Monday, October 23, 2017

Social Unrest - Prepping for a Protest Gone Bad

Recently we had a protest in our city.  I don't live in the city.  I live probably about 25 miles outside of the city on the outskirts of a suburban area.  The news prior to the protests warned us against going down to the protest site.  The police had blocked off the protest area and closed the streets well away from the protest area in preparation to help keep innocent bystanders away.  The police warned that if we didn't have a necessary need to be in that area to stay away.  The protesters were quite controversial and there was a potential that this could go very, very wrong if everyone wasn't "on guard".  In the end, the police did a great job.  They kept the protesters and anti-protesters away from each other and the situation didn't result in injury or destruction.

But what if.....

We have seen social unrest situations go very, very bad in recent years. We have even seen looting and social unrest (looting, crime, vandalism) in areas struck with a natural disaster ( hurricane, flooding, etc).

So what do we do?  How do we prepare?

There are two options: bug-in or bug-out. The preference in any situation is to stay put.  Stay in your home, stay where you are.  But sometimes you will need to get out of the area and if things go bad, you might be away for a little while.

Let's look at a few situations:

1.  You live in an area where potential unrest could happen and have warning that unrest could occur.  Let's say you know a protest will happen close to where you live.  If you have warning, you may want to leave the area until the potential threat is gone.  If I were living in the area where our recent protest was occurring, I might have thought to leave as well.  This was a potentially violent protest and if I lived where the police were blocking off streets, etc, I probably would have packed up the family and left for the weekend. It just makes sense to avoid the threat. 

What do you pack?  Clothing, cash, perhaps your valuables (if you feel your home could be compromised), portable food (things you don't need to heat up or cook - think protein bars, easy snacks, fruit, water), a special toy or stuffed animal (for kids who might need that comfort).  Copies of your important papers, insurance papers, etc.

If you leave and the social unrest happens your home may be compromised and potentially destroyed so pack the really important things you need and prepare that you may not be able to return to your home for a little while.

Now I am not saying to pack everything.  That is a bit overkill, but I am saying to pack a day or two of clothing, maybe a few extra pair of underwear, a blanket or two, emergency food, paperwork, etc.  The basics of a bug out bag along with an extra this or that.

2. You live in an area where potential unrest could happen but you have NO WARNING and it is happening.

Always your best option is to stay put, but if the danger is eminent and you feel safer leaving then leave.  Grab your BOB (bug out bag) and get out of Dodge!  This means that you need your car to always have some gas in it.  You don't want to have to stop at the next block to fill up.  It is best to be able to get out of town and then stop for gas.  So if you are living in an urban area or where potential unrest could happen you will want to think about keeping your car at least half full with gas and your car emergency kit is up to date and filled at all times.  You will want to be one of the first ones out so be ready.  This is where keeping a bug out bag packed and ready to go is important.

3.  The social unrest has occurred and the police have everything on "lock down".  There is a city-wide curfew. 

At this point you have survived the potentially violent phase but now the aftermath.  The city is on lock-down.  Stores are closed. There is a mandatory curfew in the city.  You must stay home. It may be a few days before the curfew is lifted and it may be a bit longer for local stores to open and the city to get back to "normal".  This is where your food storage and emergency supplies will come in handy. You will not feel the need to have to get out.  Your typical emergency food storage and supplies will keep you going until you can get to the store.  Thankfully, you have already stocked up on food and other necessary supplies so staying at home will be no problem.

In the end, preparing is the key.  Know your dangers. Prepare for the worse, hope for the best.  Have your bug out bag ready to go.  Keep your papers and insurance up to date.  Keep gas in your car.  Have an emergency supply of food and necessary items.

This is just another example of how your food storage and your bit of preparation can help you in the end.

Friday, October 20, 2017

A Much Needed Break ----- Prepping For a Trip

Yesterday we took a much needed mini vacation.  It was only a 24 hour vaca but it was so so so good to get out of town for even just an overnight trip.  My husband and I and the three teenagers packed in no time flat (we are record packers trained by many years of traveling to and from our beach house or river house each weekend) and we hopped in the car and headed an hour away for the night.

The plan was to check into the hotel and then go out to eat a nice dinner, spend the night and then the next morning go apple picking, have lunch and then meander back home again. The plan went splendidly!  It was perfect weather.  We found an open air mall and walked through a few stores and then had a wonderful dinner in a great Italian Restaurant.  The next morning we awoke and had a bit of breakfast in the hotel. Then we packed up, checked out and headed to the local apple orchard.  We ended up with a bushel of apples, three bottles of wine, a gallon of apple cider, and two dozen apple cider donuts.  It was wonderful to just hang out with my family and my kids.  We get so caught up in the mess of the days that we forget to just be together.  As the kids have gotten older it has also become more difficult for us to schedule time together, and when we are home we often find ourselves in separate rooms, doing separate things.

In the end, it was a much needed, quick, break from our lives.  Ahhhh.....

So how do we prep for emergencies while we are on the road?

1.  Pack for layers.  The weather was going to be fairly warm but might be chilly inside places or at night.  We pack for layers.  A sweatshirt, a sweater, a tank top.  Light jacket. Long pants, short pants.  Extra underwear (just in case we end up having to stay longer than expected). Extra outfit (in case we stay longer or in case we spill something and need an extra outfit). 

2.  Toiletries. Normal toiletries plus a full set of nail clippers, tweezers, nail file.  (it is amazing how often we need one or more of these items while we are away!  Plus they can come in handy if you need a mini tool for something or another. Trust me, you will use them.)

3.   Flashlight.  I carry a small but bright one in my purse, particularly when traveling.  AND I used it while we were away.  Now it wasn't for an emergency but the lighting was dim and the flashlight came in handy.

4.  Snacks.  We pack snacks and a cooler of drinks and water bottles when we travel.  We don't always eat or drink them but if we find ourselves stranded somewhere we have some protein and some carbohydrates and veggies to snack on until we get rescued.

5.  Blanket.  In the winter I try to pack a blanket for every person in our family in the car.  We will use them while traveling to sleep in the car or just snuggle under when my husband declares the car too hot and turns on the AC or the heat down.  This time it wasn't too cold yet and I grabbed two blankets.  My son brought his own as well.

6.  Emergency car kit.  We always have emergency car equipment in the car.  Basic tools, battery jumping cables, rope, chain, extra fuses.

7.  Extra battery charger for our cell phones.  We have a portable charger and I make sure it is all charged and ready to go - you know, just in case.

8.  Small first aid kit.  My small one is a small cosmetic bag size.  It has a few band-aids of different sizes, antibiotic ointment, pain reliever, and benadryl.  Oh, and antacid.  It is not big but it works for us. When the kids were little I also carried a thermometer and a few other items. Now that we have grown most of them have their own bags and carry the items they feel are necessary for them personally, like feminine supplies, allergy meds, etc.

Do we overpack?  I don't think so.  Did I use everything I packed?  No.  I didn't use the first aid kit. No one needed any band-aids this time, but we have needed them in the past.  We also didn't use our car emergency kit, but it is always good to have it around for those times when we do break down.  I didn't need to extra battery charger either but it is small and always good to have.  Yes we ate some snacks, not all, yes we used the fingernail clippers and the nail file this time. I used a blanket on the bed in the hotel room because my husband loves to crank up the AC and freeze me out of there.  I already told you I used my flashlight and well, packing in layers is always a good idea.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

A Whistle Can Save Your Life

Yes, a whistle can save your life!  Put on your list of emergency supplies to get a whistle.  I have one on my keychain.  It is a small plastic "very loud" whistle.  The "very loud" part is what was in the description when I bought it.  And it is very loud.  But any whistle in a pinch will do.

As a woman I worry about attacks in parking lots when I am walking out to my car at night alone.  I always get my keys out in the store prior to leaving.  I have my keys in my hand and thus my whistle too.  If I feel threatened (knock on wood - haven't needed to use it yet) I can blow my whistle.  That will get other people's attention and hopefully ward off those who want to do me harm.  However, there are lots of other times where a whistle will come in handy too.

Have you heard of the instance where you get lost hiking?  The thought is if you get lost the best thing to do is to stay in one place and blow your whistle every so often.  You can use the SOS method of blowing your whistle, three loud blasts, and people searching for you can hear it.  Yelling and screaming can be effective but it takes a lot of energy to yell.  Blowing your whistle is much more effective and efficient.

If you are in an emergency situation where you are covered in rubble, whistles are effective for people finding you. 

So when a weather emergency occurs (tornado warnings, hurricane, etc) put a whistle around your neck and you will have it in case you need it. 

Whistles are inexpensive and can be found usually in the sporting goods section of Walmart, Target, Kmart, and in sporting goods stores.  Get one with a lanyard so you can put it around your neck.  They are usually only a few bucks if that.  In fact buy two or three!  They also make great stocking stuffers!!

Pack one in your bug out bag, put one in your car emergency kit, put one on your keychain and in your purse. 

Monday, October 9, 2017

Emergency Planning on a Budget (a $5 plan)

A few ideas for how to stock up on a budget:  I was thinking more about the post I wrote the other day here and wanted to give a few ideas on how to stock up with just $5 a week.

I have said before that I am not a "hard core" prepper.  But I do like to have some supplies on hand at any given time.  My "emergencies" are not the sort like the end of the world, full-blown nuclear meltdown, complete economic collapse, or an apocalypse type event.  My "emergencies" are more of the "oh my we had to pay a large bill this month and are a little short of grocery money", winter storms, hurricanes, and oops the power went out.  I find that from time to time we have to use our supplies for one of these reasons.

I don't buy the long-term, 25 year food storage items.  A 5 gallon bucket of oats or whole grains or even flour isn't going to do me much good in the long run because that is not how I cook everyday.  Yes, I bake bread and sweets from time to time but it isn't my norm.  I buy extra of things we use everyday.  I like to have a three month supply of things so in case we need to use our food storage/supplies the items we normally use are there. 

How do I get a three month supply of things?  I start slowly and I stock up on things we use.  When things go on sale that is when I buy and for the most part food items go on sale at least once every three months.  At that time I buy what I need to the next three months.  For example, we use ketchup quite often (I have kids - it is part of the food pyramid!) I estimate we go through a bottle of ketchup a month. So when ketchup goes on sale I buy three bottles.  We are not big on canned veggies and tend to eat more frozen or fresh veggies.  We can't really stock up on fresh veggies for three months but we can stock up on frozen veggies.  Frozen veggies are regularly $1 a bag.  We eat fresh as often as we can but we use at least 3 bags of frozen veggies a week, sometimes more.  3 bags a week for a month is 12 bags.  Three months worth is 36 bags of frozen veggies.  I don't buy 36 bags at once.  I don't have that much money to spend on it at once.  So I buy a little at a time.  I will get a couple extra bags each week at the store until I have stocked up.

If you were to budget $5 extra a week to spend on emergency supplies you could plan out how you can spend it each week.

Immediate needs:
Food -
Water -
Lighting -
Cooking -
First Aid -

Start with water.  It is easy to grab an extra couple gallons of water for $5 a week.  A case of water bottles is usually $2.50-$3.  You can buy at least one case and then a gallon of water for $5.  Do this for a couple weeks and you have quite a stash of water.

Food - Start with foods you can eat without heating up.  Tuna packets, canned pastas like ravioli, beef a roni, spaghetti-o's, etc.  They are better hot but you can eat them cold in a pinch.  A box of protein bars, box of dry cereal, pop-tarts, instant oatmeal.  Canned fruits, apple sauce, canned and bottled (shelf stable) juices. Start slow and buy on sale.  These are all items you can eat without heating up. Make sure the cans are the flip and pull type or make sure you have a hand crank can opener.  Canned goods do you no good if you can't get into them.

Alternative cooking - One month save your $5 a week and try to find a camp stove or use your $20 this month to buy some cast iron pots and pans you can use on your grill or over an open fire.  Camp stoves like this one is a bit more than $20 new but you can buy one on Craigslist or at a yardsale for about $20.  If you own a grill or plan to use an open flame fire to cook in an emergency then use your $20 to buy second hand cast iron pans and pots.

Now that we have an alternative cooking plan - let's go back to food again.  Now you can start stocking up on lots of foods each week with your $5.  When planning what you will buy try to buy items that will make a meal. One week buy instant pancake mix and a bottle of syrup.  The next week buy a package of pasta and a jar of spaghetti sauce.  Another week buy canned soups that are ready to eat (Chunky, Progresso, etc).  This way if you have an emergency then you have a full meal and not just random parts of a meal.  Relish and crackers don't make a meal. You could eat it but it wouldn't be appetizing.

Alternative lighting - For $5 you can buy 5 small flashlights. (Walmart has them in the camping department, they are small but pack a bright led light)  You can buy a package of AAA batteries for $5 to go with your small flashlights.  For $10 you can buy a larger lantern.  For another $10 you can buy a package of D batteries for the lantern.  I used to stock up on candles but now I go for the lanterns and flashlights. Just the other day I found a great hanging battery operated light on sale for $3.49 at Office Max.  I think they were intended for a locker.  You could hang it in your locker and have a light so you can see your books.  The light is bright!  I bought 2.  The fact that you can hang them up on a hook or in a closet on a rod makes them perfect for your emergency supplies.  You can put it in the bathroom on the towel rack or hook it on a cabinet door knob in the kitchen. Each was under $5. Candles are cumbersome and dangerous as they have an open flame and can catch your house on fire if you aren't paying attention.

First aid - again, use your $5 to add to your first aid kit.  One week buy band-aids, next week buy ace bandage, another week buy antibiotic ointment like Neosporin.  One week buy pain-reliever (Advil, Tylenol, etc) another week buy chapstick.

Now that you have the basics for an emergency where you won't have power, begin to think bigger and start to plan and stock up for a time where you may be without a job or there is an illness in the family and money is tight, or when you just need to pay an extra bill this month and groceries and basic supplies will be hard to come by.

Make a list of popular meals that your family likes a lot.  Start to stock up a little at a time so that you have all the ingredients for these meals.  Stock your freezer with meats, veggies, and quick prepared meals.  Stock your pantry with spices, gravies, taco seasoning, canned goods, condiments, canned fruits and juices, boxed mac and cheese, soups, and anything else you normally buy.

Consider purchasing deodorant, toothpaste, toothbrushes, feminine supplies, soaps, shampoos, and other toiletries.  These can be some of the most expensive items you purchase on a regular basis.  Stocking up on these when they are on sale or when you have a coupon is a wise choice.  Other items to stock up on is laundry detergents, bleach, household cleaning supplies, and hand soaps.  Again the key is to buy these when they are sale or if you have a coupon.  No coupon?? Consider emailing or mailing your favorite brands and tell them how much you like their product.  They will often send you high dollar coupons in the mail.

The key here is that if you do a little planning.  You biggest emergencies won't be the end of the world type scenarios but the little annoyances of daily life. I can't tell you how many times we have used our food storage because of an unexpected expense or lack of money for some reason. Power outages are our second most annoying "emergency". I am glad that I have an alternative cooking plan and alternative lighting plan.  Our daily life doesn't change that drastically when these things happen because we have a plan.  Buy the things you use and eat.  Food storage isn't any good to you if you don't like what you have.

Benefits of food storage:  I love being able to go into the pantry and having a variety of options available to me.  We eat it on a rotation all the time so that no food goes bad or gets out of expiration date.  Because I have stocked it with the things we eat anyway, we are always rotating our foods.  My grocery lists look a little different sometimes because I am always restocking my food storage and buying the items when they are on sale not just when we need them.  So sometimes my grocery list will not have any meats on them or any veggies.  Sometimes my grocery list looks quite odd as it isn't "balanced". But I find I am saving money this way too!  :)

I also love being able to reach under my sink in my bathroom and immediately replace an empty toothpaste tube, or grab a new deodorant.  I always have an extra. I never run out of anything I need.  When I notice that something is starting to get low, then it goes on the grocery list.  I might not get it immediately because it might not be on sale.  But it will get purchased before I completely run out of it.

Friday, October 6, 2017

Stocking Up on a Budget - How to Prepare When You Have no Money.

I recently had a friend on Facebook post that they were expecting a hurricane this weekend in her
area but she unfortunately had no money to prepare for it. It got me thinking about how to prep on a very tight budget.

We all from time to time find ourselves a bit "skint".  This doesn't mean that you can't be prepared.  I have given this a lot of thought and thought I would put my thoughts out here.

1.  Know your dangers!  By knowing what dangers you might have to endure in your area then you can best prepare for it.  I am not a prepper that preps for end of the world type events.  A major catastrophe is definitely in the back of my mind but I find that it is the more "everyday" events that I come across and need to be prepared for.  So first, know your area and the dangers you might have.  If you are in tornado alley, then prep for tornadoes, severe thunderstorms, etc.  If you are in an earthquake zone, then prep for those and the damage that comes with those.  If you live in an area with potential hurricanes then those are what you need to prep for.  Know what your potential disaster will entail. I live in a hurricane zone.  I prep for severe storms, hurricanes, flooding, lack of electricity for possibly weeks (we live in the country and will be one of the last to get power restored if out), etc.  By knowing your dangers you will then be able to also determine the supplies you will need.

2.  Plan to shelter in place.  With little or no money, plan to shelter in place for as long as you can.  If you have to leave your home, then plan to be in an emergency shelter.  That will be your cheapest alternative to staying at home.  Prior to a potential emergency call your local emergency agency.  Ask lots of questions so you are prepared. Know what your shelter will provide you.  Most provide a cot or bed, some provide one or two meals a day.  Some allow you to stay all day long while others require you to leave during the day and return in the evenings.  Ask about safety, privacy, pet policy, etc.  Ask what items you will need to bring and what items they will provide (think toiletries, towels, linens for beds/cots, pillows, etc) 

3. Think of the basics. Because you will be planning to shelter at home, think about the basics you will need.  Water, Food, Alternative Cooking Methods, Alternative Lighting, Alternative Heating, etc.

Let's spend a minute talking about each of these.
Water: Many think that they will need water bottles.  But for weather related emergencies we often have a few minutes/days to prepare.  You don't need to run out and spend your little bit of money on water bottles.  Just fill pots, containers, insulated water bottles, ziploc bags, and your bathtub with water.  You can fill ziploc bags with water and then put it in the freezer and freeze it.  They will keep your frozen foods cold longer and then take the ziploc bags out when you need it and they will melt down to water.  I remember reading about someone before Hurricane Katrina who filled bowls, cups, pots, everything that would hold water prior to the storm. She was glad she did!  Fill your tub with water.  You can use it for washing and flushing your toilet. Water is pretty much free if you use the water coming out of your tap and fill your own containers.

Food: Most everyone has enough food for 3 days in their house that they can eat.  You may not like or want it but you have it already. Don't panic on food. However, again if you have a bit of time to prepare then you can make some better choices on the food that you will buy for your family that week.  Think about foods that you will not have to cook (if your stove is electric).  Sandwiches, vegetables, fruits, cereals, etc.

Alternative cooking methods: This can be your outside grill, a camp stove, or even a grate over an open flame.

Alternative Lighting:  During the day you can open your window shades and use natural lighting but at night you will need some alternative lighting source.  This could be flashlights, lanterns, oil lamps, candles.

Alternative Heating: If there is a possibility of no heat and it is cold outside you will need to figure out alternative heating. This could be your fireplace, lots of blankets, a kerosene heater, etc.

And then you need an emergency "bug out bag" just in case you will need to leave and go to a shelter.   This doesn't have to be a "backpack". You can use whatever bag you have, even a garbage bag.  Most people have something they can throw some things in

So far we have spent no money.  At this point we have just talked about what you probably have inside your home right now. It is just a matter of looking at what you have and being ready for the emergency.

4.  Plan ahead of time and over time.  This is the most important!!!  If you are like me, money comes and goes.  Sometimes I have a little extra and sometimes I don't have any extra money.  The key to all this is planning ahead of time.  We know we will have the potential of a weather related emergency so we plan ahead of time for it.  This way, when the weather man reports a hurricane or a snow storm or other severe weather there is little I need to do to prepare for it.  I am already prepared.  I don't need to worry about expenses of prepping at that time.  It is already done.

Each time I go to the grocery store, I make sure that I replace any prepping items we many have recently used.  If I don't need to replace anything then I try to budget a little bit of money to add to our supplies.  For us, batteries, are one of our most often used items as well as one of our most expensive prepping item. If I have an extra $10 I will buy a pack of batteries. 

If you are serious about prepping add in a line item into your monthly budget for stocking up. In the meantime here are some ideas on how to stock up ahead of time with little money.

1. Budget: Take a few dollars a month and use that to stock up.  Even the hard core preppers had to start somewhere and most of these didn't start with a lot of money to purchase supplies.  Like everything good, it takes time.  Sometimes years. 

2.  Health Fairs/Business Fairs/Etc.  I love going to these things, because the businesses there often have free things for you.  Bring a bag to put in the free stuff and collect away.  I particularly like small packs of bandaids, hand sanitizers, first aid kits, water bottles, zipper bags, sunscreen, toothbrushes, toothpaste, dental floss, etc.  These are perfect for your bug out bags!  Some even give away drawstring backpacks!!  Those are great for your bug out bag.  I like to put one of those in my car with emergency supplies.  If my car breaks down, I have a backpack now to put on to walk for help. 

3.  Cheap groceries.  Use your coupons to help stock up on long expiration date food items.  Canned foods are great as most of the time they have a year or 2 year expiration date.  Ramen, rice, pasta are awesome, cheap items to have in your stock of food. Add one or two items each trip to the grocery store you make.  It might be an extra buck or five to your budget but it is easier to do this a little bit at a time than to buy a full stock of food all at once. I have personally never bought freeze dried foods from an emergency supply company, but I have looked at them and they are quite expensive.  If this it the route you want to go then once you have a bit of food storage from the regular grocery then take the extra money you would have spent stocking up at the grocery and put it in an envelope and save until you have enough to buy a case of freeze dried food.  Buy a case at a time until you have a good stock of it.  The key here is to start with what you can and do what you can a little at a time.  Use coupons, shop sales, and look for items with long expiration dates on them.

4.  Free food items:  When you are out in a restaurant, the extra couple packages of condiments you may not use can be used in your emergency supplies.  I am not condoning stealing but sometimes they give you too many, and one or two extra condiment packs can help round out your bug out bag foods.  I am talking about salt packets, pepper, sugar, dry creamers, parmesan cheese packs, etc.   Don't throw these extras away.

5. Yard Sales:  I love going to yard sales and looking for emergency supplies.  You can find sleeping bags, lanterns, flashlights, oil lamps, camp stoves, and other items all at great yard sale prices.  Look for your higher ticket items here. 

6.  Craigslist/Ebay/Estate Sales/Auctions:  Other great places to look for more expensive items you might need.

7.  Dollar Store:  This is a great place for clean up supplies.  Bleach, cleaners, rubber gloves, buckets, rags are all great items to get at the Dollar Store.  Also think about getting a lighter, matches, and storage containers here too. You can buy batteries here but they tend to not last very long.  I prefer the more reliable brand name batteries.

8.  Goodwill/Thrift Stores:  This is a great place to find back packs and other supplies.

9. Take an Emergency Preparedness Course:  We have a free course locally, called CERT (Community Emergency Response Team).  They train you for all sorts of emergencies and how to help your neighbors in an emergency. At the end of the course, which is free, you get a free backpack filled with supplies and tools.

Again,  the key to an emergency is preparedness and most often we can prepare well ahead of time.  The key is to already be prepared when your emergency hits.  By planning ahead of time you don't have to worry so much about whether or not you have it in the budget this month to get prepared because you already are prepared.







Friday, September 29, 2017

Financial Preparedness

Recently we have been going through a bit of a financial strain.  Who am I kidding?  We seem to always be in a financial strain.  Ha ha ha.  But recently I have been thinking more and more about how to be more prepared financially. 

I hate the fear that lack of money gives me.  I feel safer when I seem to have some money in the bank.  I feel secure.  But the money never seems to last very long.  There always seems to be some sort of "thing" that comes up where we need to use our money.  A refrigerator dies and needs to be replaced. A child needs dental work to the tune of $1200. Something always seems to come up and we have to spend our little (and I mean little) nest egg.

Years ago we took a Dave Ramsey course and it was great.  It allowed us to see where our money was going and we learned how to reduce our debt.  We used this method for quite a while and we still go back to it from time to time.

Dave says to have 3 to 6 months in income in a savings account for emergencies.  He also says to have a budget for cars and car maintenance.  He says to put money aside each month and then when your car needs repair the money is there.  When your car needs new tires, the money is there.  This makes total sense to me. But {sigh} I never seem to be able to do it. Ramsey encourages us to use cash.  Put the cash in an envelope each month labeled for that specific category.

I remember my grandmother telling me a story years ago where she was using envelopes to put money in each month for different things: groceries, clothing, car maintenance, etc.  Her story goes on to tell how she didn't know what to do with the extra money each month that she didn't spend. That never happens to us.  I found that I had to steal money from another envelope to make up the difference in spending from another envelope. {sigh, again}. 

Having a cash system is hard.  In this day and age we don't use cash that much.  Everything is done online, through debit or credit card, or with electronic transfers.  I considered opening a host of bank accounts to settle out the "envelope" system but that didn't seem practical.  I tried a spreadsheet, half-heartedly I admit, but that seemed very tedious.  Lots of detail and saving receipts.  It didn't work, and I admit, I didn't give it much of a chance.

However, one thing that we have done over the years pretty successfully is to put a bit of cash in a jar.  We dip into it from time to time but it usually has a final purpose, like Christmas budget, or travel funds, etc.  It is nice to know that a bit of money is stashed away for something or for an emergency.  We usually have several hundred in there and sometimes it increases to a thousand!  My husband puts his change in there and any cash he has on hand. I do the same when my purse seems heavy with change and when I end up with a bit of cash.  It makes me feel good to contribute to our jar and it makes me feel safe.

Having a bit in an emergency fund is helpful for all those little emergencies.  Like that refrigerator or the dental work.  I am lucky because when those emergencies come up, while I hate to spend the money, we have it and don't have to get a loan or use a credit card to pay for it. Recently with the dental work, the account manager was going through the upcoming expenses and she said that I could apply for a short term loan through a financial company they use.  I could apply right then if I wanted and it only took 5 minutes.  {whew} Thankfully, I was able to decline because I knew we could pay cash for it.  When it came to paying for my daughter's invisilign braces, we were able to take advantage of a cash discount if we paid for the whole thing up front.  It took all our "emergency" money but I was able to save about $500 by paying up front.  Now we are paying "payments" back to our emergency fund instead of paying a high interest loan payments to financial company for the loan for her braces.

How do you get started? 

There are a couple ways to begin.  One thing is to start a list of things that you might need money for in the next year.  Think about appliance replacements, repairs, travel money, etc.  Then start to budget for that expense in your monthly budget.  Divide your total by 12 and add that amount each month.  Watch out and be prepared because that number can be quite large.

For us we can't always make that amount each month to put away.  For us, we just start adding whatever we can to our savings account.  We try not to dip into it each month and I like to see the money start to add up.  Even if it is just $20 a month that you can stick in a jar in your closet.  At the end of the year you will have $240!  Some months you may have an extra $10. Add that too. 

What if your budget is so tight that you can't seem to part with any money to save?

Start by adding all "found" money.  That penny on the sidewalk, the surprise $5 you found in your jacket pocket, change back from ordering a soda.  Then look at what you might be able to take out of your budget.  Maybe take your lunch instead of eating out once a week.  That is an extra $5 a week ($20 a month).  Perhaps it is your birthday money you receive from relatives. Start an emergency fund with money you earn from a yard sale or by selling an item online. 

Other thoughts:

By having insurance on your home or rental insurance you are saving for an emergency also.  Having this insurance will help replace lost or stolen items in an emergency situation.  Your house floods, your insurance will kick in.  But make sure you understand what is covered and what is not covered.  Make sure your insurance covers your needs if a disaster happens.  Know what your deductible is and save that amount in a savings account so your insurance will kick in immediately when you need it.

Health insurance is also important for peace of mind.  Again, know your ins and outs of your plan and save the deductibles.

Think about life insurance too.  Term life policies can be very inexpensive and can be for all sorts of amounts.  Recently, a friend had the horrible experience of having to bury her teenage son. The cost of the funeral home and burial was very expensive and they didn't have that kind of money.  They had to take a loan out to get their son buried.  It was a very sad situation and one they had not expected nor planned for.  Not only were they mourning and grieving horribly but also at the same time had to deal with the payments to the funeral home and cemetery.

Reality:

In full disclosure, we don't currently have health insurance or life insurance.  This is something that we need to get taken care of soon and on my list of things to do.

We do have a small fund of cash in a jar and we are currently saving for Christmas and then for travel later in the year.  We put all found money in there and whenever we end up with cash.  Extras from the month will also go in there. When we need cash we tend to dip out of it and I hate that, but it happens. I always say I will take cash out of our bank account and replace it but in reality that rarely happens.

I write this post not only to help spark some ideas for you but also for me to get organized and help me get more prepared as well.

What creative ideas do you have to save money for emergencies?




Thursday, September 28, 2017

Holy Trash - a - Lot!!!

I can't believe the AMOUNT of trash we have in this house!!  It is amazing how much trash one family can create!  Tonight my husband emptied the kitchen trashcan for me.  It was full (as it usually is) and he pulled the full bag out and put a new one in.  Within about a minute and a half (maybe less time than that) the new bag was full too.  Why you ask?? Because there was trash sitting in line waiting to get in the trashcan.  Because the can was full it sat on the counter next to the can waiting its turn to be thrown away. 

We stopped our trash service earlier this year.  My husband wasn't thrilled with the man we had.  He was a "two men and a truck" deal.  He was the only one we could find that would come down our long, long driveway and pick up our trash at our backdoor.  Other services wanted to pick up our trash at the end of our driveway.  That just isn't possible for us to drag our trashcans down a quarter mile long driveway.  {sigh}  Again, my husband wasn't thrilled with this trashman because he wouldn't take all our trash.  He would only pick up two outside trashcans-full, unless we paid him more, which we did to pick up all our trash.  My husband felt like we were being "taken" by the new price to take the extra trash.  So he cancelled service and promised to take our trash to the dump himself. 

Tonight my husband said he would have to go to the dump AGAIN this week.  I mentioned that it is why our trashman picked up our trash  WEEKLY!!  LOL 

Back to our copious amounts of trash. We seem to fill the kitchen trashcan at least once a day, sometimes twice. And that is with just normal trash.  Then each of the kids' bedrooms can fill a bag at least once every other week.  The trash in the office can fill a kitchen garbage can at least weekly too.  Bathrooms combined can fill a bag, and then we have the garage trash which we can pull two bags, at least, a week. 

Two things I wish:
1. that we had a trash service that would just pick up our trash, all of it, each week so we don't have to worry about when we will get to the dump.
2. if we can't have a trash service then the guys will habitually take our trash to the dump each week so it doesn't pile up.

Last week before they went to the dump we had little animals partaking in a virtual feast each evening by digging in our trash on the deck. The trash had piled up so much that it no longer fit in our outside trashcans and we had to pile bags on the deck.  It was bad, bad, bad.