Home

We took a weekend trip, and after sleeping in two different beds, I couldn’t wait to go home. The first bed was hard and we tossed and turned all night. Luckily, they offered free breakfast and there was plenty of coffee.

The second bed was comfortable, but it had a feather duvet and I am allergic to feathers. I took two Benadryl and was dismayed to find there was only enough coffee for two cups in the morning. Mr. Frugalfish went searching for more without luck.

It did not include breakfast and the last time we paid $30.00 for the breakfast. I downed a few cups of coffee at lunch.

The second night was also in a more upscale hotel. I realized the room was about 2/3 the size of our home. We were paying for space. There was not a microwave in this room as there was in the one the night before.

How often do we pay for space?

What benefit is there in space when you are stuck in a Benadryl fog without caffeine?

I admit, my home feels small when all of the relatives are over; but on cleaning day, when I can zip through the job in 30 minutes, it’s just right.

We looked at larger homes for a few years, but realized our oldest was in high school and if we stuck it out for a couple more years it would be sufficient. Many buy a starter home, a family home, and then downsize to a retirement home. We managed to buy all three at once and let me tell you…living without a mortgage is indescribable!

Home is not perfect.

I was deeply irritated at my college age son when I got home to find he had unplugged the waterbed. He was sick and decided to watch TV in our room. He unplugged the heater to charge his phone. I was not happy.

I pulled out a comforter, put it on top of the bedspread and slept on top of it. We covered up with our wedding quilt, as we should since we just returned from a trip celebrating our 33rd wedding anniversary.

We were home.

I Write Because…

There will be more posts from me over the next several days as I am taking a Writing 101 course. I am starting a day late….but not a dollar short…because I was out-of-town yesterday.

Personal Journal

I write because I love Laura Ingalls Wilder books. That may not make sense to you, but she lived a normal life during her time on earth. She wasn’t a hero, but she recorded the day-to-day activities of her life and that of her husband. I particularly liked “Farm Boy” because being a farmer was so different than the life a farmer lives now.

Someday, someone might be interested in reading about my life. This is the reason I keep a journal.

www.thisyearsbiblereadingguide.com

I love reading the Bible because it is full of wisdom. You can read the story of the richest and wisest man who ever lived, King Solomon, in it. He wrote three books sharing things he learned: Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Song of Solomon. The subjects they cover are wisdom, life, and sex.

I know, that last word caught your attention! The basics for business, government, and life in general are taught in the Bible.

I wanted to read the Bible in a relevant way. I designed a Bible reading guide, “Relevant,” where you read the chapters about Easter at Easter and Christmas at Christmas. You start the year reading about the miracles Jesus performed and by the time you are through the gospels, you are hooked on reading it.

This is why I publish a daily post about the chapters assigned to that day. I want to share what I learn each day.

(I also wrote a “Babysteps” Bible Reading Guide that takes you through the Bible starting with the shortest chapter, 1 verse, and ends with the longest chapter.)

frugalfish.org 

Money doesn’t impress me. Things don’t impress me. I’ve found those with the newest and latest gadgets are usually the ones the deepest in debt. Being debt-free and sleeping at night are important to me.

The only way to accomplish that is through frugality. You have to spend less than you make. You cannot waste anything. You have to be generous. You need to save a portion of your money. There are a million ways to do that.

Twice a week, I share how I am living frugally and debt-free. That is why I publish to this blog.

Those are the three reasons I write.

 

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?

Hardly.

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 homeappliancessupport@spectrumbrands.com, or go to http://www.prodprotect.com 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.
www.spectrumbrands.com

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

CHRISTMAS IN JULY!

Yes, Christmas is only 6 months away. If you plan on finishing that quilt, or making something else special, you need to start carving time out for it now.

Everyone is so busy and you may want to set your annual Christmas celebration date now while you are gathered around the campfire.

At the family reunion this summer you can talk about the Christmas traditions you loved and want to repeat. What a wonderful walk down memory lane you could take as you share your favorite memories with your children and grandchildren.

If nothing else, at least you could make your list!

Manger theme ornament.

Manger theme ornament.

 

Smart Couple

We had a substitute drummer for a few months this summer and I would really like to get to know his parents.

Why?

Because he is driving the vehicle that his parents drove him home from the hospital in when he was born.

Many people change vehicles every few years, or when they pay off the vehicles they are using right now. I heard one couple say, “You are always going to have a car payment, why not let it be on a new vehicle.”

I have two problems with that statement:

  1. You do not have to always have a car payment. You can pay off your car and make those payments to yourself. Then when you are ready to get a different vehicle, you not only have a car to trade in, but also cash for a large down payment. If you continue to use this strategy, you will get to the point that you can pay cash for a vehicle.
  2. I would never buy a new car. A car depreciates the most in the first three years. I always buy a car that is over three years old and let someone else take the hit. Another bonus is, if there is a dangerous defect in any vehicle, hopefully it will be found during that time.

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Keeping vehicles for years is a family trait on my father’s side. My uncle purchased a large car in which his children learned to drive. Later, I learned to drive in the same car out in a dusty field on their farm.

Fast forward a few decades and my then 12-year-old son wanted to help cousin Danny on his farm. Guess what car he learned to drive in…yep, the same green monster in which I learned!

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Another farmer told me the secret to longevity in vehicles is in the fluids. He said to keep the oil, brake fluid, transmission fluid, etc. topped out. He also advocated timely oil changes. He drove a van until it was close to 200,000 miles. A friend acquired it from them drove it a few years more.

We own a 1995 truck. Our mechanic son replaced most of the guts of it: engine, transmission, alternator, etc. We put several new parts on it and had it painted, see here.

When we bought it, I told my husband I wanted to keep it until our youngest graduated from high school. Since the heart of it has been replaced, we decided to keep it until our granddaughter can drive it!

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Below is a picture of Eric our substitute drummer. I got that smile out of him when I asked about his girlfriend. (Sorry ladies, he’s taken.)

He apologized for not washing it before we took the photo. Then he said, “There’s a little rust on it, but who cares, it’s paid for.”

Smart drummer!

Drummer Eric standing by the car he drives in which his parents brought him home from the hospital as an infant.

Drummer Eric standing by the car he drives, in which his parents brought him home from the hospital when he was born.

 

(Note: Whenever you see a word in blue, it is hyperlinked to another article, resource, or more information. Click on it and it will take you to there.)

I Didn’t Realize How Lucky I am

Last week I whined about not meeting my Twitter goal. I didn’t realize how lucky I am! I have 10 followers and I have something in common with all of them. Many I know personally.

I learned how lucky I am when I read a post called, “Why I Abandoned My Popular Social Media Presence” at “Ethical Thinker” see http://ethicalthinker.com/?category=social+media. (Thank you Daily Post at WordPress.com for bringing it to my attention!)

I am quite happy with the size of my audience. I am able to visit the blog of each person who leaves a comment, likes my post, likes my comment on another blog, or decides to follow me. Sometimes, it takes up to a week before I respond to one of the above actions, but I do get around to it. I feel like these are new friends and I am excited to see their blogs.

I used to be jealous at the number of comments on other blogs, but now I am grateful because my perfectionism requires me to respond in kind. My following is small and my audience may be quiet, but I hope that doesn’t change drastically in the future.

Thank you to all of my quiet readers who do not give me more to do than report what I have done to save money this week!

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

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

 

Re-Tweet, Not Repeat

I didn’t meet my Twitter goal.

Does that make me a Twit?

Gee, if were playing baseball, that would be 2 strikes.

Then what…I’m out?

I guess I am a little discouraged, but it’s not as big of a deal as you would think.

Maybe I didn’t garner followers on Twitter because I may have repeated myself.

Maybe I needed to find others to re-tweet.

Whatever.

Sometimes, we set financial goals, and when we don’t make it, we want to give up. That is the last thing we should do. Instead we should concentrate on how far we have come.

I had the goal of paying off our home before my husband and I were both 50. One birthday passed, but I didn’t give up. A month later, we made our final payment.

Goals are good, but it is more important to just keep chipping away. Pay off the debt, and keep socking back a little here and a little there.

Giving up is what makes you a twit!

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

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

Do You Know Which Way the Wind Blows?

It was 3 am and I was up, moving allergy screens from the upper windows on one side of the house to the lower windows and doing just the opposite on the other side of the house. I was moving fans and changing their directions also.

Why?

I want to avoid using the air conditioner as long as possible. It may be pleasant outside, but hot inside.

I check the direction of the wind 2 or 3 times a day. When it is from the south, I open the lower windows on the south side of the house and the upper windows on the north side of the house. The cool air comes in with the breeze and the warm air goes out the other side of the house. I help the air flow with fans.

Unfortunately, the wind direction changes throughout the day and night. If I happen to wake up in the middle of the night, I check the wind direction. I really want to pull in the cool, night air. Those allergy screens do not let a lot of air through!

My home is slightly angled to the south-east. I do not have any east facing windows. When the wind is coming from the east, I stick a fan in the front door and try to pull it in that way.

I also use curtains to block the heat of the sun, see http://wp.me/pKNzn-jg.

Let the wind cool your house for you.

Pulling in the east wind with a fan in my southeast facing door.

Pulling in the east wind with a fan in my southeast facing door.

A Tale of Two Purses

My first job was working in a waterbed store next to a shoe repair shop. It was a family business and the son would help us out after work setting up waterbeds for our customers.

Normally, you do not get fashion advice from a shoe repair shop, but they told me if I bought a leather purse, that had a cloth lining, I could use it for years. They said they could repair any part of it that broke.

I thought of their advice when I bought a purse a few weeks ago…and ignored it. Yes, it was man-made materials, but the color was perfect and it was so cute!

It broke 11 days after I bought it.

I chose it because it was the backpack style and I had one of that style several years ago. After a few shopping trips, coming home with a sore shoulder, I decided I needed to go back to that style.

The plastic zipper on my purse doesn’t always close and I knew it was just a matter of time before it broke completely. Besides, I don’t have the best posture and I believe it will help in that area, too.

After the rivet broke, I dug out my old backpack purse. It still looked fine. No wonder…it’s leather with a cloth lining! It has to be 15 years old! I am not even sure why I stopped using it.

This weekend, we went to University of Iowa Hospital to visit a man injured in a motorcycle accident. I remembered when my dad was in the same unit. I rolled up a tee-shirt, undies, a few toiletries, and that purse doubled as an overnight bag.

We went shopping at the mall and ran into some old friends. As we stood and talked for an hour, my shoulders didn’t complain at all. The weight of my purse was evenly distributed between them. We returned the new purse.

Frugal people do not make a purchase, they make an investment. Cheap items are neither an investment or frugal.

My 15 year old leather purse and my 15 day old man made material purse...with a broken rivet.

My 15-year-old leather purse and my 15 day old man-made material purse…with a broken rivet.