Worms and dirt are antithetical to tea, worm compost tea especially for many people. But for someone like me, who squealed with joy when my first order of worms arrived, it has been quite an exciting adventure. Everything about embarking on having an indoor farm has been thrilling and educational.
It all started when I decided to grow an indoor farm. I initially called it tabletop farming since I actually began my adventure on a regular round dining table. The reason I decided to become an indoor farmer were circumstantial.
1. I had no place to grow food outside.
2. I needed to have access to local, organic produce for both health and frugality.
Seed Mama Indoor Farming
So I began what became known as, Seed Mama Indoor Farming. The first few months were devoted completely to growing my crops of microgreens in soil. Black gold, or worm castings are the best fertilizer known to man. When they are used directly or made into worm compost tea, the provide super nutrients to anything that grows.
Soil Is Not A Dirty Word
For a time I switched my growing method to soil-less or hydroponic growing. I didn’t focus as much on fertilizer for that process. But I missed putting my hands in the dirt. So I resumed my original passion. That really made it necessary and desirable for me to learn more about composting. Most important was for me to learn now to make worm compost tea.
Making Worm Compost Tea
Compost tea is not just the liquid run off from worm castings. It has to be ‘brewed’ according to the many recipes I found. So I am just starting to learn this black gold alchemy. I will keep you posted on my progress and let my readers see how magical this potion is meant to be. For now here is a list of posts about making worm compost tea.
Compound cash rewards are an important part of Mastering The System of Extreme Credit Card Benefits. To begin with, the largest perks I have gotten are from the credit card sign up promotional bonuses. They start at $100 each with specific qualifications. Once they are met, not only can a customer receive this bonus in a variety of forms but it is also possible to get the regular cash rewards along with it. Here is the reason.
Increments of $20, $25 or even $50 are the minimum distribution levels applied to most credit card cash rewards. Those are the amounts when regular cash rewards are involved. But when someone receives their promotional bonus, the regular cash reward levels are automatically met. As a result, the initial bonus will include both the sign up promotional bonus and the regular cash rewards bonus.
Sign up Promotional Details
Credit cards require that the purchasing threshold be paid in 90 days to 3 months. I like to complete the process in much less time than that because I often count on receiving these funds to help pay my bills. One way I accumulate purchases while keeping within my budget is to pay all my bills for the month on the new card. Occasionally bills must be paid directly by my bank account. More times than not, I can charge the payment to the credit card I have signed up for to receive a promotional bonus. Between my cable, cell phone, contents insurance, gas, food, prescriptions and even medical bills, I can meet the needed spending threshold within a month. In other words, a card that requires $500 in charges to pay oui a sign up bonus of $100-$150 will net me about 20-30%. Not bad for a month’s work.
Read The Fine Print
One time I signed up for a card without knowing that it did not pay the bonus when the spending threshold was met. When I called the bank to claim my promotional bonus, I was told I had to wait. Their terms are different from any other bank I have gotten a sign up promotional bonus from. Usually I get it immediately. With this bank, I had to wait for the full 90 days. I was not happy about that because it sure put a squeeze on my budget for the month. That was money I had expected to help pay my bills. Fortunately, I would get it next month so it was not a substantial delay. But it was an inconvenience. So be sure to read the fine print or inquire when signing up for a credit card promotion when the bonus is paid out.
Go For The Gusto, Active and Passive Techniques
In my experience, compounding cash rewards is not for the meek. Some of the perks I have gotten have required being rather brazen.
For example, one card had a promotional bonus of $150. I met the terms and got my bonus. Almost immediately after that, a new promotional bonus appeared online for $200. As soon as I saw it, I called the credit card company and asked for the additional $50. They gave it to me! You never know what you can get unless you ask. I like to make a habit of asking as often as possible. Being part of The Former Middle Class living rather frugally is an incentive to explore every possibility to get additional perks.
Occasionally someone comes up with a passive, brilliant technique. For example, using something called ‘card linked offers’, Jim Wang of Wallet Hacks has come up with an impressive, passive (nothing to do after it is set up) triple whammie for cashback dining. Read Triple Your Cashback Dining Out at Restaurants for all the details.
Whenever you can, compound your sign up promotional bonuses and cash rewards. With the knowledge of the proper tools and how they can work together, this is possible. Behind every benefit there can be another bonus and even another cash reward. See how many you can collect. In future posts, I will be discussing compounding travel points card benefits and online coupon compounding.
Because my credit card accounts maintenance system is so effective, I can manage a substantial number of credit cards responsibly and profitably. Even as the number of credit cards has increased, it has not interfered with my accounts staying in order. In addition, my credit scores continue to hover between 780 and 800, my credit report profiles are in good standing and I have very good to excellent credit.
My Credit Card Accounts Maintenance System
I’ve developed a Credit Card Accounts Maintenance System that consists of a set of tools combining old fashioned manual bookkeeping techniques with up-to-date digital tools:
1. credit card information chart
2. manual ledger paper spreadsheet
3. digital bookkeeping program with checking ability
4. manual checking account with a colorful checkbook cover, checks and paper register
5. email access to and from all my accounts
6. online account access to each credit card listed in my bookmarks
7. online bill paying capability
8. telephone contact with each credit card company
1. Credit Card Information Chart
I created a table in Microsoft Word®. It consists of the data for all my credit cards. That includes every bit of pertinent information about each card. There are even icon size images of all my credit card for visual recognition and order. See the categories shown below this illustration.
2. A Manual Spreadsheet
Perhaps because I grew up in the paper world before the computer, I still find it easier to use manual ledger paper for my credit card accounts maintenance system. But if I become more comfortable with Excel, I might shift my spreadsheet to Microsoft Excel®. Digital or manual, it is possible and prudent for me to keep a tally of every dollar I have charged on each card. Actually, all my tools create a checks and balances system to make sure my accounts are accurate. It doesn’t matter if they are manual or digital. Use what works for you.
3. A Digital Bookkeeping Program
Because I have a Macintosh Computer, I got the only bookkeeping program that was specific to Apple many years ago. It was originally called, MYOB an acronym for ‘Mind Your Own Business’. The name was updated to Accountedge because it now has many accounting features in addition to its original bookkeeping features. Accountedge.
4. Manual checking account with a checkbook cover, checks and paper register
I still pay a few bills manually using checks. Doing this makes it possible for me to keep track of certain personal loans as I pay off them off. This way I have a check copy on my monthly statement for record keeping and documentation. The purpose of my Checkbook Register is to keep a record of every financial transaction I make. I even devised a system of color coded symbols that shows when:
a. a purchase was made
b. it is recorded online by my bank
c. I entered it into my online bookkeeping system
5. Email access to and from all my credit card accounts
The Credit card companies contact me by email. They remind me when bills are due and let me know if there is some other issue concerning my account.
6. Online Account Access to Each Credit Card
I bookmark every credit card URL so that I can easily check each credit card account daily. This is another way for me to make sure that the numbers online coincide with my manual spreadsheet numbers.
7. Internet bill paying capability
Each credit card websites is listed on my Internet bookmarks to be accessed easily. Most of my bills are paid on line. Some are even on autopay. When I get a new card, I have my closing and bill paying dates adjusted so that my payment is due shortly after my monthly fixed income arrives. This way I can get all of my bills paid on time and not have to think about whether or not I paid them all month long.
8. Telephone Contact With Each Credit Card Company
Having telephone contact is very important. One can use any phone, a landline or cell phone. I make telephone contact with each credit card company when I have questions about my balance, closing or due dates.
Since most of these companies are open 24/7, I enjoy calling very early in the morning. It is usually the quietest time at their end. I’ve enjoyed hours of what become personal interest conversations with their staff who are located around the globe. It is fascinating and one of my favorite tools. In fact one call was such a delight for both of us that the customer service person from Capital One actually sent me flowers!
As I mentioned in the previous post, if a person needs or desires to have many credit cards, it is prudent to keep a very close watch on them in order to maintain a good relationship with each company as well as the credit reporting bureaus. This involves accurate reporting to keep my credit score high, to pay all my bills on time and stay within my budget. Because having many cards is based on need, I am very careful about using them responsibly. It is essential for me to be able to I continue to make use of what has helped me to make ends meet since we became part of The Former Middle Class.Extreme credit card benefits have been a tremendous help to me in making ends meet.
Frugal bread pudding is made from a frugal food recipe. The two main ingredients are stale bread and sour milk. This is what differentiates the recipe from regular bread pudding. In other words, they are ingredients that Middle Class people would normally throw away. As part of The Former Middle Class, we make frugal family food. We work with what we have and we do not throw usable food away. In addition to that group, I have started another group that will increase and reiterate helpful information from the first group. Th new group is called, Healthy Frugal Food Resources & Recipes.
Why Frugal Food Recipes?
We were victims of The Poor Middle Class Crisis resulting in our becoming One Day From Homeless in 2009. This was a result of the 2008 stock market crash. My husband lost his job the same week as the crash. By 2009, we had depleted all our equity and savings. We had to turn to the social services system for help. This meant we had to learn to live a very different way from the past. This is where frugal food recipes eventually came into the picture.
Frugal Bread Pudding
The second thing that makes a recipe frugal is that as many ingredients as possible come from a food pantry or other donated source. In the case of this frugal bread pudding recipe, most of the ingredients are from our food pantry.
Let’s compare the ingredients in the regular recipe with my frugal bread pudding recipe:
THE ORIGINAL INGREDIENTS
• 16 slices bread, cubed
• 1 cup raisins
• 2 cans (12 fluid ounces each) NESTLÉ® CARNATION® Evaporated Milk
• 4 large eggs, slightly beaten
• 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
• 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, melted
• 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
• 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
• 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
• Caramel sauce (optional)
MY FRUGAL INGREDIENTS
• 2 loaves of whole grain bread* (I got 4 loaves so I made double the recipe)
• a cup raisins*
• one can of condensed milk*
• 1 can of coconut milk*
• 2 large eggs, slightly beaten
• 3/4 cup packed sugar (a mix of brown sugar/stevia)*
• nutmeg *ingredient is from a food pantry
Comparing a Regular Recipe to a Frugal Recipe
What makes a regular recipe different from a frugal recipe:
• using what is at hand only
• making no store purchases for the recipe
• relying upon food pantry or other donated items
• making a recipe as healthy as possible
Our lives have changed dramatically since we became members of The Former Middle Class. Actually, in many ways, these changes are for the better. We do not rely as much on consumerism for joy and entertainment. Instead, we focus on simple, cost free pleasures. Life itself has more meaning and more value. We appreciate and have gratitude for all the miraculous things that constantly happen in our lives. This is not to say that it is easy or without major challenges at times. But we have become much more self-sufficient, less wasteful and more resourceful.
We know how important it is to ask for help and participate in giving it in community. Learning to make cost effective food like frugal bread pudding is the proof that we are living a blessed life. Frugality is not a punishment. It allows us to see and experience life in a very different perspective. It is a perspective that has much more room for what is really of value in life.
We love stories. We can read a book or have one read to us. Perhaps a story is online or viewable on the multiplicity of media available. Ultimately, the result of the creation of an authentic story is a treat for us all. Besides entertaining, a story can be informative. In addition, it can promote a business or a product. Whatever the purpose, the process is basically the same. In this post, the focus is on the process.
The Creation of a Story
The process of creating an authentic story requires intensive research and lots of writing. I’ve created several stories containing the required elements. In all four authentic story situations, there was access to primary sources and extensive research. Sometimes having access to primary sources is impossible. So when it does happen, it can be very special for both the writer and the reader.
Four Authentic Stories
The authentic stories here touch upon four different non-fiction topics:
• business-a multi-million dollar corporation that started in a janitor’s closet
• social issues-The Middle Class Poor Crisis, a serious situation that exists today
• creativity-a creative-organizational process called Knolling
• music-some very special musicians
Each of these stories is set up as a series of blog posts. To read each of them, click on their link. That will be the first post of the story. You will be able to read the additional posts from there.
The Story of A Corporation That Started In A Janitor’s Closet
Poor Middle Class Affordable Housing is hard to find. But it is a top financial survival toolkit priority. Without it, poor middle class people can fall into the following crises:
• unable to pay bills
• end up in debt
• go hungry nutritionally by eat mostly cheap, unhealthy food
• become homeless
• unable to get proper medical care
• suffer from all of the above
What Is Affordable Housing?
According to Wikipedia, affordable housing is:
Finding Affordable Housing
Our search for poor middle class affordable housing was a nightmare. In fact, it was the hardest part of our financial survival journey. This is because of the following aspects of it:
• the amount of paperwork involved
• a time-consuming application process
• the bureaucratic qualification procedure
• pressure due to our tight deadline
What Is Subsidized Housing?
According to Wikipedia, subsidized housing is:
• a government sponsored system of economic assistance programs
• designed to alleviate housing costs and expenses
• meant for people in need
• designed for low to moderate income families, seniors and the disabled
• often called, ‘affordable housing’ in the United States
According to Wikipedia, subsidized housing is:
Subsidized Housing Programs
There are several forms of subsidies:
• direct housing subsidies
• non-profit housing
• public housing
• rent supplements
• some forms of co-operative and private sector housing
Those who qualify to apply for subsidized housing must be:
• Families in financial need
• Seniors aged 55 and above
• Disabled people over a certain age
There are two types of management, either government or privately run.
What is Senior Housing?
Senior housing is housing available to independent seniors, aged 55 and older. It is usually subsidized. As a result, it is more affordable than market value housing.
Seeking Senior Housing
There is a huge amount of research and paperwork involved in applying for senior housing. In fact, it is the worst part of the process for us. Each housing project requires its own application. Because of this, I was very overwhelmed. Just the thought of it stopped me from applying originally. But eventually, relocation became an emergency. We were hard pressed to find an affordable place to live. Because municipal senior housing units had several years waiting lists, we did not know what to do. We were on the verge of homelessness.
Here is our strong recommendation. Don’t let this happen to you. Apply for senior housing years before you think you may need it.
Fortunately, a private senior facility had a vacant unit. Much to our relief, we were accepted within two weeks. But there was one drawback. The only units available were studio apartments. In spite of the size, we grabbed one. As a result, we were set up in our new home within a few weeks. After that, it took another two and a half years to get a one bedroom apartment. When that happened, we felt like we had moved into a palace. In the summertime, we see nothing but tree. It feels like we live in a tree house. It is like heaven.
Section 8 Housing Vouchers
Large apartments buildings and multi-family homes accept Section 8 Housing Vouchers. According to Wikipedia:
A New Home
Our subsidized apartment is modest. There is no dishwasher. In addition to that, there is no terrace or yard for growing food. There is nowhere to make a compost heap for food garbage. But best of all, having a roof over our heads is a blessing. In addition, we have made a home here. There is a saying, ‘home is where the heart is’.
Do you know what synesthesia is? Do you know anyone who has it? Are you a synesthete? I have synesthesia. I have had it since childhood. I have always considered it to be a fun game I could play in my mind, seeing numbers in specific colors. I can sometimes still experience a correlation between days of the week with colors and numbers,too. I never told anyone about my ability until recently. I had no idea that it was unusual, had a name or was an actual brain function that some other people experienced as well. At least one in 2,000 people have this neurological phenomenon.
Wikipedia description of synesthesia
“Synesthesia (also spelled synæsthesia or synaesthesia; from the Ancient Greek σύν syn, “together”, and αἴσθησις aisthēsis, “sensation”) is a neurological phenomenon in which stimulation of one sensory or cognitive pathway leads to automatic, involuntary experiences in a second sensory or cognitive pathway. People who report a lifelong history of such experiences are known as synesthetes.
In one common form of synesthesia, known as grapheme-color synesthesia or color-graphemic synesthesia, letters or numbers are perceived as inherently colored. In spatial-sequence, or number form synesthesia, numbers, months of the year, and/or days of the week elicit precise locations in space (for example, 1980 may be “farther away” than 1990), or may appear as a three-dimensional map (clockwise or counterclockwise). Synesthetic associations can occur in any combination and any number of senses or cognitive pathways.
“Little is known about how synesthesia develops. It has been suggested that synesthesia develops during childhood when children are intensively engaged with abstract concepts for the first time. This hypothesis – referred to as semantic vacuum hypothesis – explains why the most common forms of synesthesia are grapheme-color, spatial sequence and number form. These are usually the first abstract concepts that educational systems require children to learn. Only a fraction of types of synesthesia have been evaluated by scientific research. Awareness of synesthetic perceptions varies from person to person.”