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…

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…

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…