Monday, September 26, 2022

5 Quick Things

In no particular order...

  1. Some people on social media are saying this countdown on the Olive Garden website is leading up to the annual 'Never ending Pasta Pass' sale which usually sells out within minutes.  
  2. If you are along the gulf in Florida, I hope you are well and truly prepared for Hurricane Ian.  This looks like it might be a very big deal!
  3. Yesterday I was moving some food around in our garage pantry and I saw a few bugs and started freaking out!  I visualized all of our stored food infested with bugs and having to throw every thing away and the waste of I pulled everything out of the pantry to reorganize it and thankfully, the only bugs I found were the few I originally saw on the shelf.  Phew!  So a reminder to regularly check your stored food and keep it in rotation with the food you regularly eat so nothing has a chance to go bad.
  4. From the stored food, I grabbed a one pound bag of garbanzo beans (chickpeas), threw them in the Instapot, and now I have a massive amount of chickpeas to deal with so it looks like I will be making hummus, falafel, Indian curried chickpeas, and freezing the rest.  A dollar bag of dried beans is one of the best things you can buy in terms of quantity of food/protein/etc.
  5. In my endless search for the perfect new cell phone, I picked up yet another new phone yesterday (a Motorola Edge that was half off), I set it up, didn't like it much, so I added it to the box of things we are sending to the Philippines.  During this whole process, I decided to check the 'my Google account' page which I never check and it showed that my Google account was linked to several devices I no longer have, even after wiping and factory resetting the devices!  So a quick reminder to regularly check all of the details of your Google account (probably similar for your Apple account) to make sure the info is accurate and up to date.

Friday, September 23, 2022

10 Things to Prepare For

I hope you all are having a wonderful fall.  Since it is in the 90s here and not 110 degrees, I guess that qualifies for fall in the desert!  Here are some things to prepare for in the near future...

  1. The mid-terms are coming up in November so if you aren't registered to vote, now may be a good time to do that (then vote like your life depends on it because it may!).
  2. Daylight savings time ends in early November as well so I always make sure we have furnace filters in stock as well as D batteries because when we change the clocks back, we also replace the furnace filters and the batteries in our smoke detectors.
  3. We have been buying an extra bag of candy each week when we go grocery shopping in preparation for Halloween (which is better than running out and buying a whole bunch of candy at the last minute!).
  4. I can't find the article, but I read somewhere that more than 65% of Americans plan to put their Thanksgiving dinner on their credit card because they can't afford to pay for their dinner items all at once.  Big yikes there!  Like our Halloween plan, we are buying a few items each week for our Thanksgiving dinner so when the time arrives, we won't have a big outlay of money all at once for what will be a much more expensive dinner this year due to escalating food costs.
  5. Also, along similar lines, now is a great time to start Christmas shopping as well since spreading out the costs, a little at a time, is much better than buying all of your gifts the weekend before Christmas!
  6. Since we are on a preparedness kick, here is a good list of fall home maintenance tasks that should be done soon.
  7. Here is a good list of end-of-the-year financial tasks you might want to review.
  8. And here is a good list of things to do to get your car ready for fall and winter.
  9. For those of you living where the winter weather can be treacherous, now is a good time to review your winter storm preps as well.
  10. Finally, here are several other things I am doing this month: I signed up to participate in our community's annual CERT exercise which will happen this fall, I am back to walking now after a long, hot summer of minimal walking outside, and we will have several guests for the month of November so we are stocking up on groceries, particularly loss leaders like the pork chops we got today for 97 cents per pound, so we can feed everyone for the month.

Saturday, September 17, 2022

10 Things from This Week

In no particular order...

  1. We had a great monsoon season this summer!  Rain, clouds, even flash floods, but now the weather is settling down and it is nice and warm--not hot--so hopefully we will have a nice fall (and hopefully we won't need to use the AC or heat for a month or more which will save money on electricity!).
  2. I love this list of odd things, several of which I think I need to buy!
  3. Here are some good ways to get glasses or contacts without a recent prescription.
  4. I'm debating whether or not to delete my Facebook account.  It is not a good company (examples here, here, and here), their algorithm is whack (I clicked like on one fishing picture, now I get nearly 100 fishing pictures a day on my feed ?!?), and I believe that some of my factually correct (I site my sources) yet politically incorrect comments are simply not shown to anyone.  It's extremely biased and overly invasive (even with browser isolation) so I am looking into other ways to connect with people so I can leave Facebook in the dust.
  5. The same with Blogger which is owned by Google.  I inherited another blog/website from an old client many years ago which I still keep updated.  Imagine my surprise when I logged in a couple weeks ago and several posts and one page had been unpublished (there is no way to hit publish on them now) because they were contrary to their terms of service.  These posts had been on the blog for nearly ten years and NOW they are contrary to Bloggers terms of service?  And they weren't even on controversial topics so that was weird so I may be looking at other hosts for all of my Blogger blogs including this one.  I did a quick search and I guess it is common for Google to censor Blogger blogs.
  6. Speaking of tech, OSINT is a new hot-button tech issue.  OSINT stands for Open Source Intelligence and it's a way to scan, parse, and aggregate all of the info people post online which can then be used against the person in shocking and scary ways.  Here is a good explanation about why this is/will become a serious issue.
  7. Customer service is still god-awful.  My neighbor asked me to swing buy a fast food place on our way home and pick up lunch for her kids so we stopped by a restaurant, went up to the door, and found it locked.  Several places in our city have kind of perma-closed their dining rooms either because they can't find staff or don't pay well enough to attract staff so they go to drive-thru only.  There was a sign on the door, which we couldn't read because the writing was facing the inside of the restaurant, and it was posted upside down (we looked through the facing window to read it) which said no more dining room, just drive-thru for now.  I mean, people can't even post a sign correctly???  ayayay
  8. On September 24, all National Parks will have free entry.  I checked our state parks website and our state will have free entry to all state parks on that day as well in honor of National Public Lands Day.
  9. I spend way too much time online.  I really need to get out and move more which is now possible since the weather isn't hotter than the surface of the sun.  Also, spending so much time online is not good for my stress levels; it seems like all news is bad news and most interactions with others online, like on reddit or Facebook, devolves into a flame war over the stupidest of topics.  eeekkk
  10. Finally, hubby and I went to the dining hall at the local military base last week and had a very nice, and very inexpensive, lunch.  For some reason we never thought to check this place out because at other bases we had been to, their dining facilities were only open to active duty personnel.  We were pleasantly surprised that this base opens their dining facility to active duty, retired and DOD/base personnel.  And the food was actually very good!

Monday, September 12, 2022

A Bunch of Links

Here are a bunch of links you might find interesting...


Saturday, September 10, 2022

Old, Broke, and...Homeless?

This topic of aging, being broke, and ending up homeless has been top of mind for a while now.  Ever since I started watching the Cheap RV Living videos on YouTube and realized that a majority of people Bob features on his channel are living in their vehicles by circumstance and not by choice, it made me wonder where me, my friends, the kids, and grandkids could end up when we get older.  Scary stuff!  

Then I saw this post over at Barbara's blog and it kind of reinforced the idea that people--all people--need a plan so they don't end up homeless in their old age.  Obviously this "have a plan" idea has a lot of limitations.  If you are already old, you really don't have time to make significant changes to suddenly give yourself a fat and fluffy retirement income.  On the other hand, if you are young, the days of robust pension plans for your old age are pretty much gone now.  Eeekkk

So where does that leave us?  In our case, we are doing fine financially now as hubby has two pensions plus social security coming in.  However (a big however!) is that all of this money will stop when he dies and if he dies before me (he is 20 years older than I am) I will be toast financially.  Not completely, but it sure is nice to have a good chunk of guaranteed monthly income for the rest of your life as we have now.

My plan so far...

  • we are working diligently to pay off the house.  Not having to pay a mortgage or rent is a huge deal if you are on a limited income.
  • we have been looking at the idea of selling our house (we have quite a bit of equity in it at this point) and moving to a state with a lower cost of living then just buying a small house with cash and banking the rest.
  • we have also considered selling the house, moving to a LCOL area, and buying a bigger house so the kids and grandkids could move in if needed as some of them are in precarious financial positions right now.  Since I don't really want to live with a bunch of people 24/7 we have also considered moving to a LCOL area and buying enough land that they could put RVs or tiny houses on it if they needed a cheap place to live then we could build a house on the same property to suit our needs.  
  • we have considered living in the Philippines where hubby is originally from but, even though it would be cheaper to live there, it would be financially disastrous because he has A LOT of relatives there and any time someone had a financial emergency he would be obliged to help them then we would end up broke.
  • we are saving money every month so at least I would have a few years of financial cushion to figure out what I would want to do if the worst happens.
  • we live frugally now and I could cut back even more if needed so I guess these are good skills to develop in case worse comes to worst.
  • my social security will kick in in about ten years (if it is still a solvent program then!).
  • I *could* live in a van or RV which is a cheaper way to live but we have had an RV before and while it is great for traveling and vacations, I wouldn't want to live in one full time.  Plus, what happens when one gets too sick or too old to drive or the vehicle needs to be replaced (have you seen the cost of vehicles these days???)?
  • I could move in with the kids, grandkids (several are adults now), family or friends (one friend decided that I WILL live with her in my old age but I like my privacy even though she is a very sweet lady).  Again, at this point I don't really want to live with roommates (once in college was enough!) but apparently many older people are doing this as a way to save money. 
  • I am trying my hand at investing, so far it is unclear how this will work out.  I've almost always worked for myself so never had the opportunity to have a pension but I would like some sort of investment income so I have put money into a mutual fund and put a bit of money into buying individual stocks.
  • I could always go back to work or start another business.  While I like doing small project contract work which I still do on occasion, I don't really like the idea of a full time job or working non-stop to get another business started.
  • I could rent out the guest rooms in our house either to roommates or through Air BnB.  Again, these can be good sources of income but I don't really want to have strangers--or anyone--in my house long term.
  • we carry no debt and our car is paid off.  And we intend to keep it that way.  Having debt payments every month on top of regular living expenses would be expensive, horrible and very stressful!
  • I watch a lot of videos on how not to be homeless or what to do if you become homeless so I guess that is a good way to have some skills if I end up in a bad situation.
  • other ways to give myself more options: improve my health (better to be healthy than be too ill to function if one is cast into a precarious financial situation.  A lot of physically and mentally ill people are just dumped onto the streets these days even if they can't really take care of themselves).  Also, maintaining and improving relationships means you will always have someone to take you in during a crisis.  I keep up with marketable job skills just in case I need them in the future.  And I am forever watching how-to videos on YouTube in case I need to build out a van or build a make-shift cabin in the woods...never know when those skills will come in handy!

On an unrelated note, you can get free museum tickets here for Museum Day next Saturday and here is $5 off on a haircut.

Monday, September 5, 2022

Happy Labor Day and Other Things

Happy Labor Day!  Hopefully you aren't laboring today but like any holiday--even one dedicated to laborers taking a rest--there are a lot of people working in customer service/hotels/restaurants/etc today in order to take care of all of the tourists who are enjoying their three day, end-of-summer vacation!  In other news...

  • We had a small table in the corner of our kitchen which we replaced with this little cabinet that we found at the Goodwill for $16.  Instead of just being a table, this little cabinet can hold some of our extra food and provide a nice place for our plants to get some sun too (the storage system we have in the garage to hold our extra food is practically collapsing under the weight of it!).
  • Get your free Museum Day tickets here (this is a great opportunity to visit a local museum in your area for free!).
  • How's customer service in your area?  I'm not sure if this is new or not, but three times in three days we experienced pretty lousy customer service.  At McDonalds a girl was taking our order at the counter and in the middle of us ordering she just wandered away to do something else(!).  No "excuse me" or anything, just wandered off and came back a minute or so later and said "what did you want?".  Weird.  The next day at Starbucks, again we were at the counter and the girl was taking my order and in the middle of it she went over to the oven to take something out of it.  No "excuse me" just wandered off then came back and totaled up our order.  The next day we were at a mid-priced restaurant and I asked for an extra plate (hubby and I always split an order because a single order is so big).  The girl brought me a plate with noticeable dried on food on it and handed it to me.  I handed it back and asked for a cleaner plate.  She brought me a second plate with, again, dried on food on it.  Ick.  I ended up using the bread plate for my baked potato.  All of these people were young so maybe they weren't taught basic manners?  Maybe these businesses are scraping the bottom of the barrel for employees since a lot of people don't want to work these days?  Mass psychosis?  I don't know what it is (or maybe I am old and cranky) but there seems to be a lot of people who lack even the most basic of manners these days.  This lady's rants on her YouTube channel basically mirror my own feelings about everything.
  • Speaking of YouTube, I got the bright idea to start a YouTube channel (it looks so easy!) so I set up the channel, downloaded some editing software, went to downtown Las Vegas and shot some footage, came back home and quickly found that #1 I'm pretty terrible and shooting video footage (it was bumpy, randomly zoomed in and out, and cut off the tops of some things I wanted to show), #2 I am equally lousy at editing, and #3 I don't have an artistic bone in my body, unfortunately.  So I deleted the channel and will just be a YouTube watcher and not a YouTube creator.
  • This is Lorraine's blog post today, the title nearly made me spit my cheerios all over my computer this morning.
  • I opened a Schwab investment account and they gave me $101 in fractional shares.  All in the tech industry.  The tech industry as a whole is not doing so well these days.  Bummer.

Wednesday, August 31, 2022

Cash-Only Report Week And A Wrap-Up

Our last week of our cash-only challenge ends today!  This last week is actually 10 days long since that's the way the days fell this month but I am happy to report that we paid cash for everything this month (except today, more explanation later) and I dutifully recorded every single transaction we made.  Here's the daily recap:

  • August 22: $5 Baskin Robbins (coffee drink)
  • August 23: $22 gas, $44 Black Bear Diner (took a friend for brunch), $18 Great Clips (haircut for hubby), $15.87 Albertsons (food)
  • August 24: $5 Baskin Robbins (coffee drink), $13.28 Seafood City (food), $5.24 Valerios (bakery), $12.57 Goodwill (coffee pot, clothes)
  • August 25: $5 Baskin Robbins (coffee drink)
  • August 26: .50 copy, $33.98 Albertsons (food)
  • August 27: $5 Baskin Robbins (coffee drink)
  • August 28: No spend
  • August 29: $7.23 Dollar Tree (gifts), $5 Baskin Robbins (coffee drink)
  • August 30: No spend
  • August 31: $4.88 McDonalds (breakfast), $6.72 Seafood City (food), $6.59 Goodwill (clothes), $2.71 Dollar Tree (freezer baskets), $22.24 99 Cent Store (food), $57.48 Sam’s Club (food, PI stuff), $4.09 Valerios (bakery), $4.86 Baskin Robbins (coffee drink), $37.60 Office Depot (mailing)

We blew our budget out of the water this week!  At $344.84, we spent way more than anticipated.  In the coffee drink department, I think I need an intervention!  Our expenses were also higher than normal because we have been cleaning out the garage and we made up a couple of boxes to send to the kids in the US which we mailed today, and we are also putting together a box to send to the son and his family in the Philippines (so we are buying a lot of food and other stuff to send to them).

In total, we spent $675.75 this month which is still about $400 less than we usually spend each month so I guess spending cash does make us more aware of how much we are spending.  As for today, since it was the last day of the month and we were pretty much out of cash, we just used the credit card which hubby was more than happy to do (he said using cash was more of a hassle; he said it would be better to just use the card AND use some self-control so we spend less!).

Overall, I was happy to see a zero balance on the credit card all month and it was a nice feeling to know that our spending wasn't being tracked by all of the AI algorithms that are then sent to marketers to make us want to buy even more stuff.  

Next month we will go back to our usual spending habits--with a cash-back credit card--but I will make it a point to check on our spending weekly just to see if we can still keep our expenses low.  Overall, this was a fun little experiment!