Thursday, December 31, 2009

2010 Predictions

I've never done predictions before so we'll see how my first crystal ball performs. Here we go:

1. The cost of living will increase--food and fuel will cost more, taxes and fees will go up as services go down, and the cost of healthcare and insurance will increase. (Good luck to those struggling to make ends meet in 2009...)

2. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan will drag on (with another 500 deaths and innumerable lost limbs) with nothing really accomplished in the long term.

3. The unemployment rate will come down some to 8-9%; hardest hit will be the older worker who was laid off in 2009 and has little chance to be re-hired.

4. The world will keep on turning: People will love and hate, babies will be born, seasons will come and go, and there will be laughter and tears.

Do you have any predictions?

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

After Christmas

Whee!! Today is the beginning of my 5 days off!! I love my job, I really do but it really makes me appreciate being home!! It is a cold, gray day outside and I am luxuriating in the knowledge that I get to stay in my cozy, warm home. I have some baking potatoes and a piece of good sharp cheddar cheese so we will be having baked potatoes with cheese and some fried ham bits left from the Christmas ham for dinner. I may even have some apple turnovers in the freezer for dessert. A veritable feast for a winter day.

I am beginning to put the Christmas decorations away; each day I put a few things back in their boxes; I have a lot of Christmas decorations that have accumulated over the years. In recent years, I haven't put all of it out but this year JMM brought home a tree (a live one that he will plant); TSMdecorated it and then she set up my Fontanini manger scene. All I did was the put candles in the windows and the angels over the fireplace.

Quilting will be my pleasant occupation this afternoon. Probably a cat will join me; they seem to think that it is my job to quilt and their job to hold the quilt in place by laying on it. Besides it is a very convenient location for being petted and told how beautiful they are. Fortunately, they are older cats past the time when they loved snagging the quilting thread with their paws as I tried to pull the thread through. Quiet music, maybe David Nevue, and quilting with cats--doesn't get much better.

Thought for the Day:

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Flight 253-- An analogy for the future

By now we've all read about the passengers and crew on the Northwest Airlines flight who took charge of their own survival by subduing a terrorist who was trying to set fire to explosives shortly before landing in Detroit. I think that this is analogous to what we all must do to survive and live in the coming turbulent economic times. We must take charge of our own lives. Too many people are waiting for something--for a government rescue or program, for the jobs to come back, to get an inheritance, to win the lottery. Folks, it's not going to happen. Governments at all levels--local, state, and federal--are going to be taking more and providing less, not the other way around. The jobs that have disappeared are not coming back especially if those jobs were making or doing something that can be made or done more cheaply elsewhere. As for the inheritance or lottery, well, don't hold your breath.

We must be responsible for making our own future. How? If you've read this blog before, there's nothing new:
1. Manage your finances--make a budget, live on less than you earn, pay off all debt, save for the inevitable rainy day.
2. Do everything possible to maintain your own health--stop smoking, stop eating junk, turn the television off and go for a walk.
3. Learn how to do someithing--cooking, sewing, quilting, gardening--no one is born knowing how to do any of this--so learn how.

Whether we realize it or not, we are all on our own personal Flight 253 and we must take charge of our own lives.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009


I think the Great Recession will come to be thought of as the Great Divide. The people who were economically able to survive the recession will come out on one side and those who did not will come out on the other side. And I don't think that there will be much chance for those who went under to pull themselves to the survivors side. There's just so much damage that has occurred--houses and equity gone, savings and retirement accounts gone, jobs that paid well and had benefits/health insurance gone, marriages and relationships damaged, and health ruined. There will be recovery for some but IMHO most of those damaged by the Great Recession will have a devil of a time climbing back out.

'Berry for a Merry Christmas

JMM and I bought Blackberries for each other for Christmas. Our old cells were just one step above rotary dials. I took my old cell to the T-Mobile store to have the SIM card changed and thus activate the new BB. There were two young men working there, one Asian and one Indian, and once again I thought how blessed we are to live in a time and place where people from all over the world come to work and raise their families and help little old ladies learn how to use a Blackberry. Amazing. Me and my Getting Started booklet are going to become fast friends over the next few days.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Love is shoveling shit

My sweet DH spent the morning shoveling cow manure to be composted for my roses. One of the good things about having a cow pasture just an acre away is the lovely manure to compost for the roses. How does he love me?--let me count the shovelfuls...

Speaking of roses, I've decided to add 2 new roses next year:

Saturday, December 19, 2009

I am part of the problem (tee hee)

I read the other day that part of the reason credit is so tight is that banks are undercapitalized. They are required to have a certain amount of reserve capital for the amount of money they can loan out. They are undercaptialized because their assets have taken a huge hit from the decline in housing prices and from people like me who are paying their houses off early. Yea!! I think it is about time people shed off their shackles to the banks and live free!!

Goal 2009 Update #22

I have done a preliminary run through the end of the year and it looks like we will be able to pay an extra $4000 with the Jan 1 house note. That will bring us down to $4949 left on the mortgage. It is very tempting to take $5000 out of savings to just pay it off but I think I will just be patient one more month and pay it off February 1. Not that I am superstitious but it really seems like the best way to ward off Murphy visits is to have a fully funded emergency fund.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

What Happens When the Newness Wears Off?

The news reports that the recession is over. Maybe it is, my 403b account is up and we are all still employed. The latest figures show that only 11,000 more jobs were lost in November. All good news. My thoughts though are not so rosy. There have been millions of jobs lost during the recession and IMHO, those jobs are not coming back. This means that the people who lost jobs will have a hard time finding new employment and what employment they do find will be at lower wages.

Right now everyone is aware of the need for frugality and that in order to save, one must spend less than one makes. You could even say that frugality is chic these days. But at some point this newness will wear off and the reality of a lower standard of living will set it. It won't be a pleasant realization that you really don't have the money to do the things you once did or have the things you once had, that in all probability you will never have them again and that your children aren't likely to fare any better either.

I think that once the novelty wears off, there will be an awful lot of weeping and wailing going on. There will be a lot of political finger pointing and blaming and not much of it based in reality. The definition of middle class will change and more people will have a lot less. What will make this such a difficult time is that reality will not match expectations for a lot of people. I just hope that we can get through this period with minimum civil, political, and international unrest. These are real possibilities IMHO.

Friday, December 4, 2009


Here on the Texas Gulf Coast snow is quite rare. The large lovely flakes have been falling for a couple of hours covering everything on the ground and outlining the limbs on the trees. JMM has gone out to fill the bird feeders and make sure they have water. I will not be going in to work this evening because it is too dangerous on our 2 lane country road when it is covered with snow and slush. I've never in the 18 years that I have worked at my place of employment not come in because of the weather so this is a first.
JMM is back in now and there are several chickadees and a bunch of goldfinches on the feeders.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Musings from the Mall

I went to the local shopping mall this morning to check into my Christmas gift for JMM. Since I am so very techno-illiterate, it took me quite some time at the T-Mobile kiosk; I must say the young man helping me was very knowledgeable, very patient, and I think I found a very good product at a very reasonable price.

On my way to the kiosk, I passed through Macy's and did some window shopping along the mall stores and three things were immediately apparent:

1. The stores are well stocked and well staffed. I couldn't slow my scooter down without someone wanting to help me or give me a sample.

2. For a Thursday morning, there were a lot of people in the mall. Lots of moms with baby strollers and older men and women which is not surprising for a weekday morning.

3. Precious little actual buying was going on. For every adult with a bag showing a purchase, there were 20 others without any purchases at all.

As for me, I bought 2 pairs of socks, a container of mulling spices, and a bottle of melatonin from GNC. Total less than $30. And got the information for DH's Christmas present.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Goal 2009 Update #21

We were able to pay $4000 extra principal with the December 1 house payment. That gets us down to $10,875 remaining. If everyone stays well, safe, and employed, it is looking like Goal 2009 will be completed by February 1, 2010. We'll see. I'm glad that we have done this this year but frankly I sure wouldn't want to do it again.

I've been thinking about my financial goals for 2010 and here is what I have so far:
1. Up the Emergency Fund to $8,000
2. Save $1,000 per paycheck toward a new vehicle
3. Resume my 403b contributions
4. Once the house is paid off, open a new savings account with $500 per paycheck to cover the Homeowner's Insurance, Property Taxes, and HOA fee.
5. Needless to say, stay completely out of debt.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

National Day of Mourning

Since tonight President Obama will announce an additional 30,000+ troops for Afghanistan, I propose a National Day of Mourning for Wednesday. Let's mourn all the arms and legs and eyes and brains that are going to be lost. Let's mourn the families who will spend the rest of their lives missing the presence of their sons and daughters, fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters. Let's mourn all the education and health care and infrastructure that won't be funded because we won't have the money. And finally let's mourn the fact that so very, very few people will lift a finger of protest.