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If you live in a hurricane prone area, every May and June, you are urged to prep for the upcoming Hurricane Season. I’d like to share with you my top ____ must haves for Hurricane Prep.

I’ve been through 4 very rough hurricanes. Three of which occurred one after another in 2004 (Charley, Frances, and Jean). This past hurricane season, we were “visited” by Irma.

I’ve been joking for years that I’m a would-be doomsday prepper, but Irma hitting Florida was a wake up call for me. We were very blessed with the minimal damage our property received, but I had a completely different experience with this hurricane vs. the three in 2004.

In 2004, I was a Junior in high school. My dad had purchased a generator 3 months prior to the hurricanes hitting for a job site that didn’t have power. We were connected to City Water. My cell phone service provider was Nextel, which all the Emergency Response crews had. So we had the ability to plug in the microwave, refrigerator, coffee maker, and charge our phones. We still had running water. And because my cell service was the one all the Emergency Response crews were using, I never lost cell service.

September 2017, my husband and I own our own home. We hadn’t purchased a generator yet. We have a well, that requires power to run. My cell service provider now is AT&T…things went quite differently for me this time. I can deal with no A.C. a lot better than some people. I was more worried about my fridge and chest freezer. I could walk down to my in-laws to charge my cell phone. Not having running water did suck. We do have a pool, so I could use pool water to flush the toilets. Also we could use the pool to rinse in and take “Florida baths.” Not being able to call or text my mom to tell her I was okay was probably the most difficult part of the whole experience for me.

Anyways, spending the day after Irma had done her damage, cleaning up and figuring out the next step, was eye-opening and I started making a mental list of stuff to help prepare for the next hurricane season.

1. Candles/Lanterns/Flashlights

We were without power for only 28 hours, not too bad really, but once the sun goes down, the house gets very dark. I seriously thought I had more candles than I had. NOPE! Flashlights are great, but candles are also acceptable. Especially those tall, 8 inch, sanctuary candles from the Dollar Tree that burn for 80 hours. *DO NOT LEAVE BURNING CANDLES UNATTENDED*

2. Easy snacks, food, and bottled water.

My husband and I joke about how peanut butter and Chef Boyardee always go on sale at the beginning of hurricane season, but they are great things to have in the pantry if the power goes out. Peanut butter can be eaten straight from the jar. Chef Boyardee can be eaten cold or warmed on the grill. Another staple would be Pop-Tarts. Empty calories and comfort food. We didn’t lose anything in our freezers (very well insulated), but not really thinking ahead was a mistake. Bottled water is an obvious need, especially if you live on a well and the pump doesn’t work without power (and you have no hand pump) or if city water goes on a boil water notice.

Yes, we had fresh veges and fruit, and bread and peanut butter, BUT it’s not the same as having Little Debbie ® snack cakes and potato chips…Calories don’t count during crisis mode, right?

3. Generator and several full gas cans

Find some money in the budget and buy the damn generator. It’ll save you having to throw out ruined food and you can plug a fan in to stand in front of. Some insurance companies will reimburse for lost food if the power’s out for long enough. I don’t want to contemplate having to deal with that. I’d rather be proactive and try not to lose food.

4. Battery-powered or crank radio

In talking to a friend of mine, who is in no way a prepper, but she likes being prepared, she mentioned purchasing a hand-crank radio was going into the budget for next hurricane season. (We’d gone through Irma together.) And she’s right.

5. Mindset

Mindset is more important than you think it is. You can be physically prepared (gas, generator, bottled water, candles, flashlights, etc.), but if you’re not mentally prepared nothing will calm your nerves.

I’ve been through 4 hurricanes in my life. Three of them were back to back in 2004 (Charlie, Frances, and Jean), and then Irma in 2017. And let me tell you, they were completely different experiences. Re-read the beginning of this post if you’ve forgotten.

6. Books, board games, decks of cards

You’re going to need something to keep yourself entertained if the power goes out. We’re so addicted to our smartphones, that we risk running the battery down on Facebook, Pinterest, YouTube, etc. without a way to charge our phones. Also if the power’s out, so is the wifi, genius.

Other Social Media:

TFAPCG FB: https://www.facebook.com/talesfromapolkcountygirl/

Crafts by Cori FB: https://www.facebook.com/Crafts-by-Cori-163136173711522/

CBC Products ETSY shop: https://www.etsy.com/shop/CBCproducts

Knitting All the Blankets YT: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCbwh5oIhRXL83y___mL2gSQ

Knitting All the Blankets Ravelry: https://www.ravelry.com/groups/knitting-all-the-blankets-podcast

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It’s a new year, fresh budget, and time to reset my cash envelope wallet.

[embedyt] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WIyJBr22H9g%5B/embedyt%5D

TFAPCG YT: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCwETw4Z0geZ52u9AErAZJwg

TFAPCG FB: https://www.facebook.com/talesfromapolkcountygirl/

Crafts by Cori FB: https://www.facebook.com/Crafts-by-Cori-163136173711522/

CBC Products ETSY shop: https://www.etsy.com/shop/CBCproducts

Knitting All the Blankets YT: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCbwh5oIhRXL83y___mL2gSQ

Knitting All the Blankets Ravelry: https://www.ravelry.com/groups/knitting-all-the-blankets-podcast

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Everyone likes to save money. Here are some possibly unconventional / new ways for saving money in different areas of your life.

1. Check out the Bakery Clearance Rack at your local Grocery store

My local Wal-Marts have awesome finds at their Bakery Clearance racks. I normally pull full Italian bread loaves for $0.53 a piece!!! I cut each loaf in half, wrap them in aluminum foil, and freeze them. One of our favorite scores was finding 4 dual packs of garlic bread (6 slices per pack, so 12 total). Each 6 slice pack is in its own bag, so that 8 bags of garlic bread. I can’t make bread from scratch for cheaper than that. I know some people have issues with processed bread and wanting to know what goes into their food. To each their own. We keep our freezer stocked and haven’t thought about buying bread in a few months! Why aluminum foil and not plastic bags? Plastic is NOT an oxygen barrier*, foil is. This will help keep freezer burn down.

There are other goodies available on the clearance rack, BUT the last thing my waistline needs is clearance donuts! The Hubs usually has to drag me away after I’ve snatched all the bread deals and start picking up the donuts.

2. See what the highest deductible you can have on your homeowner’s insurance.

This may depend on your insurance company, but I do recommend checking with your insurance company to see what the savings would be if your deductible was at the max. And what to do if you to deal with a deductible that high? You have your Emergency Fund funded to at least the deductible amount. (I personally recommend having your Emergency Fund funded to up to six months worth of expenses OR enough to cover your deductible OR better yet BOTH!)

3. For scratch paper or filler paper for your planner, find cheap notebooks.

I’m always on the lookout for cheap filler paper for my planner. When I do find notebooks on clearance, and the paper is good quality, I buy it, tear the paper out, and cut it down if necessary for my planner. Examples: steno-pads found for a quarter, Casemate journals for $0.50, etc. My planner takes 8 inch x 5 inch paper, and finding Steno Pads on clearance so far is the best. Some other places to keep an eye out for cheap journals and notebooks are Marshalls, TJ Maxx, Stein Mart, Big Lots, Tuesday Morning, and Ross. The various Dollar stores may also have some acceptable paper (i.e. Family Dollar, Dollar General, Dollar Tree).    

4. Health Insurance Rewards

This may vary from insurance company to insurance company, but check with them to see if their online interface allows you to earn rewards to lifestyle changes, check ups, wellness assessments, etc. I have Florida Blue, which awards points to various things. If I go to the gym 100 times in a calendar year, I not only received $150 rebate on my insurance costs, but I earn points toward rewards. Unfortunately, Blue Rewards is ending at the end of the year, so I’ve been redeeming my rewards points for Amazon gift cards!! Whoot whoot!

5. Borrow, Trade, Barter, and Share

This is an old school way of doing things, but it works.

If you’re just getting into a new hobby, and a friend has been doing X for awhile, as to borrow some of their equipment. I did this when I first started canning. I borrowed a friend’s water bath pot and pressure canner to make sure this was something I wanted to purse. I do, so I’ve asked for my own for Christmas.

If you’re really good at one thing and a friend is good at another, trade skills or goods. I usually “pay” in food when it comes to having manual labor done on my property. Another one of our friends regularly barters ribs and pulled pork for my husband’s help with truck repairs.

*Line credit to Burt Gummer, from the Tremors 2 movie.

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Setting financial goals is important for many reasons. Some as simple as maintaining a budget so you don’t overspend. Other reasons include saving for specific reasons and goals.

My husband and I have several financial goals:

  1. Save $7,000.00 (minimum) each year for Household needs like homeowner’s insurance, auto insurance for my vehicle, auto insurance for his truck, property taxes, and tag registrations for both vehicles. I keep a list of all the amounts that get paid from this account, so if it starts getting too low we can add more money to the account. This is also the account we put money away in for remodeling and upgrades to the house or saving for our next vehicle.
  2. Fully fund our respective IRAs ($5,500.00 each, $11,000.00 total). This is a non-negotiable for us. We want to retire as soon as we can, and not have to worry about having money for retirement. The savings account we have designated for Retirement funds always has money being automatically deposited in it because we have portions of our paycheck automatically go into this account to save up the $11,000.00. Should we have the fund automatically going into our IRAs, so it earns more compound interest monthly? Probably. But I’m a control freak and am not comfortable with any company (utility or finance) having electronic access to my account that I didn’t authorize. We save up the $11,000.00 and then do once a year deposits.
  3. And go on a nice vacation once a year (minimum $5,000.00 saved). While we were paying off debt, we didn’t take vacations or even days off of for stay-cations. And we burned out bad! The last couple of years, we’ve saved up for one big vacation each year, and were able to pay cash for them. The average cost of our trips have been about $5000.00, but we usually are able to save up any additional needed funds fairly quickly.

We recently fully funded our Emergency Fund, so that Financial Goal has been crossed off the list! Whoo!

As stated in several previous financial blog posts, my husband and I live on one income and bank the other, which is how we are able to save and meet our savings goals. If having multiple savings accounts isn’t feasible for you, go old school and have mason jars or piggy banks for each goal.

To get started, sit down (with your spouse, if married) and discuss what you’d like to see your money put towards. Both of you get a say in this. One person does not get to dominate this. If your Emergency Fund isn’t fully funded, I encourage you to make your Emergency Fund your first savings goal.

Everyone’s savings goals will be different. Some of you are saving up for a house down payment. Others need to think about your next vehicle. Maybe you’ve got a baby on the way and you want to put money aside for diaper or formula emergencies or medical bills. Dream vacation to Fiji or Italy?

Make a plan! Try to allocate money in the budget to your savings goals. Or if you use the cash envelope system, take any leftover money at the end of the month and put it towards your savings goals. That’s what we do with our leftover grocery and house envelopes. All leftover monies go into our House Upgrades envelope. Some months there’s quite a bit of money to move, other months there isn’t.

Communication, dreaming together, making a plan, and finding ways to live below your means make a great start to meet your financial goals.

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