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Republic Wireless Here I Come; Staying Relevant

March 11th, 2015 at 07:36 pm

After thinking about it for a long time, I'm finally taking the leap to Republic Wireless. The time has come when a smart phone has become pretty close to a need in order to stay relevant on my job (something that I keep pushing myself to do as part of the 50-plus crowd). Since I've decided to get a smart phone, I decided this was the optimal time to switch carriers; to use Republic Wireless you have to buy a phone through them.

I just ordered the Moto e phone, and will order a protective case and SD memory card from Amazon (cheaper than buying from Republic). I'm going to start out with the $10/month plan and see how that goes.

It will be only me; DH will stick with AT&T. He makes international calls on the go, something you can't yet do with Republic. (He uses Skype when calling internationally from home or hotel, but sometimes he needs to use his phone out in the field.) He also wants to see how things work out for me with Republic. A switch may be in his future, especially if they add an international option.

Thanks to Clark Howard and SA's Tabs (aka B-something) for their feedback on Republic Wireless and other low-cost providers.

Grapefruit Season

March 3rd, 2015 at 01:44 am

DH bought a 15-lb bag of Texas red grapefruit for $3.98 today. I love grapefruit season in Texas!

What are the current seasonal deals in your neck of the woods?

Not moving ... for now

February 26th, 2015 at 01:44 am

Our house is out of the price range of the friend who was interested in buying, so we are NOT moving. Well, at least not for now.

I will admit that I am relieved.

But based on discussions DH & I had, I think a long-distance move in a few years is likely.

At least it won't be a rushed situation.

Lazy Lunch for Less Than $1.50

February 14th, 2015 at 08:24 pm

DH is out of town, which means lots of salads & sandwiches for me. I like them, and I LOVE the fact that they result in little cleanup work.

When he leaves, I buy a 6-pack of romaine hearts and other salad fixings (other veggies, tuna, dressing, etc) so that I know I can always throw together a quick salad even when I come home from work tired and not wanting to cook.

Today's lunch was salad (romaine heart + tomato + yogurt caesar dressing) plus a whole grain bread round with margarine & a nice dollop of Sarabeth's.

No protein (except for the teeny amount in the yogurt dressing) because I had a salmon patty for breakfast, I'll grab a handful of raw almonds for an afternoon snack, and I'll probably have sardines for dinner.

As you can see, I'm not a big meal planner other than to make sure I have things on hand that fit with my lazy home "cook" (or perhaps I should say little or NO cook) mindset.

Eating economical and healthy foods at home can be done without much work and with just a bit of advance planning, even if cooking is not your "thing"!

It's Official I've Lost My Mind

February 1st, 2015 at 12:26 am

After intense thinking & discussion, and a call to a RE agent, I told DH that selling the house is something I would consider.

He texted his friend and they are coming to look at the house tomorrow. Yep, tomorrow. Today has been a whirlwind of getting it at least sort-of "showing ready." Yea, 1 whole day. It's official. I have lost my mind. Big Grin

Deja Vu All Over Again?

January 31st, 2015 at 03:33 pm

We have been approached by someone who has expressed interest in buying our house. This is a serious buyer, someone DH knows, a cash buyer.

We also have a strong lead on what could be an excellent renting situation.

When we made our last move, the really big one (Seattle to Austin), I swore it would be our last one until we moved in to a condo, retirement facility, or assisted living.

Moving is such hard work. I don't think anyone likes it. But I can't let that put me off.

We did buy in one of the fastest appreciating neighborhoods in what is practically a boom town. And so once again we are faced with the opportunity to make money on our primary residence.

Our expenses would stay pretty level. Overall quality of life might decrease slightly. Financially it would probably be a big plus, with so much depending on what happens to home prices in this area going forward.

On balance there seems to be more upside than downside, but I still need to do a lot of thinking. It takes effort to stay as emotionally detached as possible and reason with the side of me that thinks "WAAAH! Moving is hard!" It's like dealing with the side of me that thinks "WAAAH! Waking up early to make sure I get to work a little early is hard! Packing my lunch every day is hard! Homemade dinners and doing the dishes every single day is hard! Working & saving & being a responsible member of society are hard!" but on a bigger scale.

So often the hard thing is the right thing.

DH is pretty sure he wants to do it. The ball really is in my court.



Home Cooking and Color

January 27th, 2015 at 12:56 am

Recently there was a post by a newer SA member who is trying to do more home cooking. It included some comments made by her children about the appearance of the food. Some of you suggested that adding fruits or veggies are a great way to brighten up a dish. I decided to post these photos of our dinner tonight as a form of encouragement to her.

There are a lot of gourmet cooks on this site (Lucky Robin, ceejay, Disney Steve, and Brooklyn Girl come immediately to mind.) I am NOT like them!

I have stated many times that I am a "lazy cook." I can do a big blow out fancy meal occasionally when the mood strikes me or I feel obligated, and I do know how to handle a knife and follow a recipe, but really I don't want to spend a ton of time in the kitchen.

But we eat at home all the time. (Thank goodness DH likes to cook.) In the last month, we went out to eat exactly once.

I decided to share some photos to show how a bit of color can perk up a dish prepared by a lazy, non-gourmet home cook like me.

This is one of our favorite winter dishes, called nikujaga. It's braised meat and potatoes with other veggies (in this case onions, carrots, and edamame ... the recipe I use calls for green peas but I had an open bag of edamame in the freezer I wanted to use up).

3 photos:
1. straight out of the pot
2. picked out the carrots & edamame (to show it without color), which messed up the bowl
3. sprinkled the carrots & edamame back on top (bowl is still messed up but it shows what it would look like with even more orange & green, or if the veggies were used as a garnish on top of a bland colored dish).

Doesn't a bit of color make a difference? Not only does it improve the nutrition of the dish, I think it looks so much more appetizing.

So, there you have it. Adding a bit of color to your home cooking, even if you're far from being a master chef, really can make a difference.

Don't give up on your efforts to cook at home!








Coming to my Safe Venting Place

January 15th, 2015 at 03:11 pm

Younique 3D mascara ... WHY???
Spend 30 bucks so you can look like you have big hairy insects stuck to your eyelids ... WHY???

And it's apparently so hot that counterfeit product is being peddled. The counterfeits are a big topic on my local community's on-line Facebook garage sale (swap) page.

GAH!

OK, I feel much better now.




Still Dancing - 2014 Year-End vs. 2013 Year-End

January 2nd, 2015 at 11:09 pm

I completed our 12/31/14 net worth statement today.
During 2014, our net worth increased 7.8%.
Non-financial assets (house & cars) now make up 15.3% of our total net worth.
For another year we lived below the crossover point.
We are still balance sheet affluent.

This may all sound like a broken record from last year ... but we are still dancing.

I hope you still feel small when you stand beside the ocean,
Whenever one door closes I hope one more opens,
Promise me that you'll give faith a fighting chance,
And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance.

Dance....I hope you dance.

2015 Look Ahead

January 2nd, 2015 at 12:35 am

Most of my financial goals aren't interesting, and many aren't new ... but here they are nonetheless.

Max out 401K, SEP-IRA, and IRA contributions: not new, not exciting, but oh-so-important to our future financial security.

Possible major expenditures:
- Re-landscaping of yard Phase 1 (I want to make it lower maintenance and lower water-consuming). We are already making plans and getting quotes. Initially I was looking at re-landscaping the entire yard but have scaled that back to a phased plan.
- New car for DH? Whenever he decides to get one, we are ready to buy. This may or may not be a 2015 purchase. For all I know our '99 Camry will keep chugging along for another 5-10 years!
- Vacation = West Coast trip to visit family? In 2014 we vacationed by car in Texas; 2015 will involve air travel.

Possible minor expenditure:
- I have been wanting to increase contributions to my niece's college fund as she gets closer to high school graduation. I need to decide if the increase will occur this year or next. (I make contributions to my niece & nephew's 529s three times a year. I will eventually increase contributions to my nephew's fund if he stays on a college track, but he is much younger than my niece.)

Some major changes or decisions that may be in the works:
- This is the year. DH needs to decide if he is going to pursue his dream or not. Much hinges on this decision, and it is all up to him. I have done what I can by making sure that the savings are in place to finance the dream should he decide to go for it.
- I am kicking around the idea of looking for a new job. There is one job I am definitely going to apply for. Not sure if I'll take it beyond that. My job is like most; some aspects of it are very good and some are not.

Hope you all are having a good start to the New Year. Last night was low key; I fell asleep on the couch long before midnight. Today we enjoyed a lovely open house party at our friends' house. I have not completed my year-end net worth statement; I will do that tomorrow.

Always Room for Improvement!

December 30th, 2014 at 02:54 pm

I thought I had gotten really good at keeping track of gift cards. I have a special little box where I keep important things, including passport, cash, and gift cards.

Well, this morning I was shredding some old receipts and I found a Starbucks gift card in with them. I checked the balance on-line and it has 87-cents left on it so I put it in my wallet in a slot where I already have another S-bux GC.

I'm not sure how that gift card ended up in the receipts box, but my guess is that I wrapped a receipt around it after a purchase. Note to self: don't do that!

Just Slightly Over 463 Weeks

December 28th, 2014 at 11:33 pm

That's how long until our target retirement date!
I don't think retirement will mean that we never work again, but it will mean "work optional." I think I'll continue to work, but whether it is volunteer work or part-time paid work or some combination of both is TBD.

Austin ranked #3 on the most recent "top 25 places to retire" list from Forbes and was one of the bigger cities on the list. We like it here. So relocating after retirement may not be something that we even need to think about. We envision some day moving to a condo, and that would be the logical time to think about whether we want to stay in Austin or relocate. Because it is a single-story, our current home should be fine for at least the first several years of retirement and maybe longer.

Black Friday

November 29th, 2014 at 03:31 am

We got our Target gift cards at a 10% discount this morning. Smile

I thought that would be our only Black Friday shopping but DH went to Dick's and purchased a dozen golf balls for $5. Excellent deal on something he buys regularly! These balls aren't one of his preferred brands, but he'll save them for times when the odds of losing a ball to a water hazard is high.

Happy Thanksgiving

November 27th, 2014 at 02:21 am

Garlic bulbs have been roasted.
Cornbread has been baked.
Rice is cooking.

Tomorrow I'll prepare quick buttermilk whole wheat bread, Low Country Stuffing, and succotash and then we'll head over to the neighbors for dinner. I'm going to teach their son how to make homemade butter (shake whipping cream in a jar), and will take their sweet dog for a walk after dinner.

I have a big service project I'm working on that I hope to wrap up by the end of the day on Saturday. (I'll spend most of the day Friday & Saturday working on that, in addition to a couple hours tonight and tomorrow.)

I'll get up early on Friday to get the Target Black Friday gift cards, but that is the only shopping I plan to do.

Life is good.
Hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

401K Decisions and other Tidbits

November 21st, 2014 at 10:40 pm

I've decided not to make any changes to my 401k contribution percentage next year. The deciding factor is my marginal tax rate. The tax savings make it worthwhile to continue to contribute the maximum my plan allows even though my investment options could be better.

I'm still able to max my IRA contributions. (If I weren't I'd put less in the 401k and prioritize the IRAs.)

I'm also not making any changes to my 401k investment choices. I'm glad that the decisions have been made and I can stop thinking about them.

I went ahead and rebalanced my account; it was unbalanced by only 1% (had already rebalanced once earlier in the year) but since I was already poking around in it and it's as easy as a couple computer clicks, I just went ahead.

In other financial news, I finally found a bank bonus deal worth pursuing (they have been few and far between this year). Found it on the ever-reliable DepositAccounts.com web site.

And we're all set for our final weekend getaway of the year! I've already "warned" DH that I plan to treat myself to a bottle of beer when we go out for dinner ... A treat I have been looking forward to as I plowed through my most recent work assignment. Smile Even with that splurge, I'm pretty sure we will come in under our vacation budget for the year.

I really need to change my sub-category and stop calling it "Intelligent"(???) Investing because there's no reason to apologize for our conservative investing style. It works for us, we are ahead of schedule with our retirement savings, the funds are there to finance DH's dream if he decides to pursue it, and perhaps most important we don't shift course depending on the way the financial winds are blowing. We have a strategy that allows us to "stay on target ... stay on target" (that's for my fellow Star Wars fans).

P.S. - I think I forgot to mention that awhile back DH gave me the go-ahead to purchase an additional bit of Series EE Savings Bonds. A friend approached us about doing a private mortgage for a home he was purchasing; while we decided not to do the mortgage in the course of the conversation I asked DH why he would consider a 30-year mortgage but say that holding a bond for 20 years was "too long." Also, I think that he is feeling much more optimistic about his life expectancy since he had the minor medical procedure. Silly guy.

Open Enrollment Season

November 12th, 2014 at 04:17 am

My out-of-pocket (well, actually it's out-of-paycheck) for medical/dental/vision insurance for DH & I will increase 6.5% in 2015, which is right in the ballpark of what I was expecting.

I have not yet decided if I am going to adjust my 401K contribution, but I will probably keep it unchanged. While I'm not thrilled with my investment options within the 401K, I already max out IRA savings so a reduction in 401K contributions would mean more post-tax savings. The tax savings is probably enough to stay the course with the 401K ...

P.S. - Oh my goodness, I have read and listened to so many books since I last updated my sidebar!

Halloween Sure is Fun

November 1st, 2014 at 05:44 pm

We potlucked out on the sidewalk with neighbors. That has become an annual tradition. It's low-key with good but not fancy food, so no one spends any more than they normally would for dinner, and we really have fun.

I spent $22 on treats. We had about 120 kids come by. There is nothing left over. I ate exactly ONE treat. Big Grin



More Updates - Mostly Financial

September 9th, 2014 at 04:40 pm

1. Will: After calling several law offices, I surprised myself by deciding to stick with the DIY Will I prepared several years ago. Our situation is not at all complex (only one marriage for both of us, no children, estate taxes not a concern) and the cost of having an attorney prepare a will was just so high. I reviewed our current Will and it doesn't even need updating. It is our "Letter of Instructions" that really needs to be updated because account info is out of date.

2. Switching Primary Banks: The switch is finished! It was a multi-step process that took quite a bit of time. The final step was waiting (and waiting and waiting) for one last payment to clear our old bank account so I could close it.

3. Dearth of Bank Account Bonuses or Great CD Rates: It has been almost 6 months since I last opened a new account for a bonus or got a new CD. (We aren't eligible for the Navy Federal CU 5% 1-year CD.) Oh, well, I'll keep trolling the DepositAccounts.com blog, watching and waiting for the next appealing promo. Our cash reserves are averaging a tad over 2.5% in interest so I won't complain.

4. Medical: DH is scheduled for a procedure. Including pre-pay of our share of some of the costs and OTC medication purchases we are just under $400 out-of-pocket so far and there will be a few hundred more when all is said and done. I couldn't care less about the money spent on this. This is why we have saved, so we can take expenses like this in stride. At our age, we just expect increased medical expenditures. I'll take a healthy husband over anything else money could be spent on any day! I did print out some coupons at home that resulted in $1.75 savings when I went out to buy the OTC meds. Wink

5. Eventual Automobile Purchase: Our '99 Camry has over 160K miles. We have known for awhile that if it ever needed major (thousands of dollars) repairs we'd just replace it instead of fixing. I talked to DH and suggested that we go ahead and replace it IF we can find a super bargain on a new car. That way, we wouldn't necessarily be in a "must buy" situation. I crunched some numbers and came up with a maximum amount to spend on the next car (DH agreed). We'll pay cash. Who knows when we will actually buy ... it will depend on either finding an awesome deal or having our Camry go kaput, but either way we are ready. I'm leaving it up to DH to do the bargain shopping, since this will be the vehicle he drives and he enjoys car shopping much more than I do. He thinks there may be some deals in December. We'll see. I can't help but wonder if this will be our final "second car" purchase? When we retire we'll go back to having just one car, and even though retirement isn't imminent, we do keep our cars for a pretty long time.

6. CFP Consult: It has been 4 years since we last consulted a CFP. Where does the time go? I guess I should schedule a "checkup." I don't expect it to result in any changes in our investments or level of savings, but it's still couldn't hurt to get a reality check from a professional.

7. 401K Investment Options: I've stated before that I'm not thrilled with the investment options in my company's 401K. They aren't terrible (as far as I know), but they aren't the best either, and the so-called "Stable Value Fund" is completely opaque so I really don't know how good or bad it is. I'm thinking of composing an Email to the VP in charge of benefits stating my opinion and politely suggesting an alternative. Hah! I sure have gotten opinionated an unafraid of speaking up now that I'm in my 50's. But really, what's the worst that could happen? Have any of you ever done anything like that? How was it received?

Current Financial Doings

August 23rd, 2014 at 05:24 pm

This is what I'm currently working on in my financial life:

1. Changing Primary Bank: Remember the old Neil Sedaka song (They say that breakin' up is hard to do, now I know I know that it's true ...)? "Conscious uncoupling" with your primary bank is definitely not easy in this age of automatic deposits and payments, and linked accounts. I freely admit to being a rate chaser who changes banks easily, but that has been true only of my secondary banks not my primary (local) bank. I should have broken up with my primary bank about 2 years ago when the interest rate they pay dropped significantly (following a merger). But I held on because: there wasn't a better alternative, and I knew it would be difficult. Now I HAVE found a good alternative, so the process of getting everything switched over to the new bank has begun. The list is pretty long.

2. New Estate Planning Documents: In 2009 when I did our wills DH & I had some "discussions" about whether to use an attorney or DIY. The compromise we agreed on was that I would DIY (DH's preference) if he would agree that we would hire an attorney to prepare documents (my preference) after we turned 50. Our 50th birthdays have come and gone. I got recommendations for attorneys in our area, left a message with one, and am expecting a call back on Monday.

3. Researching Cell Phone Plans: Our AT&T contract is expiring. I'm researching plans. Unless there is a compelling reason for us to use the same provider, I may go with Republic Wireless for me and another provider for DH who makes a lot of international calls. Do any of you who make international calls from your cell phones have recommendations?

2014 Vacation Budget

August 19th, 2014 at 05:51 pm

I've decided our vacation budget for the year: $600 plus mileage. We already spent $375 during 3 days & 2 nights in Dallas. We plan to make two more overnight trips: Houston and Corpus Christi (2 days and 1 night each). Those trips will be less expensive than Dallas. We have earned a free hotel stay that we will use in Houston, and we will spend less on food. (The Dallas trip included meals at several nice restaurants that serve DH's native cuisine.)

Millionaire Teacher by Andrew Hallam (Book Review)

August 9th, 2014 at 08:32 pm

"Millionaire Teacher: The Nine Rules of Wealth You Should Have Learned in School" by Andrew Hallam (2011)

This is an EXCELLENT beginner personal finance and investing book, written by a private school teacher who built a million dollar investment portfolio on a teacher's salary. His advice is down to earth and sensible (spend less than you earn, start investing early, invest in low-fee index funds, resist the sales pitches from financial planner salespeople, etc.) What I especially liked was the way concepts were explained intelligently, clearly (in plain English), and with humor. He uses an analogy that compares the stock market to a dog on a leash that helped me understand stocks even more clearly than before. Of special note for our non-American friends is a chapter devoted to investing if you live in Canada, Singapore, or Australia. This is my new favorite basic PF book. I wish my niece were old enough to read it, but at 13 she's probably still a little young. Big Grin

To give you some idea of just how credible this book is:
- The blurbs on the book jacket recommending the book include those written by Burton Malkiel, Scott Burns, William Bernstein, etc.
- The authors he quotes in his book include Thomas Stanley, John Bogle, Larry Swedroe, Burton Malkiel, Daniel Solin, etc.
He's in pretty good company.

This book is worth a read (check your local library, which is where I got the copy I read over 2 days) and would make an excellent gift for a college student or grad.

Just Been Busy

June 8th, 2014 at 04:05 pm

I've been busy, working 65+ hours a week. The overtime is nice but I am tired. DH had been handling most of the household duties, but now he is on an extended business trip. Today is my one day off this week, and my plan is to not even leave the house. Laundry, cleaning, and doing a bit of paperwork for DH's business are the plans for the day. Oh, and I need to line up someone to mow the lawn while DH is away. I like to have a "feed my soul" activity on days off when they are few and far between (long walk, trip to a park, paint my toenails, whatever), but today I may need to settle for having clean laundry and a semi-clean house. A soak in the tub sounds nice too ... but I don't want to have to deal with cleaning the tub afterwards! Smile

I am at the age and point in life where I am seriously starting to think about hiring a housekeeper to come in once a month. That could definitely be worked in to the budget without jeopardizing our other goals.

"You're Welcome!"

April 14th, 2014 at 02:18 pm

I just wrote the check for our first estimated tax payment of 2014, and will walk it to the mailbox soon.

As always, after filling in all of the other required info on the memo line, I wrote in the words "You're Welcome!"

And now I am going to do what has become an annual tradition for me on Tax Day. (I know it's only the 14th but I'm off work today so this is my personal Tax Day.) I'm heading over to YouTube to listen to Aaron Copeland's "Fanfare for the Common Man."

Is there a public service you like and benefit from? Don't thank the politicians. It is WE THE PEOPLE, those of us who pay every single legally required penny of our taxes, who foot the bill for the services, infrastructure, etc. enjoyed in this far-from-perfect-but-really-pretty-good country.

So ... THANK YOU ... and, YOU'RE WELCOME!

Little Bonuses

March 31st, 2014 at 12:10 am

On Friday my employer made an "annual bonus" contribution to my 401K.

Today I made some on-line payments using a new bank account. Those payments were the final requirements for receiving a $125 new account bonus, and I'm looking forward to receiving the bonus in a couple months.

The money in the 401K will stay there until retirement, and the bank account bonus will stay in savings.

One day at a time ... one dollar at a time ... the goal of a financially secure retirement is in sight.

Scheduled a Weekend "Salon" Appointment

March 22nd, 2014 at 12:35 pm

Me: "Will you trim my hair this weekend?"
DH: "Sure!"

"Salon" appointment has been scheduled!

And this morning we went to the "gym" (dropped him off at the driving range and I took a 50-min walk along along a lovely tree-lined street while he hit golf balls) and then went to a couple "entertainment megaplexes" (the public library where we read the paper and I got some DVDs, and then to a meet & greet to visit some adoptable dogs).

Such a lovely, low-key yet fun & frugal start to the weekend. Perfect after a rather hectic week at work (busy season has begun).

I have never been able to understand when people say that they want to save but not at the expense of enjoying life now. I say it's possible to do both!

Time to Warm Up My Check Writing Hand

March 15th, 2014 at 03:56 pm

I finished our taxes a couple weekends ago. We owe. That's perfectly OK. Since our number one source of income is my husband's business, our income and therefore our taxes fluctuate. We pay estimated taxes based on prior year earnings, and pay no interest or penalties. We don't spend based on what we make (which varies quite a bit); we spend at a sustainable level and save fairly aggressively. We have the money to pay what we owe (it's only a portion of what we earned after all). Owing means DH's business made more money in 2013 than in 2012, so of course owing is A-OK.

We wait until we have finished our taxes to contribute to our tax-deferred retirement accounts (the exception being my 401K contributions through my employer), again because of income fluctuations and eligibility variations. I know most people like to contribute over the course of the year, because that is what makes sense for them. Our approach works for us.

As soon as I finished our taxes (using Turbo Tax Home & Business on-line through Vanguard's site for the discount) I scheduled our tax payment by electronic transfer close to the due date. How nice that you can finish your taxes and arrange the payment but not actually have to pay until the due date! Then I ordered the transfer of funds from on-line savings to our local (check-writing) account.

This weekend I'll be writing checks, lots of checks, for: DH's SEP IRA contribution, my itsy bitsy SEP IRA contribution (not done for years but can do for 2013 thanks to eBay sales), my Roth IRA contribution, and DH's Roth IRA contribution including catch-up. Also my niece's B-Day is coming up so I'll send a check off for her college fund.

In mid-April I'll mail off our first 2014 estimated tax payment.

Lots of checks!!!

This weekend I'll also do my brother's taxes. I usually do his before ours but this year he was slow getting his W-2 to me.

And I've made a decision about my catch-up contribution for 2014. A little change of plans. I won't be making it to my 401K but to my Roth, since I prefer the funds I have selected for myself at Vanguard over the funds selected by my employer and available through my 401K.

Onward ...

Green Onion Re-Growing Success

March 3rd, 2014 at 04:55 pm

I took another stab at re-growing green onions in a cup with water after reading the information again and figuring out what I had done wrong the first time. My mistake was treating them too delicately,like herbs (cutting off a green stalk here & there).

Instead, what I needed to do was just whack the entire thing off near the top of the white portion, and then place the root end in a cup with a bit of water. Voila - regrowth starts right away.

Where we live green onions are 68-cents a bunch which I think is really expensive for something that yields just a handful of garnish. Yes, they are tasty and have nutritional value, and there are some dishes (like noodle soup) that they really elevate, but you can get much more nutritional bang for your buck buying other veggies so we very rarely bought them. Now they are back on the menu! As you can see, all the space you need is enough for a glass or two. We decided to go with 2 bunches so we'd always have plenty grown out on hand.



P.S. - I've heard that they lose flavor after a couple re-growths, but still this is a way to stretch a bunch 2-3 times over.

27 Day Food & Beverage Budget - Final

February 13th, 2014 at 11:00 pm

Days 1-26 I spent $105.13 on groceries and $23.82 on eating out. During my brother's visit he treated me once and I treated him once. And ... sigh ... I did stop one evening on my way home & buy a sandwich for dinner (tsk, tsk).

DH is coming home tonight so I did my big "stock back up" grocery shopping trip. I had $46.05 remaining in my budget of $175 but only spent $34.89. I have $11.16 left over. I had planned to buy some seafood but did not. I wasn't happy with what the store had (some of the fish looked fine but was very expensive). I'll buy fish the next time I go to Costco. I still have several cans of sardines in the pantry, so we aren't without seafood.

I did manage to get a $4 wine; that was the last thing to go in the cart. Had to make sure I wasn't over budget before buying that little luxury.

I stopped off and picked up 2 free pastries on my way to the grocery store. The restaurant where brother treated me to breakfast had a survey link on the receipt that I could complete to get a code for the free pastries. Now DH & I will have a Valentine's Day morning breakfast treat.

A couple things I learned during the past 27 days:
- My main grocery store does NOT offer case price discounts (because I was more focused on food prices than usual, I thought to call them and ask).
- Re-sprouting green onions in a glass of water did NOT work very well for me. The little half-developed green shoots that were already there when I bought them did grow, but nothing new came out. I don't know if it is because the green onions had been refrigerated, or because my house is cool since it's winter. I may try again in the summer when it's warmer and if I get some never-refrigerated green onions from the farmer's market. Although this was not a success at least I TRIED something new to stretch my food dollars, spurred on by focusing more on food prices than usual.

Valentine's Day Gifts - New York's 529 College Savings Program

February 3rd, 2014 at 05:40 pm

Today I'm mailing off Valentine's Day gifts to my niece & nephew. They are getting $1 cards, a second-hand book in very good condition to share, and small contributions to their New York 529 College Savings plans. Every year I send a small token gift for them to open, but the main gift is the college fund contributions. I do the same for Christmas and for their birthdays.

My sister used to have Coverdell accounts for them, but last year switched to NY's 529 plan. I think it was a great decision because the investment options are all with Vanguard (I'm a fan). Also, now instead of sending a check to my sister that she has to deposit and then mail money in to the investment company, I can now make contributions directly to the 529s. I print out a coupon and mail it in with a check to UGift. I can also print out a little gift certificate that I mail to my niece & nephew. I never had any concerns sending to the money to my sister, but for anyone who wants to know that the money will go to the intended recipients for college it's a nice assurance. Also, it makes things easier on my sister who is busy with her job & children.

That is the only spending I'll be doing for Valentine's Day.

My husband usually buys a nice box of chocolate for me after they go on clearance after Valentine's Day.

FREE Online Jazz Appreciation Course from UT Austin

January 22nd, 2014 at 05:54 pm

Here is the link: https://www.edx.org/course/utaustinx/utaustinx-ut-8-01x-jazz...

I've started the course and am enjoying it so far. They mix in real music so it's not just words and lecturing.

I really enjoy jazz music (own several CDs), watched the Kens Burns series on PBS, etc, but am excited to learn more.

If you decide to give it a try, you may be concerned when you read the part that says you will be required to take a web cam photo of yourself and send it together with a copy of your ID. Rest assured. I was NOT required to do that to complete my registration.


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