Sunday, October 31, 2010

Life on the streets. What's your opinion?

During my daily travels I have witnessed a couple things on the streets: 

Scenario 1.  There is a large plant nursery where every morning men congregate hoping for the chance to find work for the day.  If a person or business needs casual labor, especially manual labor, they stop and pick up enough men for the job.  I'm sure that these are under the table income jobs with no guarantees or benefits.

Scenario 2.  At the bus stops, parking lots, and corners there are those with signs asking for donations.  The sign may describe "jobless", "veteran", "3 kids", etc.  You've probably seen them.  People pull over and hand them a dollar, change, food, or whatever.  Some are more direct and walk up and ask for a cigarette or money.  They also seem to be the same people everyday in the same places. 

The situations cause me to pause but I don't have a definite opinion or answer even for myself but wanted to share a couple of thoughts and observations about those who seem to have hit the bottom of the economic ladder.  Here are some random thoughts and questions I have each time I am confronted with the situation:

Thursday, October 28, 2010

You'll get paid when I do - Excerpt from In the Trenches

So far in my adult life no one has offered to pay me to do my own housekeeping, the laundry, or wash my car. I keep asking but so far no takers. What’s worse yet is that most of the time I am cleaning someone else’s mess and not my own.  So why do we pay our kids to do these things and call it an allowance. What’s worse is that we have to nag them and remind them to do it and often have to finish it up to do it right.
Here’s another angle. We all live here, and we all work. We all eat here, so we work. We all sleep here, so we work. Sound harsh? Practice it out loud until you can say it confidently to your five year old or your fifteen year old.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The Ant and the Grasshopper

It can be frustrating when you feel like you are the only person in the home that is concerned about frugal living and preparing for a more stable future.  It is like the ant and the grasshopper.  The ant worked diligently while the grasshopper whiled away in the sunshine.  It would have been easy and even justifiable for the ant to resent the grasshopper but knowing that winter was coming it was more important to continue the work of preparation.

A food storage program is a good place to start.  Especially with the harvest coming in and winter coming on it is the traditional time of year to set something aside for the lean times.  Most of us have come to depend on the grocery store so much that we forget about the seasons of nature and take for granted that the trucks that bring our food will just keep coming.  All it takes is a storm warning to see how quickly grocery store shelves can be emptied.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Back to work - on the bus

It's almost been a year since I have had a car!  I didn't make any big Green decision to go without a's what happened:  I had been driving a nice emerald green Volvo station wagon.  It needed some work and there was no one in our rural community that could do the job.  I had made temporary arrangements to car pool and it worked out so well it stuck.  Then I moved and left the car in safe storage.  Not being the highest priority I decided to see how long I could go without it.  Admittedly, sometimes it is annoying to not have a car but overall when I think about maintenance, insurance, and gas it is a choice I decide to put off daily.  I have done much more staying home, and more walking.  I needed to be doing the walking anyway so it's maybe a little of personal tough love.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

what-you-should-expect-from-social-security: Personal Finance News from Yahoo! Finance

what-you-should-expect-from-social-security: Personal Finance News from Yahoo! Finance

There is nothing new about this news but it will take a while for the information to travel around the block. These predictions based on mathematical calculations have been around at least for the last 20 years but are getting more attention as the time draws closer.

I don't know about you but I don't want to work until I'm 70 or 68. That being the case, retirement needs to be of important consideration and planning. Sounds like the perfect opportunity to remind everyone again about the book just released by Jacob Fisker called Early Retirement Extreme. Hot off the presses and available through or his web site. Jacob will tell you what adjustments can be made now to prepare to retire early.  He should know because by implementing his plan he has already become semi-retired at age 34.  Read his story here on his site and get an idea of the flavor of his unique but very practical approach to finances.  To get a brief overview of what a transition toward early retirement may mean to you take a look at his 21 day makeover listed in the left sidebar.

While others are worried about the inevitable, by taking some positive and specific steps retirement may not be as far away as you think.

Another article you may find helpful from The Simple Dollar.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Book Review Weekend Entrepreneur 101 Great Ways to Earn Extra Money

The first step to any new venture is to have a good idea.  Weekend Entrepreneur - 101 Great Ways to Earn Extra Cash is an excellent place to start if you are contemplating where you can make some extra cash or start your own business.  The authors are Michelle Anton and Jennifer Basye Sander.

There are two things I really like about this book:
1.  The emphasis is on building an extra cash source that is compatible with your family structure and your interests.  This may seem like a small thing but most careers and businesses tend to put children and family on the back burner.  This book puts family first and the business works around that.
2.  The business ideas are based on a start slowly, start small basis so that you can learn and pay as you go.  This obviously is different than the dream big, borrow big, and hope you don't go bankrupt approach that is very popular.  Many of the ideas in the book require zero to $500 to begin. 

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Cut your grocery bill with these 8 healthy ingredients for $1 on Shine

Cut your grocery bill with these 8 healthy ingredients for $1 on Shine

The thing I like best about this article is the reminder that we can save money on our food bill and it can taste delicious. With the cooler weather and shorter days coming on it's a good time to think about comfort foods - soups, stews, and chili. All these can be made very affordable and bring the family together for a hot meal. Combine it with a salad and french or corn bread for a evening to relax and enjoy being at home. Another benefit of these meals is for the family on the go. They simmer well on the stove so people can grab a bowl as they are coming in. Don't be afraid to experiment. Some of my best soups have been made by rummaging around the frig and throwing in something extra. Did you know that radishes taste good in almost every soup?

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Back to work wardrobe on a budget

It's Friday afternoon and the phone rings.  "Can you start Monday?"  If you are a woman what's the first thing you might do after graciously accepting?  Run to the closet of course and exclaiming "I haven't a thing to wear!"  Okay two days to get a wardrobe together!  Ahhh.....

Recently I had this experience and it came after working in a strictly casual environment for years.  I hadn't been shopping in such a long time and my closet only contained some mismatched, no longer fits clothing and I had two days to put together a "BUSINESS CASUAL" wardrobe.  And, it had to be done on a limited budget!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Johnny Appleseed

John Chapman was not yet 2 years old when his mother died during childbirth with her third child.  His father remarried and he and his second wife had 10 more children.  This family of fourteen lived in a poor small home.  His father worked three jobs to support them all.  John spent much time outdoors exploring the country just to get away from the too crowded home.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Success Stories Round-up 2

It's been a busy week of  new challenges, learning, and schedules.  Ever notice that it is sometimes the littlest things that throw us off?  Things like the shower order changing or running out of coffee can throw the whole day out of whack!  But then we are able to say TGIF!  The weekend is almost here and it's a good time for another success story roundup.  Hope you are all working and moving toward your goals and soon we can add your story to the list of those who have been successful in reaching the finish line of your race.   Just remember life is not always a sprint,  sometimes it's a cross country marathon. 

These inspirational and educational stories are featured from some blogs I have not yet put up so I hope you will look around and say hi to the writers.  I'm sure they will be very happy for the visit.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

In The Trenches

I was recently talking to my son about his military experience.  He told the story of a 25 mile walk he had to take in full gear.  Not too far into the walk he stepped on a rock and sprained his ankle.  He told the drill instructor and he was ordered "Keep walking, soldier".  So he continued to walk.  Farther down the road he twisted the other ankle and sprained it also.  He struggled the remaining distance and finished the walk in great pain and with an endurance he had thus far not had to call upon within himself.  When the walk was done he pulled off his boots and found that both ankles were completely black.  He commented that it was this walk that has encouraged him to "keep walking" in other challenging situations in his life.  He has learned that with one step at a time he will get to where he's going despite the pain.

In The Trenches is not merely about trying to save a few dollars.  It is about Financial Survival when the times are tough and the choices are hard.  If you are having a tough time keep going.  That is the only way to make it to your destination.

And, if you know a soldier please remember to thank him or her for their service.  Our freedom and safety comes at a price.
Thought for the day:  Don't ask that someone would lighten your load, rather, ask that you would be strong enough to bear it.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

An Apple a Day

I have four apple trees on my place.  I can't tell you how much I have learned about life over the years while pruning my apple trees.  Part of the life lessons were inspired by the movie Baby Boom. I made as much applesauce as we could eat.  Have you seen the movie?  It's a good one to watch while you are In The Trenches.  Diane Keaton is a corporate mogul who inherits a baby and boy does her life change when she moves from her high paying job to a big very old home in New England.  If you are out of ideas and enthusiasm it is a must see.

I could probably write a series just on apples.  Just thinking about them I think of Johnny Appleseed, canning, pies, pruning, pregnancy cravings, my favorite varieties, and they are the one thing I was allowed to throw from the car window when I was a kid.  That was before we had the word bio-degradable but the idea was to plant a tree along the highway.

Excerpt from In The Trenches - Financial Survival During Times of Hardship:

The fruit of our labor

Every year I prune the apple trees. Fruit bearing branches are trimmed back. Branches too close together are taken out. Each and every twig and branch is looked at and trimmed in one way or another once a decision is made. If I let it go for a year the work is so much harder because the branches that need to be trimmed are much bigger around. Usually because of time constraints and energy levels I can’t trim them all at once. I just do a little at a time, step back and look at it, then go at it again a couple days later. The whole process usually lasts a month. Most of the time I am actually up in the tree stepping out on the branches and working my way out as far as I can until the branch feels shakier than I feel comfortable with. I really feel like a monkey while I’m doing it. The rest of the time I am on a ladder. Often on the top step on tiptoe. I am very careful and have never fallen but each year I know that it is a possibility.

So what does that have to do with finances? Everything.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

More about American Housing

Shawn from Watson Inc had some questions about my last post so I did some more digging.  What I found is the the U.S. Census does a housing survey every two years.  This is not a complete survey but one of those partial surveys multiplied to respresent the entire nation.  That is an important note because the averages may not be exact to each community or state but should relate to the entire country.  Here are some of the numbers I found interesting:



Multi year reports.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Credit Card Roundup

My motto on credit cards is simple:  Cut them up and pay them off.  The concept is so straight forward that I don't spend much time writing about it.  Recognizing that many others are in the process of either paying off these debts or still developing their own personal financial strategies I have included these links that I have found to be informative and thought provoking.  Please don't forget the comments as they are often a valuable source of stating the pros and cons of any given topic.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Financial Survival Strategy 143

When we are In The Trenches the battle may seem long and weary.  Bills pile up, creditors begin to call, and the car breaks down.  The mental fatigue of the battle can be exhausting. 

I have listed this strategy as number 143 because it is often so far down the list that we don't often use it.  The power of this weapon is tremendous but often our last resort. 

Monday, October 4, 2010

What's holding you back from reaching your financial goals?

Remember the ATeam?  They could fix any situation or threat with a rubber band and a piece of chewing gum.  They entered the homes of America each week with their flashy jewelry, outrageous plots, and never fail, can do attitudes.  As bizarre as they seemed we watched, laughed, and were encouraged.

What's holding you back?

Friday, October 1, 2010

Food Roundup

Of all budget items food is the most flexible.  It can make you or break you.  It is one of the few catagories that you can control in many ways: