Marriage is Not Like a Car

We are celebrating our 33rd Wedding Anniversary this weekend! (Yes, we were really young when we got married. No, I was not pregnant; we waited four years to have kids.)

Cake topper from our wedding.

Cake topper from our wedding.

When people ask us the secret to a long marriage, we usually joke, “Marriage Counseling.” But there is no secret, you have to take care of it.

Flower girl basket, bridal bouquet, untiy candle, and maid of honor bouquet from our wedding.

Flower girl basket, bridal bouquet, untiy candle, and maid of honor bouquet from our wedding.

Marriage is not like a car that you can trade in for a newer model when it breaks down or starts to age.

Marriage is like a breast.

  1. Only adults have them.
  2. It starts small and grows so gradually you barely notice.
  3. It needs constant protection and support.
  4. It needs frequent examination against the cancers that will harm it. Those cancers can kill you.
  5. If properly cared for, it will nurture your children and be a source of comfort and pleasure for the rest of your life.
  6. The alternative will cost you physically, emotionally, spiritually, and financially for the rest of your life.
  7. Investing in your marriage does not require expensive gifts, trips, or dinners out. It requires time. Time to dream, plan, and just touch base.

It’s the best investment you will ever make!


A Great Big Box

Dave: “Alvin, what are you getting me for Christmas?”

Alvin: “A great, big box.”

Dave: “Why a great, big box?”

Alvin: “So you can fill it with presents for us!”

Dave: “For you! It’s supposed to be for me!”

Who doesn’t love the Chipmunks! I think Alvin was right in one respect. We should all have a great, big box somewhere that we fill with items for others.

As we are getting ready for fall, we should pull the items out of our closet that we did not wear this spring and summer. They need to go into the box.

Most of our children’s clothes will not fit them next summer, and unless you are saving them for a sibling, they need to go into the box.

If you are planning to donate that box to charity, make an inventory of its contents. Spread the items out and take a picture of them. When you donate them be sure to get a receipt. You have fulfilled three of the requirements to use these items as a tax deduction.

To deduct those items you need to:

  1. Take a picture of the items.
  2. Donate them to a non-profit agency.
  3. Get a receipt from the agency.
  4. Record the amount you paid for each item.
  5. Record the fair market value of the items.

Right now, what you need to concentrate on is cleaning out closets and gathering donations.

Just get a great, big box!

Items to be donated.

Items to be donated.

Consider All Expenses with a Scholarship

My plan for my sons first two years of college was to have him take classes locally and live at home.

He had other plans! (Surprise, surprise.)

I said, “Fine, but you are paying for it. You have to get scholarships to cover the dorm, meal plan, tuition and books.”

He auditioned for, and received, a $2000.00 Jazz Band Scholarship. I was thrilled! But he had to attend Jazz Band practices twice a week at the campus 25 miles away. He didn’t get a scholarship to cover the dorm and meals, so he had to commute.

We did the math and found he could cover the gas ($10.00 a day) and food (He felt he needed $8.00 a meal.) with the three shifts he was working at a grocery store.

The weekend before classes started he received an email from the head of the music department who noticed he was an “All State Choir Member”. He wanted him in his chorus. Unfortunately, chorus meets four times a week. He had to join chorus or lose the scholarship. That added another credit and another fee. That also meant he had to drive four times a week.

Then we found he had to take private drum lessons. That was another credit and another fee. Of course, all of these credits cost him!

So, based on his budget, the expenses relating to the $2000.00 scholarship are…

Jazz Band Tuition – $411.00

Chorus Tuition – $411.00

Private Drum Lessons – $411.00

Gas to drive to campus – $1560.00

Food for classes out-of-town – $1248.00

Gas to attend concerts – $150.00

Gas to attend basketball games where the Jazz Band plays – $140.00

Total $4331.00!

Expenses not covered by the scholarship $2331.00!

Notice I said it is costing him, not us. I have a gas budget for him and this is what he pays over and above that.

Now to make it even more interesting…he does not have any student loans.

None, zip, zilch.

He is also taking nine more credits, to qualify for the scholarship, that are covered by a grant. He is paying cash all the way.

Then, his working hours at the grocery store were reduced to two shifts a week. He got smart really quickly. He stopped eating out and started buying food at the grocery store.

And then we got a miracle.

One weekend, when his dad was in town with him, they stopped by his aunt and uncles house. They were close to our son because he worked with them at youth camp for several years.

His uncle said, “Hey, if your son needs a place to crash he is welcome to stay at our house.” (It is three miles from campus.)

They travel a lot and would feel better knowing someone was keeping an eye on the house. They have a basement apartment.

Now he is only driving back and forth once a week. He has a kitchen available to cook in and he gets to see his favorite great-aunt and uncle! I suggested he can earn his keep by offering to shovel snow, mow the lawn, rake leaves, etc.

The important thing to remember is – every scholarship has requirements. Be sure you are able to meet all of the requirements before accepting it.

The first term ended and, like most kids do, my son has already changed his Major from Criminal Justice to Music. He apparently made the right choice accepting this scholarship.

He completed the year with a zero balance and no student loan debt.

College Boy playing at a concert.

College Boy playing at a concert.

Repairing Bleach Spots

My husband and I have been losing weight. I went down a dress size and he is down to the size he was after basic training over 30 years ago!


But this post is not about the unfairness of the difference of weight loss between the sexes. (I also promise not to rant on Prednisone’s ability to pack on the pounds.)

I am in between my regular size and my “Prednisone” size. (Thank God, I have only had to use it once this year!)

I refuse to spend an arm and a leg buying a wardrobe to fit my interim size. I will only need summer clothes for a few more weeks and I plan on being back to my regular size at the beginning of next summer.

I headed to Goodwill.

I found a pair of new-looking Capri shorts, in the correct size and color, but was disappointed when I saw some tiny spots. It looked like chemical over spray on them that had bleached out the black dye.

Repaired bleach spots.

Repair bleached spots.

I have a solution…a permanent marker!

I dabbed the spots with permanent marker. The marker “dyed” the bleach spots and the Capri shorts are like new again!

Repaired Bleach Spots

Repaired Bleach Spots

The best part? When I washed them, my husband thought they were my sons and put them with his clothes. Yeah…he wears a 30-32!





I love the new commercial about “Parent’s Vacation Sales!” I’m sure the kids know they are really “Back to School Sales,” but kids and teachers alike are trying to just enjoy summer. Whatever you call it, these sales are a good time to stock up on clothing and supplies whether you are a student or not.

I do most of my writing in ring-bound notebooks. There is just something about using pen and paper that I enjoy. (Maybe it is the scent of Pentel blue ink.) During these sales, I purchase enough notebooks to last me for a year.

This is also a good time to stock up on underwear and socks! There are bonus packages with an extra pair in them.

You can find inexpensive housewares that are being targeted for college students. Think bedding, towels, small appliances, and electronics.

Don’t just shop at the big box stores. Check the flyers for dollar stores and grocery stores. They may have a limited number, but the price is set to move the stock.

You don’t have to be in school to benefit from the…ahem…”Parent’s Vacation Sales!”

Stock up on Back to School Sales,

“But…I Don’t Own It”

I was an administrator at a local church for years and I would get frustrated when people would not take care of things and expect a replacement to be purchased when it broke. I am a firm believer in fixing things when the repair is small.

I play in a worship band and I know items wear out, but I am determined to take care of the things I use. We set up and tear down every week, which makes us more of a traveling band than most. Our equipment can get a lot of wear and tear.

A few years ago a keyboard, keyboard case, and keyboard bench were purchased for me to play. After a year or so, I noticed the velcro was pulling away from the strap that keeps the keyboard secure in the case. I wish I had repaired it when I first noticed it, but sadly, I waited until it was almost completely torn loose.

I took my upholstery needles, see here, with me one Sunday and sat in the case to repair the strap. I couldn’t reach the entire strap from the side and that is why I climbed in the case. (Yes, I took a lot of ribbing that morning.)

The strongest thread I had was not black, but I figured no one would see it but me…well, until today. That stitching is holding firm and the strap now holds the keyboard securely.

Repaired keyboard case strap with upholstery needle.

Repaired keyboard case strap with upholstery needle.

The keyboard bench has also taken some wear and tear. Items were piled on top of it one week and there was a small tear. I repaired it with a vinyl repair kit. Last month I noticed the corners were pulling apart. I stitched them with black thread and then covered the seam with vinyl repair glue.

Stitched torn seam and covered stitching with vinyl glue.

Stitched torn seam and covered stitching with vinyl glue.

This week I decided to do something about the feet on the keyboard bench. They have slipped off before and been left in the storage area. Then I would rock during the service.

I asked Mr. Frugalfish what to use to glue them to on. He said it was difficult to glue rubber and I came up with a different solution.

I brought 4 rubber bands from home and used them like washers. I put them on the ends of the metal legs and slipped the rubber feet over them. Those feet stay firmly in place now!

I use rubber bands like washers to secure rubber feet to metal legs of the keyboard bench.

I use rubber bands like washers to secure rubber feet to metal legs of the keyboard bench.

Part of being frugal is taking care of everything you use, even the stuff you don’t own. Of course, I did ask permission before I made the repairs.

10 “Tax Free Weekend” Rules

1. Take a list and stick to it! Prioritize the lists for each person.

2. Stick to your clothing budget or use cash. Avoid temptations; be prepared.

3. Buy only the clothes and shoes you need. Buy the size kids are wearing now.

4. Be sure the cost per item is under $100.00. You will be taxed on items over the limit.

5. Shop the clearance racks first. Some stores will have items at 70%-80% off.

6. Buy the basic items first. Underwear and socks should be at the top of your list.

7. Buy the best quality you can afford. A good pair of jeans, not 3 cheap t-shirts.

8. Take advantage of packages that have an extra. Look for bonus packages.

9. Purchase durable styles and fabrics. Classic, not trendy.

10. Remember this is not a large discount. Your discount will be 6% or 7%.

Iowa’s Tax Free Weekend is scheduled for August 1-2, 2014.

The tax-exempt savings applies only to:

Clothing under $100
Shoes under $100

Write the date you bought your shoes on the inside.

Write the date you bought your shoes on the inside.

Black and Decker Redeems Themselves

My working title for this post was…

All of My Appliances Were Black and Decker

You notice that title was past tense. I did have Black and Decker for every appliance. What changed?

Failure to communicate.

I chose Black and Decker appliances because they had a longer warranty than the other less expensive brands. I was always pleased with their price and reliability.

Then my mixer died. I got out the warranty and read the instructions. It told me to fill out a form online at Spectrum Home Appliances.

I received a reply right away wanting to confirm the date of purchase, model number off of the end of the plug, amount of purchase, a telephone number, where I purchased it, and if I still had the receipt. I replied with all of the requirements and threw the unit and box away. (I save the original box for the duration of the warranty, see here.)

The trash went out that night and imagine my shock when I got another email telling me to cut the end of the cord off and send it to them.

Nowhere in the warranty papers, on the box, or on the website, did it say I would need to mail in the cord. So, I’m just out the price of a mixer?


I am sending a copy of this post to them, and if I do not get a positive response, I will  contact the Better Business Bureau.


I received a reply the next day.

Thank you for contacting Spectrum Home Appliances.

We did receive approval that we can release the replacement unit to you as a one time courtesy without requirements. Please allow 7-14 business days for delivery.

If we can be of any further assistance, please contact our Consumer Service Department at 1-800-231-9786. Our hours of operation are Monday thru Friday from 8:30 A.M. to 7:00 P.M.,EST. Alternatively, you may e-mail us at, or go to and fill out a contact form. A representative will be happy to assist you.

Consumer Support Team
Spectrum Home Appliances
A division of Spectrum Brands, Inc.

Well, they redeemed themselves!

Through this experience I learned to hang on to the broken appliance until the warranty is honored and a replacement arrives. Yes, I keep all warranties, you can see my filing system here.

My Replacement Black and Decker MIxer

My Replacement Black and Decker MIxer