Wednesday, April 30, 2014

The Battle of Old Men & Young Boys

My oldest son, the history nut, will be coming home for a visit at the end of June and to take part in a high school friend's wedding ceremony.

It's too bad he won't have more time as I wanted to take him on a short trip to Virginia, to where many of our ancestors lived.  Hubs isn't interested in going as he isn't "into" family history/genealogy, even his own family's! 

June 25th of this year marks the 150th Anniversary of the Battle of Staunton River Bridge.
This was a crucial win for the Confederates at that time, as the successful defense of that bridge and the railroad line there, kept the supply line open to the Confederacy and troops in Richmond and Petersburg and delayed the end of the War of Northern Aggression.

This battle was part of the Wilson-Kautz Raid by the Union to try to destroy supply lines. 
After 3 days of Union raiding forces tearing up the Confederate rail lines, they were stopped in their "tracks"(pardon the pun)by the forces assembled at the Staunton River Bridge near Randolph VA, over the Staunton River.
You can read more about this specific battle HERE.

Captain Benjamin Lyons Farinholt and 296 Confederate reserved troops were warned of the approving Union forces to Charlotte County VA.  Fairnholt sent out couriers into the adjoining counties to muster up volunteers to come aid the troops in holding the bridge.
Fairnholt also ran trains non-stop on the rail line there so it appeared to Union spies in the area that reinforcements were amassing in great number to confront the advancing Yankees.  In reality only 642 reinforcements arrived-150 regular army and the rest were comprised of old men and young boys from the surrounding communities.
They successfully held off 4 attacks of Union forces that were 4 times their size.

Benjamin Lyons Farinholt, born 1839 in Virginia, he attended Randolph-Macon College. Farinholt, enlisted July 1861 as a 2nd Lt., 53rd VA Infantry Regiment.  He saw action during the Peninsula and Maryland Campaigns, at 2nd Manassas, and was captured at Gettysburg (July 3, 1863).  He spent 7 months in the POW prison on Johnson's Island, Ohio before escaping and making his way back to Richmond to reenter the war in May 1864. He was regimental Captain by June 1864 of the 53rd VA, when he defended the Richmond & Danville Railroad at Staunton Bridge with a troop of wounded veterans, reservists and old men and boys from the area.  At wars end, he was a 26 year old Colonel, C.S.A.  He died 24 Dec. 1919 and is buried in West Point, VA

This Battle was the only one fought during the Battle Between the States in Charlotte County VA and it was fought near where many of my mother's family's ancestors lived in the 1860's.

Unless your ancestor was a regular Confederate soldiers it's very hard to find or prove they took part in this battle, other than oral history or written personal journal entries of participants or their family members.

So far in my digging, I have only found 1 ancestor that is proved to have been at the battle that June day in 1864. (Though in the partial list of the regular troop roster there are 4 or 5 men with my family's surnames who I may be related to as well, but is not proved yet.)

I found a memoir written by my 5th Cousin 1 x removed.  In it he recounted that his Great Grandfather, Lafayette Hale Mason, Sr. was among the defenders of the Staunton River Bridge the day of the battle.  The story was handed down in his family's line.

Lafayette Hale Mason, Sr. is my 2nd Cousin 4 x removed. Lafayette Mason was born sometime between 1816-1820(according to census records) and died in 1890.  At the time of this battle, he was in his mid to late 40's.
In the 1860 Census he is shown living in Charlotte County Virginia with his wife Judith Irvin(Irvine) and their children John, Susan and Lafayette Jr.  He was a farmer.

Confederate Patriot Lafayette Mason, my 5th Cousin & I share an ancestor, John Mason III, born 1741 in Surry County, VA. (Many genealogists show him as being born in Sussex County, VA, though up until 1753 this county was part of Surry County, VA.  Pre 1652 Surry County had been part of James City(or Citie) County as well.  John Mason's birth predates the formation of Sussex County.)

At any rate, this June, the weekend of the 21st and 22nd there is to be a commemoration of the Battle of The "Old Men & Young Boys" in Staunton River Battlefield State Park.  I would have liked to have gone to the descendants medal ceremony to be present as the service my ancestor(and probably more ancestors that I am unaware of at this time)performed for Virginia and the South was recognized and acknowledged.
And watching the re-enactors and the cannons being fired would have been cool too.

And I think my son would have gotten a charge out of attending as well.



Tuesday, April 29, 2014

About the Current Retirement Plan & Moving Away

First off, I grew up in the South so it's a place I feel more comfortable as a general rule.  I understand the Southern mindset.
Though I've lived in Yankee land since 1984, most of my married life, I had hoped to return
below the Mason-Dixon Line at some point.
Retirement might just be that point and Louisiana just might be that location.

No matter where we move to I'll be fine.  I am a master at being alone.  Big difference between being lonely and being alone and many people don't understand that.  I am comfortable with myself enough to enjoy lots of alone time.  I am good company. ;-)  I have always been most productive when left alone.  If the community we end up living in is unfriendly, I can deal with it, because I've dealt with it for many years already.

I HATED living in northeastern NJ the almost 3 years we were forced to be there.  I met some
lovely people while there but mostly it was a horrible experience......too many pushy people, too noisy, too polluted, crazy drivers, too expensive and full of pretentious *A*holes.  You get the idea.

When we moved into our first house in the Pocono Mountains. of PA, by comparison,  it was heaven.  A community with few year round residents at the beginning, natural beauty and
unspoiled vistas.  A serene place to live and much cheaper.  The drawback was how far we
were to services, stores and having utilities go out in the winter.  AND the winters.......averages
of 100 inches per Winter Season(in a light precipitation year).  Hard to dig out(especially with
just shovels)and hard to get to a job.

In a way I loved the isolation at that time in my life(this was before the internet too)but was also
able to make a few friends.....until they either died(the older people I was friends with) or left to go back to the Metro NY/NJ area because they missed living there so much(which I just can't even imagine! lol)

Then that place changed as we were invaded en masse by New York City-ites and eastern New
Jersey-ites, looking to relocate their families to an area away from crime and expensive living,
while they toiled away at their NYC jobs with large salaries.  The employed in these families
would stay in the city during the week and come home on weekends.

There were nice families among these newer transplants but the migration also brought the big
 city problems of crime, drugs, noise, et cetera with them.  I didn't mind going to the community
pool and never hearing English spoken the whole time(lolz) but some of these new residents thought themselves above the PA laws and because our sleepy little town had little police protection all
kinds of shenanigans made itself known and disrupted our lives on a daily basis.
These transplants brought their big city problems and big city ways along with them.

Wild parties into the wee hours every weekend in good weather and new or unlicensed hunters
with no gun learning using our development to take pot shots at wildlife, which brought up the number of "accidental" gunshot victims.  Then there were the "Summertime only" residents
from NYC and Metro NJ who would invade our hometowns and as many folks on vacation are
known to do, leave their brains at home.
Hey, I grew up in a Tourist town so I know this type of behavior well. lolz

It all got to be too much for our little growing family(who wants to worry about letting their
young kids go outside in a private community-not in a game lands area, in the Fall even with
wearing Orange so some idiot doesn't mistake them for a deer and kill them?!).
Plus Hubs wanted a shorter commute to work so we moved further into PA.  While this put
distance between us and the obnoxious/entitled metro NY/NJ behavior folks, we moved right
into the midst of provincial small town PA behavior.

We've lived here almost 14 years now and I STILL don't fit in.
That's what happens when you move into a small close knit town where everyone has lived
here for 5 generations(at least).
These folks keep to their "own kind" and after 14 years I am still not accepted.
Lord knows how I tried, at least for the sake of my kids so they'd have friends.
I have extended invitations and put myself out numerous times just to be rebuffed.
But I refused to be miserable, so I kept to myself and threw myself into my family and some online activities/groups and had a happy little life.  Well, except for the overspending and hoarding

I joined stuff here like the PTA, I was a room mom(what a disaster THAT was! lolz), I volun-
teered for things,  I let them have those kid birthday parties and pool parties, whatever I could do so they would "fit in".
I hope the little shits appreciated the crap I went through...... ;-)

And I tried NOT to influence the kids with my very negative view about the folks I interacted
with in this town.
Even with all I did, the funny thing is.....all 3 of my kids couldn't WAIT to move away from
this town. 
Two did and as soon as he's out of college, the third will be joining them.
They all have maintained very few, if any, friendships with the kids they grew up with.

As my kids left home I have had less need to interact with the people who live around me.
And that suits me fine.  I don't need anybody here to be happy.  With my 3rd kid almost
graduated high school, besides the cashiers at the stores and the bank tellers I'll have no need to
interact with anybody around here anymore. 

I may have been a hermit in a previous life, as that type of living arrangement suits me fine for the most part. 

4 more years and I am out of here!  I am sure we can find a friendlier corner of the country
to live in.
If I could survive in Metro NY/NJ and then here for 14 years(and counting)I am sure I can adapt
and get along most anywhere. 
I don't need a grand house, or even a large house.  Just leave me be, to be who I am.

So even though we are looking at houses/properties in a part of the country we have little
experience in, I am sure we can be happy there, whether or not it's a welcoming community
or not.  I'll patch together some sort of support system and be perfectly content being left alone
by the folks in that town/area.
As long as I have all my long distance friends......



Monday, April 28, 2014

The Spring Boring Blog Box Giveaway Reveal

And the winner of this box of goodies........


"Longtime Wife"!

Congratulations Longtime Wife.
Please email me within the next 48 hours of posting this message to claim your prize(and provide me your full name and mailing address).
If you fail to reach me within this time limit I'll draw a new winner.

And thanks to everyone else for playing along.



This Week on the Dining Table

The "Back to Cooking Dinner, Wish I was Still on Vacation" Edition.......

And here is what got cooked last week---
Nothing since we were on vacation, though I DID cook breakfast once.  ;-)
As for the food spending update.....I spent a total of $84.42 on $156.44 reg. retail on groceries last weekend between the Bread Outlet, Maine Source(restaurant supply store)and the local Grocer.  Saved 46.04% over regular retail in all. Not a bad savings rate.

I have spent a total of $446.46 in April so far.  This week I have about $15 more food spending planned to close out the month.  I'm hoping I don't hit $500 for food spending for April.
Being so high with the food budget this month is not so good since Hubs and I weren't even HERE for 11 days of April to eat.  But then again, I did buy most of the food daughter prepared for Easter Dinner and Sat. morning's breakfast, so that expense came out of my food budget for April.
May just has to be all about tightening the money belt where food spending is concerned!  I'll be digging back into the freezer to get rid of some old dogs laying around in there and watching the food spending like a ravenously hungry hawk.  ;-)
And since #2 Son lived on pizzas, nachos and burritos the whole time we were gone, we had some big time food waste.  I had to pitch out not-so-fresh produce(asparagus, celery, cauliflower)and leftover chicken and zuke when we got home.
Going into the new week here are the leftovers we have......2 servings of spaghetti and meatballs.
Here is this week's meal plan----

Sunday--Burger on fresh rolls w/tomato, Potato Salad
Monday--Meatloaf, Green Beans(freezer), Rutabaga
Tuesday--Salmon(freezer), Carrots, Coleslaw(make my own)
Wednesday--Lasagna, Salad
Friday--Pork Chop(freezer), Sauted Cabbage, leftover Potato Salad
For snacks I made fresh pickles and a brownie, and bought and cubed a watermelon--1st one of the season!

What I need to purchase for this menu?.......the ground beef and all the fresh produce was bought on Friday for this week's plan.  I need to pick up mushrooms(fajitas), cottage cheese and noodles for the Lasagna this week.
After perusing the sales ads I'll pick up any loss leaders we use that I see for a great price too.

What is getting fixed and served at your house this week?


Sunday, April 27, 2014

Adventures in House Shopping Louisiana Style!

Our vacation trip to Louisiana to visit our daughter turned into a vacation/house shopping trip.

I ended up with 2 realtors because the first one I contacted weeks in advance, never got back to me with the emails of possible homes to look at before we arrived.
Ok, she did finally email me 2 days before we left for the trip but I went ahead and found another realtor in the meantime.
Realtor #2 was a bit more responsive.

So in the end we got shown houses by 2 different realtors.
It was funny that even though we gave each one the SAME criteria on what we wanted to look at, between the two of them they only wanted to show us one house in common.
Each one interpreted our needs SO differently it amazed me.

We only had a rapport with one of them, the young and new agent.  She didn't try to show us things at the top or over our price range, as she hadn't learned that "game" yet.  Honest and not trying to upsell us....I liked that.

Realtor #1 showed us mostly foreclosures, Realtor #2 showed us no foreclosures.

#2 showed up a house being sold to settle an estate and 2 regular properties.  None of these were asking less than $65K and most were at or over $80K(the limit I had set for them). 

One of those 3 places had no oven, a nonexistent living room, 1 bath and 3 tiny bedrooms and the asking price was $80K. 

Another house was tiny and had a very small fenced in yard.  The houses in this neighborhood were VERY close together and each yard for as far as the eye could see had at least one dog in it's also fenced in backyard.  Many of these dogs looked to be "outside" dogs and all hell broke loose with barking when they saw us.  I looked at my daughter and said, "If you move here with your own dog who loves to bark at other dogs, you will never have a quiet moment!" lolz

The only even acceptable house #2 showed us was the estate settlement house.  The previous owner loved to garden and the yard was full of flowers and bushes and trees.  The backyard was fenced in and there was a back porch that had been closed in to make a bonus room. Ok, the walls were fake white wood......

  Nothing in the kitchen had been updated from when it was built circa 1970 and all the appliances(except the fridge) and sink were Harvest Gold.

While ugly those appliance probably would outlast that newish fridge.
The house seemed to have the original carpeting and smelled like your grandma. 8-)

This house was in a city neighborhood with sidewalks and street lights and was on a small lot.  It was near the Air Force Base which meant it would hold it's resale value or could be rented out.  Location meant it was WAY overpriced at $89K but it was the cheapest home for sale in the subdivision(others for sale at that time were asking up to $120K).

And the house next door looked like it was a crack den.....ok, maybe not but obviously it was a rental because the outside was a hot mess and all the window blinds looked like a pit bull had played with them....often.  ;-)

Shopping foreclosed homes is an adventure I have to say.
Many of these homes suffer from neglect(if you don't have the money to pay your mortgage, you certainly don't have the money either to fix things that are broken, right?).
And due to the anger by the ex-owners toward the bank holding their mortgage, many of the foreclosed properties suffer from vandalism by the occupants before they leave(as well as actual vandals who break into vacant homes and steal things like wiring and copper pipes and appliances).

Many foreclosures are in bad shape inside.....damage to walls and doors(holes and graffitti, sledgehammers taken to toilets and sinks, cement poured into drains to harden and make the plumbing nonoperational, mirrors and lights shattered, cabinets and/or cabinet doors ripped off, carpet and other flooring ripped up.
You name it, we saw it.

One property we visited, when we got there, the front door was wide open and a huge pile of what looked like cabinetry pieces and carpeting was piled on the front yard, and there was someone inside the house cleaning the rugs. 

He was hired by the bank that owned that house to clean it out and up so it was sort of clean(at least the carpeting was), but take a look at the backyard of this place.......

 Besides all the junk and tree stumps, the previous owners had dug a hole and filled it with water in an attempt to make a pond.

A duplex rabbit hutch next to a child's old plastic restaurant buffet table.  I wonder if Hasenpfeffer was ever on the menu?

And take note of the mannequin floating in the "pond".  I neglected to snap a shot of the main part of the backyard, or rather the GARBAGE DUMP that made up most of the backyard.  I counted 15 plastic coolers in various states of repair(ALL of them needing repair), along with every conceivable discarded household and yard item you could think of.   There was a burn pit with what remained of a metal/plastic desk chair someone had attempted to "dispose of" in an unsuitable manner.

Though I didn't get a shot of the garbage dump yard in whole, I did snap a quickie of this shack/shed in the backyard.  You can see some of the trash that littered the yard(along with a cooler or two).  Note the interesting "Louisiana Yard Art" on the shed.  The cross is made up of rusty circular saw blades if you can't make out that much detail.
Such panache, such flavor......

After viewing this yard, I can imagine what the inside of the house looked like BEFORE the bank cleaned it out!

The problem for buyers with a bank foreclosure is that the bank will come in and clean up the property(remove damaged parts)but they don't repair or replace anything(besides roofs or missing walls).  So you see a lot of houses missing flooring, doors, ceiling fans/lighting fixtures, etc.
And since they don't replace or fix anything inside, you know you'll have to spend, to varying degrees, to get any place livable again.

And the fun really comes in when you can't see what hasn't been replaced/repaired.
While some deficits are obvious, like this house where someone took the bathtub with them......

And less obvious was the house where they had taken parts of the HVAC system so that it was nonoperational and needed to be replaced.  While the house seemed like a good deal on the surface, this small detail made it a very expensive deal!

Then we saw a place that had potential, if the previous owners hadn't gone and tried to "remodel" it.
Instead of fixing the foundation/floors of the house, they had just covered it up by installing expensive finishes(fixtures, tile and tubs/sinks)in the bathroom)over the much bigger fundamental problems.  Nice finishes in the bathrooms.....but the floors were all tilted and because of adding tile floors, the doors on the bathrooms couldn't be closed.

This place had an odd building in the front yard(one of just many oddities of this property)......

At first we thought it was an elaborate child's playhouse, but it had electricity running to it and business type stickers on the front window, so we think a previous owner had some kind of workshop upstairs and sold something in the downstairs room.  It was in disrepair(the flooring was rotted through)so we couldn't even go inside it(plus the top room was locked).
I did think, with some repairs/modifications, it would make a really cool chicken house! lolz
It's just too bad the house was a cobbled together mess, the long driveway required at least $5K in repairs, and it had an algae-filled pond "mosquito breeding pool" out front that needed aeration work or draining.

Among all these horror stories, we did find a gem in the end, IF the inspection comes back clean.


Saturday, April 26, 2014

Last Week on the Dining Table

So we were on vacation the last week and a half to Louisiana so my weekly Menu Plan Post didn't happen.

Being on vacation means I did no cooking and mostly we ate out, which is not on the food budget tab.

My Lunch at Strawn's-the Spinach, Feta, Strawberry, Pecan & Grilled Chicken Salad
Butterscotch Ice Box Pie followed this.

Here is what we ate anyway......

Sunday--B-McDonald's at home /L-Golden China Restaurant in Harrisonburg, VA/D-Morelia's Mexican Grill in Bull's Gap, TN

Monday--B-Hotel freebie Bull's Gap, TN/L-Shoney's in Gatlinburg, TN/D-Krystal in Manchester, TN

 Tuesday--B-Waffle House(Hotel freebie was nasty) Manchester, TN/L-Hardee's in Tullahoma, TN/D-Johnny's BarBQ in Cullman, AL

 Wednesday--B-Hotel freebie(good!) Tuscaloosa, AL/L-The Brickhouse Bar & Grill in Meriden, MS/D-Sue's Country Kitchen in Bossier City, LA

 Thursday--B-Sue's again Bossier City, LA/D-Shane's Seafood & BBQ in Bossier City, LA (no Lunch)

 Friday--B-Hotel freebie(yuck!)Bossier City, LA/D-Podnuh's in Bossier City, LA (no Lunch)

 Saturday--B-I cooked Eggs/Sausage/Bagels/Fruit /L-Strawn's Eat Shop in Shreveport, LA/D-Hardee's Haughton, LA

Sunday--B-Sue's again Bossier City, LA/L&D-My daughter cooked Easter dinner

Monday--B-Hotel freebie(yuck again!)Bossier City, LA/L-Berry's Seafood Catfish House in Magee, MS/D-Danny's Fried Chicken in Fairhope, AL

Tuesday--B-Hotel freebie(best one!)Fairhope, AL/L-Pizza Hut Prattville, AL/D-Waffle House Chattanooga, TN

Wednesday--B-Hotel freebie Chattanooga, TN/L-Smalls Cajun Man Drive-In in Athens, TN/D-Burger King Buchanan, VA

Thursday--B-nothing...slept late/L-Chinese Buffet/D-no dinner(too full from Lunch)

Friday--B-yogurt and Danish at home/L-leftovers at home/D-Brats on rolls and COC

Saturday--B-yogurt and Danish at home/L-something at the Brewpub/D-Spaghetti and Meatballs, Salad, Garlic Bread

We've been home 3 days now.  Thursday we went for lunch out as I wasn't up to cooking after being up til 3 am the night before.  So full from lunch we didn't have dinner.  I may have had a donut and yogurt for dinner but don't tell anyone.  ;-)
Regularly prepared meals started up yesterday, Friday, but not without great protestations from me!
Coming back from vacation and having to jump into meal planning and cooking again is just so wrong.....

Obviously, I did little grocery shopping the last 2 weeks.
I did buy the fixings down in LA for the breakfast I cooked and I paid for the spiral ham, rolls and other things my daughter cooked for Sunday dinner, so the food spending on the food budget so far comes to $66.71 on $103.66 regular retail of groceries.

I am up to $362.04 of food spending for April at the moment.
We need groceries so will be spending some more later this weekend and that will surely put me over $400 for the month.
But it was to be expected so I am not too broken up over it.

I'll be back Monday with the regular "This Week on the Dining Table" post.


Time is Running Out to Enter!

Hey Everybody!

Tomorrow, April 27th, is the last day to enter my Blog Giveaway!

Be sure and stop by HERE (or look for the link on the right sidebar at the top) before Sunday night at 11:59pm and leave a comment.

You can get another entry by leaving a comment today, Saturday, as well since you can enter once a day by leaving a comment on that post.

Blog about the giveaway on your own blog or chat it up on Facebook(and send me the links to each) and you get 2 MORE entries for each thing you do(if you haven't already done them).

There are about 40+ entries so far so get on this soon..... ;-)


Friday, April 25, 2014

About A House

We just got back from a vacation trip to Louisiana to see our daughter.
She left to go live there last May, so it's almost been a year since we've seen her.

We've been talking about where to move to once Hubs retires for a couple years now.
Among the places we've considered is somewhere down South, concentrating on looking at states where the retirement $ goes farther(either/or the state doesn't tax it too heavily or the cost of living is low-ish for other reasons).
And we are sick and tired of dealing with snow.  30 years living up north is enough for me!
Plus we want to be somewhere close to at least one of our kids.

The youngest is just entering college(and there is no way to know where he'll end up being based), and the oldest isn't settled yet(due to the GF's schooling still not being finished) he isn't planning on having kids(so far).
Which leaves the middle child, who is planning on getting married and having kids as soon as it's financially feasible.
And since she is in Louisiana, we thought we'd go looking at house opportunities while we were down there visiting her.
This area of Louisiana is lousy with foreclosures!
And it seems the housing situation of choice for 90% of the folks in this area is a mobile or manufactured home.

Since her living situation can't continue on as it has the past year, it needs to change now that she isn't going to school but is working fulltime, we figured IF we found a place now, but aren't going to be able to live in it for at least 4 years from now, the daughter could live there and pay us nominal rent and pay the utilities.
This would be a great deal for her and she'd be able to save some money up and have a good living situation for 4 years or so.  It would also help us to not have the house vacant and a target for vandals wanting to steal the copper wiring/pipes and other things out of it.

If we bought a manufactured home it could be older and if the daughter and her dog lived there we wouldn't worry about fixing it up too much(no new carpets, etc. since the dog would ruin them).  Heck it the home was real old, we'd just have it hauled off when we came down there and build a new home(or buy a new manufactured home).

So that was the initial plan going down there......look at properties and see if anything fit the bill.
Of course, since we weren't going to sell our PA house to use that money to pay for this LA house, it had to be a really good and cheap deal, as we were paying cash out of pocket(savings)for it.

We spent 2 days looking at properties with a different realtor each day.  The daughter went with us, but we saw a couple of houses the first day with that realtor after daughter had to leave us and go to work.

And one of those 2 houses daughter didn't see seemed like a great deal.  It was a foreclosure for $53K, a manufactured house on an acre of land.
So we made plans on our 3rd day down there to take daughter and her BF to go back to see that one.

While we were out with realtor #2, realtor #1 called us with a new foreclosure listing, so we decided to go see that last property the day we were taking the kids to see the one going for $53K.

We went to see the last property before the $53K one.
And both of the kids fell in love with it.  The yard was fabulous and the house was in great shape(as far as we could tell). Though my daughter's commute to work would be a little long(not too long), it was perfect for them in every other way.

We still went to see the $53K property but they didn't like it as well as this last one.

And here is where the plan changed from US  buying the house and the kids living in it for 4 or so years and paying rent, to the daughter buying the house and keeping it.

In the foreclosure game you have HUD houses and you have Fannie Mae(Home Path)houses.
When a foreclosure comes up for sale under these agencies, only owner/occupants get first crack at buying them.  For the first 15 days(sometimes 30 days)these properties can only be bought by a non-profit organization, government agency or an individual who will be living in the home as their primary residence.

This is to allow people who really need the home first crack at them before the investors(flippers or folks who want to hold them to rent them out) and people buying vacation/second homes.
The last home(will refer to it as house #1 from now on)was just listed the day before and wasn't even on the Fannie Mae website yet.
The $53K house(will refer to this house as #2 from now on)was going off the "protected time phase" 3 days later from the day we saw it, meaning bidding was open to all, not just owner/occupants by the time we could get an offer in for it, and Hubs and I could buy it ourselves...but we'd be in a bidding war possibly with investors.

As you can imagine, all the really good deals, if they aren't snatched up within the first 15 days are gone asap as soon as the protected phase expires, plus once the investors can bid, the price usually goes well above the initial asking price if it's a good property.  So if a good property is still not sold by the time the investors can snag it, it's going to be more expensive than the asking price.

So in order to put an offer in on house #1, our daughter had to be the buyer.  We asked about having me and her on the bid and contract/deed but we both would have had to occupy the house.
So she had to make the offer.

This didn't also mean that she had to PAY for the house.  It doesn't matter where she gets the $ to pay for it, as long as the bank gets paid.
But where she gets the $ from can have tax implications from the giver.

We did some research and any person can gift up to $14K a year to their child without negative tax implications, meaning a couple can gift a combined total of $28K a year per child.

So we will gift her $28K for the house.  Since she had decided not to continue college at this point, we used most of what is left of her college money for this gift.

The rest of the cost of the house we will be making her a personal loan(a totally legal contract/promissory note), which she will pay back over the next 10 years at a nominal interest rate.

We sat down last weekend and wrote her and the BF out a budget and between their existing bills and this loan repayment(and the new bills for utilities, house insurance, etc.)they will still have a cushion each month for savings/emergency fund.

So the offer was made the day we left Louisiana on Monday and Wednesday, right as we pulled into a place for lunch in Athens, Tennessee, we got a call from the daughter that the bank accepted the offer.
So we had to drive until 3 am to get home that night to get to the bank to get a bank check for the earnest money and overnight it to the broker, per the bank's requirements.

The kids are so thrilled!
And I'll be able to exhale next Tuesday after the home inspector says all systems are good and there aren't any big money surprises and things that need fixing.

With a foreclosed bank HUD/FM home, you can't ask for reductions if something is not working.  Everything is sold "AS IS".  If the inspector finds expensive problems that need price reductions, you have to withdraw your offer totally and make a new offer and start the process all over again at a lower price.  It's a big PITA and if they don't respond before the protected phase, because then you are bidding against investors and the price could go too high.

If everything goes smoothly from here, the daughter will be a property owner on May 9th and will own it free and clear before her 31st birthday(if not sooner).

**And House #2?
It was snapped up the day it went out of the protected phase on Tuesday by an investor, as we knew it would be.

Next time, I'll share details & pictures of the property.



Thursday, April 24, 2014

I'm back from vacation.
We had to cut it short by two days.
Because we bought a house in Louisiana and needed to get home to send $$ to the realtor.

Who else do you know who goes on a vacation and comes home with a house?

I must be totally out of my mind!!


Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Scenes From a Restaurant in the Deep South

We stopped for lunch yesterday in Magee, Mississippi.

The place was not a chain so it had that going for it.
A huge place with "home cooking".

Lookie what I found for sale on the counter where you pay your check.......

I suppose that's the author posing with a "fan"......the "fan" is the hairy one in the framed photo.

Folks, I can NOT make this stuff up!  8-)


Sunday, April 20, 2014

Seen Today....

Cajun Pickles, Various Picked Hot Peppers, Numerous Hot Sauces and Cajun Seasoning Mixes, Crawfish Boil Mix, Cajun Chili Mix and Fried Green Tomatoes Batter Mix.......and that was only one of many displays of such in the store.

 Either this Mardi Gras' leftovers by the adult beverage displays....

Or already getting prepared for next year's celebration......

Sign on the Grocery Store door......with a display of 5lb. bags of Crawfish Boil Mix and Sacks of Taters as you enter the store.

Happy Easter y'all from down by the Bayou!
Hope your holiday is as spicy as you like it.

I'm off to find me a Crawfish boil.....


Saturday, April 19, 2014

No RC Cola In Sight

Breakfast of Champions Southern Style!

Yes, what's left of my waistline is going to hell this trip.......


Friday, April 18, 2014

If Duct Tape won't Fix It, Then Blow It Up!

Just hanging out with some guys who said they'd pose with me for a picture......

Funny lookin' suits, no?

Later on, I was attacked by a rabid Duck Dynasty fan with her Hubs and 2 Kids in matching Duck Commander shirts.

Would I make this stuff up?!


Tuesday, April 15, 2014

For anne marie.....

This post is for you, anne marie ........

Dolly and I were just hanging out, comparing "assets" yesterday.
She's a lot taller in person that she looks on tv.
She wanted me to tell ya "Howdy" and she wishes you were here.

It was a shame though that there were no "Romeos" around...... ;-)

That Dolly......she's such a kidder!


Monday, April 14, 2014

This Week on the Dining Table

  "You never hesitate to tackle the most difficult problems"

Ok, so I am bringing back this feature due to popular demand....ok, maybe not so much popular demand but it gives me something to fill up this space with one day a week.
So sue me...... ;-)

Last week, sit down for this, I had NO meal plan.

And yes, I hear the sound of fainting all across my readership as you let those words sink in.

I just bought some groceries(on discount or sale of course)and pulled stuff out of the freezer and leftovers in the fridge and just went where it led me.

Monday--pizza(homemade and frozen varieties), salad
Tuesday--leftover kielbasa & caramelized onions on rolls, green beans
Wednesday--salmon, asparagus(had to finish using up what I bought 2 weeks ago)
Thursday--leftover chicken & asparagus risotto
Friday--gourmet burger(gotten this week on clearance), creamed spinach
Saturday--leftover homemade spaghetti sauce, rigatoni, salad

And I did ALOT of grocery shopping last week.
4 trips to 3 different stores.
Catching lots of "deals" this week like MANY canned tomato products, spicy brown mustard and ketchup(for grilling season), Rotel, using a rain check to get Tide for $1.47 a bottle(unheard of price!!!), many fresh pork products and other meats on clearance for the freezer, butter on sale, many soda  & water bottle packs for donation to #2 Son's Jazz Band Festival tomorrow, etc.

All in I spent $174.00 on $318.72 worth of groceries this week.
I am up to $295.33 of food spending and we are only halfway through the month!

I'll not be spending any grocery $ this week though and that will get us to the last week of April.
So we aren't in horrible shape with the food spending.....yet. lolz

And I have NO MENU again for this week.
Yep, I am flying by the seat of my pants.....

All I can say is that Sunday night was a little Mexican something or other.  8-)

So what's on tap at your house this week?


Saturday, April 12, 2014

More Rite-Aid +UPs Rolling

Back to Rite-Aid two more times this week.....yes, I lead a very exciting life.....

2 x Tresseme 'Poo on sale=$8.00

Coupons Used
1 x $2/1 Tresemme ManQ=$2.00
1 x $2/1 Tresemme Load2CardQ=$2.00
Coupon Total....$4.00

I used +$3 Up Rewards from last Tresemme purchase.....
$4-$3=$1.00 + .06¢ tax=$1.06 OOP.

I received another $3 +Up Reward for buying these bottles.

Then this morning I did this.....

4 x Axe Men's 'Poo rain check $3 each=$12.00
1 x Gear Deodorant on sale=$3.99

Coupons Used
3 x $2.50/1 Axe Men's 'Poo ManuQ=$7.50
1 x $2.50/1 Axe Men's 'Poo Load2CardQ=$2.50
1 x $2/1 Gear deo Load2CardQ=$2.00
Coupon Total....$12.00

I used my $3 +Up Reward from the Tresemme purchase and paid $1.05(.99¢ + .06¢ tax)OOP.

I received a $1 +Up Reward for buying the Gear Deo and I'll carry that over to use in the next two weeks.

Total OOP at Rite-Aid this week was $2.37 and I came home with $87.68 reg. retail of stuff.

So I think I am done buying 'Poo for the year, even with giving some of this stuff away to the grown kids.



Weis(PMITA)Markets Shopping this Morning

Printed off some more Hatfield Qs and went by Weis on the way to other errands this morning......

2 x Hatfield ham slices on sale $2.39=$4.78
2 x Hatfield sausage meat on sale $3.20=$6.40
1 x Weis Dish soap on sale=$2.00
1 x MM OJ on sale=$2.50
1 x Marcal TP lots of rolls on sale=$8.99
1 x Weis TP single roll=.89¢
1.5 lbs. x Liverwurst from deli counter=$6.11

Coupons Used
2 x $2/1 any Hatfield item IPQ=$4.00
2 x $1/1 any Hatfield ground sausage meat item IPQ=$2.00
1 x $1.50/1 any dish soap Weis CatalinaQ=$1.50
1 x $1.50/1 any refrigerated OJ Weis CatalinaQ=$1.50
1 x $2 any $9 TP purchase Weis CatalinaQ=$2.00
Coupon Total.....$11.00

$31.67-$11.00=$20.67 + .19¢ tax=$20.86 OOP

My sales and coupon savings on the receipt came to $26.07 so I saved more than I spent.
A savings rate of 55%.

I got those CatalinaQ 2 weeks ago and wanted to use them before they expired next week.
The dish soap was .50¢ and the OJ $1 and $16.68 worth of TP for $7.88.  The large package was 1 cent short of a $9 purchase so I threw in that single roll.....that was the cheapest way to get to $9.
I have to say this is the first time in 3-4 years I've actually paid money to buy TP.  ;-)


Friday, April 11, 2014

Your Feets Too Big

Ok, I don't have a shoe fetish but if I told you that I bought 6 pairs of shoes when I went to Delaware last month, you might give me a sideways look, roll your eyes and say, "Sure Sluggy, suuuuure you don't have a shoe problem."

But really I have always hated shoes and shopping for them, since my mother use to drag me out to the shoe store when I was a kid.
You see, along with other non-standard physical attributes I have, in this world we live in, I've also had to put up with my feet being difficult to fit.
I have and have always had a wide foot so shoes and I have always been mortal enemies.

No, not a  "oh, you have a wide foot, don't you?" wide foot, but a "Holy Crap!  Your pedal extremities are really obnoxious!" wide foot.
Even as a young child, a young skinny child, my feet were ridiculously wide.

I remember going with my mother into more than one shoe store as a child, and also as a young adult by myself, presenting my foot to be measured and then being told, "We really don't have anything that would fit on your foot."
Who else has ever gone into a shoe store and had the staff tell you, you should just leave because you can't fit into ANY pair of shoes in the whole store?

Do you realize how demoralizing to one's self-esteem it is to be told that?

A few times, the clerk would go into the stock room and try to find something....anything I could squeeze my foot into.....but would always return with nothing in their hands.

My father, ever the helpful one, at one point told me I should find a shoemaker for a husband when I grew up.

Thanks dad!

It's been a battle I've waged with my feet my whole life.
Even as a pre-teen kid, I wore old lady shoes or boy's shoes(since boy's/men's shoes are cut wider).
If you don't suffer from non-standard feet, you are very lucky!
Feel blessed.

I have a double wide foot....bordering on triple wide.

Even before I had kankles, I had monstrously wide feet.

People like me are the ones who need to have shoes custom made for them.
Unfortunately for most people with my type of feet, this is a VERY expensive undertaking.
Finding a custom cobbler being the first hurdle, then paying for this service, the cost of having custom lasts made(forms for making shoes), then the actual cost of the shoe materials and the cost of manufacturing each pair.  Who in this day and age can afford $400 each for a pair of "just walking around" shoes?

With the advent of the internet, the price of a "custom made" shoe has come down but it's still hard to find one with enough support and the right fit, even at $200 a pair. (And actually the ones advertised on the internet aren't REALLY custom made, because they don't cast your feet and make lasts, they just use a wide last, so it's not a custom fit too your foot shoe.)
 Still it is easier to find so called custom-made MEN'S shoes and I hear that the Women's custom-made shoes are pretty flimsy and not as comfortable as they could be.
And alot of them still look like old lady shoes......

Until the 1980's it was difficult to find a wide in a shoe, let alone a double wide.
Luckily as a college student it wasn't so out of place for a girl to wear sneakers at all times.
Before I hit 30 and had kids I was able to squeeze my foot into boy's/men's shoes.  I wore a 7 until I was in my 20's so I could get away wearing a boy's 5 or 6.  That was quite limiting since that was either a sneaker/running shoe because it would have looked very odd sporting a men's dress shoe.
No cool little strappy sandals or stylish heels for me....ever!

Then with pregnancy(3 of 'em)my feet began to relax and spread.  Luckily some of that spread also meant my feet got longer as well as wider.
I now wear either a 9.5 or 10 double wide shoe.  (If the width is not true to size I usually have to go up to a 10 to compensate, as a 10 is cut wider than a 9.5)

Because of my history with shoes I bear no love for them.  I have never tried to squeeze into a shoe because it was stylish and I had to be "all that".  My squeezing was done because it was the widest shoe I could find and society frowns upon going around shoeless(unless you are at the beach or in your home).

The day I found Easy Spirit brand shoes, the skies opened up and the angels sang.
They carry some of their styles in a double wide AND they are comfortable.
And some of them are even stylish.
They are also still pricey.....well, pricey for me, a lifelong Frugalista.

Go on their website and you'll see, unless something is on clearance or they are running some big sale, you'll shell out $75 easy for a pair of shoes.
And most people need a minimum of 3-4 pair of shoes depending on type.

I found, when we moved here almost 14 years ago, there was an Easy Spirit Shoe Outlet down in Reading, PA.  Since about 2005, when the money/income around here loosened up a bit, I've worn almost exclusively Easy Spirit shoes bought on discount at the Outlet.
The problem I have now is that I find a shoe or sandal I like and that makes my foot happy and then they discontinue it.
So given the problems I have finding good fitting shoes, I have taken up the habit of when I find a shoe at a good price that fits me well, I buy multiples of it.....because if I like it, it WILL be discontinued, you can bet on that! lolz

Since Hubs and I have been taking a little Fall time trip to Ocean City MD we had stopped in Rehoboth Beach DE on the way looking for shoes for me at the Easy Spirit Outlet in that town.
That store isn't as large and just doesn't have as large an inventory and in 6 years I have yet to find a single pair of shoes(sneaker or sandal)in my size there.

That all changed last month.
I had some time to kill on Sunday, before I left town to come home, waiting for the liquor store to open(hey, non-religious alcoholics like to buy booze Sunday morning, ok?)so I bopped into the Easy Spirit store to browse.
And I found LOTS of shoes in my size to buy....woohoo!

The only reason I can figure out why they had shoes in my size this trip was because every other trip was made in the Fall, after the summer hoards of vacationers had gone home and depleted their stock.
This time I visited in the Spring, before the Summer tourists descended like locusts!

Every pair I chose were $59.99.
Online you pay $69.99 & Up for these shoes.
Even better, there was a "Buy 1 Get 1 50% off" sale going on too, I my shoes cost $89.99 for 2 pair.
PLUS if you spent over $100(so easy to do at these prices), you got an additional 20% off.

So my 6 pairs of that fit mind you!....cost me a total of $191.95.
Sounds like a huge sum of money until you figure that comes out to $32.00 a pair and I saved $167.99 or more over buying them online.
So I saved about 46.50% on this purchase.

I think I did fairly well, considering it's something I HAVE TO have and they actually fit.


Thursday, April 10, 2014

Food Shopping With Sluggy

Since everyone has been clammering for me to do another little video, here ya go!

This is a film of my grocery shopping trip on Wednesday.
If you shop at Weis(PMITA)Markets, pay attention.......



Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Rite-Aid.....Take 2 for the Week

More Rite-Aid freebies!!!

2 x Tresemme on sale=$8.00
2 x Dove Men's 'Poo rain check=$5.00

Coupons Used
2 x $2/1 Tresemme 1 ManQ/1 Load2Card=$4.00
2 x $2.50/1 Dove Men's 'Poo ManuQ=$5.00
Coupon Total.....$9.00

I used my $4 +Up Rewards(from buying the Anacin on Monday)....$4-$4=$0.00 Out of Pocket.


And I received a $3 +Up Reward back for buying 2 Tresemme 'Poos.

I actually went in to buy the Gear Deodorant and 2 large size Palmolive dish soaps that were on sale 2/$4 & gave a $1+Up back wyb2, but they were out of the dish soap.
But I did get a rain check so when they restock I'll pay $1.50 a bottle AND I can use my $1/2 ManuQs so I'll pay $1 a bottle.
Not bad.....

$22.36 worth of 'Poo for Zero money.
Works for me!

Not sure what I'll roll my $3 +Ups on tomorrow since the Palmolive is OOS.
I could get 2 Gear Deos, pay $1 OOP(making them .50¢ each)and then get $2 in +Ups back.



Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Sluggy's World & Welcome to It

I'm ok, just not feeling like blogging much lately.
Blogging burn-out I suppose.

I didn't post a "This Week on the Dining Table" yesterday because frankly, I am bored with it.
And I really don't know if posting my meal plans and food spending is helping anyone or is even that interesting.  Heck, I am not even interested in it! lolz

Let's do a mish mash of highlights of what's been going on in Sluggy's World lately, shall we?

*  First off Hubs celebrated his birthday on Saturday.
And with the help of a fellow blogger at the Bloggerpalooza, I was able to give me a gift he really liked--a bottle of 9 year old Whiskey from Tennessee......

*  I called a realtor in Louisiana and she was suppose to start sending me emails of properties we were going to look at while down there later this month.
That was last Tuesday and I've yet to receive a single listing from her.
You would think someone with cash in hand and ready to spend it would actually WANT a commission??!!
I guess I am just not planning on spending enough to make any effort on her part worth her while. 8-P

So I have spent today looking for another realtor who actually wants to make money.....

*  I have been scanning the MLS properties online for weeks now.  Ifound this listing.  For a mere $29,900 I can become a ghetto landlord......

For my money I'd get a ready made piece of land with 8 1 bedroom shacks on it.
Nice, huh?
I can add Slumlord to my list of accomplishments.....

*  #2 Son got his letter from school today and he made the French Honor Society again.
He wasn't too sure he'd retain his membership this school year as his grade had slipped a bit with all the time he's been spending on musical stuff.  But he managed to eek out an A for the last 3 quarters.

*  On the health insurance front, I got a bill a few weeks ago for my DME....actually it was TEN BILLS.

I have traded in a totally incompetent DME company, who by the way is still billing our OLD health insurance provider(even though they were informed Jan. 15th about the new insurance provided)AND they are billing for service/equipment for a time AFTER it was all picked up and we discontinued using them.

Now the new DME provider, on the other hand, is totally anal about billing.  They billed me not only for the rental of a Bi-PAP, an Oxygen Concentrator(I use with the Bi-PAP at night), portable Oxygen tanks service, but they also billed me for 7 more items beyond those 3......every tube, hose and widget they sent over with these 3 items/services they also charged me for.  With the old DME, they didn't bill for every single piece of plastic.
So I received TEN ITEMIZED BILLS totaling over $1000(yes FOUR Zeroes!)for one month's worth of service.

And even with that, the prescriptions, an odd bloodwork-up or two and my daughter's 3 x weekly visits to a chiropractor, we have still not exceeded our high deductible for the year yet.  Once this 2nd month of DME is billed, that will change however.

*  Later this week I will be returning the Bi-PAP and the portable O2 tanks to the DME and discontinuing those services.  The old DME provider did NOT pick-up their Bi-PAP when they came for their equipment since I had paid rental on it long enough that I now own it.  When the new DME person came to drop off their equipment I told them I don't need their Bi-PAP because I have this old one that works, but they left it anyway and billed me over $500 for a 1 month rental(along with the humidifier tank attached to it).
And I am getting rid of the O2 tanks since I don't use them, haven't needed to since last June.  Why am I paying all this $ for stuff I don't need??!

*  On Friday #2 Son attended with his high school Jazz Band a Jazz Festival held annually at Bloomsburg University for PA high and intermediate school bands.  His band did well and he came home with this, which I posted about on FB last week.....

He won an award at the competition for his bass guitar solo with his band.
It was totally unexpected but he was right proud of it.

*  Speaking of music, his flute instructor wants us to help locate a venue for #2 Son's solo flute recital.
I am clueless about where we can find something that doesn't cost an arm and a leg.
It has to have a piano(obviously)so we are checking into local churches that will rent themselves to us for the evening for not a big amount of $. 
I think it's silly, not the recital but renting out a hall, since no one will be coming to hear him.  We have no family in the area to invite(other than Hubs brother and the nephew and I doubt if they'd come)and we have no friends here to invite.
So it's just going to be me and Hubs(even #2's siblings are here)and maybe #2's music director from the high school.  I figure we can rent a piano for a day and hold this in our empty living room/dining room.  It's just the right size and not being used for anything else. lolz

*  Our remaining doggie is having problems again.  She's an old beagle and they are known to have back issues.  She also have slipping kneecaps on her hind legs.....the knees slip every time she walks.  Up until now this has just been a small annoyance but today, she couldn't get up out of her bed.  I've given her some meds but they don't seem to be helping with the pain and she's lying on the kitchen floor and not even trying to get up.
I fear she is quickly starting down that road to the Rainbow Bridge. 8-(

*  I got some sewing done last weekend and I have another shirt for me, 2 pair of PJ pants for daughter and 2 pair of pants to alter for Hubs before the week is finished.
I've been working on ETSY listings as well the past 2 weeks.  As soon as we get back from our trip I'll be launching most of those fabric listings.  No point in doing that until I get home, right?, since I won't be here to ship packages.  I also have a big pile of listings for later in the year, of flannel, corduroy and other winter type fabrics, ready to launch in "draft".

So now you are up to date on the Life of Sluggy, such that it is.

Aren't you glad you asked? ;-)



Rite-Aid Trip #1 This Week

Went to Rite-Aid on Monday.
I have a $2 +Up Reward to use and here is what I bought......

1 x Anacin on sale=$4.99
2 x Gerber Applesauce Rain Check=FREE
1 x Nature Made Melatonin Melts Rain Check=$1.99
1 x Cella cherry 20% wellness discount=.26¢ *not pictured*

Coupons Used
1 x $2/1 Anacin IPQ=$2.00
1 x $1/1 Nature Made item IPQ=$1.00
1 x $2/1 Nature Made supplements VideoValues Q=$2.00
Coupon Total.....$5.00

$7.24-$5.00=$2.24-$2 +Up Rewards=.24¢ + .02¢ tax=.26¢ OOP

I received a $4 +Up Reward back for buying the Anacin.

$20.69 worth of merchandise for .26¢ out of pocket.

Don't get all worried that I am pregnant(because I bought baby food).  I use applesauce in place of oil in my baking and this baby food applesauce will do the trick just as well as regular applesauce.  8-)
They had Gerber 2nd Foods on sale for 2/$3 with a $3 +Up Reward when you buy 2 Deal a couple weeks ago.  Of course they were out so I got rain checks for both our accounts/cards and as they get it back on the shelves the next couple months, I'll go in and redeem those rain checks.

The Melatonin Melts were a Deal a couple of weeks back as well.....on sale for $5.99 and you got a $4 +Up Rewards when you bought it.  So the rain check makes it a sale price of $1.99.  I had $3 in coupons to stack on this so it was better than free and the overage went toward the $3.99 I owed on the Anacin after my $2/1 Q for that.

I'll be back tomorrow probably with what I got with my $4 +Up Reward I earned for this transaction.  I still have to figure out how to spend it.  ;-)


Friday, April 4, 2014

Wanderlust is Hitting Me Again!

We'll be hitting the road later this month for a road trip.
The purpose is to go visit my daughter as we haven't seen her since she moved to Louisiana last May.
I am looking forward to that.
But we have a whole lot of miles and states to get through before we get to Louisiana.

Our last road trip back last August, we planned out to the nth degree.
This time we are playing it more by ear.
Other than the basics of a loose route and the hotel where we will be staying once we get to LA, everything else is up in the air. 
This is called being spontaneous or "freestyling" and you know what?'s scaring the hell out of me! lolz

I am a planner, a chart maker and list keeper.
We have so many days to get to LA by a certain date and then so many days to get home.
We also have a few things we want to do/see along the way, but other than that, everything else is up in the air.....from what roads we travel, to what we see/do(or don't see/don't do), where we eat, stop and sleep.

Hubs elected to receive a GPS for his 30 year anniversary gift at work, so we'll have that for help.  We will go armed with a map, a list of ideas/places to visit along the way and mapquest-ed directions/addresses and phone numbers.  Night's lodgings will be located using a feature on the GPS for such or using booklets or signs on the Interstate or personal recommendations.

I fear we'll pay too much for lodgings this way(just dropping in last minute and hoping the motel/hotel is under booked and practically giving away rooms for the night is NOT my idea!)but I am going to go with it.

I didn't buy any restaurant dotcom eatery certificates to bring the meal prices down, but we won't be locked into getting to/eating at a specific destination either.
Though I do have some gift cards(for eateries I already had)so I'll bring those for "just in case" situations.  But I do prefer to eat local food, not in a chain.

And we are renting a car like we did last August so there is no added wear and tear on our already beleaguered vehicles.

While I have ideas on a few excursions we are open to other ideas. 

So if you are on our way(between northeastern PA and northwestern LA)and either are up to a visit or giving us a place to sleep for a night, or have some ideas of places/things to see/experience along that route, or words of advise/wisdom, drop me a note either on the blog or privately and I'll take all under advisement.

Since we WILL be nearby to New Orleans, we'd like to experience that city, but we won't be stopping there this trip.  We looked at going but it's just not do-able this time.
Heck, if we retire to LA it will be just down the road anyway and we'll have many opportunities to go there then.

Heck, if we are swinging by your town, maybe you'll be granted an audience with Sluggy and I can bring you your own personal Bloggerpalooza II goody bag.....won't that be a treat?! ;-)


Thursday, April 3, 2014

Have I Mentioned How Much I Hate Cars Lately?

First let me state for the record......March kicked my ass.

Except for a few days away in Delaware, it was a sucky month, both financially and personally.
Lots of bills....too many for my taste.
If not for a nice tax refund we would have been into the negative money in March after paying all the bills.

The health is ok but I am not making enough progress on my goals of dropping weight and getting more fit.  It's difficult to see results when you can't exercise much due to breathing issues.

Can't get motivated to do what needs to be done to this house or the many projects I have to do.
I am about at the point where I just want everything that isn't getting completed GONE from the house.  I feel a big donation to Sallie's bubbling up to the surface.... ;-)
At this rate, by the time 4 years from now gets here, I won't have anything to throw away or even MOVE when we leave this house. lolz

My newly fixed, floored, painted and crown molding-ed living room still has no furniture in it.  But the dog enjoys the rug in there to sun herself on nice days.
I'm so glad we had that work done.....for the dog's pleasure. ha!

I guess I am just feeling frustrated and ready for some warmer weather.  Remind me I said that when I am sweltering a few months from now... ;-)

Back to the bills.....
I just tallied up what we've spent on the SUCK HOLE that are cars in just the first 3 months of
this year.


And that's just repairs; not gas, insurance and the usual monies we have to sink into them.

I just wish you could fix everything car related with duct tape.  My life would be so much more pleasant and richer!

So hating what it costs to remain mobile in this society of ours......

Hubs has decided to just limp along with his vehicle(aka the Death Trap)until August.
When #2 Son leaves for college the Death Trap gets donated(somewhere they will take it!lol)and he'll start driving the 3rd car(that use to be his car before he bought the DT)again.
Then we have to decide what to do with my minivan......the one that needs bodywork or won't pass inspection this time again next year, but doesn't even have 100K miles on it yet.

Maybe we will become a 1 car family by then?
We had planned on downsizing to 2 cars this year, then 1 car once he retired in 4 years time.
Maybe we'll get down to 1 car sooner than we planned.

Lord knows I'll enjoy NOT spending all that cash on the beastly things!



$24K Savings Challenge.....March Update

Every year I keep a close eye on our monthly expenses and our monthly income.
Our income is mainly the salary my Hubs draws from his job.  We have money taken off each paycheck from the top to put into savings, before we even get our hands on it.  This money that's taken goes into various insurance, health insurance premiums, long term care insurance premiums, investments and retirement savings.  It's automatic so we are never tempted to NOT put it into savings.

Once the automatic savings amounts, plus taxes and medical/dental/vision premiums are taken out, it leaves what we get to "live on".  From this amount we budget for bills, both monthly and irregular bills(semi-annual, annual etc.) and our variable bills(like food, eating out, clothing  etc.)  Anything left over once our monthly expenses are paid, I put aside into a Savings Challenge. 

For 2014 I am continuing my Yearly Savings Challenge.  I am raising the Goal amount slightly to $24,000 this year, $4K more than my goal for last year.

On to the March report.....

I have posted my March End of Month $24K $AVING$ CHALLENGE Totals.
Check out the Savings Challenge page tab at the top of the blog for the specific numbers.

I have 2 goals each month.....
The 1st is to actually finish each month in the black and not the red.
The 2nd is to hit the targeted savings amount of $2,000.

I have to report that we finished up March with a larger than targeted amount.
The extra amount we ended the month of March with?.......$3,192.73.

We had -$738.52 left over from our income after our monthly expenses were deducted.
Bad bad month for bills....between unexpected car repairs, yearly bills being paid in this month and a "higher than I like to see" credit card bill, the income outpaced the bills. 
Other monies received in March totaled $3,931.25.  This included interest made on accounts, stock dividends, a per diem from Hub's work and a federal tax refund.  Most of this was the tax refund.

This brought us to our gain of $3,192.73
Since we have no debt anymore, this goes into savings.

As for the expenses this March, here are the good and the bad side of things....

*  The electric bill went down almost $100 from Feb's bill.
*  I spent under $345 for food/toiletries in March.

*  Another unexpected car repair bill over $1K. ugh
*  2 extra flute lessons in March.
*  The yearly local taxes are due end of April but I paid them in March.
*  The c/c bill was $300 more than Feb's bill.
*  $310 MORE in cash withdrawals.
*  Sewage bill was paid for the whole year this month.
*  The local taxes were paid for the year this month.
The Food Budget costs for March are in another post, which is located HERE.

The 2014 GRAND TOTAL.....
With 3 months accounted for, our Savings Grand Total for 2014 is $4,757.20
$1,242.80 short at this point of the $6,000.00 I should have put aside after 3 months.
Looking ahead for April......

*  I will continue to do this Savings Challenge and report in each month on how it is going.

*  I have a road trip to go visit my daughter scheduled this month so lodging, gas & food expenses will happen.

*  The electric bill should continue to go down as the weather warms and we turn down/off the heat.
So how was your March financially?
Did you spend less than the income you had in March?
Did you stay within your budget or not?
Did you pay off any debts or put extra toward your mortgage principle or into savings in an emergency fund or a retirement account?

If you posted your financial progress on your own blog, leave a link in the comments so we can go check you out your progress too and celebrate with you!


Wednesday, April 2, 2014

The "New" Plan

As some of you may know, Hubs and I are going on a road trip this month, with the destination point being the town where my daughter now lives.
I haven't seen her since she moved there last May, so it's been almost a year since she's been gone and we've seen her.

I miss her.
I can bet you that after 2 days being around her, I'll take that statement back. lol

Anyway, we are looking forward to visiting her and seeing a part of the country that, at least my Hubs, has never been to before.

The daughter's living situation is tenuous at this point.  She's been living with her boyfriend and his parents since May.
That situation has been "going downhill" for months now.  Nothing dangerous or bad but she and the BF want to move out as soon as they are able.  They are in their 20's now and want to get out on their own.

So here comes another one of my hair brained ideas....uh oh.....!LOLZ

Hubs and I are still up in the air in terms of what part of the country we are going to retire to, but he IS retiring in 4 years and Hubs wants to move away from the "snow belt" and I want to be near wherever my kids end up living, so we have come up with an idea.

I have contacted a realtor and while we are down in Louisiana we are going to be looking at property there.

The plan now is to find something inexpensive, a foreclosure, etc., we can buy soon,  that the daughter and BF can live in for the next few years, until Hubs retires.  At that point they can make arrangements to buy the house from us or they can move out and we'll move in and renovate or have a new home built on the property.

The housing market down there is still quite depressed and there are many many foreclosures and folks desperate to sell.
I want to find something we can pay cash for(since we won't be selling our house up in PA yet)and the kids can do any fix-up work to get it livable(on our dime).  In exchange for free rent, they take care of the place.  They will be responsible for the taxes and utilities.

We are thinking about properties with at least 2 acres outside of the cities there.  Most of these would be mobile home situations.  As long as the trailer is in good enough condition, these would be the cheapest option and the most attractive for our needs.
Once Hubs retires and we move down there, we'd move the trailer(or haul it off depending on condition)and have a new house built on the property for us(after selling the house in PA since we'd use those funds to pay for the new house).

I figure, Hubs will enjoy the weather there(thank goodness for A/C for me!lol), we will enjoy the laidback lifestyle down there, plus we'll be close by to where my daughter lives.  She plans on having kids so this is important that we be close by.  My oldest is also planning on relocating to the South at some point so we'll also be closer to him and his GF.  It's too soon to guess where #2 Son will end up as an adult so we can't even make a plan taking him into consideration.

So we'll see what develops from this trip.


Food & Toiletries Spending.....March Update

 Onward to March's food spending report.......

Here are my FOOD BUDGET spending totals for MARCH 2014.

I have posted March's totals on the Total Grocery Savings for 2014 Page located HERE and have updated the Yearly Totals there.
I am listing subtotals for each store I purchased from in March.  If you aren't interested in that much detail, just skip to the bottom for the Totals Summary.

My spending includes Food, Toiletries/HBA, Pet Supplies, Cleaning Products, Paper Goods & tax where applicable. We are a family of 4(3 at home this month)& 1 dog. No kids under 18.

OOP  $6.00
Value  $11.97
Savings   49.9%

OOP  $13.00
Value  $37.65
Savings    65.47%
OOP  $11.53
Qs/Ads/+Ups  $158.16
Value  $169.69
Savings  93.2%
SHURSAVE STORES(small local independent affiliated stores)
OOP  $26.29
Qs/Ads  $10.97
Value  $37.26
Savings  29.44%

OOP  $81.96
Qs/Ads  $40.27
Value  $122.23
Savings  32.95%

My best 3 Store Savings Totals were Rite-Aid at 93.2%,  the Dollar Store at 65.47% and the Bakery Outlet at 49.9%.  My WORST savings rate was Shursave Market at 29.44%.
I shopped at 5 different stores this past month.

TOTAL Out of Pocket........$344.86
TOTAL Coupons & Store Sales Savings...$380.76
TOTAL Value of Items Purchased............$725.62
TOTAL Savings of...................................51.80%

Even without counting the Rite-Aid shopping, my savings rate was 38.94%.

This closes out the March food/toiletries spending.

THOUGHTS & COMMENTS for this month.....

I went into March wanting to keep my food/toiletries budget at $300, but I went over by $44.86.
It sure beats spending $400 though.  ;-)
Over a 50% savings rate for March was only possible because of my Rite-Aid deals last week.  The "normal" rate I like to try for is 40%.

I tallied up our Eating Out spending for March and it came in at $155.11(including tips).
$96.31 of that was #2 Son's Birthday dinner and the other $58.80 was meals out on my trip to Delaware.
This spending doesn't come out of our food/toiletries budget however.


I am not even going to attempt to predict what April's food/toiletries spending will look like.  I have a road trip coming up this month (!!!)so I'll be buying convenience foods this month for those staying home.  These typically cost more anyway so we'll see where we stand on the spending come May 1.

If you have other ideas or guidelines you follow please leave a comment and share yours with us all.

Total spend on food/toiletries so far this year.....$1,040.66
The average monthly food/toiletries spending this year so far is $346.89.
How much did you spend on food/toiletries in March?
Do you track your yearly food spending?