The Olympics of Finance.

Recycle! Peanut butter jar turned whipped cream vessel. Noodle, used.

Recycle! Peanut butter jar turned whipped cream vessel. Noodle, used.

Today I went to the semi-finalist qualifying round of saving. I left with a good score, but I am not sure it’s enough to get into the final heat. Or should I say, maintain it…

What am I referring to and where the hell have I been for the last few weeks? Well for those of you who are also connected to Facebook, you know I have been running my little tushie off (or so it appears to people who only think they know what size I actually am). Normally I use business travel as the reason for an absent discourse on the blog, but alas, with more and more co-workers reading my blog – Greetings Michelle Kitrell and Andrew Over – I know that my fibs will be found out. Heck, we are a regional business. Truth be told, I have been working, mothering and working at mothering. That crap is hard.

Onward. Today I had to run from work, late in the day to meet with the financial planner. Will I go to the dentist? Not since early 2013. Do I love to see the phlebotomist? Uh, unlikely (though she did tell me I dodged the diabetes bullet for another round). It was an appointment with my CFP (Certified Financial Planner), which I have planned, schemed, and saved for, for years. I trained for this day. I ate my Wheaties (which are 3 points on Weight Watchers) and I did my stretches and I was ready.

What was this appointment for? Was it for him to tell me how much to save? Was it to go over the budget or previous quarterly earnings? No. This was a special day, those or run-of-the-mill appointments.

Today we found out if we could retire, early.

For some people, so I have heard, retirement is a myth, a story of yesteryear that old folks tell with a far off look in their eyes as they pull up to the Early Bird special at Shari’s. Retirement means living off what you made and what you saved. To be fair, I extended the definition a little bit to include a few others routes which are, Nobel Prize, famous author, inheritance and lottery. But those were not the cards Mitch and I were dealt. We were given a gene to save and we nurtured it and it split, and spilt and split again (just like my Microsoft stock in the mid-90s).

I am not going to pretend that I am going to give you the answer to the question. To quote “my guy” there are a lot of levers to pull. Work longer, spend less, die earlier. As you might have assumed, I really did not like Option 3, so I, like the people on House Hunters International, am knocking Option 3 out completely.

Please do however take this blog at face – value. If I were retiring really early, I’d be there my now. So obviously, we have some distance to go. But what I can tell you is that this meeting was my Olympic qualifier for retirement. The Russian judge told “Da” and me to keep on keeping on I will.

In order to keep my tried and true colors of saving, I came home and quickly reused a recycled peanut butter jar, in which I made whipped cream, to top our pie on National Pie (3.14) day. It’s choices like this which made the difference between saving and not. About crossing the finish line at 60 versus 62.

It’s about beating inflation so that you don’t lose everything you gain.
And it’s about damn good toppings for pie that used to be messy.

Copyright frugality.

February 13, 2014 Leave a comment
Categories: Uncategorized Tags:

The Volvo parked in my bonus room.

February 9, 2014 1 comment

My last post drew a lot of buzz-fire from the passionate runner to the quintessential miser to the knee preserver. Some of the shout outs I received were:
• Get an elliptical (I have one)
• Get a used treadmill (I have one)
• Get some rain gear and don’t get the treadmill (I have some, except what one would cover one’s shoes with).

The Volvo in the bonus room. 240,000 steps and still rotating.

The Volvo in the bonus room. 240,000 steps and still rotating.

The question at hand is not whether I continue to run; that train has left the station. The bigger issue looms – do we invest in a new piece of equipment for a new white-hot passion.
The purchase of anything over $100 really gets the work-over in our house. Should I? What else could I do? Can I get it used? What would it mean to not know the history of its use (everything is different)? What is the opportunity cost (meaning: what else could I do with the money if I did not buy it – for those of you sad, non-econ majors)?

Then there is the cost of getting it, assembling it and finding out there is something wrong in the firmware, the controls, the mechanism, etc… (Which is what I found on EVERY MODEL I read reviews on…)? All I wanted was a Volvo for the bonus room. I wanted a workhorse, a rotating electric sidewalk for when the snow came and I just could not handle the weather. BTW – this has yet to happen. I have jogged in rain, freezing temps and heavy wind. It was the snow and ice that drew the issue this time.

Since today was a running day, and yesterday was a sloth day (I did next to nothing but exercise my cooking pots), I decided to try to use the “treadmill we own.” Why would I stray from such a delightful machine? The last time I tried to use it, it seemed to change speeds and scared me. I walked away from it, and have not used, since. I chalked it up to the fact that the carpet movers did something horrid when they laid the new carpet. Sadly, something went awry in the old C2200. The battering ram of exercise, with its metal arms and a heavier than shit fuselage had acted like an adversary made me afraid of my own drywall.

But today, I gave a second chance. I decided to give it one last stride.

I accomplished an interval workout, including jogging and elliptical sections. No issues with the treadmill. No speed ups. No worries. I decided to use it till it dies.

So what will I do with the $2499 I was contemplating to spend on a treadmill? Save it up for a vacation for our 20th anniversary.

It’s about time we bought an experience, instead of a roof. Amen.

Walking 2.2 miles in Marisa’s shoes.

February 8, 2014 5 comments
Potential adoption at the Elovitz house. Still pregnant with the idea. Due date - April.

Potential adoption at the Elovitz house. Still pregnant with the idea. Due date – April.

I’m a pretty determined little lady. After the race last Saturday (did I mention I ran a 5K?) I made it my focus to keep on – keeping on. And I love it. I know it’s not too fast, but hell, it’s better than losing an “s” (note – if not clever, please reread sentence).

But did you know it snowed yesterday and still is going today? It was 20 degrees when I woke up Friday AM and started working at 6:30am. Answering emails from a warm bed can only be beat by lying in bed and not answering emails. I am sure many of you would agree. I worked from home Friday and continued to do so today (I do really work when I am home) and threw exercising to a little later in the day. After my six conference call, it was time to get going at around 12:30pm.

Friday was a running day. I do an on again, elliptical day, on again schedule so that I extend my knees as long as I can. Being one to do my research – I asked the Google-G-d through a long tail search: “how to run in the snow.” Not much was offered to me. Clamp-ons are available (like chains for your feet.) And the website I visited also recommended “trail running shoes” which are supposedly mostly waterproof.

Well, given that I still summer from post traumatic stress disorder from the flood of 2013 at the house and the Philly hurricane I was caught in while walking 15 miles (training for the Portland Marathon), I am not a fan of soppy shoes. Nope.

There had to be another way. I am one determined broad.

Then I remembered Marisa’s mention to me about cold, focus and walking. There is a treadmill that doesn’t throw you off of it at her house. And its only .4 miles away. Downhill, one way… I asked, I was granted access and I shuffled over.

Now, for those of you who only pop in and out, Marisa’s treadmill – a NordicTrack Commercial 2150 is a beast. It has a face only a computer could love, 2 sets of handles for those who need grip at all angles and a cool magnet that attached to you and the machine which lets it subtly know, I am still sweating and I am still here. I was ready. I brought clothes. I brought stamina and I brought what I thought was my A game.

I was wrong. It was a C+ at best.

That thing is a beast. I am not sure what makes running on a treadmill so hard, whether it is:

  • The fact you are actually not going anywhere
  • The blasted numbers staring at you
  • The fact that the moment you want to let your mind drift and slow down because you normally do while you are jogging outside, you can not
  • The restricted tread area that does not let you naturally drift left, like your 1990 Volvo taught you to do (since you both have alignment issues)

Whatever the issue. I struggled to do 30 mins. I sped it up, thinking I was all that but had to reduce the speed as it increased incline (who told it to go to 10%, I didn’t… what a sadist). It was hard. I was sweating like a P-I-G and I felt a twinge of pain in the side of my foot. New pain. Not nice. I did it, but now I know, it’s not a foe to be under-estimated.

I intend on buying a treadmill – so that I do not have to worry about the inclement weather when I simply cannot get outside. I hope it won’t bee too often, but I think it makes sense to replace the free one we have now that offers nothing but free rides into the wall behind you and a great place to store the latest in spring fashions.

These babies are pricey, so I have been following my preferred, Clutching Coins method of shopping. It’s in the 6-month planning and research churn. We are currently entering the 4th month. I expect one in-house as of April. Keep watching for a truck.

Kiss off, Lip-o-suction.

February 5, 2014 Leave a comment


25 degrees. Cheaper than a facelift. It simply freezes this way.

25 degrees. Cheaper than a facelift. It simply freezes this way.

Usually in my blog posts there is some formulaic prescription of story that I guide my visitors through.

First the punchy title. Check.

Then the rambling diatribe about how I believe one thing, only to reveal a double meaning. Eventually there is a crescendo of self-deprecation and it ends with a sucker punch of money humor, life truism or a curse word. Which ever comes second.

But today is different. Today I will simply tell you that over the dinner table last night, the following was heard…

“Mommy, did someone punch you? Your face looks dark on the side.”

“No honey, that’s my cheek bone. Exercise triggered an archeological dig and they found my face.”

Running. It’s what’s for Nicole.

Categories: Uncategorized Tags: , ,

Cheaper than a by-pass.

February 2, 2014 Leave a comment
2212 Reporting for duty at the Worst Day of the Year Run 2/1/14

2212 Reporting for duty at the Worst Day of the Year Run 2/1/14

I am well aware that most of you are enamored with my sense of frugality. Some of you have experienced it first hand (although I likely did not skimp on the food I served you, or the wine, or the birthday gift from last year… but I can tell you, somewhere in the existence we share together, I cut a corner and it likely had your name on it. (“Guess the secret word and I will give you a hundred dollars.” I will give you a hint, the secret word is “not”.

Anyway, my own life is not different. I cut corners all of the time. I find that the cheaper way (the more frugal way) is often the better of the routes we are offered. How can that be in a world of online banking (which I do not do) or easy to swipe debit cards (I use cash as much as I can) or the pre-shredded cheddar (which is no match for the block in taste, freshness or cost?) The cheaper way is 22 cents less an ounce, it saves small businesses a fee and it reminds me that the money in the checking account is being depleted as I spend it. ‘Nough said?

So where have a cut a corner today? I brought my own Sweet n Low packet to Starbucks, I let a friend buy my coffee (a sacrifice I know) I bought the larger bag of potatoes for the Super Bowl skins and will make my own instead of buying the pre-made fatty ones  Strategy alert: did you see what I did there? I combined cutting corners and taking the longer road in the same thought. I see them as the means to the same end. Getting where you want to go, without always doing the norm because it is presented to you as the easy option. Sometimes cutting the corner, means taking a longer path, but in the end there is more money in your pocket and healthier food in your belly.

You may be wondering where the by-pass comes in? Well, if I have anything to say about it, it never will enter the picture. Why? How? Because yesterday I ran my first 5K that I have been training for, over the course of the last month.

I think that the road to health starts with cutting the corner on the by-pass and taking the longer road, and run it, to fitness.

It sounds like I will spend time running and smiling, not sitting and spreading.

Sweet and lower.

February 1, 2014 3 comments

sweet-n-low-frontEveryone has a palate, kind of like their … you know what. I too have a palate. My palate likes sweet things. It also likes things with a low opportunity cost, but that is for another blog post.

About a week ago, (most of you who are actually reading this are shocked I still know the address to this blog, it’s been tough to get to it with the great flood of 2013) I noticed that I don’t like how my nerves feel. I felt jittery. I was unhappy.

My loving life partner informed me it’s part of getting old. I say Bah, Humbug. It is something else.

I decided to go on a search, in and around my body (no cavity searches, just chakra kind of crap) and I decided its the Truvia. I was trying to supplant (I chose that WOW word very carefully) sugar with a substitute. I was using it in my coffee in my oatmeal muffins, everywhere I needed sweetness. (I hope most of you are now melting, and reminding yourself that my sweetness is so very plentiful that it not necessary to actually add to it, but alas, a man must eat.)

Anyway, I stopped eating it. And I went, on Throw Back Thursday, to Sweet and Low. You may ask – what the… how did that become the sweetener of choice? It is just sweet enough for me. The cancer crap was never proven and my grand parents practically worshipped it and lived to 93. Fat, artificially sweetened, but 93. I plan to go out the same way.

And – of course, it would not be a Clutching Coins post if I did not report that it was $1.75 for a box of 100 packets, versus $6.48 of Truvia.

Early retirement – here I come!


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