Tag Archives: money

Picking up change

Picked up change

Found money

I love picking up change off the ground when walking.  I pick up dollars off the ground (but that is rare).

I actively engage in picking up coins off the ground when walking.

I incorporate others into picking up coins.  Like Mirror Image.

I don’t simply walk down a street, I scout the area looking for change as  I walk.

Sometimes, I walk simply expecting to pick up pennies.

Yesterday morning, I set about my usual ritual of dog walking.  But…it was Sunday.  I have particular plans for Sunday morning walks.

I live near several convenience businesses.  Take out restaurants,  Dunkins’,  7-Eleven and the like,  Theses kinds of places are useful for change scouting. And scout I do.  But…Sunday mornings come after Saturdays.  And Saturdays seems to have given folks more permission to be a little less careful with their loose change.  People haven’t quite put all their change in their pockets or purses before they fall to the ground.  That is, based on my experience of picking up change many different days of the week.

So off Thrifty Pooch and I went on our walk to start the day and I scouted change in the strip mall where I always have eventual success and picked up…nothing.  Not even a penny this time.  That was surprising but not shocking.  I don’t pick up change everyday.  So I just kept walking.

Down the street, around the corner, back to my street, enjoying the cool(ish) Sunday morning air.

And what do I see winking at me? 52 cents in nickels, pennies and dimes in one square foot radius!  It took me forever to pick up all the change, practically right outside my down yet in the middle of the street.  Good thing I was walking.  And looking down.

I have kept all the coin change I have found over the last 2 years in the jacket I wear during my walks.  I don’t know if or when I will ever spend it.  Perhaps I will just let it get super heavy in my pocket.  I like the feel of money in my pocket.e

The most money I have picked up in the last few years at one time was $16 leaving a Burger King parking lot.  I gave $10 to Mirror Image and took $6 to pay for the burger meal she asked up to stop for in the first place.

The most money I ever picked up was $100.  2 crisp $50 bills at a subway machine.  It was 30 years ago and I was SUPER pumped.

Still, picking up coins is my favorite.

Do you bother picking up change?  What is the most loose change you have ever found?

Planning for College…at 13 years old?

When I was in high school, I was clueless about the college process.  I had a vague notion that I would go.  I was in a college prep magnet school after all.  Everyone in my school was expected to go to college or university.  But I didn’t have a real vision of college.  Or what to do to prepare myself.  Or, how much it would cost.

Fortunately  I was a good standardized test taker and my SATs made me desirable to colleges.  But including my grades, not desirable enough to offer huge scholarships. My mother, God bless her, paid for the majority of my undergrad education.  I only had to take out a few small loans.

Ironically, I wound up working as a recruiter for colleges and universities once I graduated.  I educated high school students and families what to do to prepare themselves and their finances for college attendance.  And now, I want to use all that expertise to prepare Mirror Image.  And I want to do it too much.

Fortunately, when Mirror Image was in elementary school, she developed into a very bright student.  Loved learning, loved delighting her teachers and loved being the best student.  She was competitive. She carried the good grades into Middle School where she has been on the Honor Roll and Principal’s List and last week, was inducted into the National Junior Honor Society.

If she wants to, she can parlay her natural abilities into high school success and eventual college scholarships.

This has made me a bit greedy strategic in my thinking.

I want a paid college experience for her soooo bad.  I want it soooo much that I am really pushing her to get the best possible grades, stay on the honor roll NO MATTER WHAT. And, I am going to push her to get an associates degree while in high school.  Our County offers this with the local community college – earning an A.A. while earning a high school diploma.

Only paying for 2 years of college (excluding any types of scholarships, of course) is a HUGE savings.  Plus, it allows us to invest more in advance degrees, which she will likely need, if she continues to love the idea of a career in STEM.

But she doesn’t quite appreciate my nagging enthusiasm.  That is because she is not mother of a lovely bright daughter paying the mortgage, supporting an excitable destructive German shepherd dog, currently replacing the hot water heater (more on that in another post) who now knows the value of stretching yourself a bit more for big payoffs at the end.

I think when she is a mom of a genius, she will appreciate me then.

Don’t you?

Question – How early do you think families should start the college planning process?

Thrifty Image

That Time I Wasted Money – On a Boat Ride

You're Invited

Until recently, the majority of jobs I have held had an interesting perk built-in.  That was the perk of the INVITATION. Invitations to sporting events, concerts, parties and more.  The majority of these invitations included all of the great stuff to make an evening awesome, food, drinks, parking and swag.  Ahhh, what a life.

Not content in my youth to just be happy with the awesome free stuff, sometimes I would still  spend, waste contribute monetarily and unnecessarily.  I think it was the excitement.  Or the peer pressure.  Or stupidity.  But this is one of those wasteful moments whose memory never leaves me for long.  And this happened almost 20 years ago so clearly, I am still annoyed with myself.  It started out innocently enough…

My boss and I went to a gala fundraiser for who knows what, as representatives for our organization.  I was able to dress up, eat and drink all I want and meet interesting and fun people – for free!  What more did I need?  Nothing.  I needed nothing.  That didn’t stop me from wanting something.

The thing is, I didn’t know that I wanted something until someone told me I did.  And they told me in the form of the dreaded ‘auction’. That part of the evening that raises more money for the event by getting people excited to part with their dollars by showing shiny stuff on stage.

I like shiny things A LOT.

The item for auction was a day cruise.  And for some reason, perhaps the people at my table telling me to go for it, I had to needed that cruise.  So I bid.  $100.

Then $200.

Then $300.

Then final and winning bid of $400.

$400 was a lot of my back then and when I went to the event, I had no intention of walking out with  $400 charged on my card. Yet, I did.  Some interesting finance writer would share that if I had just invested that $400 twenty years ago, it would be worth over $1800 now at 8% compounded interest.  Heck, if I had just gone our for a really great meal with a friend it would have been more valuable to me ultimately due to the buyer’s remorse.

There is a lot to be said for shutting out the voices that make you want to act like an idiot with your money.  There is a lot to be said about making a plan  before you have to act.  That way, you can plan to act right.  There is also a lot to be said for making a mistake, learning from it and letting it go.

And the worst part? I never went on that cruise.  Just shoved the certificate some where and it got lost eventually. So no $400, no great meal with a friend and no $1,800 with accumulated interest.  Just a lesson in money management that I paid $400 dollars for.



Thrifty Image

Weekend Money #7

Boy with Cash Dollars

Saturday, March 12 is museum day live!  A yearly opportunity, supported by the Smithsonian Institution, to visit some local museums for FREE!  Mirror Image and I will be going for an educational and cultural fix at the Historical Society – so I know what that means…

That means the weekend is here and it is time to plan the money!

I am going to pre-spend here on this post, then reconcile on Monday.  I plan for this to be another avenue of accountability and budgeting.  So here we go:

  • Church (tithes/offering) = $28
  • Gas = $0
  • Personal Care (haircut, mani/pedi, etc.) = $20
  • Groceries = $35
  • Dollar Tree = $0
  • General household shopping = $10
  • Vehicle Service/Repair = $0
  • Clothes Shopping = $0
  • Gifts = $25
  • Restaurant = $0
  • Zips Dry Cleaning = $0
  • Prescriptions = $35
  • Fun Outing = $10
  • Total = $143

 Church (tithes & offering) – Luke 6:38 – Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.

Gas – I noticed I was practically on empty when driving home from a neighbor’s wake last night and stopped to buy gas.  $1.81 per gallon!  Wow, gas prices goes up fast.  Well I filled up and paid almost $26.  But that won’t count against my weekend budget.

Personal Care – Visiting the salon for some minor maintenance this weekend.  I anticipate $24 including tip.

Groceries – This really should be a light expenditure this weekend. I already purchased my corned beef earlier this week because surprisingly, Giant had a better buy than Aldi. So I took advantage. The rest of the upcoming week should just be us eating a lot of vegetarian dishes as we persevere in our Meatless March Challenge.

Dollar Tree – Not this weekend.

Gifts – My uncle (by marriage) died this morning. I hope to give his daughter a small gift that she hopefully combine gifts from others to help manage expenses that come with saying a final good-bye.

Restaurant – We have no eating out plans.

General Household shopping – I need to get a couple of things from Rite Aid during the sale cycle that ends Saturday. Also, I received a $10 off $10 JCP coupon that I plan to use this weekend.  My goal is to have a $10 purchase exactly and therefore no out of pocket expense. Here’s hoping!

Prescriptions – Still need to get those…

Fun Outing – In addition to going to the museum, I think we will go to rockinjump and use that Groupon…$10 should cover the mandatory socks and perhaps a soda for Mirror Image.  I will take my water

I may try to finalize my taxes this weekend and possibly till the garden to get ready for Spring planting.  No money spending necessary there!

I will be back on Monday to tally up my successes (or fails).

Thrifty Image Mirror

My Mint Account Reveals


I have been a Mint user for a little over a year now and I LOVE IT. I love it so much I wish, even now, that the moment I first heard Jean Chatzky mention it on an episode of Money Matters that I had gotten up off the sofa right then and created my account rather than waiting for as long as I did. I should have hopped up the moment she said it was FREE.

The love I have must be obvious because in one 2 minute conversation with my mom, I convinced her to try it and now, she LOVES IT, TOO. This is not to be taken lightly.  My mom doesn’t really have a lot of patience for sitting at a computer, gathering ALL of the account numbers, passwords, secret questions and the like. Plus, she has a healthy distrust of the internet and its ongoing security issues that get played out on the evening news.  Think Target, Home Depot, Ashley Madison, etc. But if you were to ask her, she would admit to those 2-3 hours of setting up her account as the best investment of time she can remember.

It has been a game changer for me.

Before Mint, I would check my accounts regularly at different websites plus kept a general spreadsheet of my income and expenses but never, had I had the ability and desire to gather ALL of my accounts in one place on my own.  I think this largely had to do with not fully understanding the concept of net worth at the time.

With Mint, having almost all my accounts in one place takes allows me to know my net worth, my credit score, my due balances and most importantly, my financial trends. It is the TRENDS function that has me so excited right now.

I was playing around with the TRENDS function in a way I hadn’t before and was able to determine how I have been spending my money by category.  I was particularly interested in the area of Food and Dining – specifically the Groceries sub-category. With Mint, I can compare trends over time.  The options range among last seven days, last month 3 months, 12 months or the comparison can be customized for a particular investigating.

I beat myself up a lot because of the amount of money I spend on groceries each month. We are eaters in the Thrifty Image household. We like to eat, Mirror Image likes for me to cook and I take joy in our being able to come together over a delicious meal without the extra salt, fat or costs of eating out. But I really felt that the monthly costs were pretty high. So I took a look and compared my costs over the last 6 months with the previous six months then did the same with the year to date.

What a pleasant surprise!

I have spent approximately $1,000 less these last six months than I did in the previous six months on Groceries. And I know why. The Water Challenge in January and the current Meat Free March challenge. I have been perplexed by what has felt like excessive spending yet, the overall food category has gone done overall. Hurrah!

This is just one of the ways Mint helps me manage my money and gives me the tools to explore not just the money but better money management.  With all of the information in one place, it is so much easier to manage the money and understand the nuances. With Mint I see:

  • Cash (Savings) Account
  • Investment (403b, 401K, Roth IRA, Schwab One, Betterment)
  • Credit Card Accounts
  • Housing Value (provide by Zillow)
  • Vehicle Value
  • Loans (Mortgage)

Accounts can be added (say you get a new credit card or open up a Betterment account) or they can be closed or deleted (perhaps your credit card number was stolen or your car was totaled and it doesn’t exist as an asset anymore). The only account I cannot currently see is Mirror Image’s Private College 529.  According to Mint, there needs to be a pent-up demand and I guess I am the only one with that account.  Another reason to transfer that account over to my State College Savings Plan!

Thrifty Image Mirror