Save on Senior Pictures

My nephew, Brayden, played “Pomp and Circumstance” for the last time on Sunday. Next year, he will be marching down to receive his diploma! There are many things to do before that last march on the football field and the first one is best done this month.

When my youngest graduated from high school, we couldn’t decide where to get his senior pictures taken.

We had three options:

Photographer 1 took the senior pictures of my first two children.

Photographer 2 is a close friend of the extended family. So close, that her family has attended our family reunion for decades.

Photographer 3 is a relative of my daughter-in-law. She took a family picture of us after their wedding.

They all are excellent photographers and we worried about hurt feelings. Then I remembered the deal I made with Photographer 1.

My oldest son graduated in 2005. I saw a picture of a 2004 graduate that captured her personality, taken by Photographer 1.

When I called, I told the photographer I had a senior and a junior. I asked her if she could make me a deal if I had my daughter’s pictures taken there the next year.

She offered me two free family sittings. I used the first free sitting for my extended family in 2004. I never used the second one.

I called Photographer 1 and reminded her I still had a second free sitting. I asked her if we could use it for my youngest sons’ senior pictures.

She said, “Yes!”

They base sitting fees on the different outfits worn for pictures. In his case, it was $25.00 per outfit. Derek wore a baseball uniform and three other outfits for his pictures. That saved me $100.00 in sitting fees.

Derek's Baseball Picture "Saving Money on Senior Pictures" frugalfish.org

Top Ten Tips

1. Book your appointment in June. Most photographers will have a reduced rate or throw in free pictures for early bookings. My sitting fee for my first son was 75% off because I booked in June. Every photographer has their own incentives.

2. If you have more than one child, ask for a deal and have all of them photographed by the same one. The pictures will have a similar feel because each photographer has their own style.

3. Limit the outfits your child wears. This is especially hard with girls!

4. Ask if the photographer has a “Participation Bonus”.  You get a free gift or picture when your child is wearing a uniform: band, sports, even FFA.

5. Have your child be a model for the photographer for a free or reduced sitting fee.

6. Order the minimum number of pictures needed. Make a list of all the relatives you are buying for and write the size of the print you want for them next to it. Buy a large print for yourself and an 8 x 10 or 5 x 7 for your child. Don’t order hundreds of wallets. Derek graduated with 129 other students. I ordered 100 wallets for Luke and had a stack left over. I ordered 88 wallets for Laura and used them all. So, I ordered only 88 for Derek and used them all.

7. You may get more opportunities for free pictures later in the year by writing a review.

8. In January they go on sale. They contact you to see if you need more photos, sometimes at reduced prices. You can also get a copy of your child’s portfolio or picture DVD at a reduced price.

9. Some photographers throw in a free bonus picture if you pay in full when you place your order.

10. You can also get free photos and other freebies based on the amount of money you spend, i.e. spend $200.00 – get one freebie, spend $300.00 – get two freebies.

$ $ $ $ $ $ $ $

If your photographer is a family member . . .

  • do not expect a free sitting. This is how they make their living. Be willing to pay full price and be grateful if they offer you a discount.
  • do not expect them to clear their schedule to accommodate you.
  • do not cancel at the last-minute, unless it is an emergency, and pay them the sitting fee anyway.

Being frugal is not about being cheap; it is about making the most of your money!

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Displaying Precious Artwork

“The clock that’s hung in our kitchen for 15 years, that our daughter crafted at kinder when she was three, has finally been taken down and relegated to the garage.

It was such an imperfect clock with childish numbers misaligned and it was never easy to tell the time. I loved it.”

outanabout.com

$ $ $ $ $ $ $ $

I read this post from Outanabout.com, (Melbourne, Australia), and realized I had relegated my children’s artwork to the shelf on the stairway. She proudly displayed her daughter’s clock for 15 years! I received most of the clay artwork as gifts on Mother’s Day. This year, my decorating features the artwork from my children’s school years.

It started when I made my wreath. I wanted to put the nest with three eggs on the wreath and the only way I could attach it was with brown yarn. I used 2 paper flowers my daughter made when she was young to hide the yarn.

Mother's Day Wreath "Displaying Priceless Artwrok" frugalfish.org

Not all of my Mother’s Day gifts were homemade. I received this plaque last year from my daughter and displayed it in the hall with a gray whale my youngest son made.

Plaque and Clay Whale "Displaying Precious Artwork" frugalfish.org

My daughter’s softball statues found a home in the china cabinet behind two tea cups and saucers. All three of my children made clay bowls displayed here and on the tables.

Clay Art in China Cabinet "Displaying Precious Artwork" frugalfish.org

I balanced the big clay bowl with a teapot made by my oldest son and a heart made by my daughter. I used two tart pans painted with roses as the centerpiece for my tables. This one has a black bowl filled with roses. Our youngest son made the marble plaque.

Clay Bowl, Teapot, Heart, and Marble Plaque with Roses Bouquet "Displaying Precious Artwork" frugalfish.org

Upstairs in the kitchen, I used a green, glass bowl filled with pink, rose-shaped candles. This green bowl always reminded me of my mother because she had green vases, pitchers, and glasses. On each side are homemade clay bowls.

Bowl of Roses with Clay Pots "Displaying Precious Artwork" frugalfish.org

I think of my Grandmother when I look at the glass block, cat, and kittens. The cat and kittens were a gift from my grandmother on my 8th birthday. The package to the right was given to me by my daughter with instructions to never open it because it contains all her love. I filled the glass block with three ingredients found in my rose potpourri and pink, glass rocks.

Cats and Mother's Day Glass Block "Displaying Precious Artwork" frugalfish.org

I even included a reminder of something I made when I put a pin on my roses towels. Those footprints are the size of a baby’s feet at 12 weeks after conception. Yes, my greatest blessings do call me Mom.

Roses Towels with Baby Feet Pin "Displaying Precious Artwork" frugalfish.org

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Secret to Reading Boring Materials

I am currently reading “The Bond Fund of America Annual Report.” I intend to read the booklets on all the funds in which my husband has invested.

I finished reading the booklet from my health insurance company. I was unhappy with my company when it said online that my “rescue inhaler” was no longer covered.

Seriously?

After reading the booklet, I found I could get refills on my rescue inhaler if I ordered them through their mail order division. I admit it was not exciting reading, but it is information I need to know!

Every year, I intended to read my health insurance booklet, but it ended up in the pile on my desk of things I should do. I finally learned a secret to reading boring materials – a paragraph or page each time you use the bathroom.

I am not pushing multitasking. I am saying we spend more time on the throne than we realize. I put the booklets in with my regular magazines and catalogs. I read a page, leave a book marker in it, (usually a subscription postcard) and put it in the back of the magazine organizer I keep in the bathroom. That way, I alternate reading something fun, with something boring.

“Make it fun and it will get done.” flylady.net

Magazine organizer "Secret to Reading Boring Material" frugalfish.org

 

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Resolved: More Weight, Food, Spending; Less Organizing, Travel, Reading

You read that title correctly. My resolution this year is to eat more food, gain weight, and spend more. I also plan on less organizing, travel, and reading.

More Weight

I can thank Jenny Kuhn for this resolution. Here is a picture of Jenny and me, with her daughter Kathryn, around 2005.

Jenny, Katie, & I "Resolved . . ." frugalfish.org

She moved to Arkansas and opened Jenny’s Gym. Last October, she competed in the World Powerlifting Alliance competition in Portland, OR. She is now the WPA-APA World Powerlifting record holder in the squat and the deadlift for the 45-49 age group in the 132# weight class. She also broke the previously held accumulative world record (squat+bench+deadlift), see here.

Jenny lifting in her gym "Resolved . . " frugalfish.org

 

Jenny regularly posts clips of her clients lifting. Most of the clips are of middle-aged women who are strength training. Sometimes she posts informational clips. When she explained the proper way to do a push-up, it changed my life.Jenny Kuhn "Resolved . . ." frugalfish.org

I usually tried doing push-ups from my knees, but that does not use all the muscles correctly. You need the same form as you would use to plank. Now I do them off of the kitchen counter and will move to the ottoman when my arms are stronger. If I do not keep control of my arms, I bump my forehead! I know I am using the correct form now.

Since muscle is heavier than fat, I plan on gaining weight this year. I want to gain muscle, not fat, and will concentrate on that instead of my bathroom scale!

Eat More

For the past few years, I would weigh myself on Monday and plan my meals based on that number. It didn’t work! I would gain a pound and then try to cut way back on my food. Of course, that pound stubbornly stayed.

This year I am going to work my body and feed it what it needs. I will eat bigger servings of salad, vegetables, and more meat. I never have been a big bread eater, but my sweet tooth is my downfall. That is where I will cut back.

More Spending

I am a saver and try to buy everything on sale. That is not always possible. This year, I want to buy things when I need them and not do without. I have lived under the poverty level during childhood and as a mother. I have no problem telling the difference between a need, a want, and a desire.

In my wallet now are 2 months worth of allowance! I also have a note of a few things I need to order. (Hello, sports bra!) I have watched the sales for over a year and have the money. I just need to get online and order it!

Less Organizing

Marla Cilley, aka The FlyLady, says over and over, “You can’t organize clutter.” But I can, and that is the problem! I organize things that I should send to Goodwill or pass on to family members.

There is a box with “Graduation” written on it in my pantry. My youngest graduated in 2015. I am hanging on to it for my sister-in-law, Melinda. I need to just give it to her, even though Brayden doesn’t graduate for another year.

Less Travel

I will no longer feel guilty for staying at home. There are many opportunities to go places and do things, but if I have to take a round of Prednisone to go, it is just not worth it! (Or worse, go without Prednisone and then fight a flare for two weeks.) I don’t care that I only go out 3 times a week for four hours. I have so much I love to do right here at home.

I know my Facebook page is boring, but I refuse to compare myself to others. I will travel vicariously with my friends. (Sorry, Jill, I have no desire to go clear up to the Arctic Circle. Enjoy your trip!)

I really enjoy the posts from Australia on the travel blog, outan’about.com. It was interesting reading about celebrating Christmas during their summer!

Less Reading

I can speed read. It is a blessing and a curse. I would normally go to the library and fill a large bag with 18 books every other month. (No, that is not a typo; it is eighteen books.) We have a great library that is always getting new books and the community buys books in memory of loved ones.

Obviously, I don’t watch TV at night, in fact, I will only watch a movie once. My family will put in a movie, and if I have already seen it, I go to bed and pick up a book. I can read a 300-page book in 2 or 3 days. The problem is, I get close to the renewal date and I speed read through my stash. That is not as enjoyable as slowly reading, savoring, and even taking quotes from books.

This year, I will only check out 8 books at a time and will make sure one of those books is nonfiction. I am on chapter 2 of the book, “Smarter Faster Better” by Charles Duhigg. There are many things I would like to do, but I get bogged down in laundry and cooking. I want to make those tasks more efficient to allow time for fun stuff!

Smarter Faster Better book "Resolved . . ." frugalfish.org

“If you will live like no one else, later you can live like no one else.” Dave Ramsey

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Worst Day of My Life

It started with a flashback of the worst day of my life and ended less than an hour later when I locked myself out of the house.

The worst day of my life started like any other day. I didn’t really like the outfit I picked, but I was saving my favorite outfit and it was okay for a Tuesday. I was sitting in Physics class getting ready to take a semester test when the principal came to the door and called me out into the hall.

“Your parents called. Your house is on fire. We are taking your older sister home. Do you want to go home or stay here?”

I chose to stay and take the test. When I sat back down, Tim asked me what was up because I was NEVER called to the principal’s office.

“My house is on fire,” I calmly replied, and started on the test. I was in shock.

We lived in a small town of about 500 people and the fire chief was my uncle. When learning of smoke pouring out under the eaves, the entire town showed up. The fire was inside the walls and the smoke didn’t come into the house until they punched holes in the walls to get to it.

Those neighbors from Batavia emptied every closet, cupboard, and drawer on the first floor. They carried every stick of furniture outside and later moved them to the barn. A 17-year boy my dad had mentored, (who was playing hooky), unhooked the washer and carried it out by himself. Our next door neighbor, Linda, was the last one out of the house. She removed the drapes from the six windows in the living room and dining room.

They saved everything on the first floor, but not upstairs. I stayed after school and rode home with Carolyn. My brother and sisters had each been taken home by one of our aunts. They bought them a change of clothes and kept them overnight.

The furniture was in the barn and Dad was up on the roof with a few men putting a tarp over the hole the fire left. I went home with my friend, Pam. She was the best! We were the same size and she loaned me her favorite tee-shirt with her name on it and a pair of slacks to wear to school the next day.House Fire "Worst Day of My Life" frugalfish.org

Wednesday, they let us go upstairs to our former rooms for one minute. They instructed us to grab anything we wanted to keep. They had a door propped open to hold up the roof joists.

Everything was wet, melted, and black with smoke. I ripped some pictures out of my photo album and a few things out of my scrapbook. I made my bed that morning and my pillow was just wet. I took it and went back downstairs.

All I had left fit in an 8″ cookie tin. When I open that tin, I can still smell the smoke. I never got to wear that favorite outfit again, but I got an “A” on that Physics test!

$$$$$$$$$$$$

Today I opened an email that triggered that memory. It was from everydaycheapskate.com. She was replying to a question about a family that lost everything in a flood. She recommended the free app knowyourstuff.org.

I didn’t even finish the email. I hit the link, set up an account, and downloaded the app to my phone. Then I started taking pictures. I didn’t clean up the house. There were dirty dishes in the sink. I threw up the covers on the bed and tucked them in and kept snapping.Picture of Bedroom, "Worst Day of My Life" frugalfish.org

I took pictures of every wall, inside of closets, and even opened drawers in the kitchen to record contents. I know it can all go up in smoke in a flash. I also know the agony of trying to remember what was in each drawer, how many tee shirts did I own?

When I finished inside the house, I took pictures inside the garage. Then I went outside and took pictures of every side of the house. That’s when I locked myself out!

This is not an ad for the app. I will not get any money from them. I am sharing my painful experience in hopes that it will go easier for you should you have a disaster.

  1. Don’t wait until you have time.
  2. Don’t clean the house.
  3. Just get the app and start snapping pictures.

You never know when all you have left will be held in a cookie tin.

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Enough

I was at a friend’s New Year’s Eve party and I noticed she had a “Pack and Play” tucked in the walk in closet of her master bedroom. I remembered when my granddaughter was a baby, I would put the “Pack and Play” between the bed and the closet door.

There is just enough room for the "Pack and Play"

There is just enough room for the “Pack and Play”

I would like to have a bigger bedroom, but found there is enough room.

When my daughter moved out…again…I moved a computer desk into that room. We also keep an airbed set up for those times my granddaughter visits. I rolled the comfortable office chair in there because I spent more time writing than David spends working on the finances! I was happy that there is just enough room in there for both functions.

There is just enough room to pull out the extension to write in the spare bedroom.

There is just enough room to pull out the extension and write in the spare bedroom.

Bigger is not always better. It is more expensive and costs more to maintain. It’s time we decided to be happy with just enough.

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No Ads, No Pop-Ups, No Donations

December 29th was this blog’s 6th anniversary. I thought by now I would be making a little money.

Nope.

Last year, I took a few blogging courses and my first post of the year was my most popular ever. Unfortunately, it was the post about my husband losing his job and a few months later that business, which started in 1926, closed it’s doors for the last time.

I would rather my husband keep his new job than to have another popular post!

One of the things recommended in these courses was to visit other blogs with which you have something in common. I visited several blogs that interested me and even followed a few. I would just start reading and a pop-up ad would ask me to follow that blog.

They were annoying.

I started blogging because I like to write. If you start a blog to make money, you are going to be disappointed quickly. Are you willing to write a post on Christmas Day? I spent four hours on Christmas writing a post that I just had to get down on paper.

This year I am starting with a new approach, “No Ads, No Pop-Ups, No Donations.” I never have requested donations, or set up any pop-ups, but I did have ads.

When debtproofliving.com ended their affiliate marketing, I decided to end all ads. I didn’t make any money anyway. (It cost you to end ads.) I went to my “word ads” page to see how much I have accumulated in the last six years.

$10.00.

They won’t cut a check until the amount reaches $100.00 and I decided it just wasn’t worth it. I set it up to keep all ads off of both of my blogs.

What’s my point?

Money is not a good motivation to start a blog. It is better to just live on what you are making now. Better, not easier…and I will be here to give you ideas, tips, and pointers.

2016 is going to be a great year!

A blank piece of paper.

A blank piece of paper. A fresh start.

 

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If We Were Having Coffee Right Now…

If we were having coffee right now…I would tell you I am frustrated with technology! I didn’t realize how popular I would become to hackers when I started writing blogs.

I jumped into the blogosphere with both feet. I even paid for a web site for one of them and was overwhelmed from the git go. I bought the book, “WordPress for Dummies” and forced myself to read a little bit every day. I learned a lot, but still hate the technical side of blogging.

I took an HTML class and learned enough to lock myself out of my web site three times. (Sigh.) After four years of frustration, I let the web site go and switched back to blog format. Now WordPress does the heavy lifting for me.

I don’t really like change. I am using the same email address that I set up in the 90’s. Today that email was hacked twice. I change my password every week and type out gibberish to use as a password.

Still they come.

When I went to the support page for my email, I was told it might be time to get a new email address. I don’t want to because I registered all of my warranties to that email and it is on my business cards. I don’t want to start over.

I have a backup email address from another provider, but I forget to check it.

My husband thought he was being sweet when he bought me a smart phone. I’ve wanted to throw it against the wall more times than I care to admit. I still hit the “caps” button when I want to type in a symbol!

I went without a cell phone for six years (see here) and never did get into texting. I’m usually home and I would rather screen my calls with the answering machine!

I was supposed to deal with today’s hackers this afternoon and I am embarrassed to admit I spent two hours playing Spider Solitaire instead. I guess I like the technology when it comes to games.

I wonder what email format other bloggers use?

 

 

You are Never Too Old

I ran across “Zigma,” www.zikken24.com when he “liked” my post from yesterday. I “liked” his post, “95-Year-Old Indian Man Enrolls for a Masters Degree.”

As I read about the man, I thought about my piano teacher, Pearl Pederson. Most piano teachers cease to teach at retirement age. Most students start learning when they are in elementary school.

My teacher was 74 years old. She offered me lessons when I was 12 years old. She was the piano player at church and she was looking for someone to replace her. She was amazing on the piano and no one wanted to follow her.

She had arthritis and her knuckles were twice as large as normal. She walked with a cane. She had a bad heart.

After teaching me a year, she had a heart attack and had to recover in a nursing home. She was released several months later and moved into an apartment a block from my home. I was surprised when she approached me and said it was time to continue my lessons!

We started where we left off and her health deteriorated. She could no longer live alone. She moved into a house with a friend and took her piano with her. I walked to that house for lessons.

Her health got even worse and her daughter insisted that she move in with her. Pearl insisted that I keep taking lessons.

It wasn’t easy for her and it was just as hard for me. We didn’t own a piano. In the beginning, I walked 10 blocks to our church to practice and then I walked home. Some days it was a bitter cold walk.

I practiced for two hours each day…after all I had to make up time!

Four years later, she went into the nursing home permanently and I started playing for the services. She taught me to play by note and to play by ear. The choruses that we sang during that time did not come with music. Someone would sing it to you and you would pick out the chords on the piano.

By the time I was 20, I was not only learning new choruses, I was writing down the guitar chords over the words and giving them to the others in the band.

I still play twice a week in two different towns. I don’t plan on quitting. I learned from Pearl that you are never too old.

If you can dream it, you can do it.

This is the last lesson book I work in with my piano teacher, Pearl Pederson.

This is the last lesson book I worked in with my piano teacher, Pearl Pederson.

No Matter Where You Go, You Are Always There

I used to think “home” was where ever my family was. First “home” was where ever Mom and Dad were. Then it was where my husband was, followed by any place our children were with us.

Then my health deteriorated and I became housebound. My life stopped, but may family’s lives did not. My husband still had to go to work and the kids still had to go to school. There were still ball games, concerts, doctor appointments, and I missed most of them.

I started planning special things to do when I was home alone in the evening after being home alone all day.

  1. I made a quilt out of my oldest son’s tee shirts.
  2. I made a quilt for the baby shower of my granddaughter.
  3. I made a shadow box filled with awards from my husband’s high school days.
  4. I made a shadow box of awards from my youngest son’s high school days.
  5. I restored 2 foot high cement penguins.
  6. I painted the embellishments on picture frames.
  7. I restored Aunt Nellie’s frog collection.
  8. I made curtains.
  9. I rearranged furniture.
  10. I rearranged the artwork on the walls.

As I worked on each project, I remembered when the kids were younger. I remembered when the room was a nursery as I sewed curtains for my new office. When my second adult child moved out, I made a quiet place for me separate from the office I share with my husband.

I have learned to enjoy those times when I am home alone.

I didn’t even realize I could paint. There are 3 penguins and at least 10 frogs that prove I can.

Penguin I restored.

Penguin I restored.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One of Aunt Nellie's frogs.

One of Aunt Nellie’s frogs.

 

Embellished picture frame I painted.

Embellished picture frame I painted.

 

Another picture frame.

Another picture frame.

 

Tee shirt quilt I made for my son.

Tee shirt quilt I made for my son.