The Key to Prosperity

Last month, David and I spent 10 days in Israel. It was amazing!

David and I enjoyed the sunrise over the Dead Sea.

Now, when I read my Bible, I understand so much more because I saw what they were talking about. I “Read Today” about towers.

2 Chronicles 26:5, “He continued to seek God in the days of Zechariah, who had understanding through the vision of God; and as long as he sought the Lord, God prospered him.”

NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE

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God prospered Uzziah as long as he sought Him. What did he do with the money?

  1. He built and restored, 26:2.
  2. He built new cities, 26:6.
  3. He fortified the walls and built towers in Jerusalem, 26:9.
  4. He built towers to protect his livestock, 26:10.
  5. He dug many cisterns to water his livestock, 26:10.
  6. He supplied his army with armaments, 26:14.
  7. He created new engines of war, 26:15.

But when he became strong, his heart became proud and he acted corruptly. He was unfaithful to God, 2 Chronicles 26:16. He thought he could do whatever he wanted. He decided to be the leader of the church. He tried to burn incense in the sanctuary. Only the priest is allowed to burn incense, 26:16-18.

He raged at the priests and leprosy broke out on his forehead, 26:19, 20. He died a leper and was buried in the field next to the grave of the kings, 26:21-23.

When God sends a monetary blessing, I am to build, restore, or fortify!

Ruins of a tower on top of a hill next to a Canaanite well.

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You can read more about our trip at thisyearsbiblereadingguide.com.

©2009-2022 frugalfish.org. All Rights Reserved.

Clear Out the Old

I was up at five, (thank you time change), and turned on the swag light over the kitchen table. It flickered.

I pulled the cord out and it sparked! I yelled for David. I had the curtain in my left hand and the sparking cord in my right hand. The light was plugged in behind the stove. David moved the stove and unplugged it.

I’m heartbroken. This is where I work, read, paint, sew, craft, dream, plan. I just added a crystal garland to this light and decided it was finished.

I moved to the couch and started my devotions.

“…clear out the old to make room for the new,” Leviticus 26:10.

Christian Standard Bible

This light was a Christmas gift from my in-laws after our first child was born. It started life as a brass light. I wrote about my improvements here. Yes, it is old!

I wonder how many other “old” things I am holding onto that I should be releasing. I keep painting, improving, and dressing up things that I should replace. That light came close to starting a fire!

Since then, I am looking at things differently. Is my basement full of old things that I should just throw away? (I’m thinking of a bag of towels.) How can God bless me with new things when my home is stuffed with old things?

Please tell me I am not alone.

2009-2021 frugalfish.org. All rights reserved.

Hindsight is 20/20

My husband ran into my trigonometry teacher at the football game last night. Mrs. W. asked why I had not been writing posts. (I felt like I forgot to turn in my homework, lol!) I didn’t plan on it. I wrote a 3-page post on Sunday, October 3rd but decided to wait until Monday to type it up.

Big mistake. Monday, I got hit with an infection that took 2 rounds of antibiotics to kill. I should have taken the time to publish it that day.

Remember me?

Sometimes, I feel forgotten when I am sick for more than a day or two. I have friends who have battled an illness for years: diabetes, heart problems, cancer, to name a few. I’m sure they feel like God has forgotten them.

God did not forget us. He not only cares for us, he cares for our pets, our food-producing animals, and the wild animals whose sightings bring joy to our hearts. He cares that your dog misses you and that you miss him. He knows you need the fresh eggs your chickens provide. He blesses us by keeping them healthy and fruitful. He knows how it warms our heart to see a doe with her fawn and the awe a multi-racked stag inspires.

Genesis 8:1, “God remembered Noah, as well as all the wildlife and all the livestock that were with him in the ark. God caused a wind to pass over the earth, and the waters began to subside.”

Christian Standard Bible

Another storm…

He knows about our storm. He keeps us safe in the middle of it. We don’t understand the turmoil, just as Noah didn’t understand the flood because it had never rained!

Then a different storm arises. The wind blows against our ark of safety battering it searching for any crack to seep through. Why would God allow another storm to hit us on top of the first?

We feel the wind and so does the water. The wind is there to remove the effects of the first storm. The second battle is conquering the first battle.

Battles are long. The wind blew on the ark for 150 days, see Genesis 8:3. That is almost half of a year! Noah felt the wind blowing him around but God was blowing him to a place of rest above the storm, see Genesis 8:4. The ark was still and out of the water.

Noah lived in the ark for three more months while the wind drove the water back and the sun evaporated it. He went into the ark on the 17th day of the second month in the 600th year, see Genesis 7:11. He came out of the ark on the 1st day of the first month in the 601st year, see Genesis 4:13. He slogged around in the mud until the 27th of the month when the earth dried, see Genesis 8:14.

I wish I had known…

Two years ago, I bought a diffuser. I used eucalyptus oil in it to treat my sinuses. A patch broke out under my left eye. A month later, I started my first of 13 rounds of Prednisone to halt the rash on my face. It kept coming back.

Then they found a lump at my routine mammogram that had to be removed. I was the best patient. I stayed in bed and didn’t overdo it because I had trouble seeing anything! I rejoiced when Covid-19 shut down everything. I didn’t have to face anyone. I sent pictures of my face to my doctor online and he treated me through them.

It was 18 months later before I could see my dermatologist. He pinpointed the diffuser as the source. But after years of the maximum dose of antihistamines and decongestants, I had another problem – dry eye. The tears that keep my eye lubricated dried up and the tears normally released during pain or sorrow ran constantly.

Like Noah, I had an unrelenting storm followed by a second storm, and a third (a case of Covid-19), and a fourth (a C-Diff infection). Each of these battles was over the last two years.

Looking back…

I can see how God brought good out of each. I kept trying to write but the constant wiping of my eyes was doing serious damage. After the lumpectomy, I laid in bed listening to the TV and left my eyes alone.

The Covid-19 battle showed me that I was stronger than I realized. After all of that Prednisone, I feared I had no immunity at all. Yet, I battled Covid-19 without hospitalization.

And the C-Diff? It reminded me of the importance of eating healthy. I slacked off and ate more sugar. I couldn’t stop the weight gain from the Prednisone, so why did it matter?

It did.

God remembers me. He cares enough to send fawns to nap in my backyard. I don’t have pets or livestock so he fills my yard with rabbits, squirrels, ground squirrels, and a wide variety of birds.

Napping deer
Fawns napping in my backyard.

He cares for you, too. He will bring something good out of all of your battles.

Had I known what would happen, I never would have bought that diffuser! God had Noah prepare for the year he spent in the ark. He had a hundred years to prepare, see Genesis 5:32. What would you have done differently in 2019 if you knew what was going to happen in 2020?

Yesterday, I read about Joseph being reunited with his brothers, see Genesis 43:34. This was the second year of the famine. Joseph knew the famine would last seven years.

What if we are in the second year of seven years of hardship? Would we do anything differently?

2009-2021 frugalfish.org. All rights reserved.

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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JCPenneys “Black Friday Rebate Reward Cards” are Useless

My daughter moved into a new apartment last fall and she needed kitchen appliances. We had read the Black Friday flyers advertising appliances for “$9.99, $14.99, and $24.99. We should have known it was too good to be true.

We headed home after Thanksgiving dinner at my mom’s and put our leftovers away. We decided to go to the Pre-Black Friday Sales and pick up a few appliances.

When we got to the store we noticed the prices were not reduced. You paid full price and then sent in a “rebate.” The store then sent you a VISA card for the difference.

I am really good about filling out rebates and we decided to go ahead. We got the same type of deal at another store.

I sent in the rebates and after Christmas my daughter informed me she already had one of the appliances. We offered to return it and give her the cash, which we did. When the gift card from that store arrived, we decided not to use it because we returned the purchase.

We still have that card and it is useless now. Since, I didn’t try to use that card, I don’t know if the same thing would have happened there that happened at Penneys.

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

Before I go any further, I need to tell you…

I LOVE J C PENNEYS!

I was thrilled to have the card because most of the clothes I buy are made by St. John’s Bay which offers 100% cotton and tall sizes. I blogged about my love for those clothes earlier in “The Top Five Things I Love,” see here. I love the quality of their tablecloths and I purchased all of my new drapes there.

But in this case, they let me down. We tried to use the card after Christmas and they asked for our pin number. I thought, silly me, I should have brought the letter that came with them in my purse. I got them out and put them in my purse when I got home.

We do most of our shopping online and I tried to use them there. No luck. Costumer service could not help me. I decided I had to use them in a JC Penneys store.

The cards have a fee of $3.00 that starts to be deducted after 6 months. In June, I realized I was running out of time. I tried to use them again at Penneys, and they asked for a pin number. I pulled out the letter and there was no pin number on them. I asked the cashier for help and they said they didn’t know.

We were beyond frustrated. We tried to call the toll-free number on the letter and it was disconnected. It has now been a year and the cards were eaten up by the monthly fees. Oddly enough, the cards do not expire until 02/16. The fees eat it up by 09/15!

I contacted customer service a few months ago and asked them to pass on my complaint. I did not hear anything back. They would not give me an email address to voice my complaint.

The moral of my story is…the “rebate reward cards” at Penneys are useless. If you are offered the difference in price in the form of a rebate that issues you a VISA reward card…forget it.

The Black Friday Ads came out on Monday and once again Penneys is offering appliances with a “rebate.” I’m not falling for it again.

These cards cannot be redeemed at Penneys or anywhere else.

These cards cannot be redeemed at Penneys or anywhere else.

 

Crybaby in Bay #2

I didn’t burst into tears, but I did have the start of a panic attack. I don’t even know why? I had a tooth pulled before.

And then Emily began to sing and I calmed down. 

I’ve known Emily since she started preschool and I loved hearing her sing over the years. She joined her father’s practice and was singing along with the music in the dentist’s office. It calmed me down and I remembered the last time I lost a tooth…

…it was the year my dad died and my new daughter-in-law thought I was going to die, too. I felt like it!

I ended up in the ER with severe pain in my ear and neck. It was diagnosed as a sinus infection because the drainage had made my throat raw. It took four antibiotics, two pain killers, and a month in bed to get me through that infection.

I went to my dentist for a routine cleaning 6 weeks later and he said the tooth was cracked and dead. It had started to work itself out on its own.

This tooth did not!

I started feeling discomfort last week, but we were getting ready for our son’s graduation and I ignored it. Graduation was Sunday and I could not ignore it any longer! I couldn’t sleep and I could no longer tell which tooth it was. They all hurt, lower and upper!

My granddaughter rescued me.

The dentist was out of town and I could not be seen until mid-afternoon. I was going crazy when I remembered we bought Orajel for our granddaughter when she was teething. Yeah, it was old…but I didn’t care. It sufficiently put my mouth to sleep.

She rescued me again today, when the Ibuprofen was not enough. I woke up on that side in the middle of the night and there was a little swelling. My instructions were to alternate Ibuprofen and Tylenol if I was still experiencing discomfort.

We didn’t have any Tylenol in the house, but we did have baby Tylenol. I took a half a bottle…one after the other…because that was the adult dose. It helped enough that I finally got dressed at 10:00 am.

What does this have to do with saving money?

EVERYTHING!

If we had not budgeted our money there would not have been anything in the “dentist” category. We didn’t spend the money we set back there on anything else and when I needed it, I was able to just go and get help.

There was gas in the van to drive to the dentist. We don’t live paycheck to paycheck and drive the last day on fumes. The tank is always half full and we fill the top of the tank.

There was soup in the cupboard. I shop the sales and the pantry, refrigerator, and freezer are well stocked. I didn’t have to go to the store for soft foods. I was able to go home and turn on Netflix.

I didn’t move for a day!

The dentist and I discussed trying to save the tooth. The root was curved and it would require a specialist to perform a root canal, $1,000.00; and add a crown, $500.00. The tooth had two filled cavities in it and he was not sure if those measures would even work.

All I could think about was another painful night while I waited for the specialist to get me in. I told him to yank it out.

Being frugal is not being cheap. It is telling your money where to go, and when you need it, the money is there.

Sorry, no pictures.

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!

 

“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.

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