Tag Archives: happy

You Need It, so “Bud, Get” it!

My Dad sent me a good article to read this morning. It started my day out on a good note and told me that I am doing a lot of things right.
The article, Family Lives on $14,000 , is a good one. It talks a lot about budget and saving and doing without while being ok.

When I left my teaching after 6 years, I was earning around $36,000-38,000. That’s decent around here, but certainly not rich. Social Security and Disability figured out my wages (if I understand, it’s a percentage of the highest 5 years you earned in 30 years). It came out to roughly $1760 / month. That’s more than some, less than others. I am not complaining, just writing and stating facts. What is true is that it, certainly, is less than what I was making and I had to take insurance out of that. Medicare finally kicked in and it is much better now (in fact, the $1760 is after medicare and my Rx plan is taken out).

Whatever the final tally was, I had to change the way I was living. Let’s not say it was easy, let’s say it was drastic deathly horrendous slowly manageable.  I couldn’t do it all at once.  I took one thing and worked on it and, perhaps, started something else right after, and continued that until things looked much better.  I still do some little things to help, but here are my list of what has been pretty major:

1)  Groceries – my biggest thing was to stop impulse buying, find what worked for me, then see if I could get it just a bit cheaper.  The diabetes makes it a little more difficult, as a lot of it is more expensive, but I don’t buy a lot of the crap I used to either.

2)  Cable –  After several years of paying for but not watching cable TV, I bought a Roku box for about $40 and use it to tap into thousands of free movies.  I have, after trying several different things, started getting Amazon Prime for $79 / year.  In addition to a lot of free movies, it gives me a discount on a lot of Amazon shipping when I purchase something.

3)  Kindle – I have a Kindle soft touch (not “the” greatest thing, but it works fine for me).  I bought it on Amazon at a discount and have downloaded a lot of free books.  I do buy some, but usually the $0.99 or up to $2.99 books.  I am working on using it to access our local library (a resource I don’t use enough!).

4)  DVDs – I don’t own a Blu-Ray player, so I don’t shell out the extra money for it.  I used to buy all my DVDs, not rent them.  Since trying to declutter everything, I have found that paying $2.99 to watch a movie and, occasionally deciding to buy one later, works well for me.  I have hundreds of DVDs and haven’t watched them all, but I will, slowly now.

5)  Declutter – This simply means that I have decided to get rid of a lot of treasures crap items in my house.  This is a slow process.  I admit that I hoarded kept a lot of stuff over the years.  I was always afraid I would not have money and needed these things “just in case”.  Well, I decided that I can do without most of it.  What I can sell on Amazon I have, what I can give away to Goodwill I have (that was about 5 big boxes), and what’s left I am going through slowly.  I have someone(s) who have/are helping me to clean my house and make it beautiful livable comfortable.

6)  Car – The car has turned out to be the easiest one so far.  Since I don’t work, I drive a lot less.  This saved on insurance (gotta ask, folks) and gas.  By it’s nature, this cuts down on trips to the shop.  I keep the oil changed and fluids and all checked.  I let Jiffy Lube do this consistently every 3-4 months.  I have never had to add a quart of oil to the car, nor ever had a flat tire.  The car now has about 138,000 miles on it.  I expect 2-3 more good years out of it.  It has been paid for since about 2005.  It looks nice.  I bought a stick with nothing powered so it was cheaper and had less to break.  It’s been a good choice.

7) Budgeting Spreadsheet:

I use Excel for my checking / budget.  I created a column of “outgo” and then plotted what needed to come out each month for each item when I got my check.  Then I try hard to stick to that.  Sometimes, it’s a little borrow from one to pay another, but it works pretty well.  Notice that I add something each month to things such as “property tax” so that when it comes time, the money is already there.  The worst thing that can happen to you is to have a “surprise” yearly bill that shouldn’t have been a surprise.

House Payment
Cell Phone
Comcast
Middletown Utilities
Vectren Gas
State Farm
Amazon Deposit
Amazon Mailing
Amazon Prime
Gifts
Gas
Cleaning
Medical
Entertain
Groceries
Mowing/Snow
Property Taxes
Car
Reserve
Adjusted Savings
Reeder (Heating / AC)

.
Totals 7/22/2012
.
Bank Balance
Checking
Savings
.
I use this as my checking register.  If I am careful (I am getting better), it will closely match my checking account balance after I do the unposted checks/deposits.  I use my debit card a lot (as a credit card to avoid the $1 charge) to make it easier to balance.  It feels good to see all the time how much I have and how it is allocated to be spent.

8)  The last big thing I have to work with is “common sense”.  Some of it is easier now because my OCD is mostly gone since my stroke.  I am able to look at something and say, “No” and not get it.  It feels good to finish a month, have the new check come in and see on the spreadsheet that you had some money left.  I have a “savings” column and, each month, I put $50 in that column when the month starts.  That’s my first “dire emergency” fund.  Anytime the new check comes and that is $50 or more, I transfer it to savings.  That really feels good.

Uncle Sam gave me a refund (probably my last of any noticeable size for awhile) this year and I was able to put about 75% of it in savings and still feel good about how my excel sheet looks for March 2013.  I count that as a big success.

Just decide whether you want to run your money or let your money run you.  That’s a really good first step.

Namaste,

Scott

Fear of Heights, but Wish I Could Fly!

Nothing deep from me tonight. I slept well and found out my second story will be published by Monday. All is good with the world. Then, I got an email and had to share the video. I know I have said many times that I have a fear of heights; however, this video simply goes beyond that and fills me with happiness.
Enjoy!
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Namaste,
Scott
PS – the pic below is for Robin Coyle. She knows why.

Wal-Mart!  For Robin.

Wal-Mart! For Robin.

A Little Christmas Spirit

Merry Christmas!  One of my very favorite times of the year.

To celebrate a little together, simply click on a few of the clips below and smile.

Trans Siberian Orchestra (and Children Singing)

Good Ol’ Tony Bennett

This one is over 3 hours of songs!!!

Namaste,

Scott

Christmas Time is Here! What’s so Great about That?

Well, in a few short hours, it will be Christmas Eve.  For those of you from another planet, that means in a little over 24 hours, it will be Christmas.  I would be terribly remiss if I didn’t make a Christmas Post.  Now seemed like a good time.  I will make a post on Christmas Day, but it will be something short and light.  It will be easier for you to deal with, I promise.

However, for this one, I wanted to have everyone thinking about the same thing I am:  the Greatness of Christmas.  I will try to stay away from the organized religious parts of Christmas here.  What I want to discuss is what is truly so great about this one day?  Why does nearly the entire world, at least, get happier on this day?  Did you think about that?  From my understanding, Christmas should only be recognized by the members of the Christian faith.  That would make it around 33% of the world, I think.  Most people of this old planet are not Christians by faith.  Buddhism, Islam, and a lot of smaller religions make up the majority of this world’s faith.  Why should it reach around the globe to people everywhere?  I, of course, have some thoughts.

Number one:  Perhaps, I am wrong here.  Perhaps, most of the world ignored Christmas.  I wouldn’t truly know as I have always been here.  But, what I am drawing from is that even if it is not celebrated, most of the world knows what Christmas is.  They know about Santa and Rudolph and, probably, Charlie Brown.  They know about gift-giving and about holiday cheer and, probably, mistletoe.  This is, most likely, more true now as the computer and Internet (both American inventions and heavily promoted here) spread the word about Christmas to all parts of the globe.  Wiki and You Tube do their bit, too, and offer up tons of information on every aspect of the time.  So, I doubt that I am wrong.

Number two:  People like to be happy.  Oh, I know, there are those few who just can’t seem to be that way, no matter what.  The dictators, the malcontents, the teenagers who follow Phish and acid rock (well, probably not all of those either) are among the ones who just seem to growl at the world.  So, leaving those out, most people enjoy smiling and having a reason to smile.  Christmas is always presented as that.  I have never seen anything to do with actual Christmas that is foreboding and dark and dangerous (well, there was that Dean Koontz novel, but, well, we won’t go there.).

Number three:  People enjoy giving and getting gifts.  Now, this goes back to number two, but it is fun to to both.  Spending money that you don’t have may not be so great, but the giving and getting parts, now, those are fun!  I am finding as I get older, that giving is really more fun than getting.  I never thought I would ever say that, but it’s true.  People smile (see number two above) when they get a gift that they were hoping for, or one they didn’t think of.  So, that is what was wrong with my idea once to just add up how much you would spend on each person, then add and subtract those with everyone and just give people the difference.  No fun!  Yeah, it’s true!  Quicker, but no fun.

Number four:  Finishing this up so you can get back to whatever you do for fun on Christmas Eve, I will just say: food.  That’s right, food.  Even for a diabetic like me, food is still there and sharing a meal with loved ones just makes people happy.  On Christmas Eve, my sister and her daughter go to my Dad and Mom’s and create a “themed” evening, including dinner, games, and prizes.  Then we have our Christmas exchange with whoever we drew on Thanksgiving.  It’s a fun night and I enjoy browsing the pictures over time.

So, summing up:  happy people, receiving and giving gifts, and food.  Wow, you put all that together and then add in that Christmas magic by thinking about the truth behind the holiday.  You don’t have to follow the faith to see the basics:  God gave us a wonderful gift in someone who could help us understand Him and get closer to Him.  This day marks His birth.  Even if you don’t actually believe in Christ, it is still a wonderful idea to get closer to God and to ask questions and listen to different ideas about it all.  I have no problem in believing in Jesus.  I grew up with that idea and those stories from the Bible.  Plus, it really helps that I believe God can do anything He decides to, so sending us someone who is very much a part of God and who can help us to understand the way we should, basically, live our lives (in love and helping others and being close to God) is not a big stretch for me.  I think people argue too much instead of just enjoying the idea.  Don’t be so picky.  Just live and love and smile.  God enjoys that from us and it should help us be closer to Him.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year,

Scott (oh yes, Namaste)

The Conclusion of a Lifetime: One, Anyway

Getting back to normal? Things still change.

My daughter’s wedding is now over. People have moved back into their own lives; my daughter is back from her honeymoon. Things are all getting back to whatever normal is.

But, there have been changes; things are not the same; they will not ever be the same. I read another post by Blessed with a Star on the Forehead. She spoke of forgiving her Ex and moving on and still caring.

My daughter’s wedding was a bit of healing for me as well. Her mother, my ex, was at the small ceremony. It has always been with great difficulty that I am around her. We didn’t get along and, usually, have some form of disagreement within a short time, even if it is all within me. I just choose to not fight; it wasn’t worth it.

At the wedding, it was different this time. She was present, but the feelings were different; she treated me a bit different. She has changed. I could feel the honesty and the care she had. No, not a getting back together or anything. Her husband is a great guy; I told him so and have before. She was just more accepting and personable.

Just goes to show that life is truly what goes on when you are making plans. Life just happened.

(Above – close as two cats will get to hugging.  It feels good to get along.)

It’s good because now I can care what happens to the two of them. It was, yes, a lifting of spirit and a joy that let me be just a little better myself. We even hugged at the end of the ceremony and parted as people who could care for each other and be happy for the good things and sad for the bad things.

I like it much better.

God does know what He is doing.

The interesting this is that He is doing it even when we aren’t there.

_
Namaste,
Scott

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Philosophy is all about being curious, asking basic questions. And it can be fun!

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