Tuesday, November 25, 2008

I am so thankful that I live in the South...

About a year ago I moved to the South from the Northeast. My husband and I decided to try living someplace new where the weather and people were nicer, since neither of us had ever lived anywhere else. Yesterday, I was heading home from work when, about 2 miles from my house, my tire suddenly went flat. I pulled over into the nearest parking lot and immediately wanted to kick myself for not renewing our AAA membership yet this year. I started to call my husband and began freaking out, realizing I had no idea what to do. (I wouldn't even know where to begin to change a tire, and I had no idea until later on that I even had a spare.) Suddenly a man in a large SUV pulled up next to me, rolled down his window, and said "Hey, I have a compressor in my car if you want me to try and reinflate the tire." I was so happy to see him! He spent quite a bit of time reinflating my tire and trying to find the leak. When the tire was full, I tried to give him $20 for his trouble. He flat out refused to take it. He said "I have done enough bad things in my life that I really need some good graces to help me get in those pearly gates. " With that, he got in his car and I thought he was going to continue going about his business after I pulled out of the parking lot. Instead, he followed me. We got about a mile down the road and he started flashing his headlights at me. I again pulled into the nearest parking lot and he got out with the compressor. My tire was already flat again! At that point we realized I should head straight to the tire shop where I had purchased the tires only about 2-3 months ago. It was not far from my house, so if I could get the car there at least I could walk home. This kind man spent another 10 minutes inflating the tire. Then he said "This tire is leaking air as fast as I am putting it in. If you hurry, you should be able to make it to the tire shop." He kept the compressor plugged into the tire until I was ready to hit the gas and get out of there. I felt like a Nascar driver for a minute, as he unplugged the compressor and jumped out of the way as soon as I said "Go!". I continued down the road and just barely made it to the tire place. This nice man followed me there too and, when he saw that I had arrived OK, he waved and drove away. I never even got his name. So THANK YOU, to that wonderful gentleman who helped me yesterday. I will certainly return the favor someday when I can help another person in need.

Perhaps the funniest part of the story? When he stopped the 2nd time to reinflate the tires, I said "Good thing I live in the South. Nobody ever would have stopped to help me in the Northeast." His reply? "I am originally from Pennsylvania!" Even us Northerners become nicer when we head south I guess!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Another Easy Recipe for Busy Moms

With Thanksgiving approaching, here is a creative turkey recipe for use with Crock Pots just in time for cool fall nights!

Cranberry-Apple Turkey Breast

2 tsp butter or margarine, melted
1/2 cup chicken broth
1 large apple, cored and chopped
1/2 cup onion, chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
1 cup cranberry sauce
1 Tbs poultry seasoning
2 cups seasoned crumb-style stuffing
4 turkey cutlets

Combine the butter, chicken broth, apple, onion, celery, cranberry sauce, poultry seasoning and stuffing. Place 3 tablespoons of stuffing mix on each turkey cutlet. Roll up and tie. Place in slow cooker.
Cook on Low for 8 hours or High for 4 hours.

You can find more great recipes on various websites. As I try them, I will post more. As I have said before, I can't cook (good thing I married a man who knows his way around a kitchen), but I am trying to get better!

Is there a gene for being terrible with money?

Seriously. We all know someone like this...they cry and complain about money in all social conversations, yet they just planned their next trip to Las Vegas, justifying it because "It's a deal!". Or maybe their child is showing up to play dates in clothing that is stained and too small, but they are talking about the new furniture they plan to finance to update their living room. It isn't that these people aren't genuinely concerned about money...they just can't figure out how they are shooting down their personal finances with poor decisions in everyday life.

Perhaps the biggest issue for many people is figuring out what is essential, and what is recreational. It is hard for me to imagine personally, but there are many mothers out there who consider things like getting manicures and pedicures to be necessities, even if it means being late on a daycare bill and jeopardizing their child's access to quality childcare. We have been raised as a society to think that we should have everything we want, right now, and worry about paying for things later. The flaw in this way of thinking, of course, is evident in our country's current financial crisis. So many people overextended themselves to pay for the new car, the big house, etc. that the markets couldn't keep up when these people couldn't afford to pay their bills.

Many experts have stated that a fix for the financial mindset in America would be to require financial education starting at a young age in all schools. I read a great article about this in either Smart Money or Money Magazine a few months back (I can't remember which), but the most interesting point was that some financial experts actually think we should discourage schools from offering financial education, because some people may feel that they know all they need to know about finances and be reluctant to seek help from an expert. That point of view seems self-serving to the financial experts, and does not help anyone. We desperately need more financial education, starting young, in our schools. Until that time, children are going to continue to need to learn about finances from their parents. This means that all of us need to demonstrate better management of money, and teach children the fundamental principles of saving and spending.