Saturday, January 31, 2009

2009 Vegetable Garden - Phase 1 - Complete

Today we planted the seeds for our tomato and pepper plants that need to be started indoors. It's a day I really enjoy. Brittan hung the grow lights while I set up the seed trays and put peat pellets in each cup. Wal Mart, Home Depot, Lowes and a bunch of other places sell these great seed starter kits for about $6. They hold 72 starter peat pods. Last year we decided to buy bulk and save money, so I bought a box of 1500 peat pellets from EBAY. That will last us about 4 years and we can re-use the trays we bought last year. It's perfect.

One of the things we discovered is that some of our packets had MORE seeds than advertised. How cool is that. We planted 150 Roma tomato seeds, 35 Early and Often tomato seeds, 35 Sweet Million Cherry Tomato seeds, 50 Poblano (advertised as 35) pepper, 56 Carnival Mix bell pepper (also advertised as 35 seeds), 35 Jalapeno peppers, 25 Chocolate Habanero, 25 mixed Caribbean Hot peppers and 5 Naga Jolokia Ghost Peppers (hottest pepper in the world). We are really psyched. Obviously, we have no idea how many will germinate, but we'll have plenty. We may even try and sell a few of the extra plants to off set some of the original purchase price.

Here's the kicker; tomorrow is Feb. 1. Much of the U.S. is buried, frozen in ice and snow. We're Not!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Tax Time in America

Tax season leaped into full bloom on January 16, when the IRS opened its computer systems to begin receiving E-Filed returns for the 2008 tax year. And what a day it was.

For those who don't know, I work for a company who makes business solutions for accountants and professional tax preparers. Our largest product line is tax preparation software. As a result, I'm able to stay pretty well informed about what's happening in the world of taxes.

On opening day of e-file season this year, we processed as many returns as we did the first WEEK last year. And we've maintained a very high performance every day since. It's been phenomenal.

It's also another sign of the recession. Millions are trying to get their refunds as quickly as possible. And a high percentage of Americans are paying a sizable fee to get their money instantly. The RAL (refund anticipation loan), is a big money earner for tax preparers, banks and software providers alike.

I would never take a RAL. Simply put, I'm a cheapskate and I am not willing to pay someone to get my money 10 days or two weeks earlier than if simply let the system pay out on it's normal time table. The treasury dept. is very quick these days if you have direct deposit.

Of course, I don't normally get refunds. My goal is to even out or pay the Govt as choices preferable to a refund. A refund means I have loaned the Govt. my money interest free all year. I'd rather keep it myself. I believe I handle money much more wisely that Uncle does, so I'm not letting him have it unless and until it's absolutely necessary. If the Govt gets it, they keep any interest earned and give me the principal. If I keep it, I get both the money and the interest. That's a much better deal in my estimation.

I look on it as my personal stimulus plan. And it's a darned good one.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Sad Side of a Down Economy

I read an article today about a 93 year old man who froze to death in his home, because he had run up a huge electric bill and ended up being cut off because he didn't pay. The story is tragic on many fronts. In the end, the power company comes out looking like the villain and that may not be the whole story. Still, in the current economy, cutting an old guy like that some extra slack would have been an honorable thing to do. But other questions are raised in my mind; Could his neighbors have looked out for him a little better? Did he have a Church home? Did his bank ever offer to help him learn to handle his money? Did he just forget to pay?

There is no time like the present to learn to manage money (and utilities) wisely. If you live where there are harsh winters and you know of an elderly person who struggles, check in on them from time to time. Or tell your Church about them. United we Stand.

You can read the entire article HERE.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

The Seeds Have Begun Arriving

Remember me? I'm the guy who used to updated this blog every couple of days. Wow, have I ever been neglectful. No point going into the reasons.

But there is good news; my garden seeds have begun arriving. And more are on the way. I'm so excited. Next weekend we start planting seeds in our seed starter kits in the basement. We'll soon have peat cups, grow lights and seedlings galore. Yahoo!

Spring is just around the corner here in Georgia. I spotted our first dandelion this afternoon. And my allergies are hammering me. And I hear the fishing is beginning to improve in the lakes. I'm getting excited.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Unbelievably Busy

I can't believe how long it's been since I posted here. But then again, I can't believe how busy I am right now. I plan to take some time this week and work on my schedule so that I block out time to post. I miss updating this space. I simply must manage my time better. I know I have too many irons in the fire, but I could still be more productive.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Today's Big Project

I have one major project on my agenda today (Brittan has a couple more for me, so I have some negotiations ahead), and I will be able to take care of it from the comfort of my easy chair. The only tools I will need are this laptop and my trusty debit card. With these implements I will endeavor to save hundreds of dollars on our grocery bill this year. For today is the day I will order the seeds for our garden.

I'm very excited. If things go according to plan, we will be providing about 70% of all our vegetable products for the year. And we'll do so at a fraction of the cost of buying them at the grocery store. The secret: sweat equity. There is a whole lot more labor involved in digging, planting, weeding, harvesting, canning and freezing home grown fruits and vegetables, but oh how it is worth it.

So why not experiment on your own this year. Grow a tomato plant or two. Throw in a jalapeno or bell pepper and maybe a cucumber or squash. Or grow some fresh herbs. Once you do, you'll never want grocery store produce again. Go ahead. I dare you.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Maybe This Will Be The Year..........

........ that the Revolution really catches fire. Our current economic climate has millions of Americans really concerned. Recession Proof Living and the IOU NO MORE Basic Spending Plan are still the simplest money management program on earth. I think 2009 is going to see thousands join us in the fight for financial freedom.

The newspapers, radio, television and internet all forecast a difficult year. But it doesn't have to be that way. We can take control of our own financial futures and WIN. The more we rely on God and ourselves and the less we rely on the government, the stronger and safer we will be.

I'm looking forward to the new year and all it offers.

BTW, we have selected our veggies for this years garden already. We'll be placing the order for seeds sometime next week. I'm so excited. In point of fact, I'm going to Home Depot later today to look for soaker hoses and other watering/irrigation systems for the garden. Spring is just around the corner. At least in Georgia it is.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Happy New Year (2009)

It's here. A shiny, fresh, brand spanking new year. Time for fresh starts, new resolutions, dreaming and hoping. I love New Year's Day. This morning in North Georgia, the sun is rising, there is a little frost and the day is gorgeous and promising. So is the year.

For many, 2009 arrives in the midst of fear and uncertainty in our current economic climate. We're going to help you through it.

But for today, relax, enjoy the Holiday, trust God and know that the future is bright. I promise.

Here are some suggestions for the coming year:

avoid any debt that is not mortgage related
live on less than you earn
make a budget (you can get a free form from and stick to it
create an emergency fund. Start with $1,000. Plan to get to 6 months expenses at the earliest possible time
Store up 6 mos to 1 year of basic staples (flour, sugar, powdered milk, toilet paper, etc)
Read the Bible (start with the New Testament)
find a good Church
love your family
look for ways to serve rather than be served
eat out less
grow some (or all)of your own vegetables
get a hobby
work hard
pray often
get some exercise
fear not
dream big dreams, set goals,
live well.

We will be addressing all of these subjects and more during the coming year. I will update the blog at least weekly, sometimes more often. This is a year of HOPE. We'll spread some of it along the way.