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Just A Quick Post About A Change

I started blogging in 2007 as Precious. My original blog was Frugal Makes Cents. I am not changing the name or address of this blog. But I have decided to go back to my original username of Precious. I always liked that and I am very used to it.

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A Wonderful Sunday

This was just a wonderful Sunday. We had not seen our grandson in many weeks due to him picking up the virus at school. He got it just a day after he got his first shot. Being 11 years old he couldn’t get his shot before then. He has now had his second shot and he and my son came for breakfast this morning. We were so very happy to see them. I missed them so much.

So I cooked all of us a breakfast of sausage, scrambled eggs, and potato pancakes. We had lots of mashed potatoes leftover from our turkey tenderloin dinner that needed to be used up. They turned out delicious!

They stayed about 5 hours to chat and play the card game “Cover Your Assets” which is a lot of fun. We played three games. I loved it! If you are interested in this card game, it is https://www.amazon.com/s?k=cover+your+assets+card+game&crid=3MPGGJHKZC2B8&sprefix=cover+your+ass%2Caps%2C193&ref=nb_sb_ss_ts-doa-p_1_14

We were not going to put up our Christmas tree this year. With my bad back, it just seemed like a lot of work. However, I decided today that we were going to do it. It is just a small table top tree but it was in a large box in the basement. So I asked my son to bring it upstairs for us. He did and we will decorate it tomorrow along with some other decorating. I think I am actually starting to get some Christmas spirit.

As Hubby was watching pro football today, he was watching QVC whenever there was a commercial. I spotted a bread machine that was on clearance for 30% off that I wanted. My machine works fine but is bulky and I can’t keep it on the counter. Hubby said to me do you want it. I said yes it is but it is a want not a need. He ordered it for me.

https://www.qvc.com/Breadman-2-lb-Multi-Function-Bread-Maker-w-Fast-Bake.product.K49788.html?productNumber=k49788&sc=ISRC

We don’t exchange gifts at Christmas but we do this kind of thing this time of year. A couple of days ago he saw something he wanted for the SUV. I ordered it!

Hubby decided he wanted to make a new meal out of the turkey tenderloin that we had left. So he substituted the turkey slices for the Chicken Picatta that he makes. It is pictured above. He made this big plate for himself. I had a smaller plate. It was so delicious! There were no leftovers so we can do a new meal tomorrow. The recipe we use is above. We had no capers in the fridge nor did we have fresh parsley so we left them out.

I am off to read for the evening. I hope you all had a wonderful day too!

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Every Day

Two Bulk Online Purchases

I noticed the other day that we were getting low on soaps. We had only one small refill of hand soap and I am using our last bottle of laundry detergent.

So I checked the bulk prices of both on Walmart and Amazon for what I needed. These two were clear winners for what we use. Since supply chain issues have been a big problem, I decided to order them right away hoping that they would have them in stock. They did and I had them within 2 days.

In case anyone is interested, I ordered three laundry soap from https://www.walmart.com/ip/Great-Value-Our-Promise-Free-and-Clear-64-Loads-HE-Liquid-Laundry-Detergent-100-fl-oz/205587398 at a cost of $ 7.98 per bottle. This is our favorite.

I ordered two of the Dial Antibacterial Hand Soap from https://www.amazon.com/dp/B000JK3M0G?psc=1&ref=ppx_yo2_dt_b_product_details at a cost of $ 17.49 per bottle. These will last a very long time for us so I won’t have to worry about running out if this new variant becomes a real issue.

I got free shipping on both orders. I belong to Walmart Plus which I am allowing to renew this month. I do not have Amazon Prime. I have not had it since the spring.

It will be a quiet day here. Since I roasted two turkey tenderloins last night, our dinner will be just reheating leftovers.

I also am expecting my large box of Christmas cards to arrive today. So we will be watching college football while I write cards. When I looked for cards in my storage, I could only find 2 cards. It became clear that I didn’t buy any last year after Christmas. I won’t make that mistake again.

I hope you all are having a great weekend!

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Last Grocery Haul This Winter & My Plans

In an attempt to save gasoline, I bundled a few errands yesterday. I went to get my booster shot at Walmart. My plan was to make a quick shop in the store but it was very crowded so I quickly left.

I went elsewhere to pick up some on sale meat, items for company that we will have the end of the month, and some treats for Hubby and I for the rest of the winter.

So on to Top’s I went. I got 9 of the Voortman’s SF cookies that Hubby and I love. They were on sale for $ 3.19 each. The Red Chocolate Bar was Free with an E-coupon that Top’s sent me. It has less calories and less sugar. It will be eaten when we need just a little piece of chocolate. The Queen Anne Cherry Cordials are for company and the fudge pops are for anyone who wants one.

Then I stopped at Aldi’s where I purchased 2 dozen eggs for $ 1.29 each( lowest price I could find), a quart of half and half creamer, a quart of heavy whipping cream, turkey tenderloins, a seasoned chuck roast that was on sale for $ 5.99 a lb. which totaled $ 14.50, some salami, prosciutto, and black forest ham, 2 sea salt Pita Chips, and some Artisan Flatbread.

The cold cuts will be used to make some antipasto which Hubby loves for brunch. This Flatbread makes the best pizza in just 9 minutes. So when we just have to have a cheat day, this is what we make. We love these turkey tenderloins and they are so easy. I just roast them in the toaster oven. The chuck roast will be cooked in the crock pot or Instant Pot when we are craving stew. Both meats will make many meals for us.

Now that it is snowy and freezing cold out, we will stay home as much as we can. I don’t like driving in the ice and snow. So we will only go out for doctor appointments and haircuts. We may be able to use Tele-Health for some of the doctor appointments and haircuts can be cancelled and rescheduled if it is a bad snow day.

I subscribe to Walmart Plus for grocery delivery so we will use that if we need a grocery order. It also includes free shipping on walmart.com so I can get some items that way. I also use Amazon when I have a large enough order. I actually have some shipped orders coming today. I will show you those tommorrow.

The only time I will go out for food is if there is a rock bottom meat sale that I must stock up with and the roads are clear.

So do you avoid driving as much as possible in the winter? Did you get any good buys this week?

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How to Save on the Cost Of Food

If you haven’t noticed the rising cost of food, you are either a billionaire, the media, or living under a rock. Living here in NY, we have seen huge increases. And it is not the 5% that the media and the government keep talking about either. It is 25-50% depending on what you purchase. We have all seen it no matter what food you buy. We are going to continue to see it especially if the new spending bill passes the Senate. Every time the government spends money that adds to the debt, your prices will rise.

Don’t think that people making a lot of money will be the ones paying for it. We will pay for the increases in the products we purchase. Walmart, Amazon, and all of your supermarkets will pass their increased costs on to you, the consumer. They are not going to pay it. You are!

So what can you do to keep your costs down? Here are many of the things that we do to help our bottom line on food purchases.

We do not waste food. Never, ever! We eat every morsel that we buy. All leftovers are eaten either as a next night meal or made into a different meal. If we have a meal or two and we have just a smidgen of meat or vegetable leftover, we put it in a freezer bag and freeze it. We keep adding the little smidgen’s to the bag until it is full. Then we pull it out of the freezer and make a soup, stew or casserole with it. Then we eat that dish every night until it is gone.

We also have leftover nights where we will pull some from the week from the fridge and have a smorgasbord for dinner. That is rare though since I cook portion amounts.

We always cook the portions of protein that our bodies need. No matter what meat we have, I cook 4 oz. for each of us for dinner. That is all the protein you need each day. There are days that we will eat bacon or sausage for brunch too so those days we get 6 oz. of protein. But I limit it to 6 oz. a day on those occasions.

Fresh produce is another item that we never waste. We use it up in salads, slow cook it up with a roast, or pan roast it with any meat. If we have carrots, onions or celery that are getting old, I dice or slice them up and freeze them to pull out when we need those items for a meal. I first, lay them flat on a cookie sheet and freeze them. Then I put them in a freezer bag to pull out whatever amount I need for a meal. Matter of fact, I will be doing that today. I got 2 – 5 lb. bags of whole carrots on a B1G1F sale for dirt cheap. We are not eating them up fast enough. So I will prepare them and get them in the freezer today before they spoil.

If you have apples that are starting to get soft, make apple pie filling to can or freeze. Keep your apples in a cool place so that they last for months. We keep apples in our cold garage inside of a cooler to keep any critters out. They last for a very long time. I also keep onions and potatoes in the garage. I keep a thermometer out there to make sure they don’t freeze. If the temp is getting close to freezing I put them in the basement until the temperature goes back up. If you don’t have a garage or basement, keep them in a pantry if you keep your winter temps down in your home. Otherwise, as a last resort and if you have the space, put them in the refrigerator rather than have them spoil.

When we shop, we buy mostly on sale items. If I see that BS chicken breasts are on sale for $1.99 a lb. or less, I will buy 3 packages and can or freeze them. If I see a roast on sale for $ 4.99 a lb. I will buy a couple and do the same. These days, we are pretty much sticking to buying roasts, pork chops, chicken or hamburger because everything else is too expensive. The only exception is fish which I will pay more for but only when it is on sale.

I also have purchased cans of Keystone All Natural meats. They come from an Amish family company and the cost of them sometimes beats the price of fresh. We have tried all of them: pork, turkey, chicken, ground hamburger and their beef. They are all delicious and they are all just the meat and salt in the can. Each can has 28 oz. in it. So we get quite a few meals out of one can. They also have a very long shelf life. If you are interested in them, purchase just one can and try it. You want to make sure that your family likes it before you stockpile them.

When I buy canned tomatoes, beans, etc. when they are on sale, I buy more than one. Back in the 1970’s, when our budget was really tight and prices were sky rocketing, I would buy the 1 that we needed and 2 more for the pantry. That way I didn’t have to pay full price the next time I needed a can. That really holds true today. If you see a can that is on sale and use it all the time, buy a case if you can afford it. Prices will never be lower than today. They just keep going up. So a stockpile is better than money in the bank!

When nuts go on sale, we buy at least 3 cans. We eat nuts for snacks and to put in salads.

There are certain things I will not buy right now because I deem the prices way too high. They are soda( no nutrition), coffee unless it is Cafe Bustelo, filet mignon and other steaks, lamb chops, most snacks and candy come to mind at the moment. I know there are many others.

I will substitute other items for the high priced ones. We drink water or iced tea instead of soda. I drink tea instead of coffee. We eat the cheaper meats instead of the more expensive ones. We eat a handful of nuts or a fruit instead of chips and other snacks. We are not eating candy.

When I go shopping, I check out cheaper options. If produce is too high, I will buy frozen veggies if the price per pound is cheaper. If canned is cheaper than those two options and it is going in a soup of casserole, I will buy that. I rinse the salt off any canned veggies since we stick to a low salt diet. I do the same with the Keystone meats.

Make your food from scratch. Most of the time it is cheaper. If you have an Aldi, shop there. Their produce and their meat sales are so much cheaper than my other stores. I love my Aldi’s. I think Winco in the western part of the country is probably the alternative to Aldi.

If you like fresh veggies, always buy in season. Right now, the different squashes and cabbage are cheaper than other veggies. They also keep a long time. Apples and potatoes are also in season. Can in season veggies to that you can eat them cheaply all year round. We had lots of tomatoes from our own garden this year. We ate many fresh but we also canned a lot of them to eat this winter.

I also keep canned mushrooms, dehydrated mushrooms, and fresh mushrooms when they are on sale in our home. I buy whichever is on sale to keep a good supply. My favorite is the dehydrated because they are the cheapest at my Amish store and they are easy to use.

If you have an Amish store within 2 hours of you, you might consider shopping there. We go once every month or 2 and it is well worth the trip. Their bulk prices are so much cheaper than even the warehouse clubs. I buy oatmeal, spices, the mushrooms, seeds, fruits, 100% pure maple syrup, veggies, meats, and a few bakery products from them.

If you have the freezer space and can buy a cow from a local farmer each fall, you will save a lot of money per pound.

There are many other ways like keeping a price book to always know the lowest price. I find this to be very difficult these days with prices constantly changing. But it also gives you an idea of how fast prices are rising.

I am sure that many of you have tips to keep the costs down that I have not mentioned. Please feel free to leave them in the comments so that someone else can benefit from them.

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We Are Home!

We spent from Wednesday to today with our son at his beautiful Adirondack property in Northeastern New York . We just got home about 3 hours ago.

Our plan was to spend Thanksgiving with him and our granddaughter. But you know what they say about the best laid plans. She was exposed to Covid19 at her private school so was under quarantine and we did not get to see her. Fortunately she did not contract the virus! She can go back to school tomorrow. We will see her soon. We miss her so much!

But we had a wonderful Thanksgiving dinner with my son and three of his friends. We enjoyed every minute of it. The other night it snowed there and the pines on his property were so beautiful with one of the first snows of the season. It is so rural and peaceful where he lives.

We had a good time going out to lunch one day and then visiting his business to see what work had been done on the building since last June when we were there.

Just spending quality time with family is the greatest gift in the world!

Speaking of snow, it is snowing here right now and it is gorgeous! I am happy that I can stay home now and just enjoy it.

I will be back soon this week to continue posting about saving in this environment. I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving!

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The Utility Bill Has Arrived!

Since saving on the utility bills has been the topic of my last couple of posts, I have been waiting to see how much my current bill which I read last week came in at. We get billed monthly for what we actually use.

Well, we got it today. If you remember from my last post, we used about 98 less in kilowatt hours for electricity than the same period last year. We also ended up using 12.4 less in therms after they made the conversion from CCF’s to therms.

Last year’s bill for the same month was $ 156.91. The bill we got today was for $ 172. 35. Hubby looked to see what increased and he said most of it was the natural gas cost. The price of a therm was up about 45%. So the bill was $15.44 higher than last year for using a lot less electricity kilowatts and a lot less therms of natural gas.

I am very happy that we were able to keep our usage down and we hope to do that every month. I wish you all luck doing the same.

Since I will be busy the next few days getting ready for Thanksgiving, I want to wish you and your families a wonderful holiday. I hope you make many new memories.

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How We Are Trying To Save On Our Electric and Natural Gas Bills (cont.)

I forgot to tell you that we have a King size bed so we have a dual control electric blanket. I can set my side independently from Hubby’s. While I don’t sleep with my side on all night, Hubby does.

We also had a humidifier installed on our furnace. Humidified air feels warmer. We change the filter on that once a season. It does not get very dirty. However, we check our furnace filter on the first of every month. If it is dirty, it gets changed. We want to keep our furnace working at top efficiency.

We have our furnace checked by a professional every Fall. When we called for an appointment this Fall, we had to wait over 6 weeks. Seems everyone is getting their furnaces checked this year since there is the threat of a “dark cold winter”. So it is not being checked until after Thanksgiving.

Every morning once the sun comes up, I open the window treatments on the sunny side of the house to let the sun help with the heating. I open and close them all day as the sun moves. We had these custom window treatments made for our home when we moved in. They are these:

https://www.hunterdouglas.com/energy-efficiency

They have saved us a lot of money since we have a lot of large windows.

The minute it gets dark, I make sure that they are all down to help keep the cold out at night.

We do not turn on lights when it is light outside. The only exception is if we have a very dreary day outside. But then we only use one light in the room or rooms that we are in. We leave that room, we turn it off. That is the rule here. I have been trying to teach my grandson this. When he stays he leaves lights on all over the place.

We have a window in our master bath which gives plenty of light to take showers and even do my makeup. So that light is only used after dark too.

We never leave the TV’s on when we are not using them. I watch You Tube more than anything else. I make sure not to turn on the cable box when I am watching. Those boxes draw a lot of power. If you are not watching cable TV, you do not need the box on.

Hubby uses the DVR to record all of his shows so that he can marathon binge watch them at one time. He hates commercials and so do I. This way he can fast forward through them. This also saves energy because the TV is not on as long.

We looked for leaky windows and doors in September before we turned the heat on. We had a huge gap under the front door. You should have seen the light it was letting in. Hubby fixed that by adjusting the door sweep. Our windows were good.

I don’t go out a lot in the winter. I do not like driving in snow. Since I run most of the errands, the outside doors don’t get opened much. That is a good thing since the hot air in the house just pours out when we do. I have my dentist and doctor appointments finally set up to avoid winter. I am very happy about that.

I don’t sleep well some nights. I make sure there are plenty of large throws in the great room to keep warm with if I am up when it is 64 in here. I don’t want to have to turn the heat up.

The other large expense is the heating of water in your home. We had an on demand tankless water heater installed when we built our home. It only heats the water when we turn on the tap. It takes a bit sometimes to get hot depending on where in the house I am using water. But I collect the cold water in a large pot to use during the day while the water is heating up. We have saved so much money by having this and not having to keep a very large tank of water hot all day. The heater is getting older now and we might have to replace it soon. But we will replace it with another one because of the energy savings.

I take navy showers so as to not have to use so much hot water as it would use if I just let it run. I air dry my hair. My blow dryer gets used more to defrost my chest freezer than to dry my hair.

I try to heat water in the microwave rather than on the stove. I cook the little bit of spaghetti we use around here in the microwave.

We use stainless travel mugs for our coffee in the morning so that it stays nice and hot and we don’t have to reheat it.

I have always had chest freezers over the years. They are more energy efficient than the stand up freezers. I have an organization plan so that I can find things easily.

Don’t stand there in front of your open refrigerator and decide what to have for dinner. Plan before you open the door. Then get in and get out!

Also as a reminder, if you are going away for Thanksgiving, turn your heat down but not so low that your pipes freeze.

I have been sitting here writing to all of you as I listen to my furnace running. It is 37 degrees outside. The bills are going to be high. I will let you all know how much my bill is when I get it next week. I am hoping not too bad since we saved energy over the month. Time will tell.

These are all of the things that I can think of right now. I would be happy if you have others that you could share with us. It helps others and me too.

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How We Are Trying To Save On Our Electric and Natural Gas Bills

This is the topic that I have decided to do today. Usually I start with food but with heating season upon us I think this is the most important one now.

We have cut many of our electricity costs over the past few years. We have LED bulbs in every socket inside and outside our home. They have come down in price compared to when they first came out so are relatively cheap to purchase. We had CFL’s prior to this and we saved a bit of money by switching to the LED’s.

We purchased a new refrigerator a couple of years back along with a new energy efficient washer and dryer this year. Both of those purchases have helped lower our costs.

But we still have to be cognizant of all the other things that we need to do.

What you are seeing in the picture is the meter that I use to check to see how much energy different things that take electricity cost us in our home. It tells us what we are using and the estimated cost. I haven’t used it in quite a while but I am cooking differently now so I want to check all my kitchen appliances that I am using to see what I am actually using. I only had it plugged into an outlet when I took the picture.

I am making chicken in my Instant Pot for dinner. I will plug the pot cord into the meter and then connect the meter to the outlet and just let it measure while my chicken is cooking. I believe that the instant pot uses less energy than my other small appliances but I want to be sure. So I will cook the same chicken recipe over the next few weeks in my air fryer, crock pot, and toaster oven to find out. After doing a lot of research, I believe the second most energy saving one is the crock pot followed by the air fryer and then the toaster oven. But I want to be sure so I will do this recipe in them all. We will be eating a lot of chicken around here.

I rarely use my oven or range top anymore. I am using the pressure cooker a lot. I also use my small electric fry pan and waffle maker for eggs, bacon, sausage, chaffles, and Keto pancakes.

On the rare occasion that I do use the range top, I try to keep covers on things especially if I am boiling water. I use the lowest heat I can that will cook quickly. I always turn the burner off before things are done by a few minutes and just let the residual heat finish the cooking for me. If I use the oven to bake or roast some meat, I make sure I fill the oven up with lots of dishes so that I have things cooked ahead and don’t waste all of that natural gas cooking just one item. I also turn the oven off 5-10 minutes early and just let things continue to cook. When I take them out of the oven, I leave the oven door all the way open to let all that heat flow out into our kitchen.

When I do the laundry, I use the ECO setting on my washer. I wash and rinse using cold water most of the time. I use laundry detergent when I have really soiled clothes like yesterday when Hubby was getting rid of most of the rest of the leaves that had fallen. He came in and his jacket was a disaster. So it got sprayed with stain remover and washed in warm water and the same on the rinse. Since I had just done the laundry the day before, I had to look for things to wash with it. I had a few clothes and then grabbed the bathroom towels to go in too. I always do full loads.

Now that I have back issues, I use my dryer for everything but my good tops, blouses, and lingerie or anything that is really delicate. Those things all get hung on the guest bathroom shower rod. I use 6 wool balls in my dryer which lets me dry clothes faster and they come out less wrinkled so I don’t have to dry them as long. I also use the EcoDry setting. After I remove the clothes, I leave that door open for just a few minutes to let the heat into the room.

We have a programmable thermostat for our heating. Hubby has it set at 71 from 9am to 10pm. It is set at 64 from 10pm to 7am. Then it goes up to 68 from 7am to 9am. Hubby is always cold so this is how we have to do it. Set yours at what is comfortable for you so that you can save some energy. I run around my house in shorts and a tee all winter, I sweat at 71 especially if I am doing a lot of work. But I can’t have Hubby cold. I think I have an internal furnace so I am always hot. When Hubby went to work during the years our boys were in school, I set the temperature down to 64 when they left and turned it back up to 70 about an hour before Hubby came home. I was quite comfortable at 64 all day.

We keep an electric blanket on our bed so that we are warm while sleeping, Usually I just heat it up until I am warm and then turn it off for the night.

I am going to have to continue this post tomorrow because I am tired and it is time to rest. I have a lot more to say on this topic.

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Back To Basics or Perhaps Even Bare Bones

I am hearing of so many people struggling right now. Times are getting tough for a lot of people. Prices, as you all know, have risen pretty quickly on food, clothing, OTC medicines, cleaning products, hygiene products, gasoline, propane, oil for heating, etc. Doctors and dentists have raised what they charge. We have just gotten notification that our private health insurance and Medicare will be going up January 1st. The Medicare costs will eat in to the Social Security increase for next year. People who rely on that to live are going to have a much tougher time next year than they have had this year even though they should end up with a small increase.

Your local towns and cities will likely raise your property taxes at the highest percentage increase that you have seen in years. Their costs have risen too. I know I am planning on my January property tax bill being much higher. Some may raise your sales taxes or those fees and surcharges that you see on everyday bills like phone service, cellphone service, and your utility bills. We all know that the media and our government have warned us that it is going to be a rough winter because electricity, natural gas, oil and propane bills are going to be huge. I have seen predictions of 30 up to 40% increases. People who have filled their propane and oil tanks already have felt the higher prices. We get billed monthly for natural gas and electricity. We saw an increase last month. I just submitted our readings for this past month yesterday. I am expecting a much larger bill than the same period last year even though we cut our natural gas by 15 CCF’s and our electricity by 98 KWH. We live in a very snowy and cold climate in the winter and our heat has been running all month so I am expecting this bill to a doozy. But that will just be the beginning of these costs rising. I believe it will get worse. I could get into the politics of it but I think you all know why those prices are rising.

Let’s talk about the pain at the pump! UGH! We are paying $ 3.50 per gallon here for gasoline. I am sure there are many people across the country paying a lot more than that especially in states like California. I expect that the prices for the Thanksgiving travel will rise. So if you work from home or are retired get your gasoline tank filled before the prices go up. Even if you aren’t traveling and just need gasoline to go to work next week, fill up today or tomorrow so that you don’t have to fill up next week. Those that are traveling may have to fill up next week too but at least you will have gotten one tank of gas at a cheaper price.

We have gotten notification from our homeowners insurance that the cost to rebuild our home has gone up(lumber prices) so when we get our renewal in March, it will cost more. Not only because of that but their costs have gone up too just like yours and because of so many weather disasters across our country this past year. Many have mentioned that they have gotten their policy increases this Fall and they are way up.

So what do you do if your income hasn’t increased or it has decreased? You get back to basics or what I call a bare bones budget! I have lived through a period like this back in the early seventies when I had little ones. It happened right after we purchased our first home and my oldest was born and then my youngest. Fortunately, our mortgage interest was only about 7.5%. But many that got mortgages shortly after we bought were at 16%. That is what happens when there is inflation. We have not even seen what inflation will really be like in this country because the Treasury has been controlling the interest rates. Just wait until they start allowing those to go up! Every time the government prints money, our costs go up. You have already seen and it is going to get worse and worse every time they spend money that they don’t have. So many people thought that the stimulus checks were free. They weren’t free; we are all paying for them through the printing of money which is devaluing what your dollar is worth. Every time they pass something that is going to cost money, the $ gets devalued more and more. We haven’t seen anything yet. Obviously we survived the inflation of the 1970’s but I believe this will be even worse. So I have some experience working with a bare bones budget and will be writing articles on what you must do to be able to survive it. I will tackle one topic at a time when I can because I am still dealing with health issues. If I am up to it, I may write the first one later today.

So what are you guys doing to control these increases? Share in the comments so that you can help other people who may be able to use your advice.