Saturday, March 5, 2011

The Chicks are Here!

The chicks, though 3 days late, finally got to Tractor Supply Company on Wednesday!  Luckily, Todd had the day off, and by the time TSC got their shipment in, they had 30 assorted laying pullets.  I asked Todd to rush down there and get 5 (because I was told that that was how many is required by law in Ohio.) 

When Todd got there, he found out that, by law, you have to get 6, he got an extra one.  Each chick was $2.49.

So far, these are these are the expenses from the chicks:

$8.51   – chick food (25 lb bag)
$1.50   – two sturdy plant trays to make home-made feeder and water dish
$14.94 – price for 6 chicks
$24.95 Total cost of chicks at one week old

The Rubbermaid container is something we had empty around the house.  The heat lamp is something we bought for Squiggy to keep him warm in his house outside. I got the shredded paper from work.  The feeder and water dish are used plastic tubs with holes drilled in them to dispense food and water.  One has a screw through the bottom, the other is glued to the plastic plant tray.

I will keep a running total of how much the chickens cost us.  We will need to change their food to laying food within 10 weeks.  I hope they go through the bag in that time.  I hate wasting food.  I will supplement their food with oatmeal.  Once the 10 weeks is up, we have to provide them with laying feed.  So, there are more costs involved with the chickens.  Not to mention Todd is still contemplating how he’d like to make the hen-house.  We are trying to get what we can from Freecycle so that it costs us little to nothing to make.  We will find out in the next 10-12 weeks!

**NOTE: We lost 2 of them within the first 36 hours. L We are down to 4 chicks.  I am hoping we don’t lose any more. 

For your viewing pleasure, here are a few pictures of the chicks.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Chick Names

Chick Names

I told my niece, Natalie (almost 5,) several months ago that Todd and I would be getting chicks in the Spring.  She is so smart, she remembered and is so excited for us to get them.  I decided that instead of me naming them some silly name that I’d let Natalie pick them out. 

She had these names picked out about 2 weeks before we even got the chicks.  Here goes:

Jaxx (after her favorite person in the world, my nephew, Jacksyn)

I have NO IDEA where these names came from.  I know there is an Alyssa in her class, but I’m not sure where the rest came from.

My friend and co-worker, Sharron, wants us to name them:

Hewey (sp?)
Lewey (sp?)

I told her those are duck names, and males at that...but she didn’t care.  I like her names too.

Me, I would have named them:

Dee (so I could say, c’mere Chick-a-dee!)
Tweetle Dee (get it? Tweet-le)
Tweetle Dummy

Oh my, it’s already an adventure, and we have a few days to go before we buy them.  Fun times!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Ice Storm

Last Monday, in NorthEast Ohio, we had a horrible ice storm.  It rained and then it froze, leaving roads extremely slick (especially the back roads I take to and from work) but the trees absolutely beautiful.  Because it is dark when I get home from work, I took our new camera (that we got for FREE using SB's and a gift card from my Uncle) to work to take some pictures of how beautiful the ice made things. 

There is a bush outside the front door that was completely covered in ice, and I thought it was absolutely beautiful.  Here it is: 

Here are some of the ice-covered trees in the front of the building:

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The Average Car Payment in America is $484

Dave Ramsey quotes that the average car payment in America is $484, and if invested (from the age of 25 to 65 at 12% interest,) over the life of owning cars, you would have $5.6M in retirement. “HOPE YOU LIKE YOUR CAR!” (as Dave always says after he provides this statistic.)

This statistic amazes me.  I think, “Who in the world would assume a $400+ car note?”  I know I never would.  Heck, this is more than our mortgage payment (on a 15 year mortgage!)

I think about the cars I’ve purchased in my lifetime; three of them to be exact.

Car #1 – 1979 Ford LTD
This was my first car from my parents.  The vehicle was older than I was, but it got me from A to B.  I used to call it my pimp-mobile.  This car was LOADED with power everything, leather seats and was a low-rider.  It had less than 50,000 miles on it, but it was a tanker.  It was also a gas guzzler, but I remember the first fill-up.  My mom said she’d pay for the first fill-up, but after that, it was my responsibility.  That was when gas was $0.99/gallon back in 1997. 

Car #2 – 1991 Chevy Cavalier RS
2 door, fuel efficient (ANYTHING is more fuel efficient than the LTD,) candy-apply red and sporty.  I loved this car; however, it was a downgrade.  I had to crank the windows myself, and it didn’t even have rear defrost. I paid $3,500 for this vehicle the first week in college with the help of my mom’s signature.  I paid the car off within a year and a half.  The payments were in the low $100 range.  I drove the car about 2 years after it was paid off, and then I got into a car accident.  I used the money I got from insurance ($1200 which was the value of the car) and saved it to put down on a NEW car when I graduated from college in a few months.

Car #3 – 2002 Mazda Protégé
I purchased this car brand new within months of graduating and just a week after I got my first job out of college.  I was making $27,500 and had a letter from my employer (I am still employed with said employer) and I bought a $16,000 vehicle.  What was I thinking?!?  With $4,000 down from money from graduation and the money from the accident, the loan was $12,000 over 5 years at 0% interest.  This was a nice, sporty, jet black vehicle with all the bells and whistles.  I racked up over 85,000 miles on this vehicle with 3 ½ years.  The vehicle, though had no mechanical problems, had a lot of issues with the brakes and tires.  The tires on this vehicle were high-performance tires which did AWFUL in the snow and were uber expensive!  It felt like I needed new tires every year on this vehicle (at $500/set!) and I was getting new brakes & rotars every year (another several hundred dollars.)  I was just sick of the car within 3 ½ years.  Which leads me to…

Car#4 – Bianca! 2007 Toyota Yaris
I still owed money on my Protégé, but I was not under water.  The dealership agreed to pay off the Protégé, and I bought Bianca brand new in August 2006.  She was one of three Yaris’ on the lot that the dealership got in just weeks before.  Todd and I agreed that I was going to get a car that was fuel efficient, inexpensive, and reliable.  I didn’t need 4 doors (after all, I had a 4-door with my Protégé and no one ever rode in the back!) I really did not like the way Bianca looked.  I test drove Bianca and a 4-door Yaris.  I then told the Salesman that we would have to talk it over. 

Todd and I went to dinner and weighed the pros and cons.  It would have been $1500 more to get the 4-door, and it was plane Jane.  Todd reminded me that we wanted the cheapest, most fuel efficient and reliable, and Bianca was it.  So we went back to the lot after dinner, and I fell in love with Bianca.  I called the dealership the next day to buy the vehicle.  It was less than $12,000.  The payments were $215/month for 48 months.  Of course, it was paid off well before then.

My point is, I cannot imagine spending $400+ for a car loan.  I know my step-father has a $650+/month lease payment on his Toyota Highlander.  My mom had a $500/month lease payment on her 2-seater sports car that she drove 4 months out of the year! On TOP of the $200/month car she drove in the winter!  My father’s Acura TL is $450/month.  Before that, he owed on his Toyota Tundra.  My father does not agree with leasing (as he calls it, “renting” a vehicle, they buy them with payments…which to me, is just as bad.)

My father and his wife ALWAYS owe on a vehicle.  My dad takes immaculate care of his vehicles, and they rarely have mechanical problems.  That is probably also because they get new ones every 5 years.  My dad got his new truck.  After they were done paying off the truck, they got his wife a new Acura.  In a few more years, it will be time for my dad to get a new truck. 

I would much rather have $5.6M in the bank for retirement than owe ANYTHING on a vehicle.  Even if that means we keep our vehicles until the wheels fall off (which is what I’d like to do with Bianca.)  I look FORWARD to seeing her hit 250,000 miles, and even possibly 500,000 miles!
Luckily, I have a husband who enjoys looking and researching vehicles, but does not see it necessary to get a new one every 3-5 years.  He absolutely loves his Kia Rondo (I still think it looks like a mini-van. And I don’t like mini-vans.)  We both are content with what we have and want nothing more.  I think that’s what’s important.  I don’t WANT to keep up with the Joneses.  I don’t even LIKE the Joneses! But then again, I’m WEIRD.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Making Expensive Gifts More Cost-Effective

For Christmas, my mother bought Todd and me a Keurig instant-brew coffee/tea machine. We use it quite often (at LEAST twice a day.)  Upon receiving it, we noticed how expensive the K-cups are to purchase; anywhere from $0.50/cup to $1+.  I wasn’t willing to spend that kind of money on coffee.  Coffee, though I enjoy it, is not that important to me.

For my birthday earlier this month, Todd bought me something that goes into the Keurig machine that enables me to use regular coffee (and keeps the K-cups out of the landfills.) 
If I use the apparatus more than 50 times, it pays for itself in savings versus the K-cups.  Also, for my birthday, my friend from work bought me several different flavors of coffee (free to me.) 

I have been using the new apparatus from Todd consistently, and I’ve found that if I leave the do-hickey out after brewing a couple of cups of coffee in the morning before work, the coffee dries, and I can use the same coffee grounds for the entire week. This saves us quite a bit of money.  After the grounds lose their flavor, they go in a jar that I will sprinkle into our raspberry bushes and garden to help fertilize our plants. 

As a “just because” gift, Todd bought me a box of K-cups while he was out at WalMart last week.  I have found that I can use the same K-cup of coffee at LEAST 4 times before the flavor goes away.  So, a $0.50 K-cup (my husband is a bargain shopper,) really only costs us $0.125/cup of coffee because I can use it over and over again. 

These are just little ways we can enjoy the nice, frivolous gift my mom gave us without spending a whole lot of money!

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Pleasant Surprise

Todd found a little Bible carrier that I had from many many years ago.  I’m so glad he found it, because I have been wondering where it had gone.  I lost in when we moved into the house (4 years ago!)  

I opened up the Bible carrier and there were two Bibles in it.  It appears that I bought one of them myself (it was a student Bible,) and one was from a friend I had in England, Adam.  Adam is a man I met online back in the mid 90’s and we became pretty darn good friends.  He became a Christian and was spreading the Word by sending his teenage friend her first Bible.  The reason I know it was from Adam is because he wrote something in the front of the book.  When I read it, I smiled and it brought back all the fun Adam and I had chatting online and he even called once in a while to chat.  I adored his English accent.

I was looking through some of the verses I had highlighted in my student Bible when I came across a note.  It was hand-written and it said, “I {heart} You!  ~ Mom”  I instantly smiled and my evening was brighter. 

My mom wrote this little note and hid it in my Bible when I went on a missions trip to Myrtle Beach in 1997 with friends from my church.  My mom also wrote me a card telling me how proud she was of me and how much she loved me.  This was through a REALLY rough time for us due to the divorce.  I also remember that she secretly packed Twizzlers (my favorite snack) for me to snack on while on the week-long trip in Myrtle Beach.

It’s amazing how many good memories I have forgotten about, and how great they feel when they are revealed again.  It is so much fun recalling all of the great memories, and the unforgettable trip I had in Myrtle Beach.