Thursday, May 15, 2014

Managing Money

If I could leave any single lesson with my children it would be that life is not about them. God comes first.

If I could leave them with a second lesson it would be about MANAGING MONEY.

Yahoo Finance has five good rules on handling finances. Even though the article is aimed at recent graduates, the lessons apply to everyone. Here's the summary.

1. Money doesn't grow on trees. Most people never learn to manage money. That's a critical skill.
2. Live within your means. If you can't afford it, skip it.
3. Pay off student loans. Debt is bad.
4. Stay away from retirement cash. At least put as much into retirement as your employer will match. If they don't do a matching funds, put some in an IRA and leave it alone.
5. Be wise with credit cards. Debt is bad.

I think that's a bit complicated.

Financial security can be summed up much simpler, as I did previously in my post Finances and You : Spend Less than you Make. The problem is that you think "Oh, I make $20,000 a year" and so feel free to spend $20,000. That will simply lead to trouble.

I prefer the less ambiguous post I called The One $ Rule: Only buy if you have cash. Yeah - on hand. Not coming in next month or in the next year. If you're wondering how many paychecks it will take to buy that flat-screen TV, well, that's how many paychecks you need to wait to buy it!

If you only buy when you have cash, the rest takes care of itself.

Shakespeare even said it in Hamlet, Act 1, Scene 3 where Polonius is giving his son advice.
Neither a borrower nor a lender be,
For loan oft loses both itself and friend,
And borrowing dulls the edge of husbandry.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Our 2014 Garden

Toss some seeds in the dirt. Add water. Wait a few weeks. Eat loads of fresh food.

Gardening just isn't that simple. We didn't eat loads of fresh food last year from our garden, but we still have hope for this year. In that vein, here's how we're progressing…

Darling was ambitious last year and planted asparagus, a vegetable I was pretty sure I detested. Apparently it takes three years until asparagus matures enough to pick it, which seems like a long time to me, but that is okay. It might die by then.

In fact, over the last few months, I discovered I like asparagus. Who knew?
Asparagus, scraggly tall plants to the left

Our beans and peas are doing well, but I do worry the Houston sunshine will kill the plants before we get a harvest. 

The squash plants are doing great!

Surprisingly, the lettuce is doing very well, but it is early in the year. The Houston sun and heat tends to wilt lettuce as summer roars in.

The cucumbers are doing well, and we have a small watermelon plant, as well as pots of herbs that just love the back yard. I don't  have pictures of everything, but here are a few others.
These might be the sunflowers
Did I mention that Darling planted some broccoli plants?

We also planted potatoes that seem to love growing in the Houston weather. We'll see how they fare as it gets hotter this summer.

Finally, I thought I planted some luffa plants from the seeds of last year's luffa bounty. Turns out, the seeds never germinated. Darling discovered this as she looked at the pots where I put the luffa seeds and saw red roots. We both thought that was odd.

What odd roots you have, Luffa!

Of course it was odd! I forgot (totally forgot) that I also planted radishes in those pots! (I'm a firm believer in crowd planting.) The poor radish is a little misshapen from being crowded with its kin, but that's okay. I was very excited to see this beauty after Darling mailed me a picture.
Our first radish

I didn't get a chance. She ate it for lunch before I got home!

But today she picked THREE more! Aren't they lovely?