How Prepared Are You For A Hurricane?

 
The weather news is all about Hurricane Matthew that is bearing down on the Florida Atlantic coast. Matthew is stirring down in the Caribbean now and has Florida solidly in the forecast cone. While this system will probably not impact Tampa Bay (other than some wind and rain), it is still a good time to get ready for what ever the rest of the season brings us. Are you ready for a hurricane to happen now? Here are some checklist items to help you prepare for a storm -
  •  Do you have plenty of cash in small bills stashed in the event there is no power, or you need to barter to get things you need during a disaster? Most ATM's will run out of cash, businesses may not be open and your best bet to buy stuff will be from people hawking stuff on the corner - for cash.
  • Do you have plenty of dry food (cans, dry mixes, dry milk, beverage mixes, pet food), enough for a weeks worth of meals? Make sure you have an old fashioned manual can opener too, or be sure all your cans are pop tops.
  • Do you have water or drinks enough for 3 days (at least a gallon a day per person)? This doesn't include bathing or cooking water, so a clean source of water for that is important too - fill your tub or sink for cleaning.
  • Do you have a bug out bag in case you need to leave your home - a change of clothes, cash, medications, sturdy shoes (not just sandals), silverware,etc.
  • Do you have a weapon to protect your life and/or property in the event of a disaster and there are no police services?
  • Do you have your automobile's full of gasoline, a spare 5 gallon can of gas, a full canister of propane for your grill?
  • Do you have flashlights and batteries that work? First Aid kit?
  • Do you have some basic tools, keys, portable Radio and Telephones?
  • Are your important documents secured in a waterproof safe or in a safety deposit box at the bank? Can you scan them and take the data device with you?
The www.weather.org site has the most up to date information.

Great Books I've Read This Year


Summer is a great time to read and if you love to devour books like I do, you're always on the lookout for a new list of great reads. My goal this year is to read 100 books and I'm well on my way with 64 completed. I usually have a hardcover I read at lunch, an audiobook I listen to as I work, and a different ebook or hardcover for the evening reading hours - so I usually have 3 going at once! I should easily reach my goal of 100 in the remaining four months of the year 2016. Not all the books I've read have been great so I filtered out my favorites that I would rate a 5 star.

Here you go!


Title
Author
The Guilty (Will Robie, #4)
David Baldacci
James Baldwin
Far From True (Promise Falls Trilogy,  #2)
Linwood Barclay
Julian Barnes
Off The Grid (Joe Pickett, #16)
C.J. Box
Night School (Jack Reacher, #21)
Lee Child
Among Thieves: A Novel
John Clarkson
Michael Connelly
Susan H. Crawford
The Gangster (Isaac Bell, #9)
Clive Cussler
Matthew Desmond
Allen Eskens
Janet Fitch
Mary Gaitskill
Robert Galbraith
Justin Halpern
Kent Haruf
Ethan Hawke
Noah Hawley
Ken Ilgunas
Tetsuko Kuroyanagi
David Lagercrantz
Kate Clifford Larson
Brad Meltzer
Vladimir Nabokov
Thomas Perry
Eleanor H. Porter
Judgement Cometh (Joe Dillard, #8)
Scott Pratt
Crimson Shore (Agent Pendergast, #15)
Douglas Preston
Extreme Prey (Lucas Davenport, #26)
John Sandford
Ruta Sepetys
The Black Widow (Gabriel Allon, #16)
Daniel Silva
Rebecca Skloot
Colm Tóibín
John Vaillant

 Bookmark this page until you've read them all!

Tips to Stay Cool When its Hot #TestedTough

 
Everywhere in the nation it has been steamy hot and humid this summer, Florida is no exception. We are planning a trip to the Canadian border later this month and have been watching the weather and its in the 80's there too. But the hot steamy weather doesn't mean you can't get out an enjoy a nice walk or activity outside.
 
Here are some tips to stay cool in the hot, humid weather -
 
  1. Timing is Everything - If you can, choose your time outside when its cooler, like early morning or early evening. If there is rain, wait til afterward and get outside when its cooled down from the rain.
  2. Drink Water - drink more water than you usually do, guzzle a glass just before you get outside.
  3. Acclimate yourself to heat - being tolerant to the heat doesn't happen in one day, it takes weeks of getting outside in the warm weather and getting active. You will notice that as the days go by it doesn't bother you as much.
  4. Stay in the shade - if you have to take a break, get out of the sun and into the shade or AC.
  5. Don't overexert yourself if you're not in shape - only tackle what you can handle. Be more careful to not over do it if you are in a remote location and help is not immediately available. Wear your Fitbit Charge to monitor your heart rate to be sure you don't get in peak zone too long.
  6. Dress right - forget about fashion, be practical and wear light colored and loose fitting clothing that will allow your body to breath and, yes sweat. Sweat is natures way of cooling your body. We love the brand #Columbia and especially the Omni freeze zero shirts that provide cooling effects when damp. When we go canoeing, we just put the shirts in a gallon size Ziploc bag, pour a bottle of cold water on the shirt and squish it around til its all saturated and then put on the wet shirt. Its chilling like being in air conditioning for hours! 


 
 



$30 #Free Anker Dollars when you Sign Up!

One of the most valuable items I carry daily is my Anker Lipstick Charger for my smartphone. Now through June 26th, hop on over to Anker.com for their 20 Million Users Celebration where they are offering $30 in FREE Anker Dollars when you sign up. PLUS, you’ll earn $1 for every friend that you refer.

Then on June 28th, your Anker Dollars will be credited to your account as a coupon that is valid until July 27th on items from the Anker Store – you can use them towards the purchase of mobile chargers, accessories & more!

SIGN UP HERE

#Rays Got 10 Strikeouts! Free Wawa Sub Sandwich



It's back again this year, when the Tampa bay #Rays get 10 strikeouts against the other team, Kanes and Wawa will give you a free sub! You don't even have to attend the game, just print this voucher from your printer and bring it to Kanes within 7 days of the game with ten strikeouts. They will exchange your voucher for a coupon to Wawa to get a free short hoagie.

Tampa Bay Rays Promotion
Batter Up! If the Tampa Bay Rays get 10 strikeouts, you'll get a FREE Shorti Hoagie of your choice from a participating Wawa. 

Within 7 days of the 10 strikeout home game, bring in one of these qualifying items to any Kane's Showroom and get a coupon for a Shorti Hoagie from Wawa:
Ticket Stub
Seat Locator Receipt (for Flex Pack Cardholders)
Web Voucher (printed or on phone)


http://www.kanesstrikeout.com/

PLEASE NOTE: Limit one FREE hoagie coupon per person per ticket stub/receipt/web voucher, per game. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 years of age & you must redeem your ticket stub/receipt at Kane's within 7 days of the 10 strikeout home game date.
To find out if the Rays got 10 strikeouts you can check your newspaper and look under the other team they played and if the number of strikeouts is 10 or greater you can get the promotion. If you're not sure, you could just go to http://www.kanesstrikeout.com/ to see if the voucher shows a game date within the past 7 days.

The Rays got 10 strikeouts on 6/14/16 and the voucher must be redeemed by Tuesday 06/21/16 at Kanes.


Another Tampa Bay Rays Promotion
Papa John's Pizza - get 50% with code RAYS6 the day after they get 6 runs in a game, which they did on the 14th. So today the 15th you can get a Large Pizza for $7.49

How to Get A Free Moe's Burrito

 

1. Download the Moe’s Rockin’ Rewards app on iTunes or Google Play.
2. Create an account with your email address or Facebook account. (Using Facebook will earn you an extra 50 points.)
3. Click on “Offers” in the bottom right-hand corner of the app, and you’ll see your coupon for a FREE burrito, which you can redeem at the Moe’s nearest you.
4. You can also enter another user’s referral code (mine is MARIE39) to get an additional 500 points — which I’d say is worth it, because 1,000 points will get you $10 in store credit. 

To rack up the other 500 points, you can either spend $50 (you earn 10 points for every dollar spent), or refer friends. For everyone who signs up through your link, and then uses the app in-store, you get 100 points. So get five friends to join, and you’ll have $10 in Moe’s credit!
The promo runs from now until August 14, 2016.
Once you sign up, you must redeem the offer in-store within seven days… But I doubt you’ll wait that long when a free burrito is calling your name!

Not Urgent, But Important Opportunities

Yesterday it happened. The unexpected opportunity which, as it turns out needed to be acted on rather soon if we wanted to take advantage of it. Sometimes there are those Not Urgent, But Important activities that are always lurking in the backs of our minds. Taxes could be one of those things, until it actually becomes Tax Day and hopefully you have them done way before this day.

Anyway, getting firewood varies on the scale of importance and urgency. After a nice winter with lots of fires, our firewood piles are low. We have three stockpiles of wood and it ages nicely for a year and then we have three racks of split firewood. We like to have all three of both types full of course. But right now we have two empty split wood racks, and one empty cut wood pile, with the others getting low. So, we are always scouting for free firewood and when it becomes available we have to act pretty quickly - it becomes one of those urgent activities.

 

As Stephen Covey explains in this classic text things we do; all can be categorized as Urgent and/or Important or a combination of those. Getting firewood while its available became urgent because it usually goes away as the homeowner cleans up the mess of cutting down a tree. So a friend told me about an Oak tree cut down and a sign out front confirming free firewood. That meant piling into the truck to check it out.

We loaded the chain saw, two wheeled hand truck and drove to the location. At first it didn't look like much we could use because the trunk of the tree was humongous. We asked the little old man who lived there what was available and he said all of it. We scored on the medium size branches (6-12" diameter) that were already loaded into his trailer to go to the dump. So we had to pull out the logs and cut them up with the chainsaw into manageable size wood. After many trips with the hand truck we had the Ford Explorer full and heavy. The dude really wanted to get rid of the wood because he offered to fill his pickup truck and follow us home to bring us even more wood. We politely declined the offer, thanked him for the wood and departed.

But at this point we were only half done. We were exhausted, sweaty and dirty with a few nicks and cuts from moving chunks of wood. Now we had to off load the truck and stack the wood in our stockpile space. Then the truck needed to be cleaned and the chain saw cleaned up too. What a job. Not many people would do what we did to get free wood. In fact I don't know anyone who would. I guess we're lucky we're both frugal. I'll leave you with this thought. And hopefully your taxes are done.

He who cuts his own wood, is twice warmed.
 

#Tampa Friday Extra Concerts 2016

Finally the city of Tampa has posted the schedule of #FREE Friday Extra Series concerts. The first half are at waterworks park, and the remainder are at Lowry Park. Most of the bands have a website listed so you can check it out.
We'll be there most weeks, see you there.

When The Market Crashes



These days the stock market is really tankin' and its kind of depressing, the only consolation I have is that its happening to the whole world. So what to do? I could be like this giraffe at Busch Gardens and just munch away on some grass like I don't have a care in the world. That actually is probably sound advice, don't panic. But actually if you have a little bit of cash that needs investing, this is the time. But stick to the solid dividend stocks that don't really change a whole lot, except to mostly just increase in value and keep paying out dividends. I've had a couple energy stocks this past quarter that totally dived with the gas prices and not surprisingly; they ceased paying dividends. Now they aren't worth much, plus they quit paying the dividend that made it worth it in the first place. Needless to say, I don't check www.mint.com everyday these days.

2015 How We Lived on $42K Living Expenses






Well 2015 was an expensive year, compared to the previous year 2014 where we lived on $34K, and the prior year 2013 where we lived on $32K. I was kind of hoping this year would be the same as the last two years but alas it is time to buckle down and get back to budgeting. My motto is that you can't improve what you don't measure, so even though you don't like the numbers you see they are what they are.


  • $8548 The largest expense (20% of spending) we had this year was travel - we went on a couple cruises this year, 5 day and 7 day, a trip to Phoenix, AZ, a trip to Minnesota and our annual timeshare week at Naples, FL. This is probably about normal and we expect to continue to have about five vacations each year, so a budget cut will have to come from another area.
  • $6000 The next largest (14%) portion is our allowance. We each get $250/month to spend or save as we like on stuff that is not included in the house. Lunches with coworkers, outings without each other, clothing that is not necessary, electronics, toys, experiences that we don't do together. The house buys if we go out together for dinner, or do a trip or activity together. Sometimes we splurge and each chip in our allowance because the "house" can't afford it right then. This expense is the same every year and we each have sizable individual savings that we occasionally withdraw from to purchase from when we can't justify it coming from the house.
  • $3256 The third most expensive (7%) portion is clothing, electronics and misc. This is the culprit for the unknown spending. I did buy a GoPro this year, and some cool Columbia clothing for our BWCA camping trip, but this category needs serious tracking to keep it smaller than it is. This is not a frugal person category.
  • $2546 Our cars, motorcycles and home (not counting insurance) maintenance costs were a little high (6%) considering all we fixed on the cars was an alternator this year. I think this is the patio paver project we did in the spring was the bulk of this spending. We also got a new metal roof installed on our home but didn't include that expense ($20K) in our living expenses since it was paid off from savings. Next year we're installing a polyvinyl fence around our yard and expect to pay up to $10K for that. Then our forever home will be solid, well, forever.
  • $2207 Home Insurance - we have lived in our home in FL for twenty one years and have always had State Farm insurance. Amazingly, they have never canceled us, but then again we live in a inexpensive home 25 feet above sea level, and we've never filed a claim. So they are glad to take a couple thousand from us. We could probably get cheaper insurance but I don't want to deal with inspections and if we do ever file a claim, the fighting and denials that come with less than reputable insurance company.
  • $2117 Food, Household supplies and beverages (not including the keg) - we still coupon, but have started to withdraw $100-200 cash a month for groceries and stuff you get at Publix. We still have large stockpiles and years worth of paper products and shampoo, plus 3 refrigerators and freezers full. Our goal is to move through enough so we don't need to chest freezer. This does not include our monthly keg of beer we purchase with our allowance ($1260).
  • $2114 Entertainment, news, gifts - includes concerts, sporting events, season passes to Busch Gardens, newspaper subscriptions (I get 6 sunday papers, plus 1 weekly paper), and gifts mostly for grandchildren, since we don't exchange gifts with each other.
  • $1859 Life Insurance - we both have whole life policies that have a sizable cash payout if we don't want to wait til we die to collect. We don't really need the insurance but its a cheap safe investment.
  • $1564 Health Insurance, rx, copay, dentist - we are fortunate to only $15/mo each for health insurance through our employer, so the bulk of this was dental, a new crown I got in December.
  • $1553 Electricity - this actually is more than 2014, but we have noticed a decrease in monthly costs since our new metal roof was installed. We also installed a new programmable thermostat this year and actually program it to ease off AC during workdays.
  • $1550 Cell phones - We have two Galaxy S phones, one unlimited SERO plan on Sprint that I use, and DH uses Ringplus.net on his phone since he doesn't really need or use data. This includes purchase of a new Galaxy S6 phone I got 6 months ago, and the repair cost of $146 from Samsung to fix a cracked glass. I now have an Otterbox case so that won't happen again.
  • $1442 Car Insurance - we have a risky state to drive in, so we are fully covered and have high uninsured motorist coverage despite having a 11 year old Camry and 18 year old Explorer. We could cut this back but DH doesn't want to.
  • $1413 Dining Out - this doesn't include our weekly dinner out for wings and beer because that is out of allowance. So, I'm pretty sure this category can be cut back.
  • $1321 Internet/Cable TV - We could cut expense here and probably will. I have super duper fast internet uploads and downloads and could downsize on that. We don't have a DVR or any extra packages, just HD cable but DH watches live sports every night so there is no way we can get rid of cable. I never watch TV, but I do use the internet so we each have our needs met.
  • $1241 Gasoline - for all vehicles. We drove 14000 miles between 2 cars and 2 motorcycles, plus the 1300 miles I rode my bike to work (130 days of the year).
  • $1121 Property tax - our home is not really appreciating despite the market conditions, and the property tax is capped due to a "save our homes" law in FL many years ago.
  • $1069 Motorcycle Insurance - I know, we spend a lot on insurance. But DH collided with a car 5 years ago and lived to tell about it, we collected our maximum uninsured motorist amount due to injuries received, so now we keep this insurance high.
  • $743  Water, Garbage, Recycle pickup - twice a week pickup, not much we can do to decrease this except watch our water usage. We are already frugal in this area so I'm okay with this one.
  • $664  Personal care - haircuts. I am growing my hair out so I've only been to my stylist a few times this year, but DH gets a haircut every 3 weeks. I think this should come out of allowance, but alas I do not always get my way. I've tried negotiating this every year, but its not worth drama and resentment.
  • $328  Pet - our old lab mix dog is over 15 years old this year. She has vertigo, is totally deaf, has cataracts, and has a huge fatty lump on her body and now her bad hips are very weak and she struggles to stand for more than a minute, but she walks fine. Despite this, she didn't have any medical needs this year other than routine meds. She probably won't make it through the year 2016.
In summary, our expenses are about $12,000 more than last year. Most of our set costs have remained similar, but the misc category and travel can be monitored more closely. We can continue to travel, but we'll be more deal seekers. And we don't need more clothes this year. I would like to have a no clothing spend challenge with DH this year.

Do you have any ideas for us to cut back expenses?