Every Day

Ignoring It All In February!

February is going to be the month that I shut down all of the “noise” that surrounds me.

Every day we are inundated by commercials on TV, advertisements in magazines and newspapers, ads in the mail, You Tube commercials, deals in our e-mail, etc. Every one of these things contribute to what we purchase in a month’s time.

I have decided that it would be nice to make this all go away. So these are the things we will do to get rid of some of these things and then we will ignore the rest.

We are recording any shows that we want to watch on TV. When we go back to watch them, we will fast forward through the commercials.

We have unsubscribed from most of the company e-mail lists that we are on. Those we deemed it was prudent not to, we will send to junk for now.

We will not look at Hip2Save or any other deal site online for the entire month. But AD, aren’t you afraid you will miss a great deal? Nope! There is ALWAYS another great deal!

We do get a newspaper every day since Hubby enjoys reading it in the morning. The only ads that we will look at is a quick scan of the food ads. That’s it. All other ads will be recycled without reading them. I only receive one magazine monthly and those ads will be ignored as I read the articles.

I will ignore the ads on You Tube while they run the first 5 seconds or so. Then immediately skip to the content. Any content by the vloggers that are selling something will be totally ignored.

By going in and out of the house via our garage in the winter time, we pass right by our recycle bin. I will drop any ad that arrives in our mailbox into that bin unread on the way in from the mailbox.

I want a peaceful month without all of this “noise”. I want a month away from shopping,, etc. If I don’t look at all of the before mentioned things I won’t know about any “great deals” that I just have to have. 

Enough is enough! I am taking my life and my time back and will be saving a lot of money in the process.

If any of you get tired of always chasing the good deals and being inundated with them, come join me in this challenge in February.

Every Day

An Analysis of our Electric and Natural Gas Bill

We got our monthly electric and gas bill on Friday. I know what we paid for this past year which as of this month is $1800.15. That is the dollar amount that I am always trying to lower- the annual amount. Same period last year we paid $1971.33. So considering that rates go up, I guess we have done a pretty good job of lowering our consumption. That said it has been warmer this winter than last winter. The average daily temperature this month was 36 degrees. For the same time last year it was 31 degrees. So Mother Nature is helping us out here too.

This month’s bill was $ 202.17 for 31 days. The # of days varies every month depending on when the meter reader comes (6 months of the year) and when I read it (6 months of the year). Our company reads just 6 times and if you don’t read it the other 6 times, they estimate your billing. I don’t like estimates; I want to pay what I owe when I actually owe it so I always read the meters those 6 months and submit my readings to the company.

I dislike estimates as much as I dislike budget billing. With budget billing they take a 12 month average and bill you the same amount once a month. For people who like this that is fine. But I prefer to pay them what I actually owe them each month. I handled many complaints about customers’ budget billing when I worked a few years for the agency that regulated them. Many customers were billed way too much monthly and some of the customers were not billed enough so they had to pay that amount in a lump sum at the end of their budget billing year. 

Back to our bill this month. We used 589 KWH(measure of use) of electricity and 141 CCF’s(measure of volume of natural gas used) or 145.6 therms(We are charged in therms which is the energy heat content of the natural gas.) of natural gas. We are two people in the household. We entertain and have overnight company a few times a year. Our home is a little over 2100 sq. ft. on the main living floor(we have a ranch home) and the same amount of square footage in our basement.

Our builder heated the basement in case we wanted to eventually finish it with rooms down there. We keep the duct work closed all year round although I am sure there is some leakage. The only time we are in the basement is to clean and organize it, work out on the treadmill, to change the furnace filters, and to put in and take out food and other items from our freezer and pantry. Hubby does have a workbench down there but it gets minimal usage. A sweater works for the time spent down there and when we are on the treadmill we work up a sweat and are never cold.

We use natural gas for heat, cooking on our gas range stove top and oven, and for our on demand tankless water heating. Electricity is used for everything else. 

NYS makes the utility companies break out the dollar amounts on your bill so that you know exactly what you are paying for. There are the basic service charges for your meters(you pay this even if you use no electric or natural gas that month), the delivery charges(what it costs the company to bring the energy to our home), the supply charges(what you pay for the energy purchased by your company), the weather adjustment charges(This moderates the natural gas bills during any extreme weather between October 1 and May 31. If temperatures are colder than normal you typically receive a credit; if temperatures are warmer than normal, you receive a charge.) Since temperatures were warmer than normal this month, we were charged $ 6.50 for that. 

Then there are transition charges(These reflect the costs of making the electricity and natural gas industry more competitive; it includes associated credits/and or charges.), payment and billing services charges(the cost to produce and send you an electronic or paper bill and process payments), the merchant function charges(this is for the administrative costs of obtaining electricity and natural gas supply),the system benefits charges(a mandated charge by NYS for all electric and natural gas customers to fund clean energy activities conducted by NYSERDA and energy efficiency programs administered by my company), the revenue decoupling mechanism(a charge or a credit that reflects the difference between forecast and actual delivery service revenues to encourage the promotion of energy efficiency and renewable technologies), and finally the residential consumer discount( a monthly payment received from the New York Power Authority to be used for the benefit of residential customers). This bill it amounted to a credit of $ .51 which was included in the transition charges.

Is your head spinning? I am sure it is but this gives you an idea of what we are actually paying for and what you are most likely paying for even if it is not broken down on your bill like ours is.

The electric portion of our bill totaled $ 71.94 and the natural gas portion of our bill totaled $ 129.36 which comes to $201.30 and then there was a misc. charge of $ .87 which totaled the billed amount of $ 202.17.  

That $ .87 for miscellaneous charges was for a payment and billing services charge of $.81, a payment and billing charge GRT of $ .02, and billing and payment charges sales tax of $.04.

Included in the electricity bill were state and county taxes of $3.65. Included in the natural gas bill were state and county taxes of $ 6.49. Including the miscellaneous tax, the total taxes in this bill were $ 10.18.

I have written some posts on how we save on our electricity and natural gas bill. The posts are:

Phantom Energy 

Winter Savings 

More Energy Saved 

Saving on A/C 

Saving with a Pressure Cooker 

Watching The Large Expenses 

Getting Ready for Winter 

Saving While Doing Laundry

We are doing things a little differently this winter for heating. We have our temperature set during the day(6AM to 10PM) at 68 degrees and during the night at 63 degrees. It is very cold in here at night but we sleep with a dual control electric blanket and we are both very warm. Sometimes it is really cold in here during the daytime at 68 degrees and we will bump it up to 69 or 70 but that is infrequently. We are too old to be uncomfortable. So it is worth paying for a little more heat when we need it.

It takes a lot of natural gas to heat this size house especially when we have 10 foot ceilings and 2 Cathedral ceilings in the house. We also have 16 very large windows( pictured above; that is why we have energy saving shades on them) in the house along with 1 door that is mostly glass and 8 smaller windows. So I don’t think our heating costs are unreasonable. 

If anyone knows what the GRT in the payment and billing charge stands for, would you please tell me in the comments. I don’t know or remember what it is. I will call my utility company on Monday to ask if no one knows.

So have your heating bills gone up or down this winter? What are doing to save on those costs? I am  very curious.    

Every Day

A Small Grocery Haul and a Head’s Up

On the way home from the dentist today, I stopped at Wegman’s since it was close by and picked up the only grocery haul that I will be doing this week. 

I have been to the dentist this week multiple times. I had two teeth extracted and got my full denture. I have been having an awful time of it. I don’t know why because I have had teeth extracted before but this time it has really been an ordeal. I am in pain and I had to have an adjustment today because of the denture digging into my gums. Needless to say, I have only been eating hard boiled eggs and mashed avocado for my meals. The dentist told me to take Tylenol but it is a drug that my body can’t handle so I am trying to ignore the pain.

This had really thrown me for a loop because I am a very strong individual and usually handle things well. So this is very aggravating to me!

So I have been spending most of my time sleeping or just resting. I may or may not post for the rest of the week. Hopefully this will pass soon. Till then, take care.   

Every Day

A Little of This and a Little of That

You all know that I like to get my posts on this blog early. But today has been one of those days.

It started with a haircut appointment. Then it was off to our library to donate some books. You see with all of the organizing in the basement, I have cleaned out most of my frugality books among others. Many of the really good ones I am saving for my DIL to look at the next time they visit. I will let her pick any she wants. I also have many recent books that I think my son will love. Then I will donate the rest to the library. Any that are in excellent condition that they don’t have they will put on the shelves. The others will get sold at their book sale. It is the best way I know to help the library besides paying their annual tax that supports it. So a bag full of books that I decided neither my DIL nor son would read, I donated this morning. 

Then it was a stop at Aldi’s to pick up some things that Hubby decided he needed after I had already shopped yesterday. I also forgot to get ice cream for West’s birthday. Even though they are having a sleepover party for his friends and going on an outing to ice skate on his birthday, he loves to come here and get his gifts and perhaps a cake or cupcakes. This year it will be brownies frosted with chocolate frosting. Chocolate is his favorite. When we picked them up at the airport last Sunday, he was adamant that he had to come here one day for his birthday. I guess he likes his Grandma and Grandpa. I can’t believe he will be 10.

Hubby used up all of the
garlic last night and I used up the last Babybel. Hubby also decided he
wanted some Black Forest Ham to put on his salads and he said we needed
more Romaine. When I was by the freezer case to get the ice cream, they had the riced
cauliflower marked down so I got one. My total was $ 17.52.  

My last stop while I was out was for Scotties at Dollar Tree. Hubby informed me that he had opened the last box. So I stopped and got 15 boxes along with 3 small bags of Sugar Free candy for Hubby. They are a treat once in while. My total with tax was $19.44. The Scotties are the cheapest that I can get them anywhere here. Once in a while when there is a coupon and Top’s has a sale, I can get them for about $ .08 cheaper per box. But I only get one paper with the coupons. They will have that sale again this Sunday so I will get 3 because the coupon is $1./3. Does anyone get it cheaper? Would you share?

I have gotten 30 minutes in on the treadmill and the bike today as usual.

I am about to go out and read my electric and gas meter for my company. We are going to get major snow this weekend so I want to do it while I don’t have to mog through that to get to the meter. Then it is back down to the basement to continue organizing and purging. I have already gotten rid of 12 bags of things, some donated and some went into the trash.

The other thing I did this week besides the basement and my daily chores was that I cooked a 12 lb. turkey which we are about to have the third meal from. Tomorrow I will make turkey soup and whatever we don’t use or eat in the soup, will get portioned out and frozen for other meals. 

Other than West’s birthday celebration, it is a football playoff weekend. Yeah!

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend. 

Every Day

Grocery Shopping This Week

I needed a lot of things this week. This is what I purchased at Top’s:

2 Grated Cheddar Cheese – $ 2.50 ea.= $ 5.00
2 Mexican Blend Cheese – $ 2.50 ea = $ 5.00
5 Pace Salsa – $ 1.49 ea. wyb 5 = $ 7.45
2 Strawberries- B1G1F = $ 5.49
Deli Provolone Cheese – $ 3.70
Deli Turkey Breast – $ 8.18
2 Jello – $ .79 ea. =$ 1.58
4 – V8 juice – $2.49 ea. =$ 9.96
2 bags of Sweet Peppers – B1G1F – $ 3.99
1 lb. Jimmy Dean Bacon – $ 3.99 with Super Cpn.

Total was $ 54.34. I screwed up really bad here. I forgot that in order to get the discounted price on the V8, I had to buy 5. Then they would have been $1.99 each. I will be taking them back and doing it correctly to save myself $ .50 each.

Hubby was craving a sandwich and requested the cold cuts. This will get him through until I cook a turkey which I will do this week. We were totally out of these two cheeses so I stocked while they were on sale. 

This is what I purchased at Aldi. Due to a lot on my schedule today, I am showing the receipt today, since it is short. Total was $ 61.75.

Hubby wanted the pork butt, which was on sale to cook slowly to tenderize it. I have never ever cooked a pork butt before. We will see how it turns out. I am hoping to shred it and mix it with SF BBQ sauce. Then freeze it in portions. He also requested the pork sausage since he loves it with eggs for breakfast.

Hubby loves the chocolate Coconut Cashew Crisps for a snack. They are so popular at my Aldi that they are hard to find. When I find them today, I bought a bunch. I love a Caramel one once in a while, so I bought one for me. 

We were out of wings and shrimp and Aldi has the best prices in my area for them. The ground chicken is for lunches this week. I will be making burgers out of it.

We were all out of cocktail sauce which is how we eat our shrimp. The coffee is to hold Hubby until his Amazon subscribe and save order comes. The creamer and milk were necessities. 

So I spent a total of $ 116.09. But I have not spent  a lot prior this month.

Have you gotten any good deals this month? Please share with us.   

Every Day

Frugal Things We Have Done

These are the things we have done frugally since the last time I posted on this topic:

– Received $ 21.45 in checks. They will be deposited into one of our savings accounts.

– Cashed in for a $25.00 Amazon gift card for rebate points. This will be used to pay for any food ordered at this month.

– Donated 2 bags of clothing to Goodwill. Got a receipt just in case we can itemize for 2020, although that is doubtful.

– Replaced 5 CCF light bulbs in basement with 5 LED bright lights which gives me much more light to organize and clean down there. The bulbs were purchased on sale a couple of months ago.

– All food has been made from scratch at home. No restaurant food was consumed. 

– I picked up a free can of organic black beans from Top’s with their digital coupon. No extra gasoline was used because it was on the way home from picking up prescriptions.

– I donated food that we no longer eat to our local food bank. I got a receipt just in case we itemize this year.

– Exercised every day but one when I was not feeling well. All exercising done at home. We no longer pay for YMCA membership for us.

– Talked with my sister using free long distance. Priceless! 

– I washed 2 loads of clothing per week using cold water. I hung them to dry. 

– We had a lot of salads for dinner and lunch so that our produce got used up.

– I sliced up a # of red, orange and yellow peppers and onions to use in fajita’s. We eat our fajita’s in a bowl – no tortillas. Almost all of the peppers are gone before they spoiled. I used our homemade fajita seasoning.

– I purchased a birthday card at Dollar Tree to go with West’s birthday gift. I can’t believe he will be 10. Time sure flies.

– We took our son and his family to the airport on New Year’s Day so that they could stay in the Florida Keys for a few days on a houseboat. Then they went on a Caribbean cruise. We picked them at the airport last night. We packed a small dinner in case we needed something to eat while waiting for them in the free cell phone lot. We picked them up at dinner time. We ended up bringing it home but we were prepared in case hunger pangs hit. 

– I have already purchased two gifts that are needed in 2020. One was on sale 20% off and the other was on clearance. 

– I purchased 2 large bottles of vitamins for us using coupons along with a sale. January is the cheapest month to buy them.

– While I was digging through boxes in the basement, I found Christmas cards that I had made 9 years ago. After I received them, I looked all over and couldn’t find them. So I figured I had thrown them out. I guess not! I will use them next Christmas.

What have you done frugally in the past 10 days or so? Please share with all of us. Remember we learn from each other. 

Every Day

2020 Goals: To Replace The Money We Will Be Using From Our Emergency Fund

We have a very large emergency fund. We have saved money over the years to feed it so that we can pay for any emergencies that come up.

We keep enough in it to pay for a new car when it is needed, new large appliances when they bite the dust, a new roof when it is needed, a large amount for necessary household repairs, money to replace carpeting and furniture, to pay for large medical and dental expenses, and a miscellaneous amount for anything else that might pop up.

Well, I got some bad news at the dentist a few weeks ago again. You all know that I have spent a fortune at the dentist over the past 10 years. We had no dental insurance up until 6 months ago. We now have a plan that my dentist offers that pays for 2 cleanings and dental exams, 2 fluoride treatments a year, X-rays once a year, and one emergency visit with an X-ray once a year. We go to the dentist every 3 months for cleanings and exams. Those 2 extra cleanings have just a $30. co-pay. We also get 20% off the standard fee for other procedures.

Fall of 2018, I had a partial denture made to replace a permanent bridge that was only 4 years old that failed. Just on those two things and some crowns to hold the partial and our cleanings and exams, we spent $XX,XXX. out of our emergency fund. We scrimped and saved to replace that money over the past 6 years. We did it.

But now, the tooth under a crown that is holding one end of my partial denture has fractured. The tooth has actually started to come out of the crown and my gum has started to grow around both of them. This must be taken care of soon because both the fractured tooth and crown could come out at any time. When I was at the dentist 4 months ago, I mentioned some pain that I had in that tooth area.  The dentist took X rays but the fracture did not show on them at that time. He put some kind of medicine in that area and I never had any pain after that. I didn’t expect to hear anything but good news on this visit because I had no pain or tenderness and my gums are in excellent condition. Was I ever wrong!   

To repair this I only had a couple of options: have the crown and tooth removed and an implant put in to replace it so that it can hold the partial, have the fractured tooth and the other tooth holding my partial removed and a new full upper denture made or replace both teeth with implants. I may also have to have bone grafts done if need be to be able to have the implants. That will be much more money.

The tooth that is crowned holding the other side of my partial could fail at any time. So if I don’t have it removed now, it could be even more money down the road when it does fail.

I am so sick of living in my dentist’s chair that I decided to have both crowned teeth removed and a new full denture made. I just want to be done with all of it and not have another problem down the road. It would involve going for an appointment to have an impression mold made to send to the lab to make the denture. Then when the denture is ready, I need to go have the two extractions and on the same appointment the new denture would be put in. I would never be without teeth. After I heal I may have to have the denture realigned which is done in the dentist’s office. The cost is $3286. but after my dental plan discount, it will cost me $2636. out of pocket.

I think it is the right thing to do and the dentist agreed with me especially since he knows what I have been through and the costs I have already paid out of pocket.  Hopefully when this is all done over the next few weeks, I will only have to go for cleanings and exams. My lower teeth are in good shape.

So we will have to work to replace this money that we will be paying out of our emergency fund. This is another goal for 2020.

 I only tell you all of this because when you are planning for your retirement, make sure that you plan for many dental expenses in your retirement years. Even if you have a dental plan, it does not pay a lot on expensive things. So this is one more expense that you have to be prepared for.

Off topic, I am still working in the basement. I am now going through our many bins of Christmas decorations and deciding what we will keep and what we will purge. Once that is done, the large storage wall is done. Then on to the other areas.

Every Day

Grocery Shopping Day

With the exception of buying sea scallops, 4 lbs. of organic ground beef, and a large package of chicken breasts, these shops are all that I have purchased at the grocery store since the last week in December.

This is what I purchased at Aldi today:

6 Hass Avocados – $ .59 ea. = $ 3.54

2 bags of Riced Cauliflower – $ 1.69 ea. =$ 3.38

1 pkg. of Romaine Lettuce – $ $ 2.39

My total was $ 9.31.

This is what I purchased at Top’s:

1 bag of corn – $ 1.00

Bananas – $ 1.20

2 dozen Eggland Best Eggs – after Q’s – $ 2.00 for both

My total was $3.95 after my Senior Discount of 6%.

I have tried more than once to rice my own cauliflower. I just can’t make it taste as good as the frozen. So I have given up. When the frozen is on sale like today, I buy a couple. 

Does anyone know how to freeze avocados? I know you can buy them frozen in a bag so there must be a way to do it at home. I am guessing that I dice them into chunks and either put lemon or lime juice on them to prevent them from turning brown and then freeze them. If you have done this would you let me know how. I would love to be able to freeze them when they have a rock bottom sale like this because I eat a half of one every day.

It has been a productive day. Besides shopping, I did my exercising, talked to my dentist for a while to figure out our next step on the very long saga of my teeth(more about that in a later post), cooked a pound of bacon in the oven(I forgot to take a pic after it was cooked), scanned my receipts into the Fetch app., and worked some more in the basement. We have almost the entire storage wall done. Hubby is installing everything on his new computer so he has quit for the day. I may go back down and work there for a while. 

Are you being productive today? Did you get any good grocery deals this week?    

Every Day

This is The Disaster That I Have Been Working On

Lest you think that my home is organized and clean all of the time, I am here to show you that it is not. 

I am like anyone else who has hot spots that are a mess. 99% of the time you can walk into the living quarters of the house and it is neat and clean.

However, the basement and garage are another story. Now you all saw the pictures of the garage after we had the epoxy floor put down. That has stayed pretty organized. The floor of course is dirty with dirt and salt from parking the SUV in it in this winter weather.

But the basement is a mess. Every time, I am on the treadmill, I see what a mess it is! UGH!

So, with the exception of going to a Doctor’s appointment this morning and doing my exercising, I am working all day in the basement until I get tired. I want this space done this week. Because once the areas I am showing you here are done, then I have to empty the pantry which is a separate part of the basement so that Hubby can put up the walls in there and put down the carpeting. 

It evidently has been easy for us to just leave things a mess when we are looking for something or throw something down there and not deal with it when we are tired. The above area isn’t too bad but some of it needs to go on the shelves after they are cleaned out. 

I want to be able to walk or run on the treadmill without having to look at this mess. 

I will be purging things that we don’t need any longer and organizing the rest.

So know that until I post tomorrow or the next day that I am working in the basement in my free time. I do have to grocery shop for a few things on Senior Discount Day at Top’s tomorrow.

Do you guys have messes like this? 

Every Day

A Snapshot of My Last Two Days

I am still purging and organizing in the basement. I only work there about an hour a day after I do the treadmill for 30 minutes.

After washing the SUV on Thursday, it was time on Friday to clean out the inside. I had taken all of the disposable bags out to make room to take our company to the airport. So I also organized those into the container that I put all of my Aldi shops in. I only put 7 bags in. The rest are inside one of the disposable bags on the hooks near our bench in the garage. If I think I will need more than 7, it is easy to just grab more from there. Most times I won’t need them.

My purse gets cleaned out at least once a week of receipts, etc. Everything got done yesterday.

We were going to have chicken for dinner on Friday. However, Hubby offered to cook dinner if I would get some sea scallops. I had tried to get them at Top’s the day before. But they had none. They were trying to pass off those small wet bay scallops as sea scallops. No thank you! So I went yesterday to Niagara Produce and picked up dry sea scallops. They are the best!

So Hubby made Coquille St. Jacques in the form of a casserole for dinner. I am staying away from bread crumbs and potatoes so he left those out of the recipe. This was so delicious! 

Today was very productive. I got all of my exercising done very early in the day. I spent my hour in the basement after using the treadmill.

Then I wiped out the entire refrigerator and took stock of what needed to be used up. That is why I changed our menu for dinner tonight. We have a lot of salad fixings, meats, and cheeses, so Chef’s salad is what we will be eating. Waste not, want not!

Next I worked in the laundry room. I cleaned the outside and inside of both the washer and dryer.

I took special care of cleaning the rubber molding around the washing machine tub. It will easily mold if you don’t clean it really well every few months. That is why so many people complain that their front loading washer smells. It’s mold. Make sure you get under it. Dry it well when you are done.

Lastly, I took out the dispenser tray drawer and took it all apart and cleaned everything well with soap, vinegar and water. I also cleaned the area that it came out of extremely well.  

I should be able to finish the laundry room tomorrow. The basket on the dryer and 2 baskets that hold cleaning items on a shelf on the wall were cleaned and organized a couple of weeks ago, so they just need dusting. Then I can wash the woodwork and the tile floor and that room will be done. So it isn’t taking me as much time as I had alloted for it. 

After dinner, Hubby and I are going to watch the Buffalo Bills in their playoff game. I am so excited about the game. I hope they win.

Tomorrow, I don’t have much planned. But it is a day of rest around here usually.

I hope you all had a wonderful productive day also!