Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Peat & Repeat were in a boat; Peat fell out - and Repeat decided to jump in with him....

danceIs she dancing? Is she crying? Is she performing an ancient ceremonial dance to bring rain after a long drought? Is she drying her finger-nails after painting them with 3 layers of 'glitter-gloss'?

Is she slapping her face because it's good for her
circulation? Is she trying to rip holes in the arm-pits of her sweat-shirt
so her mom will buy her a new one? Is she smacking her face every time she
hears of a new foreclosure on one of those sub-prime loans? Is she trying
to wave down a helicopter to give her a lift to the nearest shopping mall
because her mom and dad can't afford the gasoline?
If you're as old as me, you only
see that this 'newest recession' is just 'history repeating itself'...or
'smacking itself side the head'............

Anyway - read on - repetition (even of an
adorable young girl's hair flying in the wind) gets as tiring as the stories
I've been reading daily, about this nation's economy.....


Since I've been helping young people (locally), I think some of the ideas that not only I might have, but what they've come up with, will be put here - we can treat this as a 'running entry'.

Now: How resourceful is this one? One of our neighbors had
nothing more than a chest freezer that he was using for keeping foods 'on hand'
- buying on sale, etc. (we all know the routine).

He had a used boat; went down to the marina to put a 'for sale' sign on it -
it was hot; he was miserable, and he sat for hours. While he was watching
the boaters launch their boats, he was struck with an idea.

He saw people going inside to the near-by casino; coming back with crushed ice - filling their ice-chests. He went inside - saw the machine, and wondered....

Two days later, he took old plastic bags; filled them with water -sat them
inside old shoe boxes that were in his storage locker, and they acted as 'molds'
for ice. He went back to the marina and casino. He went inside to
see why there were two or three men yelling at each other at the open door near
the ice-maker.

Well, all the boaters had taken so much ice, the casino/hotel, had made it operable only to hotel guests; the room key had to be presented, and of course that meant you had to have paid for a night's stay!

Aha - now was the time to 'launch' not his boat, but his idea.

He tugged his small boat back home; he filled the boat with those blocks of
ice - he took them back, and sold them for 50 cents a block! He sold out
so fast, he couldn't believe it.

Where he RENTED, the water was paid for; back he went - cold water into the
bags...into the shoe-box 'molds', and over-night, solid blocks of marketable

On the week-ends, he gets $1.00 for each block; the tourists are in a hurry - they 'buy', and the hotel is happy because they don't have anyone stealing from the ice machines!

He now makes between $30 and $60 a day; he does this in between his
swing-shift; it's tax-free, and he can average between $900 and $1800/month on
'frozen water'.....

As my grandson would say: '...Cool...'

This is the budget I did for a young family – the before & after results!

(note: they asked that their income not be used, so we will show only how we reduced expenses)

Fixed expenses

Rental - $800/month
Water – included with rent
Trash – included with rent
Parking – included with rent
Electricity - $120/month
Fixed phone - $25/month
Cellular phone #1 - $59/month with ‘family added free’
Added phones: 3
Average costs for overage on excessive use: $50
Text messaging services @ 20 cents each: Average $15
Mobile services/photos/ring-tones, ‘extras’: $20
Cable t.v. – ‘bells & whistles’: $140
Rented movies: $40
I-net services: $30
Dial-up costs for minutes billed over plan: $40
Car insurance – 2 cars: $200
Car payments – 2 cars: $540
Plates, maintenance – repairs not put on credit card: $30
Car repairs & maintenance put on credit card: $80 (average)
Clothing: All currently on credit card due to lack of funds – minimum payment on cards are $25 (x) 4 cards = $100 (with interest, the balance isn’t dropping)
Meals out: Average – cash out-lay: $340
Meals out: - Average – added to credit cards: $120
Groceries: $700
Gasoline: 50% added to credit cards - $150; cash - $100
Household items – needed (so they say, so I go with it): $100 – all on credit card
School costs; other costs for 2 children under 18 years of age: $150
Stamps; shipping – computer supplies & miscellaneous: $125 – 50% put on credit card
Savings: nothing – to maximum of $100
Entertainment out (not including food): $160
Children’s allowances: $120
Total (not including the fact they’re adding some of their expenses to their credit cards): $3,892 (rounded off)
This is an annual total of: $46,704 – a number that is NET (after their income taxes are taken out; FICA, and they’ve recently been told they have to now pay their medical insurance costs by their employers)

Add that cost: $540 for a minimum plan per month (x) 12 = $6,480
line is: $53,184 – net income after taxes and medical expenses must be
achieved to maintain their ‘life-style’.

Now the sad truth: They don’t make enough money to meet these obligations.

What we eliminated is illustrated in RED.

What was substantially REDUCED, is illustrated in BLUE.

The total in elimination per month: $405
The total in reduction per month: $710

Combined results: $1,115 = Former monthly with medical insurance
costs: $4,432 now reduced to: $3,317/month. Essentially
a reduction of about 25% - now they will meet their obligations.

As you examine this, you can see there is more room to eliminate and/or reduce. At this point, they felt they wanted to keep that expensive monthly 'cable' bill; yet, they can cut this down by about $80/month.

They can eliminate all meals eaten out!

They can have their children go without an allowance until things 'smooth out'...

Because they didn't want an 'austere' budget or plan, since we met their
needs so they could BALANCE their income with their expenses, they are quite
happy for the moment.


Now - most importantly:

We must notice that their net income is over $50,000.

We must remember this means a gross of about $80,000.

We have to realize this is a 2-family income situation; neither have the education and opportunity to make $80,000 as a single-income household.

We have to remember their children are old enough not to require a baby-sitter.

We have to understand that millions aren't even close to this type of income or 'situation'.

There might be more to 'realize' and analyze as we must all come to have understanding for those individuals who offer up food-stamps while we could be 'cursing them' - feeling as if 'our taxes' are 'supporting them'....okay, they are!

We will have to resist all urges to be critical about others until we sit down with a friend or neighbor, and openly discuss their 'plight'....

I'm able to handle my needs - we are on fixed income; we do know how to 'manage', and because of that, my 'retired' situation shows me I must spend more time 'helping others' handle the difficult times ahead...


A reader sent this link; said he'd had success making extra money this way.

While I haven't reviewed it in depth (just about a 10-minute glance), you might want to see if this could work for you.....


We installed 'Magic Jack' - works with our computer; $19.95 a year, and a one-time cost of $49 for the system.

Our base charge on 'fixed phone', was costing us $240/year - and we had only LOCAL service (no long-distance).

Now we have unlimited dialing for long-distance; no long distance charges, and we don't have to worry about having our cellular phones 'charged up', since we do maintain those for travel.

Our cellular phone has been a 'God-send'; after being stranded and needing road service - being in car accidents that required also calling for help (and reporting the accidents), we now make sure one of the 2 phones stays in the car at all times; this way, we never are without a phone in the car.

Also: Remember phone cards have their place - low users love them (we're not low-users).

My mother is almost 84 years old - she won't use a cellular phone, and still struggled with 'coins' in the pay-phones (which she says she's seeing less and less of).

Still, when she needs to make a call, we now make sure that for Mom's Day, we include a pre-paid phone card that gives her 6 months of 'emergency calling' (or just calling to say hello without ruining her tiny budget).

I also had pictures of her old home-stead put onto postage stamps. No, this is not a thing you do to SAVE money - it costs a lot to have those 'custom stamps' made, but since we paid the bill, mom no longer has to pay postage on her first-class mailings, and she's just so proud and happy to use those stamps because it reminds her of her youth and happy times.

If you're going to give a gift, try avoiding the 'gift-card' routine; all the cards we get as gifts, always have a 'fee' attached - some are not easy to 'negotiate' either....

Instead: Give the phone card - it saves the recipient money; could generate a lovely 'hello' from someone you love.

Give the gift of stamps - if you can afford it. Put the grand-child on the stamp; the new home - a family photo; something that is's a usable gift; a thoughtful gift, and each time the user places it on a mailing, they will think of you.

In our household, we think 'cash only' as we shop each week. We budget our groceries and our personal allowances; the sum total is carried in our pockets - CASH.

We make an allowance for GASOLINE - it goes on a credit card so we can 'track' the date and the cost. We pay that amount off each and every month.

We do NOT use debit cards except in extreme emergencies. It's way too easy to lose track of 'what you spent' - and the balance.

One member of our family learned the 'hard way', about being charged $35 as an 'over-draft' fee - and was only over by $1.24!

One person is shopping - carrying the family debit
card; makes purchases. Another person of that same family is doing the

No one is telling the 'other one', that they're
'spending money'. Aha, and of course with no 'clue' as to what's going on,
the bank hits them with an over-draft fee.

Learn to carry your credit cards as 'hard cash' that is more safe than 'cold cash' - then pay off the balance each month (as we do), and no interest charges. We do NOT carry one card that requires an annual fee - to us, that's nonsense.

Oh yes, and about those HOLIDAY COSTS?

Further down on this 'blog', I've listed what we
do about those 'holiday gifts' and celebrations; how we've cut out 100%, the
'commercialism', and the joy we've all had by giving to charity instead of each