What I’d Do If I Ran Into Financial Trouble

I started thinking about this again after reading Our Next Life’s post on how this year’s market madness is affecting their early retirement planning goals. It’s certainly a thought I’ve had before; my employment is now secure for at least the next few years and I suspect it’ll be fine beyond that, but you never know. Many people have written about their layers of backup plans for financial shortfalls caused by layoffs, freelance ups and downs, or market issues during early retirement with no full-time income stream. I share some of those common plans: specifically, I agree it’s a good idea to develop one or four freelance income streams, even quite small ones, so that if things go south with your main income in a big way there’s at least SOMETHING coming in.

But what if it were a bigger issue? What if for some unforeseen reason I couldn’t get full-time work I wanted and therefore couldn’t afford to maintain my current exalted standard of living? Continue reading “What I’d Do If I Ran Into Financial Trouble”

Some Stray Thoughts on Debt Freedom, Cash Flow, and Money Anxiety

I’ve been experiencing an uptick of anxiety the last few weeks. In the grand scheme of things it’s no big deal — really! That I’m noticing it at all is an indication of how chill I’ve been for a while now 🙂 I know where it’s coming from: first, my job situation for next year will be up in the air a while longer (I’ll have a job, just not sure which one yet); and second, I’ve gotten involved in a civic controversy which is taking up a TON of time, contributing to my being behind in work, socializing (except with the people I’m working with on the controversy), and things like calling my parents on the regular. I have been on local TV a few times though!

Continue reading “Some Stray Thoughts on Debt Freedom, Cash Flow, and Money Anxiety”

How I’m Filing My Taxes This Year

1040taxactThis is a sponsored post in partnership with TaxAct, and is provided for a general audience. It is not intended to act as professional financial advice. All views expressed are solely my own and based on my own experience.

Financial True Confession Time! Those are always fun. Y’all know how I did my taxes up until two years ago, the year of our lord 2015? By hand. That’s right.

There was one year when I paid an accountant, but every other year of my adult life I did what my dad’s always done: got the forms — which, kids, used to involve going to a public library or post office to collect them, then sometimes going back when you forgot to get everything you needed, back before you could print them off the internet — then sat down with a pen and filled them out. Continue reading “How I’m Filing My Taxes This Year”

Zero Food Waste 2016, Week 6

zero food waste challenge 2015

Hello all! I was at my uncle’s funeral last week, which was sad, of course, but I’m really glad I went. It’s also thematic with the zero food waste concept because deaths tend to create a lot of food. People were dropping things off at my aunt’s house all week, and then there were huge leftovers from the funeral reception (which my uncle’s company paid for because so many of his co-workers wanted to come.)

Do y’all have any creative ideas on saving the leftovers from funerals, weddings, etc? I think so often these big events produce much more food than the family can eat. Sometimes a local community will take leftovers like this, although typically it would be a shelter or informal church group, because this is prepared food that needs to be stored/packaged properly and eaten right away, rather than being the kind of thing that can be handed out at a food pantry. Has anyone done this successfully? Or have more ideas?

Continue reading “Zero Food Waste 2016, Week 6”

Zero Food Waste 2016, Week 5

zero food waste challenge 2015OK, but seriously, I need to update the graphic….

Anyway, I think winter is kind of an easy time to not waste food. For one thing, anything perishable seems especially precious right now. Summer, when the gardens and markets are (sometimes literally) overflowing, I still dislike waste, but it seems a little less urgent than now, when produce means so much more effort on someone’s part. Either it’s transported a long way, or it’s been saved in cold storage, or it’s been grown in a greenhouse and nurtured along. So I really feel motivated to make the most of it.

For another thing, I just eat less fragile stuff in the winter. The only berries in the house are safely frozen from last summer. When I buy greens, they’re very sturdy — it’s all kale, no spinach or chard, right now. Lots of sweet potatoes, squash, apples, things that can basically sit around for months if I don’t get around to them. Plus pantry staples: dried beans and grains are core parts of my winter diet, as are canned tomatoes.

Groceries

Meijer
Dental floss, $2.95
Soap, $2.59
Cabbage, $1.07
Parsley, $.89
Mint, $1.99
Carrots, $2.39
Dijon mustard, $3.29
Raisins, $3.79
1 lb walnuts, $8.99
Ketchup, $2.69
Cream cheese (x2), $4.00
Yogurt (x2), $6.00
Total with tax, $40.12

Whole Foods
Cara cara oranges, $2.07
Coffee, $1.29
Scones, $3.55
Total with tax, $6.90

Grand total, $47.02

What I Ate

Unexpectedly, I traveled for a funeral this week, but I knew about that before I shopped, so I bought less than I might have. The usual steel-cut oats/raisins/nuts/yogurt/blueberries for breakfast, and I decided to eat peanut butter sandwiches for the two work lunches I had to deal with before I left for the funeral. Snacks: apples and Cara Cara oranges (since the latter were on sale, and they’re delicious) along with chocolates someone gave me for my birthday last week. Finally, I hacked together this recipe out of several I found online. It was kind of inspired by rice-stuffed grape leaves, but I wanted more protein, and I wanted to know if cabbage leaves would work instead (more nutritious, less expensive.) It worked out pretty well. I also tried a few with some spare swiss chard leaves I had around and that was even better, so next time I’d just do that, probably.

Vegan Cabbage or Chard Rolls With Rice and Lentils

Cook some lentils — ideally a kind that holds its shape pretty well. Maybe 1 cup dry.

Dice or grate 2 medium onions. Heat a generous amount of olive oil in a pot and saute some pine nuts until brown (just about a minute) then add the onions and saute for five minutes or so until they soften. Add 1 cup rice along with cinnamon, dried dill, salt, and a handful of raisins or currants. Saute for a minute, stirring until the rice is coated in oil, then add 1.5 cups of water. Cook over low heat with the lid on until the water is all absorbed. The rice will still be a little underdone.

Stir the lentils in, along with a handful each of chopped fresh mint and Italian parsley. Optionally stir in a handful of toasted walnuts or almonds. Check the seasoning.

Optionally, cut some tofu into long flat strips. I also threw some diced ginger into the rice mix, and I liked it, but others might not.

In a dutch oven, heat some water to a low boil. Drop in whole cabbage or swiss chard leaves just for a few seconds (10-30) until they wilt a bit. You need them to be flexible/soft enough to roll. Pull them out with tongs and drop them in a bowl of ice water to stop them from cooking further.

Make rolls: lay out a leaf and put some rice filling in it, lay out a tofu strip on the rice, then roll up into a tight package and put in the dutch oven, seam side down. Pack the rolls (layers are fine) until you’re done. Drizzle a tablespoon or two of olive oil over the pot, along with the juice of one lemon and a pinch of salt. Then add about a cup of water to the pot. Bring to a low boil, then turn it way down and put the lid on the pot. Let it cook for 15-30 minutes until the water is all absorbed/evaporated.

You can serve with a variety of condiments. I just used salted yogurt but if you leave the tofu out a quick tomato sauce would probably work really well. Something garlicky 🙂