A comment made on one of our earlier posts inspired this one.

As you know, the general wisdom is you should have x number of months worth of expenses saved for emergencies so if you lose your job you won’t go into debt before finding a new one. Perhaps I gave the impression at some point that we didn’t have money set aside for such things, but of course we do!

We have always lived below our means not just so we could save for retirement, but also to save for the unexpected. We could have spent more extravagantly over the years and saved less but we both feel more secure with money in the bank. There’s something to be said for that peace of mind. It’s certainly more important to us than a bunch of material possessions.

While it would have been easy to continue spending money as if nothing has changed, and we’d be fine for awhile, we didn’t feel comfortable doing so. We have no idea what the future holds, and I’m not being negative when I say that, just realistic. I’ve seen too many people remain unemployed (or underemployed) for years, and would rather plan for the worse case scenario than assume things will work out, not reduce our expenses, and possibly find ourselves in a bad situation. Not to mention the fact that it took us 15 years to accumulate our savings and we don’t want to burn through that in a fraction of the time.

That’s not to say we aren’t having fun, however! It’s just a more frugal kind of fun, like seeing movies at the discount theater instead of going on a big vacation. That being said, we’ll still go to Indiana Beach this year and spend $100-$200 for the day. And that’s ok, because that annual event is totally worth it to us. We’re being cautious with our money, but not cheap to the point of not enjoying ourselves here and there.

I hope that clears up any misconceptions regarding our current state of financial affairs.

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garage-sale-sign

This is the weekend! After careful analysis of the garage sale market, updates from the Chicago weather teams, a scientific study from MIT…well, not really. More like Joe has finally stopped dragging his feet so the garage sale is finally happening! Thankfully, the forecast is looking good. We’re only doing the sale on Friday and Saturday as I wasn’t sure we would have enough product for Sunday. But who knows, once we’re set up, we’ll see what happens and maybe run Sunday as well.

We’ve been pricing all the items we have up for sale this past week and trying to get things set up in the garage so we can just pull them out on Friday morning.

We came to realize a few things:

  • Pre-printed price labels – must have
  • Plenty of tables – must have
  • Kicking the cars out of the garage so you can set up – must have
  • Hanging up clothes, looks better and doesn’t take up table space – must have
  • We really only had a couple of tables ourselves and wqickly realized we needed more. Thankfully a friend had a few she let us borrow. This will make our presentation look all that much better.

    And forget visiting the local Target/Walmart/Home Center for garage sale supplies. Instead hit the dollar store. Cheap and pretty nice. You don’t want to spend $30 on supplies and start the day having to make all that up first.

    I’ll put together a recap for next week after it’s all done and we’ve sold everything! A guy can hope we sell almost everything.

    Joe-

    I’m one of those people who really really hates wasting money. I’m not exactly thrilled with spending it either, but if I get some value from my money then I feel good. But if I buy something that I never end up using it really bothers me. To avoid this as much as possible, I seriously consider any purchases regardless of the cost. I won’t pay even $1 for something if I’m questioning it’s usefulness.

    Well, last summer I bought this day bag after carefully pouring over the reviews. I didn’t pay too much for it (I had a discount code), but after using it twice I realized the strap is extremely uncomfortable – it’s too think and cuts into my shoulder. What I thought was the perfect bag turned into something I didn’t even want to use anymore. This really irked me because otherwise I love all the different pockets and design of the bag. It’s been sitting in storage ever since because I couldn’t return it.

    The other morning I was trying to find something to carry my lunch and snacks into work and decided to dig through the box where I keep all my bags to see if I had anything that was more suitable than the larger than I need bag I had been using. Then I saw it. Perfect! And it really is. The inside is even that type of material that wipes off easily if I happen to spill something inside of it. And because I’m only carrying it from my car into work and vice versa there’s not enough time for the strap to hurt my shoulder. You have no idea how giddy it made me to find a new use for this previously wasteful purchase!

    It’s situations like these that make it hard for me to part with things I’ve haven’t used for years because often I will find a new purpose for them if enough time passes. There’s a delicate balance between hoarding and decluttering, that’s for sure.

    Do you have any re-purposing stories to share?

    Tesla’s monster lithium ion battery production facility has been under construction since 2014. What’s crazy to me is that by 2020, the Gigafactory will be producing more lithium ion batteries than the entire world did in 2013.

    While it’s still a ways away from full completion, the facility is already manufacturing battery equipment for its current vehicles. The facility is being built in anticipation for the Model 3 – A $35k electric vehicle meant to bring battery powered vehicles to the Average Joe – which was unveiled earlier this year.

    Tesla Gigafactory

    The Gigafactory is critical to Tesla’s mission of bringing a reasonable priced battery-powered vehicle to the average person. Go big or go home, right? It’s part of the plan for them. Economies of scale will allow Telsa to put out the batteries with a savings of 30% being passed right down to the cost of the vehicle. Pre-sales for the model 3 by mid-May were already at 373k according to Tesla. The Model 3s won’t even ship until mid-2017. There is quite a bit of excitement and obvious demand for a vehicle like the Model 3.

    In cooperation with Tesla, a drone captured the construction site back in April. You can get a real feel for the enormity of the facility. I’m looking forward to seeing a similar video once the factory is completed.

    In full disclosure, I should point out we do have Tesla stock in our portfolio. I’m not a big fan of individual stocks. A matter of fact, I tend to stick with mutual/index funds, but that’s a post for another day. But with as exciting as this technology is to me, it was as much a no-brainer to own this stock much like we do Apple. I am excited to see such advances in technology like this; how can you not be when you think about our reliance on fossil fuels?

    What really got me interested in Tesla stock was CEO Elon Musks attitude about increasing battery technology for “the greater good” so to speak. Back in June 2014, Tesla announced they would not initiate any patent lawsuits against anyone who wants to use the technology in good faith. It’s almost like he’s giving an open-sourced version to the world and saying, go ahead make it better. It reminds me much of the Linux open source movement.

    Joe-

    Friday we called Comcast to cancel our cable service.

    With it now being re-run season, we felt it was the perfect time to cut the cord, so to speak, and try life without cable tv. I didn’t like the idea of parting with my DVR because I really do love having shows waiting for me to be watched, but I was willing to give it a try. In addition, we already have Hulu, Netflix, and Amazon Prime so there’s no shortage of alternative sources of entertainment, nevermind the fact that it’s almost summer and we want to spend more time outdoors.

    An interesting thing happened when I called to cancel – I was offered a lower rate for cable plus internet (at the same speed) than it would cost to retain just internet service. That’s even when factoring in the ridiculous $10 HD technology fee. And of course I’m going to pay that fee because I don’t have a 55″ 4k TV for nothing, you know (it was a splurge/steal at Costco, don’t hate).

    Quick rant: Who is still watching standard definition cable, besides my parents, these days? Don’t you think that fee is just a way for Comcast to get even more money out of people? You can get HD channels on your TV over the air with a regular antenna for goodness sake. Anyway…

    I kept clarifying with the customer service agent to make sure I wasn’t mistaken, but sure enough, our new package would cost $20 less per month than internet alone and all we had to do was swap the DVR and move down to the cable package they call Digital Economy. Done and done!

    We packed up the box and headed to the Xfinity store to swap it. We had to wait a little over twenty minutes to do so, however, because it was a bit crowded on a Friday afternoon. They’ve closed many of their service centers and the ones remaining bear little resemblance to how they used to look when I worked for them well over a decade ago. They are trying for an Apple Store vibe and several days later I’m still not sure whether it works. But I guess if you have to wait around to do something as simple as swap equipment it might as well be while sitting on a cushy ottoman in a dimly lit modern-looking establishment, right?

    Overall our bill will be a full $50 less than what we were paying before while still giving us access to basic channels. I call that a win. It’s just funny how much they push their cable service, to the point where you’d be paying more without it.

    Now I just have to remember to call back in 12 months when that promotional rate expires and “cancel” my service again.

    Updating my original post for Shopkick. We’re both still using Shopkick whenever we’re shopping. Since originally posting this back in March we’ve accumulated around $25/each. I know it’s not life altering money, but it does pay for a weekly grocery trip for us to Target or Walmart. : )

    Shopkick

    Have you heard of  Shopkick? We love it! It’s a smartphone app that gives you Kickbacks just for walking into stores, and also for scanning specific items. Then you redeem those points – called Kicks – for gift cards to your favorite places like Starbucks, Target, Walmart, and more. 

    250 Kicks is the equivalent of one dollar and can be redeemed as follows:

    500 Kicks = $2
    1250 Kicks = $5
    2500 Kicks = $10
    3750 Kicks = $15
    6250 Kicks = $25

    Try Shopkick, a super simple way to save some $$$. : )

    After you click the above link, just enter your phone number and you’ll receive a one-time text with a direct link to download the app. After signing up you’ll be ready to start collecting Kicks! 

    Joe-

    Time for The Talk. No, not the kind of “talk” you give your kids when they’re young. This talk is about their finances, and final wishes. Yeah, that’s a tough talk to have. And an even more difficult one to start. “Hey, let’s talk about what’s going to happen to you and your finances when you die”. Depending on your parents, that might just work.

    For my own personal situation, I was pretty fortunate. My mom – who basically manages my parents’ finances and such – really just started talking about it one day. She already had plans of adding her children to titles and accounts, power of attorney, DNRs and such. She said she has it covered and gave us any info we would need at the time. Nice! Where’s my EASY button?

    Read More →

    I tried four new recipes over the last week and have to say, Pinterest never fails me. I think they all turned out really good and I’ll definitely put these into the regular rotation. It’s funny though, there aren’t too many meal recipes I’ve made twice since being out of work. Why? There are so many recipes to try out there! There are a handful which I’ve made a few times; those are our go-to meals. But there has been far more new recipes I’ve made.

    All the recipes can be found on our Pinterest board.
    Extrapolate This!


    Chocolate Chip Scones

    I haven’t tried baking much since being out of work, and I’ve been wanting to give scones a try. I found this low calorie scone recipe that looked really good and easy. What’s nice about this scone recipe is that it comes in at only 155 calories because there really isn’t much sweetener involved. Aside from the chocolate chips, the only other sweet ingredient is the maple syrup. But don’t worry, you won’t miss it. There is just enough sweetness. These scones were great with a hot cup of coffee.
    New Recipes


    Next up: Easy Baked Taco Pie. Another fast recipe to make. Just one pot and pan. The only adjustment I made was to the chili powder. I didn’t use any; instead I used Ortega taco seasoning as we have a bunch in the pantry. I also baked it in a 9″ square baking pan instead of a round one. We ended up getting 2 1/2 meals out of it. Not bad for what amounts to about $6 in ingredients.

    New Recipes


    Malibu chicken

    I didn’t snag a picture of this one, the pic below is from Pinterest. I changed this recipe more than any of the others. I didn’t end up breading these at all. I just baked the chicken breasts with some salt and pepper. Once done, I topped them with ham and baked them in the broiler for just a minute to crisp up the ends of the ham. Then I added cheese and put them back under the broiler for about half a minute. Pretty simple. The thing I liked about this recipe most was the dipping sauce, mmm. I would make that again to use with other recipes.

    New Recipes


    Marinated Baked Pork Chops

    This one we had last week. We were a little skeptical at first because the ingredients in the glaze seemed a little basic and the ketchup threw me a little. But the glaze was great. I’ll end up using it in other recipes just like the sauce from the Malibu chicken. Note – if you’re buying canned green beans, grab some fresh ones from the produce market. They’re not only a good price, but so much better and worth the extra effort. We haven’t had canned green beans in a long time.

    New Recipes

    Joe-