This Is What Is Wrong With America

kathy griffin

Kathy Griffin holding bloody, decapitated (fake) head of our President Trump

They’re called Progressive Liberals. You know, like the kind Hillary Clinton claims to be. They hate Catholics and they despise Christians. They believe in partial birth abortion. They believe in taking from the rich and doling it back out to the poor. They believe that if you don’t believe exactly what they tell you to believe and speak and say exactly what they tell you to say, they will destroy you. Just like they are trying to destroy Donald Trump and anything else that hints at being a Conservative. Their chant is ‘Resist!” I ask, resist what? Better jobs? Lower taxes? An end to climate change mania? Trumps only goal is to give a better life to the forgotten Americans who have fallen by the wayside, these past eight years. The media won’t cover them, so how could you possibly know they exist?

I’m done with this fucking country. I never liked being an American in the first place. Thankfully America is huge enough that it gives me plenty of space to hide away and forget. I was ashamed of being an American in the 60’s and I don’t see much difference now.

President Trump has avowed NOT to change Social Security and Medicare. That’s all I care about now that I am in my retirement years. The only thing Trump wants to change is the corruption and mismanagement of all those embezzled Medicare funds. Once Trump recovers that money, he’ll make Medicare Great Again.

I have no doubt that President Trump will succeed and Make American Great Again.    In the interim, if you are a Progressive Liberal, you’re not welcome in my house. The uber left is mentally sick. You are dying of a mental disease that is eating you up alive from the inside. Donald Trump won the election. He is your President fair and square. The Democrats can look under every rock and stone to find some Russian collusion.

You ain’t gonna find it.

 

Some Low Cost, Prudent Meals

My first week on Weight Watchers (WW) turned out to be more successful than I thought possible. I easily lost 4 pounds this past week AND I ate all my favorite foods (in moderation, of course….which is the BIG difference). The food tracking app that WW provides for free on your smart phone is the greatest invention IMHO since sliced, whole wheat bread. When you start to see the point values of what you stuff in your mouth, you can’t help but start making better decisions. Not only are your food decisions better but you also become quite mindful of what you are eating.

WW provides 24/7 real human help to keep you on track with the click of your mouse. Yes, even when I started getting those hunger pangs at 3AM. WW doesn’t want you to feel hungry so the counselor on the other side of the chat line gave me some real fantastic food tips to tide me along.

Here are some examples of what I have been eating this past week:

spinach wrap

my lunch was a spinach wrap, avocados, arugula, goat cheese, tomatoes

greek quiche

Greek Quiche w spinach, feta cheese & calamita olives

pancakes

Sunday was blueberry buttermilk pancakes, chicken breakfast sausages, real maple syrup (NO butter!)

First: Accumulation of stuff. Next: Diminution of cash to pay it off.

DH and I have accumulated over $11,000 of credit card debt this past year. The first part was due to buying new to newish furniture to outfit our brand new Florida condo. The second part was due to upgrading and remodeling our NY primary residence in order to prepare it for eventual sale. All the accumulation is over. Now, it’s time to pay the piper.

Granted, almost all of the consumer credit card debt is at zero percent (the other is at 2.99%) but when you are entering full-time retirement status, as we will be, it’s best to make your entry as debt-free as possible. DH keeps changing his mind as to when he wants to be retired. His main original goal was 65 (he’s currently 60). A few months ago he changed it to 62. Yesterday, he announced he wants to retire at the end of either this June or July.

DH recently took on a big project specifically designed to earn him enough money to pay off all our debt. So far, this month we paid off two charge cards in full. June we will be paying off another two credit cards and by the end of July we should be as close to debt-free as we’ll ever be.

We’ve also been socking away any additional cash into our savings account to tide us over till DH starts collecting Social Security in twenty months.

DH has been having a difficult time with his previous, horrendous Obamacare medical insurance. The first medical insurance company went bankrupt after only eleven months in operation. Obamacare switched him over to another medical insurance provider but they only lasted nine months. This time, NY State picked him up with terrific low-cost insurance. In the interim, the nine month insurance company reversed all his medical reimbursements and denied ALL of his claims from 2016. It took DH hours and hours on the phone, days and days in communication to finally get the matter resolved, only to have the nine month insurance company pull the same crap all over again.  When you are suffering from a heart condition, as DH is, you don’t need all this stress and health care worry. Trust me on that!

We just got another medical bill that the nine month insurance company denied (now they claim DH didn’t meet his 2016 deductible. How could he have when the insurance company reversed ALL the medical reimbursements for 2016, thus bringing him back to zero? Duh?) and DH decided rather than argue with the provider anymore, he just paid the $650 and will forget about it. That’s probably what the insurance company was hoping he would do. I hope DH didn’t set a precedent he may later regret. We don’t need medical bills on top of the credit card debt we’re currently paying back.

shoesAnyway, now that we are in credit card payback mode, for the time being DH and I are on austerity. It’s only a temporary condition and one we are quite accustomed to surviving through. This means for the next two or three months NO spending on anything extra. I’ve stocked up the pantry. Anything that needs to be bought has been purchased already. Other than gas and food (and monthly meds) I don’t see any new expenditures coming up in the very near future. DH needed a pair of shoes/sneakers and absolutely refuses to wear shoes purchased from either Goodwill or a thrift shop. That means DH gets new shoes. Not to falter, I had two coupons for a total of $15 off a brand new pair of shoes from DSW. DH managed to score a great pair of Sketchers that originally sold for $60, at $54.95 from DSW. When combined with my additional $15 off coupons, his grand total was $39.95 (total savings $20.05)

Live well and prosper, my friend. Live well and prosper.

Ask Yourself These 4 Questions For a Successful Life

It’s graduation time and many new graduates are getting to hear some really good, inspirational speeches, chock full of authentic advice to help them start on their new life journey. These inspirational titbits, however, shouldn’t only be wasted on the young. I think ALL of us can benefit from some of the sound advice these experienced speakers dole out.

oprah graduation

Getty Images

One of my favorite inspirational speakers is Oprah Winfrey. Oprah ALWAYS has something good and positive to say. CNBC is tracking current graduation speeches and has put together an assortment of speech examples for all of us to share. Here’s an example from one of Oprah’s current graduation speeches (Skidmore Class of 2017) that I think all of us can learn from (click here).

When Oprah Winfrey was growing up, she had big dreams. She would tell her father, “I am going to live in a house on a hill,” or, “I am going to have a million dollars.” But Winfrey quickly learned, “the dream I had for myself couldn’t compare to the dream that life had for me”. How do you find your own flow? Here are the four things you need to know to make the right decisions and be successful in work and life, according to Winfrey.

#1 What is your inner voice telling you? Each and every one of us has instinct. It’s that feeling in your gut that is telling you what is the right thing for you to do. Listen to it. Your instinct will never do you wrong. Follow your gut and you will find the path to your success.

#2 What is your intention? This is a very important question to ask yourself. Why are you doing what you are doing? What is your end result? If you can’t answer these questions then you are just mindlessly living your life with no end goal in sight.

#3 What are you grateful for? I don’t let a day go by without taking a few moments to look over my life and find all the goodness in it that I am most grateful for. “I practice being grateful,” says Winfrey, and she knows what you’re thinking. “And a lot of people say, ‘Oh Oprah, that’s easy for you ’cause you got everything!'” No, says Winfrey: “I got everything because I practiced being grateful.”

#4. What is your truth? Who are you? What makes you who you are? For me, personally, I know who I am. I know where I came from and where I am going. I’ve had many setbacks in my life but getting through them helped me define who I really am. “And it is your job to know the truth” of who you are, says Winfrey. “And let that truth set you free.”

Class dismissed!

Well, I’ll Never Be A Wedding Photographer

Thank goodness I am NOT a wedding photographer. It’s not as easy as it looks. Thank goodness wedding photographers come in two’s because if they depended on me solely, they would have been very disappointed. I made a few boo-boos at the wedding I attended last weekend when it came to taking photos. My only excuse is that this was my first wedding with my professional equipment and I didn’t know what I was doing.

I had some of the settings wrong, some photos were totally out of focus and because I didn’t know who was in the wedding party, I didn’t get any pics of the Maid of Honor. Like duh!

Anyway, we all had a great time. My older daughter was the hired wedding professional photographer AND she had a back up taking photos also. I knew there was a reason why she was voted the Number One Wedding Photographer in her town.

Here’s just a few of my photos that came out somewhat respectable:

wedding3.jpg - 1

The happy couple before the vows

wedding12.jpg - 1

My 2 granddaughters getting last minute instruction from my older daughter

wedding15.jpg - 1

I now pronounce you husband & wife

wedding19.jpg - 1

In the foyer before exiting the church

Why I Joined Weight Watchers

I don’t pay for anything. So, for me to join Weight Watchers and sign up to pay $19.95 a month, is a very big deal for me. I didn’t do it so much for the weight loss (despite the fact that I really do need to lose weight) I did it for my health. After my little heart attack thing, I need to get my health under control and I need to get my life back on a healthy track.

This article from Business Insider (click here) was the closer for me. This one paragraph said it all especially for me:

Studies have found that Weight Watchers members also tend to lower their heart disease risk and blood pressure, as exercising and losing weight in general have also been shown to do. An interesting analysis (by a researcher who has been a paid consultant for Weight Watchers) found that participants on the plan for a year typically paid $70 per pound lost, but gained $54,130 in quality of life improvement.

I joined the Online Program since there are no Weight Watcher meetings within 25 miles of where I live. I’m an ‘online-kind-of-gal’ anyway since I live mostly inside my Apple Computer. (figures my computer would be named after a food!) Once you answer a series of questions about your life, activity level, age, weight, height, etc. Weight Watchers designs a food point system and a fitness point system for you. Because I am over 65, I get NO points for my age!

You have to track your food intake per day, which is easy for me since I track my money outgo every day. I’m used to tracking stuff daily. I also have to track my activity level. WW (Weight Watchers) recommends I do 47 minutes of activity per day. I easily accomplish this by doing my daily housework (yes! that has value) of 30 minutes to an hour a day and I walk my dog each and every day (at least 45 minutes).

WW has a great food tracker app which can be downloaded onto your smart phone. Every food item has a set point value. It didn’t take me long to figure out that a tablespoon of butter in my daily oatmeal had a high point value BUT if I cut that pat of butter down, my points adjusted downwards too. I can still have butter with my morning oatmeal BUT a bit less. That’s all. On WW you get to eat all your favorite foods BUT the point system forces you to think and thus make better healthier choices.

oprah weight watchersThen there is Oprah. After her own years of yo-yo dieting, Oprah found herself successfully losing weight on the Weight Watcher program. After losing 42 painless pounds herself, Oprah bought out most of Weight Watchers stock and rejuvenated the company. Oprah is there for all of us daily, giving us words of encouragement and wisdom. Oprah brings on guests who share their success stories openly and honestly.

I’m part of a new community and so far, I’m loving it. I lost a few pounds my first week (WW recommends losing no more than 1 to 2 pounds weekly) and my dog is a lot happier getting all those walks! LOL!

It’s a very good thing.

The Decline Of Aldi?

I’ve been shopping at Aldi for at least the last three years. Aldi is a German-based grocery store that specializes in limited selections, under their own brand name, so as to save the customer at least 30% to 50% off their grocery costs.

I used to rave about Aldi all the time. Lately, not so much. Granted yes, I’ve saved a bunch of money over the years BUT my local Aldi store has deteriorated in cleanliness and produce quality that after today, I am hesitant to ever shop there again. The filth and deplorable shopping conditions give me pause. The floors never look like they’ve been washed let alone even swept. Dirt is everywhere. Cardboard boxes strewn everywhere. Some of the produce is crawling with mold and deterioration.

HOW DARE ALDI EXPECT THEIR CUSTOMERS TO BUY THIS CRAP?

Maybe this is the first sign of the decline of Aldi. Maybe they are slowly going out of business. I don’t know. I just know that there are more and more people shopping at Aldi and the store conditions keep deteriorating. I’ve written to corporate, shown them the following photos I’ve taken this morning. If they don’t literally ‘clean up their act’ within the week, I’m shopping someplace else. If the store interior looks as filthy as this, can you imagine what the stock must look like in the back of the store’s storage department? It’s probably crawling with mice, rats and vermin. UGH!

You decide. Click on any photo to enlarge and start slideshow. What do you think?

A Very Frugal Wedding

This is the time of year when we are either attending graduation ceremonies or as I was yesterday, a wedding. These events can break our budgets if we are not too careful. As I mentioned in my last post, I did my manicure and pedicure myself, thus saving me $45 (including tip) from paying someone else to do it for me. The next thing I concerned myself regarding attending the wedding was ‘What Do I Wear?’ Since I technically have ‘nothing’ in my closet, due to a recent purge, I had to buy something for myself to wear to the wedding.

the dressUsually, buying a dress to wear to a major celebration can be a financial problem. Not for me. I have several ‘go-to’ top scale consignment shops I regularly carouse and I found this great, Calvin Klein wrap dress for only ten bucks. You read that right. I only paid $10 for this terrific designer dress.

Since it was a warm spring day, I wore my black espadrilles shoes. Tacked on a few diamonds, red lipstick (to match my red mani/pedi nails) and voila’. I was good to party with the best of them!

In the wedding invitation, the bride-to-be announced she was registered with two separate retailers. For our family, we used to like giving money as a wedding present. Over the years, that family tradition has changed. Brides-to-be want good quality stuff that they might not be able to afford. By registering with a luxury retailer they can get that special item they could have only dreamed about.

My gift budget was $100 and I found the perfect little item the bride and groom wanted from their Crate & Barrel registry. The item was wrapped, shipped and delivered at no extra charge. They even inserted a little gift card inscribed with a special message from DH and myself. DONE!

my food plateLastly, on the wedding invitation, there wasn’t a dinner selection request, so most of the attendees, including myself, assumed that the dinner was buffet style. Sure enough, there was a buffet set-up with at least twelve different choices for our dinner. Me, as well as the rest of the family, indulged in all the many choices on the buffet table. Little did we know that the buffet was actually appetizers and a full five course meal was on its way! Choice of prime rib, veal parmesan, roasted chicken or stuffed fillet of sole, all came with potato croquettes and Spanish peas, in addition to a mixed green Greek salad and a marinara pasta dish! This was way too much food and needless to say, nobody ate anything after the buffet. We all asked for doggie bags and we all took home our entrees.

It made a very nice, frugal lunch the next day.

This Is What Keeps Me Wealthy & Wise

nailsI have a wedding to go to tomorrow. I made an appointment to get both a manicure and a pedicure. Price for both, with tip would come to $45. I usually always get at least one pedicure ($27) at the beginning of summer. This year, I don’t know what it is, but I just didn’t want to spend the money. I have a foliating foot scrub by Dr. Scholl’s, which does a very good job of softening up the rough patches around my heels and toe nails. I clipped my toe and hand nails myself. I filed all 20 digits. I used the foot scrub and voila’ I had a good base to apply my own nail polish. Does it look professional? No, but that $45 is still in my wallet and that’s all I care about.

shoesI’ve been wanting a pair of Sketchers Walking shoes for two seasons now. I have a few appointments in NYC and I think these walkers will give me the professional look I need PLUS be comfortable on my poor, aching feet. I’ve been watching the prices & these shoes go for around $69 (plus tax). I went to DSW & found this pair for $62, a savings of $7. Plus, I got 2 sign-on bonuses as a new customer for $15 off my next purchase (hubby needs new hiking boots). After I purchased these shoes, I stopped into Marshall’s which was right next door to DSW. Guess what? Marshall’s was having a Sketcher’s close out sale! The same shoes were $34.95. SCORE!

IMG_5947My home office needed some serious upgrading. The carpeting had buckled (after 17 years of use) and the room was loaded with clutter. I got rid of the clutter, cleared out the shelves and cabinets, tossed any un-necessary furniture. I went to Lumber Liquidators and got a great price on new flooring. My budget was no more than $1.89 a sq ft. I got this great deal on brand-new, trendy, designer-engineered flooring for only $1.49 a sq ft. at a total of $280. I hired our carpenter with my husband acting as his helper (thus saving the cost of a 2nd worker) and paid $250 for the professional installation.

Needless to say, I love, love, love my new office. I re-located a leather chair out of my living room and set up a comfy reading corner in my new office without spending another dime. I also used an outdoor rug I had purchased last year for my deck and placed it in my office instead. Again, I didn’t spend another dime! (our deck is going to be stained & painted this year so there was no use for the outdoor rug there).

IMG_5943 2IMG_5945

Lastly, are my kitchen replacement appliances. I had a hard time with this. I know all the rage in kitchen appliances are the new stainless steel ones. But my experience with these stainless steel appliances has not been a positive one. They need constant, constant cleaning, which at my point in life, I have better things to do with my time. I researched these stainless steel appliances and in some instances, when comparing the stainless to the other white or black appliances, the quality and features were all the same. The only difference was the price. The stainless steel appliances were oftentimes priced 25% to 40% higher for no apparent reason except appearances. Being the frugal person that I am, I just couldn’t justify spending more money just to give in to a trend, which given its fifteen to seventeen year timeline might be nearing its fashionable end.

So, I opted to replace my dishwasher, refrigerator and stove with all new, white appliances from Frigidaire. These aren’t those older white models with those bumpy coverings that made them smudge-proof. Nope. These are the new, white appliances with a smoother, sleeker, shinier exterior, which personally, I think is going to be the next trend in kitchen appliances. Only time will tell.

All my new appliances were on sale at Lowe’s and I bought them using their 18 month no-interest loan (I don’t consider this debt. $79 for 18 months). The dishwasher was $279 (marked down from $359). The stove was $449 (marked down from $549). The refrigerator was $599 (marked down from $799, a BIG savings on this item!) Plus, I got a free ice maker valued at $49. Total for all appliances came to $1,327. If I had purchased the equivalent appliances in stainless steel, without the sale, the total would have come to $2,529.

Needless to say, I love, love, love my new, updated, more-modern kitchen. The stove is easy to use, has a great big window for me to see everything inside while its cooking. The 20.4 cu. in. refrigerator is huge and so much easier to access than my old side-by-side. AND everything is staying nice and clean. I wipe everything down once at night, after dinner and it stays that way! PLUS, when I think about all the money I saved by being frugal and more realistic, my new kitchen makes me very, very happy.

It’s all about the wallet baby. It’s all about the wallet.

IMG_5937

hubby & delivery man prepping new appliances

IMG_5941

the finished look

I’ve Stopped Listening To The News

Apparently, I’m not the only person who has turned off the news lately. I’ve never seen a more hostile media to our current events in all of my living days than what is transpiring right now. I am truly convinced that this world we are living in has gone mad.

So, what can I do? First is to just turn off the news. I may sneak in some local news and weather reports but other than that, as soon as the newscasters touch on world or political news, the channel either gets changed or the TV is shut off completely! Thankfully, we only have basic cable so I don’t have to contend with all the cable news channels. I have some solace in knowing I’m saving money while eliminating all that nonsense.

I’ve been reading other baby boomer blogs whose writers have come to the same conclusion as me: turn off the news and enjoy your life. There’s nothing we can do about world events or political outcomes. We can join all the resistant movements we want but nothing is going to change. Our world is very dishonest right now. I have determined there is no one I can trust or confide in anymore. It’s all a crap shoot, so just try to make the best of it.

As a retiree, I know that nothing is going to happen to Social Security or Medicare for right now. If anything is to be done it is the disarming of the medical fraud and abuse that is currently taking place. As to my personal funding and medical care, everything will remain as it is today. For the time being.

Some retirees are immersing themselves into gardening or traveling. I’m fixing up my home environment and making it the best it can be. I’m attempting (and succeeding) into making my home more peaceful and amiable to the eye. I’ve overextended myself a bit on the financial side but at this point in my life, I can ease up on the frugality reigns. Creating solace is more important to me than balancing out the checkbook.

I want to make these last two+ decades of my life as peaceful and joyful as possible.

Live well, my friends. And prosper.