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My Familys' Financial Rule #1

October 16th, 2007 at 06:00 am

I'm struggling with the rule.....the very first and foremost rule my parents instilled in me. Don't talk about money or finances or investments to anyone!

I did OK when I wasn't living here, and I was doing OK all summer........but now, this week, not so good.

Mom is determined to keep all financial dealings to herself. It's OK if I know about them, it's just not OK to let her twin in on anything. Or 4 of the 5 grandsons. Or, any other relatives.

This means all the beach house dealings have to be done on the sly.....which paints a pretty funny picture. We can't do any of the listing of properties....zip. I can see this stopping the new house deal in it's tracks.

I'm also not enjoying the feeling I have to think before I even start to speak about anything. (definately not what I'm used to.....) If I can figure out a time I'll be with mom alone, I do need to talk to her about this, as it is going to make me more nuts than usual. Perhaps on the way to her Dr appt on Wed?

This same rule spills over to health issues........mom hasn't told a soul about her recent ER visit. Only told her twin because I complained about how hard it was going to be with both of them here.....didn't think I could keep up the sneaky little act bit.

An off shoot of this whole Rule bit is affecting another piece..... I had been writing to my dads brother monthly....for decades. Since I got here and all this new stuff started happening, I haven't written. A few short emails, that's it. There isn't anything "legal" to write about. Tons going on, and my uncle would enjoy hearing about it all........but mom is NOT going to tell him she is selling property, buying something new or about her recent health issues. Drat. Didn't really realize how much I had missed talking & writing to this gentleman until I have it down here in black & white.

Can't wait til Wed to see if I can make any headway with mom. Sometimes rules are made to be broken, right??

Gardeners Make Great Friends

September 18th, 2007 at 10:09 pm

Almost 2 weeks (maybe even 3) ago, I answered a 'Wanted' post on freecycle, regarding rhubarb plants. Today, I was finally at the old house and got to meet Joy, the woman wanting rhubarb.

Joy came bearing gifts. She had everything from starts of chocolate mint to fresh tomatoes from her garden. (If you have never had the aromatic type mint plants, you really should try some, kids as well as adults love them.)

We visited while she did the work....digging up 2 of my rhubarb plants the current tenants are just letting go to waste. It always bugs me to see food going to waste anyway......and these plants were starts from my old place.......which was from a start from my dads garden when he was still living, so to me, they were even more important.

Before Joy left, I had managed to convince her she "needed" some other plants from my garden......strawberries, crocosmia, Japanese anenomes, lavatera, and a minty little ground cover. I hate for people to come all the way for just one plant! And, despite the neglect in this garden, things were growing fairly well. With some attention in Joys' garden, they should flourish.

On my way home, after spending the last couple days at the old house, I was pondering how gardeners seem to be so friendly. Is it just because we share plants between us & we are outgoing in order to share?? Or, perhaps gardening is usually a solitary pastime and we are thrilled to spend time with someone else?? I don't know for sure, but as we got starts for Joys' garden, I was reminded of the generous gardeners I had met because of the garden.

Thanks Joy, for making my day! I know each of us will be working in our gardens today, getting our new to us plants settled in!

Why is it Plumbing Difficulties Happen only on Weekends?????

June 23rd, 2007 at 11:57 pm

Is there some sort of Rule of the Universe that makes all plumbing events happen between Friday at 5:30PM and Monday at 9:00AM?? (with extra bonus points if a holiday falls on that week end too??)

I went downstairs here at moms house this morning (can no longer even remember why I went down) to find water on the basement floor coming from under a freezer that is no longer plugged in or being used. Discovered water trickling down the outside wall & could see where it had been doing so over time. (like maybe years??)

There is so much stuff in this basement it is impossible to get to the problem area without moving things........so that became the first job. Trash bags, buckets, rags........all hauled downstairs only to discover we had another layer to the problems in the basement.

Most of the stuff that needed to be moved isn't my moms. It belongs to the other dtr & her kids. Lots of stuff. Nothing of real value, nothing they are willing to come get; but mom won't get rid of it without their go ahead...at least until today.

9 big garbage sacks (the clear kind) were full of llama fleeces. My sister persons; as she was going to clean them, learn to spin and make these up into yarn to knit socks with. Not any more. They are at the dump. I can't tell you how many, nor what kind, of critters that were breeding their own little world in all these sacks. YUK. Think slightly damp animal fur.......infested with thousands of bugs squirming and flying around. We re bagged them and hauled them out to the yard.......then into the van and off to the dump. A great use of $17.00 in our opinion. You should have seen the attendant when he asked what we were dumping. I'm certain no one else had ever dumped llama fleeces.

Now, I'm trying to pinpoint where the slow leak is coming from. Can't see it anywhere. Have a couple possibilities, but want to narrow it down before having a plumber in here this coming week so I'm not paying them to search out the problem.

Most of the cupboards upstairs that cover the most likely problem area have backs that come off, so I'm cleaning cupboards and removing all the backs. So far, dry & dusty/cobwebby. Each time I get into a new area & find it dry, the mystery deepens.

I go downstairs anytime we use water anywhere upstairs & can't see the trickle on the wall yet. We're expecting rain tonight & tomorrow.....thinking maybe it is a clogged outside drain that is allowing water to pool underground near the foundation?? Not likely, as you can see the subfloor is wet so it is definately inside the house in my opinion and not coming from under a 6' eave and uphill under a concrete porch the length of the home.

The downstairs was looking so much better with the sewing room getting organized.......now it is a shambles and damp to boot. I have a fan running and windows open so that is helping dry the cement out.

Upstairs is looking like we're moving or something......cupboards open and emptied into boxes; sitting around everywhere in the kitchen.

I hate mysteries. Especially when they involve water where it isn't supposed to be. And, of course......over a week end where I can't even start to resolve this. (way too cheap to pay week end rates when we aren't in crisis mode)

The Opposite of Frugal .......My House????

February 11th, 2007 at 06:02 am

I have always been frugal.....raised in a frugal home with 2 parents who were both raised the same way. If you needed something, you figured out how to make it. If you wanted something, you waited.....sometimes for years. You used all of everything, didn't throw much away, but recycled.......before it was a word and gave most old things new life as something else.

Spending time here at my house this week; it has really hit me. No one else in this place has an ounce of frugality in them. People use paper towels like they just magically appear on the holder (no, I'm not buying these.....but others here do). Food is bought, not always even cooked......and tossed out without a thought. Things break and no one even thinks about fixing them; it's one quick toss into the trash. (and no, we don't have trash pick up either!)

I'm still frugal......because I don't think I could sleep at night if I wasn't.
Seeing the opposite types of choices played out in front of me by so many people has me befuddled. Besides the navy gentleman, I'm the only one here that owns anything valued over a few hundred dollars. They are the ones purchasing multiple meat entrees for ONE meal. I'm the only one with en emergency fund. No one here has enough money to buy gas at the end of their pay period.

How is it that frugal is hard to learn, even when people don't have the basics? I'm so stumped. Beyond stumped.

I am getting better about keeping my mouth shut. I still FEEL like handing out free advice about a frugal lifestyle, but I don't. (that's pretty amazing all by itself, now that I think about it!)

I'll just continue opting for my re usable rags instead of paper towels, stick to my soup for dinner at least weekly and keep working on stacking up the firewood so I can be assured of a cozy home next winter. Hopefully, examples will do what lectures can't.

Holiday Thoughts

December 27th, 2006 at 02:22 am

I've been gone & haven't posted since before Christmas.......it feels like ages. I think I'm enjoying the holidays more than in the past; it could have something to do with the fact I'm not dealing with all the kids that used to live with me (and their not so healthy parents). Christmas used to be my one and only DAY OFF during the year, with no kids..........so I usually spent the day in a tired sort of haze. All the work to get the kids ready to spend time with their families, typical holiday preparations, extra events, by the 25th.........I was all used up.

This year, I was gone most of last week, staying at my moms, just "playing", doing whatever we wanted. All the prep. was done, most of the gifts were already to go.....baking; done & in the freezer and the young couple that live here were cooking the big dinner.

I prefer this new version of Christmas, hands down! Smile Most of my household limited or decided on no gifts at all.....so we could have the 'backyard people' join us for the day without them feeling guilty they didn't bring anything to the festivities. Worked out well. They were blessed with some truly useful & much needed gifts and the rest of us got to see how blessed we were in the process. Some pretty heavy stuff to take in for a holiday........ But, I think it was the most fun I've had and it certainly felt the best at the end of the day.

My only negative was not finding a gift I had ordered for my mom.......we were planning on using it for our New Years celebration .... I searched all over the place & it was nowhere! This house is not that big, I don't have that many places to put things, nor did I have to 'hide' it from anyone.......so I'm befuddled as to how this package could have walked away.
I had something else for my mom, so no one knows my slip up but me.....and the up side of all the searching is ALL my closets are cleaned and organized. (wouldn't reccomend this technique, but it did work)

Spending some time pondering life in general and more specifically my goals for '07. I have a personal tradition on New Years Eve.........I open up what I wrote last year to see how I'm doing on my goals and I add to the envelope with my plans for the coming year. Not sure how many years I've formally been doing this, but it is in the decades now. It is my favorite part of New Years Eve..... I'm not a party sort of person, hate to be on the roads that particular night, and I can write and ramble on like crazy (you already know that part, huh??) so, a formal, get it down on paper, enjoy the fire & some wine sort of night is exactly right for me.

Just Humming Along Here

December 18th, 2006 at 01:48 am

Watching the news (yes we have power!!), I'm continually reminded of all the reasons I have to be grateful here! Our power just flickered, but has been on continually.......amidst the Pacific NW storm of storms.

So many things I have that others are doing without this week........Basics like heat & food, etc plus all the other things that make life fun here. I wonder, with this huge wake up call, are people going to be getting themselves better prepared, once they get back into their homes and the power is restored? I am not putting any money on that one!

Power got restored to my moms; was out only 2 days, so she feels blessed. Invited her over here, but she is pretty well set for outages too........felt smart cooking on her wood stove! ( I think my household is just a tad too nuts for her to head this way if she has another choice!)

I feel a bit like this week has been one of those Universe Lessons ........I'm as prepared as I can get for most situations and nothing happened here on our street! Funny in a way........but what is/has happened here in WA isn't funny in the least. Reminds me of my mom telling me to always take an umbrella......then it wouldn't rain!

Prevention Saves Money Here

November 25th, 2006 at 11:16 pm

I just received my usual reminder call from my mom (used to be from my dad when he was alive), giving me the run down on all the things I should be doing for the cold snap we are expecting tonight and tomorrow night. Had some of the things done, but she pushed me into action:

I just came in from unhooking all my hoses.......even the ones from the "back yard people". So, no water for them until the thaw. Covered all the faucets & wrapped them against the lower temperatures. Too cheap to buy those insulated little cap things.....just make my own with old towels, plastic & some twine. No money out....AND, mine stay on all winter without blowing off.

Turned the lights on in the pump house, hoping to raise the temp in there a bit during the day........note to self to get a small space heater out there over night too. The Navy man has already cut & installed covers for all the windows in the building, so no need to jury rig those this time....Nice! The idea of my pump or it's parts freezing doesn't sound like a good time at all.

Will leave a slow drip of water in my faucet furthest from where the water comes into the house overnight..... Also leaving all the under sink cabinet doors open overnight, so the pipes stay warmer.

My faucets in the back are those fancy kind that have a valve or something in them, keeping the water below ground I think, so it won't freeze back there. Will double check to see that they are all closed before it gets dark here.

I think that's it. I do all these religiously, not sure which combo of them prevents my pipes from freezing....but I'm not about to mess with the program. All I need is a plumbing problem! The thought spending money to fix something I neglected to handle when I could ......makes me nuts. I'll stick with my cheap fixes; even tho folks here think I'm being obsessive. (none of them would be responsible for getting things back to normal, so they aren't nearly as interested in all this as I am)

Off to add wood to the fire & brew another cup of tea.....Going to daydream about spring and better weather!

Note to Self: Be Careful What I Write

November 13th, 2006 at 04:17 am

Wow, did I not get what I planned today!

I said yesterday (or early this AM....can't remember anymore) that I was going to take a lazy day today. The fire going, leftovers all ready for the day.......and me; knitting on my 2nd sock!

I just now got some knitting time in........and I did light the wood stove.......but the day was just as busy as ever.

Started out with sewing customers this AM and they just kept calling. Good, but not helping the knitting time! Took in the most money since starting the sewing/knitting business back up.

Drop in company.......took advantage of them & had them help me move furniture, so we're ready for Thanksgiving. (they are the ones moving back in, so they will be here for the Big Dinner) We got the Freecycle headboard moved to my room, so that meant I needed to do some real rearranging to get it in.... (think REALLY heavy......very big) Might as well clean & organize since the bed had to be moved, right? Can you see where my day was headed at this point??

And, for some reason, the planets were all alligned or something........several of my freecycle & Craigslist posts brought people out of the woodwork today, so I was busy rounding up the items & helping load pick ups! Again, nice........but hard to knit while loading trucks! Smile

So, the theme here is going to be ......no telling anyone that I plan on taking some ME time. Not ever. Smile

A Life Rule Challenged

November 1st, 2006 at 03:15 pm

I don't know about the rest of you, but I've learned to always get at least 3 bids for major purchases. (and being a home owner....it seems like I'm always either researching, getting bids or having some job done around here)

Well........I finally got motivated to call around for furnace bids. (could be the 21 degree temps around here yesterday) And, was I ever surprised. No, not by the cost of a furnace.........although I'm sure it's going to be pricey.

I couldn't get a bid on a furnace to save my soul. Actually couldn't even talk to anyone about one. I didn't get past the front desk & I really tried. Everyone I talked to charged a trip fee to come talk to me about selling me their furnace. Granted, if I bought a furnace, their trip fee would go against the total........but it goes against my grain to pay for this. And, it makes me not want to get 3 bids.

Since I've never bought a furnace before, I'm in the totally stupid phase of this project. And, getting info seems to be harder than I could imagine. I have a bit of time today to spend banging my head against this difficulty one more time.

I suppose the cost of the 3 bids might be outweighed by actually having 3 bids and choosing the least expensive option. If I just went with one company, who knows if it is the frugal choice, or the priciest one?? The whole thing goes against my grain........and what I've been taught over the years. Get 3 bids, compare/contrast, etc, then make an informed decision.

How in the world do I learn about furnaces? At this point, if I find a company that isn't going to charge me to tell me how much a furnace would cost.......I'm ready to write them a check!

In the meantime, bundling up here and keeping the wood stove a'goin!

My No Spend Philosophy

October 18th, 2006 at 02:10 am

As I was headed home from a new knitting class I've booked today........I started thinking about how today was another No Spend Day for me. That started me thinking about how that works, why it works and just how I end up living this way and not minding it at all. (I get more than a few questions from friends about my lack of spending)

I think the first thought has to be mulling over whether something is a need or a want. Those are pretty easy for me, as I am old enough I've easily got all my needs taken care of (or I should by now) and things are in the want catagory.

Once I have defined the need/want issue.....then the rest isn't as organized. I know I think hard about if I could do without whatever it is......or could I make it?........could I barter for it? Do I know someone else with one & do they still need theirs??

Obviously, I run through Craigslist and Freecycle to see if I could pick one up for the price of the drive....

And, there is the question about cost vs. payoff. Does the new item save money in the long run? Can it make me money all by itself? This is the area where I'm most likely to spend any money if I do spend.

At the end of the day; NOT spending money makes me more content than spending money. And, I haven't always been this way. I used to love shopping, clothes and things for my house........ These days I get just as jazzed with a box full of baby chicks or a van full of free downspouts!

Here's to chalking up another no spender here!!

Some People: Magnets for Bad Stuff ??

October 14th, 2006 at 06:16 pm

I heard that saying years ago from a therapist who was working with some of my kids.........he didn't explain it, other than to say it. Over the years, I've thought of the saying often and today, it's playing out here again with The Room Mate Person.

I had to let the little dog out this AM (early!!!) and noticed room mate persons vehicle wasn't in the driveway. Hmmmm
Then, saw their wallet and a traffic ticket on the counter......Hmmmm

This AM, I find the rest of the story includes totalling the truck, room mate person is OK, did spend the night in the ER, still don't know the whole chain of events....but the bad stuff just lurks behind every corner for this person.

Of course, every step of this new development will cost money. (none of it mine......directly) I know bills here will take a back seat while new transportation is acquired. Work will take a back seat to court dates & more medical appointments. So, in the long run........I take a hit or two finance wise.

I have been holding a hard line re; bills & such and this event just gives me more to work with. I will not give in. I won't help with a new vehicle. I will hold this person to the original agreement that we have on the now crunched old vehicle. (loan paid off, but money still owed to me that was used for the down payment)

I have to give credit to the magnet for Bad Stuff theory.......... I would be writing for weeks if I were to list all the negative stuff this person collects. I don't know if it's attitude, or other people this person chooses to be with or what. I've never known anyone that continually has what some term "bad luck" that lasted for decades and decades.

Since nothing I've done over the years seems to make a whit of difference as to what happens to this person.........I'm going to stick with 'doing nothing' this time. I've learned not to rush in and Fix Everything, although it is tempting. I don't have enough $$ to solve this situation; and wouldn't if I did. So, I'm an observer....... I'll try to keep my mouth shut and practice being grateful for all the positive things in my life.

A Delightful Break in Routine

September 28th, 2006 at 04:13 pm

It feels good to be home.........but I've had a 4 day break from the day to day routine here. Our little vacation was so easy, lots of fun and had the bonus of the wonderful weather Western WA is having lately.

Who knew I'd be sitting by the pool, lounging about at the end of Sept?? We actually got too warm a couple times!!

I did spend extra on gas this week, and I did pay for 2 nights accomodations, but both of those were expected expenses. I also left the deposit here for the painters. (the house has been washed and with our 0ver 80 degree days lately, I'm sure it has dried.....so painting should be commencing soon!!)

Today is a sewing day; customers lined up starting tomorrow..........so no money in or out today; but income on the horizon.

The part time recruiter job I've been doing all summer will be coming to an end on the 30th. I have been invited to submit my resume (a pretty dusty document) to the new agency that will be handling the clients for the state. The job description looks WAY more detailed, like it would be a full time affair, and no where is there a salary mentioned. Lots more travel, more meetings, more of everything..... I'm having 2nd and 3rd thoughts about even throwing my hat into the ring. I love the clients, but I love the ability to work the job around the rest of my life. Not sure I want to have my life have to work around this new job.
Need to decide quickly, as the interviews are supposed to be happening today & tomorrow.

Which brings up another point. The woman I was working for, has the director position now with the new agency. She isn't a very organized person & that has been hard for me to work with/for. Not sure if I want to step deeper into that situation.

Did hear from the agency that is interested in leasing property from me...we're setting up a meeting for next week. I have been searching out houses that would be appropriate; just to have info for the mtg. Can't reach my lender person, will try again. Interested to see if I could pull off purchasing something without selling anything; and leasing it for more than the cost of the payment, insurance & taxes as well as upkeep and repair. There will be some sort of fine line there as to how big the house is, what kind of license we can get, how much income we can generate for the size of the house, etc. Not being a math whiz, this sort of boggles my brain cells, but perhaps this is the route I need to go, not the recruiter route???

Life is such a series of questions, choices and crossroads isn't it? How I sort info, make decisions and move forward is just so interesting to me. My style has developed over the decades; I gather info and then sort of wait it out.......until something feels so right I can't NOT make a decision. I take risks, but they're well thought out risks!!! Smile

Why Is It?

September 17th, 2006 at 01:42 am

I must have signs that goes up outside here.............Interrupt NOW, the old woman is cooking dinner!

I can spend the entire day without interruption, no one calling, no one stopping in..........not even one of the many tenants here coming in for bathroom/laundry/or other amenities....

And.........BAM. The minute I toss dinner on the stove (and tonight I was grilling a kitchen full of steaks, in addition to finishing off homemade brownies and frying up garden fresh zuchini slices) everyone wanted something right then.

I have only 1 of the boys this week end, so it was quieter; but not an easy do, as this guy is mentally ill, so can be a handful. Then, let's see.......the horses all got out, the 5th wheel tenant tries to 'round them up', succeeded in just irritating the critters....I had to stop and call the horse owners and call off the wanna be cowboy outside. Then, all the horse people arrived, they came in one at a time; each for something, then at the end all at once to set up a co op pig raising operation here next spring, the Navy stopped in to give me an update on his schedule and the 5th wheel young lady came in with paperwork I needed to sign asap; as her landlord.

The steaks did get done, brownies are cooling. The 1 boy got fed. Paperwork got filled out. Horses got rounded up. Fences got mended. Wanna be cowboy got new instructions; leave the horses alone, no matter what and everyone eventually went to their own little corners of the world.

And..............I ate cold steak. Wasn't the treat I was hoping for. I'll keep my eyes open for those possible signs posted outside.......saying Interupt NOW!

Private Knitting Student Scheduled

August 28th, 2006 at 03:07 pm

Too exciting here. My ad came out in the monthly newsletter for the first time in August and I already have a private student!

This is a smallish newspaper, published monthly & mailed or handed out at local churches. I know the editor and others that were advertising using this little paper & it seemed to work for them.......and I already can tell the increase in calls here.

I'll dig in my supplies to come up with a beginner "kit" for this woman, as I don't like making new folks buy something right off the bat. My frugal genes rearing their heads here.....but if she doesn't like the craft, or is really all thumbs, no money out but my lesson fees. Makes me feel better about teaching.

Since this woman has a small kiddo, I'm meeting her at her place (usually pick a public space, but we're trying nap time at her place). I can see the universe aligning here........ Her house is on the same street as the property in the possible trade/sale deal I wrote about last week! What are the odds?? It's also in the city my antique booth is in that I need to move out of.....

So, antiques, real estate and a knitting class all rolled into one day!

I'm thinking how handy it is to know how to do many things...........and what a bonus it is if others will PAY me to teach them how to do something! Fun, fun, fun!!!