Cash…and 2 Forks

We went away for the weekend to: visit a cousin who had open heart surgery, attend a family reunion, and celebrate our 32nd Wedding Anniversary.

After eating the ‘4 Meat Dinner for Two’ at “Jethro’s BBQ” and the breakfast buffet at “The Machine Shed,” Mr. Frugalfish said we needed to slow down on the amount of food and the cost.

Then he took me to “Joe’s Crab Shack” and ordered the lobster/crab bucket and a piece of 6 layer chocolate cake!

How was that slowing down?


There is a difference between being cheap and being frugal.

  • Cheap is eating at McDonald’s on your vacation.
  • Frugal is paying cash…and 2 forks!
'4 Meat Dinner for 2' at Jethro's BBQ, Altoona, IA.

‘4 Meat Dinner for 2’ at Jethro’s BBQ, Altoona, IA.


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.


When I was a little girl, my father would sing and play the guitar to lull me and my three siblings to sleep. When he passed away a few years ago, my siblings said they would like to inherit his guitar.

Later, I told my husband I would rather inherit Dad’s mandolin. I’ve tried playing the guitar but they are just too large and bulky for me.

I am proud of what my husband did next.

  1. He approached my mother to see if my siblings had expressed interest in the mandolin.
  2. He had her appraise it.
  3. He paid the full appraisal price for it.
  4. He hid it behind the couch because he couldn’t figure out how to wrap it.

I was in shock when I opened the case and saw the pink towel. That was how I knew it was my dad’s mandolin.

Buying my dad’s mandolin was a priceless, sentimental gift. I appreciated that he also paid full value for it to mom.

If there is a sentimental gift you would like to give, get the appraisal right away.

The mandolin I found under the Christmas tree last year.

Good Housekeeping Editor’s Words of Wisdom

“Using less, using what you have, making do: It’s as much about attitude as action.” Good Housekeeping Editor-in-Chief, Rosemary Ellis. August, 2013 Issue.

The actions of “using less,” “using what I have” and “making do” is something I am familiar with; but the importance of my attitude while I am doing it cannot be understated.

I am not depriving myself, I am choosing to save my money for a need higher on my priority list.

I am glad someone else is getting it, too.


I have always tried to be prepared. I keep a change of clothes in the van in case I get caught in a downpour. (It’s hilarious when you read about me and find I am housebound.)  When I asked my son to leave a hooded sweatshirt in the van instead of donating it to Good Will he came up with a new word for me.

He called me “Pre-paranoid!”

Hey, you can’t live frugally unless you are always thinking ahead and planning to cover your own emergencies.

Well, I lost it on May 28th when lightning struck and my “Life Time Guaranteed Smart Power Bar” failed. (I will have to get back to you on them later. We will see if they really do replace whatever is damaged should their power bar fail.)

The good news was my hard drive survived and I did not lose my information.

The bad news was the CPU was not repairable.

I had a Plan B in case I did have some time without my computer. My Plan B was to use college boys laptop. He did not like Plan B and I moved on to Plan C…which also failed. Plan C was to use my husband’s tablet. Sorry, I just couldn’t blog on 7 inches.

Being Frugalfish, I asked the repairman exactly what components had to be replaced. He told me just the CPU and possibly the keyboard as the USB drives took a hit also.

I had $300.00 in my savings account under the “Appliances” category. The repairman helped me find a flat CPU that came with a keyboard and a mouse at It was a refurbished model with a warranty. I was able to buy 2 years “Square Trade” if anything happens to it and a program called PC Tune-Up. Total cost – $300.73.

I bought the software because this would not have happened if I had this program. I had icons moving around and suspected a virus. I went to and got a free scan from a company that was supposed to fix it. My fix cost $70.00 and when I turned the computer off it would not turn on again. It went to sleep and would stay asleep for hours before it decided to wake up. We decided to leave it on all of the time with an appropriate screen saver until we could find someone to check it out.

When the storm hit, normally I would have shut the computer off right away, but I trusted the power bar.

They say you should sleep in your guest room for a weekend and you will find the things that you can put in there to make the room more comfortable. Our guest room is a blow up air mattress and usually our guest is our 2-year-old granddaughter. She stayed with us a few weeks ago and woke up crying for Mommy, who was in the hospital at the time. We never let our children sleep in our bed but when that little girl cried for Mommy, grandpa caved. He let her sleep with grandma and he took the air mattress. The next morning he said we needed to put a mattress pad on it.

Today I want to encourage you to try out your “Plan B” before you need it and make sure it will work. Spend a night in your guest bed and see how comfortable it is.

As for me, I am going to order a laptop this week and I am not going to let college boy use it!



Today I will be making my weekly grocery list.  I blogged about the steps I take on the July 12, 2012 post.

The last two weeks, I have been busy learning music for Easter and preparing for an extended family dinner. I decided to skip updating my food inventory and made changes based on my memory.

The picture describes the result perfectly.

Stop buying duplicates, or triplicates!

Stop buying duplicates, or triplicates!


I have a Christmas Control Journal that I got from  It helps you plan for the holidays and you can even get everything done before December 1st. You really should check her out!

At the end of the season, I take a few minutes and write down what I wish I had done differently. I put these notes in my Christmas Control Journal for the next year.

Last year I made a note for my husband and I to exchange our gifts early in the morning before the kids get up. It made it a special time just for us.

I also made a note to put the desserts in the office as the older people could not negotiate the stairs. That worked out well for all, since we tend to gather around the tree upstairs and stay there after dinner.

This year, the only note I am making is in capital letters…


Since I host the family dinners, the leftovers end up here and I hate wasting food….so it ends up on my waist!  The only recipe I doubled this year was for fudge as it all disappeared between the two family dinners the year before. (Someone was eating it out of the freezer!)

We only ate one batch and there was no way I was going to eat the second one alone! I ended up freezing it. I plan on getting it out for Valentine’s Day.  After all, chocolate is chocolate!

Second batch of Christmas Fudge.

Second batch of Christmas Fudge.


We all have those times when we find our check is not only smaller, but will remain that way. It can be an increase in taxes or a reduction of hours. No matter the reason, you have to adjust your spending to be under the new, lower amount.

My favorite place to go when I need to adjust my spending is It is one of my favorite links because they have a free spending plan online calculator. It lets you put in your income and they give you a suggested range for each category.  Your housing expense may be at the top of the suggested range, but you can make up the difference by spending less on food, clothes, entertainment, etc.

I highly recommend their book, “Crown Money Map – the Steps to Financial Freedom”.



“…if you are familiar with the term, you know this is a gathering storm made up of tax breaks expiring, automatic spending cuts beginning, the debt ceiling rising and millions of more taxpayers getting hit with something called the Alternative Minimum Tax.” Mary Hunt, Debt Proof Living.

I blogged about the tax cut bill two years ago. I am posting those blogs below. We need to be proactive. I recommend three things:

  1. Do not spend more on Christmas gifts than the amount of cash you have on hand.
  2. Keep any money you receive for Christmas until after you get your 2013 paycheck.
  3. Use the tax guidelines on the 7-6-2010 blog to set a new budget.

Congress may extend the cuts for two more years, like they did in 2012, but I wouldn’t count on it.


The Tax Cut was extended for two more years. I am glad that taxes will not increase, but I am also glad that I had several months believing that it would. It forced me to examine my spending on a deeper level than I had before.

It also made me look at my sources of income. What would I do if this source were suddenly to stop?

It relieves a lot of stress if you have a plan B. My kids ask me what I would do and I told them the steps I would take. I let them know we would not be homeless or run out of food. They have watched as our taxable income has decreased every year since 2007.

They weren’t as thrilled as we were when we paid off our credit card and auto loan in 2009. But the next time we had to tighten our belt it was easier because we did not have those payments.

I look forward to 2011. I plan on growing more of my own food. We are taking steps to make our home even more energy-efficient. (I plan on taking the drawers out of the kitchen cupboards and caulking the space between the molding and the floor behind them.)

There is always room for improvement!



Yesterday, I read an article at “Americans for Tax Reform”,, reporting the rates taxes will rise.

-The 10% bracket rises to an expanded 15%

-The 25% bracket rises to 28%

-The 28% bracket rises to 31%

-The 33% bracket rises to 36%

-The 35% bracket rises to 39.6%

Itemized deductions and personal exemptions will again phase out, which has the same mathematical effect as higher marginal tax rates. The ‘marriage penalty’ (narrower tax brackets for married couples) will return from the first dollar of income. The child tax credit will be cut in half from $1000 to $500 per child. The standard deduction will no longer be doubled for married couples relative to the single level. The dependent care and adoption tax credits will be cut.” Americans for Tax Reform

I still choose to be proactive. I am saving as much money each payday as I can. I am only charging what I can pay off in that month.

What are you doing to prepare?

Is your garden doing well? Are you canning, freezing and drying your produce?

Are you paying down debt?

Are you making decisions that will lower your bills?

Use cash for Christmas gifts.



Today I am putting the final touches on my table for Thanksgiving. The table is set for 17 plus a high chair! I love, love, love dinner parties! At Christmas, and on my birthday, I ask for napkin rings, cloth napkins, serving dishes, etc. Last year I ironed the napkins into turkeys.

Last year’s Thanksgiving table.

I bought a glass butter dish for my dinner at Easter. I was looking for a glass cream and sugar set. I didn’t like any I saw in the store; they all seemed too small.

After my last shopping trip, I walked by my china cabinet and noticed a small pitcher I used for syrup and a candy dish that was missing the lid. They both are cut glass and the perfect size for my crowd! I have my new cream and sugar containers! Who knew, I just needed to shop in my china cabinet!

My “new” cream and sugar set.