Friday, February 26, 2016

EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS - Finances - The Change Jar

DISCLAIMER: None of the information provided is law. I share what works for me. Only you can determine what works in your life.

One of the things I try to do every year is make a trip to Texas. I love to travel and the heart and soul of my music writing is there. I have made wonderful friends over the years and I love the whole vibe.

While I do not make a lot of money on my freelance, thanks to my husband I am not a 'starving artist'. I do strive to pay for the majority of my trip on my own. Last year, I paid for a 21-day trip through Texas, including hotel stays the entire time from money I had stashed away all year. The gas and most dinners (I paid cash for breakfasts and lunches) went on the credit card. But even with that, how could I acquire enough cash to pay for even a week from Missouri to Texas, let alone two?

The change jar is my salvation.

Remember when I talked about how I saved our butt when Bob over drew our bank account using the debit card?

Bob used to tease me all the time about having money squirreled away all over the house. I would get $10 in quarters, roll it and stash it in a box in the basement.. you know the lowest NE interior of your house where you need to go in case of a tornado. I did the same with nickels and dimes. Pennies, I do not spend at all.

The other thing Bob used to tease me about is NEVER having ANY change in my purse when we would go out somewhere. I always paid with dollar bills and brought home the change. Even if I was only needing a few pennies, I still broke the $1 bill.

At first when I started doing this, I was saving money from October to October to pay for my annual pilgrimage to the Ozark Creative Writers conference in Eureka Springs AR. The conference ran about $100 (which included the opportunity to enter several writing contest categories for the chance to win Prize $$$), hotel night for three nights (and usually split between at least 3 - 5 people), plus the 2 banquet meals with the conference and about $70 for breakfast/ lunches for the 3 days.

Thankfully, I do not have to do that anymore. That is Bob's contribution to my writing (one of many but he says this is 'my' weekend - yep, I'm keeping him)

So my money gets put back for Texas. With his job this year, I'm not sure I'll spare money for travel. We shall see in the coming weeks. But over the course of the past ten months, I have managed to piggy bank two Miracle whip jars of quarters plus a larger jar of just nickels and dimes. I also strive to win our weight loss challenge every 3 weeks so I can bank that $100 towards my trip.

We are also lucky enough to get taxes back most years. We apply the Federal tax towards something that needs done to the house, new tires for a vehicle if they are due or put it back for emergencies. We split the State return as our year-end bonus. We do not just blow the money because it's there. Everything has a purpose. In able to reach the Out of sight Out of mind = Security status, you have to do assign a purpose. Living willy-nilly, as Grammy used to say, is NOT going to give you that security when you need it. You have to be PREPARED.

The point is.. coins add up and quickly become the
Out of sight Out of mind = Security

Yes, you know it's there but if you earmark that money for a special occasion  - and remember that each time you think you are tempted to dip into the jar to pay for something else - then you will have earned the right to truly enjoy your special occasion.

Start a coin jar. Does not have to be anything fancy. Just put it somewhere so that when you come home at the end of the day, you will empty your pocket or purse of all the change into that container. When the container is full, stash the jar away and start a new one, transfer that money either into your checking account as a HIDDEN DEPOSIT in your Secret Vault (we talked about that last week), turn it into cash and stash it in the lowest NE corner of your house in a fireproof box, whatever. Just DO NOT SPEND IT until you are ready for that Special Occasion you've been saving for ... and start all over.

Be Empowered!

Friday, February 19, 2016


DISCLAIMER: None of the information provided is law. I share what works for me. Only you can determine what works in your life.

I am here to tell you now... Debit Cards are EVIL.  That said, I own one. But the only place I EVER use it is at my bank drive-through IF I need cash after hours. But most of the time, I just go into the teller window and withdraw what I need ahead of time. I PLAN my spending.

Here is a fact. You are more subject to identity theft when you use your Debit card than at any other time. Credit cards rank #2. Why put yourself  at risk just for convenience. We all need to learn to slow down. I figure if it worked for my parents... and generations before them, then it works for me. Granted, some things have to moved along with the times, but if you have safer options, why not use them?

The other thing I still use is a checkbook and check register. Yes, I'm sure that makes me a dinosaur.. but I am a PREPARED dinosaur.

If you do your banking on-line and use your debit card regularly, you are missing out on an amazing way to secretly stash money away... and why I have enough saved back to sustain us for the next six months worry-free.

If you bank on-line and use your debit card, the exact amount is subtracted from your account. While this does make balancing your checkbook much easier, you do not have the opportunity to create an imaginary vault in which to stash money away.

I use checks and a check register... the old fashioned way. And I do not balance my checkbook. (I will get to that final point in a moment)

This week I am going to share with you THREE ways to stash money back. If you do even ONE of them, you will be ahead of the game... and better prepared than you probably were before we began this journey.

Here is #1:
Let's start with my husband's check deposit. His company uses auto-deposit. They put the money in our account and we get a hard copy of the check stub. I'm not going to tell you what my husband gets paid. So I'm going to use an example amount.

Amount deposited by his Company - $1574.23
However, that is NOT what I write in my check register. I will write $1500.
That $74.23 gets squirreled away in my vault. I never see that amount again.
Out of sight Out of mind = Security

Think for a minute. If I do that every month for a year, by the end of twelve months I have saved:

I have done this every month for the past 4 years... ever since Bob used the debit card multiple times and failed to tell me so I could deduct it from our account! I found out when an entire months worth of checks began bouncing... during the Christmas holidays.  THAT was Stressful for me. I will tell you next week how I saved our butts on that one.

Here is #2:
If I write a check for $32.87 I DO NOT subtract that amount from my register.
I subtract $35.00

In reality, I am not going to miss that $2.13. It's in my vault, and I know it's there.. but if I do not SEE IT, then I do not spend it!

I do this with every check I write. By the end of the month I probably have acquired as little as $20 that I do not see. It's there but..
Out of sight Out of mind = Security

What about Auto-withdraws?
I apply the same principle. For example, my Hughes Net internet is an auto withdraw. Each month, they deduct $118 and change from my account. Every month for the past four years I have been subtracting $125. That is almost a $7 difference per month/ $84 a year/ $336 over four years!
I know it's there but...
Out of sight Out of mind = Security

I apply this same principle to all of our auto-withdraws.

So why not just sock money back into a savings account from each check?
#1 - Would you honestly do that EVERY MONTH
#2 - If you can see it, you are more apt to touch it.
Out of sight Out of mind = Security

At the end of the pay period.. just before his next check is to hit the deposit, I put a circle around whatever amount is left. Mentally, I tell  myself there has to be at least $25 left. When I get near that amount, I just do NOT spend any more. I WANT that added security. I also strive not to write any more checks for the last 5 or 6 days prior. Then I go into the bank and request my current balance. By this time, everything I've written has probably cleared to this point and their balance is right on target.

Before writing in the new 'adjusted' deposit, I circle whatever is left and add it to a 'savings' ledger. The money is still in my account but it becomes that
Out of sight Out of mind = Security 
How is it out of sight? Because I am only subtracting from the CURRENT deposit. Whatever was left no longer exists to me.

By doing this ONE small thing at the end of each pay period I usually have around $1300 at the end of the year. Some months have had more than others. There have been a month or two where there was literally PENNIES to circle. But even those pennies add up!

One other thing I do...
We pay our personal/ property taxes in December. I know roughly what they are going to be. I divide that amount by 22 (because he gets paid every 2 weeks and they are due in December) and I subtract that amount from each check. it is subtracted .. it's 'spent'.
In the register:
where a check # would go, I write SLUSH
Descritpion : RE Taxes
Amount: XXX

Then I have a page in the ledger where I track how much I've subtracted. By December when the taxes come due, I know the money is there.
Out of sight Out of mind = Security

Remember when I said earlier I do not balance my checkbook?
I once told my husband if I had to balance a checkbook, I'd never use one. I'd be strictly cash and the checkbook would be all on him. However, with him gone so much, there are times when I've needed to use the checkbook. But, I had to find a way NOT to balance the checkbook. I DO NOT need the stress.

I KNOW my bank balance is not going to jive with what the bank says because I have that Secret Vault. I have no clue how much is in there. I do not care. I only go by what I track, which is 3 things:

1 - The slush at the end of the pay period
2 - the RE Tax slush
3 - Income Taxes

As long as you keep on top of what YOU KNOW is in your account.. and that there is a SECRET VAULT amount that says you have more than you physically see, you are going to be fine.

For us right this moment, the pay period slush for the past three years is enough to make the immediate payments.

Reassess how you pay your bills. Is what you are doing RIGHT NOW working for you AND allowing you to build a cushion?

If you so choose, begin incorporating ONE of my methods into your tracking habits this week. A year from you now, if nothing else, you'll have Christmas money.

Be Empowered!

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

REVIEW WEDNESDAY - STARS of the ROCK 'N' ROLL HIGHWAY - Victoria Micklish Pasmore

Take a trip back in time when music really got a party going with STARS of the ROCK ‘N’ ROLL HIGHWAY by Victoria Micklish Pasmore. Passmore’s research led her along U.S. Highway 67, officially designated Rock ‘n’ Roll Highway 67 by the Arkansas General Assembly in 2009. Stretching from Newport AR north to the Missouri border, the 111- mile route was once dotted with nightclubs, honky-tonks as well as school gyms and cafeterias where the first rock ‘n’ rollers staged their early performances and honed their skills in the 1950s and early ‘60s… the cusp of the Rockabilly era.

The publisher, Plum Street Publishers,  took the direct approach, putting a name most young people will recognize as the lead story – Elvis Presley. Geared towards readers in grades 5-8, STARS of the ROCK ‘N’ ROLL HIGHWAY is a great read for those of us who remember names like Elvis Presley, Conway Twitty and Wanda Jackson. While there were a lot more people Ms Pasmore could have included in her book, she focused on twenty, bringing the book to a quick read for any attention span. As I read the book, several thoughts went through my mind. First and foremost was how much musical history is right out my back door and I was not even aware. The other became a running list of names of people I knew who would enjoy this book as much as I was.

One thing I felt really set this book apart from others were the 'Did You Know' facts - five factoids - given at the end of each chapter. 

STARS of the ROCK ‘N’ ROLL HIGHWAY is the perfect read for anyone. Whether you like music in general, grew up listening to Jerry LeeLewis, Carl Perkins or Charlie Rich, or enjoy history in any form. And if as an adult you want your children to learn about when you were their age, this is the perfect door to opening dialogue. Don’t wait until your gone for them to begin asking questions and receiving no answers. Introduce them to the magic now that was the ‘rock n roll highway’.

I’m giving this book:

About the Author:

Victoria Micklish Pasmore holds undergraduate degrees in Psychology and Art and master's degrees in Special Education and Rehabilitation Counseling. She has taught math, art, and special education to K-12 students for thirty years. A native Arkansan living in Mississippi and Wales, she is a world traveler and an enthusiastic fan of rockabilly and early rock 'n' roll music.

Friday, February 12, 2016


DISCLAIMER: None of the information provided is law. I share what works for me. Only you can determine what works in your life.


One of the first things I want to tackle in Emergency Preparedness is FINANCES. Over the next few weeks we will experience some changes in our household in regards to my husband's job. One of the things that has had me thinking about this change is how unprepared many of the other employees probably are for this drastic change... the selling of/ or closing of the company doors.

Regardless of the path taken, may of the employees will be left without a paycheck and only unemployment to temporarily carry them through until they can find something else. Thankfully, the river/ barge industry has a decent turn-over and jobs at all levels are always available. We are luckier than most.

For years Bob has accused me of making Abe Lincoln scream - I can pinch a penny till I've assassinated our sixteenth President hundreds of times over. But because I am money conscious we will still be able to meet our bills for at least six months without stressing. How? By BEING PREPARED

See, Being Prepared is more than just waiting for that Shit Hit the Fan moment when everything goes to hell in the proverbial hand basket. Being Prepared means being able to weather ANYTHING that comes your way.

Over the next few weeks (and yes, they will post because I am writing them all TODAY and scheduling them) I will discuss various ways I handle our finances. While they may not work for everyone, I hope they will give you something to think about in finding what will work for you.

Each week will come with a Tip or an Assignment. This week you get...

Look at your finances for the past 6 months.
Look at your bank balance and or saving balance
Look at your monthly bills - both household necessities and credit card payments.
Look at your credit card statements

With all of these figures in mind, do you have enough money set aside that if you were to lose your job tomorrow, you could still meet your payments?

If not.. DO NOT STRESS over that for now. Next Friday, I'll give you one solution to start building immediately towards building that cushion.

Be Empowered!

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

REVIEW WEDNESDAY - Amelia Earhart - Beyond the Grave

I have always been interested in Amelia Earhart. I always thought of her as a feisty, headstrong woman. She was portrayed as such in the movie, Amelia, with Hilary Swank and Richard Gere. As with most movies, the script was nothing like the facts. I need to watch the movie again but I do not recall any of the conspiracy theories that abound with her famous 'around the world' flight attempt.

In Amelia Earhart - Beyond the GraveW. C. Jameson covers a myriad of those theories. He breaks down each one, and in his professional style, backs up his findings with facts he has uncovered in his thorough research.

While there is a variation in the theories, the core to all of them is a government conspiracy to use her flight as a spy mission.

As I read each of the theories, I discovered one of my own I can not wait to discuss with the author when we have the opportunity to sit and chat.

While W.C. Jameson has become a dear friend over the past twenty-five years, I am always amazed at the way he looks at things and where his 'what if' thoughts lead him.

If you thought you knew the story if that infamous flight of 1937, I encourage you to read  Amelia Earhart - Beyond the Grave and see if you don't come up with your own thoughts. When you do, I hope you will post them here.

For insight, research and thought provoking read, I am giving Amelia Earhart - Beyond the Grave by W. C. Jameson:


Other books by W.C. Jameson can be found on his Amazon Page

W.C. Jameson is the author of over ninety books, as well as the creator and author of the 'Beyond the Grave' series and 'Treasure Hunt' series, 1500 magazine articles and has appeared as an expert consultant on several history documentaries.  He is also an established poet, songwriter and musician. He resides in Texas with his wife.

You can read more about W.C. Jameson on his WEBSITE

Thursday, February 4, 2016



For Joey + Rory + Indiana. Here are the pics I wanted you to see. If you choose to read further, that is fine but I do not want to tire you, Joey. I just wanted my readers to know the special people you are. Country Blessings ~ Kelly

The picture above is of the Container Sweet Corn from Burpees I told Rory about in my comment to his Sowing Seeds post.  I considered a straw bale as a container. They only grow approx. 4' tall and produce ears full of sweet, juicy corn - full size ears!

Both of these photos were taken next to a 1/2 gallon mason jar. The single potato weighed over 8 lbs! I baked them, pureed them in the food processor then froze them in muffin tins as serving sizes. Then I froze the little 'muffins' in FoodSaver bags in the freezer. 

While I did grow them in straw - I used composted straw and grew them here:

These are standard GMC Silverado truck tires (17"s I think). Can you imagine the crop Rory could grow with a couple of tractor tires from the farm?! These were only stacked 2 high. You can see the beginning stages HERE. Stage 2 with the plants a little bigger HERE. This year I'm only doing russets and will probably stack at least 3 high. Plant in the first layer with a composted soil base. As the plants get above that first tire, add a second tire and a layer of straw. Repeat as the plants grow. 

If you feel up to it, Joey, there are pictures of the whole garden from last year HERE. check out the tomato plants in the 3rd picture down. Grown in bales and climbing cattle panels. The cucumber pictures are near the end of that post (as well as a close up of the vines on my sidebar).  I had soooo many pickling cucumbers. I canned sweet relish and Bread and Butter pickles repeatedly until I just could not can any more LOL If it were possible, I'd share with you. 

I hope these pictures make you smile. Love, Hugs, Prayers and CountryBlessings. ~Kel 
aka The Country Angel - (music blog)

My post this morning is a gift to three very special people, who while I've never met them personally, I feel as if they have always been friends. 

For those of you who do not know, I am an entertainment writer. My job gives me the opportunity to get to know  a lot of talented people. While some know they are talented, if you catch my drift, the vast majority are just doing what they love and hope that they bring joy to others on their journey.

Joey + Rory are those people. Their songwriting abilities and their vocal blend come together to form an amazing duo. But aside from their music, they are also very down-to-earth folks. They have a farm in Tennessee on which they grow a lot of their own food and raise their daughter, Indiana. The most precious little face you will ever see. Indiana's smile warms my heart.

Not long after Indiana was born, Joey was diagnosed with cancer. I won't go into the long story here. What I can tell you is that after a variety of treatments we all thought were working, we were told there was nothing more they could do. So, last fall the Feak's made the decision to go back to where Joey's life began. Not to die - but to live as much as the Lord grants her surrounded by the people who love her - and whom she loves - the most.

Her husband, Rory, has kept us all updated through his blog, This Life I Live, with the little milestones they are blessed to have on this horrible journey. There is a light at the end of the tunnel, just not one we all hope and pray for.

So why  am I telling you this?
Like so many of us, Joey loves to garden. Spring is her favorite season and she can not wait to see plants growing, knowing she will be able to provide for her family.

Even from her bed at home, you can see in this week's blog post - SOWING SEEDS -   she is not letting this phase of her life keeping her from doing what she loves. 

In my weekly comments on Rory's blog, I told him I would share pictures of my Sweet Potatoes from last year. I know they will give Joey a smile and that will make me smile.