Garden Planning

It’s almost Spring – which means it’s time for a bit of garden planning.

This year, I’m keeping things very, very simple:

I am going to plant vegetables that do well in our climate and are relatively easy to care for.

I am going to use a single raised-bed for the garden.  In the past, I’ve started out with several beds – only to get frustrated with local deer, the lack of rain, and the lack of production.

I’m focusing on quality over quantity.  I’ll grow cucumbers, peas, watermelons, butter beans, and some peppers.  I may add a few more plants, but I want the gardening experience, for 2014, to be enjoyable!

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Tomorrow, I plan to start a few seed, indoors.  I’ll snap some photos of my setup and share them with you.  Instead of keeping the plants in the house, I’ve created a little mini-greenhouse in the shed.  Again, I’ll have photos tomorrow.

I ordered seeds a few months ago, so they’re ready to go.  I just need to add a few finishing touches to the raised-bed, and it will be ready, too.  When you see it, you’ll probably laugh.  It’s just a rectangular frame made from some old boards.

In the past, I’ve spent lots of up-front money, only to be really disappointed with my gardening results.  This year, I’m gardening-on-the-cheap.  I have purchased some inexpensive potting mix and I’m using my own, home-made compost.  Seeds will be started in small cups and then planted in a mixture of dirt and compost.  The raised bed is constructed of some recycled boards.

I tend to over-think my projects.  This year, the garden will be simple, small, and easy-to-maintain.  I simply want to grow a few vegetables, teach the kids a bit about gardening, and keep things simple.  Our garden planning only took a few minutes – with a focus on simplicity and ease-of-use.

Check back tomorrow and I’ll pictures of this year’s setup.  Be blessed.

 

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How We Started Collecting Coins

My son and I have recently started collecting coins.

Several months ago, my son received an Electronic Piggy Bank: Digital Counting Money Coin Jar with LCD Display as a gift.  After the jar was filled with pennies, he decided that he wanted to deposit his money in his savings account.

As we were sorting through the coins, in preparation for our trip to the bank, I noticed a few “wheat-back” pennies.  This lead to a discussion about the different types of pennies – which lead to google-searches for information about types of quarters, nickels, and dimes.

My son was hooked.  We were soon collecting coins.

I called a couple of friends who are in to coin collecting – and both recommended the A Guidebook of United States Coins 2014: The Official Red Book.  We ordered the book – which is a great read, with tons of information about coins, coin collecting, and coin values – and we started collecting coins.

Currently, we keep things simple.  We collect coins that can be found, in rolls, through our local bank.  We are brand-new to collecting, are we aren’t looking to buy expensive coins.

We are, in the truest sense (cents!), collecting coins.  When we find cool coins, we collect them.

Each week, I’ll take my son to the bank and he’ll get $5 to $10 worth of coins – usually a few rolls of pennies and nickels.  He’ll also ask for an 50-cent pieces (half-dollars) that the teller might have on hand.  Half-dollars are super-fun to sort through, because certain older half-dollars contain silver, and these are actually worth more than their face value.

We’ll spread the pennies out – and search for older pennies (which contain copper) – and wheat pennies.  My son keeps the older pennies in one of these cool Lincoln Cents Folders.  It’s cool to watch him sort through the pennies and find the ones he needs for his collection.

Any coins for which he doesn’t have a folder go plastic parts-bin or my son’s mini-safe.

With the way that we are collecting coins – we can’t really lose any money.  Worst-case, we turn the coins back in and deposit the money into a savings account.  Best-case, we get mad-rich from some super rare coin! :)

We have actually found a couple of kinda-rare pennies, worth a few bucks each – and a handful of silver half-dollars.  My son loves to visit the Coin Trackers page, to check values and do some research.  Each roll is an opportunity to find just the right coin.

We may never find anything of great value, but this is an inexpensive way to teach my son about saving money, paying attention to detail, and being organized.

Side note:  We often only find a few coins, per roll, that we want to keep.  We will roll the coins that we don’t want – and take them back to the bank on our next trip.  This way, for just a few dollars initial investment, we can pick up several rolls, over several weeks.

If this post has been helpful, please use the buttons below to share via social media – and consider shopping at Amazon via this link to support No Credit Needed. You rock!

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10 Ideas For What To Do With An Income Tax Refund

I have been working on my taxes and it looks like my wife and I will be getting an income tax refund this year.  That’s good news, because we are in the process of paying off our mortgage and every extra penny counts!

A certain portion of our household income comes through self-employment, so judging withholding can be a bit tricky.  We tend to ere on the conservative-side and over-withhold – which usually leads to a bit of a refund.

Looking to save money when filing your taxes?  Check out this deal – Save 15% on H&R Block Online Tax Software.

Here are a few ideas for what to do with an income refund, including what we are going to do this year -

Create an Emergency Fund – This was so important, for us, when we were preparing to get out of debt.  The first thing we did was create a mini-emergency fund – with around $1000.  This cash reserve kept us out of the credit-card cycle and really helped us.

Pay Down Consumer Debt – This is No Credit Needed, right?!?  We are going to ALWAYS talk about debt reduction.  When were paying off credit card debt, we funneled every extra dollar into our debt snowball.  This was true for tax refunds.

Start a Side Business – I have done this, using income tax refund money to purchase domain names and pay for hosting.  This year’s focus is The Grace Station – where I blog about faith, grace, and other spiritual matters.

Fund a Loan – Peer-to-peer lending is pretty cool.  Check out 9.09% Returns With Prosper.  It’s a pretty cool way to make some extra money, while funding peer-to-peer loans.  Be sure you understand the risks involved!

Open a Retirement Account -  Several years ago, I used a portion of an income tax refund to open up a Roth IRA.  Now, our savings are growing, tax-free, which rocks.

Plan a Vacation – A small portion of our refund will go towards the reservation at our favorite vacation spot.  We get a 20% discount for early reservations, so getting in early helps us save money.

Help Someone – Take a look around and see if there’s an individual or organization that you can bless – and then bless them.  This year, we have two local charities that we are going to support, with a portion of our refund.

Save for a Down Payment – We purchased our home four years ago (time flies!) – and we were able to both afford our home and get a low interest rate, in part, because we had a sizable down-payment.

Make an Extra Mortgage Payment – Have you run the calculations, lately?  It’s amazing just how much money, over time, and extra mortgage payment can save!  We are trying to pay off our 15-year mortgage in less than 10 years, and making an extra payment (or two or three) will go a long ways towards our achieving our goal.

Start Coin Collecting – Spend a few bucks of your refund on A Guidebook of United States Coins 2014: The Official Red Book and then keep your eyes open for rare coins.  My son and I have started collecting coins, mainly by sorting through our change and getting a few rolls from our local bank, and we have actually found several coins worth more than their face-value.  Pretty cool.

This year, we are going to use a portion of our income tax refund to reserve a spot for vacation, a portion for paying down our mortgage, and a portion for charitable donations.

If this post has been helpful, please use the buttons below to share via social media – and consider shopping at Amazon via this link to support No Credit Needed. You rock!

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Tools That Rock

I am an amateur wood-worker.  Right now, I am working on a few Christmas gifts for friends and family.  I thought I’d share a few of the tools that rock – and make wood-working fun.

Last year, I purchased the PORTER-CABLE 20-volt Lithium Ion Impact Driver. Man, this is one awesome tool. It is powerful – and perfect for outdoor jobs. I used mine to build a deck for my shed. Works great.

I received the SKIL 1830 120-Volt 2-1/4 HP Combo Base Router Set as a gift from my wife. I could never decide between a fixed-base or plunge-style router – so I got this combo-unit which serves as both! It’s perfect for adding details to smaller projects – or for cutting grooves for shelves or doors.

I use these Bessey GSCC2.536 2.5-Inch x 36-Inch Economy Clutch Style Bar Clamp for glue-ups on various projects. Again, I’m an amateur, so I don’t really need a ton of clamps. These are relatively inexpensive, but do a good job of holding materials into place. I have four of the 36-inch clamps and six of the 12-inch.

I honestly don’t remember when I picked up my Bosch ROS20VSK 120-Volt Variable Speed Random Orbit Sander Kit, but I do know that I’d be lost without it. Sanding is a “necessary evil”, but the Bosch makes it relatively painless.

Last but certainly not least is the Kreg R3 Jr. Pocket Hole Jig System. This jig is perfect for building book cases, cabinets, or face frames. This is definitely a useful tool.

These are some tools that rock. If you are looking for a Christmas gift for someone who loves woodworking, any and all of these would work. Or, if you are just getting into woodworking yourself, I think that you will enjoy these tools, too. Have a blessed day!

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