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…

Embracing Compromise

“Whatever you do in life, surround yourself with smart people who’ll argue with you.” John Wooden

I had a conversation with my nephew Matt recently. Matt is a Marine Corps veteran (ooo-RAH!), married with 2 sweet little girls, and a recent college graduate getting ready to enter the work force as a civilian. I wanted to advise him about being sure to sign up for his employer’s retirement plan and he let me know he was on it! One topic led to another and we ended up discussing money management styles. While the conversation was not adversarial in the least, we didn’t exactly agree on how to do things, either. I’m a little bit “snowball” and he’s a little bit “avalanche”. (See what I did there?) (Please-some of you older readers let me know you get this reference!!) While I decided to be smart and remind him that avalanches start with snowballs, I definitely saw his point. He wasn’t comfortable dealing with his situation using the snowball method, and who am I to say he’s wrong? It works for him and his family and he’s working a plan. In the end, that is the most important thing. Lesson learned!

Even in my own situation I’ve found compromise is the best way to get it done. When the Hubs and I sat down to write our very first budget, he let me know in no uncertain terms that he had his own ideas on how he wanted to get our financial house in order before his impending retirement. His ideas were a little bit out of kilter with mine but rather than be stagnant and do nothing, we talked it over and decided a little bit of my way and a little bit of his way was the way to go. We are getting it done together using a variety of ideas from different sources that we’ve made our own. It really makes no difference how you get there. Communicating effectively, having a concrete plan that works, and reaching your goals is all that matters in the long run.

Be well and God Bless-until we meet again…

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.