with 4 main course meals and save me a TON of time. It can go straight from the freezer to the table in no more time than it will take to reheat it. SCORE!

Pork Butt

So now I must ask you-do you serve leftovers to your family? If not, why? If so, what are some of your favorites? Please let me know in the comments-I’m always looking for new money saving delicious meal ideas!

Be well and God Bless-until we meet again…

Peace of Mind is Just an Attitude Adjustment Away…

“What you allow is what will continue…” Unknown

I love a good advice-giving meme as much as the next person and have been known to share the ones I think are worth sharing but when they start to contradict each other it’s hard to know which piece of advice to follow. One the one hand, you have the memes telling you that you should stop feuding, be the bigger person, and kiss & make up with the person you’ve been feuding with. Flip the coin and you have the memes telling you to “cut the toxic out of your life”.  What do you do if the toxic in your life is caused by the same person you’re feuding with? Worse yet, what if that person CAN’T be cut from your life? It could be a family member, a coworker, your boss, or someone else in your life whose presence drains the life out of you but, because of the dynamic involved in your relationship with this person, they can’t just be cut from your life without consequence. What do you do?

In all likelihood the behavior of the person causing you grief is never going to change unless they want it to. For whatever reason, this person has decided you’re a good target for their special brand of nasty. The first thing to remember is nothing you do or say is going to make it go away-only the person spreading the ugly can do that. Realizing this is the first step in dealing with the behavior and not letting it negatively affect you. Always remind yourself-you have full control over how you react to others in your space. I’m not saying it will be easy (trust me-it’s NOT!!), but it can be done. In days past I have been known to walk around like Eeyore with a cloud over my head because of something someone said to me. They go along with their day merrily ever after while I’m stuck stewing in misery because of nothing more than a few ugly words. It’s taken a whole lot of soul searching to realize the motivation these people have is to make themselves feel better by making you feel bad. If you feel bad, their mission is accomplished. Don’t give them that power! Mean for the sake of mean is a very revealing personality trait and once you recognize it for what it is it’ll never have the same effect on you again. The crazy thing is, once you change your reaction and the bully isn’t getting their desired result, the bullying will most likely stop. If it doesn’t you can at least be safe in the knowledge that you truly have been the bigger person and your reward for that is your own peace of mind.

Be well and God Bless-until we meet again…