FAITHFUL AND TRUE PAID OFF

You may only hear it here, but it pays to stay with the same company. We have had State Farm Insurance for over 30 years and when I became disabled, they bent over backwards to help me.

I know some will switch to another company for a lower rate, but I found if I kept my agent up to date on my current needs, I was able to get discounts and my rate was actually lower than the teaser rates offered by other companies.

That being said, we have had the same cell phone carrier, U.S. Cellular, since 1997. We live in a rural area and they offer the best coverage for this area.

As our children started working, we would add a line…that they would pay for…to our plan. When they moved on…they split off of our plan and would benefit from a great rate.

It was time for our last one to split off of our plan. He picked the phone he wanted and the plan he could live with. He was assigned a new number.

When we called to cancel his former number the salesman was very accommodating. Our contract had not expired and we wanted a cheaper plan. We even looked at a getting track phone.

Our carrier saw that we had been faithful customers since 1997 and that we were not using many of the minutes for which we were paying. Our son didn’t call, but did all of his communicating by text. My husband did not use many minutes either.

They made him an offer he could not refuse: 1) Canceled the contract, 2) signed him up for a plan that was almost 30% cheaper and included data, and 3) gave him a free Galaxy 4.

I have to admit when he brought it home I was jealous. (Remember, I do not have a cell phone, but I rarely leave the house and I don’t need a cell phone.)

It was not a great loss to the phone company because the Galaxy 5 is due to be released any day. We don’t even try to keep up with the latest technology because it is obsolete a few days after it is released. We get what we need and this time we were rewarded because we were faithful and true!

My husband's new free phone.

My husband’s new free phone.

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THE FRAGRANCE OF PENTEL BLUE

I’m a little behind in my journal…like last Thanksgiving. I have fallen behind before and I don’t worry about catching up because I always do.

Don’t be impressed thinking I can remember back that far…I write notes on my daily Day-Timer pages of things I want to remember, the cute things my granddaughter says and the times I get to leave the house.

Some days have more memories than others and I cannot record everything on the daily sheet. I have come up with a wonderful solution.

I make my own filler paper.

I like writing on notebook paper, not typing on the computer. There is something about putting pen to paper that soothes me. I like the smell of Pentel Blue Ink.

No, I don’t sniff ink! But I still use a Day-Timer for my calendar and planning, not a smart phone. I actually hate typing.

Luckily, I have 2 inches of elementary school loose leaf paper left over from my children. I had a few complete packages of paper but I donated those a decade ago. My youngest graduated in 2011 and that will give you an idea of how long this paper has been buried in a drawer. I just knew it would be of use someday.

This is the day. I cut that loose paper down to fit in my Day-timer. When I have more memories to record on a particular day, I get one of those sheets and write to my heart’s content.

I am actually able to fill in quite a few details on my journal based on the notes in these pages.

I also print my daily pages and a food journal on the back of each page. I can track my weight loss…or not…on these pages. I can look back and see it was the two donuts and two danishes that increased my weight.

Or when my skin is dry and flaky, I can see my water intake…or lack of…and rule out an allergic reaction.

We don’t have to buy everything just because it is for sale. Look around; there may be something in your drawer that would work just as well.

The filler paper I made for my Day-Timer using my kids loose leaf paper.

The filler paper I made for my Day-Timer using my kids loose leaf paper.

 

 

SAVE THOSE BOXES

When I get a new appliance or anything with a warranty, I write the expiration date of the warranty on the box in permanent marker and my husband stores the empty box, with the packing materials inside in the garage.  He checks the boxes every so often and recycles the boxes that the warranty has expired.

This way, if something goes wrong during the warranty period, we have the original box and packing materials to return the item. Since the majority of warranties are only 90 days, the boxes do not stay long in the garage.

Save box until warranty expires.

Save box until warranty expires.

I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas!

Yep, I’m thinking of Christmas in the middle of May! I am not thinking of gifts to buy, food to make, cards to send, or decorations; I’m thinking of what I will buy the day after Christmas.

Many people purchase decorations and gifts at the “After Christmas Sales”; but I purchase appliances, too. Last year we bought a meat/cheese slicer and replaced our food processor.  You can get them for half off or more.

This year, I will need to replace our blender and possibly, our Stir Crazy popcorn popper.  (They are only available in our area during the holiday season.) I’m thinking I will buy a coffee grinder and start grinding my own beans. I need to be thinking about it in May, because I need to set aside money for them now.

It’s a good idea to dream about Christmas on the 25th of every month. If you plan on making gifts, or decorations, the earlier you start, the better!

Co-signing a Loan Hurts Both Parties

My first source for financial instruction is the #1 best-seller, world-wide, and has been as long as records have been kept. It is a masterful piece of literature and was the only school book the early Americans had to use. If you learn from the history lessons in it, you will save yourself a lot of trouble and heartache.  The wisest man who ever lived, King Solomon, wrote three of the 66 books it contains. It’s called, “The Holy Bible”.

King Solomon wrote in Proverbs 6:1, 3, “My son, if you have become security for your neighbor…go…and humble yourself, and beg your neighbor [to pay his debt and thereby release you]. “ Amplified Bible

In the Amplified Bible Notes it says, “The Bible consistently teaches that one is not to forsake a friend, and this passage is not to be otherwise construed. But it is one thing to lend a friend money, and quite another thing to promise to pay his debts for him, if he fails to do so himself. God’s Word is very plain on the subject of not underwriting another person’s debts. (See Proverbs 11:15; 17:18; and 22:26).

We each are to rely on God as our source of everything. We are responsible to live within our means. If we do not qualify for a loan on a vehicle, we probably would not be able to keep up with the insurance, repairs and gas to run it.

When a friend co-signs a loan so we can buy the vehicle, they are not really helping us if we cannot afford to pay for everything the vehicle needs. They may be offended when they see the vehicle parked because we cannot afford a repair…after all they “helped” us get it. They may be unable to get credit for their needs because our loan is listed on their credit report as a liability.

When we co-sign a loan for a friend, we are enabling them to purchase something that is not God’s best for them.  We have all had the experience of purchasing a much-needed item and then seeing it go on sale the next day or finding a similar one for half price. Vehicles, and houses, have their prices reduced at some point and similar ones go on the market all of the time.

We have to be patient. If we cannot afford this one, we have to wait until the price is reduced, or we find a less expensive model that we can afford and maintain.

Frugal people give money, or lend money to help a friend, but they never co-sign on a loan.

 

Keeping Up With the Jones’ Phones

Each generation has more opportunities to flourish than the one before. I remember my grandparents saying they are thrilled how easy life is for their children.

Take the telephones, as an example.

My grandparents, farmers in Iowa, lived part of their lives without a phone. They would be shocked to see their great-grandchildren not only have a phone, but they have their own number…no party lines…and they can communicate with people all over the world with them!

They can do in seconds what my grandparents would assign a day to do.

Shopping – We have an app for that and it will be here tomorrow. My grandparents had to wait until Saturday, when they went to town to shop.

We get impatient and use credit to have it now. My farming grandparents had to wait until the fall to see how the harvest was before they made major purchases. Some purchases were put off for years. They made it themselves, made do with what they had, or did without…a concept unheard of today.

My parents had to wait until the end of the month. My generation had to wait until the end of the week, until credit cards became available to the masses.

Some of my children’s generation doesn’t wait at all. They receive their first student loan and then they buy a car we worked and saved for years to purchase. They go on vacations to exotic places I’m sure I may never see. They have large TV’s, the fastest computers, and games I may never buy.

But the price they pay will be the stress from carrying that debt…some for the rest of their lives.

They say you have to keep up with the latest technology, but there are two problems:

  1. Today’s technology will be obsolete tomorrow, and
  2. If you are always trying to keep up…it will be either sink or swim.

We are forgetting there is a third option available to us…

GET OUT OF THE WATER!!!

Choose at what point you will get back in the river and invest in newer technology. The river will always be there, but I prefer to only swim occasionally. I have found walking to be much more efficient and a lot less stressful and tiring.

My husbands phone and my phone.

Could You Live on 18% of Your Income?

Yes…if you had to.

I did the math again last week to see what percentage of our former income we were living on this year. It is down to 63%. I thought that was pretty good until I heard of a man whose income was cut to 18% and he not only survived, but now does what he wanted to do all of his life.

The man was a successful surgeon. His father was a successful preacher. He wanted to go on medical missions trips and help others around the world.

His father died and he felt God telling him to close his practice and go help in his father’s church. No, he did not become the Pastor. He helped, behind the scenes with no glory or recognition.

He lived on 18% of his former income and just helped for six years.Then he was given the opportunity to go on a medical missions trip. He knew he was where he was supposed to be.

Now he spends six months out of the year on medical missions trips and the other six months he helps his brother, Joel Osteen, at his church called Lakewood. His name is Dr. Paul Osteen.

To give you a visual picture of 18%, I decided to post a photo of the leftover shepherd’s pie.

18% of a Shepherd's Pie

 

Is It a Frugal Fix, or Am I Just Being a Redneck?

I confess I must have redneck blood. When something breaks down, my first impulse is to reach for the duct tape.  I want to fix it without spending money.

As an example, last weekend the van wouldn’t start. David wanted to call a mechanic and I handed him a bottle of Coke. I told him to pour it on the battery terminals.

He ignored me and drank the coke.

We compromised. I had just talked to our oldest son, who inherited my father’s mechanical abilities, and knew he would be driving for an hour so he could talk. My husband called him back and told him what the van was doing and everything he had already tried.

After talking, he went back to the van, took both battery terminals off and cleaned them with a wire brush. The van started right up. (The coke would have worked faster.)

Anyway,  I constantly struggle with my redneck tendencies because they are not frugal!

I have made the most redneck mistakes on my dishwasher.

My first mistake was to spend $100.00 to build my portable dishwasher into my kitchen. What I failed to take into consideration was the age of the dishwasher. Shortly after that, the baskets deteriorated so much that it ruined my silverware with rust spots.

I went to RepairClinic.com and made my second redneck mistake. I ordered new baskets, but the cost was over half of the amount of a new dishwasher.  If I had only needed one basket it would have been worth the expense.

Even worse was the “redneck” fix I had tried on the old baskets. I set them on my wooden kitchen table and ended up scratching it. I thought I would pour rust remover over the rusted out ends. I placed the basket over my new stainless steel sink and the rust remover permanently spotted the sink.

The new baskets were installed and I thought everything was good, when the pump started to leak. I did the only frugal fix that I am proud of – I took a plastic turkey platter and slid it under the dishwasher.  Everyday I unload the dishwasher and dump the water out of the plastic tray.

I am protecting the floor as I wait to replace the dishwasher. I actually have a  dishwasher lined up, but we will have to build a cabinet for it, so I am patiently waiting for my husband to work out all of the details.

Mary Hunt at DebtProofLiving.com recently wrote about planning for appliance replacement. Please go read her article.

I wish I would have listened to her. I should have replaced the dishwasher in 2007 instead of building it in during my kitchen remodel.

I guess I might be a redneck.

Dishwasher

My dishwasher with its turkey platter drip pan.

Never Trust a Half Price Plumber

It was 1988. My son and I had just been diagnosed with asthma. I already suffered from allergies and it was strongly recommended that we get central air to keep the pollen out.

We had a small income tax return, so I went to my favorite plumber, the plumber we used at work and a plumber who attended school with my husband. The third plumber’s bid was half price of the other two.

Now our memory gets fuzzy. I say we chose the last one because my husband wanted to help out a classmate. He says we chose the last one because I was so cheap.

Frugal is being smart. Cheap is taking the cheapest bid.

It was a mistake. A week after the Central air was installed the motor burned up. The classmate installed a different motor and that was the last we heard from him.

Then the nightmare began. It just wouldn’t cool. Our favorite plumber tried every test and every trick, but the house was always 10 degrees warmer than the air outside.

On the plus side, in the fall it could be in the sixties outside and the house would still be holding the heat. Sometimes we didn’t turn on the furnace until November!

We had our electric company do an energy audit twice during those years and still could not figure out why it didn’t work.

My plumber tried to get an expert to come and check it out, but the temperature was hot and demand was high, so we decided not to wait any longer.

Finally, in desperation, we called in a friend who handled the heating and cooling in businesses in the area. He listened to everything we had tried over the years and ripped the thing apart.

What he found was a one speed motor that was wired to a two-speed fan. When you have central air you must have a high-speed on your fan to push the cool air up. In the winter, heat rises, so you can move air with the low-speed.

He put on a two-speed motor and IT WORKS!!!

We had three days of temperatures over 100 degrees and my house stayed consistently at 77 degrees where I set it.

Then we were sick when we realized for the last two decades we had been cooling the bottom two feet of the house and since the cool air never reached the thermostat, the air ran constantly for weeks at a time.

I called my favorite plumber and reported what we found.  I am not going to see him as much now. At least not to work on the air conditioner!

It was a painful lesson to learn. It is better to wait until you can do it right than to try a shortcut.

Better Homes and Gardens Agreed

I was thrilled when I read the “Living Green” section of the April, 2010 issue of Better Homes and Gardens. They agreed with me about rebates and tax credits. (See “Rebate? Not a Deal Maker”, March 10, 2010)

Pg 101. Point 3. “Payback isn’t the only indicator of whether you should upgrade. Be realistic about the money you’ll get back by making an energy upgrade.

Though you’re eligible for a tax credit by replacing your current windows or furnace, for example, the credit likely won’t be enough of an incentive on its own. You may not recoup all your costs in energy savings either.

However, investing in a good-quality, energy-smart products offers other benefits, with personal comfort topping the list. And if you were already considering a replacement product, the tax credit may provide an opportunity you don’t want to pass up.”

The bottom line is to wait until a product needs replaced, then look into tax credits or rebates. And do your homework to get the best deal for your money.