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I am Sandra - faithful steward. listener. shepherd. dream believer. hard worker. collects brass bells, boots. Jesus follower. contented. star gazer. homemaker. farmer. prayer warrior. country woman. reader. traveler. writer. homebody. living life large.

Monday, December 30, 2013

2013 Year's End Post

~ Miss Emma ~
Do you celebrate Hogmanay? Read my post, here, for more information. I don't but that's mainly due to the fact I keep my front gate locked -smile-.

It's year's end and a lot of people are busy making plans and resolutions. If you're a long time reader, you may have read what Daddy has to say about New Year's Resolutions: "If you're living the way you're supposed to live every day, you don't need to make resolutions that you're probably not going to keep anyway."  Amen.
~ Levi Lilly ~
So, I  make no resolutions but do make goals and steps to achieve those goals. A year ago, December 11th, I began a two post series entitled PDS - Pretty Darn Smart, Part 1, of how to dream dreams, make goals and see fruition. The series continued January, Part 2, and now, a year later, I'm looking at what I hit, what I missed and what I simply forgot. Overall, the biggest lesson learned has been to print off that valuable information and keep it in front of me. Out of sight, out of mind and not realized. ouch

I was hit or miss (mostly miss) on the Wife to Widow book and, truth be told, I got discouraged. In July, I met with two book publishers and both said, "Great idea but not what we're looking for." I've since met with an independent agent and she suggested self-publishing but I'm not sure I'm capable of that learning curve.  Do I put all the information on the 1 Wife to Widow blog or print into a spiral bound book form? My original intent was to teach classes, using a 3-ring binder for myself and participants so each would have everything they need to prepare their affairs. I'm not sure what to do; what's your opinion, which would you prefer and why? Please help me make a wise decision.
~ Tippy and Gypsy ~
These last few days have found me reviewing my finances and making decisions on what to cancel, what to keep or delete. For example, today I canceled Direct TV for a purely financial reason. I'm paying $959.40, yearly, to watch no more than half dozen television shows and that averages $159.90 per show. I'm not sure but that might be obscene with Bill Gates' money! So, I canceled and, of course, they told me I'd been a good great customer for more than thirteen years and they wanted to give me $10 off each month.

Big Whoop and I don't think so. For $959.40, I can fly, round trip to almost anywhere I want to go in the world. For that same money, I can buy a truck load of movies and for $7.99 a month, I can rent as many DVD's as I want every month through Netflix. (I lack the bandwidth watch movies on computer.)

The nice young man at Direct TV wanted me to "save more money by bundling" which is another way of saying "gotcha!" Maybe it works for some folks but I refuse to bundle; I refuse to be caught in a loop where the contract date is different for television, telephone and internet. When I want to cancel one, they say, "You can't without paying a huge fine to get out of the contract and the contract dates are different for each. HA! The only thing bundled around here is laundry.
~ Sadie ~
I'm not suggesting you should cancel your cable television but I am suggesting you review your finances and see if there's money you're spending here, you'd rather spend there. I'm already looking at where I could go with that same money...a sunny Caribbean beach sounds fabulous, as I sit here, watching the snow pour.

Earlier in the year, I reviewed my land line telephone and dropped that bill by $25 a month or $300 a year. I was paying for stuff I didn't even know I had nor how to use! I also had to replace my mobile phone and, unfortunately, only had the choice to purchase a lesser quality phone due to the monthly amount I want need to pay. I would love to have a fancy smart phone but, around here, it makes no sense but should I ever move to a less rural area, I'll research a better phone.
~ Sam and Tom ~
Here's how I look at money as a tool...the basic Straight Talk phone costs $50 and $30 a month for the call plan. The basic Jitterbug phone costs about $30 and the basic monthly plan begins at $15. The first year, the Straight Talk phone costs $410 and the Jitterbug costs $210 and Jitterbug has a 30 day return policy. After that first year is over, the yearly cost is $360 for Straight Talk and $180 for Jitterbug. Guess what? I just talked myself into saving $200 a year! I've never been one of those people who are impressed with what someone else has; especially when they're treading water due to credit card debt. I'm not impressed with what kind of car someone drives; rather, is it safe, reliable transportation? Does a person provide for their family? If yes, that impresses me; if no, the Bible says a man (woman) who won't provide for his (or her) family is worse than an infidel. I agree. Like Dolly Parton said, "I'm not offended by all the dumb blonde jokes because I know I'm not dumb and I'm not blonde."

If you've been thinking about identity theft insurance and heard the LifeLock commercials, you should know this: LifeLock charges about $150 a year (single) and Zander charges $75 (single) plus Zander provides more and better coverage. Wow, seems like such an easy decision when put in black and white numbers.
~ part of my small flock ~
The only reason I'm telling you about some of my personal financial decisions is to help you think about money. Money is a tool, just like a vehicle, and it can take you where you want to go...but you have to have a plan. Mom and Daddy brought us up to give the first ten percent to God, save the second ten percent and we could spend the remainder. It's a plan I follow today and have found I've never run out of money for my needs and, often, have enough to pay for my wants as well.

Dewena, Across the Way, recently blogged about her decision to stop blogging and I found her post interesting. Especially in light of the fact I've been thinking along similar lines. I don't want to stop blogging but I do want to change directions; I'm spending the next few days pondering directions.
~ dressed for chores ~
I trust your Christmas was memorable, in all good ways, and New Year's will be safe and sane. God's blessings on you, yours and the work of your hands and heart.

Blessings ~ blog world ~ readers ~ smart financial decisions ~ saving money ~ spending wisely ~ dreams ~ goals ~ plans ~ travel ~


  1. Amen to your Dad and New Year's resolutions. When I need to change something I try to change it right away and not wait for an arbitrary date. Besides Jan 1 is Wednesday and that's dyeing day so no staying up and partying the night before!
    I hope you don't stop blogging. I love reading your blog!

  2. Great post, wise woman and great mom and daddy advice!

    Waiting for a date (Jan 1) to make a change just doesn't seem to work for me. Instead, when I recognize I need to make a change in something, I DO IT NOW!

    Happy New Year Sandra . . .

  3. Sorry I have not kept up on your "Wife to Widow" blog, you have some very good info there, enough to get me thinking what info I need to provide for my children, some has been done already. I think a book would be great but if you just do a binder and teach a class, how much demand is in your area or would you have to travel and add to your expenses.

    Don't stop blogging you would be missed maybe change to weekly or semi monthly posts.

    Love your picture posts ...

    Whatever you decide to do in the future I wish you a very Happy New Year.

  4. Hi Sandra! I love the photos of you well-loved animals. You are a smart live- er!

    Love your header with the sun shining through. Tis beautiful.

    Considering the finances is very wise. So glad you have shared.

    I haven't used XULON Publishers, but have a friend that has. She was pleased. They participate at the yearly Christian Book Sales Conference. Might be a good thing to check them out.

    Blessings to you!

  6. Don't stop blogging! You have a story to tell. We are all connected by our stories. I hope you find your direction in the New Year and may your Story help someone find theirs.
    Happy New Year!

  7. Happy new year, Sandra. ♥ And that photo of Levi Lily is beautiful.

  8. I know nothing of publishing, but off the top of my head, I would keep going on pursuing it. You have proven you have an eye for developing. So many people out there struggle with some of the same things, maybe not emotionally, but perhaps financially when catastrophic illness occurs, or a spouse has to be placed in a nursing home, and they didn't see it coming, and were not prepared in any way. Here is a long shot, but perhaps a series of seminars at places like The Cove, in Asheville, Billy Graham central? Or Focus on the Family, or Crown Financial for Widows? No idea how you would connect with any of them, but they do serve single survivors. I know some people build you tube bases, with now paypal options, and get paid by the videos watched. Check with Wendy Welch in Big Stone Gap, at the Little Book Store, they have a blog, she could probably tell you about being published, her book was published. Finally, the only other thing I have heard is that you need an agent to publish, you. No idea if that is true or not. We had our cable turned off almost 14 years ago, and have lived with vcr tapes, then Dvds ever since. I miss the weather channel, the history channel, and nothing else. You could not pay me to go back to being blasted with profanity or tv commercials ever again. I still read :) .

  9. Most lovely animals, shepherd-sister!! Congratulations for your thoughts and work - God is with you - blessings for the coming new year!

  10. oh, I am half asleep this morning, almost 17 years cable free here!

  11. What a great and inspiring post for me this morning dear Sandra.

    Thank you and may you be continually blessed in all that you do.

    Love, hugs and prayers ~ FlowerLady

  12. I love your blog Sandra and please don't stop! Keep your dream with the Wife to Widow book and I think the binder is an excellent idea. I know I also have not follow it as I probably should we grow older we just never know what the day will bring. I would be so lost if I lost my dear husband of 48 years and he does handle so much of our finances.
    We have cut back on many things also this year and even this month too. We cut back on our Dish Network but it is our only choice for internet and television. We even get Atlanta TV on it which the commercials are not relevant as we live in North Carolina. One thing I learned is the No forgiveness insurance policy in North Carolina in effect since the 1950's as advertised on GA television. I had a small car wreck and it increased our car insurance $60.00 per month. That is one big price increase and the only way to take it off is for me to turn in my driver's license. We had two tow charges from the last 5 years and they kicked it into effect because of that.
    We have the Wild Blue internet Dish offers, it is much faster than the Hughes Network we first had.
    We cannot get any North Carolina news stations as I would be happy with an Asheville,NC station.
    Our weekly newspaper does not cover much free thinking politics so election time we are lost to who to vote for and have to do a lot of our own research.
    I love seeing your farm photos and I know how hard you work. I don't know if I could do it.
    You are a Blessing and Inspiration to me and others! May you have a wonderful 2014.
    Blessings, Cyndi

  13. We have been doing similar things here ... evaluating what to keep and what to cancel. Your advice, as always, is spot on.

    Here's my two cents about blogging ... a blog is about whatever you WANT it to be. Yours (and mine) are about life as it happens, not an artificial theme that must be followed, blah, blah, blah. I feel so sorry for theme bloggers who can get stuck having to do or complete things in order to blog about them to gain followers, ad revenue, etc.

    I told this to Hilary at Crazy as a Loom earlier this morning, and I will tell you, too. What you write here is a trail for others to follow. Things that may seem depressing to some will be uplifting and enlightening to someone who needs to hear what you say.

    Rethink your direction if you must, but I think it's just a function of rethinking and retooling your life as a whole.

    Hug those sweet fur-babies of yours for me. Sending wishes for an abundance of blessings for you in the new year.

  14. Hi dear. Excellent post. We think alike regarding finances. No debt. Always save. We're saving now so we can buy a small piece of land outright, no loans. It's a fun goal :)

    The book -- I've published on my blog, and I've published as an e-book. The thing is, if you really want your books to be read and used by people (and I think you certainly do) you probably need a paper copy, and you'll have to be the book's big cheerleader. I like the idea of your teaching the book, with a binder guide, in classes. Talk about making the book/info useful to people! But you probably need to work up your audience first -- not so much a reading audience, but a group of women (or men) who need this info, who are going through bereavement, who would come. They are your readers. Your book is so much more than just a book to read for "enjoyment" and then put back on the shelf. It's a book to USE, to change your life.

    We got rid of our land line phone about 5 years ago. Out of a $35 charge monthly, $12 of it was TAXES! Ugh. And our friends never called on it -- only the telemarketers used it! We seem to function fine with cells only. We then switched our cells from Verizon/ATT, to having trac phones, and that has cut our monthly phone costs in half yet again. It seems our economic culture is one designed to milk all the money out of people possible, I'm sorry to say. It's a constant battle to save money and live wisely.

  15. I just discovered you a few weeks ago and hope you'll keep blogging. I love your honesty and openness.

    Blessings... Sara

  16. All excellent advice, of course. The most important thing is to be as debt free as possible. Like so many others now, we are living debt free, plus cutting back on "utilities" and other monthly charges. It's amazing how little money we need to survive and enjoy life. I still enjoy my DirecTV but I hear that the happy news is that satellite TV may soon be a thing of the past. So many programs are moving to (drum roll please) THE INTERNET! Where they should be. No commercials. Pay only for what you watch, etc. Pretty cool, huh? I think HULU is one place that's available but don't quote me. When our contract is up with DirecTV, we're seriously thinking about having it disconnected and just go internet. Some programs I will not do without: motorcycle racing and Fox Business News. Can't get rid of our landline because it carries the internet (small, local phone company and they said "Nuh uh" to that idea) but if I could I would.

    Hope you can continue blogging. I know what a chore it can be but we do all so count on your thoughts. I know no one counts on mine but I share them anyway. [giggle] I wish you could publish the Wife To Widow advice. That outreach is so important.

    Happy New Year my friend! Hope your day is a warm and safe one. ((Hugs)) to all your furry family. ~:)

  17. I've been a follower of your blog for some time now. We've communicated by email, and I think I could call you a friend if we lived close-by. We've laughed with you, cried with you, shared your joy and grief, and have all walked away a little wiser from the experience. I'm happy that you aren't saying goodbye today. Not only do we need your weekly offerings, but you need us too. I think the book will be a needed and useful tool. Who knows what the future holds. If something should happen to Handyman, I'd need to turn to my friends who've been there. I am shamefully unprepared for widowhood, and old enough to know I should prepare for the possiblity!
    I think those publishers were wrong. Perhaps it's God's timing, and He will answer you. Research Christian publishing more.
    We don't have cable, and could kick ourselves for getting smart phones for a 2 year contract at a whopping $140 a month. Yes, the old 'bundling' trick.It's nice to have unlimited calling and texts, especially with kids overseas, but weighing the cost.... Hub wanted data. He needs data like he needs another thumb! We have high speed internet at home and enjoy SKYPE for free overseas which would suffice. We've become a nation that thinks we must have information RIGHT NOW all the time whenever and wherever we are. No rest for the wicked! I believe the companies that make the most money are the ones depending on the stupidity of Americans.Like us.
    I don't make resolutions. I try and prepare myself each day to do my best, and ask God for more faith to make me strong so I can face whatever He allows in my life whether its us or one of the kids, I pray for them too. We have no strength in ourselves above what He gives us, and that, He says, is enough. My thankfulness grows each year with age. I do battle fear as I observe the ungodly things taking place daily in our country, but the Bible speaks to each of these things as things to come, and they have come. I've also read the ending, and I know who wins. You've never made any bones about what you believe, and your faith in the face of adversity has also strengthened me. Funny how many times you've told us about how God has answered your needs, and we rejoice in that here in front of our computer screens.There is quite a 'community' here in blogdom. We need one another.
    I'll close by saying that I hope we get to meet one another face to face, and I know if it isn't here it will be in eternity. I'll know you; you'll be wearing something you knitted with your own sheeps wool. :D Until then, I wish you a coming year that gets easier for you as more time passes and that decisions become easier as opportunities present themselves through God's provision.
    I think I've just written a book myself. ;)
    I'm thankful for you.

  18. Sandra, a wonderful post as always! Happy New Year!

  19. I agree with Daddy! Hubby and I are working over our spending and looking at many ways to cut. What do we really NEED anyway?

    One bundle you do well....bundling up for chores!

  20. About your book....have you thought about making it an E-book? Easy to access, inexpensive, and those who choose to print them out or use them within their computers or e-readers can do that.

  21. What a wonderful post! I could identify with so much of it as I faced and still face financial difficulties after my sweet hubby passed. I love your style of writing, your wit and humor, your loving heart. I think you should teach with binders. I always found I studied better when given materials-ha! If you have a PDF program on your computer, you can self publish on Amazon e-books and set your price. I want to but do not have PDF....sigh. Happy New Year and blessings to you! Hugs, Kerrie

  22. This was great. I love reading things like this and we came to the same conclusion about all that same stuff too. We didn't even know we had some of the things we were being charged for and can cancelled so much of that junk just on our insurance. When we bought our house we didn't even have cable put in so we have never needed that.
    It is always good to look at finances this time of year because I think some companies spend all year slipping in charges without letting you know. I will be praying for you and the direction you shared today on my blog.
    Happy New Year.

  23. So many things to say here-- wonderful reviews of money and ways to save. I rarely watch tv-- almost always am watching something on Netflix or amazon tv-- so we just pay for the basics.
    I think you are so wise to examine cost cutting measures every way you can--

    About the book-- here's my idea-- print your info in binders and use them to teach classes on a local level. You can advertise one time-- then after that I bet it will be word of mouth. Charge for the class and the binder materials-- you can furnish a few refreshments-/ I'm telling you this class will sell. After teaching classes for a while-- you could give more thought to self publishing.

    Don't stop blogging--- please.


  24. Love this post! On the book idea, I would recommend that you keep pursuing to get it published. I know I would buy it! It is important subject matter that fills a void. Go for it!

    And I hear you about saving money. We have a step up above basic cable. We aren't interested in anything like Direct TV or even Netflix. Quite frankly, there are very few movies made these days that are remotely interesting to us. Once we sold our former place, we did away with a landline entirely. (We only needed it for the security system.) We are all cellular now, including our security. Saves us a boatload of $s. We love saving money on this, that, and the other, and we get to go on some fantastic vacations because we cut out the fat in our normal household budget.

    I hope you continue to blog, but it's always good to reassess direction. I did a pivot last year to start up a photography blog in addition to my regular blog. It has created a lot more work, but it has been immensely satisfying. Follow your heart...

  25. Please keep blogging, Sandra. Maybe just do the Sabbath Keeping posts. They are such a blessing. I know you do have a lot on your plate.

  26. Great post Sandra - we keep cutting a little more each year the closer to retirement I get. I know there are more things to cut and will look more closely this year at our finances. My my but Sadie looks mighty comfortable! LOL Actually everyone does but Sadie the most. I hope you have many blessings in this new year. Hugs!

  27. Sandra, blog posts like this one make me say, nay.... beg, please don't stop blogging ! Even if you blog infrequently. Many probably read your posts and never follow or comment, many will read these posts much later. Either way, you have offered some very good advice and food for thought. I am going to share this on my Facebook page because I think people I know will benefit from it. Happy New Year friend, you are oft in my thoughts and prayers.

  28. If you don't publish your W to W book, I hope you will put the info on your blog - a class with you teaching, and a 3-ring notebook, would be great! BUT I doubt you'd be teaching one near me so I'd miss out.
    I love the picture of your eyes :-)

  29. Sandra, no no no
    I love your posts. I love that
    Sadie, is she a boxer? Honestly,
    we will miss you, please stay.
    Sending you a big hug for the New Year. Yvonne


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