Facing My Giants

Sunday we had a winter storm and church was canceled. I had a free morning!

I started my day as usual, by reading my Bible. I read the account of David killing Goliath and decided it was time to face my giant.

I’ve been hiding out from this giant for a month and it just wasn’t going away. It was adjusting our family spending plan to fit our “new” income of…unemployment, see “My Husband Lost His Job, http://wp.me/pKNzn-DT.

I had the percentages of my spending plan memorized: Give 10%, Save 10%, Housing 30%, Food 12%, Auto 15%, and split the rest fairly evenly. (We have to allocate more to medical expenses than the average family.)

In the time it took my husband to clear our drive, and the neighbors drive, I had adjusted the numbers. Since he has been the one paying bills, I went over the figures with him when he came inside. We had to raise some numbers and trim others, but in less than an hour, we had a plan.

I should have done it last week when I learned the amount of our new health insurance premium, but I procrastinated.

Today, I faced another giant…goals for this blog. It is also something I have been avoiding! But I started taking “Blogging 201” and that was today’s assignment. For bonus points, we were to write a post and list our goals.

2015 Goals for frugalfish.com

1. Gain 20% more followers by March 31st.

2. Increase daily hits 30% by end of 2015.

3. Gain 6 new twitter followers by May 30th.

I recorded the goals on my editorial calendar and will report my progress.

I encourage you to face your “giants.” It won’t take as long as you think and will not be as painful as you expect.

A blank piece of paper to write my 2015 goals on.

A blank piece of paper on which to write my 2015 goals.

My Husband Lost His Job

When I signed up for “Blogging 101,” I knew it would be difficult. I had no idea how heartrending the first assignment would be. We are to write who we are and why we are blogging.

I went back to my “About” page, http://wp.me/PKNzn-2, in this blog and made adjustments. I was able to add two more goals met: paying off the house and paying cash to replace our van. But I had to add, that after working for 30 years at a Lumberyard, my husband was laid off last Friday. The Lumberyard is for sale and his former boss is hoping the new owner will rehire him, but there are no guarantees.

Why am I blogging? My friends asked me to write down the little things I do to make things last longer, organizing my home, decorating my home and doing it without spending money. I worked as a bookkeeper for a church for almost 25 years and I learned how to stretch a dollar just to survive!

That is still my goal – to survive during this time that we both are unemployed and our youngest finishes up college. Odd, the only one in this house that is gainfully employed is our son!

I would like to connect with others who are surviving without running up a large credit card bill; those who live beneath their means. Unfortunately, today I am not even sure what our “means” will be.

I do know it is a new year and we have a totally blank page with which to work.

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.




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 Tigerdirect.com. 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 Youtube.com 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 flylady.net.  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.