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Any Small Successes?

Posted by Acadiafun (My Page) on
Sat, Feb 22, 14 at 19:21

I have a whole late winter and early spring list of expenditures that I would rather not make but seem necessary. New fence for the dogs, home improvements on the new house. So with that said the overtime I have worked will not reduce my debt.

So I look to the past two months for my two steps forward as I take one step back....

I reduced my only CC from $2500 to $1200. I paid off 1% of my home loan. My new expenditures will mostly be paid by my overtime so although I won't reduce my debt I hope not to incur new debt.

I replaced most lightbulbs in the house with LED bulbs to save money in the future. We refinished the wood floors ourselves and saved 2K doing so. I am making home made pasta twice a week and we have reduced our food bill by $200 dollars a month by eating leftovers and packing lunch for work.

Small successes no doubt and other expenses seem to hit us hard. For example DD hit a pothole in the road, bent two rims and that will cost $700. That has always been my weakness. Seeing how unexpected costs crop up so I used to say why bother saving as our money will be eaten up by them. But I am now on the path to paying off as much as I can, saving and trying to roll with those unexpected costs in our lives. Biggest challenge and success is really living on one income and not letting DH who as always been a great provider feel as a failure.

Any small successes in your household finances recently? I think we should celebrate them together so we can encourage each other as we go.


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Any Small Successes?

I would like to congratulate you on your successes, especially if you also had increased utility bills due to the winter blast this year to contend with during this time. Way to go..... ;-)

These are some of our "successes" and may be helpful to you or others. It's not always about making more money, but more often about spending less.

-Food budget - I have a food budget of $125/month for two adults. When I had a $200 budget, I spent 18-months building a 3-level food storage plan (loosely based after what is taught by the LDS Church), which is how I am able to reduce my monthly spending AND maintain my food storage on $125/month. I rarely pay retail for anything, including food, and I "shop" at home for meal planning each week. BTW - the food budget pays for food only and I am on track to spend $100 - or less - in January and February, and that's my goal for March.
My food storage plan:
a. 72-hour emergency food (food that doesn't require heating or refrigeration)
b. 6-12-months of pantry foods. Food I use for daily meals. "Foods" are ingredients, mainly whole foods, and little to no processed or convenience foods. I make my own "convenience" foods.
c. 12-months of long-term storage foods, which get rotated into our pantry.
d. Bonus level - 3-years of the "Seven Survival Foods" - grains, seeds for sprouting, legumes, salt, fat, sweetener/s, powdered milk.

Note: We only have a side-by-side refrigerator/freezer. An additional free-standing freezer we had used more in electricity than it saved for storing food bargains. A freezer was a nice convenience we found we could easily live without by making different choices.

-We went to basic cable + ROKU and a monthly subscription to Netflix, and dropped our bill by more than half. If you don't watch a lot of television in the spring/summer due to other activities, cut your cable to basic for that 6-month period and save, as another way to reduce cost.

-Pets. I don't want to come off as heartless about pets, just realistic when it comes to them and debt. Pets can be very expensive. We are able to enjoy our neighbors pets. We walk them, take care of them when our neighbors are gone, but we just don't need the bite out of our budget that owning them requires. Even now that we are debt-free and own our home, we have retirement looming and need to consider those preparations.

-Many people make the mistake of fencing their entire property line when a smaller enclosed area would work as a less-expensive solution. Perhaps you could make a secure pet run on a side yard. We have a courtyard that is enclosed by a 6-foot wood privacy fence (shared the expense of one side with the neighbor), and this is where I have my clothes line, garden shed and a small patio. We also have our yard and garbage carts secured there. We eventually used less-expensive decorative fence and plants for boundaries.

-For the last 18-months, with the exception of groceries (and I shop once a week for groceries), I only "shop" every other month. It makes me think carefully about what we need, and shopping is no longer a casual/mindless activity, but a purposeful and planned outing. I've reduced the normal use and mileage on the car by about 25%, and increased our savings account by only shopping every other month. Now that I've done this for a year and a half, I find I will only shop the first week and possibly the last week of the months I go shopping. Shopping is a great habit to break and a great way to reduce household clutter.

-I cut my own hair, but I budget $20/month as an expense. I put the saved money in our Emergency/Christmas savings account, so that puts $240 a year in that account. I also save my $1 bills, and the least I've ever saved was $500 for the year. All "found" money also goes into this account. Found money includes rebates, monetary gifts, garage sale, aluminum cans (we walk ditches, hit the baseball and soccer fields trash cans, hubby collects them at work....).

-Before buying clothing or shoes, especially so-called "bargains", figure the cost per wear (CPW), not just the purchase price. If you maintain a good basic wardrobe and good quality shoes, you should need fewer total items, and your CPW will go down drastically. I'm still wearing snow boots I bought in 1976, so my CPW is now in the pennies, even though at the time they were fairly expensive for better quality. With regular care, they still look great. If you are pulling forgotten items out of your closet that you've only worn a time or two, you are paying a high CPW, in spite of it being a great "bargain".

-We no longer have any subscriptions or membership dues. We actually shifted this money to donations, but everyone can find a better/different use for subscriptions and memberships, especially if they have any debt.

-Grainlady



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RE: Any Small Successes?

We replaced almost all our light bulbs with the cfl's . That saved us $40 per month right away. We use them both inside and out. Switched over to Led Christmas lights also. Even though I love the old fashioned kind and the light they give off, Led's did save us another $35 dollars. We purchased a new washer just before Thanksgiving. Our 20 year old Maytag finally gave out. It is the energy star, water saving type. It knocked off $100 from our water bill for that billing period. Our wood for the fireplace was free. We reclaimed some dead trees on our property. We are from scratch cook and bakers. No need to buy premade/ processed food full of unhealthy crap. We have 2 refrigerators and a small freezer that suits our needs. We buy in bulk, cut up and separate into family sized portions. Then we Food saver it and into the freezer or pantry they go. We are looking through the seed catalogs right now for our veggie garden. It is a small plot but it provides us with a lot of fresh veggies during summer and fall. I can and process the excess and use it during the winter months. Just some of the money saving things we have done. HTH, NancyLouise


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RE: Any Small Successes?

Grainlady,

" I find I will only shop the first week and possibly the last week of the months I go shopping. "

Is this when more bargains are to be had?


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RE: Any Small Successes?

xminion-

Not necessarily. There are "bargains" to be had all the time. It's mostly because after a number of weeks without shopping, there is usually a list of things we need, so I venture out the first of the month. I also make rounds to the thrift stores the first of the month.

By the end of the month, one starts to consider how long it will be before you shop again, so you make sure you have everything well-stocked, or to take advantage of advertised bargains while you can.

-Grainlady


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RE: Any Small Successes?

grainlady, your comments make me wonder what the motivation is behind some of your actions.

While I think many would acknowledge the breadth and enthusiasm of your efforts, so too would many find some of your suggestions perhaps a bit extreme (though obviously not for you).

Is it necessary because of a limited family income level? There's certainly nothing wrong with what works for you if so.


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RE: Any Small Successes?

snidely-

Is it a "bit extreme", or is it a slight case of a nagging conscience, and more to the point - no matter how veiled you tried to present it - being judgmental on your part? Spending money is easy, especially borrowed money, and any fool can do that. Instead of looking at what I've done as money-saving options, you seem to be affronted or insulted by them - enough so to make a comment.

I'm a little like the original poster, Acadiafun. We've learned how to do things for our self in order to save money. We, too, have refinished wood floors, shingled the roof (I did 50% of our home's roof by myself when I was 30-years old while the kids were at school), built a 3-car garage, completely remodeled our home indoors and out, and sold it for 4 times what we bought it for.

And no, were not without means. I stopped working when I was 50-years old and am currently 61, and hubby (62) is a company executive and has been with the same company for 39-years, since he graduated from college. His income is triple what the average median income is for our area. We live on the "nice" side of town in a modest (3-bd. room.,1,372 sq. ft.) paid-for home we purchased new 8-years ago. Someone else can buy the McMansion down the street.

Not bad for a poor college student and his wife who's combined income in 1971 when they got married was $3,000, and they owned their home even back then (albeit a 10X50' mobile home). We've never rented.

A lesson on economy.... Several years ago, during the economic down-turn, after hubby took 3 major pay-cuts and the business he works for reduced the work force by 50%, we decided to set our household budget by the projected amount his Social Security will be when hubby retires at age 70. More people should give it a go. Living on less than you make is even better in practice than it is in theory. You will have to decide what you can do so you can retire with dignity.

-Grainlady


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RE: Any Small Successes?

Yes, as examples I'd say that rummaging through garbage cans for aluminum soda cans and stockpiling food like silage are two of many of your suggestions that the average homeowner or person with a job might find extreme.

It's true that some have trouble living within their means. It takes discipline to make sensible spending choices. But making sensible choices doesn't require avoiding spending altogether. I hope you haven't lost the joy of living by worrying so much about avoiding expenses at every turn.

As far as being judgemental, I think some of your comments are right up there. To you, I've committed a double mistake by fencing my entire property for the safety of my dog.

I was fortunate to retire in my mid-50s, I realize others need to work longer and focus more on anticipating financial needs for retirement. The parsimonious lifestyle you describe may be one way to get there, but it's probably not something that most would find attractive. To each his own, good luck.

This post was edited by snidely on Mon, Feb 24, 14 at 16:45


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RE: Any Small Successes?

$3000/year? 1971? That's $52.69 / week. And you bot a trailer?

.


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RE: Any Small Successes?

Last Friday I was laying out clothes for my boys, pulled a pair of jeans off the hanger and it had holes in the knees which meant that boy was down to 2 pairs with no holes. I am trying to organize the house and while standing in their closet, I could not remember what was in a crate, I was thinking it was some toys we had put up. Pulled it down and found 4 pairs of jeans in the size I needed. That was definitely a success.

This winter our boiler broke ($600, ouch) and our fridge has not been sounding good and has not been as cold. The boiler was fixed by a friend and I had him look at the fridge. We were afraid it was the compressor which would have cost $600 (and which we would have likely just bought a new one instead). He said he was not worried about the compressor but the fan motor was going out, total cost was $100 to fix. That saved me from figuring out how to come up with $1800 for a new fridge.

Another relief is DH works for our state. How much an employee pays for health insurance is tiered. There were talks of a 1.5% raise which would have put us over the next tier but would have reduced our take home pay significantly due to retirement withholdings, taxes, and the insurance, etc. Thankfully, a 3% raise is what passed the legislature which will get us to break just about even with his current pay or only be a few dollars less a payday. That was a major relief.


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RE: Any Small Successes?

Congratulations Grainlady!

Some people like Mr Whiplash just don't get it, and that's their problem.

We return bottles and cans to the grocery store because there is a 5 cent deposit we paid when we bought the soda. Others just throw away the money in the trash.

Some people "need" a new car every couple of years. We buy a new vehicle and keep it for a minimum of 10 years.

We too do our major grocery shopping once a month. We do weekly shopping for the essentials. And we use coupons. Some don't care about saving money by spending a 1/2 hour a week looking at the flyers and clipping coupons. But she saves an average of 25% .


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RE: Any Small Successes?

christopher, your suggestions seem to me as normal and common sense for someone trying to moderate spending. In contrast, the recommendations to go dumpster diving and adopt other clearly ascetic practices are not what I think most would find reasonable. AND (the big AND), not everyone needs to moderate spending, this person seems to have her own attitude problem about people so situated.

Life is for living, money is for spending. Everyone should do the maximum of both within the means they have available. In doing so, one person's spending priorities will rarely be the same as another's. So, anyone's advice in sharing what is best FOR THEM must always be seen in that context.

If you think there's something I don't understand, help me be smarter.

Sincerely,

S Whiplash
(who just got home from running errands in his 13 year old car that looks and runs like new)


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RE: Any Small Successes?

I guess it's just how you look at life.

There's an old Yankee saying:
Use it up
Wear it out
Make it do
Or do without

(PS: Real Yankees live in New England, not the Bronx.)

I also found out long ago that the "best things in life... aren't things."

If Grainlady or anybody else wants to live that way, who are you to negatively comment?

I see waste every day with those silly McMansions. Too much house on a postage stamp property with maybe 20 feet between houses. I like living at the end of a dirt road and can hardly even see my neighbors' houses.

And as for food, my wife still does her own canning. Saves a lot of money and a LOT of people do it.

Is that odd too?


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RE: Any Small Successes?

You contradicted yourself with these two consecutive sentences

"If Grainlady or anybody else wants to live that way, who are you to negatively comment?

I see waste every day with those silly McMansions."

Life is about choices and to each his own. You like being at the end of a dirt road, I personally don't and wouldn't live someplace like that. If your wife likes canning, great. Me, I prefer eating fresh fruits and veggies.

Advice is only worthwhile if the suggestions can be expected to be favorably received. My comments were triggered by reading advice that I thought was extreme and unlikely to be thought of as useful. If your personal finances are favorably enhanced by the suggestion to walk along the road and pick up aluminum cans, then, so be it.


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RE: Any Small Successes?

Up here we pick up aluminum cans (thrown out by the city people with no class) to clean up the roadside, and make a few bucks in the process.

Why not?

1/20/17


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RE: Any Small Successes?

I think most people who are employed and have roofs over their heads tend to leave the aluminum can collecting to people who are less fortunate (ie, the homeless). An hour of work should produce a lot more money than an hour of can collecting.

If during one of your roadside cleanup trips you found an aluminum can sitting next to a large bag with the remnants of a McDonalds drive through meal, would you pick up both?


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RE: Any Small Successes?

It seems we are all making our choices on where to cut back and what means success to us. I am happy to meet other like minded people. :)


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RE: Any Small Successes?

How true Acadiafun. Different strokes for different folks. My mil was an extremely frugal person. She would wear clothes til they were thread bare and could no longer be patched, cut her own hair,etc., even though she could afford to purchase new items or go to the salon. She just chose not to. At times she looked like a bag lady. That is a bit extreme to me and I would not do it. Nor would I enjoy living like that. I like enjoying life and saving money. No law that says you can't do both. NancyLouise


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RE: Any Small Successes?

I haven't checked this thread for awhile, and it's grown even more interesting.

-Spending money now equals happiness, especially for snidely who considers "snidely" the living standard we should all aspire to.

-Those who are frugal and savers MUST, by our very lifestyle choices, lead a thoroughly miserable life. And sadly, I don't even have any sackcloth and ashes in my wardrobe....

-Because we recycle aluminum cans, we are stealing from the less-fortunate.

WOW!

I love what NancyLouise said, "I like enjoying life and saving money. No law that says you can't do both."

But snidely makes what should be an enjoyable thread to read for most of us, a combat zone for snidely. Try getting some sunshine, snide -- maybe you are SAD (or rather, have SAD) - Seasonal Affective Disorder.

I always try to find something to learn from people who are frugal. It may sound unusual or unnecessary at the time, but if you ever need to tighten the money belt, it may actually be helpful down the line, so I love to collect those ideas. And for my frugal motto: I don't do without, I just do "differently".

BTW, my sister recently made an "air-conditioner" out of a Styrofoam Ice Chest, piece of PVC pipe, and a small fan (you put ice in the chest to cool the air) so she can keep cool without having to turn her air-conditioner on any sooner than necessary (she found the information on-line). When she shared the idea with me, I thought it a little whacky until I remembered the summer we had brown-outs and were asked to keep our air-conditioners set on 80-degrees F. I would have LOVED one of those homemade air-conditioners (and have now put one of them together with stuff found in the basement). I can even run it on solar power or a battery we charge with solar.

-Grainlady


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RE: Any Small Successes?

"If Grainlady or anybody else wants to live that way, who are you to negatively comment? "

That door swings both ways....


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RE: Any Small Successes?

Grain-

Slightly before your time there were car coolers like that. I think the rolled up window held em in place. Loaded with ice the wind blew thru. Maybe some had fans too.

Here is a link that might be useful: Here's a pic


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RE: Any Small Successes?

mxyplx-

I'd forgotten all about those, but I do remember seeing a few when I was a child and at some car shows. What's old is new again! -Grainlady


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RE: Any Small Successes?

Interesting comments.

While I think Snidely's comments have merit, I have noticed that sometimes his delivery is off-putting. Here's the way I would say it:

Sure, you can save and scrimp and pick up cans on the roadside, but, if you don't have to, why do it? If you have plenty to eat, your health, a roof over your head, and are debt-free, what is the point? Is the love of money that overpowering?

Gee, maybe I'm opening an even bigger can of worms . . . . .


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RE: Any Small Successes?

Yes, littlebug5, you kind of are, LOL. One picks crap off the side of the road because no-one else does!

We're very frugal - our house was paid off when we finished construction, and we both retired quite early. We have plenty - roof, food, no debt, and enough to enjoy our occasional travels and luxuries.

Even so, we still pick up cans on the side of the road when walking. We also (for Snidely's benefit) pick up the garbage from a fast-food meal. The food remains we scatter over the landscape, as this is a semi-rural neighborhood with 2+ acre lots and many native scavengers, so we just toss those to the wind. But we never walk the neighborhood without the dog, the trash picker-upper thingy, and a couple of plastic bags. When new construction is happening, with lots of crews in the neighborhood, the trash can be considerable.

We consider this taking care of the neighborhood. Other neighbors do the same thing. We don't get money for this, we just trash the garbage and put the recyclables in the recycling bin.


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RE: Any Small Successes?

Acadiafun - sorry some of us got so off-topic. There are like-minded people here.

You absolutely should celebrate all the small victories. They can be tough to come by. DH and I went through many sacrifices early on, and celebrated every victory.

Perhaps I should tell you about changing a light bulb in our dining room light fixture in our 1920's era bungalow, just three days after we moved in. Creak, groan, CRACK, SAG... and running desperately to the hardware store for 4x4" posts and plywood sheets to prop up the dining room ceiling...lath and plaster, sagging, threatening to collapse. But it was one of those beautiful coved, cake-frosting type ceilings, and we did NOT want to lose it! We lived with it propped up for months while we researched how to repair the lath, and re-key the plaster. Slowly, on weekends, we did it together.

So CELEBRATE the small advances! You have time, you'll make it work. Every victory brings you closer to your goals,

Just a thought - when we moved for DH's job, and I was unemployed for a while, I made managing the finances my job. Of course, we consulted together on major decisions - but someone needs to be on top of the everyday stuff.


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RE: Any Small Successes?

Well, our biggest small success most recently wasn't anything we can take credit for. A termite infestation was discovered in our basement, and we were EXTREMELY relieved that the bill was "only" $800. It could have been a whole lot worse, especially as the termite guy found a five-inch-wide termite "superhighway" they had built right up against the outside wall. No wood needed replacing, thank goodness!

I have to say I see snidely's point, just as I see grainlady's. Look, it's wonderful that some people get a kick out of being frugal. I salute you; really I do. It's fabulous that you eat healthily and thriftily. More people should.

But I don't want to be like you. I am more like snidely, and so is my spouse. We are free-spending and live very well, despite being on what was considered moderate incomes in the extremely expensive San Francisco Bay Area. I am more likely to spend $125 on lunch for the two of us, and I only pick up cans to put them into the recyling cart which the Waste Mgmt Corp. picks up every week - and charges us for whether we fill up the cart or not.

We fought our way out of bankruptcy into a comfortable early retirement, and it wasn't easy. So absolutely yes, celebrate those small successes! Especially reducing the credit card debt, which is very difficult.

The OP's situation shows the importance of having an emergency fund, and I still vividly remember how difficult it was to even manage a 2-month emergency fund. Funding a 6- or 12-month emergency fund, as is often recommended nowadays, was something I didn't manage until I was in my fifties and close to retiring, LOL.

Just as important as celebrating your small financial successes is to remember how wealthy you truly are. If you have family and friends whom you love and who love you in return; if you have reasonably good health and a roof over your head; if you can pay your bills and marvel at the sight of spring flowers...then you are rich, regardless of $$$.


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RE: Any Small Successes?

Hey jkom, looks like we're regional neighbors as well as sharing some views.

It was Oscar Wilde who said something like "Everything in moderation, including moderation".

This post was edited by snidely on Mon, Mar 17, 14 at 1:31


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RE: Any Small Successes?

Through a lot of "foolishness" I got in debt of $30,000 spread over 5 credit cards. Just about 4 years ago, I cut up the cards, contacted all 5 CC companies and asked what's the lowest monthly amount they would accept to pay off the debt. Each one gave me a figure, and I was able to make the payments on time every month. I have now paid off four of the 5 cards, and my balance on the last one is about $600, which I will happily pay off in April. I made the last payment of $571 on April 4. And I've learned a good lesson.

This post was edited by jannie on Sun, Apr 6, 14 at 13:15


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RE: Any Small Successes?

Good work Jannie!

We are working on my daughter's kitchen and have installed a new disposal, sink aerator, tile counter,backsplash, and bought a new range, hood, microwave, pantry doors, and kitchen lights for $1900. The estimate just on the counter labor was $2500 if we paid someone to do it. DH did not think I could do the plumbing and equipment but I surprised him (and myself) in a good way.

I think actually believing you need to save money puts you in a different mindset. You start to believe it is necessary and that breeds invention. I suspect how far you go with frugality depends on how much you either need it, or how much you stretch your imagination because it is a challenge. For me it is a little of both.


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RE: Any Small Successes?

When one is 85, in reasonably good health, and with, perhaps, another 15 years (or should that be, "tears") to go ...

... and when one considers the costs associated with living in a retirement home, let alone a nursing home ...

... one may consider that having a substantial fund on hand makes for much less chewing of one's fingernails.

To each his own, I figure, and I enjoy the fact that I have the privilege of living in a country where I am free to choose my own way of living.

When one person speaks of the ways that one operates one's life, without being judgemental about how others choose to live theirs, shouldn't we be well advised to follow a "live and let live" pattern?

Not a good idea to tell others how they should live, it seems to me.

Or, possibly, even a "live and help live" one?

A person with whom I became familiar during my several years working as a personal financial adviser, most of them selling no financial products, so no conflict of interest, was able on an annual income of about $50,000. to reduce her federal tax liability to zero ... but it took giving about 20 - 25% of her income to charities and political contributions to achieve that.

ole joyful


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RE: Any Small Successes?

Huh?


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RE: Any Small Successes?

I live a frugal lifestyle, by choice rather than necessity ... and I pick up pop cans on the roadside, haven't sold any lately, but they used to be about 50 - 70 cents/lb., and it takes about 33 to make a pound ... but beer cans bring 10 cents each at the beer store, liquor bottle 20 cents.

I live comfortably on my pensions ... so the investments are more or less "play money" ... until I may need them for (a part of) my health care ... or to pay for my place in a residential or nursing home.

I can choose to be generous, sometimes to myself, sometimes to others, when I choose.

With a financial cushion, it gives one a good deal of satisfaction ...

... as does a cushion of air around one, when driving on the freeway, highway or city street.

A sign alongside our arterial freeway says, "Tailgating kills - leave some space!".

The person who has a financial cushion, enough to keep him/her floating for upwards of a year with no current income, is in a much happier position in the case of a long-term layoff, than a person carrying a lot of debt and no savings.

My recent small success is that I arranged legally to pay zero income tax this year ... maybe enjoy a small net gain.

It takes a substantial contribution to charities and political support to arrange it, and some say that's a lot to give to charity, but I say that the only difference is the net cost to me from what I had in pocket earlier to the place where I became income tax liable, as the money beyond that which went to income tax was out of my pocket, anyway ... all I did was redirect the income tax portion from the government's pocket into that of some charities, churches, and a political party.

Hope you're having a great spring ... the grass has been growing for about a week, here.

ole joyfuelled


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RE: Any Small Successes?

Joyful, I like your posts.

I happen to like a frugal lifestyle. We all have personal priorities. Some love living in the city, and I love living in the country. Our whole state is classified as 'rural'. Our biggest town has 35,000 people.

I do pick up cans along the roadside because it's litter. And I do pick up the occasional Mickey D's bag. And I always marvel at that because the closest Mickey D's is 45 minutes away. I also pick up the litter because it's in front of my property. I have 1,200 feet of road frontage.

But what I am very proud of is I found a way to actually lower my property taxes! I have 32 acres of property. It's all wooded except for the 3 acres where I have my house. So I donated the rest of the land to the Vermont Land Trust.

What I did was put the land in a state where it can never be developed. It's still my property and I can do anything I want with it except develop it. It has become part of the deed. Lots of Vermonters are doing this. So every fall I can go outside and look at the mountain and see it literally on fire with the colors. And knowing it will stay that way in perpetuity is reassuring.


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