Black Friday – Buy Nothing Day

It is Friday and Fridays are for fun. Today is Black Friday and there is one thing that I never do on Black Friday and that is go shopping. I don’t buy anything at all on Blackcookie Friday.

There is plenty to do if you are a non-shopper. Admission is free and so is parking at all Minnesota State parks. A walk in the woods feels wonderful after spending a day cleaning, cooking, eating, and eating and cleaning. There are 75 state parks to choose from.  Did you know that at some Minnesota libraries park passes can be checked out? Check it out sometime.

Today is also a great day to get rid of stuff. Join a “buy nothing new” group in your neighborhood and see if you can unload some of those useful items in your home that you no longer use.

The antique plate in the picture belonged to my mother-in-law and I don’t think I would ever part with it.

If you want some quiet time but would like to get out of the house head to downtown St. Paul and roam the skyways.

I plan on spending at least part of the day figuring out how to avoid the traditional American Christmas celebration completely. I have had some practice because of the pandemic. I may deck the halls with the small tree and put up a string of lights to keep the December darkness at bay.

Are you ready to roast that turkey?

I write some version of this every year. If you are roasting your first turkey this year it is going to be alright. Turkeys are easy to prepare.

If you watch the news or are on social media you may get the impression that roasting a turkey is difficult. It is easy unless you make it hard.

There are other ways to cook a turkey but roasting it is the easiest. No need to deep fry it or put it on a stick.

For those of you who have never cooked the bird this is what it looks like:

raw turkey

raw turkey

. . but at one time it probably looked like this:

Wild turkey

Turkeys are very easy to roast, in an oven or in an electric turkey roaster, I have hosted more than 30 thanksgiving and a few other events that required that I roast a turkey.

If your turkey comes out too dry it is because it was overcooked. Use a meat thermometer. Cooking time is just s guide or estimate.  Use one of the many roasting charts that can be found online.  Just ask Google for the details about the temperature and time to cook a turkey.

Turkeys can be cooked rapidly at 450 or so, but the easiest way is to put it in an electric turkey roaster or in the oven at 325 to 350 and just ignore it. I like to start with a fresh turkey, never a frozen turkey. Fresh turkey tastes better and I don’t have to worry about thawing it out.

If your turkey is still frozen there are some options. It can be thawed in ice water but I think that is icky. It can be cooked. Start it at 325. Depending upon the size it can take 7 or 8 hours. Once it warms up a bit take it out of the oven or roaster and take out the innards and cook it until done. Keep an eye on the liquids throughout cooking and drain them off or you will end up with a boiled turkey.

I have never thawed a turkey all the way before I cook it so I always allow an extra hour and a half of cooking time and I usually cook it at a lower temperature. (325)

I make the stuffing separately but like to stick a whole orange in the cavity. Sometimes I quarter it, other times I just poke some holes in it. There is less chance of food poisoning if the stuffing is cooked separately. This year my son-in-law will be making the stuffing. He has a way with stuffing.

Clean-up is simple too.  The only challenge is finding a place to store the electric roaster but as a Realtor, I can help you find a bigger home with more storage space if needed.

The FDA recommends a minimum internal temperature of 165 . . if you don’t want to risk food poisoning.  personally, I go for up around 170  to 180 degrees. Please don’t rely on that little pop-up thingy to detect doneness. Use a real meat thermometer.

roast turkey

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

You can do it – retire mortgage free

In 2020 according to Zillow, 37% of Americans own their homes free and clear. The number went up by 5.5% after the great recession. In 2017 41% of baby boomers owned their homes free and clear. For seventy-year-olds, an estimated 68% are mortgage-free, in 2022 that number grew to 70%.

I have read tons of advice over the years that suggests paying off a mortgage isn’t a good idea. It makes sense that if paying off a mortgage means using up savings and retirement accounts it probably isn’t a good idea. Other debts should be paid off first, especially credit card debt.

Owning a home free and clear means lower housing costs during retirement. Those property taxes are killer but still lower than renting or paying taxes and making mortgage payments.

It might even be possible to retire without having saved up a million dollars by owning a modest home that is paid for and no debt.

There are some psychological benefits of not having to make house payments. It can be liberating. Something to consider when planning for retirement.

The crazy things real estate agents say

queen anne house
Queen Anne

Real estate agetns are really selling the idea of buying a house right now. They say all sorts of crazy things.   One of my least favorites concerning interest rates is: “Date the rate but marry the house” The idea is that interest rates come and go and sometimes people can refinance.

I don’t think it is wise to take on a large mortgage and count on refinancing. For one thing, the interest on a mortgage is front-loaded which means the borrower pays the highest amount of interest in that first payment. The interest portion of the payment goes down slightly every month.

Each time the buyer refinances the buyer starts all over again which is why it is best to wait until the interest rate drops a couple of percentage points before refinancing.

Real estate agents are reminding us that mortgage interest rates have been higher. That is true but home prices are also higher as they have risen much faster than wages during the last 50 years or so.

There really isn’t an upside to the housing market right now at least not for buyers.

Some agents are suggesting that now is a great time to buy because there is less competition. There is less competition but there is still enough competition to create multiple offer situations.

Housing prices are at an all-time high right now and interest rates are at a 20-year high. There are people who have been priced out of the market. It is simple math. There isn’t any other way to look at it.

There are still some great reasons to buy. Some home buyers will pay less for housing if they buy rather than rent. Maybe not in the first year but in the long run. People who own houses are building equity.

Four days of snow

It is Friday and Fridays are for fun. The weather this past week has been cold and grey and it snowed four days in a row. I can walk outside when it is cold, windy, and snowing but sometimes I like to walk through the downtown skyways. They are pretty empty and somewhat heated. I like to start my walk near Walgreens on Wabasha street and walk down to the Union Depot and walk around it a few times before walking back and exiting near candy land so I can pick up a bag of Chicago Mix popcorn before I head home.

There are events at the Union Depot but most of the time it is a large, warm, and mostly empty place that is perfect for indoor walking.

Union Depot
Union Depot – downtown St. Paul