Thursday, December 1, 2016

Retirement?

There is a question mark on that because the discussion is so often presented as "must save 1million dollars!

It's as if f Dr. Evil were in charge of retirement planning...



There is no way in heaven or hell, or even in places that actually exist, that I will have 1 million dollars for retirement.  Not happening.

So, can I retire?

What about Social Security?  I hear that it might go bankrupt any minute.  But will it? Just because less will be coming in, fewer workers per retiree etc, doesn't mean it immediately heads to zero or that we can't start taxing the wages above whatever the current top limit is for SS tax (seriously, there is a top limit...I'll never hit it).  But, what if it DOES still pay out at something near the current rate.
Here is a spot to find out approximately what you'll get:
https://www.ssa.gov/oact/quickcalc/

You can see it in today's dollars or future dollars.  It did NOT say "zero."  I will get something.

I have a retirement plan at work, 401k type.  I contribute to get the maximum match from my employer.

I could contribute more but I'm going a different route.
I'm cutting expenses.

IF I can get expenses down below my estimated social security payment, then my work retirement account will be there to cover slack and unexpected expenses.

First, I do not currently have any debt and I take drastic lifestyle measures (to some, they don't seem drastic to me) to avoid debt.  E.g., I live in a shed and a camper. I paid cash on the barrel head for my current car.  For my land.  I have a small solar system for which I paid cash.  Same with the well.  My only recurring monthly out of pocket expenses at the moment are my cell phone and a storage unit with the stuff I hope to put in the future cabin I hope to build without debt.  Annually I pay car insurance and a healthcare/fitness program that I choose to fund and find worth the expense at this time.  The healthcare/fitness could be dropped if I lose some income.  As could the cell phone.  There is no TV expense, no internet, no utility bill of any kind (no utilities...like I said, some might find that drastic).

And of course, taxes on the land which I am working to keep to the minimum, like everyone else.

I do spend on travel, gifts, and other things.  Those expenses can be minimized or eliminated if need be.

Food...I'm going to need that.  I'm always trying to find ways to be cost effective with food.  Eating crap processed foods...which I do...is not the best.  While it can seem cheaper up front, one is not healthy on that.  And, turns out it's not cheap.  So, I try to eat as much whole food, cooked from scratch, as possible.  I'm also working on growing more food.  I have space, but not much decent soil so it takes time to get that going.  I do have 2 apple trees, some berries, and a small garden.  I have access to a cheap fishing license and stocked trout ponds which I could take better advantage of.

In the coming months, I'm going to focus back on eating whole foods, more fruits and veg and working to get my "added sugars" down to the recommended levels (6 teaspoons a day...which is 24 or 25 grams).  Since it's hard to tell how much of the "sugar" on a food label is added, the easiest way is going to be by not eating food that comes with nutrition labels!  Hello produce aisle, farmers market, and maybe a CSA.  And of course, gardens, sprouting jars, and the like.

I doubt I can totally eliminate packaged or restaurant food (much added sugar there too) or that I want to, but as I eat up what I have and even throw out some of the worst, I'll focus on replacing it with actual produce and meat.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Utility Sled...Money Well Spent

So, I need to move many straw bales.  I've been moving them by hand and with a wheelbarrow.

Why do I need to move them?  I'm stuffing them in the erosion problem and spreading them over the bare dirt that will run down the hill this winter without some help.   When one's land is made of snot (actually, it's mostly clay.  Clay and live gopher meat), one must try to keep it in place.  It needs some organic matter.

So, I got a bunch of straw bales.  Chopped straw is used on erosion issues.

I don't have a picture of the bales stuffed in the erosion issue.  The "erosion issue" is also known as "the path of the water line from the well head many hundreds of yards up the hill to the storage tank."  With the top of the tank also just being bare clay dirt that turns into runny snot.  The waterline path was an actual river all last winter and spring and eroded into a mini-canyon with depths varying from 2 inches to 2 feet, width from about 4 inches to nearly a foot.  Cripes.  SO.  I thought long and hard and decided if everyone else puts a few bales crosswise, I will also put a few bales crosswise to the problem, and a whole bunch more stuffed down IN the problem.  Then, I plant them with whatever seeds I can get my hands on.

The bales I got are not organic.  One only has so much money and time and I appreciate the farmer letting me know what the main herbicide is.  No broad leaf type things will grow.  BUT the bales will double as thistle killer so that could be handy.  I will try to get organic next time.  For now I am working with what I have.

Anyway, moving them by hand, carrying, turned out to be OK when they were dry.  At least OK for the first dozen and if I wasn't going far.  It's hard on the back.  And the butt.  I started using the wheelbarrow which was much better, but required that I carefully place the bale to avoid tipping it over AND that I balance the thing on the way to where it went.  Still, a good option for part of the job.

Removing all of the lifting seemed like a better idea.  So I got a utility sled:















It is "Otter" brand.  I haven't tried others.   It's made to move stuff around.  I measured the interior below the curve on the leading edge.  It is just big enough for 1 bale.  If I got one big enough for 2 bales, I'd try to do more weight than I could handle.

Here it is with a bale in it.







Works great.  The bales were stacked so I could put the sled by the side of the pile, pull a bale over the edge so it fell in.  Then I pull it with the included rope (which is crap but when it breaks I'll find something better), to where it goes.  Tip the whole thing over and go get the next one. 

I had all the bales stuffed in the path of the erosion issue so I was spreading some out around the bare earth.  I cut the strings off and raked the straw over the exposed ground, which had some seed on it.

As for the bales in the erosion issue.  I've added "nitrogen" to almost all of them now (yes, pee).  I also spread rye grass seed and whatever other random seed on them.  They are also sprouting lots of wheat.  WHATEVER.  All biomass is good.

As I was raking this straw about over the bare spots, it was covering clover and rye grass and winter pea seed.  It was also upsetting the odd gopher.  A group of vehicles on the highway were treated to the site of an old woman with a garden rake madly slamming it randomly and wildly into the ground.  Had they been closer, they could have seen that I was trying to impale a gopher.  So much for my karma.  Though I'm pretty sure he escaped unscathed.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Simple Thrift Introvert Friendly Holiday Extravaganza!!

I'm partway through an excellent Thanksgiving. 
Speaking of Thanksgiving, how very American to celebrate the immolation and slaughter of native people.

Anyway, as you may have deduced, not my favorite holiday.  I don't mind celebrating the harvest with a bit of gluttony.  One can do that any day.  I have today off work and access to a friend's kitchen since she's out of town.  I am alone.  There is no television.  Introvert paradise.

Let overindulgence begin!

Breakfast: What did I have?  Oh, right. Spinach frittata and a coconut milk vanilla latte' which I made in my travel french press.  I did steal coffee beans from my hostess since I am out and forgot to buy any yesterday. 

For a snack, a handful of walnuts (left from some thrifty holiday gift assemblage done yesterday) and a handful of stolen triscuits...sorry hostess!

I spent the morning preparing the big meal.  Most of my duties involved remembering the stove was one while something simmered or baked.

The main dish: Spicy adzuki beans on spelt berries. YUM!  I'd never cooked adzuki beans or spelt berries before but had done plenty of dry beans and whole grains.  That expertise along with the odd internet search saw me through.  I started both of those soaking, separately of course, last night.

In the morning I put the spelt in a big sauce pan with enough water to come about an inch over the top of the grain.  Brought it to a boil, and simmered. I don't know how long it simmered.  The internet said it would take 90 minutes, but it didn't take nearly that long.  I tasted it every now and then.  Once it wasn't crunchy, I called it good.  After a good drain in a seive, it went into a bowl in the fridge.
Since I still had some coconut milk after the latte' was made, I put some cooked spelt in a pint jar and topped it up with coconut milk and some fresh grated ginger root. It's in the fridge now becoming progressively more delicious.

After the exhausting time spent watching a video while the spelt simmered, I dove in and took on the beans.  These cooked up super fast as well.  Not the 40 min the internet told me. Lying damn internet! It was more like 25 min.  Again, I was tasting them off and on while they cooked.  They went from definitely not done to "OMG!  OVERDONE!" Pretty quickly.  But, still held up well in the final dish.

I drained the beans and left the lid off the pan to get them dried out a bit.  I don't like to leave cooked beans sitting in water.  Then, just let it all cool off.

Obviously I needed a rest after all that.

But wait!  What about dessert???
After the rest period, I made one of my quick tarts.  This may be the best one so far.
Apple with fresh grated ginger, and whatever cinnamon and nutmeg I could round up. Unroll the crust (the cheap store brand refrigerated pie crust...bought on sale of course), just one.  Put it on a baking sheet.  Not an insulted cookie sheet.  Those are stupid.  Just a thin piece of metal.
I had some plum pineapple jam from the farmers market so I used a couple tablespoons of that to make a circle on the unfurled crust (leave 1-2 inches of the edge unjammed).  I put the ginger more or less evenly on the jam.  I sliced up one granny smith apple, and scored the hide...these had crappy thick skin that was hard to bite through.  Arrange slices neatly on the jam.  Sprinkle the cinnamon and nutmeg on.  Fold the crust edges up over the apple edges any which way.  Seal up any cracks or tears in the crust. Bake at 425 until the crust is brown and the jam is a bit bubbly between the apple slices.

I have no idea how long that is.  Just keep an eye on it. 

After another good rest, time to finalize the main dish.

I diced up an onion and sweated it in peanut oil.  This is thrifty peanut oil that I poured off the top of natural peanut butter I got on sale.  So, basically free oil.  I chopped up the remains of a head of garlic I found at my place.  Threw that in.  Let it sweat some more.  Turn up the heat and get a bit of carmelization going on the onions, but not much.  I put in about a tablespoon of cumin, and a mix of hot pepper (new mexico, ancho, chile de arbol, something else) that came in a multi-pack as a gift last christmas.  Stir that around and let it cook a tiny bit.

Open a can of diced tomatoes and throw that in.
While it heats up, get the beans.  I put in about 2 cups, maybe 2 1/2 cups.    Stir.
Then, I let it simmer.  It got quite dry even with the lid on the pan.  But, I let it be.  I probably kept it simmering about a half hour.

I heated up a cup of the spelt berries in a TINY bit of water in a smaller saucepan.  Once hot, I threw some spicy beans and mixed it up.  I had meant to slice up an avocado on there, but I didn't remember that until I was settled on the couch watching a movie and eating out of the pan so I just didn't bother.

The beans and spelt was really good!

The remains of the beans went into sandwich baggies with some spelt berries.  As I type they are freezing and I will take them to the office for microwave lunch options.

I meant to only eat ONE piece of the tart, but as I was doing some odd jobs in the afternoon, I just kept having "one more piece" and now, there is no more tart.  Oh well. 

So, how was this all thrifty? 

I got the organic adzuki beans for 50cents a pound and the spelt berries for about 66cents a pound.  A store was changing up the bulk-bin selections and had random bags of things they weren't going to carry in bulk anymore.  So, I grabbed what looked good.  I also got some prunes (which it turns out I do not hate) and other items.  The beans and spelt berries were the last things left from that deal.
The tomatoes are store brand, not expensive, but organic. The onion was something like 79cents a pound and the garlic is from the community garden for free.

Coconut milk is often a high end item.  The coconut milk I am using is from powder.  Wilderness Family brand.  While the bag of powder is still fairly spendy, there is virtually no waste.  You mix up as much as you need when you need it.  The bag I have is over a year old.  I think I spent $12.50 or so on it.  I don't use it that often, but it is still good.  Doesn't take up much space and no worry about freeze/thaw as I would have with cans.

The ginger was bought on sale about a month ago and I've been using it but it's time to use it up before it gets too dry and old.  Hence, ginger in things.

The jam was 3$ for homemade at the local farmers market.  I used 2 or 3 tablespoons full for the tart.  That's pretty thrifty.

I must say, it was a damn tasty meal!  All based on "what needs to be used up" supplemented with "what's on sale."  And a bit of theft from my hostess.  But I will leave her a tart or something as a thank you.
The store brand crusts were on sale for $1.69 and I used only 1 from the package of 2.
The apples were 79cents a pound.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Tiny Car Pantry

Faithful readers (of which I assume there are none) will remember that I had mice in the car last year.  Followed by at least one dead mouse in the car which stunk.  I never found the carcass.

And yet!  I have NOT learned my lesson.  I am in the car a minimum of an hour per day on weekdays, and often that much on the weekend.  Many weekdays I also drive another hour or more during work.   Lots of car time.  I end up eating in there and since I don't live in a town, I shop when I am in a town.  That is often in the middle of a work day or during a full day of errands.  Food will be in the car for extended periods.

When I had the mouse/mice last year, I eventually found a stash of almonds in the spare tire compartment. I didn't remember having almonds in the car!  Cripes.  I later found part of a bag that must have fallen out of a grocery bad or off the seat when I was snacking. 

My hope is that with the tiny car pantry I can at least keep full track of the food and keep it mouse proof.  If the little bastards MUST come in the car, and I'm sure they must, at least they will have to leave to find sustenance.

I should have taken a picture but I didn't.
At a thrift store (obviously) I came across a lovely BIG metal tin with a tight fitting an hinged (hence can't pop off and roam away to parts unknown) lid.  It is about 8"x12"x5" with a domed lid. When I do a shop, I put the shelf stable car lunch ingredients in there.  Right now there are 3 small boxes of Lara Bars (cashew and some lemon), a tin of sardines, some high-end onion crackers that come in a box that will fit in the tiny car pantry, fig bars, a package of dried figs, a plastic spoon and fork and for no apparent reason, a hotel size hand lotion.   All the food was on a SUPER sale.  Normally it would be a jar of nuts.  Sometimes there is a bit of fresh fruit, apples or oranges, in there but with the current freeze/thaw weather that's a bad idea.

I think it also saves me a bit of cash because I can eat before I go into the grocery store.  I had been going in too hungry and indeed, one ends up buying too much when shopping hungry.  It's prevented me from stopping at cafes and coffee huts too.  When I get hungry, I can have a Lara bar and make it until I'm back that the office or home.

It's also winter so never a bad idea to have food in the car in case one gets stuck.

The tiny car pantry now lives in the back of the car now.  It used to live in the passenger seat but I ended up just eating what was in there because it was there.  That does not save money or make sense.  It's been a life saver on driving trips too!  The snacks are already in the car.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

WOW!

So, my little stats page view counter thingy says there have been 30,000 page views of this blog.
Um.  thank you.

I'm surprised. 
Of course the most popular post is the one about the whore house (probably see a bump on that now).

I hope something I've said has been useful to someone at some time.


Thursday, October 13, 2016

Massive Thrift Store Blowout SAVINGS! (and a coupon..woohoo!)

Sometimes I go to the thrift store with a list either written or in my head.

On the list yesterday was a safety orange jacket with the reflective strips so I don't have to wear my stupid old vest with the velcro that grabs my hair during the winter.  It messes with hoods and isn't as visible as it was when it was new.

Also, I wanted a tiny camping espresso maker because they are tiny and I am building up a wee collection of thrift find tiny coffee makers, or at least interesting ones.  So far I use them all.

I'm only out about 30$ for the following:

2 travel mug coffee presses (press the coffee right in the mug and off you go).  One is a 25$ (new...2$ to me) stainless number that I use EVERY DAY.  The handle came off a month or two ago so now it's a tumbler.  The other I use more for tea and I think the plastic isn't going to last as long, but it was a buck or 2 and is good for when I have visitors which is pretty damn rare.

A 2 cup aluminum vintage/antique stove top percolator with tiny percolator filters.  2.84 (3$ with tax...love the store that does that even though I find them oppressively christian otherwise)

Small stove top Biali style maker that does 2 espresso cups worth.  There is an even tinier one...I have my eye on yours Diana...if it goes missing you should just ransack my shed and it will be in there.  Last time I pet sat for the aforementioned Diana I drank WAY WAY too much coffee so I could keep making it one demitasse at a time.  Mine was about 2$ and I've used it for years now. I had a bigger one as well but it went in one of the downsizings.  Someone else was probably thrilled to get it.

A 2nd large size stainless steel press, but this is a camping model that makes 2 or 3 cups worth at once.  It's a bit much but I knew it was over $40 new and I got it for about 3 dollars.  Use it tons.  For those who care, it is Planetary Design like the travel press stainless steel mug (now tumbler)


And just to keep the Planetary Design theme going, I found one of their desk press styles (slightly larger capacity because it doesn't have the little spot for extra coffee grounds to make a second cup on the go...) BUT it was missing the internal pressy bit.  The two presses I already own from this company have the press bits and both fit this so...no problemo.  3$ to me $33 new.  Etc.

OBVIOUSLY, a tiny stove top espresso maker was in order.  I had one ages ago and got rid of it either in a downsize or a move or something. Also, not so handy to use as they splatter everywhere while making coffee so it's just for use outside or in the camper, not in the shed.

It looks like this:
It was 4$..spendy, but it is BRAND NEW, never used, and I got a wee mug (probably the one it came with) for 1$, so it was the whole set.  This is GSI Outdoors brand and costs 30$ new if it's aluminum (I think it is) and 40$ new if it is stainless steel (it is quite shiny...).  The tiny cup is about $4 new.  So that's 5$ for a 34$ or 44$ item...and I'm already enjoying it.  Will make espresso with it soon.

The other item on the list, the safety jacket, was a big surprise.  I NEVER find those.  Sometimes I see a safety t-shirt or vest, generally in some gigantic size. This is the nylon rain jacket, orange, with full striping...in MEDIUM!!!!  It's dude medium but whatever.  It goes over a coat OK, though maybe not a giant puffy coat.  With the sleeves with double reflective stripes, it is more visible than the vest.  And with the crap lining, it is surprisingly warm...thanks petroleum!  Best to stay away from flames, sparks, and friction as I'm pretty sure it's flammable.  $26 New cost...$8 thrift cost...BUT WAIT!  There's more!!!
I had a 20% off coupon for donating to this thrift store (Goodwill, Moscow, Idaho) and they apply it to the most expensive item.  SO I got $1.60 off...$6.40.  I've already worn it.






Friday, September 23, 2016

My New Favorite Total BS "News" Article

So we all know how much I hate the "lower your chance of death by..." type titles.  Again, just to review: YOU ARE GOING TO DIE.  We all are.  The chance of death is 100%.  Just like the chance of time passing.

BUT did you KNOW that you could die of almost anything.  Even a HAIR TIE!!!!
Insert dramatic music and eyes like this:



This actual true headline made me LOL for reals (pronounced "rilz" with a slight sidelong sneer):

The Horrifying Reason You Should Never Wear Hair Elastics Around Your Wrist

 Turns out, one woman, one time, once got an infection from a gnarly filthy hair tie she wore on her wrist.  NOW WE CAN ALL DIE OF THAT.  So much for all that kale I eat, the exercise, and those stupid seat belts I've been wearing like a total dupe.  I'm going to die of hairtiewristitus. 

Seriously people.  From now on I'm only tying my hair with surgical tubing taken directly from the autoclave.  This will be handy since I'll have something clean to tie my arm off too when I need to get a vein to shoot heroin.