Celebrating The Holidays

Wondering where I’ve been? Celebrating the holiday season with family has become a full time job this past week!  I haven’t even checked Facebook for 5 days.  This is a personal record! I promise to write more posts when the season is over (that is January 2nd for our family).  I wish all my readers a very merry holiday season!


Recently, my husband and I moved cross-country for his job. We left my career behind.  Since I work in healthcare, we figured it would not be difficult for  me to find a new place of employment. We were wrong.

I have 8 years of education, good references and experience.  Still no job.  During my period of unemployment I have discovered:

1).  How wasteful I used to be.  I shopped for convenience when I was working.  Now I think about everything I purchase.  Do I need it?  Am I getting the most for my money?  I used to spend a lot of my former income on convenience and frivolous items.  (for example, I used to buy 20 oz soda’s every day I worked.  In fact, I usually bought two since I worked 13 hours at a time).

2)  How naive I was.  I rarely thought about the economy and the effect it has had on people’s lives when I was employed.

3)  The value of volunteering.  The other day I helped tutor inner-city children at an after school program.  Giving my time to those less fortunate is truly humbling.

4)  How emotionally draining unemployment is.  I constantly wonder, “Why aren’t the recruiters calling me?”  “Did they even get my application?”  “What if they think I don’t have enough education?!!?”  “Why did I spend all that time/money/effort on those degrees if I can’t even use them?” “Why did we move away from my last career?”  I also cringe when meeting new people and am asked, “So, what do you do?”  I constantly feel as though I have to justify myself.

Recently, I’ve been reading The Nouveau Poor, a blog about a family struggling in the new economy.  The author’s posts challenge my views regarding food stamps, welfare  and unemployment. Read it. It’s eye-opening.

neilmed sinus rinse

I am frequently afflicted with sinus infections. I can’t even count how many I’ve had in the past year. My nurse practitioner highly encouraged me to start using a sinus rinsing kit. I have been resisting this practice for YEARS. Sinus rinsing was something I just did not want to try! 3 sinus illnesses within a month changed my mind. Here’s what I’ve found after rinsing my sinuses for 2 days:

1) I can breathe! My nasal passages aren’t nearly as congested.

2) Rinsing is not painful. I was afraid it would feel like I was drowning in a chlorine pool, but it’s not bad at all!

3) I feel better. I’m not sure if this is because of the sinus rinse or the fact that my sinus issue is healing?

I think the kit is definitely worth the $10, especially if it keeps me out of the doctor’s office for a while. Have you tried a sinus rinse?  What are your thoughts?

*Please follow the manufacturer’s directions THOROUGHLY before using this product!  I am not offering any medical advice on this blog.  Contact your health care provider with any health questions/concerns you may have.  Please ask your primary care provider if it is okay for you to use the neil med sinus products )  A very wise blogger brought this important npr.org article to my attention. *

RIP Heating Pad

Remember how I  keenly advised people how to survive the winter when living with a thermostat nazi?  Last night I was preparing to watch an episode of Modern Family.  I dutifully plugged in my heating pad, grabbed a cup of tea and eagerly waited for the comedy to commence. Then it happened.


I turned to my husband and asked, “What was that?”

He replied, “It sounded like a fuse.”

This conclusion didn’t make sense since all lights were still shining brightly and a lame Lexus commercial played in the background (you  know the one where some significant other receives a Lexus for Christmas?)  I smelled smoke.  So, I looked at my heating pad.  The end of the cord was charred.  Apparently, I twisted the cord ONE too many times.

Thankfully, nothing or no one started on fire.  I am a little sad that I have to purchase another heating pad.  That one has been in my life almost as long as my husband!  Maybe I’ll follow the safety precautions a little more carefully this time!  I advise you to do the same.

Surviving the Winter With a Thermostat Nazi

Today, I was discussing my recent morph into a thermostat nazi with a friend.  She stated, “I don’t know HOW you keep your thermostat so low [64 degrees]!”  Here’s my survival tips for those of you who live with someone that watches the thermostat as fiercely as I do:

1.  Utilize a space heater.  (Please make sure you are following ALL safety rules if you decide to do this!)

2. Plug-in in a heating pad. Use one when you are reading, typing, studying etc.  It will keep you toasty.

3.  Cozy up to your pet.  I currently own one of the most cuddly pets in the world.  This is GREAT when it’s cold outside.

4). Check the utility bill every month. The savings you glean will spur you to press on.

Do keep in mind that we are a childless household…We are ABLE to keep our home at a cooler temperature at this point.

Thrift Store Find

I tried something new this year.  Thrift store shopping.  I know.  This art form has existed for decades, but I used to turn my nose at it.  Then I found this BCBG dress and these Anne Taylor Loft camisoles while volunteering at a local upscale retail store (a fancy thrift shop).

I happened upon this sweater a couple of days ago.  It’s made with Angora fur and is SUPER soft.

I know it doesn’t look FABULOUS in this picture, but believe me. It is. Maybe if I gathered all the excess fabric, and pinned it onto an anorexic mannequin, it would seem more stylish?  This seems to be The Mall‘s approach.  But, I digress….


Yesterday I shopped at the mall. After spending a few hours looking for what I needed, THIS is how I felt:

1) Harried. I live in the most densely populated state in the nation. Malls (and the parking lots) can be rather chaotic. Screaming kids, stressed mothers plus unaware shoppers constantly bumping into one another is NOT a recipe for peaceful, happy feelings:)

2) Stressed. As I looked at the beautiful clothing that adorned all of the mannequins, I began to worry about my own attire. I questioned, “Do I wear my boots correctly with my jeans?” “Should I weigh less?” The mannequins with legs the width of a child’s arm REALLY cause one to wonder…

3) Discontent. Even if I were given an entire new wardrobe YESTERDAY, I’m pretty sure I would still feel like I needed something if I went shopping today…

I just discovered a blog named Step Away From the Mall I think the title of his blog says it all.  Happy Reading!

5 Easy Changes that Can Save Over $1900 in One Year

I’ve peppered this blog with money-saving tips.  I decided to add up the tangible amounts I’ve written about and see how much I will save in a year.

Here are the switches and the savings:

1) I swapped cold cereal for oatmeal-This saves me approximately $69.58/year (more if I buy generic).

2) I quit drinking Diet Coke-This will save me $584.48 (I used to drink WAY too much of this…WAY too much).

3) I quit using swiffer products-$78.52

4) I started watching the thermostat like a crazy woman.  Our electric bill has dropped approximately $100/month depending on the weather.  $1200/year.

5) I started paying for gas with cash.  I have estimated that this will save $60/year.  I will total this up at the end of my month.  Read about my experiment HERE.

Are you ready for the grand total?  I will save $1992.58 in a year if I continue to follow the aforementioned changes.  Can you believe that?  The numbers are very inspirational. Small changes REALLY add up!

ps-Click the links above to see the math for each number!


A Couple Of Girls I Met On a Service Trip

How does giving fit into saving?  This is a difficult question to answer.  I am definitely not an expert.  I DO know that there are many families in the world who have no money to save or budget.  They do not even have food, water or much of a future.  This breaks my heart.

I have visited poverty-stricken people in Brazil, Turkey and Vietnam on service trips.  The conditions they live in SPUR me to give.  Their stories cause me to think twice before purchasing frivolous items.  I have been forced to wonder why I am so blessed.   Thus, I am compelled to give.

Did you know you could change a family’s future by giving 2 chickens for $25?  You could also give the gift of clean water for the same price. This astounds me.

I am impelled to help poverty-stricken people due to my experiences. You may not feel the same way. I do urge you to think about giving to an organization you believe in. This could be your church, The Salvation Army, and etc.  HERE are 12 great giving quotes from a blog written by someone who really knows how to save!

Eating Quaker Oats

Most money-saving blog authors advise ditching dry cereal for oatmeal since it is cheaper (not to mention HEALTHIER). I like oatmeal, so this change was not hard for me to incorporate. After eating oatmeal every day for a month, I began to wonder how much money this change was really saving. So, I did a price comparison. This is what I found.

I chose to compare Post Raisin Bran and Quaker Oats.  Here’s the math.
Post Raisin bran costs $4.49 for 12 servings.  4.49/12= $0.37 per serving x 7 (days in a week)= $2.169 per week
2.169 x 52 (weeks in a year)=$136.20

If you eat one serving of Post Raisin Bran every day for a year you will spend $136.20. (this calculation does not account for sales reductions).  Let’s face it.  Most people PROBABLY eat more than one serving of cereal daily. I’m not going to include this fact in my computations.

Quaker Oats costs $5.49 for 30 servings.  $5.49/30=$0.18 (cost per serving of Oatmeal).  $0.18 x 7 (number of days in a week)=$1.28/week.  $1.28 x 52 (number of weeks in a year)=$66.61.

If you eat one serving of Quaker Oats every day for a year, you will spend $66.61.

Switching to Quaker Oats could save $69.58 cents per year.  ($136.20-66.61=$69.58)

If three people in a household switch from cold cereal to oatmeal,  that family would save $208.74/year.  ($69.58 x 3 [number of people in household]).

I think the switch is worth it.  I haven’t convinced my husband, yet 🙂  Maybe, if I show him the math…

*These calculations do not include sales tax. Items listed  are both name-brand.  Neither were on sale*