#TheHobbit Battle of the Five Armies #Giveaway

I know there must be some other super dorks like me out there that are super psyched the newest Hobbit movie is finally out on DVD.  Or Blu-Ray.  Or streaming.  Or however the heck people normally watch movies now.

I love the Peter Jackson take on Tolkien.  I remember seeing Fellowship of the Ring in the theaters back in high school when it first came out.  I loved it so much I went three times.  And I actually paid to see movies back in those days.  So it was incredibly irresponsible.  But incredibly worth it.

The next Hobbit movie?  It’ goes something like this:

From Academy Award-winning filmmaker Peter Jackson comes “The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies,” the third in a trilogy of films adapting the enduringly popular masterpieceThe Hobbit, by J.R.R. Tolkien. “The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies” brings to an epic conclusion the adventures of Bilbo Baggins, Thorin Oakenshield and the Company of Dwarves. Having reclaimed their homeland from the Dragon Smaug, the Company has unwittingly unleashed a deadly force into the world.

Whether you caught this one in the theater or need to catch up, you’re in luck because today Femme Frugality readers have a chance to win their own copy of the newest Hobbit movie on Blu Ray.  It’s open to US and Canadian readers.  You can use the widget below to take fun quizes (I’m totally not brave like Bilbo, by the way,) and the one below that to enter.  Also don’t forget today is the last day to enter the Jord Wood Watch international giveaway.

Best of luck to all!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Each household is only eligible to win One (1) Blu-ray The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies via blog reviews and giveaways. Only one entrant per mailing address per giveaway. If you have won the same prize on another blog, you will not be eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.  Responsibility of fulfillment of the prize rests with the sponsor.  I have received no compensation for this post.

Financial Assistance Programs: Emergency Room Bills For the Uninsured

 

Uninsured and have outstanding medical bills?  Financial Assistance Programs from your nonprofit hospital or medical system may be available to reduce or eliminate your bills.If you’re finding this post via a quick search and need the down and dirty fast, here it is:  if you need to go to the emergency room but are uninsured and don’t have funds to pay the bills, do your best to get to a nonprofit hospital or one you know operates as a charity.  There are better odds that they have a financial assistance program that will help reduce or eliminate your bill.

If you don’t have a nonprofit hospital in your area, just get to the hospital.  Don’t stress about the potential bill right now.  Your life is more important than money.

I have a confession to make.  As important as I know and preach it is, the husband and I haven’t always had health insurance.  Our kids have always been covered, but there have been gaps where we couldn’t seem to get our hands on any for ourselves.  We weren’t married until about a year ago, which complicated matters even worse.  I might have coverage, but he wouldn’t be eligible.  We’d have an opportunity to get insurance, but it would cost us $1k/month to take advantage of it.  Which was way outside of what we could afford.

Things have gotten a little bit better with the Affordable Care Act.  But we live in one of the states that didn’t accept Medicaid Expansion.  We didn’t have an alternative in place until this past December with the fruition of the Healthy PA plan.  It’s inferior to Medicaid from a consumer standpoint, and the new governor ran on the promise to replace it with Medicaid.  We’re covered at this point in time, but with how crazy things have been in our state, I know there’s still tons of people out there that aren’t covered.

And just because you’re not covered doesn’t mean emergencies don’t happen.  We had an emergency happen to us at one point when we weren’t covered.  A full on ER bill, physician bill, and all those little, overpriced medical supply bills emergency.  It was almost devastating.

Until we applied for the hospital system’s Financial Assistance Program.  Until 1969, hospitals that operated as non-profits were required to treat people that couldn’t afford care free of charge.  Today, emergency rooms still have to treat you, but they aren’t federally required to waive your bill.  Some states, like New York, have high expectations for their hospitals that claim to be non-profits, requiring them to offer financial assistance programs.

Luckily for us, our local hospital that operates as a charity has one of these programs.  To qualify we had to prove that we were below 200 and some odd percent of the poverty line, provide all of our financial documents, and state why we couldn’t afford the care.

It’s kind of rough on the ego to become a bonafide charity case, but we were approved for 100% forgiveness of our emergency room bills.  Along with all those other bills that get tagged on when you visit the ER.  Nothing like a few thousand dollars to teach you some humility.

Let me repeat that:  we saved a few thousand dollars.  Should we have been insured?  Sure.  But again, at the $1k/month rate, even if we had been required to pay our bill in full, it only would have been worth a few months of the premium costs.  And even though employer-sponsored health plans aren’t the only way to get covered anymore, we’re still working tirelessly to better our careers so that we can enjoy benefits like that.  We aren’t and never were lazy people. At the time we were working really hard (we still are,) but needed some monetary help to get out of a bad situation that threatened the health of our household.

We’re lucky nothing else happened.  Truly lucky.  Your best bet is to get to find a way to get covered.  But if you can’t, you should still go to the ER when you need to.  Don’t let the emergency room bills scare you away.  Because life itself is more important than money, and if you have a nonprofit hospital in your area, they may just have a financial assistance program that rescues you from drowning in hundreds, thousands, or even tens of thousands of dollars of medical-related debt.

Favorite Free Memory Catching App: Blinkbuggy

 

This free app makes a time lapse video of your child growing up!

We had a conversation the other week at the library group we take the kids to.  The age that bonds all of our children means that they’re technically not babies anymore, and working their way through the other side of toddler-hood.  This particular week we talked about all those little moments your forget about as you get so busy cleaning diapers, kissing boo boos, making dinner, and somehow maintaining some semblance of a life outside of child-related duties.

We all have tons of pictures of our kids.  We have phones with cameras in them.  And even our digital cameras are loaded up.  But another thing we came to a consensus on was that we wished we had taken more videos over the past couple of years.  We have the capability on all of our devices.  But somewhere in all those small, little moments, we all got lost and forgot to record them.  We forgot how precious those babyhood times would seem within just a few cycles of the calendar.

It truly is amazing how quickly you forget.  Was it nine months when they started walking or ten?  What words did they have by the time they were one and a half?  How did their expressions change so quickly from glee to distress and then back again?

As if in perfect harmony with our little library group, Blinkbuggy reached out to me not too long after our conversation.  They’re a free app that will soon be adding a very cool feature that was just too very perfect for our “we-forgot-to-take-more-videos” dilemma.  When it’s added, it will remind you to shoot a video once a week of your child.  The video will then be accessible in the app.  Watching your child transform week by week would be amazing enough, but there’s more.

Have you ever seen those time lapse videos?  Like this one.  You take a photo, or in this case, video at intervals.  Some people do a year in photos, but for watching a kid grow up it’s more common to do it a week at a time.  They’re not the easiest thing on earth to do, so a lot of them are made by people with the artistic and editing know-how.

Well, Blinkbuggy is including this as another addition to their app.  They’ll take the first three seconds of all your weekly videos and compile them into a time lapse video.  So you can have something beautiful for your kids with minimal effort on your end.  All you have to do is shoot the video.

This free app creates a time lapse video of your child growing up!

There’s a waitlist to gain access to this part of the app once it goes live.  To save your spot in line, you can sign up here.  Blinkbuggy will begin letting people off the waitlist on May 15th, so the sooner you sign up the sooner you can get started.

While you’re waiting for admittance into the new section of the app, checking out the other features they currently offer is pretty fun, too.  You can store pictures of your kiddo, pictures that they draw, and all those funny, adorable, they’re-way-too-smart-for-their-age things that they say.  We’re definitely starting to use this with ours as we have an art cabinet that is overflowing with masterpieces that I need to reduce from the physical form.  Then you can use the app to share it all digitally, which is great as I’ve got some extended family and friends that are far away.

We’re doing it with the help of Homme Frugality as, unfortunately, the app is only available on iOS at the moment.  Android is in the works, though, and I’m definitely anticipating it.  If you’re an Apple user, you can download the app for free here, and if you’re not, you can still access the app on your computer if you’re willing to forgo that little bit of convenience that comes with doing everything via your phone as it happens.

I’ve got my spot in line.  Even though I won’t be taping my kids from the time they were babies, I’m really excited about it.  While today I look back and can’t believe how much I wish I had recorded of the infant stage, I’m sure I’ll be looking back in a couple of years grateful that I had a weekly reminder to record the beautiful stage of life my children are in now.

 

 

*I have been compensated for this post.  Regardless, all opinions are 100% my own.*

The Theory Behind Why We Have So Many Two Hour Delays

Wondering why we have so many two hour delays?  The answer may just be hiding behind overtime pay.

When I was a kid, school was cancelled when it snowed.  A lot.  We had two hour delays when it snowed and the plow trucks were still working on it, but couldn’t get there quite in time to make our commute safe.

Today, my kids have two hour delays if it’s too cold out.  And they’re not alone.  It’s becoming a new norm across the country.  It’s something that didn’t really happen when I was in school, and there’s lots of theories as to why.  Some say that it’s pressure school administrators are under from parents and public opinion.  Some say it’s due to more accurate weather forecasting in our modern age.

But the theory that holds the most water in my books comes down to one thing:  money.

It’s not what you’re thinking.  The school districts themselves aren’t saving oodles by having kids come in two hours later each day.  But someone is.  And that someone is the busing companies.

When it’s cold out, it takes a while for diesel buses to get started.  Back in the day our bus drivers would come in early on those particularly cold days to make sure everything was up and running to get everyone to school on time.  Back in the day our bus drivers got to log over time for doing their jobs.

Today, bus companies would prefer to not pay out that overtime.  So they have their employees come in at regular business hours.  When it’s too cold to get things up and running in time, we get the line, “It was too cold to get the buses started this morning.”

When you get down to temperatures below zero, starting school two hours later and a degree warmer isn’t helping our children’s safety a whole bunch.  We should be bundling up the same way we would be if they were out at the bus stop a couple hours earlier.  Safety can’t be the contributing factor.

Closings are a different beast.  If school is closed, it would seem that public opinion is the more likely culprit behind the decision.  But with two hour delays and minimal differences in temperature, the most logical contributing factor is the bus companies saving their bottom line.

While sleeping in for a couple of hours may seem nice the first few times, the rate of these delays has really astounded me this year.  They’re detrimental to education as teachers can’t possibly cram in all of their content with two less hours in the day.  When it becomes a repeat pattern, you spend a lot of time just trying to play catch up instead of getting the instruction that was intended for that time in the year.  Unlike closings, two hour delays don’t have to be made up, so those two hours are truly lost time.  Once or twice might be expected when you live in a climate that actually has a winter, but when I add up all the school my kids have missed this year the multiplication really sends the numbers out of this world.

If the bus companies are the reason why we have so many two hour delays, I’d be interested in seeing my district explore working with the ones who don’t mind paying their employees overtime.  I’d be interested in getting my kids those hours of education that they’ve been missing at school.

 

What to Do If You Get Injured At Work

What to do before, during and after a workplace injury.

I’ve been hearing a lot lately about people that get injured, sometimes to the point of debilitation.  It all started with Chip Mendez’s book, which made me seriously consider long-term disability insurance, and ended with me hearing a report recently on workers who lost their arms while on the job and got virtually nothing from the employer.  There’s been lots of stuff in between, too.  The scariest thing about all of this is that after the fact, there’s only so much you can do.  A lot of being able to deal with an injury that keeps you from working has to be done before it happens.  Not too many of us predict it will happen, so we don’t prepare.  If you get injured at work,  here’s some things to do to make sure you’ve got your bases covered.

What to Do Before You Get Hurt

Before you get injured, you may want to seriously consider taking out a long-term disability policy.  In Chip’s book that I mentioned above, it’s noted that people that are thirty-five years old are six times more likely to become disabled than die before age 65.  That means that if you’re carrying a 30 year term life insurance policy, you’re six times less likely to need it than a long-term disability policy.  Since insurance is a numbers game, those odds shouldn’t be overlooked.

At the very least I’d look at short-term disability policies.  You don’t benefit for as long of a period of time as long-term, but if something happens and you can’t get to work, at least you have something coming in during the meantime.

What to Do When You Get Hurt

As soon as you get injured, even if you initially think it’s something small, report it to your employer in writing.  Many employers hold workers comp insurance.  Even those who don’t may still be liable for your injuries.  But if you don’t report it right away, your claim could be denied and then dismissed in court.

This is important as sometimes if you had the ability to file workers comp, your private insurance won’t cover your injuries.  So not only are you dealing with loss of income, you’re also dealing with massive medical bills.  And if it’s an injury that lasts years or even decades, those medical bills will keep coming.

What to Do In The Aftermath

Sometimes, even if you reported it on time and did everything right for insurance, you’ll end up in court to get your money.  This has happened to most of the people I know who have had to file massive insurance claims.  You go in fighting for a settlement.

Sometimes they come at you with a number that looks acceptable early on.  You have to be really careful.  I’ve also known people whose job it is to come up with these numbers, and generally the initial ones look huge to your Average Joe, but look minimal to the insurance company.  The people who have these jobs make big bucks as they save the insurance companies huge amounts of money, while essentially screwing over the people that sustained the injuries that led to valid claims.

If you end up in court for a long time, you end up with a big problem.  You’ve got massive medical bills to pay combined with no income because you can’t go to work.  Hopefully your lawyer is working on the understanding of payment upon settlement, otherwise you have legal bills to deal with, too.  The time before your case comes to an end or you reach a decent settlement can be one of true economic distress.  While it’s better if you can hang in there until things get figured out, sometimes that’s just not the reality.  There are ways to get money now.

The two most popular are pre-settlement lawsuit loans and pre-settlement funding.  Funding is generally preferable if you must take something out, because it does not have to be paid back unless you win your case.  But if you win, you do have to pay it back, plus interest.  Shop around for the lowest interest rates, and make sure you understand the fine print and the reputation of the companies.  If you must take this route, and sometimes there is no other option, you want to do it right.

 

Have you ever had to deal with a workplace injury?  How did it pan out for you?

 

 


*This post has been compensated by Cash In Your Case*

 

 

 

Around the World In 80 Books: Russia and Norway

Welcome to the next installment in my Around the World in 80 Books Challenge!  It’s exactly what it sounds like: I’m trying to read 80 books from 80 different countries/cultures around the world, and to add a frugal spin, I’m trying to do it all for under $20.

Here’s my running tally so far:
England- Free Ebook- $0
Turkey- Gift- $0
Scotland- Free Ebook- $0
Sierra Leone- Library Rental- $0
Jerusalem- Won in a Giveaway- $0
Mexico- Library Rental- $0
Sweden- Library Rental- $0
__________________________________

Grand Total: $0

And today’s books were both library rentals, so I’m still running at $0 spent!  Both of today’s books were recommended by readers, and I have to say I’m impressed by how well they know me.

Russia

Often cited as one of the best novels ever written, this one has had me terrified for years.  I’ve read and loved shorter Tolstoy novels before, along the lines of Fathers and Sons, but the sheer thickness of this one kept me at bay.

So much thanks to Prudence Debt-Free for encouraging me to conquer my fears by recommending it as a part of the challenge.  Because it may in fact be the best novel ever written.

First, for my PF nerds, let me get the interesting-to-you stuff out of the way.  This book is set in 19th century Russia.  It’s a book about life, and as we in the PF blogosphere recognize, money holds a significant position in all of our lives.  The main characters are extremely well off.  But within this behemoth you’ll catch Vronsky budgeting.  Levin and his wife (I won’t ruin for you who it ends up being) discussing couple’s shortly before he contemplates the cost of living in the city versus the country.  He also goes through great pains to find the best strategy to make his business profitable.  Oblonsky gets into terrible debt, forcing Dolly to live a life of extreme thriftiness.  (While you could argue it’s frugality, really what happens is that she’s forced to figure out how to live in poverty while keeping up with her class in society.)  When he confides his dark money secrets to obscenely wealthy friends, they scoff at the number.  Because they hold debts in much higher denominations.  Nikolai is a Bolshevik sympathizer, or at least identifies with their philosophy which was apparently taking root even then.

But this book isn’t about money.  Sure that’s a part of it.  But only because money is a part of life.  And that’s what this book is about:  life.  Life, and being human.  Almost every character has chapters written from their perspective.  It was amazing to me how I found such disdain for any one of the numerous characters, and then I would read their chapter.  And suddenly they seemed reasonable and “right.”  It’s really made me think about how I view others.  Maybe they do things that drive me crazy.  Maybe they do things I deem as just flat out wrong.  But more than likely they think they are doing good.  Or they are so weighed down by their own circumstances that they can’t see what is actually happening in front of them.  There is not always a clear answer on the right thing to do in this world, especially when we take into consideration the perspective of others.

Five stars, two thumbs up, and highly recommend.  It’s worth the time investment and then some.

Norway

One night, while I was still going to school traditionally, I was sitting on a bench outside of the dorms looking at the stars in the sky.  A friend came out to have a cigarette.

“Hey, what’s up, Femme?”

“Why do you think we’re here?”

The conversation started slowly with questions like, “What do you mean?”  But it evolved into an hour and a half conversation about existence and whether what we were doing truly mattered.

“Sh!t.  I just came out here to have a cigarette and then here’s Femme making me question my purpose of being.”

So when Poor Student recommended Sophie’s World, they hit the nail on the head.  I was warned that it was told from the perspective of a young girl, but that really made sense to me.  I was about Sophie’s age (14/15) when I started seriously thinking bigger and questioning the traditions I had been raised in.  As I’ve gotten older, those thoughts have slowed down as I’ve gotten bound up in the busyness and responsibilities of adulthood.

I don’t think that’s a good thing.

So this book was something I really needed to read.  It’s really more like two books in one.  Sophie ends up taking a philosophy course she didn’t sign up for, but you end up taking it, too.  On one hand, you literally learn the history of philosophy, while on the other you’re following Sophie through her mind-boggling journey.

The philosophy course portion blew me out of the water.  Gaarder is a phenomenal teacher.  For example, I didn’t know that philosophy has really been a huge driving force behind science for most of recorded Western history.  (To which my husband replied, “Seriously?  How did you not know that?”  I’m not sure if he counts me as intelligent anymore.)

I found a section that should be relatable for all the PFers out there in this one, too.  In post-Socrates Greece, there were two schools of thought around philosophy that were relatively contemporary with each other.  The first was the Cynics.  They believed that true happiness wasn’t dependent on any type of materialism or social power.  They didn’t see those with all of those possessions or power as any better than themselves.  It reminds me of a lot of people that adopt frugal lifestyles, particularly minimalism.  The one splinter I did see was that they didn’t believe health was important to happiness, either.  Pretty sure not everyone in that frugal mindset would agree there.

The other group was the Epicureans.  They believed pretty much the exact opposite.  The whole purpose in being here was to experience pleasure through the senses.  While they were far more material, they weren’t wholly irresponsible.  They recognized that their actions had consequences.  Doing bad things to your body for the sake of immediate gratification was foolish.  And using your resources to attain more pleasure down the road (like giving up chocolate bar purchases in order to save for a big trip to see the world, to use Gaarder’s example,) was the ideal path to take.  The goal was to attain the most pleasure in life as possible, so making responsible choices was highly encouraged.

I’ve got more to say, but I want to stop a minute and ask you to let me know:

Where do you fall on the Cynic/Epicurean spectrum in regards to your views on happiness and money?

I really think long-term I’ll need to own this book, as I could have highlighted the whole thing and need to go back to pick up on the parts that didn’t really sink in.  But here’s one of my favorite sections:

“Satre emphasized that man must never disclaim the responsibility for his actions.  Nor can we avoid the responsibility of making our own choices on the grounds that we ‘must’ go to work, or we ‘must’ live up to certain middle-class expectations regarding how we should live.  Those who thus slip into the anonymous masses will never be other than members of the impersonal flock, having fled from themselves into self-deception.”

I also love how reading these books is expanding my view on things.  For example, the American Revolution.  Scotland’s book showed me how the revolution was partially attributable to a fight between Scotland and England that started on Scottish soil.  In some ways, it was an extension of the power struggle manifested largely in religious tension between these two countries.

Another assumption I had around the American Revolution was that it was the inspiration that sparked the French Revolution.  Whether that be something that was indoctrinated in me or something that I simply assumed based on what I had learned in history class is kind of irrelevant:  the opinion that I took to be fact was there.  But Gaarder attributes it to the Enlightenment philosophy that had a firm hold on Europe at the time, and was very strong in France.  That’s not to say the same European ideas didn’t heavily influence both revolutions, but as Gaarder makes no reference to the American Revolution, I’d take it that this viewpoint isn’t prevalent enough to be worth noting outside our shores.  Or at least in Norway.

And that’s the wonderful thing about books.  They can expose us to a culture’s ideas and vantage points without concern for if we accept or understand them.  I’m sure a twenty-something working mother in Pittsburgh reading in 2015 wasn’t Gaarder’s target audience.  But because I picked up his book, he reached me.  Ideas are powerful.  And being flexible in our own, or at least exposing ourselves to those of others, allows us to relate not just to other human beings outside of our identified culture, but to our own world in new ways.

As for the part of the book that was about Sophie, it wasn’t bad.  Sophie herself grated on my nerves every once in a while, but I suppose that just speaks to the authenticity of Gaarder’s writing:  teenagers in real life grate on my nerves every once in a while, too.  This part of the story didn’t really pick up until half way through the book.  And at the end I would have liked to see him explore quantum physics as it seems like it would have been appropriate, and the entire field from my non-expert vantage point seems to be philosophy without concrete knowledge at this point in time.  It could have potentially fit everything he had going on in the Sophie part of the plot.  But everything in between was pretty well done.  It twists and turns and shocks and awes.  Warning: The next sentence contains a spoiler.  If you want no part in that, simply don’t click on the link, which is an Amazon Affiliate one.  It really reminds me of this movie, which I kind of loved, except the details of how the complexities of reality work out are quite different.

Overall, highly, highly recommend.  As many stars as Anna Karenina?  No.  But the goal of this novel is different, and it fulfills its specific goal well.  Plus the myriad of things you will learn is crazy interesting.

On Deck

I’m reading this one currently because it’s this month’s selection for the official Travel the World in Books readathon.  Loving it so far!  Though I have to admit, I’m more than a little bit behind due to how long the previous two took me to finish.  I’m all about playing catch up in Spain, though!

Have a book you want t recommend?  I’d love to add it to my queue!  Here are the countries I already have covered, in addition to the ones listed above that I’ve already finished:

Canada: The Dog Who Wouldn’t Be by Farley Mowat recommeded by Messy Money
Afghanistan: The Underground Girls of Kabul by Jenny Nordberg recommended by Savvy Working Gal
Nigeria: I Do Not Come to You by Chance by Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani recommended by Guiltless Reader
Philippines: May Day Eve and Other Stories by Nick Joaquin recommended by Guiltless Reader
Iceland: Scarcity in Excess by Arna Mathiesen & Thomas Forget
Sudan: The Wedding of Zein by Tayeb Salih recommended by Kate Wilson
Kenya: Out of Africa by Karen Blixen recommended by Christine from The Wallet Diet
China:  Factory Girls: From Village to City in a Changing China by Leslie T. Chang
JapanTotto-Chan: The Little Girl at the Window by Tetsuko Kuroyanagi recommended by Suburban Finance
France/Spain-ish:  Legends and Popular Tales of the Basque People by Mariana Monteiro
EthiopiaThe God Who Begat a Jakal by Nega Mezlekia recommended by Based On a True Story
French Antilles: Victoire: My Mother’s Mother by Maryse Conde recommended by Based on A True Story
SurinameThe Free Negress Elisabeth by Cynthia McLeod recommended by Based On A True Story

 

Personal Finance Playlist: Money Music That Doesn’t Suck

35 minutes of money-inspired music  that doesn't suck.

Music is one of my favorite things about being alive.  It inspires.  It relates emotions we otherwise couldn’t portray with spoken word.  It can speak to our souls.

There’s a problem when we start talking about money and music, though.  Money also inspires a lot of emotions in people.  A ton of the songs are either depressing or braggy, which can also end up being depressing for the listener.

Our new-to-us car has an audio jack, which is one of the most amazing things ever.  My last car predated iPods, none the less having them in your car.  Ever since we bought it I’ve been listening to PodCasts at an audible level and making playlists to avoid listening to songs that suck on the radio.

Thus, a personal finance playlist was born, chock full of money music.  Was I able to avoid all the depression and bragging?  No.  But I’ve found some pretty relatable, and most of them are upbeat at least in the tempo.  I like to keep our outlook on finances positive here.

I use YouTube for my playlists.  Because it’s free.  But if you do end up listening and you’re listening behind the wheel, FOR THE LOVE OF GOD don’t watch the videos while you’re driving!  Most of them suck anyways!  This is all about the music and not so much about the visuals.

(If you’re viewing via email, click through to the website to be able to access the above playlist.)

It’s about 35 minutes long.  I tried to keep some type of flow to it.  Here’s the lineup:

1. Can’t Buy Me Love by The Beatles-  Because it’s true.  Money is great.  But it holds no power over that thing called love.

2. Common People by Pulp- For all those rich girls (or boys for that matter?) who think rebelling against their upbringing will bring them depth of character.  Newsflash: It’s artificial. Only the fire born understand blue.

3. Danny’s Song (covered) by Me First and the Gimme Gimmes- Because that’s what happens in life after you’ve found that love that money can’t buy. And I like this version thirty times better than the original.

4. Bills by LunchMoney Lewis-  I crank this one when I’m headed into a rough job.  It’s great for anyone who wants to make it through their workday with a little more motivation.  Gives me a more positive attitude.  (The video is crazy silly, though.  Again, don’t watch it while you’re driving.  Distracted driving kills.)

5. Thrift Shop by Macklemore- Because it’s a frugalista’s theme song.  And will help you build wealth while you’re working towards that 50 thousand LunchMoney Lewis’s lady wants.

6. She Works Hard for The Money by Donna Summers- Because it pushed for respect of women in the workplace.  Or just pushing for respect in our personal lives for people who bust their bums to support their family.

7. Money by Pink Floyd- How they managed to encapsulate so many opposing views of money in three verses is evidence enough of their greatness.  Of course, I’m ignoring that the first two come off a little contemptuous.  Can’t lie and say I disagree with them.

8. A Good Idea at the Time by OkGo- Because it inspired this post about what to do when you buy a group buying deal that you later realize was a rip off.

9.  Make the Money by Macklemore- Here they are again.  But this one was such a great way to wrap it up.  After you’ve made all that cash, don’t forget who you are.  Don’t lose your soul in the pursuit of riches.

 

JORD Wood Watch #Giveaway

Enter to win your own classy, wooden watch.  March 16-30, 2015.

When JORD, who makes wooden watches, got in touch with me for a review, I was more than pleased.  They make watches that are “Sustainable, efficient, simple, and influenced by experiential living.”  They’re high quality, beautiful, and totally make me want to constantly wear one, despite the fact that I’ve never been a big watch wearer in the past.

Their watches come in all different types of wood, with a ton of different faces correlating to each individual design.  They have something for everybody, as they make women’s watches, men’s watches, and others that can be worn by either gender.

After looking things over, I decided to reenlist Homme Frugality to help me review the Fieldcrest Black.  It’s a mid-size model, and it’s one of the ones that can be worn by either men or women.

Enter to win your own JORD wood watch. Giveaway ends 3/25/15

I was blown away when it arrived.  Not only is the timepiece superb, but the presentation is amazing, as well.  The wood watch comes in a wooden box, packed away beautifully on a pillow.  Also included are a couple extra links, and your warranty.  We figured our wrists were about the same size, so we ordered based on Homme’s measurements.  Much to my dismay, my wrist turned out to be a little thicker than his.  While I’m letting Homme keep it, those links would have come in super handy allowing me to get it re-sized a little bigger if that had been the need.

A day in the life of a JORD Wood Watch. Giveaway open to help you win of your own.  March 9-25, 2015

Homme’s Day with JORD

He was just as amazed as I was when we opened that box together.  While I was second guessing my decision to have him help on the project, he was really glad he did.  Because now he gets to have this for keeps.

For our photos, we took you through a day in the life.  The first is Homme getting ready for work.  Next he’s out on his lunch break.  Then he makes it home around five.

A day in the life of a JORD Wood Watch. Giveaway open to help you win of your own.  March 9-25, 2015

Femme’s Day with JORD

My day starts a little earlier.  This particular day it was twenty five degrees out, which meant I felt like it was short sleeve weather.  And then I went out to brush off my car.  I went back inside to grab a a sweater and my coat after a few minutes of idiocy.

I had to take care of some business up near some of Pittsburgh’s best city views, so I stopped at an overlook right around lunch time.  (Because who doesn’t eat their lunch at 2:30?)  Five to eight at night was when I finally had made it  home, gotten everyone to bed, and had time to start to unwind and shoot some more pics.  I had gotten over the twenty five degrees being warm thing and kept that sweater on all day.  But I had also gotten crazy stressed and confused, thought Day Light’s Savings Time started in the middle of the week, thought I had missed it, and turned my watch back an hour instead of forwards with misled hope in my heart for an extra hour of sleep.

Note to self:  get more sleep.  Being tired makes you dumb.

Have Your Day With JORD

We both loved our experience with JORD.  Their products are fairly priced, but they’re not cheap by any means.  In price or quality.  It’s definitely something worth saving for.  Pretty sure that’s what I’ll be doing as Homme held onto that beauty.

Or…

…you could enter to win $129 to JORD, scoring your own watch for essentially free, or at least a serious, serious discount depending on which model you select.  Use the rafflecopter below to enter.  Best of luck!!!

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Ding! Dong! The Debt is Dead!

The Debt Monster is dead.  Find out how we killed him.

You may remember that I took on the husband’s debt some months ago.  It was an APR emergency, and I still had a 0% promotional time frame left on one of my cards.  The plan was to get it paid off by the time the promotional rate expired; the goal was to get it paid off as quickly as possible.

Good news!  That debt is dead!  It got paid off a month and half ahead of schedule!  It’s a good feeling to have it gone, even though it wasn’t super massive.  To continue with the good news part of the post, here are some tips we used to pay it down:

  • I applied every last extra penny towards it.  This side hustle helps pay my bills, but luckily it brings in a little bit extra, too.  We also both have variable incomes, so when we worked more than we were expecting, this is where the money went, too.  By making it a priority, we didn’t give ourselves a chance to spend that money on anything else.
  • When I say every last extra penny, I also need to say that contributing to an emergency fund is a priority for us before even paying off debt.  This logic is made easier when you take into account that our debt was carrying zero interest.  But if you don’t have that emergency fund, the second you pay that debt off you could end up right back in it. That happened to us last time around, and it was a mess.  It’s a good thing we did it this time, too, because there’s some bad news.

The Bad News

You may remember me mentioning my car and how we had paid it off years ago.

I just shouldn’t mention anything positive that happens in our lives ever.

Recently, it broke down.  It was the best car ever.  Seriously.  It never gave me any major problems beyond regular maintenance.  It was a decade old.  And when it went, the engine just died.  Irrevocably died.  Died so hard there was nothing we could do about it.  But died so suddenly that we didn’t sink hundreds to thousands into it in repairs before it went.

So it even went out lovingly.  And for that I will always be thankful to it.

Luckily, we had enough in our emergency fund to put a down payment on a new-to-us car without leaving our balance low enough to wig me out.  So I have a car payment.  I’m not debt free.  I can’t do a happy dance.

But I needed to diversify my credit streams, anyways.  As long as we pay this one off as aggressively as we did the last one, odds are it will actually help my credit score by the time we’ve got that down payment for a house.

And then when we have that we’ll have a mortgage.  Maybe someday we’ll pay that off super early.  But as I’m growing older, I’m learning that for me, being debt free isn’t really the goal.  I’d love to preach extreme frugality, but I’m not biking 20 miles on a highway in God knows what direction everyday, and our public transport to the suburbs mostly sucks.  So it’s a car or quit my career, which would be a bigger loss than our modest car payment.  I’d love to pay for a home in cash, but if we keep renting the inflation in the renting market will make it so we can’t even save for a down payment.

For me, the goal is to keep my debt manageable while being prepared for the emergencies in life that always crop up when you’re least expecting them.  The debt free-ness that I held onto until my late twenties may not reign again until I’m closer to retirement.  But that doesn’t mean I have to rack up oppressive credit card debt.  That doesn’t mean that we’re going to suddenly give up the student-loan-free path we’ve taken to get the husband through college.  That doesn’t mean I have to let that four letter word detract from living a meaningful, happy, and fulfilled life.

Life is a compromise best fulfilled through moderation.

Ready for Spring, But Thinking About Next Winter

Winter is almost over.  Spring is finally within site.  But you should be stocking up on coats and other winter gear.  See why here.

In November, the cold started creeping into Pittsburgh at levels that were no longer acceptable for just hoodies.  Perhaps because I despise all things cold except skiing, I avoided purchasing a winter coat for one of my kiddos as long as I could.  (The only one that still needed one.)  It was too depressing to tackle.  I was in a deep state of denial.  The season that makes me itch to move back down south was starting to push its way back into our lives.

But it was November.  And the forecast started looking grimmer and grimmer.  So I headed to my local resale store.  I found a London Fog winter coat (barely used) for $15.  I debated getting a Timberland one for $25 as it was brand new and still had the tags on.  But the extra $10 was totally going to be an ego buy.  So I went with London Fog.

Resale has me spoiled.

But I was so, so dumb.  I did what I knew I shouldn’t do.  I waited until November to buy a winter coat when the prices were crazy high.  If I had bought at a time when demand was low, I could have gotten that London Fog coat or an equivalent for much, much less.

Guess what, friends?  That time is now.  Spring is hopefully on its way, and everyone already has a winter coat for this season.  So the ones that are left over are seriously marked down.

And this concept doesn’t only apply to buying resale.  If you feel the need to buy brand new, you can score some serious deals just as easily this time of year.  And not just on bargain store brands, but on pretty fancy brand names, too.  Everyone’s slashing their prices.  They have inventory they have to move.

For example, right now Nautica has a coupon code for 40% off their already marked down sale items.  While they’re not huge into the winter coat market, they do have lots of other winter apparel at a serious price cut.  I could get a zip up sweater for one of my kiddos for $22.19.  It was originally $44.50.  That’s over 50% off. A $129 hooded jacket for the husband for a mere $60.  Well over 50% off.  And quality yoga pants that won’t get holes in them from constant wear nearly as quickly for $48, when they originally retailed at $99.50.

While these prices may seem still a little high for the frugal minded, you have to remember the quality that you’re getting:  this is Nautica.  And when you combine all the sales, it’s generally over 50% off.

So while I’m dreaming of chirping birds and warm, gentle breezes, I’m prepping for the next Polar Vortex of 2016.  Brand name new or resale, now is a pretty darn good time to buy.

 

 

 

 

*This post is in collaboration with 100 Hot Coupons.*

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