Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Stay at AIRBNB

I don't think the purpose of retiring early is so one can sit around at home watching TV or reading.  Travelling when you are a young retire is (in my opinion) the main reason to retire early.  However, travel can be expensive.   There are many ways to reduce your costs, and using airbnb is one of them.

AIRBNB  (pronounced, air b & b) is a web-site which allows individuals to rent out a room in their house, or their entire house or apartment.

It is normally used by the younger set, but my brother and I used it during a recent road trip.  We stayed at 4 places, and 3 of them were excellent.  

Here is the wikipedia description

Airbnb is an online marketplace for vacation rentals that connects users with property to rent with users looking to rent the space. Users are categorized as “Hosts” and “Guests;” both of which must register with Airbnb using a variety of means. A valid email address and valid telephone were initially the only requirements to build a unique user profile on the website, however as of April 2013, a scan of a government issued ID is now required.[57]Profiles include details such as user reviews and shared social connections to build a reputation and trust among users of the marketplace.[58] Other elements of the Airbnb profile include user recommendations and a private messaging system.[59]In addition to providing personal information, hosts display listing details including priceamenitieshouse rules, imagery, and detailed information about their neighborhood. Due to the nature of the business, a merit system is in place to allow guests and hosts to leave references and ratings which are displayed to the public in order to provide an evaluation method.[60]

As with hotels, the price is often cheaper the closer to the date of stay.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Deprivation leads to later appreciation

I have always noticed how much I appreciate something after not having it for a while.  For example, when we had the blackout in the Northeast U.S., and I didn't have electricity for 2 days.   What a delight when it came on.

Now the Wall Street Journal reinforces what I have long believed, in this article

"Can Money Buy Happiness"

This could even mean depriving yourself of your possessions for a while, perhaps by lending them or sharing them with someone else. Elizabeth Dunn, associate professor of psychology at the University of British Columbia and co-author of the book “Happy Money,” recently conducted an experiment where she sent people home with a big bag of chocolate, telling some of them to eat as much of it as they could and others that they were forbidden to eat it. A third group could choose how much to eat.
The result? The people who had been forbidden from eating chocolate were able to enjoy their next chocolate bar much more than those who’d either eaten a lot or consumed their normal amount. “Giving something up temporarily can actually help to preserve our capacity to enjoy it,” Prof. Dunn says.

click here for link to article

Friday, November 7, 2014

Do You REALLY Need to buy it...?

The "shopping therapy" practiced by so many Americans can really cause a problem with finances.

There's a fairly good article in Psychology Today which details many reasons.


I think one of the biggest reasons is people want to keep up with, or impress, their friends and relatives.

A guy I use to work with bought a ring for his wife when we were out at the mall for lunch one day.  It wasn't really expensive, but not some junk either.  He bought it at a jewelry store.   I asked him what was the occasion and he said "we are going to see my brother's, and my wife likes to have some new jewelry to show off to her sister-in-laws".   Apparently a couple of the brothers had done extremely well, and there must be quite a bit of competition among  the sister-in-laws.  

So I am assuming that insecurity is one of the main reasons we feel compelled to buy things to impress other people.   I don't know how one "learns" to be secure in your own skin.  Maybe a bit of therapy, or just reading Psychology Today.   When I discussed my problem with procrastination with a therapist, he told me to read an article in Psychology Today which addressed the problem, and it was great advice (and not
so expensive).    I learned why I procrastinate, but learning to change the behavior is not so easy.  I am sure
the same will be true of learning NOT to buy.  

Maybe one of the best tools for learning to not buy things is to know what you need or want to buy.  Even before you go to the thrift store.   I did this last week, and walked out empty handed.  I was a bit disappointed, because surely there was SOMETHING I needed (or wanted).  But I kept reminded myself of all that "stuff" I already have, and need to get rid of, and make the wise decision to not drag more stuff home.

So, make a plan of what you want to buy.  Then, set it aside for a few days, or a week, to review and see if you still think you need or want that item.   I guess that would be the "cooling off period".  Works for lots of things.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Easy Apple -Banana-Raisin salad

One of the easiest ways to save money is to learn how to cook...from scratch.

Now that apples are quite cheap by the bag ($2.99 for a 3 lb bag), I have been making
an easy salad my mother use to make.   It is an apple and banana salad (add raisins if you

Take 2 apples.  Cut each in half (lengthwise through the core).  Cut out the core.  Chop
the apples in bite size pieces (leave the skin on).  Put the apple pieces in a bowl.
Add approximately 2 tablespoons of mayonnaise and stir until apple pieces are coated.

Peel a banana. Cut into about 1/4 inch pieces, add to apple pieces and stir until all is

You and add a handful of raisins at any time.

This is how I like to prepare this salad, but any order will work.  It might even
be easier to put the mayonnaise in the bowl first, with raisins, and the add the
other.  The trick is to get apples and bananas coated with mayonnaise so they
don't turn brown.

This needs to be eaten within a day or so for best flavor.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Wow - can't believe I was right!

Well, actually I can.

I haven't bothered with this blog since 2009 because my Mom died, by boyfriend had a stroke..
my brother died.   Life got in the way.

But looking back on my blogs posts, I am rather proud to say I certainly hit it on the mark regarding
buying a house.

Buy a house you can live in for 10 years.  Don't expect to be able to sell it in 3 and recoup your

I have not been working (outside of the home) for 10 years now.  And, I still have money, which
continues to amaze me.   I guess I still have money because I was always worried about running out,
so was careful about my spending habits.

Having said this, we did manage to spend a month in New York City (Manhattan, Columbus Circle)
last November.  We rented a furnished apartment.   We drove, and I managed to get a cheap
monthly rate at the parking garage in the building.   I had to phone directly and speak with the manager,
but he let me have the special internet rate, and they were so nice.   We were close to Hell's Kitchen,
where there are lots of inexpensive interesting restaurants, and because we had a full kitchen, were
able to cook as many meals as we wanted.

If you have the time, it's always cheaper to stay somewhere for a month.   And if you are someplace
for a month, you get a real sense of the neighborhood, and can leisurely see the tourists sites, as
well as living like a local.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

A bounty crop from a home garden

I recently had a large crop from my backyard okra plants and looked for something to do with them.

I found three different recipes for various okra soups that were tasty, easy to put together, and freezable. And they cover a wide variation in tastes.

Curried Turkey Okra Soup
(I used chicken).
Okra soup (added canned corn and went heavy on the black pepper)
Chicken and shrimp gumbo (I added a roux as a base)

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Buy a house in foreclosure

I bought a house 2 years ago which was in foreclosure.

This was before the "buying a foreclosed home" became commonplace.

I didn't set out to buy a foreclosed home, what I wanted was something cheap which needed a rehab.

When you are looking for a home, these are the things to think about.

1) Buy something you can live in for 10 years.

Don't count on being able to sell it in 3-5 years if you want to move. You may not be able to recoup your investment if there is a downturn (like we just experienced).
I bought a house in New Jersey in 1991. It did not increase in value for the first 5 years I owned it. Then in the late 90's it started increasing, and by the time I sold it, the value had almost doubled.

2) Know the traffic.

When I bought in New Jersey, I looked for one year before I bought, going out every Sunday, looking at various towns which were within a good commuting distance. I concentrated looking in one particular town because I knew the traffic backed up on the highway, and I if I lived in Hasbrouck Heights, I could exit before I got stuck in traffic.

I knew someone who bought a house because it was on the front cover of a realtor magazine. It was a beautiful house, but only after they moved in did they realize the road it was on was a short cut to avoid the main road. Therefore they had much more, and noisy, traffic than they expected.

3) Think about flooding.

When I bought my house in New Jersey I didn't really think about this, but my house was on a hill so I did not have a problem.

I was lucky. One year there was a lot of rain, with a town a few miles away flooding quite badly. Looking at that town one would never have suspected could flood as it did. I think it was one of those 100 year floods - but, they do occur.

4) Think about your neighbors

Good neighbors are the best thing to have. Sometimes I am not always the best neighbor. I don't have the perfect lawn, and I even got a complaint from my neighbor in New Jersey because I had an old beat up trash can that she had to look at outside her kitchen window.

That is probably one reason I bought my next house in more of a "bohemian" area.
The only problem is once in a while there is loud music, and some loud cars, but not so much.

5) Buy a house you don't have the urge to knock down walls

This became my motto when I was house hunting. I have been through some remodelling, and I really enjoy many aspects.

However, I have learned, once you start knocking down walls, the remodelling never ends. It's always "well as long as we are doing this.... let's do that".

I am trying to keep my cost in my new "bungalow" as low as possible. I am learning to live with things I might prefer to have changed. It's possible.

I absolutely hated the upstairs bath in my New Jersey house. But, after a few years, it grew on me, and I kind of started liking it - at least a little bit.
Well, let's just say I didn't hate it.