A Penny Saved…

I went to the bank early this morning and opened that passport savings account with my spare change. The interest stinks on the account–a measly .4%–but that is still better than nothing at all—much better than spending it by sticking it in my checking account!

I plan to link it up with my checking account to use as overdraft protection. By doing this I can still have a safety net on the account while making a little money simultaneously. When the account balance goes above a certain amount (probably $500 depending upon my mood) I’ll transfer the excess the the Discover savings account online so that it can earn more interest.

It felt good to know that all of that change was going to start making me money instead of sitting here waiting for me to spend it! I wish I had gotten off of my duff years ago and created that account—but no reason to cry over spilled milk.  The account is created now!

While there the bank informed me about the new government regulation requiring people to “opt in” to allow the bank to charge overdraft fees on certain debit transactions. It does not apply to checks or ACH transactions that you have—or even on pre-authorized debit transactions but just on debit transactions when there is not enough in the account at that moment to pay for the purchase. Much to her surprise I opted out.  I would much rather my card be declined than face a $34 overdraft fee!

I am working toward paying for all of my everyday expenses in cash anyway—this will prevent me from overspending as well as increase the amount of change that can go into savings! As a result I don’t want or need that brand of overdraft protection!

My whites are now drying in the windy sunshine while I wash a load of colors.  I need to get all of my laundry washed and dried today for they are calling for several days of rain after today!

I have placed the guinea piggies in their makeshift outdoor pen so they can enjoy another day of sunshine and clover—while I enjoy another day of not having to pay for feed or wood chips!  I bring them in every night for fear of predators but take them back outside first thing every pretty morning!

To give you a glimpse into my life I present you with pictures of the piggies happily munching on their clover.  I will move the cage a few times throughout the day to keep them supplied with all of the greenery they can eat while thanking God for providing such a frugal method of providing their dinner!

Here are Bugsy and Teddy happily munching on clover in their makeshift outdoor pen.  I took their original guinea pig cage, removed the bottom and have placed a thin board on the top to give them shelter from the sun. They are never outside in the rain—this is purely a pretty-day exercise.

 

Here’s a close up of Teddy, the brown guinea pig.  His full name is Teddy Red cause he looks like a cute little teddy bear with red eyes! He is the most timid of the pair—and the gentlest.

Here’s a close up of Bugsy—named after the guinea pig in the movie “Bedtime Stories.” While his eyes don’t bug out like the guinea pig in the film he reminds me a bit of the gangsters from old movies that have the funny names. He’s perky with an incredible attitude.  He won’t hesitate to nip if he’s really ticked off but overall he’s a good guy—he’s actually my favorite of the two! Unlike Teddy he will come right up to you and let you pet him without holding him—and will go over anyone or anything that tries to get between him and a piece of Timothy!

Did you know that guinea pigs are actually considered food in the Andes mountains? People there will have a room with a dirt floor filled with these little guys—killing one when they are ready for dinner!

While I don’t know if I could eat one of these little fellows that brings up a valuable point—you can raise small animals like this to supplement your grocery bill.  Rabbits, guinea pigs and even female chickens could be kept easily. The female chickens would not only provide eggs but fill your belly when they got too old to produce!

I’m actually considering the chicken thing. A friend of mine raises them and has offered to help me build a small pen to contain a couple of hens—which would provide the perfect amount of eggs for this household! I am just not sure if I want to commit to more critters however!

Well I’m off to work on this yard some more—I want to get it finished before the rain sets in tonight. Have a wonderful sun-shiney day!

Is This You?

I located a gallery on CNN Money featuring some who have now run out of unemployment benefits after a long dry stretch of unemployment. If you are one of these I feel for you!

I have friends who are now breaking up their families, sending one member out of state in hopes of employment.  I have others who are still holding on here and yet others who are preparing for their unemployment benefits to end with no job in sight.

It is stories like this that fuel me to live as cheaply as I do.

When I managed to escape an abusive relationship I discovered myself jobless, no money in the bank, three hungry kids and an electric bill in excess of $600. We had one week to pay the amount before losing our electric.

Two older vehicles from the marriage were in my name, so I sold the best one of the two, begged Community Action for help and literally begged every manager in the area to give me a shot doing anything!

By the end of the week Community Action had managed to persuade Kentucky Utilities to accept payments on the balance due, I was told the engine was failing in the car I had kept—but I had landed a job in a local fast food place.

Things like that change you. Once I got back on my feet I worked long and hard to put myself through computer repair school, picking up odd jobs in addition to working on computers and keeping that day job. It was exhausting just trying to pay for all of the bills—and frustrating because I had no time for my children.

I pared down my living expenses not only so that I would have to make less money to live but also so that I would be able to watch my youngest daughter grow in a way that I was unable to watch my older children. It is my hope that this extra attention will prevent her from leading the lives her older sisters have chosen.

Each of us has our own path, and some consider me crazy for living in an old trailer on a shoestring budget, but my bills are paid and my belly is full.  I have no fears of losing my house or my car, for they are paid for and I am able to save toward my dream of owning a small piece of land.

One of my dearest friends is really feeling the brunt of the economy. She has always been generous to those in her family and is now being forced to cut back. Soon she will no longer be able to afford cell phones for her family members and may be forced to reduce to a prepay account herself. She discussed having to argue with her satellite company to reduce her package yet again so that she could continue to afford the service and worried that she would have to cancel it entirely and live like me.

I feel for her as I watch her struggle.  It hurts to hear her cell phone ring incessantly with bill collectors. Every month is a struggle just to make her car payment and she worries what will happen next.

Another friend I have to give kudos to. She says it is out of necessity but the sacrifices she has made to make ends meet are incredible. Her water pipes froze over the winter, which she cannot afford to repair.  Instead of crying she had her water disconnected to save the money while her family showers and hauls water from friends’ homes.

No phone save a small prepay used mainly for text communications (a texting package is cheaper than actually making that many phone calls) she uses the Internet at her work and at other hotspots to avoid paying that bill and concentrates her money on catching up her electric bill and car payment. Instead of using electric she uses a few coals on a charcoal grill to prepare small, simple meals.

She says that she has made these steps because she had no choice—her husband and daughter are unemployed and her hours were drastically cut at work and frankly I admire her guts at the sacrifices she has made.

My sister struggles with her bills. At times it seems she makes inroads on one to lose something else. This past month she achieved a dial-up Internet account—only to lose her phone in a billing dispute. She is considering converting a shed at a friend’s home into a simple cabin—the only way she knows to save enough money to purchase a travel trailer or something to reduce her housing expenses. Exactly what she will end up doing I do not know—I have no way to communicate with her until either phone or internet is restored at her home.

**************

I watch the lives around me as they struggle to make ends meet while I celebrate the little things. My current electric bill is the lowest bill I have ever received from this electric company–$30.27. This is a significant savings from last month’s bill of $86, and judging from the bar chart on the bill my usage has reached the lowest point in the history of living here since last July.

Life can really stink when you have more month than money, especially when you have no method of making more money. I cannot say I am so much better off than family and friends cause dips in income and unexpected expenses hit me as much as the next person, but somehow I feel a bit more in control with the little frugal steps that I take.

What do YOU do to stretch your money as far as it can go?  I would love to hear your stories…

Counting Change

I spent this afternoon rolling change. While I do occasionally add money to my online savings account normally my change just gets stashed or added to the checking account.

I’ve decided to stop that practice and open a passport savings account at my local bank. I can link the account to my checking account for the emergency occasion of an overdraft while still earning money on my change.

Anyhow, I gathered up my change and started rolling.  Ended up with $35.97—an amount I am delighted with.  It takes $25 to open a passport savings account so I have that and some to spare!

I plan to allow my change to accumulate there and when it gets too large I will swap it over into my online savings account so that it can accrue more interest.  It may not be a simple method but it works for me. It is definitely easier than hiding money from myself in my checking account—too much of a temptation when it is in there!

When I looked at all of that change I thought about taking it to the CoinStar machine at my local Wal-Mart.  Fortunately I googled the device before I did.  Those devices charge you 9.8 cents for every single dollar they count—that is like a 10% fee just for counting the stupid stuff! Had I went to the machine I would have been forced to pay $3.53 cents just so that machine could count my money! I like that $3.53 just fine in my pocket, thank you very much, so I rolled the coins myself! 

My bank gives out the coin wrappers as a courtesy to customers so they cost absolutely nothing.. and time is cheap compared to money!

We have become so lazy that we will give a whopping 9.8% to a machine just to count our change!  We are paying almost $10.00 ($9.80) out for every hundred dollars that machine counts!

What pisses me off is that I almost didn’t consider the fact that there would be a fee! I’m sorry, but for a lot of people ten bucks is an hour’s wage and for a restaurant worker making minimum wage that is almost an hour at time and a half!

Sigh.

I placed my teapot back in its’ place leaving some change and a couple of dollar bills within for seed. When I was a child my father taught me to never completely empty a piggy bank cause you needed “seed” to make the money “grow.” Silly perhaps but I never completely empty the thing—in honor of Father’s memory.

Other than that I paid the tags on the van and renewed my drivers license, which means I’m good to go for another year on that front. Tomorrow bright and early I will be at the bank making some poor teller miserable as she verifies all of this rolled change and sets up that savings account!

What do you do with YOUR change?  Do you spend it? Occasionally I spend the quarters but rarely touch the rest.  Until tomorrow it was added to the slush fund in my checking account for lack of a better place to deposit it. I like the thought of it making money muchbetter!

Money

Unless you live in the woods you will need some amount of money to survive. There will always be property taxes, groceries and whatnot in our lives—all with hands out waiting for their share of our income.

Where does your money come from? Chances are you only have a single source. It could be a job or a pension, but it is a single source nevertheless. What would happen to you if that single source of income disappeared? How would you live?

I’m going to be blunt here: income sources can leave. It doesn’t matter that you have been on the job for 20 years or were so messed up in that accident that there is no way you will get better and get off of disability.  It doesn’t matter that you’ve qualified for Social Security ages ago. Sometimes for inexplicable reasons the income that we count upon goes away.

It may not go away forever, but a disappearance for a few weeks can be disastrous to so many of us who live on low incomes and thus is the reason for this post.

Having multiple sources of income is smart. They may not be big sources of income but the fact that they are income can really come in handy if you lose your job or the bank that held your savings goes under.

There are ways of earning money that are as different as snowflakes in winter so don’t panic and think I’m telling you to endanger your government check by taking a part-time job. Just consider how much safer your life would be if you had something, anything as a teeny tiny safety net in case something happened to your primary source of income.

Look around your home for ideas. If you love animals perhaps you can look in the local online classifieds for people needing a pet sitter while they go out of town. VCI in Paducah, Kentucky is a wonderful source if you live in the area.

Do you like children? You could babysit for a neighbor occasionally.  If you enjoy crafts perhaps you could sell some of your creations for a few dollars on Etsy? Gardeners can sell extra produce on a small table in their front yard or even alongside a busy road for extra cash.

Clean a house or look online for people needed short-term assistance. These jobs generally pay cash and you can pick and choose what you prefer to do. If you have a talent for fixing hoosie-whatsits perhaps you can place a small ad in a free online classified announcing your skill. I have a friend who made extra money by running an unofficial taxi service for friends and neighbors—not only did he make enough money to more than keep the maintenance up on his van but it enabled him to go out and explore places with the Amish that otherwise he would have never seen!

If you have a mower perhaps you can mow small lawns for extra money, or rent the mower out to others who don’t have one? If you have wireless internet you could share the connection with your neighbors in exchange for a portion of the bill! You may make enough money from this to pay your internet bill entirely—thus getting your internet for free!

If you have reduced the amount of stuff you own to save storage expense perhaps you find yourself with an empty storage building or even an empty corner in the garage. You can rent out this space and allow others to store stuff there!

You could bake homemade bread, labor-intensive foods like lasagna or even dog treats and sell the finished product. Of course on a bigger operation there are rules and regulations to follow but we’re talking occasional agreements among people you know and not necessarily a business-type arrangement.

If you know about antiques or a certain item you collect perhaps you can make extra money selling some. Yard sales and thrift shops are known for good deals so perhaps if you stumble upon something at a gorgeously low price you can mark it up a bit and resell it.

If you prefer to make money online there are places like Mylot, KGBMTurk and others that pay money for doing certain things. If you like to write sites like Helium, Associated Content, Factoidz  and others will allow you to make money on your creations. In fact, some sites will pay you to post videos and slideshows!

Blogging can give you a way to express thoughts and ideas in a form that can earn you some income as well. Adding Google Adsense to the blog or even Adbrite can earn you a little money for doing something you may do anyway—keep a journal.

You don’t have to do any of these suggestions. In fact I’m confident that if you look around you will find something that is uniquely perfect for you and your living situation. The trick to a happy life is not to just live simply and frugally but to be confident that no matter what–money is going to be there to provide what we need. Depending upon a single income source—no matter how reliable it is supposed to be—is a recipe for disaster.

Please look around your lives and see what you can do to earn an extra dollar or two. You don’t have to kill yourself but make a small goal to just make a couple of extra dollars this month. Stash that extra income in an online savings account or even in a jar somewhere until it builds up where you can do something with it. Save a little of it for the future, but enjoy some of it now—you earned it!

Having sources for extra income may seem silly if you are used to making big money but a little money is a lot better than no money at all in the event that something stops your regular income source!

With this said you may wonder what I do for extra money. Well, I write online for various websites, most of which don’t give me any credit but pay well nevertheless. I am working on increasing my Associated Content library, the articles I have at Factoidz and making this blog and my simplicity blog useful to others to increase traffic. Besides that I have a diploma in computer repair so I promote a small computer repair business and pick up odd jobs doing strange things on occasion. I’ve even started a book on simplicity and frugality that I plan to market at a later date!

It may seem like I’m doing a lot but honestly I’m not. When I get an idea for something to write about I decide where to stick it that is most appropriate and there it goes. Since computer work largely involves waiting on computers I can work on other things here while waiting for them to do their thing!

I have lived on a single source of income in the past and struggled when that income disappeared. No matter how small or large that income may be it hurts! I don’t want that to happen to you.

How Far can $10 go?!?!

There is an assignment on CNN asking users to spend $10 and post pictures of what it bought. 

At first I considered the challenge and then it dawned on me:  Would it not be better to NOT spend that $10 at all?

Think about it:  You can spend that money and it is gone forever, or you can save that money and allow it to make you even more money.

So instead of spending ten bucks I’m going to stash it this weekend.

Can YOU stash ten bucks somewhere this weekend?

Bathing the Hard Way

In January a thermostat mishap while out of town caused a large number of my water pipes to break. The ground is quite damp here so instead of paying a plumber extra to climb under the soggy mess my mobile home rests on I decided to wait until the weather warms and the ground dries out before taking a look myself.

The outside spigot is on the live side of the house shutoff, so I run a water hose in through a window to power the washing machine, flush the commode, bathe and whatever else I need water for.

This is a challenge for a woman whose major weakness is a hot bath.

Baths get planned in advance these days because it takes a while to heat enough water on the stove to fill my bathtub.  I take sponge baths daily (a.k.a. whore baths when I was a child) but my cherished soak is now an hours-long ritual that no one is allowed to interrupt.

I use a metal bucket, a large metal bowl and my stock pot to heat water to boiling on the kitchen stove.  My tub is metal, so the drain is stopped up and the boiling water is poured into the tub.  It takes 2 rounds of boiling water to give a nice amount of really hot bathwater but I generally do three rounds to fill it as full as I can get.  Then cold water is poured in it until it is cool enough to step into.  This makes for bathwater much hotter than I can get out of my tiny water heater, which makes the work worth it.

I get out after a good long soak with the water still warm.  This water is recycled to give the dogs a bath, then recycled again to flush the commode until it’s gone.

I have honestly never recycled something so much in my life!!!

I guess it is a good thing to recycle, but it has pointed out how spoiled I was by being able to turn a faucet and get instant water. It has also shown me that one does not HAVE to have running water in every room or even in a house to live well.

I must admit though—I would not like to live without a washing machine. I am too addicted to washing clothes and towels for that.

I am in hopes that the ground will dry up this month so that I can take a peek underneath without having to worry about sinking knee-deep in mud.  The pipes are the pvc type so all you need are the pipes, joints and glue.

I’m not sure of the exact extent of the damage, but I should at least be able to rig up an interior spigot until I can repair it all and as for the water heater—it is not the necessity I thought it was, so I think I will look at it last to see if I need to replace the heating elements (I have it shut off at the breaker right now but am unable to check for damage until the pipes are repaired).

Yes I could probably hire it done or beg some handy male neighbor to do it, but why bother when I am perfectly capable of fixing it myself?

I am just happy and grateful that I have a water hose long enough to reach to my washing machine, and a y-connector so that I can fill up jugs and buckets while my machine does it’s thing.

I am happy that I have buckets, and the knowledge to use them.

I am downright delighted I have dish pans as well!

I wonder if people who live in tiny houses, who espouse the whole green movement—I wonder how often they wash their towels, and if that laundromat can get them clean enough?

I have an antique washstand complete with candle holders and mirror that I now keep in the kitchen for handwashing.  I keep the pitcher filled with water and a bucket nearby to hold the used water, which gets used to flush the commode. Water from dishwashing gets used for the same purpose.  Just the thought of a stinky commode is just gross, so I use every drop of water to keep it flushed, as well as keeping the back tank filled from the hose for the times when it needs flushing but there is no recycled water waiting to flush it.

If I lived near a place where I could readily access water either with a hose or containers, especially if that water source had a washer hooked up I wouldn’t really need running water in a place.  Just a compost commode to avoid flushing the stupid thing and a drain for all of the greywater produced.

That means that I am a bit closer mentally to living in a more rustic environment than I previously thought.

Life is good…..

Information Costs More than Food?

I just stumbled upon an article saying that we pay more for information than food (dead link)!

You gotta click on the link and check it out — cause for a lot of people he is exactly right!

I know people who have almost all of those things–the internet, the cellphone, the internet on the cellphone, the satellite radio, the satellite television, the DVR (modern TiVo)–even the wireless card for Internet on the go besides the internet they were paying for at home! I read the article and the comments and wanted to laugh!

I pay for a mid-grade DSL connection. That connection is my television thanks to Hulu and other places. It is my phone thanks to MagicJack. It is my radio thanks to Shoutcast. If I want instant replay I just wind back the controller on the page, so I have TiVO as well!

My two cellphones are both prepay, and combined cost $50 every three months to keep active, but we rarely use all of the time we purchase for them. We mainly keep a texting package on them and use that.

I splurge with having two cellphones, but feel safer knowing that my daughter can contact me wherever she is and regardless of where I am. That is a blessing when she is at her father’s house or out playing–or we get separated in a store.

It is cheaper to have the two prepay phones than it is to have even the smallest family plan.

So, no cable, no satellite radio–not even a television or a game machine in this house to pay for XBox live or whatever game is hot these days…

Read the article please, and leave in the comments here how much YOU are paying for information–I would honestly love to know!

Family Cloth Savings

I figured it up: When we use bathroom tissue it normally takes about 2 rolls a week of average tissue in our house.

I buy 40 packs of Pom tissue at Sam’s Club. The current price is $18.88 plus tax for those 40 rolls, meaning each roll costs $0.41 each before tax.

I make my own laundry detergent, which costs about a nickel a load. However, I prewash the family cloths before I toss them in with my normal load of whites so at most I am spending a quarter extra to wash them. In the summer I hang them out to dry so that is free, but in winter they are dried with my normal load of whites, which costs me nothing extra cause I have to dry that load anyway.

With all that in mind I think I am saving at least $0.50 a week by using the family cloths. I would be saving more if I used the more expensive tissue, but I’m cheap. That works out to about $26.00 a year savings to me personally, provided I only used 2 rolls of bathroom tissue every week.

That may not seem like much, but every penny counts in this economy. Frankly I see no point in giving Big Business that money if I can use it on something I enjoy more, like a good steak or for seeds for a garden (which will give me something back).

We work to make money then give it all back to the businesses who hire us. It’s like a form of slavery. The more we think we want the more we have to work to get it. The more we work, the more we think we want.

Hmmm…. I think it is time to research menstrual cloths. I may be on to something here…

Shopping and Simplicity

When I go shopping, I see lots of people with shopping carts overflowing with stuff. I see myself several years ago, or actually not too long ago shopping at Sam’s Club.

Then I look into my cart. I had a 10-pack of Ivory soap, a gallon of milk, a plastic washtub, some drain cleaner and a bag of Timothy for the guinea pigs. I had picked up some mushrooms and some chocolate but put them back after some thought.

I really didn’t need the washtub, but the metal bowl I use to rinse my dishes in wasn’t very satisfying when the time comes to rinse larger items.

I found myself wandering the aisles just looking at the choices. Retractable clothes lines for seven dollars each when a 99-cent piece of cord would suffice. Chunks of wood packaged to stuff in your closet – when the spruce tree you had for Christmas could have been cut up and used to scent your closet just as well.

Boxes made out of fabric covered cardboard–the type of craft I’ve tinkered with since I was a kid–but my boxes said Eggs on the side!

I could go on but there is no real point.

I felt like an outsider watching a strange ritual today as I wandered around the store. I passed people debating on clothes and cleaning supplies alike, cringing because I feel like I’m carrying a deep dark secret.

The few people I have told about this – most think I’m crazy. I told one friend about making laundry soap and was scolded for not telling him I needed money to buy laundry detergent.

I feel lonely as a result of my frugality. Friends shake their heads because I sold my queen-sized bed when I moved here and now sleep on a small cot in an even smaller room. Instead of a couch we have a rattan loveseat–the dog is the only one who uses it so why waste money on a couch?

Somehow it is all okay however. I am marching to the beat of my own personal drummer. I am not going to give in like I have in the past and follow my spendthrift friends.

I hope not, anyway.

Paying the Bills

Bills. It really should be a four-letter word. Those evil little slips of paper that land in your mailbox are just foul. Because of them we have to do another four-letter word: work. Nasty words, both of them!

Anyhow, to simplify my life I have been taking steps to work at home and spend more time with my daughter. I have published on Associated Content for most of a year now, and tonight have taken another step toward freedom: I have applied at Demand Studios for a position either writing or copyediting.

I am terribly nervous, and hopeful at the same time. They pay on average about $15 an article and would be a great way to not only build my readership but pay those four-letter words off, you know? I could write whenever, wherever – however!

Please send a wish out that I get a position with this company, and can continue my dream of freedom!

Thanks!

Homemade Donuts?

Good evening!

Katie came home in good spirits today, talking of Yu-Gi-Oh cards she trades with her friends. Surprisingly, she played at my feet and in the living room for most of the evening without even asking to get on the computer to check her Webkins or watch a show!

I finished a book entitled Affluenza, which was a wonderful companion to the movie they released a few years ago. If you ever stumble upon it at your local library check it out.

Rummaged through my cabinets and found a can of pumpkin pie mix, so I found a simple pie crust recipe and made a pie. Katie was delighted, and ate all of her dinner in exchange for a piece of pie. Of course, my crust wasn’t as pretty as those in the store (the crust recipe didn’t quite make enough crust to do fancy edges on my 9.5-inch deep dish pan) but that’s okay. Next time I’ll know to make a double batch and use the leftover crust to make monkey bread!

My sister has stumbled upon what she considers a great inexpensive treat: home fried donuts using ready-made biscuit dough. She says she makes a hole in the center and fries them in a bit of hot oil and sprinkles them with powdered sugar, only frying what she will eat and saving the rest of the can of dough in the fridge. Considering that a can of biscuit dough costs about a dollar and makes 8 fresh donuts but a dozen of stale donuts costs $2.50 on the clearance rack, she does have a point.

I don’t feel like running to the store yet so I’m going to look in my cookbook to see if I have the ingredients to make some donuts from scratch without buying biscuit dough. If I could make a batch but only fry them as wanted, we would have a fresh treat on occasion without having to eat a large amount of donuts before they get hard…

Anyhow, the dishes are washed and I am beat. Goodnight for now!

Out of Butter

Last night I sat down to watch The Crow and ended up blowing off washing dishes. That movie was an excellent film – I was pleasantly surprised! I should have done them, there weren’t that many to do, but I was just lazy! This morning I woke up and knocked them out in just a few minutes, annoyed at myself for not getting off my butt and taking care of them last night!

After Katie went to sleep I watched that movie and slipped outside to walk to dog and watch the meteor shower. I only saw a few shooting stars, but it felt so nice on that dark path, standing there in the dark and making wishes! The silence was so strong, only broken once by a train passing through in the distance.

As I stood there in the dark just me and the dog everything felt so right with the world I wanted to start crying. I didn’t actually tear up, but the urge was sure there. When I was a child I would lay out in the yard just watching the stars. We didn’t have street lights where we lived in the country, and the stars would just wink at you in friendliness.

This is my life. No rushing, no grabbing. Sitting at the kitchen table for hours with my daughter after school while she talks about her day and shows me magic tricks.

I actually ran out of butter yesterday. I had used up the very last stick the night before and didn’t realize it. When I went to get some out to butter my homemade bread there was absolutely none to be found, not even in the freezer.

At first I was annoyed, but then I just had to laugh. I was just out the day before, and at Sam’s a few days ago but had no clue I was so low on butter. This is the first time I have ran out of butter – totally ran out almost a decade and it took me by surprise.

You know what I did? I ate my toast laughing sans butter. I don’t think I’m going to go out and get any today, either! It feels so liberating to be out of something and NOT run to the store and get it, to KNOW that I can go but choose NOT to. Instead we will do without for a couple of days.

Instead I have it on a list with a couple of other items. I’ll pick it up later in the week when I head out for something else. My daughter expected me to follow my old habit of rushing out to the store to grab just that one thing, and was shocked that I did not. I’m kinda shocked as well, to be honest.

The day after Thanksgiving has been designated as a “Buy Nothing Day” by Adbusters. I had one of those yesterday and the day before as well without even trying! There was a time when it would have felt like an impossible goal.

Life just keeps getting better.

Bubble Wrap

Once again I have managed to achieve my goal of washing the dishes before bed. Maybe I’m starting to get the hang of this!

My daughter and I spent the day watching movies – though I took some time out to grab a snack for dinner. Simple snack of summer sausage with cheddar.

I used bubble wrap to line the windows in the kitchen today. I want to see if what they say about it keeping in more heat is true. I don’t know yet but I don’t feel as chill sitting by all of these windows in the kitchen now. I will miss my view here in the kitchen. I don’t look out the other windows so they won’t be missed.

I am hoping to have enough bubble wrap to give two layers to at least some of my windows for added insulation. They say that a single layer of bubble wrap will add an extra R-factor to the insulation value, so I am hoping it will help my single-pane windows.

I was going to just put some plastic on them, but cannot locate it since the move. Figured since I had to go purchase something, might as well try something new, you know?

Just a sign that I have too much stuff. If I didn’t have so much I wouldn’t be so disorganized!

Here in the kitchen the thermometer on the fridge says it is 65F in here, and the one near the ceiling says 68F. I will turn it down lower tonight and raise it back up in the morning. Thankfully we keep a stockpile of quilts.

I am a touch nervous about the first heating bill here, so we are keeping the heat low at first. I have been told that the highest heating bill here was $184 one month, but one never knows… I have lived in places and had $600 heating bills, so I want to make sure this place isn’t one of them.

When we lived in a 10×50 mobile home, even with horrible windows (with plastic you could still feel a breeze) the highest electric bill for heating was slightly over $200, but that was several years ago. I am heating 576 square feet here, not much more, and this place is in much better shape, especially the windows.

It will be okay.

Let’s just face it: I’m cheap.

Right now I would feel soo much better if my daughter and I were living in a tumbleweed house: she could have the attic, and I could sleep in the living area like I do now – and live in the kitchen, like I do now! It would be much less expensive to heat this winter, and I could pack up my whole home whenever I wanted to travel to visit my family!

Ah well – I’m happy nonetheless. I am living my version of the American Dream sans house and car payment – doesn’t get much better than this! But we all have little things we like to think about!

It is late, so time to walk the dog and hit the sack.. Goodnight everyone!

Simple Progress

This morning the school called: my daughter had a fever – could I pick her up? I was kinda disappointed for I had a special treat lined up for today, but such is life for a single mother.

Anyhow, a few clicks and all my current bills were paid – it feels SO NICE to no longer have to concern myself with a variety of websites and logins – just one place and a few clicks and I’m done! Such peace! I was finished in record time!

Also I called ATT and had my unused land line turned off. I have a cellphone that I use primarily, supplemented by MagicJack when I am watching my minutes. Now that I have voicemail set up on the cellphone I will simply have the Magicjack forward all calls to the cell, saving electricity by not having to have a Windows computer on 24/7. Those who know me understand how rarely I am actually on a phone, so it really was a waste of electricity to have it on when I have the cell as well. Since the cell is portable and also contains my clock, my address book and my brain it makes more sense to use it than a landline – especially since it costs less to use the cell than keep the landline lol!

I purchased a small jar of instant coffee this morning. Not bad. I put a bit too much in the cup but it still tasted okay. It felt good knowing that I no longer have to drag out the percolator (or a coffee maker if I had one) whenever I want the occasional cup of coffee. The tea kettle stays out from frequent use. What to do with an unneeded percolator?

My daughter and I discussed my sleeping in the living room over the winter. She thinks it’s a “cool” idea, but suggested that for the winter we stash the rattan loveseat and coffee table in the back room and just use the folded-up futon during the day as a bohemian couch! It isn’t like we have much company, and it would make for more space and ease of use while I sleep here in the winter!

Slowly, life is becoming less complicated. I have noticed that even with the lower income the bank balance is staying steady, yet all of the bills are paid. KGB will help increase that balance a bit, as well as any computer jobs I happen to get. I will be able to be home more for my daughter with this simpler lifestyle, and have more time not only for her but myself as well.

Financial Simplicity

In the past to simplify my bills I have paid electronically via the individual websites. It was faster and easier than mailing all of those checks, but still a hassle to go to each of those websites and pay in turn.

Today I have set up bill payments via my bank’s website. A one-stop solution to paying bills. Instead of going to all of those individual sites I will go to one only to schedule all of my payments. Best part is that it is still free, even if they have to mail a payment!

I only set up two payees today, with plans to set the others up as I pay them. I am in hopes that it will make my life a little simpler than it already is. We shall see.

I am still in the process of digitizing the rest of those music CDs on a “think of” basis. I think about it, walk into the other room, and start ripping another to my hard disk. When I finish I will start back on the DVDs. I will be so glad to box all of these discs away! Should I put them outside in the building and get them out of the house? It is very tempting to just get rid of them…..

Grocery Dilemma

Today the need arose to restock some perishables, so off I went to the grocery.

Pork loin was $1.69 a pound, but only if you bought the mega family size packs. The next best price? $2.99 a pound.

Such a dilemma. Do I purchase several pounds of a food we don’t eat regularly? Package it, freeze it, hope to skate through any power outages and maybe eat all of it before it succumbs to freezer burn? Or do I pay over a dollar a pound more for a lot less – with no repackaging, no refreezing, no concerns about power outages and no fears it will go bad before it is gone?

When my two oldest children were home, it would have been a no-brainer, but with just myself and one little girl…

I chose the smaller pack. That pack has enough for two meals of pork chops, so one meal may get frozen after all. However, there is no danger of a single extra meal going bad before we eat it – our current refrigerator is a small one so there are no places for food to hide and be forgotten.

For us, that choice was the simpler one, despite the fact that the per-pound price was more. Simpler in that there is very little repackaging. Simpler in being less to store. Simpler in being less to worry about this winter when the power outages hit. For each one of us, there is a different path on the way to simplicity. Where has your path taken you?

The Law of Attraction is just wonderful!

The hundred-dollar bill that I posted on my vision board has finally come to fruition. We will be getting a check from Social Security for a little over a hundred dollars a month for my daughter now.

Actually two things have come to pass. No longer will I be accused of not reporting income that I really didn’t receive (my ex-husband apparently told the Social Security Admin. that she was living with him and it started showing up on my income), but thanks to the nice people at the Administration, my ex-husband will no longer be a threat to us.

He will be too busy dealing with the misappropriation charges against him for all the money they have given him for our daughter, especially since the whole time he was filing court papers against me saying that he never saw her…

Plus they are going to make sure that our other daughter is getting full use of her check. I have heard that she is going around having to struggle to get things she needs, so they are going to make sure that she is getting what she is due.

Considering the amount of money I gather he received for Katie alone, I have been told that he may be facing jail time, especially since they have proof in all of his affadavits that he wasn’t seeing our youngest daughter.

For those of you who are wondering, and thinking I’m an evil person for keeping myself and my daughter away from him – I don’t dare go around my ex. He promised that the only way I would get away from him is if “one of us died,” and while I was in that area – well, it was in my best interests to leave if I enjoyed breathing.

Whenever he finds my location and/or phone number, things start happening. It starts with phone calls, breathing, random hangups, death threats – then strange things start happening around my home.

I stay as far away from that man as a result now. Judge me how you will. I won’t even go to that little section of the state in fear of what he would do if he saw me there…

I have told the SSA that I do not want him to have a clue as to where we live for safety reasons, and they have promised to keep my information confidential. Either way, they don’t have my street address, just a post office box. I’m not taking any chances.

But the Law of Attraction is working things out. Soon all the evil he has dealt to others will come back to him. I don’t wish him ill, I just wish him out of my existence. It is happening.

The delay is the hardest part of the Law of Attraction to deal with. If you are like me, you want what you want NOW, not some time in the future. But honestly, if I got everything I wished for instantly, I wouldn’t enjoy life very much. Part of the enjoyment is in the anticipation.

Right now I am working on attracting the means to place my daughter in a much better school. I want her to be safe, and have great experiences and get an excellent education. I want her to be happy, and learn about life on the right side of the tracks. I come from the wrong side of them, and want her to have — well, I want her to comfortably see how the ‘other half’ lives so that she can have a choice in how she lives her life.

I want her safe and protected, with no chance that anyone can kidnap her to get back at me. That is what I want to attract for her. The best life I can give her.

Fish and things

So far, the shock of losing my job has worn off and life has continued as usual. School is out and talk about the layoffs are dying down.  My sympathies to the other 50 billing agents who were laid off as well.

Fortunately I have been in tougher spots so I know I will survive this one.  Already plans are in motion to decrease my housing expenses even more than I already have.  It just takes time, however.

The little goldfish seemed uncomfortable even with water changes, so today we invested in a filtration unit.  I do not enjoy having the extra electrical outlay, but I won’t have the little critter suffer.  We got one of the filters with the biological filter, which means that there is a living thing helping to filter the water besides the mechanical filtration.  Already little Smudge seems happier.  Perhaps the water wasn’t being agitated enough.  We also got some Aponogeton bulbs and placed in the tank, to provide a more natural environment.  The one plant already in there seems to be doing well, so am hoping for more to grow.

A friend of mine gave me an Eiro energy drink to try, so I drank one today.  They don’t taste as sickeningly sweet as other energy drinks I have tried, and is chock full of healthy ingredients.  You don’t get that sugar buzz, and so far I seem to be a lot less lazy as I have been!  If you are interested in trying a great healthy energy drink, email patwinn7 (at) hotmail dot com and tell her you heard about it from the Computer Lady.  

Also at the store they had a new supply of kerosene lanterns on sale for four dollars each.  Considering how handy they were when we had the bad ice storm I grabbed one before the price goes up.  It is the old fashioned lantern style with the metal base and the bail handle.  I like the glass ones but they are not designed to be portable, and these can be used like flashlights or whatever outside in a safe manner.  During the ice storm we used the two we already have to go between rooms, had one hanging in the bathroom on low, just used them for everything.  In this current world condition one cannot be too prepared, so I grabbed this one to be safe.

I am hoping to locate a portable propane stove and oven to start using.  We have an electric stove here, which is okay but worry about power outages.  Also gas heat will heat water a lot faster and more economical than electric ever can!

We already have a kerosene heater, but plan to invest in another small one.  If we end up moving into a small mobile home, during really cold days a heater on each end of the place should keep it toasty without the super hot spots that one large heater gives off.

When I was a child my father had a small wood stove in our mobile home; while it was warm in the living room, at night ice would form on the walls of my back bedroom.  I had a small electric heater but I hated using that much electric, you know?

The place I’m looking at has an electric furnace, but I personally detest furnaces because they are noisy and expensive to run.  Also during a power outage you are stuck. Much better to start off with an electric-free alternative!

The mini garden outside (actually a repurposed flower bed) is doing well.  The tomato plant is growing at an insane rate, but the two green pepper plants seem to be lagging behind.  I am keeping them dusted after making a shaker for Sevin dust.   Also waiting to see how the peas do this year.. will have them climbing up the sunflowers as an experiment in living trellis.

I would love to come up with an idea for a gypsy-type garden, meaning a small portable garden for frequent movers.  I hate the thought of building up land when I may move in a year or so!  Perhaps one of those gardens that are made with the kiddie pools?

Time to get on with the housework.  The laundry may wait, but my wardrobe will not!

Finances and Miscellany

Today was six long hours of back-to-back calls, interspersed with a couple of breaks.  They sent a small list of people home early on in the day, but then it got busy.

I was grateful for the craziness, for it tells me that all is well with my job – and my world. I will work six more hours tomorrow, and then next weekend I am picking up the shifts of a friend of mine who is having surgery.  I hope she does okay.  That will be eight more hours added to my paychecks.

Since moving here from my apartment, at times it seems as if my bills have gone up, but I do believe they have gone down.  My rent included my utilities, and was over $325 every month – sometimes getting as high as $400, but here so far I have barely breached the $300 mark – not including my deposits and moving fees. As such I feel that overall I will save money here, money that I can use to move toward a better, more sustainable life for myself and my daughter.

To keep utilities down, I have promised myself not to use the clothes dryer this month, to instead hang my clothes up to dry instead.  I am testing how it is to hang clothes inside to dry, so have a small clothes line hung in the back storage room and the clothes hung on it.  This experiment will tell me whether or not I really NEED a dryer in my life.  If we can manage by drying them inside, then it will be a simple matter of not replacing the dryer should it die, and then I won’t have to worry about moving to an area that forbids outside clotheslines.  Or I can simply dry my clothes inside to keep people from knowing my business.  An even better reason.My neighbor decided to get a magicjack of her very own.  So far she likes it.  She has it running on Windows vista without a single issue.  I’m glad for her.  I dislike Windows vista personally.  It takes too much machine to do too little stuff.  For instance, this netbook is running my magicjack, a word program, a notepad program, and Google chrome with several pages open.  It is working fine.  If I tried to do that on my vista computer, which has over twice the power of this little machine, it would literally choke and freeze.M

As I frequently say, less is truly more.  I would invest in one of these little machines that run linux, save for the fact that my magicjack needs windows to run.  Well, there is another reason.  I can find these little things running windows for a lower price than I can the ones running Linux.  If I really wanted, I could install Linux myself and save money!

I love these netbooks.  They have a small screen and small keyboard, but both can be easily remedied by hooking up external devices, so I honestly cannot complain.  They are powerful enough for my day-to-day needs, and I do a LOT. They don’t use a lot of electricity, they have an incredible battery life, especially if you get the bigger battery, and they are VERY portable.  Perfect for a wandering Geek like myself.

Well, it is time to fire up the grill and fix some burgers.  I’m thinking of getting a propane stove kit, one with a small oven, where I can use it instead of my electric stove now, and in any home I have in the future (or little cabin, if it comes to that).

Hope you are having a wonderful weekend!