A few updates to past posts…

“If all the cars in the United States were placed end to end, it would probably be Labor Day Weekend.” Doug Larson

This weekend marks 3 months since my blogging adventure started. It’s gone by in a blur! This Monday also marks the Labor Day holiday here in the US. Sonny is working but Hubs and I have a long weekend. We’ll take Sonny to work and then head somewhere for breakfast. Tradition…anyhow, I thought I’d take this opportunity to update you on some of my past posts…

In one of my very earliest posts I shared something I see on my way to work most mornings-a gentleman out for his morning walk picking up the trash he finds along side of the road. When a good opportunity presented itself I pulled over to tell him that I had noticed what he was doing and to thank him for his efforts. His name is Mr. Todd, and he told me he has officially adopted this stretch of road to keep it clear of trash. He said that he saw a need and just decided to fill it. We should take a lesson from him and be as conscious of the environment around us. Mr. Todd is doing his part to make his world (and mine!) just a little bit better. In my humble opinion there’s a special place in heaven reserved for people like him. 🙂

Something funny happened recently that made me reflect on my post about grocery shopping. Vacation time came and I got a little bit lax in sticking to my grocery list. Once I came to my senses, I got super serious about it and let the guys know-if you come to the grocery store with me, we ARE sticking to the list that is made before we leave the house! You’d better let me know what you need before I head to the store-if it’s not on the list, I’m not buying it! I had to eat a bit of humble pie when Sonny and I got to the store one day and I started eyeballing something I had forgotten to write down. He looked at me and said, in all seriousness, “is that on the list??” Um, no-it wasn’t. He was right and I let him know that. Then I left the item on the shelf. I didn’t call him, “rude”, either!!

Recently I shared the adventure Hubs, Sonny and I had when we thought we had some kind of wildlife in our attic. I still swear something was up there-Hubs even discovered that the bait he had put in the trap (peanut butter base with a piece of no-melt bird suet stuck to the middle) was gone when he went to check on the trap. It didn’t spring, so whatever ate that food had a nice meal and then went on its merry way, probably to take a nap. To date, we haven’t caught anything.  Update to the update…while I was out of town Hubs discovered what was scurrying around our attic. Not a cute, fluffy squirrel but icky, nasty MICE! He thinks they got in through the garage door in the basement and crawled up the studs into the attic. He’s caught 3 so far-who knows how many are left. He can’t get rid of them soon enough for me!! As for what we thought was the entry point for the now non-existent squirrel, those branches needed to be cut, anyhow. My story… 🙂

That’s all the updates in my world. I hope things in your world are going well.

Be well and God Bless-until we meet again…

My Top 5 Money Saving Tips

“A simple fact that is hard to learn is that the time to save money is when you have some.” Joe Moore

How true this is! Pretty obvious when you stop to think about it, but sometimes wisdom comes from being smacked in the head by the reality of a situation rather than the obvious. Which brings me to today’s subject. I’d like to share with you my top 5 favorite ways to save money. Here we go…

1-Sell Some Stuff. If you’re anything like me, you have a house full of stuff you don’t use taking up space that would be better used if so much stuff wasn’t there! As I told you in my post about F.O.M.O., the fall yard sale is on the schedule. Gather up the stuff you’re no longer using and sell it. It gets the clutter out of your house and you’ll have a bit of pocket change to show for your trouble.

2-Pay yourself first. Put a line item in your budget to pay yourself. I love this idea because it’s just so simple. Budget for your emergency fund, put the money aside, and leave it. It’ll be there right when you need it most. Hubs has a job that offers a retirement plan he can contribute to, and it comes directly out of his paycheck, but mine does not. I’m still saving for retirement, though, by having a Roth IRA that is funded monthly. There’s a line item in the budget for that, too. Put that money aside and let it grow!

3-Look for recurring charges. Review your expenses for recurring charges for items you’re no longer using. Stopped going to the gym? Stop paying for it! Have subscriptions for magazines you’re no longer reading? Cancel them! I had a spa membership that was ridiculously expensive and, odd as this sounds, was starting to turn into a chore to keep up. It’s gone and I don’t miss it. Don’t pay for things you’re not using. You’ll be surprised to see how much extra money you’ll have. Just don’t spend it buying more STUFF!

4-Make and stick to a list. When grocery shopping, make a list. More importantly, STICK TO YOUR LIST!! Grocery stores are the BEST at marketing to people as they stroll the aisles. “Off the list here”, and “off the list there” adds up very quickly. Stick to your list and you’ll be fine. Another sure fire way to not impulse buy is to use a grocery pick up service if your store offers it. Shop online and pick up your order at the store. They bring it to your car so you never have to go into the store. What a WONDERFUL thing for parents with small children!! Sonny loves going to the store so I haven’t tried one of these services yet. I will be soon (much to his chagrin!) and I’ll report back when I do. Oh, one more thing…if you do go into the store, DON’T SHOP HUNGRY!!

5-Eat at home. When I was a child, eating out was a rare treat reserved for special occasions. The restaurant world has changed a bunch since those days, as have people’s eating habits. Some eat out daily for at least 1 meal. This was a HUGE one in my family-I’d get home after a long day and it was so much easier to fire up the iPad and order a pizza instead of fixing a meal. I had plenty of food in the house, but I just didn’t want to deal with cooking. I’m happy to say this is a bad habit I’ve managed to smash to bits. I’m sure the pizza guy misses us terribly but I cannot remember the last time I had a fully cooked meal delivered to my house. Aside from being better for your wallet, food you fix yourself is usually MUCH healthier, as you have full control over what goes in it. This includes lunch, too-pack a lunch instead of eating out and your budget,  and probably your waistline, will thank you!

I’ve shared my Top 5 money saving tips, what are some of yours? Please leave a comment and share your best money saving ideas.

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…

#FFwF

“Never, ever underestimate the importance of having fun.” Randy Pausch

With summer in full swing here in the Northern Hemisphere, thoughts are turning to how to enjoy the warmer weather and the longer days. Doing it on a budget can be a challenge but it’s really not that hard if you do a little homework.  A post on Facebook by my new friend Ruth caught my eye recently. She titled it, “Free Summer Fun” and used the hashtag #FFwF, or Free Fun with Friends. Quoting from her post, “When I am intently focused on money, numbers, savings and bills it can be easy to get a bit “myopic” and focused on what I don’t have or what I can’t do. And so to combat that, I have become very intentional and invitational about doing what I call “Free Fun with Friends, #FFwF. I put it out on my Facebook page that I am seeking companions to join me in doing free things on Fridays (my day off). A couple … people have expressed “concern” or things like “you’ve got to treat yourself sometimes” but overwhelmingly people have jumped on the idea and even taken the tag on themselves. In my area, over 100 museums are open for free admission one Friday during the summer and I have had 4 friends take me up on doing one of those this summer (an art museum, an historical museum and a specimen garden). I have hikes scheduled with 3 different friends, a games night with a few other people and some crafting dates with others. I am also working on finding dates with others to use free museum passes available through my public library or that friends have access to through their libraries. For each one we always pack a lunch and picnic, sometimes in the car and spend time just catching up and relaxing.”

I loved this idea and asked if I could share it with you. She graciously agreed and gave me a link to the site she uses in her area to find free fun things to do-if you’re in New England, check it out! http://www.highlandstreet.org/programs/free-fun-fridays

Being on a budget does NOT mean the fun in your life is over-it just means you need to do a little searching and planning to find the fun and save the money!  A Google search of “free fun stuff to do in [insert location name here]” came up with no less than 130 different free or low cost things to do in my town. One of my favorites is the monthly movie night held in the town center. Pack a picnic, bring a blanket, and watch a family friendly movie with your neighbors! They’re not first run movies but the price is right!

For my readers in America, have a wonderful July 4th Independence Day holiday. Be safe and have fun!

Be well and God Bless-until we meet again…

Never too early/Not too late

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. I will only recommend items I have personally used and all opinions are my own.

“When I was young I used to think that money was the most important thing in life; now that I’m old, I know it is.” Oscar Wilde

Ahh, retirement. That time of life where you can kick back and read a book all day long and no one will notice or care (unless the Honey-Do list is going unattended or dinner isn’t fixed…). Maybe you want to do volunteer work with your favorite charity. What could be better? Travel the world? Yes, please… All these things sound great until reality hits you in the face like a flying fish thrown at Pike Place.

A show of hands, please. And age of the reader does not matter. Have you started saving for retirement? For you youngsters, it’s never too early. For those of you who, like me, are of “a certain age”, it’s not too late to get started.

First, for the youngsters…

Think of something in life you’ve made a habit out of. Weekly manicure? Daily trip to the coffee shop? Movies out? While having fun with your money is one of the joys of becoming an adult, it’s never too early for you to start thinking about your retirement years. It seems like a lifetime away, and it is, but that lifetime will fly by in a wink. You’ll look around 40 years from now and wonder where the time went. Trust me on this one…What if you took some of that money you’re spending on indulgences and put it away for the proverbial rainy day? And before you think I’m against indulging yourself, the occasional indulgence is perfectly fine. It’s the daily & weekly indulgences that probably need to be given a second look as they can add up pretty quickly. Anyhow, if your employer offers a 401(k) or 403 (b) plan, take advantage of it. If they offer a match, contribute at least the minimum matching amount. More is better. but you don’t want to leave free money on the table! It’s also likely you can contribute to an Individual Retirement Account, or IRA, at the same time. You should consult with a professional financial advisor (as I am NOT one!) to advise you on what your individual limits are. Don’t wait on this-compound interest is a thing, and something you want to take advantage of early and often!

Now on to the older folks…

According to a study cited by Chris Hogan in his book, “Retire Inspired”, close to 35% of American retirees over the age of 65 rely almost entirely on a Social Security payment that averages only around $1,194 per month. He also cites studies that show half of 401(k) participants only have $10,000 saved for retirement. That’s scary stuff! I don’t know about you but that doesn’t sound like travel around the world money to me. The good news is, it’s not too late to get started saving for retirement. After age 50 the 2018 contribution limit into an IRA increases to $6,500. As with the youngsters, it’s best to rely on the advice of a professional financial planner to set you up and get your savings going. Depending on your situation there are multiple strategies you can employ to get to your goal of a stress-free retirement and a pro can help you get there.

I cannot stress enough the idea that it’s not too late to start saving for retirement if you’re in your 40s, 50s, or even in your 60s, especially if you own property. There are ways to fund your retirement if you’re late to the table. Don’t wait, though-every day that goes by is a lost opportunity. Check with friends and family and get a recommendation for a good financial planner. Wall Street Journal also has a guide for choosing a financial planner including some of the questions to ask before working with one. You may have to interview one or more before you find one that will help you reach your goals but don’t let that stop you. A little homework now will save you frustration later! It may even keep you from having to work longer than you had expected.

Be well and God Bless-until we meet again…

Hide the packages…really?

“Whoever is careless with the truth in small matters cannot be trusted with important matters.” Albert Einstein

Back in the mid-1980s when the Hubs and I were living in Germany, I was out one night shopping BY MYSELF for a new coat. That didn’t happen often, and it was nice to be out for a little bit on my own. I found the most fabulous coat but it was, in my eyes, outrageously expensive! It was perfect, but it was MUCH more money than I’d ever spent on an item of clothing for myself in my life. Before I bought it, I called home to make sure the Hubs was OK with me spending that kind of money on the coat. I didn’t need his permission, but I felt like I needed to run it by him before I made the purchase. It was a good investment as I still have this coat and I still wear it to this day.

This story of my long-ago coat purchase brings me to a meme making the rounds recently on Facebook. It has me a bit perplexed and, quite frankly, a little bugged. It’s a picture of a doormat with a phrase that goes something like, “Postman, UPS guy, whoever, please hide packages from husband.” At first glance it was cute but then I started thinking about it a little. What kind of relationship exists when one spouse feels the need to hide purchases from the other? In addition to hiding the spending, I can see/hear the purchaser telling a child who witnesses the purchase to, “Don’t tell Daddy”, or “Don’t tell Mommy”, and bringing a child into the lie. In essence, spending money without your spouse’s knowledge is a lie. What kind of example does that set? I may be making a bit more out of this than what is there in reality, but I can see how some relationships actually exist like this. In my not-so-humble opinion, it’s a recipe for disaster both relationally and financially.

I don’t mean to sound judgmental but if you have a good relationship with your spouse, such behavior is SO unnecessary!! Spouses who communicate openly about their finances don’t need to hide their spending from each other! The obvious solution to this dilemma is to, wait for it, BUDGET for it! If you really don’t want your spouse to know what you’re buying, put a line item in your budget setting aside an amount each spouse can spend without consulting the other. The Hubs and I do this and it works really well. We can’t really avoid each other’s eyerolls over some of our purchases, but we have absolutely no say in how each of us spends the money we set aside for ourselves. And if what you’re wanting to buy costs more than what you have budgeted, revisit your budget or save up for it! OMG, what a concept! OK, that was a little judgmental-I admit it. It’s really just common sense, though. That, and showing respect for your spouse. Oh, and let’s not forget that trust thing. It’s pretty important.

Be well and God Bless-until we meet again…