I’m Enfranchised!

C’mon now!Yesterday I cast my vote for the very first time. It was a good feeling wearing that little sticker all day.

I’ve never voted before, mostly due to feeling like it really didn’t matter. Eric was surprised that I hadn’t voted before and insisted that the next election I would be at the polls. It is important to him and I’m glad he encouraged me to drop my apathetic attitude about it.

Apparently I’m not the only one getting revved up this year. Reports say that record numbers of first-time voters are heading to the polls. It’s awesome that people are wanting to get involved.

I now see the value in voting, even if you live in a state that seems permanently aligned to the right or left. Voting allows you to make your voice heard on issues that directly impact your pocketbook. These political leaders will influence policy regarding our major financial concerns; like the economy, health care, and taxes.

Voting for the candidate that you like (or dislike least) is part of being proactive with your finances.

I still have some doubts that my one little vote will change the world, but the simple act of declaring my choice makes me feel more in control of my financial future. Even if the candidate I prefer doesn’t win, voting sure beats doing nothing and allowing everyone else to decide for me.

On a side note – it was really interesting to watch the political ads. It’s the first time I’ve really seen them. Usually the candidates have been decided before the primaries make it to Texas. I had the radio on most of the day yesterday and I think I heard a Clinton or Obama ad every commercial break. They really stepped it up around here.

Did you vote in this year’s primaries? Do you feel voting affects your financial future or do you feel it is a waste of time?

Image Source: Daquella manera

It’s My Turn For The Book Meme!

Page 123I’ve been tagged with a few interesting memes lately and I’ve been meaning to find the time to respond to them. My plan is to fit in one a week so we don’t get meme’d out.

I love that I’ve Paid Twice For This Already tagged me for a cool book meme going around. I had seen it on a few other blogs and was hoping I’d get to play along.

According to PaidTwice’s post the meme is super easy:

Grab the nearest book that has at least 123 pages, open it to page 123, and count down 5 sentences. Then, type the next three sentences here.

The two books closest to me on my desk happen to both be cooking related:

Flipping to page 123 on the Hors d’Oeuvres book (incredible book, by the way) I discovered that it’s full page picture with no text. So I guess that one is out. I next turned to the ever fabulous Joy of Cooking and found this useful advice:

As for stocks, see 116, there are three simple methods for removing fat from soup. Chill the soup, the fat will solidify and then it is easy to spoon it off. Or float a paper towel on the surface of warm soup, and when it has absorbed as much fat as it will hold, discard.

Joy is such a monstrous book of cooking know-how that page 123 hasn’t even hit the salad section yet. We are still in soups!

I think every home cook should have a copy of Joy of Cooking. It is a wealth of information and really comes in handy when you are stuck trying to figure out a new skill like cutting a mango or making a roux.

Why the cook books nearby? I’m preparing to do my first official (in other words, paid) catering job at the end of the month! I’ve been scouring my favorite books for interesting recipes to test in addition to my tried-and-true classics. I cooked all day and into the night on Monday to test 18 potential recipes for this “classy but not too fancy” baby shower. The host has decided she wants an abundance of vegetarian heavy hors d’oeuvres for the party and at this point, she is expecting about 30 guests. That’s a lot of cooking!

We have chosen a tentative menu and are still deep in the planning stages. We need to map out the table presentation, create the cooking schedule, and compile the shopping list next week. It’s a big ordeal but I’m loving every minute of it. It’s a great way for me to use my passion for cooking to bring in a few extra dollars.

Oh, and in case you actually wanted to know the third method for removing fat from soup, here it is:

Or roll up a paper towel and use one end to skim over the soup surface to remove the fat as shown. When the end becomes drenched with fat, cut off the used part with scissors and repeat the process, as shown.

I’ve seen this meme floating around a lot so I hope I’m not double tagging anyone:

Image Source: Hors d’Oeuvres p.123

Welcome Paid Twice Readers!

Come on in, ya’ll!Today, my very first guest went up at a favorite blog of mine, I’ve Paid for this Twice Already. If you are one of my regular readers be sure to head over there to check out my post on dealing with The Clearance Craze. I think you will like PaidTwice’s blog and her story about a real-life family working their way out of significant debt. I’m honored that she featured my post – thanks again PaidTwice!

If you are new to A Penny Closer, welcome! This is a blog about a couple who are learning to become “fully aware” of their financial lives by developing a budget, exploring frugality, defining priorities, and working towards better investing and saving for their goals. You can read more about our story here or view a single page of all of our posts on our archives page.

Some of our favorite posts are:

Make yourself comfortable and have a look around! If you like what you see, we hope you will consider subscribing. Don’t worry, if you sign up for email you will only get our posts and not spam.

We appreciate you checking out our site, whether you are loyal reader or first time visitor!

Image source: Jimmy_Joes

Finding Missing Money

I spy with my little eye...You know it’s a good when you stumble across money that you completely forgot about. The biggest case for me was once when I went to the bank, got $60, went home, and couldn’t find the money. It wasn’t in my pocket where I could have sworn I had put it. I retraced my steps to no avail. That money was lost. And $60 is a lot to lose! I was pretty upset at myself, and finally figured I had just dropped it at some point and some lucky person got my 3 $20s.

I’d say it was a year later, in the summertime again, when I put those shorts back on. I felt something weird in my pocket and lo and behold, the cash had been there the whole time. It was just in the pocket *inside* the pocket. There is an extra very small pocket at the top of the larger pocket in some styles of pants. Anyhow, it was a huge deal when I found that money again. It was like I just found $60 (never mind how long I had beat myself up over losing it – those memories were long gone).

So that’s the feeling we had recently when we found that Melissa was owed some money from a job she had back in high school. Let’s just say that was more than a few years back for her. Earlier that day at work a buddy had IM’d me a link to Missing Money and I just started searching.

I found Melissa’s right away. When I searched on her maiden name, I came up with a *ton* of hits. So I narrowed it down to her hometown. A little more searching, and I found something that looked for sure to be her. There were 2 things that fit. One was for over a $100 and another was for under $100. I went through the process to claim the money, and that brought me to the state’s website where I had to do the search again.

Finally, we got our filled out forms and will be completing them and getting the rest of the required information. In the end, Melissa was owed $119.15 from two different companies. That money will go right into our new house fund when it arrives.

I’m pretty sure I found money that some friends had, and I’ve sent the information on to them. Hopefully I’ll be hearing back from some happy friends!

If you just want to check your state and not all states, you can find the state websites at the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators website. If you find something through Missing Money, you’ll wind up there anyhow.

Image by AMagill

7 Random Things About Me

mmmmm cheeseI got tagged!  I’ve been asked to reveal 7 random things about myself by paidtwice at I’ve Paid For This Twice Already.  Thanks! 

I think this is great, especially since I’m pretty new to blogging and haven’t really shared much info about myself yet.  I tried to think of some of really weird factoids for this one.  Hopefully this will help you get to know me a bit better!

1.  I know some ballroom.  I was one of the rare girls my age that enjoyed ballroom dancing and danced during high school and a little in college.  Those days are long gone although I did convince my husband to learn foxtrot with me for our first (and only) dance.

2.  I was a kick-ass jump roper.  I tried out for a team when I was in elementary school and became surprisingly good at it.  It wasn’t long before I was a captain.  I even performed for NBA halftime shows.  I know – very odd and very random. 

3.  I am utterly addicted to lip balm.  If there was one thing I could take with me to a deserted island it would probably be my lip balm.  I never leave home without it.  I have stashed tubes in key places in the house, too – in the nightstand, next to my computer, in the living room.  I’ve been this way since high school.  It’s just a habit.

4.  I’m terrified of spiders.  Like running and screaming scared.  In college, I even participated in a psych study trying to help people get over this fear.  It failed.  I’ll have to tell that story sometime - it’s a good one.

5.  I used to enjoy working on muscle cars.  I actually drove a small block Chevy that I eventually supercharged (in addition to a slew of over things).  Now that was an expensive hobby!  I used to love talking shop and going to the track but now I don’t miss it at all.  It feels like a lifetime ago.  

6.  I nearly went to culinary school, but when it came to financing I couldn’t swing the $38K tuition for the 18-month degree.  Unfortunately, I didn’t qualify for grants or financial aid at the time because I already had my BBA.  Now, cooking is my passion instead of my career path.

7.  I love cheese.  Maybe that makes me sound like a dork but I really enjoy high quality cheeses.  Stilton, Cheddar, Gouda, Edam – they’re all welcome in my house and have been asked to bring friends.  One cheese I don’t like that much is Swiss for some reason.  I’ll eat it, I just don’t request it.

Hopefully I haven’t frightened anyone off with my confessions.  OK – I’m not sure who all got tagged recently but here are a few bloggers I’d like to know more about:

Image Source: cwbuecheler