Seems like all I ever do is work on clearing out the clutter in this house and trying to keep up with the yard

I know it’s snowing in some parts still – I keep the a/c on 72 year round (still keep the costs down to about $150 even in the 95+ degree weather we have in the summer (it’s been 89 lately). What this means is I seem to live in a jungle with mowing every 5 days to keep up, not to mention all the other bits of yard work that go with that.

With this in mind, I have made a concerted effort to get some social time in – but it has to be darned close to free. Here in our area, there is a huge musical presence and lots of small town festivals. I go to one of the local open mic nights at a restaurant here on Tuesdays and order a club soda for the evening. Each musician plays 3 songs and this goes on for about 5 hours. It’s great. I’m on the southwest gulf coast of FL so have the opportunity every Mother’s Day to take a free cruise with a local boat tour company. Did a sunset tour around the harbor this time. I did a 7 hour trip to a key south of us that takes about 2.5 hours each way, then spend 2 hours at the restaurant on this key – it’s a privately owned key only accessible by boat. Next year I’m going to another key that is part of the state park system and also only accessible by boat. Takes about 2.5 hours each way, plus 3 hours on the island. Should be a nice trip.

This month, we have the Hibiscus Festival coming up, the Key Lime Festival, a great band playing at the open air rooftop bar of a local hotel and it’s great to kickback in the lounge chairs by the pool or any of the great outdoor sectionals they have – again, a club soda goes a long way. There’s a place called Fishermen’s Village that has timeshares on the 2nd floor, while the first houses shops and restaurants. I guess you might think of it as a board walk, of sorts, but all on land and it ends with a restaurant on the water. They have an open patio area, under cover, in the center and have bands play 5 – 9 on weekends. That is great as there’s resin patio furniture and you simply take your bottle of water and hang out. If you get there before 5, you can explore the resort shops which is always fun.

Heading to Yogurt Mountain on Sunday to get 6 oz of frozen yogurt free. Brunch earlier in the day at son’s house. Thursday nights at a local riverfront park consists of acoustical musicians setting up in the gazebo, pavilion and on the grass, playing. Again, just the general public coming to play and/or to simply listen. Started about 10 years ago with a group of 7 friends and has grown. During winter season when snowbirds are here, we see as many as 5k there.

So I am working on an entertainment budget of $25 a month and am doing at least 2 activities each week – as many as 5. This is allowing me to divert more money to pay down credit cards. And, fortunately, we live in an area where 7 miles south or north and I can do everything I possible could want to – if I expanded that, I would have a lot more opportunities. However, I am limiting my 2003 paid for Camry (yay – that was a milestone accomplished last fall) to ONE tank of gas per month – since the first of the year, I’ve met this goal, even with taking a 140 mile round trip each month.

Other than that, I took the ‘nudging’ from whomever said we could all plant a pot of our veggie of choice and set up 5 gallon pots with soil and planted seeds obtained from wintersown.org including turnips, celery, banana peppers and tomatoes. I had two separate orders – one was a mix of flowers and some veggies, while the tomato order was separate – choose 6 varieties, 4 alternates – they sent me all 10 choices. These were gained for the cost of the envelope/paper/stamp plus another SASE envelope using two stamps each. I saved some of those thumb-sized yellow/red/orange pepper seeds, dried and planted those. Scrounged up some old seed packets and figured if they grew, great – no cost. About half did so I have watermelon, cantaloupe, cucumbers and squash. I have cherry tomatoes, beefsteak tomatoes, yellow grape tomatoes as well.

Never grown veggies so this is a challenge. It’s miserably hot here already so I’m playing by ear. I did some research and ordered some neem oil and mixed with water and a drop of dish soap – hope this works – supposed to deal with leafminers which seems to be my only issue as of now, aphids and a couple other things, I believe, while not harming beneficial insects such as lady bugs. I hope this works well. Takes a week or so, as I understand it.

And, after hearing of Jan’s grapes, instead of tossing out the old portable gazebo frame when the top finally gave way (cheaper to replace the whole unit than just the canvas top, unfortunately), I moved it to the corner of the yard, put chicken wire on the top and a couple levels of landscaping timber around the base of the frame. This has been mulched in (so I plan on moving the watermelon and cantaloupe pots over here for crawling space, while the squash are going into the like-framed banana trees bed, while cucumber is going to the chain link fence along the back to climb). In each corner of the frame, I planted muscadine grapes. 1 vine has been there 3 yrs, the other 3 only two years. I have gazillions of little grapes everywhere. Now I have to figure out how to net them to keep the birds out.

So I took the challenge of growing veggies to see if that would cut my food costs noticeably. If things grow as I hope, I’ll have some extras – if so, I’ve already identified a food bank I can give them to as well as a new halfway house for homeless veterans where the soul purpose is to get the vets back on their financial feet.

These are my frugal plans for the summer, as things currently stand.

This is my first Mother’s Day w/out my mom, she passed last Sept. 1.

We plan on having lunch at a friend’s house. They are fixing shrimp and okra gumbo. Her mom is in a nursing home and too much of an invalid ot leave for lunch. My family will go see my grandma and dad after lunch. My friend will go see her mom after lunch too.

I was supposed to go antique-ing with a friend tomorrow in a town about 2 hours away. However we are under flood watch in all of southeast Louisiana till tomorrow evening. We are postponing our trip till another day.

I am not sure what my dh and dd are planning for us. If they choose to do a gift, that is great, if not–that is okay too. We usually don’t go out and eat on the big day. We may go out one evening next week.

We will spend very little for Mother’s Day. I will probably pick up a mixed boquet for my grandma. She is easy to please …. she really loves it when we go see her and get McDonald’s for lunch. LOL

I’m sitting in my mom’s living room enjoying some time away from the farm

Everyone needs some airing out and I guess it was my turn. Going to just be with mom on Mom’s Day; that’s treat enough.Spent $400 to get here so that’s not cheap, but we shopped the airfare and payed less than we expected so I’ll take it.

I did feel compelled to have gifts in hand for the three neices this trip, which is a new thing for me now that Im spending time with family again. Approx $60 for three t-shirts, each showing that child’s hobby (soccer, gymnastics and flowers) somehow seemed appropriate. Gifts for young family members is very unfamiliar ground. That should be the last I spend on the weekend. Well see.

This is dice weekend

Every hour the kids and I roll two dice. The number we roll determines how many things we each. need to pickup and put away. I’ve done this with decluttering -roll the dice and that’s how many things I have to find to donate other sell. Somehow the dice part makes it fun, not stressful.

Thanks for your comments!

It took us approximately four years, there was a strange mix of unusual money coming in AND going out during that time.

After reaching where we’ve gotten so far, I’ve had to readjust things and am trying to get some envelopes and sinking funds built up, so I’m kind of taking a “snowball break” in order to be on track in that way.

I don’t have the funds to knock out Sallie Mae #2 in one year. Unfortunately. My shovel is smaller than it used to be. I do have about $2,000 from our tax refund and Extloans service, then I could probably scrape together a few hundred per month snowball plus any extra that came in to add to the minimum payment.

How much would we need in retirement? The short (but not meant to be flip) answer is probably as high as we can make it. I’d say we’d need to get it up to $900k at a minimum… although if I was able to get the rental property mortgage paid off – that would provide more cash flow and the number could be lower (though obviously the higher the better). I am only 39.5, but am self employed and my income is much more sporadic. I’m guessing that it could be a little less sporadic when the kids are older though… but dh is really hoping that I won’t have to work FULL TIME when he finally is able to retire… So I’m trying to get things in as good as shape as possible, as quickly as possible.

I do think that once I decide more definitely what direction I should take, I will once again become even more gazelle intense in a mad flurry of activity and trying to reach goals!

If I were to spend a few months righting the envelopes and sinking funds… and making plans… then perhaps Sally and Larry are both correct. I could take every available extra penny and split it something like 25% sinking funds; 35% snowball Sallie Mae; 35% to a Roth IRA, and 5% to college books fund. It wouldn’t get me all the way where I need to be right off of the bat, but if I make a concrete plan – I WILL stick to it and hopefully once I get that Sallie Mae #2 to budge, I will start seeing faster progress.

If dh does get a cost of living increase, I would snowball that. The first of the year, they may increase the match up to 5%… I would definitely take advantage of that if it happens. Also, once the alimony of $816.mo is paid off… I will have about 3 years of dh working full time (if all goes according to plan, of course) still that I can throw at everything. My youngest starts kindergarten in another year and a half, and my child care costs will go down SOME, but not disappear all of the way. All of these things would make a difference at various times.

I could get more gazelle intense. We aren’t frivolous, but there is some fat that could be trimmed out of the budget I’d say… and I also have some things around here that I need to declutter either for the tax write-off by donating, or to raise the cash by selling on Craigslist or Ebay.

I’ve been struggling with health issues, which throws a wrench in things – bill-wise, income-earning-wise, and ENERGY-wise!

Sometimes it feels like I just need a miracle, a magic wand, AND gazelle intensity! I know I just threw a lot at you all, and I thank you for muddling through it with me. It’s a very complicated situation!

T’s a golf weekend here….

The Players is going on. We got a free week of clubhouse passes and parking passes—we were pleasantly surprised by getting them since DH retired from working for PGA Tour. I was able to pass on today’s tickets to a friend because Schwab gave us tickets–the food/drink at their hospitality tent was free.

Not sure what the game plan is for Sunday, but it doesn’t matter, I already got my gift of spending the day on the course and DH finally got to WATCH a golf tournament instead of WORKING—after 26 yrs, that was great.

Well, my son is going to his first formal tonight

We were very very frugal about it. We purchased adjustable tuxedo pants and and a very nice blazer for $2. We later purchased a tuxedo jacket to wear instead of the blazer, because the blazer is camel hair and we were afraid it would be too hot. Now.. we find out it’s not hot but it will be raining tonight, so I guess it worked out for the best (Wet camel hair? Yuck!).
We also got his shoes for $9 and I made the corsage and boutonniere for about $5. He has saved/earned his own spending money for the evening. Not sure he will be frugal about it!
While he is having a good time, dancing the night away, we will be enjoying free tickets to a minor league game. I am taking my mother out to dinner and the game. We just have to share the box with several of my co-workers! So I do have to buy her dinner at the restaurant of her choice, tonight will be ok on the budget!
This weekend, we are going to start working on our house to get it ready to sell. We are starting with the cheapest fixes and moving up to the most expensive ones. I’m not looking forward to this process at all but hopefully, it will be worth it!

I have been in sales all of my life

and a year ago now, lost my job of 15 years. In church, I have been approached twice now by someone with send out cards to join. I have NEVER been involved with an MLM in my life, am getting desperate and was wondering if anyone had any insight on this particular forum.
thanks so much for any help

Is Finders Key Purse an MLM?

No, this isn’t one of THOSE posts. I have the MLM Wholesale forum. Some of you may have heard of it.
It’s a group for people to sell off their MLM stuff that they got stuck It’s a strictly no advertsing site.

And I don’t want to turn it into a general garage sale site.

I thought Finders Key Purse was an MLM. One of my mods questioned it. When I went to the site, it wasn’t abundantly clear one way or the

So does anyone know for sure? I have no first hand dealings with this.

Like I mentioned, I don’t want people to start using it as a garage site. And I figured that *someone* here would have some first knowledge.