I Fired my Housekeeper…

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“Good things happen when you get your priorities straight.” Scott Caan

I fired my housekeeper. Those of you who know me know what a big deal that is! You know how long and hard I fought for the “privilege” of paying someone to clean my house. It took me at least 25 years to break the Hubs down and get him to agree to this and once I did there was no going back! No going back, at least, until I took a good hard look at where my money was going. Paying someone to clean my house was probably one of the most self-indulgent things I’ve ever done in my life. I felt a good bit of shame when I thought about it because it really was selfish but what’s done is done. Since Doctor Who isn’t a “thing” in my world, there’s no turning back time to change anything. Moving on…

So now that I’m back to cleaning my own house again, I’ve had to figure out how to do it efficiently since I’m still as busy as I ever was. Once the Hubs got over the shock of me agreeing to fire the housekeeper, he agreed to take on some of the house cleaning chores. That was HUGE for me, since during the time before we had a housekeeper I was primarily responsible for keeping everything up. Between the Hubs, Sonny and me, we’ve divided up the chores so that everyone is contributing to keeping the house neat. It’s not perfect by any means but I couldn’t be happier! Now if I could only figure out a way to keep the dogs from shedding…

I’ve decided the best way to proceed is to stick to basically the same 2x/month schedule we had with the housekeeper. While I’m not a drill sergeant about it, we all know what we need to do and when we need to do it. My primary housekeeping job is the bathrooms. As much as I love them, there’s NO way my guys could clean bathrooms the way I think they need to be cleaned. Thankfully we only have 2 (at least until the basement is finished, but that’s a WHOLE other story…) so it only takes me about an hour 2x/month to get it done. It amazes me that I couldn’t find the time to do this in the past! 2 hours a month! D’oh!

One of the great time and money saving cleaning hacks I’ve discovered is the Vinegar & Blue Dawn hack. Vinegar is well known as a great natural cleaner and it is also a natural disinfectant. Not hospital grade disinfectant but it’ll kill some germs. Anyhow, I mix equal parts of blue Dawn dish liquid (it has to be blue for some reason but I’m good with that) and vinegar and put it in a spray bottle. It’s a little messy so I don’t use it on everything but I do use it on my bath tubs & shower. You could probably use the vinegar by itself but the Dawn helps it stick to the shower walls. Spray and leave for a few minutes, then rinse. The vinegar smell is not overwhelming, and I can’t remember the last time I saw my shower so shiny! It’s the little things, right?

Before y’all start thinking I’m the nastiest housekeeper this side of Oscar’s trash can, for the toilets and sinks it’s bleach all the way, baby! Lysol makes a good cleaner with bleach, and you can usually find coupons and sales at your grocery stores regularly. I stock up whenever I see it on sale.

I had been using paper towels but that got pretty costly pretty fast. The Hubs is a car guy and he usually has a pretty good supply of microfiber shop towels on hand. I’ll snag a few from his supply and keep them separate from his so that I’m not cleaning with greasy towels. Occasionally I’ll accompany him on his trips to the auto parts store or the hardware store and the microfiber towels they sell are usually a pretty good bargain! If you need something with a bit more scrubbing power, Mr. Clean Magic Erasers are daBOMB!

So, what are some of your time saving, money saving cleaning hacks? Please share in the comments!

Be well and God Bless…until we meet again.

 

Grocery shopping on a budget

Eating on a budget. A phrase that strikes fear in the heart of EVERY foodie I’ve ever known…

“Ask not what you can do for your country. Ask what’s for lunch” – Orson Welles

Eating on a budget. A phrase that strikes fear in the heart of EVERY foodie I’ve ever known. Visions of “Beans and Rice, Rice and Beans” (hat tip to Dave Ramsey) or Spam casserole lurking (not dancing, LURKING) through their heads. If you want to eat on a budget, your food MUST be cheap, right? Truth is, eating well and being frugal does NOT mean eating cheap. I can remember several years ago I invited friends over for dinner and suddenly realized I had very little money and 12 (gulp-TWELVE!) hungry mouths to feed. I had 3 rather large boneless, skinless chicken breasts in my freezer and enough money in my pocket to buy some sides to go with them. I grilled the chicken breasts, cut them into bite sized pieces, and bought the ingredients to make a giant salad. Lettuce, cucumbers, tomatoes, cheese, and a couple of dressings. Along with a loaf of crusty bread, I created a salad bar for everyone to customize their salads to their taste. Those 3 chicken breasts fed my crowd a healthy meal and no one left hungry. To this day that meal is a staple in my house.

The USDA Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion publishes Cost of Food Reports stating what the average family should be paying for food on a weekly and monthly basis. The list is updated monthly and includes data in 4 separate cost levels. You can find the reports here.

Most of you have probably worked out your method of grocery shopping so what is about to follow is probably not new to you. If you think you’re spending too much money on food, however, it’s a worthy exercise to revisit your meal planning and shopping strategy. Here we go…

Meal planning on a budget is not rocket science but it is something that takes a little work to get good at. In my case, having a guy with Autism (or, as I prefer to call it, AWEtism) living with me makes it not only easy, but necessary. I developed the habit many years ago to make a menu to stem the flow of inevitable, “WHAT’S FOR DINNER?” queries. (And, yes, I meant to shout!) The menu is written and hangs on the refrigerator where everyone can see it. Before I sit down to write it, I make a mental note of what I have on hand. I also make sure I have a copy of my local grocery store’s sale flyer on hand for reference.

Once the menu is written it’s time to make the list. Don’t forget your breakfasts and lunches you can take to work (yes-we’re taking our lunch to work!). Be sure to write down EVERYTHING you think you’ll need. If something’s on sale and you have it in your budget, go ahead and stock up on that item providing you have room to store it. Be sure to include your family in the list making process so they can let you know if they need something. I keep a pad of paper with a pen in the kitchen, so they can write items down as they find they need them. This is important, because once the list is done, it’s DONE. Fini. Basta. No adding to it when you get to the store and see something shiny!

I’m sure y’all have heard this many times but it bears repeating. If you want to eat well and not spend a fortune, do not (I repeat, do NOT) enter any grocery store if you’re hungry. If you’re anything like me, you’ll fly through that store like Sherman stormed through Atlanta, no food will be safe, and your wallet will cry. I broke this cardinal rule recently and, if not for free samples, it would’ve gotten ugly REALLY fast!!

It’s probably not a good idea to shop with someone who can’t (or won’t) stick to a list because you WILL be sticking to that list. I used to allow my Sonny to add items to the cart at will. It was quite a shock to him when I actually made him put something back on the shelf that was not on the list. I believe the word he used was, “rude”. Yes, that was it. Rude. He quickly got over it when he saw I was serious. He’s actually a very good shopper and his eyes light up when he sees something he needs ON SALE! It makes him happy so it makes ME happy!

A word about coupons…where I live, at least, grocery stores are constantly changing their coupon policies. Double coupons used to be a wonderful thing, but you’d be hard pressed to find a store that offers double coupons now. Many manufacturer coupons force you to buy only certain items in their line or in strange quantities. It’s to the point where I don’t clip them much anymore although the store where I shop still allows stacking (Thank you, thebalanceeveryday.com!), which is nice.

So, what are some of your strategies for shopping for food on a budget? Do you have any favorite stores? Some good, healthy, budget friendly recipes? Leave a comment with some of your favorites!

Be well and God Bless-until we meet again…

A little Good News never hurt anyone

“Bad news isn’t wine. It doesn’t improve with age.” Colin Powell

If you’re anything like me, you watch the news for the weather and ignore most of the rest. “If it bleeds, it leads” is not too far off. I have absolutely NO intention of having heated discussions, political or otherwise, on this blog. There are plenty of other forums for that kind of thing. Periodically, I plan on sharing some of the good I observe in my day to day life and I hope you find it a refreshing distraction from the day to day STUFF that we see, hear and read every day. Now, on to the Good News of the day…

My commute to the office is a short one-less than 10 miles from my front door to the office. I’m usually out the door by 7 and at my desk by 7:30. My commute to work, thankfully, does not involve interstate driving so I can see what’s going on in the neighborhoods I’m driving through. There’s a guy out walking his dog-a nice sized Rottweiler who tries to “get” my car every time I drive by. He just wants to play and it makes me laugh every time I see him. Almost every day I see the same man and the same woman out for their morning run. Not together, but running the same sidewalk and getting it done before the nasty summer Georgia heat gets too unbearable. Then there’s the guy I’ve come to calling the Trash Guy…

Trash Guy is not a young man, but he’s not especially old, either. He’s got short curly hair that has more gray than blonde in it. He’s dressed as if he’s ready to go on a hike-floppy hat to keep the sun off his neck & head, cargo shorts, plaid cotton shirt, crew socks and what the Brits call “trainers” but we call tennis shoes whether they’re for tennis or not. Anyhow…he’s carrying a backpack and using a large walking stick.

The reason I call him Trash Guy is because he’s out most mornings picking up the trash on the side of the road. I don’t know what motivates him, but he sees a need and he’s filling it. I don’t see him every day, and I miss him when he’s not there, hoping it’s just because he’s decided to take the morning off and not because he’s ill or has some other trouble in his life he’s had to deal with.

I’ve often thought of stopping when I see him, rolling down the window, and shouting my thanks to him. I haven’t done it yet and I don’t really have a good excuse except to say that I’m driving and I have to watch for what is going on around me. I will promise you this, though-when a good opportunity presents itself I will stop and say, “hello” to him. I will ask his name and I will thank him for looking out for his neighborhood. I have no idea if he knows someone has noticed him and what he’s doing but he should be told his efforts are appreciated. I’ll report back when I have a chance to speak with him.

Be well and God Bless…until we meet again.

Budgeting basics

As I said in my introduction, I have not always been the best steward of the resources I have been blessed with. While I was not going insane with trying to keep up with the proverbial Joneses, I was not keeping very good tabs on where my money was going, either.

“A budget is telling your money where to go instead of wondering where it went.” Dave Ramsey

 As I said in my introduction, I have not always been the best steward of the resources I have been blessed with. While I was not going insane with trying to keep up with the proverbial Joneses, I was not keeping very good tabs on where my money was going, either. I was introduced to Dave Ramsey in late 2017 when I was scanning the channel listing on Sirius XM looking for something motivational to listen to. Little did I know my search would lead me to starting this blog!

One of the things Dave Ramsey teaches through his Baby Steps program is starting and, more importantly, sticking to a budget. I wrote my very first budget in my life (gulp!) in February 2018. I wrote down every single thing I was spending my money on. Once I got over the shame of it all, I got to work finding what I could eliminate. By the time I got finished I was able to cut a TON of wasteful spending that was doing absolutely NOTHING to help the Hubs and me accomplish our financial goals.

There are several resources that can be accessed online for free or minimal cost to help with writing a budget: (Insert necessary disclaimer here-I am not a paid endorser of any of the products listed. I am also not a certified financial planner and use of any of these products is at your own risk. Pesky lawyers…😊)

 

Every Dollar is a product of Ramsey Solutions. It is both PC and App based. The free version helps you set up your budget using pre-set categories but also gives you the option of setting up your own. The fee-based version of Every Dollar connects to your bank account to help you keep track in real time. Details of how the security of your data is ensured can be found here.

YNAB is an acronym for, wait for it, You Need A Budget! YNAB offers a free 34-day trial, after which an annual fee of $83.99 is charged. YNAB is both PC based and App based. YNAB connects to your banking institutions and one of the features of this one I especially like is the Goal Tracking. Security policy is found here.

Mint is a product of Intuit, the same company that brings us Quicken and Turbo Tax. It is a free product to download and use. It is also PC based as well as App based. Mint connects to your financial institutions (banks/credit unions, credit cards, etc.) to track your spending and suggests ways to help you save. They also ensure that your data is secure. Details of their security are found here.

I was not familiar with Pocket Guard but it was in a search I did so I thought I’d include it here to let you know it was out there. The list of Pocket Guard features is listed here. Details of their security are found here.

 

For those of us who are not wanting to deal with technology when budgeting, there’s the good, old-fashioned pencil & paper method, too. I really didn’t want to have my information in the webosphere (for the record, I just made that word up) so I keep my budget on a spreadsheet. It’s easily updated and easy for the Hubs and me to refer to when we have our monthly budget meeting. Yes, that’s necessary, too. For a long time I was solely responsible for the bill paying but it’s been a blessing to involve the Hubs in the process. I still do the actual bill paying but we talk regularly and do not commit our resources to anything without discussing it first. This, I think, is key. Life has been MUCH easier sharing this process with my spouse, and it helps that he knows what is going on, too.

Now, a little homework for y’all. Do you have a written budget that you follow monthly? If so, please share in the comments what method you’re using and how it is working for you. If you don’t currently have a written budget, I challenge you to start one. Look at it as a road map rather than as handcuffs. If you are married or in a committed relationship, your partner should be involved in the process. Communication is key!! Keep in touch and let me know how it’s going. I promise I’ll do the same.

 

Be well and God Bless…until we meet again.

In The Beginning…

“Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end” Closing Time – Semisonic

 

Hello, and welcome to the first and what I hope to be many, MANY years of posts about money, life, and whatever else strikes my fancy. By way of introduction, I’m a 50-something wife, mom, and full time accounting administrator. I’m also a reformed runner and avid walker who likes to participate in half marathons, 10K’s, and breast cancer distance charity walks. More on that later…

My husband (hereafter known as “The Hubs”) is a military veteran and a soon-to-be-retired letter carrier with the US Postal Service. Part of my reason for starting this blog is a bit on the selfish side-I have a LOT to learn about the transition from worker to retiree so I have a lot of research to do. I plan on sharing what I learn with you here.

As for the “mom” part of the equation, my son, whom I will refer to as “Sonny”, is a special needs adult who will be living at home for the foreseeable future. A lot of my and my husband’s lives, by necessity, revolve around his needs.

The name, “Older Wiser Money Miser” came about while I was training for my next race. A TON of inspiration comes to me while I’m out walking! I will admit to not always being a good steward of my money. Wasteful is a bit harsh, but if I’m being honest it’s the word I need to use. It was only recently, when The Hubs’ retirement started looming, that I took a good, hard look at how I was spending and decided it was time to stop being so wasteful. I cut a whole lot of waste out of my budget (now that I actually HAVE a budget) and became much more intentional with how I manage the household funds. I plan on sharing with you some of the tools & methods I’ve found so that you can see options and ultimately decide what is right for you.

The word, “miser” has a negative connotation and I was on the fence with using it for that reason. I’m not by any means a miserly person. I’m more of a frugal person, but “Older Wiser Money Frugal Person” doesn’t sound quite right to me for some reason…I decided on “Older Wiser Money Miser” because, well, because it rhymes. My story and I’m sticking to it! 😊

Be well and God Bless. Until we meet again…