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Habitat's Resale Store Comes Through!

August 31st, 2010 at 02:35 pm

We've been looking for a new cabinet to go over the stool in the bathroom remodel. The one I had up there was an antique-y looking one (crackle paint & old hardware) and Hubster thought it time for something else for prospective buyers. Ehhh.

The ones at the big box stores look like crap and they wanted at minimum $115 plus tax for them. I had checked at three different stores and nothing looked any good and the prices seemed awfully exaggerated for what you were getting. No sale.

CashHappySon and I went yesterday to metro area to do some banking and while we were there I thought we might as well take a chance and look at Habitat for Humanity's resale Store where they sell old and new lumber type items. Score! I wasn't exactly sure it would work so took Hubster over there today and we found the closet doors we also need for another room and the right cabinet. Total for 2 solid wood louvered closet doors and a bathroom cabinet? $16.28. Yippy-Ya! Lurv a good bargain.

I will have to repaint the cabinet, but I don't mind - I'd much rather do that than overpay for something ugly to begin with. I'll try to get some pics of the before & after looks to post later.

Also, I will likely take the old cabinet to the junque' booth and sell it at a good profit. It'll be all profit as I got it for free to begin with.

Lux Bites Bullet In Upcoming Bathroom Re-do

August 28th, 2010 at 04:40 am

This past week - we've met with and ordered from our plumbing contractor a new bathtub and surround, which will run about $1610 installed. Had to do it - the vinyl bathtub has been cracked for awhile (whoever installed it before we bought the house did not get the concrete base down correctly) and the tape job Hubster did to keep it from leaking was an okay short-term fix, but it's been needing doing, so we're biting the bullet. One less thing for potential buyers to balk at.

I went earlier in the week and bought the new hardware for the shower and replacement matching faucet for the sink, new towel hooks, toilet paper holder, new toilet seat, flush handle, valves, doo-whichies and doo-ma-bobs, etc. to the tune of $400.

Waving bye-bye to $2000 not so fun necessarily, but something we have saved for, so nothing debted for.

While I was at the big-box lumber store I was happy to see that to just buy the stuff to do the tub & surround in the materials we chose? $1474 plus tax, so it is very much to our advantage to have someone who knows what they are doing being the wrecking crew & installer instead of us. Cost difference is minimal - $136!


Boys and Hubster working hard on the yard this week. We got another load of the ice storm firewood to Dad, and there are probably 8 or more loads left! I bought my crew ice cream sundaes last night to the tune of $11 and change. Ordered a birthday DVD gift for $25ish yesterday off ebay.

Hotel de'Frugalis - It Costs How Much??

December 1st, 2009 at 04:49 am

Tried to make this post last night and it went to blipdom. Trying again!

How much does it cost to stay the night in the Hotel de'Frugalis? Or put another way, how much does it cost to live here each day? $13.68.

Mortgage $000.00 (pd. off 9/21/09)
Insurance $001.59
Taxes $001.66
Utilities $010.43
Daily Rate $013.68*
Monthly Rate $410.40
Yearly Rate $4924.80

I am not unhappy with this figure.

Cheaper than most hotels I can think of.

And, we just lowered our rates when we reshopped our house insurance. And costs may go down further this year as my heating bill just came in way under last year's balanced payment plan figures.

However, it does go to show you how much even a paid for home can cost you.

"You paid off your house! AWESOME - now you're on easy street baby!!!"

It might blow somebody's mind to think it still costs to live here if they don't consider true costs. The actual rate above would be higher still if I'd of managed to figure in upkeep, repair and maintenance dollars.

It's here where I get to thinking of something many of us ofteN overlook or just gloss over:

Cost vs. price.

Figuring out the true cost of home ownership.

And then I get into thinking about Use Value vs. Exchange Value.

In many countries a home isn't thought of for it's dollar value like it often is here in the US, but more for the tradition or use value as a home to flourish in that is purchased for generational use, rather than flipping potential or investment potential.

That being considered, here's a nice calculator on the buy vs. rent debate.


This gentleman's article goes on to help you figure out, if you're in the shopping conundrum of rent vs. buy, how to understand the Rent Ratio. A way to effectively compare apples to oranges. Yes, the article is a bit dated, but the ratio will still work.


Okay, so now that begs the question, how much does it cost you to stay in the Hotel of YouAndYours-dom?

Link: Cheapest Cars to Own

November 29th, 2009 at 11:05 am

Thought some of you might be interested in reading this one about the cheapest cars to own:


Watch that puppy run! So cool! I want one. WHINE!!!

One Wheel Vehicle

Childhood Bed - Before, During and After

November 28th, 2009 at 07:54 pm

Okay, here's the transformation via pictures. This was the bed my Mom got me from one of her patients, WAY, WAY back in the day. I think I got this when I was about 10 years old. It was OLD OLD OLD when I got it. I am near OLD now!

It has been re-veneered once by me about 23 years ago and has since barely survived my troops.

Costs - Gel medium paste to fill in splits & cracks 11.99, plus tax and about $18 gallon of paint which I have much of left for other future projects. Hubster had sandpaper already.

Got the bed-in-a-bag for $40 smackers. And, I already have similiar toile fabric to make new curtains.

Time invested - about 6 hours so far. I did A LOT of sanding!

BEFORE-in sunroom:


AFTER-in spare bedroom:

Earn A Bit o'Green On Black Friday?

November 27th, 2009 at 06:20 am

Today we go to my Dad's town to eat out at a buffet place for our Thanksgiving meal with him and my brother, and take Dad another load of firewood. Not sure if my sister will make it or not. I did just see her the other day as she, Mom & my niece took me out for my birthday luncheon. Last night the Mom & Stepdad parental units came by for general Thanksgiving feasting. Several places to visit/separate celebrations on holidays? Oh the joys of divorced parents! Means we stretch these events over several days!

I'm planning on participating in Jeffrey's (co-owner of Saving Advice dot com) Penny Experiment. Care to join me?


Do Black Plus Orange Equal Green? YES, today they do!

ING has some special offerings today on Black Friday only.


Think I'll take the $465ish I've been gathering together for our next CD purchase in our CD Savings Escrow Fund and add a bit to it to get to at least $500 & go ahead and do their 2%/12 month CD.

Yes, we have a line item in our budget called 'CD Savings Escrow' where we put back a bit of money each month towards purchasing CDs. Gather enough together to make it worthwhile and pop off & purchase one.

We also have line items for making 'Savings Bonds Purchases' and another for buying 'T-Bills' and the autoMAGIC ones for our 'DRIPS'. What can I say, I like having lots of various money piles!

And, I'm likely to bite on their $121 bonus for orange checking. Usually not a rate 'ho, but today, I think I will dally w/the orange in order to get a little green in my pocketbook.

I don't particularly NEED another checking account, but what the heck, I'm sure I can think of & set up another goal fund for something! Big Grin

No, still not a big ING fan, but I'll happily take their money.

Re: their requirement that you make 3 signed debit transacations - does anybody care to comment on the 'where you have to sign for debit transactions', as I'm a little unclear on where exactly those places would be. I'm sure I've signed before at places, I just can't recall any specifics at the moment - brain fog has rolled in. I'd appreciate your comments & suggestions.

Help please?

My Honey Bear & His Sidekick

November 2nd, 2009 at 07:40 am

Yes, Hubster is an awfully sweet man, but that's not what I'm talking about. I'm talking about my plastic honey bear, Hank. He's about to get all likker'd up inside.

On Saturday I went to our local farm store where they were having a 20% off everything that fit in their 'green' bag sale. You had to buy their 99cent bag. So worth it.

They were having honey on sale. 5 lbs. bottles - which normally sells there at 13.99 a bottle, on sale for 10.99.

I had four dollar off coupons. I ended up getting my honey at $7.99 a bottle. Almost half off. SCORE!! How Sweet It Is!!

I bought four jugs. Honey does not go bad. It might crystalize, but stick jug in warm water and the honey melts back. This stash should last a while.

I have been weaning myself off of white sugar and have gone to using honey as my main sweetener.

I refill my little honey bear, Hank, from the big jug. A savings device. Buying those individual little bears can get costly. I'd like to have a nice glass or ceramic honeypot. Maybe I could put it on my Christmas list, along with the tea ball I'm asking for?

And as for honey bear's sidekick?

Meet Poppie, The Popcorn Clown.

Not OUR Poppie!

A hold over from my childhood days. We keep our 'currently using' popcorn in an old Grapette Syrup bottle in the cabinet. Our storage for larger supplies is elsewhere. Poppie, kind of scary in a droopy sort of way, but friendly none the less. These are neat old bottles that had a slot in the top for making him into a bank.

Here the 1 lb. bags at the grocery had been going for .88 a bag for years. All of a sudden they are up to 1.39 a bag! I like to stock up so I don't have to wander out in the snow and ice later. Said farm store had 12&1/2 pound bags on sale for $5.49. Since they fit in the 20% off bag? I got two bags, making my outlay for popcorn at .359ish a pound. SCORE!!

Popcorn - an inexpensive, yet filling snack. It's a Sunday afternoon tradition at my house, no matter how large the luncheon feast, we pop a big bowl of popcorn and settle in for a movie & nap.

My bag was heaaaaa-vy - 45 lbs plus. I also stocked up on a few spices while I was at it. I can pack a bag let me tell you! And, now I have another nice little green bag to go with my others.

Hank & Poppie, a couple of friendly faces when I open my cupboard - they, along with Pigger, help me save & stretch our food money.

Today and Carpenter's Pension

October 27th, 2009 at 08:29 pm

Tonight we filled out the online forms for Hubster's Carpenter's Pension to begin. We had busy busy daylight hours today that kept us from getting it done during the day.

It has to be printed out and taken in for a notarized signature. Spouses are protected from being left out of pension benefits and decisions by the law requiring that we sign off on the decisions. It's rather a strange thing. His application signature? Requires no notarization. Mine as spouse? Does.

Anywho, I plan to go first thing in the morning to the bank and get it notarized and off in the mail. The way I understand it we are asking for it to begin on 11/1. Not sure when the first check will arrive though. It will be back-pay from 11/1/09 though no matter when it actually starts.

First we had to get an estimated payment paper from them, which we did, telling them when he was planning on applying. That & the online application gets them on notice that he's to be put in the starting line up. Once they receive the notarized paperwork evidently they spring into action and send you a letter telling you when the first check will arrive.

We're going automatic deposits on this as well.

Once it's up and running they notify the authorized state insurance agency that he's eligble to go with that HCTC (I think it stands for health care tax credit) thingamadoodle that will get him the 65%-80% discount on some health care insurance coverage. The money in the pension check will be nice, but the healthcare benefits that we're hoping to get until he qualifies for Medicare? EXCELLENT.

Step by step folks. It's a process.

Keeping yourself going lockstep through the process can be, shall I say, taxing. He hates paperwork and gets majorly frustrated by all the little boxes to be checked and legally jargoned disclaimers that are made.

Also required are copies of birth certificates and marriage license. Fortunately that was all still out of the safe from the SS office visit.

Once this starts I will be so relieved. If you've been reading along with me from the beginning this was the mysteriously disappearing pension. I fought long and hard thru Congressmen, etc. to find out where it was 'hidden' and get it on somebody's radar that several million dollars of this company's pension funds had just slipped silently away after a company bankruptcy and was hidden deep within several layers of insurance buyouts by a major insurance company and it's many subsidiaries - I'm not naming names but it almost barked like a dog in it's commercials, Charlie Brown.

Finally we were able to get it taken over by this Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. It's a really AWESOMELY GOOD thing that they are doing protecting people's pensions in these trying financial times.

Today was a personal No Spend Day for me.

Today we went to another town to deliver some of CashHappySon's winter clothes.

Today the nearly local parental units came over. Since early this year they now live 30 minutes away instead of two hours away.

Today I got my truck stuck in the muddy yard trying to load up more wood to take to my Dad's tomorrow.

Today my Step-dad helped get the truck unstuck.

Today I baked a chocolate marble cake.

Today I balanced the housebudget checking account.

Today I called the bank on the sudden $15.47 checking fee that they whomped on our housebudget account. Because of Hubster's age we have a FREE Senior checking account.

Today they refunded the mistaken monthly fee.

Today my Mom had a brain scan and a check on her caratroid (sp?) artery to see why she's getting so confused and forgetful. No indication of when the results would be back.

Today my Mom told me the same story for about the 100th time.

Today I acted like I heard it for the very first time, again.

Today we had quite a spirited family discussion of the moral tone of our country and bashed various and assorted politicians.

Today I cooked a pot of Tortilla Soup for lunch.

Today I paid two CC's in full, as I do every month. We are still debt free. Housebudget paid.

Today I paid the water bill, 3000 gallons this month - $40.45 - that's for 3 adults, 2 of us who are home all day every day now. Housebudget paid. $2.50 of that is for prepaid ambulance service. ARG!

Today I cooked steak, baked potatoes and a salad for supper.

Today Hubster worked all afternoon cutting up the biggest chunks of the wood into small enough pieces so my Dad can carry them.

Today was quite a day.

Now, I'm going to bed w/the lumberjack! Talk to you all later.

Good night Gracie!

link to Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp.

link to PDF file about a Predictable Secure Pension For Life - has a nice checklist:



Bugging ebay for my refund

October 27th, 2009 at 02:36 pm

I am dinging ebay again for my small refund of $7.76. Come on Meg - cough it up! First request in late September. It's just one of those things so easy to slip off the radar. I want my refund.
I'm not going to go away.

How Do You Roll? Let Me Count The Ways!

October 10th, 2009 at 04:17 pm

From May 1, 2009 until now, October 10, 2009, I have saved 61% of all the dollars that have crossed my personal path. Don't know about you guys but, I am impressed with myself as I had no idea! Well, I do know, ya'll will be proud too! Because that's just the way this group rolls.

You roll pennies, nickles, dimes, quarters! ...and you're supportive to boot!

This is not the house budget but my own personal dollars.

Well, YEAH & 2 gold stars for me! Like Pres. Obama's & his Nobel Peace Prize, just know that I'm totally SURPRISED!

My bank has added a new feature on tracking that I've been playing with today. It only goes back to May to tabulate results.

I'm tickled to see that number! 61%! If I wait till tomorrow to tell you, it's liable to be higher, as I just sent off some more dollars to online bank savings last night that haven't yet registered with my local checking bank's system. Big Grin

Try here (not sure that this will work)!


Tickle Herman several times and you get a different response each time!

Hermie & I will be over here tickled w/fat pigger!

An FYI moment - from over on the money facts portion of my sidebar came this info - I knew it would be high, but didn't think it would be this high--

"In 75% of American households, women manage the money and pay the bills."

Today has been a No Spend Day!

Finished Painting Chest of Drawers

October 7th, 2009 at 09:22 am

Finished this up on Monday. Just now remembering to post you the pics.

Before w/spackle on flaked off veneer spots:


I am happy with the way it turned out.

Next? The bed in this room. Here it is when it was in the sun room. The ends facing outward are the scruffed up veneer parts. Will try to get a before shot of that, before spackling. There's also a desk and book case in the spare bedroom above that I'd like to paint out the same - only I think that will have to wait for spring.

Five Things Challenge Update-The Sunday Edition

October 4th, 2009 at 11:44 am

Five Things Challenge Update

The Sunday Edition

d-o-n-e, done, Done, D-o-N-e, ..and DONE!!!

On today's list were:

[x]1)House Budget checking account balanced. - This is different than the other two I did the other day. Account is rather on the empty side though, so watching House Budget spending extra closely for a day or two.

[x]2)Cook Sunday lunch trying a new recipe. Used another out of Kraft's Food & Family magazine. Not horrid, not bad, but probably won't repeat - Chicken & Stuffing type casserole.

I did try one in there last night that FrugalSon said was FABULOUS. (Haven't heard that in a while!) It was the Chicken Caesar Wraps. I wouldn't say fabulous, but Hubster and I both agreed they were pretty good.

I, of course, being me, changed the recipe around to make it a warm wrap by heating the bacon, chicken & cheese before filling the warmed tortillas. Served with soup as I wasn't sure how filling it would be and it was rainy & damp by supper time yesterday.

I am trying new recipes because we had gotten into somewhat of a rut AND I'm trying to cook more since CashHappySon is not here to trade off cooking with FrugalSon & I. Have to get myself back in the cooking habit!

[x]3)File all the paperwork from bills paid. This tends to stack up! There were several months that needed doing.

And for future to-do's, there is still purging that needs to be done in filing cabinet. That might make the actual filing a more enjoyable thing if it weren't crammed full!

[x]4)Write a thank you note. A native friend sent me FREE copies of two books he wrote. I wanted to send my thank you note on native stationary, but it was in the other room and I put this off ALL WEEK rather than get on up off my duff and go dig it out. Took me all of 15 seconds once I made myself get it done! How often do we do this to ourselves? The packing envelope has been dragging me down all week sitting here on the desk LOOKING AT ME waiting to be done! That procrastination on my part was making me lose the joy of the gift!

[X]5)Clip and sort coupons. I've not been using coupons much the past few years once I lost my nice organized coupon box, but I can save money when I use them, so since we're getting ready to be 'fixed income' folks? I might want to get back into the habit. I sorted them by use-by date & put them in a ziplock in my wallet, at least until I see if I want to get back into couponing more seriously.

On another note I sat up in bed and slapped myself on the head this morning. Even though we've decided not to put our MM money into CDs for the moment until the SS & pension checks start coming, what is stopping me from moving it over to just drawing more interest? I don't know. How silly. Moved it just now! Gaaa!!! Then if we don't need it, it can slip right into some CDs.

Didn't get the chest of drawers painted because it clouded over all afternoon yesterday and I was afraid to risk it. Sure enough, we rolled it on the dolly back into the utility room and no more than 5 minutes later? Raindrops!

Maybe early some time this coming week it will get done. I know for sure I don't want it sitting in my utility room for very long. Needs another 30 minutes or so of sanding. I walked by and caught Hubster giving it a 'feel' to see if it was done right! Big Grin Still cloudy & rainy looking here today so, no-can-do today.

He finished installing crown molding yesterday evening in LR. Next to do is fill nailholes and joints then touch up paint. We may have to caulk a few places at the ceiling line as this old place (built 1942ish) has a few wavy spots on the ceiling line. IOWs, not much was level to begin with on this project. Pics to come when finished. Then it's on to the dining room molding!

Today will be a stay home and No Spend Day! Maybe some popcorn, a movie in the DVD player and a nap.

A Peach, a Bull, An Eagle & Lincoln?

October 3rd, 2009 at 07:19 am

A Peach, a Bull*, An Eagle & Lincoln?

What do these things have in common?

They are all on the coins I pulled out of my wallet in an effort to get my October $20 Challenge off to a start. Here we go!

That's right boys and girls, three quarters and a penny. Seventy-six cents. 7 - 6. 76 centavos, 76 Cents.

Hello October Challenge.

...and A.WaY we go!

$20 Challenge
$000.00 beginning October balance
+000.76 interesting coinage mix
$000.76 Oct MTD

2009 Challenge Total $963.04 (only $36.96 remaining to break that $1000 ceiling!)
Cumulative Challenge Total $2016.80

*The bull is the skeleton head of a bull on the Montana quarter. It caught my eye as I pulled it out of the wallet and thought it looked like a fake-o coin! They came out in 2007, but I think this must be the first one I've noticed.

Yesterday was a No Spend Day for me.

House-budget bought $40ish worth of lumber supplies for home updating. After Hubster finishes with putting up of crown molding** in living room, we are continuing into the dining area and putting some up in there as well. That's what those supplies are for. It would've been $50ish, but I had a nice coupon!

**If I had known that FREE (with purchase) crown-molding stuff was in my attic since we moved here? We'd of put it up week one, well maybe, week five. This has bugged me for ten years unnecessarily!!! Ratfinkus!

Right now we are waiting for some spackle to dry and then later today I will paint an area that had a 'dry-wall fall-apart' as Hubster went to nail some of the trim up the other day. Then, he'll get to finish his portion of the program. It looks AWESOME! Well, maybe not to everyone, but if you've been wanting something done nigh on to foreverish? What he's got done already? Looks SOOO gooooooooooooood!!!

FrugalSon bought himself a radiant oil-filled heater yesterday at Lowe's for $39. The same one at Walmart? $63!!!!! Pays to shop around.

Yesterday afternoon after I got back from the lumber yard, where I went while my carpenter took a nap, I went outside and spent about two hours sanding on the carcass of my chest of drawers. Hope to get some paint slapped on her today and get that finished so I can start on the bed. Want to get this stuff done before the snow flies this year. Or at least before cold weather sets in.

Tip - More About Homestead Exemption

October 1st, 2009 at 01:20 pm

Tip - More About Homestead Exemption

An FYI - in my county - they have a Senior Lock In Rate that hits when you are 65 on top of the normal homestead exemption that any homeowner qualifies for if it's their fulltime place of residence. BUT, you have to apply for it.

We aren't there yet - when Hubster hits 65 I'm going in for Locking It Down!!! Wooo-hooo!!

AND, I looked at it online again this morning and they also have a Homeowners Tax Refund if you make less than $12,000.00 a year.

Those of you over 65 might want to check your local county for something similar to the Lock-In Rates for Seniors.

And, those of you who are under the poverty limits yet are homeowners might want to see if you've got a chance at a refund on your house taxes in your county too!

Good luck everyone. Seems these things are different all over the country and even county to county so check in with your local tax assessor. Mine has a lovely website that I can check online. Yours might too! ...and these programs are not all that well advertised. Meaning, if you don't ask? They don't tell.

Let me know if you hit the jackpot with this tip!

Note: thanks to Gamecock for the reminder about this! Take note all you new homeowners - you might need to make a little bit of effort to get this discount on your house taxes.

Click here to understand MORE about what Homestead Exemption is all about.

Nothing to do...

October 1st, 2009 at 11:59 am

It's the first of the month and I've got nothing to do!

That is the best feeling!!! Big Grin

Thanks to Househopeful's Five Things Challenge, I've already got the checkbooks balanced.

I went online last week and set bill-pay at the bank to pay our water bill, it's the only thing besides the mortgage and credit cards that I normally do by hand anymore. All other bills are on autopay.

Because I hit pay on the CC's last week too? I'm still debt free AND don't have that to do today.


No mortgage = a bit less stress at this time of the month!

Of course, next month we'll probably have a CC payment due as we do use them, BUT, we pay off each month too. Discovercard is back w/Groceries on their cashback program thru til December. NICE.

Don't hate me because I'm debt-free! Big Grin (Do you remember that 'don't hate me because I'm beautiful' commercial?)

Looking At & Laying in

October 1st, 2009 at 09:59 am

FrugalSon & I went yesterday to see my Dad who lives an hour south. Breakfast at MickeyDs for two $5.12, and lunch out dutch-treat at a restaraunt I worked at as a young girl - it's really good food only available there in that town, ie not a chain, so $7.96 there, plus tip $2.50. Those were out of my personal spending account. Used a half-tank of gas which the house budget takes care of.

Got to look at my Dad! Priceless!

He's 78 and has had a stroke and five bypass surgery in the past. He is VERY VERY VERY active on his ranch and does a LOT of physical labor, iow, he can and does quite literally outwork people 58 years younger by running rings around them! But, we all know life can change in an instant. He's my fountain of knowledge - when I want to know the answer to ANY question and the computer's not on? Call Dad. A walking encyclopedia.

While down there we went to the scratch-n-dent grocery where I found some good deals on cold & sniffles supplies for the upcoming winter (fav cough syrup usually $12 bought 2 @ $4 each). Remaining on that list to get laid in? Sprite & orange sherbert!
O.S. is my comfort food when I have a sore-throat. Probably not the best as in feeding sugar to my germies, but it soothes & rather numbs the savage flames in a raging throat big-time. At least for a little while.

I have already laid in my supply of Sambucol for the clearing up of any throat tickle the other day. (Sambu is also a name it's called by - it's basically elderberry juice. The one I got has echinachea & something else I can't recall at the moment.) A little pricey, BUT can stave off all kinds of bad germies if taken in time. I usually don't end up with many colds, but Hubster usually managed to come home with one from work before and FrugalSon is still out there mingling with the masses. If they'd listen to Dr. Mom they wouldn't have as many, but alas, that is not always the case.

Good to get a visit in with my Dad as my Mom (whom he is no longer married to) has taken up a good deal of my summer energies with her move closer to me & 2 surgeries. Dad got the short-shift this summer.

We took the long way home on the back roads and hit an antique store. I managed to get out without spending any money and may have found a buyer for some of FIL's political buttons of which he only had a few, but they are here waiting for me to research them and get them sold. This guy did say he'd rather I priced my own stuff out and then he'd see if we couldn't come to some sort of agreement. Good enough.

Looking at Dad & laying in supplies made a good day. Money all well spent as far as I'm concerned.

Those With No Health Insurance-Check this!

September 29th, 2009 at 09:21 am

This is a direct quote we got from Hubster's pension plan, perhaps some of you aren't aware of this program - we weren't. This may not help everyone but hopefully it might help some of you.

"You may be eligible for a tax credit that helps pay for qualified health insurance. If you are age 55 or older and NOT eligible for Medicare or Medicaid, you can use the Health Coverage Tax Credit (HCTC) to pay 65% of the cost of your "qualified health insurance". The HCTC, administered by the Internal Revenue Service, is available as an advance tax credit for monthly health coverage premiums paid by you or as a refundable tax credit on your federal tax return.

If you qualify for the monthly advance tax credit, HCTC will help you pay your health insurance premium every month, provided you have "qualified health insurance". HCTC can tell you what is considered to be "qualified health insurance". If you don't wish to take advantage of the monthly advance tax credit, you can still claim 65% of your "qualified health insurance" premiums as a refundable tax credit on your federal tax return.

If you are eligible for HCTC, you may also be able to apply for National Emergency Grant (NEG) Gap Filler funds, which are available in certain states to help individuals pay for their "qualified health insurance" until they begin receiving the advance tax credit through the HCTC Program. Contact the U.S. Department of Labor at 1-877-US-2JOBS (1-877-872-5627) and ask if your state has a NEG Gap Filler Program.

For more information about the HCTC and Qualified Health Insurance, visit the IRS Web site at www.irs.gov (IRS Keyword: HCTC), or call the HCTC Customer Contact Center at 1-866-628-4828 (TTD/TTY: 1-866-626-4282)."

Round Up Sunday - Not A Church Activity

September 27th, 2009 at 01:48 pm

Many churches have a western wear day that they call Round Up Sunday where they make an effort to 'round up' members who've been absent for a long time by making a concentrated effort to invite them. This is NOT what I'm talking about.

But, this is...

After lunch today, I'm cruising into my online savings accounts just looking around, checking rates, etc. and decided to play Round Up. Do you ever do this?

Here's some for examples:

Driver's License Renewal Fund (for me & Hubster)sitting there with $45.05 in it and I made an online transfer of $4.95 to round it up to $50.

Clothes Fund for me (I could care less about clothes) was sitting at $10.01 so I sent off 2.49 to round it up to $12.50. One of these days I'll need a new pair of tennis shoes, and this is where the money will come from. Recently bought 'foundation garments' so it's rather low at the moment.

I rounded up the RV Land Travel Fund by $1.51 making it now have $142.50.

I rounded up the Houseboat Fund by $7.19 making it $375.00.

...and so on in various and assorted accounts.

Of course these numbers won't last as we're getting ready to end the month and interest will be added, and my automatic contributions will be going in too, but usually every couple of months I just go in and toss some random 'Round Up' number in there to keep it growing. I'm rather broke at the end of this particular month, so there's not much going, but every little bit counts.

These are all accounts that I make regular monthly contributions into anyway as they are part of my regular budgeting process. I know it makes for additional banking entries but it's not that big of a deal, ya' know?

Do you ever play Round Up into savings accounts? Why or why not? Are you doing this regularly or randomly?

Today is a No Spend Day.

Hubster sold an old stereo piece of equipment today on Craigslist for $15.

The Open Roads Are Calling ME!!!

September 24th, 2009 at 12:55 pm

Are you guys watching the PBS series on the US's National Parks? Watched an episode or two last night about it and the lodges that are in them and am re-inspired for more land travel. As discussed in a previous post about having a houseboat I mentioned that I'd like to one day own a small Toyota type RV and I stated that this desire/goal was going unfunded.

Today while I was out on the web looking around rate shopping (still have money sitting in Money Market account earning diddly that needs moving) I looked at my ING account. You know I had a big hoo-ha with ING at one time, BUT, I've been having $12 a month autodrafted into there for a while now and it didn't really have a goal. So, today I went in and gave it a new nickname and goal - RV Land Travel.

Current balance is $140.99. It's earning 1.30% APY. Meaning about .15 a month right now. Ehhh, well. It now has a reason for being!

Going over to the sidebar to set up a new tracking section for it. I am ready to hit the National Parks trail.

Unfortunately my wallet isn't quite as ready as I am! Oh, and have you noticed? All my current goals have to do with travel or motion of some type? I, being gypsy-hearted like to go go go, yet Hubster could care less if he ever gets out of the yard!

Yes, I checked and...

September 22nd, 2009 at 03:08 pm

Yes, I checked and...by 3:00 p.m. yesterday the money had cleared out of our Money Market Account (more still needs to be removed from this low interest paying thing! GAAA!) and made it's way to the mortgage company. When I checked there late yesterday afternoon it hadn't shown up there, but I did take the time to go in and manually stop the automatic drafts that we'd been using for our house payments (this was Bank of America after all and we've all heard the horror stories! I don't need some nasty surprise EXTRA payment deducted from checking that I have to try and retrieve.). I printed out our bank's confirmation e-mail of the wire and put it in the folder.

Then, of course, I checked again before our celebratory dinner last night and yep, the balance did say ZERO!!! (AND, I printed out the completed amortization schedule to put in the file as well.)

Mortgage BURNED!

Woooooooooooooooooooooo-doggies!! The other side of the finish line looks good too!

Then before bed last night I went on Fidelity where we have most of our retirement monies stored and did one of their 'Retirement Assessment' tests and yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus, I will outlive my money. IF I'm careful!

This is to reassure those of you who are getting a later start. You do need to start and keep your nose to the grindstone. Catching up is DIFFICULT, but can be done if you are disciplined!

If I can do it, so can you!

You just have to get in the race! And stay there!

P.S. Today is a No Spend Day! Added $100 to the $20 Challenge and $100 to the Grrls Just Wanna Have E-Funds!

P.P.S. Guess what? They didn't even write and say Thanks For Paying Along! What's up with that? Big Grin


September 21st, 2009 at 10:38 am

"Does this smile make my wallet look fatter?"

We are TOTALLY Debt Free!

I came home from the bank after wiring the mortgage company their money and decided I wanted to have a MOMENT of debt-freeness. So, who else did I owe?

I had small balances on 2 credit cards. These are from this month's charges as we don't carry a balance EVER any more. Went online and PAID OFF. Balance $0.

And, I'm planning on calling them and getting our credit limits lowered! Who needs all that exposure to rip-off? I do have an open dispute with one CC company over a $31.54 charge to McDonald's. I've never spent that kind of money there EVERRRRRRRRRRR! Should've been $3.54. I am a dollar menu shopper unless I'm splurging on a salad.

We owed our accountant $147. I just now wrote him a check and took it to the post office. Balance $0.

We are totally and completely debt free.

We don't owe anybody anything - other than the utility companies their normal monthly charges - any money whatsover!

We are UTTERLY FREE!!! Taaaaaaaa-daaaa!

It feels awesome now, but it will feel extra special good-a-licious Each and Every first of the month when I don't have to send off a wad of cash to the mortgage company.

Paid off 4 years and 8 months early from our contractual obligation!

Breaking the chains of debt? It can be done!

Now, we'll be fueling even more dollars into our House Maintenance Fund for future repair needs on the house - carpets are getting worn, roof in the next ten years likely, and heat/air-conditioner could need replacing at any time.

We do need to do some bathroom repairs relatively soon too as we need to replace our bathtub and the resulting sheetrock & tile work that goes along with. Even if we decide to sell and downsize, the bathroom will HAVE TO be repaired or made allowance for.

I will likely split what was going to mtg. to my retirement funds and this House Maintenance Fund.

I am a happy camper with minimum household utilities running currently around $315 average and $135 a month going for household taxes (apprx. $660 year) and insurance (apprx. $800 year) and other 'slush fund needs'.

So, our household expenses are sitting right now at ONLY $450 a month (not counting saving for repairs & upkeep).

I can tell you friends that's a wonderfully scenic place to be sitting looking at retirement!

Now to convince Hubster we need solar, a woodstove and a water-well and we could get those things lowered even further!! Big Grin I would like to say that I was being tongue-in-cheek, but what sane person likes to pay the utility companies???? I don't.

Either we've got to get those things OR get our investments up in order to have them paid for by the investments in my mind's eye. I know it is probably silly, but wouldn't it be fun to own enough dividend paying electric stock to where your own electric bill became a wash? and gas bill, water bills, etc. doing likewise????? I would ADORE THAT!

A new goal!!! Big Grin Everybody needs something to shoot for, right?

Stay Tuned!!

P.S. I wanted to buy us a treat for today, but suceeded in not spending any money while I was out! So I outlayed a boatload of money today, but not out of my personal wallet, so today's a No Spend Day!!

I did grab two FREE suckers from the bank counter (after telling the lady if they were paying decent interest we wouldn't be doing this) and we have steak, stuff for baked potatoes, salad and a good bottle of wine for tonight's celebratory meal! Don't worry, I won't abandon my Frugalicious Gene ways, I just got the sirloin steaks out of the freezer to defrost - they have an orange REDUCED label on them - cost? $2.33! The wine was bought at case discount costs on our last vacation.

Breathing freely!!! Now off to paint some crown molding trim that was in the attic when we bought the house. Hubster is going to put it up for me as soon as I get it painted.

I'm Soooooooooo Excited!!

September 21st, 2009 at 07:48 am

Well, Hubster and I were having a lovely discussion this weekend about having to do SOMETHING with his 401-K rollover that has been sitting in cash. We are cash heavy and he likes it that way, and I don't. I would like to invest it and get it to earning, dagnabit! He'd be happy with it all sitting in CDs or buried in the back yard. I want growth and have a larger risk capacity than he does. We are constantly trying to meet in the middle. Can you say BALANCED investment profile? I'm trying to!

In the midst of this discussion I was AGAIN mentioning that if we have this cash sitting in our MM, why not pay off the mortgage in case the economy totally tanks and it's all Confederate dollars after the war is over. If that's the case, then I'd rather have my house PAID FOR than worthless blips on a computer screen.

All of a sudden the man (GOD I LOVE HIM) turns to me and says, "Let's just get this one point out of the way first, would you like to pay off the house?"

Duhhhhhhhhhhh, (I didn't say that part out loud, but I thought it! Big Grin)

"YEAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHH! That's what I've been petitioning (some might say arguing) for, for the last six or so years, isn't it????"

He said, "Then do it!"

"Payoff the house?"


"Okay, I will - Monday morning first thing!"

"All right."

"Now let's get back to the discussion about the 401-K."

"I'll have to think about that some more."

So, the 401-K rollover money is still up for discussion, but I am leaving my house RIGHT NOW and going to the bank to wire the money to our mortgage company (was Countrywide, now Bank of America after a takeover).

Can you believe it?

The man is slow to come around, but he finally gets it that we are earning diddly on our cash and paying 6.75% interest!!!

Can you say INFLATION RISK????? Opportunity Cost????
LOSER at the banking game?????

Well, no more. Today, the mortgage will be retired!


I will let you know how it goes. I have accessed the payoff amount and instructions on the BOA website, I have hand-written them AND printed off their page, and I have called my bank and they can do the wire transfer if I'm there before 3:00 p.m.

It is now 9:47 a.m. and I'm off to pay off my mortgage.

You faithful readers know that this has been my dream since before Day 1 here at SavingAdvice.com!

Now this, people, is what excitement is all about for us who are frugal, conservative, and interested in some type of security that can only come from being TOTALLY DEBT FREE!!

(BTW, he is still on unemployment AND may be getting ready to push the early Social Security button - he was laid of in January '09 and has only been granted TWO interviews in that time. TWO! Extended unemployment is about to run out. He is 63 yrs and a few months. Likely we will start his SS at 63 years and 6 months. Discounted but income. We have yet to meet with a financial planner (can't get Hubster rousted around for it) AND we have other retirement money that we may decide to tap into first...all that needs DISCUSSION. He'd rather enjoy his unemployment and play video games instead! Hurumphhhhhhhh!!! He has been trying for work as our plan was for him to work til 70 - he loved his job.)

Even though those BTW facts are disturbing ME, I will not let them cloud this day's EXCITEMENT!! I am here testifying to the fact that continual discussions in a marital relationship between not only May/Dec romantics, but those of differing risk aversions, can be fruitful. Stay the course and keep petitioning for the best LONG-TERM financial outcome for your family! The war may be a long one, but if you pick your battles carefully and execute strategies with a sense of cooperation and try to be sensitive & concilatory throughout the process, things can get accomplished!

Would it be better to keep the money and keep it invested at a rate greater than inflation in some kind of conservative instruments? Probably so! But Hubster was never EVER going to go that route. He just likes the feeling of having cash around. AND, there is no telling how far down the U.S. economy might go. We are buying a sense of security here I suppose.

I am going to be doing the happy dance ALL THE WAY TO and FROM the bank!!


Dream Car Fund Update

September 15th, 2009 at 08:17 am

Dream Car Fund $695.20

Someday I'd like to own another '64 Sunbeam Tiger (I used to own a Sunbeam) or a '57 Thunderbird! Thus this little side account I'm starting to add into as I think about it. It's not a burning have to have, but would be nice! I do have a small automatic deposit going into it monthly as well.

The last time I'd updated this it was 2/5/09 and sat at $480.42. So, a $214.78 increase.

Dream Car Fund - New Balance
$695.20 updated 9/15/09

Test - Keep Having Boo-Boos

August 24th, 2009 at 06:44 pm

Tried four times now to add an entry.

Gaaa! It keeps evaporating into thin air.

Anybody else having troubles?

I missed my blogoversary yesterday!

I added $367.00 this month to my retirement account from gar. s.
Taking it to the $20 Challenge. Ran it to the bank this a.m. & moved it to retirement account as soon as I got home.

$20 Challenge
$014.71 August balance
+367.00 g.sa.
$381.71 August MTD

In thinking about moving this becomes important to me:

Improve America's Walkability:

Diving Into the Deep End

August 18th, 2009 at 03:03 pm

No, not a dumpster! (not yet at least)

I went yesterday on the way to the bank to deposit my $14.71 and stopped in at a place I've been wanting to get to for some time.

In my town there is a lady financial planner (referred to her by my Dad's friendly banker friend). We had a nice visit and if she passes a few more of the Frugalis Frustration Level Tests (ha - I won't turn over my money for someone else to manage nor will I just follow all the advice just because someone tells me it's a good idea).

I mean...

...if I don't frustrate HER too much, we might just be hooking up to let her assist Hubster and I with so many of the issues we have right now with facing retirement, downsizing, making a large financial contribution to a charitable 'entity', a possible trust to insure one of my sons is always taken care of, etc., etc., etc. plus all those icky 'end of life' estate planning issues that will likely be soon forthcoming? I need help. I want to hear educated pro/con arguments based on OUR financial picture, not the universal 'average'.

So, looks like I may be diving into the deep end with the big boys.

So far: PRO-
1)She's appears to be - not a snob. Important to me.

2)Hourly fee based.

1)She ???might??? be really tuned into annuities and maybe even sells them, I'm not sure, but it'll be a hard sell if that's the case as I'm very leary of them.

Nothing is firm yet. Hubster has yet to meet her. He'll have to come away with the same positive feelings (his spidey sense) or it'll be a no go.

We live in a small town. There is another planner in town, but he's a he. heheehee! Anyway, since I'm projected to be the longer liver, I want to start and stay with some one for the long haul (fingers crossed) of my future financial lifetime. I'd rather go with a female who understands finances from a woman's security point of view.

Okay, folks that's all the news that's fit to print so far today.

No-spending has transpired today. Big Grin

I did come home yesterday and moved that $14.71 out to earn interest and just now updated the $20 Challenge log (a bit - I'm still not done) over to the left.

Thanks to all of you at Saving Advice dot com I was very comfortable in my discussion with her and she was impressed with my knowledge base. She doesn't know I have all of you smarties in my back pocket!!

Would you ever use a financial planner? When?

On Having Lower Mortgage Balance

August 15th, 2009 at 07:06 pm

NJDebbie commented on our low mortgage balance. We bought on a 15 year mortgage, a somewhat smaller house (ie not a McMansion) with lower pricing than most folks do, but it needed lots of elbow grease. And, we've done the work and added a lot of value to our place. There is a good deal of equity tied up in the walls.

I'm ready for it to be paid off, and even as that is about to happen we are thinking of selling! We keep tossing it around.

I love my house, but the acreage it sets on will likely be problematic for us as we age in regards to lawn-care. Two and a half acres of rolling yard that has slopes and cross fences and creeks and LOTS of trees to be weed-eated around. I don't want to have to rely on my kids and grandkids to keep up the yard as I grey.

The latest discussion is just how many months of lawn-care we could have done for us with the amount we'd pay for a realtor's fee if we sold and rebought elsewhere.

We're doing a lot of talking, going back and forth on keeping cash out of a house vs. paying off early. The experts all disagree and we can't make up our minds!

Meanwhile we are doing a lot of getting rid of stuff now so that our kids don't have to go through it like we did on Hubster's parents house. We have way, way too much stuff! Much of it inherited from an admited pack-rat. We've been busy craigslisting and ebaying it.

But first you must sort, clean, investigate pricing, discuss all the finer points, etc. Me? There are days I just want to call the Disabled American Veterans and tell them to send their biggest truck and a couple of hefty workers to haul it all OFF!

Yet my frugal side butt-puckers and then we go back to trying to rid ourselves of 'stuff' and be good stewards at the same time. Being good in this train of thought is a lot of work!! Being charitable and just giving it away sounds ever so much nicer! Having depression era parents that harped the lesson home makes for a tough-row to hoe when the ease of just letting stuff go raises it's head.

How to hack our frugal dna strands?

Any one have a creative idea? thoughts?

...or is slogging through our only option? We've discussed having an auction, etc. There is just so much STUFF!

Well color me shocked!

February 20th, 2009 at 09:57 am

The other day my Mother & her husband gave me & my siblings a gift each of $**,***.**. TOTALLY UNEXPECTED!

I am awaiting as I type a call back from our accountant verifying my thoughts on keeping this VERY generous gift tax free for years to come. I'm thinking of my state's municipal tax bonds, and not co-mingling it with any other monies currently so as to always know where any income it generates came from.

I do believe it will soon be enough to pay my house taxes each year if I let it compound and grow (assuming we stay in the same house).


edited to add: The accountant says since we aren't in a high tax bracket to begin with it doesn't really matter if we pay taxes on it or not. Hmmmm, I just hate paying taxes, and currently my state's municipal bonds are paying a nice interest considering the economy. I haven't checked their ratings yet, but I'm still going to mull over my options. If you've any good ideas, pipe up, I'd love to hear them. I could conceivably put this money inside my Roth and finish fully funding it for 2008, all of 2009 and some of 2010 when we get to that point. For today, I'm taking it to the bank to deposit then moving it to a savings vehicle until I make a final determination as to what to do. I'm thinking NICE & CONSERVATIVE on this pile. Of course, there is a tithe to be returned on this, so after paying that I may have to add some of our other funds in to meet some of the bonds purchase price.

And, I'd like to hear any ideas on what extra special thoughts should be included on the thank you note I'm currently writing.

Please, let me hear your thoughts...I'm open to everyone's ideas.

It's Fallen!

January 9th, 2009 at 08:52 am

...the axe that is.

I blogged late last month of the possibility that Hubster might be laid off. Well, it happened yesterday.

He's busy today listing stuff on Craigslist that he bought to resell then hopefully off later today or Monday to the unemployment office. He's got a guy coming this afternoon to buy some old stereo equipment. Afterwards we're off to see Gran Torino at the matinee and then out to spend our Christmas giftcards from my Mom at a local retailer. I see new bed pillows in my future with mine. Don't know what he'll buy with his.

Hubster is 62, so could take early SS if he wants to, but we are still 'cussing and discussing' those options. This isn't the end of the world for us as we do have emergency savings, pension options, SS options, 401Ks and IRAs and various other investments and ways to make money at home if the dollar doesn't tank completely!

It would be a no-brainer to go ahead and start drawing SS after unemployment runs out if it weren't for the big difference in our ages. May-December marriages make for some interesting financial discussions when you've never made or saved enormous sums of money. Trying to decide which will keep me into my old age the best way possible is one of the topics dear to his heart during these times. He's been laid off before and we had the same convos then.

Our bills stand currently at a mortgage payment of $353.00 a month if we aren't paying extra to principal and average utility bills of $310.00 a month, and house taxes and home & auto insurance run us $152.50 a month. The basement pantry is full to overflowing so eats are not a problem either.

Here on the desk to add to the challenge...


$002.07 balance
+002.01 desk change
$004.08 MTD

2009 Challenge Total $4.08
Cumulative Challenge Total $1006.86

Sticking Back to the $20 Challenge

October 2nd, 2008 at 01:49 pm

Adding to the $20 Challenge

$000.00 balance
+001.33 wallet cleanout
$001.33 Oct MTD

2008 Challenge Total $454.04
Cumulative Challenge Total $982.65

I did my end of September personal Net Worth update and I'm down a small bit, which is not too bad considering all the market gyrations! Small enough to be easily recovered.

State Of Our Union

August 28th, 2008 at 11:54 am

Nope, 'twas well before our time!

Hubster has had his 62nd birthday this year and we are checking our facts and figures here. Upcoming work at his job is looking slim. Could we make the jump to full time retirement?

Yesterday I worked on updating our Net Worth Statement for August and things are looking UP! He was pleasantly surprised and had drastically under-estimated what we had so that was a nice bump up for him while he's worrying what his employer is doing.

Yes, you know me and my money tucked here and there style, while I slip him little pieces of paper every now and again and say we've got $XXX,XXX.00 amount of dollars here in this account and $X,XXX.00 here - it had been some time since I had given him the entire BIG picture.

He thinks he'd like to just stay employed and eventually just go to working part time where he's at. Hopefully more work will flow through the pipeline and be scheduled for when they run out of what's currently on tap.

But meanwhile back at the house even if he decided to take early Social Security we wouldn't go too hungry. We wouldn't be living the life of the Astor's but still we'd do okay.

Life's good! Carry on dancing!

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