Saturday, May 30, 2009

Plans For the Rest of the Year

I've been spending a little time this morning, planning out my opportunities and priorities for the rest of the year. It's an exercise I have to undertake regularly due to my propensity to over commit. I am ambitious, sometimes to a fault, and sometimes live like my time and energy are without limit. Boy howdy, am I wrong about that or what?

I have to keep reminding myself, that the principles of sound money management apply in other areas of life, too. You know, tithe, spend less than you earn, budget, save, don't do debt..... They are all translatable to most areas. At 52, I'm still learning that. And, I appear to be a slow learner.

Here's what I'm thinking:

Tithe: While I'm not a legalist, I do believe in tithing. In fact, I believe the tithe (10%) is a minimum giving principle rather than a target. But more on that another day.

In context of time and energy, I apply that to my time with and for God. I jealously guard my 'quiet time' in the morning. I normally read three chapters of the Bible a day. It takes only a few moments. I also have a color code system I use for marking certain subjects as I read. Each time I read through the Bible, I look for different topics. I choose them and assign a color. Whenever I find that topic, I underline or circle with the appropriate color. I put a key in the front of that Bible, so I know what I was looking for. Mostly I buy cheap paperback Bibles, so I can mark them up without feeling guilty. I have quite a collection of marked up paperback Bibles.

I try not to miss Church. Some weeks I don't want to go, just like I don't always want to balance my checkbook. But I do it anyway, because it's right. Church is where I worship and learn. It's a part of my relationship with God. Skipping Church is like telling your wife you love her, but always skipping her birthday, anniversary, Valentine's Day and going on dates. That dog just don't hunt.

But I also, budget in time for some kind of ministry. Because my schedule is so tight, I have to choose wisely, commit responsibly, say 'no' often and fulfill my commitments in the areas I serve. Currently, I am on our Church's Missions team and Outreach Steering Committee. That's it. Oh, I am the fill in teacher for our Adult Bible Study class. But that's only a few times a year. There are many other worthy, even desirable projects, but I have to refuse.

Just like with my finances, I budget my God time first. He matters most.

Budget: I absolutely MUST spend time prioritizing my time and energy. I've already stated that. If I don't consciously budget it, I will overspend...... badly. Then the urgent will usurp the important and I will be in a heap of hurt. I've started doing it on paper, just like with my money.

Wife Time: I enjoy spending time with my bride. She's my favorite person to hang with. But in my frantic, busy world, she can get left out. What a tragedy. So I protect some time each week for us. Friday nights is grocery night. We do that together. It's fun. It's us. It's weird. On Saturdays, except for a few during hunting season, we spend the day together doing stuff. Maybe it's yard work, maybe it's shopping, maybe it's a movie, maybe it's a dog show. But it's Sam n B day.

I have to budget all my time, because I have so many irons in the fire and so many things I want to accomplish. My job requires a huge time commitment and since B and I have grown accustomed to things like indoor plumbing, eating regularly and having electricity, I try and stay employed.

But I also am working on finishing my Master's degree and then a Doctorate ('one brick at a time, my good citizens'), trying to get fit and race a sleddog event this winter, maintain my garden, write more books, get some hunting and fishing done, to name a few. If I don't literally budget my time and energy, life becomes total chaos.

Spend less than you earn - that means not over committing. Rest is crucial. Going fishing, napping, walking the dogs, reading a book. Those are all ways I know I've got some balance. When I don't get to do those things, I know I'm going into debt.

Save - Rainy days come. Emergencies happen. We have to make sure we have some time and energy in the bank. And it takes coordination to make that happen. I have to plan ahead or life gets away from me. Take family for example, I want to see my children and grandchildren at least once a year, but we live a long way apart. If we lived across town, it would be easy, but we don't. So I have to plan ahead to make time in my schedule so those visits can happen.

Recently, Brittan made contact with a half sister (their biological mother had given her up for adoption at birth) she has never met. Fortunately, we live in the age of webcams, skype and Instant Messenger, so they have been able to communicate pretty much daily since they found each other. Brittan wants us to go to Kansas, so they can get together. Well, Duh! But my first response was, "You'll have to go alone. I don't have time." What kind of crappy answer is that? Fortunately, I do budget my vacation time at work and save a few days for emergencies and spur of the moment opportunities. I have to do some juggling, but I will make it happen. If I used up all my personal time off the way some of my co workers do, I'd never be able to do something like this.

Ok, I'm far from perfect at these things. I'm still learning. I'm still getting it wrong as often as I'm getting it right, but I am certain that life management is akin to money management. It's doable and necessary. Hmm........... maybe there's another book idea in there somewhere!

Friday, May 29, 2009

Want to Spend Money Like a Millionaire?

Who hasn't said, at one time or another, "If I had a million dollars, I'd ......................?" I know I have said it. But how do actual millionaires spend money? What do they buy? How do they set priorities? Several years ago, I read a fun book called, "The Millionaire Next Door", that gave detailed specifics showing how much more frugal millionaires are than people who go into debt in order to appear successful. It was a real eye opener.

In a similar vein, I stumbled on a good article yesterday on called, "The Frugal Millionaire". I thought it would be good to share it with the world. Well, with the three citizens of the world who read this blog, anyway. Read it HERE.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Garden Keeps Getting Better

B and I went down to Florida for Memorial Day Weekend and were pleasantly surprised at our garden when we got home.

First, we have tomatoes. Lot's of tiny green tomatoes. How exciting. Most of the tomato plants look splendid. I did pull a couple that looked like they were not healthy. But overall, they are performing nicely. In fact, everything except the corn and carrots look great. The corn appears to be a bit sunburned and the carrots are extremely tiny still. But it's far too early to worry.

Our peppers are growing like crazy. All except my Ghost peppers, that is. Those are growing, but much more slowly than all the others. All peppers like heat, but I think these Ghost peppers need a serious warm up. It's been unseasonably cool for May. That's great news for humans, but not necessarily so for exotic hot peppers.

I was especially pleased to see some of my raspberries were turning red. Which is somewhat odd, because I thought they were a golden variety, but what the heck. They are ripening and that's just plain cool.

No point boring the world with updates on every variety we're growing, so I'll just end the update here. Next project: Get the compost bin up and working.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Controversial Risk

I'm going to add a couple of controversial links to this blog today. They are related to a bill going through congress known as The Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act. It has already passed the House and is in the senate as S. 909. This bill scares me on many levels. Read what Dr. James Dobson says about it HERE.

First, is scares be because the title sounds right. I know very few people who think that law enforcement should wink at hate crimes. But the title is merely a cover.

Secondly, I'm scared because of the breadth of the bill. This isn't going to prevent hate crimes, but it is going to protect deviants like pedophiles.

Thirdly, I'm scared because the bill is really a cleverly disguised way of fund raising for the extreme left, rather than protecting anyone.

The case that was used as the 'poster child' by the supporters of this bill, was the indefensible beating and murder of Matthew Sheppard some years back. If you recall, Sheppard was lured to his fate and suffered it simply because he is gay. What you may not recall, is that the perpetrators of that heinous act were prosecuted to the fullest. There are already laws on the books to protect individuals from wanton abuse by others. Even a leading gay rights activist has gone on record to expose the hidden agenda of this bill. You can read about that HERE.

This subject is a bit off the beaten trail for the direction of this blog. But I am compelled to address it. In a round about way, however, it does relate, because it is our hard earned tax money that will be used to enforce this legislation if it passes. So I will take the risk of raising the wrath of some, to spread the word. Please, read up on this yourself and write your senators and stop this thing in its tracks.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Vacation Fun and Chickens in the Headlines

Brittan and I returned Sunday night (Monday morning, really) from a four day trip to the Dominican Republic. What a grand time we had. And since it was paid for by my employer, it was even more enjoyable. Over the next few days, I will probably pen a few impressions from the trip that relate to the purpose of this blog. But for now, it's just good to be home.

This morning I read an article somewhere regarding what is called, "The Urban Chicken Movement." It was fantastic. It seems that many urban and suburban dwellers are adding more than a few vegetables to their back yards these days. People are buying chickens. They are building small coops in their subdivisions and keeping a handful of birds for eggs, meat and pets. As I understand it, the phenomenon is spreading across the country, much to the chagrin of Home Owner Associations everywhere. How I wish it would catch on here. Chickens are easy to keep, provide great nutrition via their eggs and meat and their waste, when composted is among the finest (along with rabbit droppings) of fertilizers.

But, alas, our HOA will never cave. They have their image of an acceptable neighborhood and no one dare challenge it. How tragic.

But if you live in an area that allows poultry on your property, then I encourage you to read up on the subject and consider a few laying hens of your own. Skip the roosters. They are only good for upsetting the neighbors just before the crack of dawn.

While we can't enjoy chickens or meat rabbits, our vegetable garden is progressing nicely. We got our first small harvest of strawberries yesterday, about a cup's worth. They are small and juicy and sweet. I love them.

We are getting a small crop of raspberries this year, also. I'm so excited. It looks like a small harvest this year, but the plants are spreading and growing nicely. I expect that next year will have much better results.

The blackberries have survived, but I don't think we'll have any fruit this year. There are no signs of blossoms. Maybe next year.

The fruit trees have leafed out nicely and are growing well, but it will be a couple of years before they begin to produce.

But it is the vegetables that have really sprung to life in the last week. The tomatoes especially have grown large and strong. Some of the early varieties have a good number of blossoms. The peppers and beans are also growing strong. In fact, most everything; corn, squash, zucchini, cantaloupe, cucumbers are looking quite sprightly. I have high hopes for this year.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Dominican Republic on $0 a day!

Yep, it's upon us. Vacation time. And my favorite kind, too. Someone else is paying for it. I earned a trip sponsored my by employer and we leave tomorrow morning for Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. SWEET. It's an all inclusive resort. We have zero out of pocket expenses except for any gifts or trinkets we bring back. It's a recession proof delight. Can't wait to tell you all about it.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

The Garden is IN!

All raised beds are planted and looking great. All earthboxes are set and all buckets are full. We do have three more earthboxes on the way for succession planting of green beans, but apart from that, the rest of the summer is maintenance. We have some staking to do and some trellises to build, but we have a little time to get that accomplished.

Some of our strawberries are turning red and we have raspberries appearing on our raspberry canes. I think they are the golden raspberries that we set out last year. Our blackberry plants are healthy enough, but no sign of flowers or berries. But they are a later variety than the raspberries we have.

After some initial transplant shock that gave me a fright, our black currants are looking good. They have new leaves and are generally beginning to prosper.

We sowed some carrots and garlic today, mostly just to see what happens. We got out quite a few more summer squash, peppers, zucchini and cucumbers today. Oh, and a few more beans.

One of the things that really amazes me it the very small footprint that is required for such a potentially large harvest.

Anyone who is even considering a Recession Proof Lifestyle, should give this a try.

Glorious Rain

It's way past my bedtime, but I am sitting here enjoying the sound of a spring rain and can't bring myself to go upstairs and go to sleep.

After a couple years of drought, North Georgia is experiencing a 'normal' spring. Most of the lakes, ponds and rivers (except Lanier) are an normal levels. We are getting rain and we are enjoying it.

Tonight we are having mild thunderstorms with steady rain and a gorgeous light show.

I imagine the veggies are loving it, too. Earlier this evening we discovered that some of the corn, onions, cucumbers, squash, zucchini, okra, cantaloupe and green beans have sprouted. Is that cool, or what?

One of the great things about rain is that it produces certain micro nutrients that really help plants grow. Just thought I'd share that little tidbit.

God sure knew what he was doing when he made this planet.