Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Frugal Hits and Misses: The August Report

I've committed to clocking up our successes (and misses) for you every month. Here goes for August.

Found some incredible fruit sales. Our peaches from the Palisade trip not only were fresh, but cheap -- about 65 cents a pound, versus the 'cheapest' price right now: about a buck a pound on sale in stores. (Normally, they're $2-4/lb.) We gave some to friends, and the girlies each got a box.  Now, nearly two weeks later, what's left is stashed in the refrigerator. I promised the Brick a peach pie, and want to make some peach dumplings, as well. As usual, I wish we'd bought one more box! This season just doesn't last long enough.
     Also, our local Safeway (Fred Meyer, to you East Coasters) has frozen blueberries on sale -- a 3/lb bag for $3.99. That's way cheaper than what I can get them fresh. Since I usually freeze some anyways, Safeway can do it for me this time. One bag's in the freezer -- at least two more are needed.

We did okay on groceries, too.  Fifty pounds of onions -- for $5. (Onions are normally a buck a pound around here.) Forty pounds of chicken wings -- $20. (These from the Fri/Sat store.) A bagful of zucchini and squash from neighbors. Our dogsitting people have been covering some of our food, too. Nice.
     Combine that with 77-cent 8 oz. packages of Swiss (I looove this cheese), half-priced bottles of black cherry juice (essential to keep gout at bay for the Brick), and some other clearance items snagged. I've been a happy camper in this area.

The beans are producing! And they're wonderful. We're finally getting more rain, too. The sad part: weather's cooler. They won't keep on much more.
     The tomato plants look great -- lots of blossoms. Just in time for cold weather. (sigh) I'll put our old greenhouse cover on the plants, but have little hope that they'll produce.

The chickens are fine...though we lost one of our old girls. They're barely producing enough eggs to fill the weekly 3-dozen order. I really wish they'd get back to work. Fortunately, Safeway's had eggs on sale. (99 cents a dozen)

Building up the savings fund again. Thankfully. The Cheyenne trip helped, but we're also dogsitting an elderly but feisty golden lab named Nitro. It means staying overnight at Nitro's house...but fortunately, it's only little more than a block away. The Brick stays at our house, and practices for our friends' wedding. (Ana and Jerred are marrying Saturday night -- and the Brick and I are playing and singing for it.) He comes over for meals and sleep. I stay with Nitro and company, work on appraisals...and try not to feel too lonesome.

Nitro in the flesh

Lessons learned from dogsitting: 
     *I enjoy it. Nitro's a good-natured 'ol boy, which helps. But he's 15, stiff on his legs -- and a reminder of where Abby, who's 11, could go in the future. I think I'll try for more jobs like this.
     *Regular messaging helps. Every day, I send a few photos of Nitro and a text on how he is and what we've been doing. It reminds Nitro's mom and dad that he's fat and happy...and he misses them. (Doesn't hurt me, either.)
     *Our decision NOT to have cable was a good one. How can hundreds of channels have so little to offer? Reruns, sales of stupid stuff and a few good movies and shows sprinkled in. Is this really worth $50 or so every month? (Although I have enjoyed catching up on Judge Judy, Law and Order and Naked and Afraid.)
     *Living in two houses is zany. Take a shower -- oops, your deoderant's at the other house. Where's the can opener? Call the Brick, and ask him to bring it over. Charley and Abs look funny at me -- why are we sleeping here, Mom?
    Meanwhile, there are dirty dishes and clothes at both houses. I need to tidy things up everywhere.

Dawn Patrol -- they kicked up a rabbit. Guess who got away easily?

No more birthdays. Okay, mine -- but I'm going to advocate for steaks grilled at home. We covered two meals out, which, along with several small expenses, effectively cancelled out the extra funds I thought were going to beef up the savings.

I didn't get any of the goals done that I'd set.  I did keep us reasonably fed, in clean clothes, and with some income coming in. We also didn't spend much, if you don't count birthday meals and a doctor's visit for Charley. (Allergies were making him miserable, poor puppy.) Piles are everywhere, though, and we have lovely doghair drifts in the hallway. Next week means catching up on all that. (Oops, just got an e-mail...a friend is coming to visit this weekend. Maybe I can vacuum up the doghair -- quick -- before the rehearsal dinner.)

Meanwhile, there are appraisals to finish, clothes to wash and a dishwasher to load. 
     We'll go back to regular life next week. I hope. 

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Co-Signing On a Loan or Credit Card: Should You?

Don't do it, don't do it, don't do it.

A recent survey from of about 2,000 adults found the following:

     Money gone:   38% of co-signers ended up paying some or all of the loan or credit card bills -- because the person they helped out... didn't.
      Credit scores down:  28% had their credit scores affected negatively because the person they co-signed for didn't pay...or was late.
     Relationships affected:  26% said their relationship with the person they co-signed for was no longer as good.

Twice, we've been asked to co-sign for a loan. The first time, we did it -- because the person was young, a relative, and needed our help with school loans.  The second time, we didn't. That person was a casual friend I worked with. I liked her so much, but hadn't known her that long. She asked me to co-sign for a car loan; I regretfully said no. Soon after, she disappeared from my life. (Would that have happened if I HAD agreed to co-sign?)

And the school loan we did co-sign for?

We regularly were forced to ante up loan payments now and then when our much-loved person didn't pay. (The loan people immediately called us next when the payment date passed.) Brief periods happened when she was back in school, and the loan went on temporary hiatus...but the loan people were soon back on our doorstep with the next 'break' from college. 
    Finally, all was quiet. Our loanee assured us that she'd taken care of things, and all was well. Then we got a notice: our credit scores had dropped nearly 100 points for non-payment on the loan. It was past-due three months.
    Every month, for the past two+ years, our bank account gets docked $50: the price for our credit scores not taking another hit. (They were near-perfect before that.) 
     The loan will be paid off next March. I am hoping that when it's gone, our credit scores will go back up to what they once were. They've only recovered a little from the initial hit.

And if our young person came and asked us to co-sign again?

What do you think?

Our experience was with school loans -- something parents go through a LOT with their children. Like this poor lady.

It happens with co-signed credit cards, too.  In fact, the columnist mentioned here has posts crammed with people who co-signed, or allowed friends, partners and family to be 'authorized users' on their accounts -- and now regret it.

Sure, it may be ok. The person you've just entrusted your credit and reputation to actually makes the payments regularly. They may do this. It happens. 
    If you really want to help without endangering yourself, take the real risk -- and loan them the money directly. We've made loans to relatives and a friend -- and we got the money back. Reluctantly, as it turns out, in two cases...we had to ask for it, but we got it. In a third case, the money was paid promptly and on time, without asking. I'd loan money again in a flash, any time, to that third person.
     We've also borrowed money from both sets of parents, as well as our daughter -- and paid back every cent on time, plus interest. 
     You may not have the funds to spare. In that case, the answer is clear: Don't do it.
     But if you do have the cash..

     Worst case scenario: you don't get your money back.  Lesson learned: don't loan any more than you're prepared to lose -- permanently.

The person may have the best intentions. (Then again, they may not.)
They may be someone you love dearly.
    But if something goes wrong -- they change their mind, lose their job or have serious medical bills -- you're the one on the hook for that debt. No matter what.

After all this, do you still want to help? Then loan them the money. That way, if they don't or can't pay, you won't ruin your own credit, and end up paying the bill for years, as well. It's not a fun feeling.

Trust me -- we know.

Brackman's doing a Giveaway!

Quick -- sprint over to Barbara Brackman's website and enter her contest.

Some really nice fabric packs, cuts and more.

You only have today to do it...I think. (She said something about taking the post down after today.)

So quick -- GO!!

Cats and Dogs Living Together

While I'm canning peaches and finishing up appraisals, enjoy these animal memes found while wandering the Internet:

(One of our cats used to sleep on top of Buck the Weimaraner, showing off. Buck's response: 'Cat? What cat?'  
Less humiliating that way.)

What can you do -- we (me and the Brick included) love our animals.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Monday Stuff On the Way to Other Stuff: Woof!

Got back from Cheyenne (thanks, guys!) and jumped right into my next assignment: dogsitting Nitro, a 15-year-old golden lab who has a surprising resemblance to our Abbie, but a whole lot more decrepit. He's a good dog, but is used to barking for food, love, going outside...and he doesn't mind doing it at 7 a.m. or so, if he feels like it. 
    He seems to be enjoying Charley's and Abs' company. He really is a good 'ol boy.
    I have two boxes of peaches waiting to be canned -- holdovers from our recent trip to Palisade. Fortunately, Nitro only lives 1 1/2 blocks down from our house, so I can move back and forth.
    The Brick, meanwhile, is practicing music for friends Ana and Jerred's wedding on Saturday. It will be fun, but...
     Why does everything happen in the same week?!?
    The big pile of work on my desk has kept me from doing much fooling around on the Internet, so the pile of Stuff is small this week. It will be more next Monday. 

A taste test comparing a supposed Kentucky Fried Chicken the real KFC product. Guess who wins?

6 lost airplanes, found decades later.  Read about 9 more here.  (Correction: the 9 list includes Amelia Earhart's plane, which still hasn't been found -- and I'm betting they won't. One of my uncles, who was involved with Allied flight operations in England, recalled hearing, during WWII, that her plane had been found after Earhart's execution -- but then was quickly torched. Other military eyewitnesses corroborate this.  Hmmm...From Mental Floss)

28 facts about the musical "Grease" that you didn't know.

The last word (I hope) on the Peter Doig trial.  If you're not sure what I'm talking about, go here.

The man who scammed for hundreds of thousands of veteran benefits...and almost got away with it.

21 underwater discoveries that are just too weird...and interesting.

Have a great week. We will.

Charley thinks this about Nitro.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Updates: Cheyenne, Doig, Emeralds and Otherwise

I don't know about your neck of the woods, but it's definitely getting a little chilly at night in Colorado. We're hearing that cold weather's coming early this year -- could it be true? It rained yesterday, the first prolonged moisture we've had in weeks. The Brick said he made a fire in the woodstove to celebrate, and the dogs crowded close. 

     I'm just glad we weren't out in the tent, shivering.

Every once in a while, updates are needed for subjects I've mentioned. Here are the latest:

I'm still in Cheyenne. It's been fun, and the quilts in this show are beautiful. Take a look at the photos throughout this post: the show's  open at the First United Methodist Church in downtown Cheyenne through Saturday! Specifics are here.

This beauty is Sue Frerich's "Arcadia Avenue:" Best of Show

Beautiful lovely peaches. I've got five boxes waiting -- two of them needing canning-- when I get home. Want to come help?

Donna Dolan's appliqued sailboats (a change - they're usually pieced)

Peter Doig wins.   I told you a few weeks ago about this strange case -- an artist being sued for refusing to authenticate a painting he maintained he didn't paint. The guy who owned it, and his partner, decided to FORCE Mr. Doig to admit he did it. (They then wanted to bank off Mr. Doig's name, and sell the painting for a substantial amount of money.)
     Problem was -- Doig said he wasn't in that part of the country. (Let alone in jail there, where the plaintiff bought the painting.) Even his mom testified that he wasn't there. The painting didn't look anything like his other work. The signature was different -- 'Peter Doige.'  And a Peter Doige WAS incarcerated in that prison...and was a painter.
     This should never have gone as far as Doig was forced to take it. I'll bet he paid a nice boatload of money to his lawyers for it. And apparently he didn't countersue for lawyers' fees. Too bad.

The chickens are laying...sort of. We lost two more of the ancient hens -- but at 5+ years old, that's to be expected. So far, they're still laying enough eggs for our use, and a 3-dozen sale to customers each week. But it's getting tighter and tighter.
     I need to clean out their coop before the weather gets colder. This week.

Sandy Farrell's version of "Fireweed"

Remember the emeralds found from a sunken treasure ship?
     Jay Miscovich discovered them -- but Mel Fisher's corporation laid claim, before switching and then arguing Miscovich was a crook. Miscovich ended up committing suicide...the emeralds disappeared...and some kind of settlement was struck for the investors' lawsuit that came in on the heels of all this brouhaha. (Details were kept secret. Go figure.)
    Now the Delaware legal firm, Young Conaway Stargatt & Taylor LLP, that apparently represented Miscovich (so far as I can tell, anyways) has settled with the investors that sued them for more than $13 million. More specifics here about the initial lawsuit...but this one's going closed-mouth, as well.
    What makes this particularly interesting: Young Conaway tried everything they could think of to wriggle out of this, including threats, accusations of fraud and several requests to dismiss the lawsuit altogether. Didn't work, obviously.

This isn't an update, but it's a great story, nonetheless:  a 99-year-old veteran waiting for a train not only gets ushered to the front of the line, but one of the employees goes out of his way to honor him
Now that's respect.

The American Textile History Museum is now closed. It was one of the highlights of visiting Lowell, MA. What a shame.

Hope you're having a good week, too.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Horse Sense

My uncle called it "common ordinary everyday horse sense," and would bray after he said it.  (No, I'm not kidding.)

You know what, though? I think he was right.