Monday, February 23, 2015

Goals for the Week

Last week's progress:

1.  Stay on track with daily Bible reading.  done
2.  Stay on track with both BSF and Beth Moore homework.  1 day behind
3.  Find an indoor shooting range for DS' day out on his break.  done; found a place in Columbus
4.  Finish "The Third Target" and start "God, Guns, Grits, and Gravy."  Still reading "The Third Target"
5.  Look into another credit card transfer with a 0% interested rate for Visa.  done; will transfer after MC payoff clears
6.  Continue to work on expectations for when DS moves home after graduating in May.  in progress
7.  Discuss taxes and tax preparation for 2015 return with DD when she comes home later this week (February's life lesson).   done
8.  Keep grocery budget under $150 for this week's shopping trip.  I'll be stocking up in anticipation of 2 weeks of hungry college students being home.  spent $145

Because I will have one or both kids home this week and next, I'm simplifying my goals:
1.  Stay on track with daily Bible reading.
2.  Catch up and stay on track with both BSF and Beth Moore homework.
3.  Inexpensive day out with DD.  She wants to go to Ikea in Cincinnati, and I'm allowing myself a $10 budget there.
4.  Finish "The Third Target."
5.  Make payment on MC.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Project Pinterest - Cinnamon Rolls

I'm trying to make a Pinterest project every month, just a small way of doing something different, learning something, perhaps trying to save a few pennies along the way.  Last month I made a chocolate cake but due to some substitutions thanks to my pantry challenge, it didn't turn out well at all.  It was horrible in fact, and not even turning it into a parfait or adding lots of whipped cream or ice cream would have saved it.

So this month I decided to try cinnamon rolls.  I have a recipe from the grandmother of a very dear friend, which is wonderful, but it takes for.ev.er. to make due to all the rising of the dough and punching it down and letting it rise again.  So I turned to Pinterest to find something a little quicker.  I looked at several and decided to try this recipe on Outnumbered's blog.  It turned out pretty good.  :-)


I cut the recipe in half, but it still made 14 huge rolls.  The author says she can make these in an hour, and it took me closer to 2 hours.  The first cookie sheet of rolls went in for 12 minutes and came out a little darker than I would have liked, so I cut the bake time to 11 minutes for the second sheet, and these look much better.  After taste-testing one from each sheet, I put 8 rolls in the freezer, took several to my father-in-law and left 2 covered in plastic on the counter.  The one I had this morning tasted just as fresh and not dried out like canned rolls can get. I didn't do a cost analysis to see if they are cheaper than canned rolls, but I would have to imagine they are.  They are definitely bigger and made more in quantity.  They tasted better too.  

This is definitely a keeper, and I'm anxious to see how they heat up after being frozen.  I'm sure my kids will be happy to help figure that out.  :-)

Monday, February 16, 2015

Goals for This Week

I made good progress last week!  Hopefully I can keep the momentum going.

1.  Stay on track with daily Bible reading.  Done
2.  Stay on track with both BSF and Beth Moore.  Done
3.  Make cinnamon rolls from Pinterest.  Done
4.  Finish "The Third Target" and start Mike Huckabee's "God, Guns, Grits, and Gravy."  Still reading "The Third Target"
5.  Finalize taxes and budget refund.  Done
6.  Start working on expectations for when DS moves home after graduating in May.  Started; in progress
7.  Make meal plan for the kids' upcoming spring breaks.  DD comes home first, then DS; they overlap about 48 hours.  Done

Goals for this week:
1.  Stay on track with daily Bible reading.
2.  Stay on track with both BSF and Beth Moore homework.
3.  Find an indoor shooting range for DS' day out on his break.
4.  Finish "The Third Target" and start "God, Guns, Grits, and Gravy."
5.  Look into another credit card transfer with a 0% interested rate for Visa.
6.  Continue to work on expectations for when DS moves home after graduating in May.
7.  Discuss taxes and tax preparation for 2015 return with DD when she comes home later this week (February's life lesson).  
8.  Keep grocery budget under $150 for this week's shopping trip.  I'll be stocking up in anticipation of 2 weeks of hungry college students being home.  

Friday, February 13, 2015

The Prize Winner of (Insert Your City Here)

I just finished reading "The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio."  A true story, a woman in Defiance, Ohio, kept her household of 12 running by winning prizes in writing skill contests and submitting poems and short stories back in the 1950s and 1960s.  Her husband was an alcoholic, and the more she won, the more he drank.  This was the time in American when companies would sponsor a "complete the sentence" or "write a slogan" contest for their new products, of course requiring you to send in a proof of purchase for each entry, but in return offering cars, trips, appliances, bikes, etc., as prizes.  This book perked my interest for several reasons, the first being that I spent the majority of my youth less than an hour away from Defiance and shopped at the mall that was just being built at the end of the book.  The second is that I like to enter contests too and have won several.

The contests available now are different from coming up with a new slogan for your favorite ink pen or finishing a limerick from a new frozen food company.  Most of the contests I enter are from my favorite bloggers and are limited to either filling out the roboform or making a comment on a blog posting or Pinterest pin.  And while I don't need my wins to keep my family from going without food or necessities, it is nice to win something I have wanted but couldn't afford.  A Little Green Machine cleaner.  A Brita pitcher with filters.  Amazon and Starbucks gift cards.  CDs.  Books.  A suitcase.  I even won 3 trees one year in a local town's Friday night spring celebration!  And those are the things that come to mind right now, not an inclusive list.

How do you start?  You start by watching the blogs you already read.  And then when a giveaway is announced, you follow the rules to enter.  Pretty easy.  :-)  MoneySavingMom and The Finer Things in Life are two of my favorites blogs that also sponsor giveaways frequently.  Yes, there might be hundreds of entries, but someone has to win.  I've also started following publishers and authors on Twitter, and have won several books through Twitter-only giveaways.  I don't enter everything - if I'm not going to use it either myself or as a gift, or if I don't know someone who needs it, then I don't enter.  One, I don't need any more clutter than I already have. :-)  And two, I don't want to take away from someone who really does need or want the giveaway.  If the rules require that I follow 12 different bloggers on Facebook and/or Twitter and/or Instragram, etc., then I won't enter either.  I don't want the social medial clutter any more than I do the physical!  haha  And I rarely buy raffle tickets just for the prize.  If I'm buying tickets, I consider it a donation to the sponsoring group, and if by chance I win, then it's a bonus.  (Yes, I won a quilt this way.  I had even forgotten I had bought the tickets when they called to tell me I was the winner!)

Everyone loves to be a prize winner, but you have to enter first.  Good luck!

Note:  After I wrote this, I found this article on The Penny Hoarder on earning money writing slogans, greeting cards, etc.  You won't "win" like the lady in Defiance, but the genre lives on!

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Oh My Dear Mastercard....

Oh the headaches of credit card debt.  Mastercard has my smallest balance but the highest interest rate (about 22%), so this year I have focused on paying it off.  I haven't made much headway as I would like because I'm also focused on paying cash, not dipping into my savings, and not pulling out that card or any of the others I have.  Hence, I paid the first half real estate taxes in cash, which has severely limited my ability to attack MC the first 6 weeks of this year.  Don't get me wrong, I'm glad I had the ability to do that, but it's discouraging that I haven't been able to make too much of an extra payment.  Anyhoo.....

I was shocked, SHOCKED, when I received my most recent statement and noticed that the MC interest rate had gone up to 25.24%.  25%!!!!!  What???  I have never been late.  Never came even within spitting distance of the credit limit.  And my credit score is pretty darn good, even with my debt.  So I called.  Gary was so polite when he informed me that there was nothing he could do.  And more polite when he said the supervisor wouldn't be able to do anything more.  And even agreeable when I said I would then transfer the balance to a different card.  So thank you, Gary, I do believe that is what I will do.

I usually only consider myself has having 2 cards, even though I really have three.  When the kids graduated from high school, DS wanted an iTouch, so I took advantage of Apple's financing to purchase that.  I didn't realize it was actually a type of credit card, but that didn't matter.  I paid off the iTouch in 2 months, and promptly filed the card away.  But one benefit of that card is that it notifies of my credit score, so when I went to check it before calling MC, I noticed that there was a balance transfer offer of 0% for 18 months with a 1% transfer fee.

So guess what I did?  :-)  I transferred the balance last Thursday.  My goal is still to pay off the MC debt (because that is still what it is, even if it is now on a different card) by the end of the year.  But I should make much more progress now with no interest accumulating.  I'm kinda excited about that.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Goals for the Week

This last week went pretty good.  :-)

1.  Stay on track with daily Bible reading.  Done
2.  Stay on track with both BSF and Beth Moore.  Done
3.  Pick out a Pinterest project/recipe for February.  Done - cinnamon rolls from LifeAsMom.  Still haven't given up on the crocheted snowflake.
4.  Read Joel Rosenberg's new release, "The Third Target."  In progress
5.  Pick out a practical life lesson for the twins for February.  Taxes 
6.  Continue the pantry challenge for 1 (maybe 2) more weeks.  Finished, but continuing a modified version.  I don't think my freezer has been this empty since we moved in!
7.  Meet with accountant to do taxes on Thursday and then determine an extra payment to Mastercard.  Meet with the accountant and will file taxes this week.  (waiting on 1098 from DD's college)  
8.  Purge paper files.  Done.  Shredded more than I kept!


Goals for this week:
1.  Stay on track with daily Bible reading.
2.  Stay on track with both BSF and Beth Moore.
3.  Make cinnamon rolls from Pinterest.
4.  Finish "The Third Target" and start Mike Huckabee's "God, Guns, Grits, and Gravy."
5.  Finalize taxes and budget refund.
6.  Start working on expectations for when DS moves home after graduating in May.  
7.  Make meal plan for the kids' upcoming spring breaks.  DD comes home first, then DS; they overlap about 48 hours. 

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Young Adult Life Lesson - Dealing with Disappointment

DS texted today, rather disappointed.  He had the chance to go to Germany after graduation in May for one of his classes.  Originally they had been told there were scholarships and financial aid available, but with the weather and key people at the school being sick or falling on the ice and breaking bones, it has taken quite a while to get the information straight.  You can kind of guess what happened.  He can't go.

Oh, he can go all right....if he can come up with $5000 cash to pay for the trip and another $500 for food and incidentals that aren't included.  Since he will have graduated before they leave for the trip and isn't continuing on for another degree, financial aid won't cover the cost.  He would have to take out a private loan (not a student loan) to pay for it.  And, as he realizes, that would not be a smart move.

We talked as well as we could via text, and I told him that once his student loans are paid off, that he should take that monthly amount and put it in a savings account specifically for a trip to Germany.  That way he could go debt-free and visit the places he really wanted to visit and not be bound by 2 hours at a place he would rather spend all day at and then spend all day at a location he didn't care for at all.  It would give him time to get established in a job and save up vacation days to go.

He is already upset that he has student loans (which can easily be paid off in 1 to 2 years), so the idea of taking out a loan for this trip was not an option for him.  Instead, he will need to work on getting past the disappointment and the "I'll never have the chance again....." feelings he has right now and instead focus on finishing this semester strong, praying for guidance and wisdom on his future job, and enjoying these last few months as a college student.  My job will be to encourage him and to help him focus on the opportunities he does have and to affirm that he is making the mature decision by waiting to travel until he can do it without going into debt.  This isn't the first time he has been disappointed to not be able to afford something he has wanted (although it's the biggest so far), and it won't be the last.  Hopefully he will continue to wait for things until he can afford them in the future.  That will serve him far better in life than anything he would learn on a trip to Germany.