Oct 17 2011

Monday miscellany

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A few things I’ve mentioned on this blog could use some updates, and my brain is a little scattered today, so here’s a scattered post:

Smokey stuff

I will need more smoke alarms than I first thought. After reading the owner’s manual for our new alarms, I realized that the one alarm on our first floor is inadequate. It is located right next to the cold air return. Um, duh, person who installed it — if air is being pulled into that return, it might be awhile before enough smoke is near the alarm to set it off.

Our first floor is a circular layout and if a fire were to start in our office where our computers will be, I wonder if the wall positioning would make it hard for the alarm to trigger quickly. Ya know?

I don’t really know what it would cost to have an electrician come out and set up new spots for alarms and connect them all, but I’m thinking at least $100. Probably more. I should call and get an idea. If that seems too expensive, I could just get some battery-only alarms and place them in the laundry room and office at minimum.

Go big or go home for fire safety.

Phoney stuff

I still haven’t purchased a VoIP landline thing. I thought I’d wait for more reviews to come out for the Magic Jack Plus and I’m still waiting on that one. I thought I had it down to the MagicJack Plus and the Nettalk Duo, but it’s just hard to say. I did reduce our cell phone plans down a notch, and our most recent bill was $62 — BIG difference from the one before that, which was low $100s. There’s one more level we can knock it down and I think that will put our bill in the $55ish range. Better, but I think we can do better eventually.

Our contract is up in April (I think?) and we’ll have to evaluate what we’re going to do around that time. Shane will probably get a smartphone and it makes sense for him to have one with his job (though his company won’t pay for it…whatever). As for me, I don’t need a smart phone. I’ll keep my iPod Touch and a basic cell phone and that will meet my needs. Whether that’s through a contracted plan or a pay-as-you-go, I don’t know yet.

Retirement stuff

I just read Saving For Retirement Without Living Like a Pauper or Winning the Lottery* by Gail MarksJarvis. I snagged it when it was free for Kindle and I read it on my iPod Touch. While there were some things I didn’t like about the book (it could have been MUCH shorter, and her tone in places irked me), it did teach me a lot of basics about investing. It gave me confidence that I can learn more about it and make good decisions for our retirement investing.

If you have the free version, it’s worth a look. I don’t know what other resources are out there just yet, so I can’t say for sure if it’s worth paying for. If you see it at the library, check it out though.

The reading continues and I’m looking through my 700+ free Kindle titles to see if I have anything else that might help me sort out investment stuff, in addition to reliable online sources. I’d go to the library, but I haven’t been to the BMV to update my address yet so I don’t have a card for our new town. Need to get on that.

Anyway. Shane happens to be a business finance major and so he gets all this stuff anyway, but I like to understand money stuff too, because it interests me and I like to be able to follow the conversation so we can make informed investment decisions. We’re hoping to grow our retirement fund to probably $1M + (still haven’t calculated “our number”) so yeah, I’m going to put some time into understanding it, just like I spend time evaluating small-scale money things, like our phone plan.

Question for you: After all of my research is done, would it be helpful to do a little series on investment things/retirement things I’ve learned, or would you rather skip those posts?

*Amazon affiliate link


Oct 11 2011

How old are your smoke alarms?

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It’s National Fire Prevention Week, and so I’m doing a little PSA on smoke alarms.

See this fact sheet from FEMA for more info.

Question for ya: How old are your smoke alarms? Did you know that the alarms need replaced after 8-10 years?

Our house is 11 years old and there’s no indication the alarms are newer than that, so we are replacing all of them. If you don’t know how old yours are, consider replacing them to be safe.

We chose an alarm* that has photoelectric and ionization sensors, which are designed to detect the smoldering fire and fast-moving, blazing fire. The house is wired so that if one detector goes off, they all do. Note that the version I linked is for hard-wired installations. You may need a battery-only version. There’s a 15% off deal for that alarm on Amazon, and perhaps there are more that qualify for that promo right now.

If your alarms are within reasonable age range, be sure the battery is fresh and operational.

Stats on the link above suggest that two-thirds of fire deaths occur when there are no smoke alarms, or no working smoke alarms. So maybe you have an alarm, but it’s not working because it’s old.

We also have an escape ladder* for my bedroom. I’ve been thinking about how to use it while carrying a baby. Probably something like: hold a kid in left arm, step down a rung or two, switch kid to right arm, grab a lower rung with left arm. I dunno for sure and I hope I don’t have to put it in practice.

Next up, we have a carbon monoxide detector and it just plugs into the wall. We have a fire extinguisher in our kitchen but we should also add one to our garage. Sometimes an extinguisher can put it out, sometimes you just gotta GET out.

Shane and I are going to talk about different scenarios for if a fire started and where we will meet up outside.

Talk about this stuff with your family. If your kids are old enough to understand, do a fire drill and have a discussion. Change your batteries on your smoke detectors, and replace them if they are getting old.

*links are Amazon affiliate. This content is not sponsored by anyone. I’m just on the safety patrol.



Hey! I'm Kacie, wife and mother of 3. I write about my family's finance: how we save money, improve our spending, and plan for the future.

I hope I can inspire and encourage you to improve your situation. See disclosure.

I'm adopting a much slower-paced posting schedule, and treating this as a hobby blog now.

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