Frugalfish Friday

I blame Paula…and Michele. I had blogged for a week and they both told me I should start a blog about saving money.

“You have the best tips.” 

“You can stretch a dollar further than anyone I know.” 

But starting 2 blogs in the same month is crazy. I foolishly started a third blog, which I later discontinued, and a month later bought a website.

Dumb.

It was too much, too fast. I was writing posts for my first blog, thisyearsbiblereadingguide.com, every day, and posts for frugalfish.com on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. My plan was to post on the third blog on Tuesday and Thursday, but I also had to learn all the technicalities of blogging.

Adding to the chaos was taking an HTML class, which taught me enough to lock myself out of my website…twice. I was studying the book, “WordPress for Dummies,” and making decisions about the nuts and bolts of two blogs and a website. (The rules are different for a website than they are for a blog.)

Last week, I read the most discouraging article, “Get More Blog Traffic,” which said he wrote 3 posts and then spent 90% of his time marketing and writing on other blogs. If you count the posts in my third blog, I have written over 3,600 posts. Sigh.

I patterned this blog the way I like to read blogs: no pop-ups, no ads, no donation requests, no affiliate marketing. I even allow you to view the entire post in your email. I did that because sometimes you have time to read a short post, but not a long one. It takes time: to hit the link, wait for the website to open, and see how long the post is.

That makes it nice for my followers, but they never have to visit the blog. That translates into no visitors and invisible comments.

My comments are invisible because they are all on my Facebook pages. Most of my followers read my posts on Facebook.

So, I took a break.

There are steps I need to take to make my blog visible. When I started blogging, I was on page 1 of Google. But now everyone blogs, and I am way down on their list. (I stopped looking after page 23.) Anyway, there are things I can do to correct that, but it will take time…lots of time.

A few years ago, I started posting to Frugalfish on Tuesdays and Thursdays. This week, I decided to post to this blog only on Fridays, at least until I can do my homework. There are 600 posts for you to read should you have withdrawal.

But that means my Facebook friends will have to actually go to my blog!

I’ll see you next Frugalfish Friday!

Office for two.

©2009-2016 frugalfish.org. All rights reserved.

pamela.frugalfish@gmail.com

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The Dark Side of Blogging

Two of my friends have started blogging here at WordPress.com. I enjoy reading their posts, but blogging is so much more than writing.

There are several things to consider before you commit yourself to this treadmill:

  1. Do you write every day? I am talking about a page or two in a journal, not a paragraph in a diary. I post 7 days a week, 365 days a year, to my first blog, and twice a week, to this blog. (I’ve kept a journal since I was 13.)
  2. Do you want to write or are you hoping for fame? There are 665,000,000 blogs on WordPress alone and other platforms for blogging.
  3. Do you want to write for yourself or for others? Affiliate marketing seems the way to make millions. The sad thing is, once a blog gets on that carousel, they have to write posts with their opinion about the affiliate’s products. Two blogs I used to love, sometimes sit in my email unread because of the posts that are just about products. I used to read them faithfully.
  4. Is this something you see yourself doing 25 years from now? The raw truth is you can write for years and not receive any recognition or income. I am in year #7.
  5. Do you mind having a target on your forehead? Yesterday, there was another attempt to hack into one of my email addresses. I cannot tell you how often I have changed my passwords. Once they get through, you have to change passwords on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and any other service you use.
  6. Do you like using all the social media services? There are several more services suggested for frugalfish.org. I haven’t had the time, and I honestly wonder how everyone keeps up with all of them.
  7. Do you like to read boring stuff, like a users manual? Technology changes all the time. You will be making decisions about your blog in all areas.
  8. How about taking classes? Are you fluent in HTML, SEO, CSS, and others? I’m not! I’ve taken five classes, and have two reference books: “WordPress for Dummies,” and “Search Engine Optimization for Dummies.” I had to take two HTML classes to understand both of these books.
  9. Are you willing to pay for the rest of your life? I seriously considered dropping this blog and concentrating on my other blog. The only problem is my domain name is out there and linked to this blog. If I don’t continue paying for it, someone else can purchase it and post whatever they want. They could ruin my reputation. Your most important asset is your name and reputation. Protect it.
  10. How comfortable are you talking to strangers? You will be writing to strangers and they do not know you. Many will not “get you.” Which leads to…
  11. Negative, hateful comments, criticisms, and insults. How thick is your skin? Some bloggers post the negative comments and then defend them. I choose not to publish them. I am not here to debate, I am here to give you ideas to save money and live without debt.
  12. Do you have a large group of friends who also blog? I don’t. Most of my friends didn’t even know what a blog was when I started! Many blogs have several comments because they have a group of friends and they comment on each other’s blogs.
  13. How comfortable are you talking about personal topics? We share parts of our lives: the good, the bad, and the ugly. I stick to sharing the good things, although, I try to update a post when it fails.
  14. Do you like reading emails? You can receive notifications when someone: comments on your post, likes your post, likes your comments, and there is a daily post to help you improve your blog.
  15. What if your post goes viral? Then you have to worry about the next post. Will you be able to keep your audience? You may have to spend some money…like buying a domain name if you do not have one. Some who have gone viral have had to change their email addresses and shut off notifications.
  16. Whatever service you sign up for you will be paying for from now on. I purchased a website for one of my blogs. I used part an inheritance to pay for it. When it came time to renew, we happened to have a large windfall. When it came due again, my husband was unemployed. I went back to just having a blog, but now I have to pay a small fee for my domain name to be mapped back to the blog where it all started.
  17. How are your spelling and grammar? Every day I review a page from the book, “The Elements of Style,” by William Strunk, Jr. This grammar book gives the principal requirements of plain English style. It is more than knowing the difference between they’re, their, and there! (Note: Spellcheck can be as bad as autocorrect on your phone!)

Blogging is more than just sharing your awesome thoughts.

It’s a huge commitment. Sometimes, I wish I had just sent my posts to “The Penny Hoarder.” They pay for posts.

(You can also share your awesome thoughts in comments on other blogs.)

This is where it all started.

This is where it all started.

©2009-2016 frugalfish.org. All Rights Reserved.

Time to Switch Gears

I have really enjoyed the Writing 101 class. I was actually surprised at the posts that got the best responses from my friends. (It’s true…write about what you know and share a part of yourself.)

I even considered writing 5 posts a week on this blog, but that thought didn’t last long.

Why?

Because I write 7 days a week on my other blog, thisyearsbiblereadingguide.com.

And it’s time.

Every year at the first of October I start designing the “Relevant” Bible Reading Guide for next year. It is more math than English!

I start by placing holy week readings and Christmas readings. The schedule for October through December hasn’t changed since the year I based the count on the average number of words per chapter instead of the average number of verses. (See, lots of math!)

The chapters on the Gospels, (Matthew-John), are scheduled starting at the first of the year. It is easy to keep your New Year’s Resolution to read through the Bible when you are reading about the miracles Jesus Christ performed.

On Pentecost Sunday we start reading Acts and finish the New Testament. That means the chapters in 1 Samuel through Malachi have to fit in the days between the gospels, Easter, the New Testament, and end by September 30th.

Each year that I read the Bible I learn more about when each chapter was written and how they are linked to chapters in other books. I take notes and move the order of chapters around accordingly.

Moving chapters around increases understanding; but makes me have to adjust the math to get them all to fit and still be in the average. This process takes 2-4 months. (Luckily, January is already set! Whew!)

Why read the Bible?

It is the best-selling book in the world! It has been translated in every language. (Thanks Wycliffe.org!)

It is an amazing piece of literature that includes: geography, poems, songs, history, parables, prophecy, and much more. Many colleges now include a course called, “The Bible as Literature.”

The books in it are written by: shepherds, priests, prophets, kings, seers, fishermen, tax collectors, doctors, tent makers, a rich kid, desert wanderers, judges, army generals, exiles, a cupbearer, court officials, a man from a small town, a member of the royalty, disciples, a highly educated man, and two half-brothers of Christ.

There is something for everyone in the Bible. I’m excited to get started…but first things first…

…is next year a leap year?

Office

Roundup of Favorite Reads

I have an alternate email that I use as a backup email. At one point, my main email was really messed up and I used the alternate email exclusively while I straightened it out.

During that time I joined Pinterest, set up the Frugal Fish Facebook page, and started following, “The Inspired Room” blog. I learned about “The Inspired Room” when they won the best decorating blog award from Better Homes and Gardens. After reading one post, I was hooked.

In case you thought my house was perfectly set up already for a before and after photoshoot due to the magic powers of blogs, it isn’t. :) But I’ve been working on getting settled in so I’ll share a bit of the behind the scenes for you with my cell phone pics. theinspiredroom.net

She recently moved and we were walked through the process with her. She told of their house hunting and showed a video of the home they chose. Reading their posts is like talking to a next door neighbor.

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

Of course, my hero will always be Mary Hunt of debtproofliving.com. I started reading her newsletters when they had to be mailed using snailmail! Little by little, her advice and online calculators helped us get out of debt and build an emergency fund. I was especially grateful last winter when my husband was laid off for 3 months!

Recent California wildfires serve as a grim reminder of how quickly ones personal economy can change. If the rain of an economic downturn were to fall on you tomorrow, would you know how to find shelter from the storm? debtproofliving.com.

She is also transparent, sharing her failures as well as her successes. No one is perfect and it is nice to see an expert admit a mistake.

@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@

Mary is my hero and Marla Ciley of flylady.net is my favorite aunt. I almost said she was like a grandma to me, but she is way too young! She is a mentor and cheerleader that helps you get your home out of C.H.A.O.S. (Can’t Have Anyone Over Syndrome). She helps you establish routines that gets every area of your life back under control.

flylady.net

Your home is never finished. It is a work in progress as your life changes. My nursery is now my office and in 10 days our youngest will graduate.

School days will finally be over!

“If You’re Ever in New England in the Fall”

I was born in Iowa, but for the first decade of my life I lived in upstate New York. My dad was on staff at two different Bible colleges during that time. We spent the summer months in Iowa on Grandma’s farm, but headed back to New York before school started.

Adirondack Mountains

There were several families on staff and we children, called “Campus Kids,” hung out together. The first college was in a small town and we spent most of our time on the playground at the end of the football field.

But the second college was smack dab in the middle of the woods on the edge of Adirondack park. It was a former convent with tunnels linking the buildings. It had been empty of humans for years, but the raccoons, mice, and birds made up for it.

We moved there before it officially opened with the President’s family. Those two men had to evict the animals and make sure the buildings were ready for winter.

When the rest of the staff and students arrived, we met more “campus kids.” My favorite times were when the entire group of kids would go play in the woods. Basically, that meant we climbed a steep incline to get to a trail that went around the property.

There were so many of us that we made a lot of noise and never once encountered a deer or bear. We did see snakes, but avoided them. We would walk the trail, past the water tower, until we reached the football field.

It was amazing how hot it was walking across that meadow. Then we would go into the trail on the other side. It went past the spring house. We would be thirsty by then and would drink from the spring using our cupped hands as glasses.

That spring was fed from snow on top of the mountain and it was so cold your teeth would hurt if you drank too much. During the hottest weather, we might wade in it for a few minutes, but not too long, because our feet would turn blue.

The water was always fresh and chlorine free. We thought nothing of drinking water off of the ground. We would meander the rest of the trail until it circled back to the other side of the property and it would lead us back to the building where we started.

For entertainment, my dad would load up the family and we would take a car ride. I didn’t appreciate the colors of the changing trees on the mountainsides until I could no longer drive by them. Dad would look for castles and waterfalls.

Our favorite castle was a circle of rocks, with a partial wall and a rock fireplace. The rest of it had crumbled. He never let us go up in the turret. I think it was built as a lookout.

The waterfalls were beautiful and cold! We looked at them, but didn’t swim in the pools.

When asked where I would like to visit on a map, it is always to return to the Adirondacks…Niagra Falls, Buffalo, Syracuse, and Utica.

Of course, I hope my trip is in the autumn.

My sister, Michele, standing in front of our favorite falls in 1977.

My sister, Michele, standing in front of our favorite falls in 1977.

 

The Phrase I Don’t Want to See…

“Please Refresh Your Facebook Connection!”

This is my most dreaded message because I have 650 followers on Facebook and only 120 on WordPress.com. These are friends, relatives, and new friends that read my posts on my Facebook page “Frugal Fish.”

Yesterday, I went to a family reunion. I was pleased when Aunt Sue stopped me to tell me she was still enjoying my posts. I was shocked when my cousin Randy, who is advanced in technology, told me the same thing. I wasn’t even sure which blog to which they were referring, but I didn’t care.

This morning when I opened the “New Post Page” and saw the dreaded message, I knew I wouldn’t publish a post until it was fixed. I hit that refresh button ten times over a half an hour. I prayed for a few minutes and then decided to delete the connection and reload it.

Thank God, that worked. I didn’t want to miss my biggest fans!

Facebook has a competitor when it comes to sharing my frugalfish.org posts. When I read through my stats I found that Pinterest was ahead by almost 50 shares, see pinterest.com/frugalfish.

I laughed when I saw there was almost 200 shares from MySpace. I haven’t checked that account for over a year!

No matter how you found my blog, I’m glad you are here; and I hope you find something that will help you stretch your dollars!

“The Lies Women Believe”

“A room without books is like a body without a soul.”

— Marcus Tullius Cicero

“The Lies Women Believe” is a book that changed my life. It’s sad the lies we fall for when we were children, as www.marquessamatthews.com lamented in an earlier post. I shared her top ten lies here.

We carry some lies, or add new ones, when we reach adulthood. The book lists 22 lies that we use to beat ourselves up. We go around in circles thinking we are not good enough.

We diet, exercise, dress fashionably, acquire degrees, and take high stress jobs to be good enough. We mimic others trying to make ourselves worthy of love. We are already worthy of love.

The biggest change for me had to do with relinquishing control. I am a bookkeeper and I am good with money. When we got married, my husband said I should handle the family finances.

The thought struck me four years ago that I could die first. My husband had no clue about the passwords and where money was invested.

The book recommended giving the responsibility of the family finances to your husband. This was not a new concept to me. He took over the finances when we first married, but his promised paycheck was delayed and a few checks bounced. I assumed that meant I was to keep the finances.

I decided to give it to him permanently a few years ago. Oh the arguments we had! It was easier to let me handle the money than to learn Quickbooks. But he did.

He thought of ways to increase our interest that I had not thought of and I started sleeping at night instead of worrying about money. We set the budget together and I know how much I can spend in each category.

I am a saver and he is a spender. Since he took over the finances I have been:

  1. On a scenic train trip.
  2. Spent a day at the Iowa State Fair.
  3. Took a Steamboat Dinner Cruise.
  4. Bought a van with cash.

He has accompanied me on those trips and went to two St. Louis Cardinals games and two Iowa Hawkeye games.

I did not accompany him to those for obvious reasons.

(I hate sports.)

Another Sleepy Saturday in a Small Town

6:15 a.m. “If you don’t go to pancakes with Mommy, you can’t go to the Iowa Hawkeyes game with Daddy.”

Pancakes are served by the Kiwanis Club on “Kid’s Day.” They set up a tent on one side of the town square and serve: buttermilk pancakes, sausage, coffee, and milk.

College boy wasn’t sure if he was going to get up and go with us or not. We planned to meet our daughter at 6:45 am before she had to work. They start serving at 6 am and have a steady business until mid afternoon.

It is a time to see other people from town and my husband knew all of them. He grew up in this town of 10,000 and he also knows their kids, parents, and grandparents.

Because I was housebound for several years, I don’t even recognize my friends. Everyone is a little older and grayer. That is what happens after a decade.

The tickets to the Iowa Hawkeye Game were sold to us from some friends who couldn’t go at the last-minute. College boy was already up.

(They also have a parade and petting zoo at “Kid’s Day.”)

9:45 a.m. “Do you want to go to the parade with us?”

I declined because I had just started my daily writing. (Yes, I write 7 days a week for my other blog.)

They met at my in-laws who live near the parade route. There are various floats and children decorate bicycles to ride in the parade. Some kids dress up as characters that fit the theme and walk behind the bicycles.

The horses are last for obvious reasons!

I used to ride in the parade with the kids from the preschool and daycare where I was the bookkeeper. The year that sticks out in my mind was when the theme was “Pajama Party.” Of course, I wore my long flannel nightgown and my boss liked it so much that she made me stand up in the center holding an oversize baby bottle.

I didn’t care because I am such a ham!

1:00 p.m. “We had better leave now for “Relay for Life” because it has already started.”

My daughter-in-law, (4), is very active in “Relay for Life.” Her mother is the organizer and they have a team that raises money. I lost my mother-in-law to cancer and just last month we lost an uncle.

I had already ordered luminaries for them. We arrived just as the opening exercises ended and we were invited to take our first lap. We walked with our son and his family.

Our local credit union had a train for the kids to ride in made from painted barrels. My granddaughter didn’t want to ride alone and I volunteered. We went the length of the road and then turned around in the grass.

I sang, “Bumpity, bump, bump, look at Frosty go” as we went over the uneven ground. My granddaughter laughed because I was singing a Christmas song in September.

Then it was time for games. She had to move water from one bucket to another using only a sponge. When time was running out, Mr. Frugalfish bumped the bucket to dump the rest of her water.

Kortney, the organizer, who was running the kids games, said, “Nice try, Grandpa, but it is the amount of water in these buckets that count.” She didn’t win…even with her grandpa’s help.”

All too soon, it was time to go because the men had an hour drive to the Hawkeye game. My daughter-in-law told me she would run me home if I stayed, but I told her I couldn’t.

2:30 p.m. I am making a grocery list and menus. The best sales are not until tomorrow and that is why I procrastinated until today to make the list. (Dumb.)

3:30 p.m. I turned on “The Prisoner of Zenda” on TCM to watch while I ironed. It took the entire movie. We didn’t have a TV when I was growing up. I am seeing these old movies for the first time. It sure helped the ironing to go faster. (Another chore I procrastinated on doing.)

6:00 p.m. I’m eating leftovers for two reasons: (1) I don’t like to waste food, and (2) I don’t like to cook when I am home alone.

7:15 p.m. My sister-in-law texts me to see if I want to go to the luminary ceremony at “Relay for Life.” (Of course!)

We leave a few minutes later and I am disappointed with the number of luminaries. Everything seemed to be scheduled on the same day: “Kid’s Day,” “Relay for Life,” “Free Movie on the Square,” and half of the town goes to the Iowa Hawkeye games.

The auction was in progress when we arrived. I was shocked when a homemade quilt went for $25.00. A homemade pie sold for $130.00. (Next year I am making pie to auction off.)

There is a lot of good-natured joking going on during the auction because everyone knows each other. An item would come up for bid and people would yell out names of people they thought could use it.

I laughed when the final item came up…a pink bike, with a “big butt seat,” and a basket. My sister-in-law was hunched over furiously writing. (She was balancing her checkbook to see how high she could bid!) She didn’t get it, but we did have a lot of laughs.

There was a short concert and then they played “The Cancer Cha-Cha.” It sounds like “The Cha-Cha Slide,” but with different words. Neither my daughter-in-law, nor my sister-in-law were going to let me sit it out.

I did my best…honest. I just kept stepping backwards when they said, “Reverse.” I had a little trouble with right and left which amused my nephew to no end.

They lit the luminaries and we found the ones we purchased. I took pictures of them and posted it on Facebook for our relatives to see.

They listed the names of everyone in whose honor a luminary was purchased. Then we took the silent lap in honor of those who lost their battle to cancer. It was sobering and I wasn’t the only one tearing up.

By that time, my 4-year-old granddaughter, who had been there all day, was exhausted. I offered to take her to my house for a bath because we knew she would fall asleep on the way home.

9:45 p.m. “I don’t know why I can’t get the pink dye out of your hair.”

The theme at “Relay for Life” was the 80’s. They had those net-like gloves, funky glasses, and several ladies dressed the part. At one point my granddaughter got her hair dyed a few colors.

When her parents arrived, (they ran to the store to buy pajamas for her), I had most of the dye out.

I told my daughter-in-law, “I got the blue, yellow, and green dye out, but the pink is really stubborn.”

She replied, “They didn’t use pink.”

What! I was scrubbing the sunburn where her hair was parted.

Epic. Grandma. Fail.

11:30 p.m. “I’m tired of waiting up for the jocks.”

As I drift off to sleep, I hear the garage door open. The men are home from the game. It’s just another sleepy Saturday in a small town.

Luminaries from "Relay for Life."

Luminaries from “Relay for Life.”

 

You May Never Believe This…

You may never believe this…but I don’t want to be frugalfish. I want to be philanthropicfish. Stretching dollars was not something I chose to do, it was something I was forced to do.

My husband lost his job 3 months before our wedding. He didn’t want me to work at all. I was working as a nanny, and the plan was, until our wedding.

The plan failed.

We married in the middle of a recession and there were no jobs in our small town. He didn’t want to move. We took odd jobs and sold what we could. Between the two of us we had 10 sources of income: nanny, piano lessons, cleaning, mowing lawns, and other odd jobs.

We were frugal because we liked to eat.

You may never believe this…but I didn’t want to retire when I was 46. I know this sounds like a dream come true to most people, but I loved my job. The people I worked with were extended family. I had worked there for 24 years and hated stepping down because of my health.

I still wake up on the 10th of the month thinking, “The Gold Sheet” (A Financial Report) is due today. I haven’t filled out a “Gold Sheet” since 2007.

The children of my coworkers are frozen in time. I’m shocked when I run into them and they are no longer three…they are tweens and teens.

I planned on working until my death and I will…just not at that job.

You may never believe this…but I don’t color my hair. I always said they didn’t put this shade of mousey brown in a bottle. Since I am not in the sun much, it never lightens and is the same shade from root to tips.

I am lucky to have good genes. You should see my mother! People are shocked when she tells them her age. She looks 10 years younger!

Speaking of mom, on my 35th birthday she told me, “This is where we stop.” Yep, I caught up with Mom!

I admit there is some tinsel, but if I stay out of the sun, it doesn’t glitter.

You may never believe this…but I don’t mind staying in the house for days at a time. I have never had a problem with cabin fever. My record is 104 days straight when I was at my worst.

I don’t even take a big breath when I step outside. After all it is full of pollen. All of my favorite hobbies are indoor activities. I don’t need to go outside.

But I’m grateful for the internet…I have everything at the tip of my fingers.