Keeping Track of Spending

“Ok!”  I said to myself while shopping at the Dollar Tree in Paw Paw, MI.  “This time I am going to do it!  I am going to keep track of my spending.”


I was in the school supply section when my eyes scanned down to the perfect notepads to put in my fanny pack and keep track of my spending.  I wasn’t going to get extra pens but I spotted “forever” writing bic pens that were 10 for a buck.  They were guaranteed to write no matter what.  None of the other pens made that kind of promise, and they weren’t on the best seller list like these ones were, either.  How could I go wrong?


Even though I had several little notepads to keep track of my spending that I had brought from garage sales and the like, I was going to get these pads because this time I was definitely going to keep track of my spending.  Right there.  Right now.  I also want to put my spending for the month in my budget monthly book, so I can see on at least one page, from time to time, where my money is going.


Writing down all my spending so far this week or so, I could see that I had spent $79.29 so far.  That’s from not budgeting from McDonald’s, Family Fare and Walmart.   I guess I just figured, oh well, I will just put it on the credit card.  So, I figured I will limit my McDonald’s spending to $2 and my Family Fare money to $5.  I will have to write a list ahead of time of the needs from Walmart and stick to that list.  No junk food and no pop.  I figure if I write down ahead of time, budget and estimate what I will spend I should be good.  At least think about what I am spending instead of after the fact.  Not just throw everything in the cart, ring it up and then after I have spent the money write it down in my notepad.  I want to write it down before I even hit the cash register at the store, know what my budget is and then plan and edit out my spending accordingly.  I still need to separate my wants from my needs.  I definitely need to lock up my credit cards and put them away before going shopping.  It should be a cash only endeavor.


I know I need to keep track of the little things such as bus fare and printing out fees I need for my blog.  I need to write those things down as they do add up from time to time and figure out the best way to get all those things together and find a way to save more money then I already have.  I need to think ahead of time of how I am going to use the bus and the printer at the library ahead of time and find ways of not using those expenses at all or at least trim down the expenses.


Saturday seems to be a hump day for me.  I know if I can make it past Saturday I am pretty much smooth sailing from there.  I don’t spend too much Sunday, Monday or Tuesday.  Wednesday, Thursday and Friday are mostly no spend days as I spend the majority of my time at Hope Center Clubhouse unless something comes up and then I know I have to be extra careful that I don’t whack out and spend.  I know I will definitely spend if I know I have a credit card to fall back on.  And I won’t just spend on the credit card but it will be a big spend that blows my budget out of the water.  I have to have a set amount of cash on me and that is it.  That is all I will spend.  That is usually around $20 or so.  I set aside $20 a week and $100 a month.


If I don’t have the money for a big ticket item, I should plan accordingly and know how I am going to save up for that big ticket item.  Not just put it on the credit card, but to think about exactly what I am doing.  For example, if I am saving for a car, I put $192 a month in a savings account and $200 a month into stocks.  I have substitutes so I don’t buy junk food or pop.  I try to buy as little food as possible and live on what I got.  I try to go through my food pantry before I buy more food.


I like to say to myself just because I have a day off doesn’t mean I have to go out and spend.  I try to think of as much stuff to do at home as I possibly can such as reading, writing and cleaning up and organizing my apartment.  Sometimes I can just go to a friend’s apartment to listen to music, watch tv or just sit around and talk.


I am carless so I don’t have to set money aside for gas, insurance, maintenance or repairs of the car.  The bus fare is adding up so I have to be careful of that.  I should walk more if I have to especially when the weather is nice.  When I pay bills such as phone and utilities, I have to walk there.  I could just mail those bills, but the price of stamps are going up too.  As much as 50 cents or more to buy just one stamp.  The bus fare is only 50 cents a ride.  I do mail my rent and credit card bills.  I managed to get a local bank that is close by so I can walk there, if I need to cash a check and put it in my savings account.  I also get my quarters from them too.


I am especially going to have to keep track of my spending during the holidays, vacations and special occasions.  I can’t just whack out and spend blindly putting everything on my credit card.  I need to keep thinking about delayed gratification and not have spontaneous spending.  I need well thought out strategies to save money and not to spend any more than I have to.


I know I will need to brainstorm ways to track my money.  I need to track transportation, food, pets, bus fare, printing, misc. spending, ect.  I need to put it all in one section of my budget book and study it very careful.


I know I want to keep a spending diary to track what went wrong, what went right and more important how does it make me feel?  What lessons have I learned from this tracking whether they are positive, negative, ect.  How can I purposely plan ahead to prepare for spending traps and find better ways to save and spend money.  I should plan a week ahead to see if I can prepare to save and fail to spend.

I try to look at my track spending booklet 4 or 5 times a day and not just record what I spend afterwards but before, so my spending is premeditated. I want to look at my budget book at least once a day and have a meeting with myself of what went right, wrong or whatever.  Am I on track with my financial goals?  A meeting of what happened, what will happen and ways to prevent spending.


Before I go into a store, I want to estimate how much I will spend instead of just spending and then writing it down.  Did I go over or under or somewhere in between?  To give myself an allowance of what I will spend at each place that I go to – Family Fare say $5, Walmart make a list of what needed and estimate an allowance for that.  Make a future list, if needed, so next time go to store have a list ready, ect.

St. Mark’s Free Dinner – Third Thursday of the month – 5:30pm to 6:30pm

There are many free church dinners out there and even dinners at a reduced price that help out good causes, you just have to find them.  I usually find them in the Paw Paw Flashes, a community like paper that people put their want ads in. One such free dinner advertised in the Paw Paw Flashes that I like to go to is the St. Mark’s dinner on the third Thursday of the month at 5:30pm to 6:30pm.


St. Mark’s is located in Paw Paw, MI on South LaGrave Street on the right.  It is a big white church building with a steeple.  They usually have signs advertising their free dinner Thursday event around the church property.  The free dinner is on the third Thursday of the month from 5:30pm to 6:30 pm.  It is located in the basement of the church where there is a kitchen and a dining room with lots of tables and chairs.


Homemade food is served in bulk such as taco salad, pasta dinners, hamburger and cheese casserole, Turkey dinner, soups, and stews.  To drink comes water, juices, and punch.  Different types of drinks like that.  Side dishes include cole slaw, pasta salad, cherry pudding, and strawberry jello.  If that’s not enough, St. Mark’s also serves desserts.  The desserts include a long table of cakes, cookies, ice cream, fudge and chocolates.


Let me remind you, this is a free dinner served every third Thursday at St. Mark’s church in Paw Paw, MI from 5:30 pm to 6:30 pm.  They usually have enough for everybody that goes there and even supply seconds if wanted or needed if it is not too crowded of a night.  In case an extra meal is needed they do have to go boxes so you can take home a meal if you like.  You can either eat there or carry out or you can even do both if you want to.


At St. Mark’s there are plenty of tables and chairs for people to sit and have their dinner.  People from all around go there and it is a great place to meet new people or just gather with the regulars.  A prayer of grace sits on every table so you can just read that before eating your meal.  Thanking God of this good and gracious meal or just say your own grace but a little prayer sits at every table if needed.


The volunteers there are very nice.  They will wait on the people at St. Mark’s and get you whatever it is that you might happened to need for an enjoyable meal.  St. Mark’s serves their meals at the kitchen and we have to wait in line to be served a plate at a time.  The volunteers put our food on the plates and then we go and sit down to wherever we like to sit.  After that we usually go get something to drink and a dessert.  They have plastic bowls, plates and plasti ware with napkins.  You have the option of washing your hands with the sanitizer that is available if you want to.  They also have a bathroom in the basement in case duty calls.  Overall the dinner is a great place to sit around and talk.  It is a great place to socialize.

The volunteers will tell you about the latest happenings at the church such as the rummage sale in the summer and the Cookie walk during the Christmas Holidays.


The Rummage Sale has crafts and jewelry with lots of homemade stuff – knitted gloves, pot holders, and scarves.  At 11am on the last day of the rummage sale you can get a bag of stuff for $2.  Lots of good used clothes, shoes and stuff.


The Cookie Walk comes during Christmas time with oodles of cookies placed on rows and rows of tables.  They have all different kind of homemade cookies.  St. Mark’s provides three different types of tin cans at three different prices.  Last time it was $6, $12 and $18 per can.  Fill up the homemade cans with lots of homemade cookies.  Walk around the tables and get your cookies.  The Cookie Walk way!


At St. Mark’s they have a bulletin board of what the church happens to be doing.  They have all different kind of dinners out and places to go.  The bulletin board basically tells you what is going on at St. Mark’s Church.


St. Mark’s has a parking lot for the cars that drive there. They have a couple of handicap parking spaces for those that need them, but even then the non-handicap parking spots aren’t too far away from the church as it is.  After dinner sometimes people stand around to see what the latest happenings around the area and elsewhere was.  I am carless, but St. Mark’s is close enough for me to walk there.  It is also around a good time so I don’t have to worry about walking home in the dark too much.


As far as I know, you don’t have to go to church there to eat there.  They seem to welcome everybody.  I know a couple of people from the Freshwater Church that volunteer at Freshwater Church for Bagels and Coffee, another free event on Monday mornings from 9am to 11am at Freshwater Church, also volunteer at St. Mark’s Church.  I sometimes get my free breakfast at Freshwater Church which is also walking distance from my place and socialize.  They also help with work, welfare and haircuts.  My friend’s mom gives free haircuts the first Monday of every month at Freshwater.  They also have Senior Services at Freshwater.  You can get a good home cooked lunch for $4 at Senior Services at Freshwater.  They have Lydia’s closets also at Freshwater where they help out with clothes and coats.


St. Mark’s is like the soup kitchen but with much better meals, side dishes and desserts.  Good place to go!  Be sure to bring a date! Ha. Ha.

Eleanore’s Food Pantry in Paw Paw, MI USA

There’s a little place in town that helps people out who need a little kick in the grocery bill.  Once a month, you get about a month’s worth of food and sometimes to drink, to help out with breakfast, lunch and dinner.  Sometimes snacks and drinks are provided too.  So, if a little low on food stamps or if you have to choose between medicine and food there are places to go such as Eleanore’s Food Pantry that make life a little cheaper and easier.  Eleanore’s is open Monday through Friday – Monday and Friday from 10 am to 1pm and Tuesday through Thursday from 3pm to 6pm.  It’s a little old shack at the end of LaGrave Street and take a left past the cemetary on the right. Eleanore’s is on Drew Street.


Freshwater (the old Middle School in Paw Paw, MI) also has a food pantry sponsored by Hardings Grocery Store.  They meet every Monday and Thursday at 1:15pm by the basketball courts.  They ask that you not be earlier than 1pm.  They call themselves The Porch.  They have signs near the basketball hoops in the East Parking lot, 600 East Michigan Avenue in Paw Paw, MI. You can take whatever you want there but they ask that you use what you take.  They don’t have as much as Eleanore’s but they do have a big supply of food.  Some of the food the Porch provides are:


  1. Bread
  2. Fruits
  3. Vegetables
  4. Soups
  5. Lunch items to pack

The stuff they provide does get you through the week or so.  They might provide extra bags but should bring your own just in case.


Some of the foods Eleanore’s provide for the month include:


  1. Eggs
  2. Cheese
  3. Yogurt
  4. Oatmeal
  5. Fruits
  6. Vegetables
  7. Frozen Meat
    1. Ham
    2. Pork
    3. Chicken
    4. Fish
  8. Peanut butter
  9. Jelly
  10. Medical supplies
    1. Headache
    2. Colds
    3. Allergies
  11. Shampoo
  12. Deodorant
  13. Toilet paper
  14. Scott towels
  15. Cleaning supplies


Eleanore’s Food Pantry and Freshwater are great places to go for low income help.  They both have bulletin boards with United way, Senior Services, taxes, financial classes, 411, utilities, and housing help. Freshwater has coffee and bagels on Mondays from 9am to 11am to help out with all low income troubles.  Eleanore’s hands out flyers that advertise Church rummage sales, free clothes, free dinners at St. Mark’s (every third Thursday of the month from 5:30pm to 6:30 pm. They are located on LaGrave Street) and other churches such as Lydia’s Closet at Freshwater.


Lydia’s closet is sponsored by United Christian Services.  They are opened Monday through Thursday from 9:30 am to 12 pm at Freshwater.  You can call or email at 269-415-0767 or St. Mark’s has great home cooked meals, nice drinks and good desserts to choose from.  They are located right down LaGrave St. on the right.  The big white building with a steeple on it.


At Eleanore’s, Little Ceasar’s donates pizzas and crazy bread.  The pizza lasts longer when put in the freezer instead of just in the fridge.  They have cheese bread, pepperoni pizza, cheese pizza and crazy bread to choose from at Eleanore’s.  Sometimes they allow you to have two to three pizzas at a time depending on how many pizzas they have, but usually it is only one per person per household.


Sometimes, especially during the season, they have extra produce that people donate from their gardens.  People sometimes have big gardens and will donate either to Eleanore’s or the Porch.  Some fresh produce that have been donated include:


  1. Tomatoes
  2. Squash
  3. Zucchini
  4. Cucumbers
  5. Onions
  6. Green peppers


To help out Eleanore’s Food Pantry people give their receipts from Family Fare.  They collect so many receipts and get $1,000 at a time.  I try to give what I can and tell everybody I know about the Family Fare/Eleanore receipt program.  It doesn’t cost anything except to shop at Family Fare and collect receipts to give to Eleanore’s Food Pantry.  Sometimes I do give my receipts to the Catholic Church, St. Mary’s of Paw Paw, MI.  It helps both places out tremendously.


Since I have been going carless, I do rely on Public Transit to take me to Eleanore’s Food Pantry.  I take my suitcase to put my months’ worth of food in.  The suitcase is big enough for me to put a month’s worth of food supply in there. I take my chair so I can wait for the bus.  Eleanore’s lets me use the phone so I can call transit to come and pick me up when I am ready for that.  I go on Mondays so I have plenty of time to ride to and from Public transit.  Public transit lets me go on the lift as the suitcase is usually too heavy to just go up the bus stairs with.  Eleanore’s does have a nice waiting room with plenty of chairs, drinks and snacks.


The Porch is a lot closer to me than Eleanore’s Food Pantry.  I haven’t yet tried to get food from them without a car.  I imagine I would have to bring a suitcase so I could just roll my food around and back to home.  The old Middle School is closer to me than the St. Mary’s church so I could just walk there sometime.  It is Monday today and I forgot about coffee and bagels to get some water and a sweet treat to eat.  I would still have to wait a while before 1pm rolls around and I could get my free food.  Eleanore’s food pantry is usually enough for me.  I think I will wait a couple of weeks before going back to Eleanore’s and getting my month’s food supply.  My friend gave me some extra pork chops and pork steak from the grill that I put in the freezer.  I have been taking those out and having for dinner along with some free apples that I got from Hope Center.  Life’s been pretty good!

Public Transit and the Loop Bus of Paw Paw MI


Since going carless, I have discovered a great service in the town of Paw Paw, MI.  Their business is picking up as they like to say.  I have been using public transit since I moved out of my parents’ home and even while living in my parents’ home since 2006 to go to Hope Center in Hartford, MI. For two or three days a week I would sit out in the morning and wait for the public transit bus.  I had the system down to a science even in the dead of winter of below temps.  Now I have a new science to prepare waiting for the bus I used to just get up and go by car.  I am now just starting to learn the times transit is available and to know to try to start early in the day especially if I want to go to two places or so.


I am glad we have the loop bus, as it is called, as it does a lot of people a lot of good.  People have a chance to get to work, go out to eat, shop, go to school, appointments or to wherever they need to go for good, quality transportation for a good quality price.  Public transit and the Loop bus is especially good for many of us who don’t have ready access to a car.  The price to get on board is from reasonably affordable to exceptionally cheap. Free for people 60 and over, 50 cents for disabled people and a dollar for “regular” people or those that just don’t fit in with the above.


I am glad we have the loop bus to take people all around Paw Paw, MI.  If scheduled a day or two ahead of time (by calling public transit at 269-427-7921) you can even go to Kalamazoo, MI for doctor’s appointments and hospital visits.  There are bus stop signs where the loop bus regularly arrives and departs.  They will even give you a schedule of the bus stops if you ask for one.  You can even ask for a bus card for easier convenience of paying for Loop bus rides.  I personally get my quarters from
Arbor credit union where I can get 10 bucks worth of quarters at a time.  I make sure I have my quarters at the ready so I can pay for my ride without having to fumble around for change.  The signs with the departure and arrival lists are helpful as they show where to wait for the bus.


They have dollar rides for times needed to be driven outside of Paw Paw town area.  I have used the dollar rides to ride during the loop bus’s lunch break.  I was waiting to be picked up from Eleanor’s Food Pantry which is a flex route.  This means that you either have to tell the bus driver you are going there or call Public Transit and ask to be picked up from the flex route destination.


When using the Loop bus, I find it is better to be a lot early than a little late.  They stop for no one and they wait for no one too.  The Loop bus goes on every hour on the hour from 8 am to 6 pm, Monday through Friday and 8am to 3 pm Saturday and Sunday.  I will have to look at the bus departure sign on that.  It has the hours as well as the phone number to call Public Transit if anyone needs to.  This is on all bus stop signs.


The Public Transit and the Loop Bus accommodates handicap people by having a special place for walkers, wheel chairs and even servant dogs.  The bus chairs are pretty new, neat and comfortable.  The Loop Bus and Public Transit Bus have a lift for the bust to carry up people with wheel chairs and walkers.  Sometimes, especially when going to Eleanore’s Food Pantry, I sue the lift as the items I am carrying are too heavy for me to lift upstairs.  Between waiting for the bus and actually arriving at my destination it can take about 45 minutes.  Sometimes I use this time to read, write or talk to other people if I know someone or meet someone new.  I can also look out the window to see the scenery or what’s going on around the Paw Paw, MI area.  I have my own special chair that I use to go walking around town or to sit on whenever I am waiting at the bus stop.


Some of the places I have gone to using the Loop Bus and the Public Transit Bus include:


McDonald’s (Restaurant)

Family Fare (Grocery Store)

Burger King (Flex Route) (Restaurant)

Walmart (Discount Store)

Library (Flex Route)

Van Buren Mental Health

Bronson Health (Doctor’s Appointment)

Walk a Mile In My Shoes (Rally for Mental Health in Lansing, MI)

Hope Center (Hartford, MI)


Public Transit and the Loop Bus saves the Planet with less carbon foot prints.  They also make life a lot easier especially for the lot of us who don’t have ready access to a car.  I don’t plan on being carless forever but having the loop bus makes it easier for me to save up some money for a car that I know I will like and will be reliable.  I also have extra money to put aside for a car since I am not paying for gas or even car insurance.  I also don’t have to worry about whether or not the car breaks down.  Not only if the car breaks down but how am I supposed to get the car to my mechanic.  I guess I would have to at least tow the car to the mechanic and hope they will be able to fix it.  If I have to leave my car for dead then I would have to go through the whole cycle of having to use the loop bus to save more money up for a car.  Thank you for the Loop Bus and Public transit.

Getting Ready For Halloween in 2019

Halloween comes every year.  Year in. Year out.  It’s the same old thing, almost like all the other holidays, except a different theme for a different year.  Spooky, scary stuff galore.  Trick or treats, pumpkins, ghosts and goblins everywhere.  It’s only the end of September of 2019!  We just started our hunt.  Not a witch hunt, but a Halloween hunt for the scariest stuff for the best price!


The first stop of many comes to the Community Thrift Store of Paw Paw, MI.  They have a 30% off store wide sale going on this week.  Not much Halloween stuff here that we can find, but we are just getting our feet wet.  My friend looks for a garland, but none to her satisfaction or even price range.  She ends up getting some curtains for her apartment and a pretty lot of clothes.  I end up getting some notebook paper and a foot massager to match the one that I have.  We miss her doctor’s appointment, so it is shopping day for sure!


The next stop is just down the road to the Community Thrift’s sister store.  A nice little second hand store specifically for the holidays called the Holiday Store.  It is in Paw Paw, MI also near the eastern end of Paw Paw.  There are some garlands, but mostly Christmas garlands and not the fall or Halloween garlands my friend is looking for.  She finds a nice wedding dress and a feathered theatrical mask.  For my friend’s discount, she has to draw a card out of a choice of five cards.  She gets a four of clubs for a total of 40% off of her purchase there at the Holiday Store.  Her total purchase is a mere $7.  She plans to use these items to dress her deck for a scary, Halloween feel.


The third stop is the Dollar Tree on West Main in Kalamazoo, MI.  A lot of knick knacks of Halloween accessories fill the aisles. Tombs, chains and little plastic fences catch my friend’s eye.  She would like to surround her deck with the grey and black plastic fences. She waits, though, as she might find a better sale at 5 below.  A store where nothing is above $5. It is strange how Dollar Tree went from Halloween to Christmas and skipped Thanksgiving.


The fourth stop is 5 below and is right next to the Dollar Tree on West Main in Kalamazoo, MI. The have a demonized hanging “people”.  One is a witch, one is a clown and the other I really can’t remember.  I do know my friend picked the clown to put in the wedding dress she bought at the Holiday store.  This device was just a mere $5. She also got a lighting device that was battery operated to put in the window to make her deck even scarier looking.


The fifth stop was the Halloween City in West Main in Kalamazoo, MI.  We know we aren’t going to get any good deals here, but we look here anyway to see if we can get any good ideas off of them and find a deal somewhere else cheaper. We are a little early for them as they haven’t set up all their stuff up yet. They did have some creepy crawlies out and some other Halloween stuff.  We look for some battery operated devices since my friend hasn’t found an outlet on her deck so far as she can see.  We walk out not buying anything but we were very entertained by what they had even though not everything was set up yet.


The sixth stop was at Menard’s on 9th street in Kalamazoo, MI.  They had a lot of scary stuff at Menard’s that wasn’t too pricey.  They had a whole range of stuff at different price ranges. My friend looked at some different garlands there but wasn’t satisfied with either the length of the garland or even the price.  There were headless horsemen, witches dolls and everything in between.  My friend was especially interested in the projectors there and is thinking of coming back for one since she found out she had a plug for her porch she could project images on. Of all the places to get projector’s she found that Menard’s was the best place to get a projector for quality and price.


The seventh stop was Family Dollar on West Main in Kalamazoo, MI.  Not much scary and spooky stuff like at Dollar Tree and 5 below.  My friend looked at some of the garlands there and she wasn’t impressed.  I found some little animal toys for my beta fish.  They were 75% off.  I got a hooting owl, squirrel, dancing monkey and a couple of other birds that made chirping noises.  I just put them around the tank for the fish to look at and maybe hear.  I got a “mirror” devices such as a picture frame and a tissue box holder that let the fish look at themselves while they are swimming in the water.  I got the mirror devices at the Community Thrift store for a dollar for the tissue box and 50 cents for the picture frame.  It was a $1.50 total for the mirror devices with a 30% off too.  The only place I saw mirrors was at 5 below and they wanted $2 for their mirrors.  I found a mirror in a bird’s toy package at Walmart for $2.97.  The fish really enjoy looking at themselves in the mirror while they are swimming around.  We didn’t find anything good and scary at the Family Dollar Store.  They mostly had fall stuff.


We went to a lot of good places for our Halloween hunt but we didn’t go everywhere there is to go in the Paw Paw and Kalamazoo area.  There is the internet and online shopping. I haven’t experienced shopping on the internet with my friend but I am sure she knows the places to go and has a method to her madness for that too.  She really likes to shop and knows how to get the best deals.


Other places we still need to shop include:


Goodwill – Paw Paw, West Main and Westnedge of Kalamazoo, MI.

Dollar General but they are probably like Family Dollar with not much other stuff such as the Dollar Tree and 5 Below in Kalamazoo.


Dollar Tree in Paw Paw, MI. Again might be a disappointment unlike the Dollar Tree in Kalamazoo and 5 Below and even Menard’s.

Walmart in Paw Paw, Nine Street and Westendge of Kalamazoo, Michigan.


Meijers, and even Target.


Garage Sales and Flea Markets of Paw Paw and Red Arrow Highway going from Lawrence to Kalamazoo.

Nobody cares more about your grades than you do!

“But the dog really did eat my homework!” says the student.


The teacher can really lose your work or anything can happen to your paper so you just get a big fat zero for your grade point average intake.  It’s always important to keep track of your papers and have those papers handy to show the teacher that you did do the work and actually got a grade on it.  This way you won’t get any more zeros than you have to.


It’s good to check with teacher every once in a while to see if there is any discrepancy between the grade he is giving you and what you thought you should get.  If you have any zeros, see if you can make up for them, do another paper or even get extra credit. One hopes that you would be able to produce the paper that you supposedly got a zero on and it was a pretty good grade on the paper.


Make sure you know what your homework is for the day or even in the future with what the teachers like to use called a syllabus.  Syllabuses are great as they are a plan of what the semester is going to be like and what homework and tests that will be for class.  It tells you what to read, study, tests and homework that will be had for the following weeks in class of that semester.


Try to be at least a day ahead of the syllabus, so when going over what is supposed to be learned ahead of time and not learned after the lecture for the class is over.  A lot of Math classes do things exactly by the book.  If you have a question of what is in the book you will be able to ask that question while the teacher is giving the lecture.  If you read the assignment after the lecture might not get a chance to go over what you had a problem with in the book or be able to clarify any questions you might have had while reading and taking notes on the book.  This also makes it easier to take notes if taking notes from the book and the lecture.


Always use tutors and extra help if necessary whenever you can.


Back in the Stone Ages, when Al Gore hadn’t invented the internet yet, as of now, these days, a lot can be learned watching youtube videos and other sites on the internet.  The internet can show different ways of learning of what needs to be learned in the class that you are taking.  Not only the internet but specific sites such as Youtube, Pinterest, and wiki pedia.  These might not be reliable sources to use for a paper but you can still learn from them.

One thing to clarify with the teacher is if the teacher is grading between points, percentages or at least what the teacher’s grading scale is.  A lot of times 90 – 100 is an A, 80-89 is a B, and so on and so forth. This is standard but not every teacher goes by the basic grading scale.  He might have his own grading scale and you should be able to know by asking him specifically what that grading scale is.  You could also get graded on the curve where every point and percentage counts.  I would ask how he grades on the curve also.  There are different ways of grading on the curve. Make sure you get all this clarified with teacher.


For instance, I knew someone who got a 45 ½ out of 47 which the teacher said was a 95%.  When we divided 45.5 by 47 we got a .968 or so.  I think that should be rounded off to 97%.  Two percentage points is not a lot but I would keep an eagle eye on this teacher.  I ask this person if she knew how to average and she said no.


This brings me to another point:  You should know how to calculate your GPA or grade point average by knowing how to calculate averages.  One teacher’s 95% could be an A- while a 97% could be a solid A.  We know that an A is 4 points, a B is 3 points, a C is 2 points, a D is 1 point and an E is 0 points.  Knowing the teacher’s grading scale is important and some are really off the wall.


So let’s say we are going to be nice to teacher and let her have the 2% points of 95% instead of 97% and keep on doing just that:


95                                           97

84                                           86

75                                           77

65                                           67

319                                       327


319 Divided by 4 = 79.75  while 327 divided by 4 = 81.75


While the one 81.75 might be a solid B and let’s say the 79.75 is a C+.  The one would be a 3 point grade average while the other would be a 2.5 grade point average which could have been a 2.75 if a B-.  If we rely on teacher then he can do whatever he wants since he is teacher and you’re not going to say anything but swallow that 2.5 grade point average instead of a 3 point or even a 2.75 grade point average.  Of course, if you can beg, plead and cry for an A instead of a B that would be all the better.


I wish I was more careful about my grades.  It would have made my life a lot easier.  I could have gotten into the classes I wanted to get into, the college and the job.  I might have played sports a little longer if I had gotten better grades and I might have been a different major in college if I would have looked out for my grades.  I think a lot of things would have been different.  I hope things will go better for your education if  you have learned anything from these tips.

Life after working

In Purposeful Retirement by Hyrum W. Smith he wins the debate that it is not such a bad thing to retire after all.  Retiring should be seen as a gift.  A gift of time, family and community.  The problem is that people must first learn to recognize the fact that they are retiring.  Sometimes retirement comes unexpectedly when we are not really ready.  But you must be aware that you are retiring and pretty much know what you are doing.  When the time comes, the time comes and it usually does come sooner or later.  Gone are the days when people died with their jobs. People change careers, jobs and the like many times.  I think people should be prepared for that.  Almost like a steel worker ready to go on strike at any moment.  People should start saving for retirement as soon as they start working and maybe even sooner.  Right up there with saving for college, house and car.


Could you miss actually not working?  I know my Grandfather Kubla said he didn’t know how he ever worked with so much time doing other things like playing bingo and watching the Price is Right.  He also kept up with his garden.


Back to Purposeful Retirement though. He says there are two camps to retirement, the ready and the unready.   Those who have prepared to retire leave their jobs gracefully. They step out of the office, turn off the lights and never look back.  The unprepared usually retire kicking and screaming.  The clinger to their jobs as if nothing could ever be left.


When you retire or if you have already retired do you ask yourself how did I get retired and what do I do with this gift of retirement.  People who retire early, statistics show, die young.  But that is usually because they not only retired from their job but they retired from life.  Smith recommends that you be aware that you are retired when retired and don’t retire from life.  He recommends that you not only take this gift of time and gift of opportunity to live as you never have before.  This is the time to start doing the things that you have always wanted to do. To redirect life and to choose to do so much more.  Now is the time because now you would have time, if retired.  Maybe have a new career change of something you always wanted to do, make time for family and to give back to the community now that you would be able to.  Smith says that when retired you should think about all the people who need your time. It’s time to think about how you are going to spend your time now that you don’t have to worry about work anymore.  It would be time to let go of the title and to realize that you are not your job.  It would be time to do all the things that you wanted to do.  Change can be a good thing depending on how you look at it.


With that, Smith talks about belief windows. To take that retiring can be something bad but something good.  The belief window affects every thought every day.  Change your belief window and you can change your life.  Don’t feel sorry for yourself that you had to retire, learn to adapt to the beauty of life and what it has to give you.  All the beliefs in the belief window influences behavior.  Some beliefs that make retirement seen as a bad thing are the beliefs that unemployed people are lazy, good values come from hard work, important people have important titles and if I am busy then I am important. These can be the way you see the world which can be very bad and need to be taken out of the belief window. You can change what gives you value.  Where are your values?  Must find them and be aware of them.


I used to think not having a car would be a bad thing.  But now I feel really liberated not having to worry about paying for gas, car insurance and maintenance of a car.  I took the public transit with all the other people who don’t have cars and found it to be a simple and pleasurable endeavor.  We have a loop bus that goes all over town.  I didn’t really feel too bad about walking to church and walking to the store to buy some food and dog food for the dog that I am dog sitting for a while.  I carried my cart and put all my things in it and rolled all my stuff back home.  I told my friend that I am saving up for a car as I don’t like making payments.  Making payments, I have calculated, makes the car costs 3 to 4 thousand dollars more.  So I have made a plan to save up for a car that could take up to three years as I am only putting aside $417 a month for the car.  But if I put in the gas money and the car insurance money that should be even more money put aside for a car.


I have always had a car.  So doing without one seemed like the end of the world.  But if I change my belief window and come up with other ways of dealing with what I usually used a car for things shouldn’t be so bad.  I live in town but I would say it is about a good two miles from the library and some mile or so to McDonald’s.  I can still walk to church and I am setting up a new checking and savings account at a bank that is nearby.  I will have to make a few adjustments but if I learn to adapt and change my belief window things shouldn’t be too bad.

The Big Book of Less could mean more

Irene Smit and Astrid VanderHulst have come up with a collection of a book called The Big Book of Less.  They have a whole chapter of how doing nothing is an art and how artists, particularly the impressionists artists, have captured the beauty of resting and relaxing.  They say that taking time out for yourself was once viewed as being lazy and a cardinal sin. As it is right up there with gluttony, slothfulness as painted cherishes the peace, love and joy of taking the time to relax.  In today’s fast paced modern world sometimes it is needed to remind yourself to take a break every once in a while.  But that might be before or after you get everything done.


Impressionists’ artists show us how to look at the world differently.   They have lots of paintings of people near the water and on beaches.  One also might be under the shadow of a tree.  She is resting and relaxing, not doing much of anything but enjoying the surroundings she is in.  Being on vacation seems to be the norm of these impressionists’ paintings as they don’t really show the hustle and bustle of a fast paced big city life where money is everything.  A lot of down time is shown as well as basically resting and relaxing, pretty much doing nothing at all.


The Big Book of Less says, “The impressionists elevated the joy of delicious nothingness to an art form.”


The impressionists inspire us to laze about too as such their paintings do.


In the Big Book of Less there is a chapter of a small dose of happiness.  An herbalist says how looking at the trees, plants and flowers gives her happiness.  She explains that there is so much to see in nature.  It brings her joy in that she can never tell what is going to come her way.  She knows spring brings in new crops while the fall season is a season of change.


She says, “I discover new things every day.”


She goes about that there are so many goodies growing under our noses but when in doubt, don’t eat the plant, she warns.  Some plants that she looks for are wild nettles for soup and wild garlic for a nice omelet.  There are so many good nutrients growing in the wild she says.  She brings her daughter to learn what the wilderness has to offer.  She makes teas, pesto, soups and tinctures from the wild plants that she gathers together in their environment.


The Big Book of Less brings so much to enjoy from the Arts to the Wilderness but they also talk about how silence gives a sense of new freedom and peace.  It clears your head of cluttered thoughts, relaxes, and organizes what you are thinking or planning and sometimes lets new thoughts arrive.  The authors claim that having a moment of silence helps to get ready for a new day.  Almost like meditating but just sitting there doing nothing and enjoying the morning sunshine or even an evening of the sunset.  They warn you might feel a sense of withdrawal from not having so much noise around.  It is nice to be able to do things gently and without a fuss.


Although problems can still arise they believe you will still remember what your problems were if you set another time for them but not during your moment of silence.  Avoid talking about problems for a while especially when in a moment of silence.  Let them gather together and try to get them all out at once during an assigned time specifically for problems. But during a moment of silence it is time to enjoy the silence of peace, joy and tranquility.  Make another time for problems, the telephone or even email. Conversations can build up and wait until there appropriate time to deal with them.  But when in the moment of silence it is just that – Relax, enjoy and cherish the silence that you have.


I find the Big Book of Less fascinating and interesting.  It has a different way of looking at time management.  People seem to worry so much about time, money and getting ahead that they don’t stop to smell the roses or even enjoy what they have.  The grass always seems to be greener on the other side.  When I was going to college and getting a career I was too busy moving ahead that I didn’t stop to think what it was giving me.  I never stopped to think about what the purpose of studying all the time and working all the time had in store for me.  I just wanted to make money.  I didn’t budget or even think about retirement.  I was living paycheck to paycheck and not knowing what I wanted my money to do for me or even where my money was going.  I don’t think I took even a minute to stop and enjoy life the way it was.  I was thinking that there always had to be something better.


I never thought of laziness or slothfulness as a sin.  I wasn’t brought up that way and it was never really mentioned in church.  We always made time for family and would always go back to PA to see the Grandparents.  When I finally made my break of leaving the nest I never really made time for family or even find people in my life to devote my time to.  I never thought about enjoying the wilderness or looking at art to see how other people view the world.  I didn’t take time to focus on those things.  I was too busy focusing on making money and having a career.  I never considered that I could go down and that there are people in the world with less than and more than I had.  I believe that I should take my moments of silence and figure out what it is that I really want and find that some of the best things in life are free such as enjoying a moment of silence.

Do you have happy money or sad money? It’s your choice………….

In Ken Honda’s Happy Money book, he talks about having happy money and/or sad money.   There can only be two kinds of money and that’s it, happy or sad.  He sees money as a type of energy that flows from the person giving the money and receiving the money.  Money can help people or hurt people, but it is good have a positive relationship with your money.   To be aware of the energy that is being passed along to the people you are giving and/or receiving your money from.  Energy is passed along to others as they are using money to do what it is supposed to do.  Is your money helping others?  Is your money serving others?  What does your money do?


Money brings emotions, according to Honda, more than we realize.  We could feel helpless, powerless and / or defeated.  The bills to pay for our expenses could overwhelm us to an extent that a meager paycheck might not cover it all.  One has to know where the money is going.  What type of energy is being passed along?  Negative energy brings unhappy money and therefore brings in an unhappy person. Positive energy brings happy money and therefore a happy person.  It’s all in the attitude and relationship with money according to Honda, Japan’s bestselling Zen Millionaire.


In building a relationship with money, we should think of money as our friends doing good things for good people.  Honda says to not think of money as the enemy, to welcome money into our lives and to enjoy money as we would enjoy a good, healthy friend.  We should keep collecting happy money with positive energy by giving away freely, to feel the joy of helping others and to serve others.  We should receive positive energy and appreciate positive energy as it is given to us as well as we give to others.


Honda starts to wonder how he could spread around happy money to give the love, joy and peace money circulating throughout the world can bring.  He wants to make happy money and not have sad money in his wallet.  When doing that one looks at life in a totally different way.  It transforms the relationship we have with our money.  He stresses there are two types of money to be aware of and that is happy money and sad money.


Money to do good services and promote the well-being of others while having a happy purpose brings about happy money.  Honda says that money can help people in a way that nothing else can.


Money when used begrudgingly, and/or used to do something didn’t want to do, stolen money and even money to pay off credit cards and other forms of debt are all examples of unhappy money.  Money circulated in frustration, anger, sadness and despair are even more examples of unhappy money that form a bad relationship with our money.  Stressful events, aggravation, money that brings about depression and sometimes violence while also depriving people of dignity, self-esteem and gentleness of heart are forms of negative energy we can have with our money.  Therefore makes for unhappy money.


The energy given or received determines the flow of money.  Honda says it is your choice of how you think of things.  Unhappy money makes for unhappy people.


When our money becomes so overwhelmingly negative and we have so much unhappy money making us therefore very unhappy, it tends to cloud our thinking.  We ignore bills, ignore our money and don’t even want to keep track of it. Money problems tend to pile up to the highest of the mountains to such an extent we don’t even realize how much money we really do have.


Honda says that it is not those with unlimited amounts of money or even the super-rich that have happy money rather, it’s those who figure out how to change their attitude toward money and the relationship with money by healing their past wounds associated with money who seem to feel the wealthiest, regardless of what they have.


I think it all goes back to thinking before actually spending money.  If we come to terms with ourselves by asking will this make me happy spending this type of money or even giving away this type of money or will it make me sad?   I think we have to ask ourselves what this money will do for me.  Seeing a money as a tool to get us things instead of just hoarding money for a rainy day.  I think even a budget or a money plan of what we are going to do with our money would help us to have more happy money than sad money.  Keeping track of our money and knowing our culprits of what is sad money and somehow turn it into happy money.  Seeing the big red flags of money wasters helps to make more useful happy money.  Knowing what we want and what we want our money to do helps make more happy money than sad money.


Even minimalism would be a good thing to have just what makes us happy and not have all that clutter messing with our minds so that we can do more of what we want to do instead of doing more taking care of things that don’t mean anything to us.  Getting rid of the fat and slimming things down to a point where we are not wasting money or even time.  Writing things down on paper helps to figure out just exactly what do we want to do with our money?  To respect our money and not let it just fly out the window without even knowing what actually happened in the first place.  To think ahead and use money as an investment to save even more money or to even make more money.  A minute of planning is worth ten minutes of execution. Comparison shopping and even waiting for a good thirty days or so to make sure we know exactly what we are doing with our money.

What are the purposes for your minimalized home?

Minimalism is a basic form of life to let you live more of what you have.  A lifestyle of declutteredness.   To be free of excess stuff and to focus on everyday goals of knowing what is needed and what is not.  Such as the Marie Kondo method, one asks does it spark joy.  If it does, then one should keep it and if it does not, then the choice is to somehow, one way or another get rid of the darn thing.


The Becker method and the Kondo method expect these things to be done all in one shot.  Room by room, going through all this stuff.  Just getting rid of what is not needed, what has accumulated over the years and sometimes haven’t been looked at in ages.


Decluttering is one step that needs to be taken.  A minimalist approach is a good approach to take, I think, for me anyway.  But dusts gently forms and grease, grime and even mildew settle on the kitchen sink and even on the bathroom sink it gets pretty nasty if haven’t been taken care of in a while.  The kitchen sink and bathroom sink are needed.  You can’t just minimally throw those things a way.  I mean you could but where would it get you?


Of course, the fly lady says you can’t clean clutter.  So, decluttering one way or another does need to be done whether it is called minimalism or not. But I have found that clutter constantly continues to accumulate.  It is a living, breathing monster that just keeps growing.   The junk mail keeps coming in and of course, the newspaper has to be read.  Even dinner eaten, along with snacks and even just something to drink causes clutter to be abound.  You can’t declutter these things all in one shot and expect to be done with it.


The battle of the house needs to be fought every day.  But when?  How?  It seems that the best approach is whenever and however you can.  As the secret slob, a follower of the fly lady system, has said a little bit of something is better than nothing at all.  It all adds up over time to be consistently, slowly but surely getting something done as opposed to getting so overwhelmed as to not do anything at all.


Steph, the secret slob, sums up the fly lady system which we both swear by, as Routines, Zones and the House blessing.  I have put into practice the six habits that I have put into my morning routine and a zone of each of my apartment into my evening routine.


The six habits include making my bed, shining the kitchen sink, dressing to shoes of which I have added showering, shaving and taking care of clothes, exercising, hot spots and another thing of which I can’t remember what it is.

Hotspots are good for that place that always gets dirty and/or cluttered up.  My place is in the living room of which, I eat and open up my mail.  I threw two garbage bags of mail while cleaning up my hotspot.  I will be going over that hotspot again tonight when I do my house blessing which is due every Saturday.  That is where I put all five of my zones and devote 15 minutes to each zone.


My zones are the Kitchen – on Monday, Bathroom – on Tuesday, Bedroom – on Wednesday, Dining room – on Thursday, and living room – on Friday.  I take Sunday off.  I devote just 15 minutes to each zone.  This makes sure that I get everything slowly but surely done.  I don’t have to devote all my time to cleaning.


I have a journal I call the bettering my apartment journal.  I write down my plan for the week.  I keep that journal open for my morning routine and check off each thing that I got done.   I have so much more time now for things like writing in my blog and writing songs on my guitar.  I still have to make a to do list for all the free time that I have now.  I still have red flags of time wasters such as sleeping, eating at McDonald’s and taking breaks where I am just sitting there on the couch doing nothing for 15 or 20 minutes or so.


I noticed that the secret slob doesn’t take breaks.  She just hurries up and gets everything done as quickly as she can.  She watches out for perfectionism and knows that it is good to at least get something done.  She says she used to take hours cleaning the house but now with the fly lady system and a timer she gets it done in under an hour or so.  She even has a five by five system which she uses when she has unexpected company coming over in less than an hour.  She devotes five minutes to each room of the house and then when the five minutes are up she goes to the next room.  If a section gets done before the five minutes are up, she devotes her extra time to the place that needs it more such as the kitchen.  She says it is a life saver and people think her house is pretty clean. Nobody really notices that it was just a rush job and that she just hurried up and cleaned the house.


I notice that she doesn’t take breaks and that she doesn’t procrastinate either.  She gets her morning routine done the first thing in the morning.  Right when she wakes up she makes her bed and goes down the list of her morning routine.  She says it gets to be habit and easier once implanting the routine.  It is down for her right now to just go over the list without even thinking about it.  I guess it still needs to be written down and checked off to acknowledge that it did get done. It is not as time consuming as when she first started out.  I guess it is good to get it done first thing in the morning while you still have energy and it feels like that you have accomplished a lot without really doing anything.