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…

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…

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…

F.O.M.O is a Four Letter Word

“For everything you have missed, you have gained something else, and for everything you gain, you lose something else.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

Think about how much we are bombarded these days with offers too good to be true. Offers that are only good for the dreaded “Limited Time Only!!” How many times have you been sucked in and opened your wallet only to be filled with regret later that the too good to be true offer was, indeed, that?

I was presented with an opportunity recently that was related to something I have been thinking about doing for a good while. It was a GREAT opportunity but, naturally, as with all things opportunity related, there was a cost involved. Not bank breaking, but not something I could ever think about spending significant money on without discussing it with the Hubs first. More on that later.

F.O.M.O. Four little letters filled with angst. For the uninitiated, F.O.M.O. is an acronym for Fear Of Missing Out. (There’s an acronym for EVERYTHING these days, isn’t there??) Infomercials are the worst offenders when it comes to stoking the F.O.M.O. flames. I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve gotten sucked in on occasion. There are several shelves in my basement filled with my impulse buys because it was “such a great deal!” and “I just have to have this NOW!” and the worst- “if I don’t get it NOW it won’t be here later!” I’m currently scheduling my fall yard sale.

Part of the “Older Wiser” in “Older Wiser Money Miser” comes from my thought process evolving away from the “I MUST BUY THIS NOW” mentality to being intentional my funds. Advertisers don’t make it easy, and my email is constantly filled with stores and websites generously offering their advice about how I should best spend my money. While I’ve unsubscribed from some of the more obnoxious offerings, most of the others are treated with a visit from my “DELETE” key pretty regularly. One of the perks of no longer having my satellite TV service is that I no long have access to QVC on my television. I used to keep it on for background noise and boy, are they GOOD at getting people to open their wallets! I still get their emails, and occasionally I’ll find something I need and the price is right, but I no longer subject myself to the drumbeat of the “great” deal.

The most important thing to remember is that it’s the job of the seller to sell stuff. Capitalism at its finest, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. As a responsible steward of your money, however, it’s your job to determine whether you truly need what the seller is buying, and if it’s worth the price they want you to pay. Sometimes it is, but most of the time it’s not. If you’re looking at something you think you need, sleep on it. If you still want/need it in the morning, it’ll still be there. If it’s not, the world keeps turning and Life Goes On (hat tip to Todd Rundgren).

Back to that GREAT opportunity I referred to earlier. After giving it some thought, I decided that it wasn’t the right time for me to commit my hard earned funds to something I’m not 100% sure I want to do. The “old” me would’ve jumped on it and regretted it later when it didn’t pan out like I had envisioned it would. The “older wiser” me is at peace with my decision with the knowledge I can revisit it later or possibly find it somewhere else better and cheaper! That, my friends, is progress like I never thought possible for myself, and you’re struggling with F.O.M.O., it’s possible for you, too.

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…