Every Day

About Precious

For my new readers or even long time readers, here are a few things about Hubby and I.

I was born in New York and have always lived in New York except for the 10 years that we lived in the Phoenix, Arizona area. Living in Arizona was a wonderful time in our lives but we missed our children and grandchildren so we came back to New York.

My Hubby is the love of my life and we have been married for more than 55 wonderful years. He took my breath away the first time I met him and I continue to love him more and more each day.

We have two sons who have their own lives now and we have a granddaughter and a grandson. I love them all as much as Hubby. They give me joy each and every day even though they do not live in the same town.

We retired 21 years ago this month. That early retirement was planned from the time we were in our early twenties. We made many of our choices around being able to retire early. Hubby had been diagnosed with heart disease when he was 23. His father died before he could retire. Hubby wanted to make sure that he had a few retirement years before he died. I have kept him healthy and he is doing great. Career choices were based on that and on making sure our children had a good college education. We reached that goal and many more.

People have asked me if we have always been frugal. I would have to answer that yes. Every decision was based on our and our children’s needs.

Did we have any luxuries while the children were growing up? Yes, we had many including the boys going to a private all boy’s academy for junior high and high school. We put an in- ground pool in our yard that we could all enjoy. We went to camp at a lake one year so they would know what that was like. You see Hubby and I both spent our summers on a lake when we were growing up. Believe me when I say that the boys had a great life when they were children and they went without nothing especially love. They spent time many summers camping with their Dad and other fathers and their sons. They played basketball, football, and track when they were at the academy and we were at every game. They were into soccer from the time they were 6. We paid for many proms and limousines.

By being frugal we put Hubby through his last 2 years of college(while I was at home taking care of two infants) and his Master’s program. Was that easy? No but it paid off in the long run. I was a stay at home mom until my youngest was in 5th grade when I took a part time job. Then the year after my oldest had finished his first year at the academy and my youngest son was starting in 6th grade, I took a full time job to pay for their private school and college educations. That way Hubby could concentrate on putting money away for retirement. I stopped working the year before my youngest son entered his last year at a 5 year college. I could do that because we were mortgage and debt free.

We were mortgage and debt free while we lived in Arizona and while we have lived back here in New York.

Frugality in everything you do allows you to make your choices in life and to be able to spend on the people and things that are important to you.

Even though we are retired we still practice frugality so that we can spend on what is important to us now. As we age and can’t do some of the things we used to be able to do, we can afford to hire people to do them for us.

Hopefully with the posts that I do here on the blog, some of you can learn from me and have the life that you want. I will do my best to post things that can help. I am getting older and slower at doing the things I used to do but I still have a functioning brain.

So if there is ever anything that you have a question about or want to learn about from my experience, just leave a comment and ask. I will do my best to write about it.

Every Day

Calculating Your Cost For Any Errand or Trip In Your Car

This is the calculator I use whenever I want to know what a trip to the grocery store, library, bank, warehouse club, to my son’s home in the Adirondacks, or any other trip will cost me.

My trip to Top’s right now will require 0.4 gallons of gas, which amounts to a fuel cost of $1.55. That is based on my SUV getting 18.2 miles to the gallon and that this tank of gasoline cost me $ 4.399.

I wanted to know if it was worth going back to Top’s to get more of the $3.99 bacon with the Super Coupon. I can only use the SC to get 1 package at a time. Well, the regular price of the bacon is $ 5.99.

Since the gas cost me $ 1.55 for the trip, the cost of the bacon if I go back is $5.54. It is hardly worth the trip considering the value of my time. My time is worth more than $.45 and the extra wear and tear on the SUV and the tires.

Now I am fully aware that I could have put the groceries in the car and gone back in yesterday but I had time constraints so that was not possible.

So I will not be going back for bacon. I may be making a trip to our bank later this week. If I do, I pass a Top’s on the way there and I will stop for it.

Use this calculator anytime you need to drive somewhere and it will give you a good idea of what you are spending on gasoline.

Every Day

Frugal Things We Have Been Doing

This is my first homegrown organic tomato this year. I will be making BLT salads for lunch tomorrow and using it. I have three more ripening in a couple of days.

I noticed that a button was coming loose on a good blouse that I was wearing. I sewed it back on right then and there. The buttons on it are unique and would be expensive to replace.

Lately we have been catching warm up water in the kitchen to use to water our hanging baskets.

Those strip steaks were not the best on Friday night. We had 1/2 of them left so Hubby sliced them really thin and sauteed them in garlic and butter for dinner on Saturday night. They were delicious. He finished his potato salad and I sauteed some fresh zucchini. We never waste food.

We got our gas and electric bill for mid June through mid July. We turned our A/C on a couple of days into this bill and have left it on because we have had some really hot days. For 30 days it was $117.01. We used 570 kwh’s in electricity and just 2.1 ccf’s of natural gas. I was okay with that because the same bill in 2021 was $120.17. We used 728 kwh’s for that period and 5.1 in ccf’s. So this year’s bill was $3.16 less than last year’s. And we all know how high the rates have gone and the supply and demand charges. So the fact that I have really reduced our usage is paying off. If I had the same usage as last year, this bill would have been a lot more.

I have been spending many hours a day decluttering. Anything that we no longer want or haven’t used will no longer take up space in my home. Most things will be donated and some items of value will be sold.

I cut off a pair of jeans that were frayed at the bottom to make shorts. I hemmed them.

Wanting a book to read but not wanting to spend the gasoline to go to our library(which is a hike), I went through my collection of books and decided to read The Complete Tightwad Gazette again. I also realized that I have some books on my Kindle that I had not read yet so they are being read also.

I have already read and shopped the loss leaders this week. Today, I went to Top’s. This is the only money I am spending on groceries this week. This 4.46 package of chicken drumsticks was $ 1.19 a lb. for a total of $ 5.31. They are on sale at my Aldi’s for $ .99 a lb. but not until Wednesday. So I decided not to go out shopping again on Wednesday because the amount of gasoline I would have used would be much more than the $.20 a lb.

The lb. of bacon was $ 3.99 with a Super Coupon. The zucchini was 1.25 lbs. at $ 1.88 a lb. The cheeses were on sale for $3.00 each.

So my total this week was $17.65.

I divided up the chicken drumsticks into 3 packages. We each eat 2 at a meal. Tonight we will have a meal’s worth along with some sauteed zucchini. The other 2 meals were food savered and put in my freezer.

We filled up the car last week using points worth $.20 off a gallon. So we paid $ 4.40 a gallon.

When I shopped today I used a coupon Top’s had given me when I shopped last week to get 100 gas points or $ .10 off a gallon. That jump started my savings for the gas period that started yesterday.

I did a load of laundry today using cold water and hanging everything to dry. This is the first load I have done in 10 days. With energy prices so high, when we are at home we are wearing our clothing 2-3 days before washing them. Then I wash a very large load.

Lastly I redeemed Fetch points for a $25. Walmart gift card.

Feel free to share with all of us how you saved money this past couple of weeks.

Every Day

When Will Our Food Prices Stop Going Up?

Does anyone know the answer to that question? If so I would love to know. But unfortunately the government has not stopped printing money so they will keep going up until they do and they get a handle on paying the debt back. I won’t hold my breath!

I had not been out to the stores in a couple of weeks. Yesterday I had a list of some items that we needed so I decided to go to our Top’s to get the list and look at some sale items.

I came home with these two bags.

As you can see one of them was only about 1/3 to 1/2 full.

Total for these bags was $ 101.+ I have never in my lifetime paid this much for less than 2 full bags. I said no on a number of items because I felt the prices were just too high. I am sure that in the time I had not been shopping there that the prices have risen at least 20-30%.

These are all of the items I purchased. We did buy some items for a celebration. Our 55th wedding anniversary was in the beginning of July. I was going to many medical appointments and we never really celebrated. So tonight Hubby is cooking the strip steaks on the grill. They are in the butcher paper and cost $ 24.76. I have some fresh mushrooms in the fridge that I will saute up in butter. The Fresh Express Caesar Salad Kit will be our side.

The 12 oz. of shrimp was on sale for $ 11.99. They are for a shrimp scampi pan recipe that we want to try next week. The blueberries were on sale for $ 2.77. The avocados were on sale for $ 3.99.

Hubby wanted 3/4’s of lb. of Sahlen’s ham for his lunch sandwiches. That was $ 7.82. He also loves their deli potato and mustard salad to go with his lunch. That was $ 5.80. He also asked for 2 boxes of the Raisinets, one of which he has already eaten. They were a $1.29 each. His Ritz crackers were on sale also so I picked up this box for $ 2.88.

The Skinny Pop is my guilty pleasure. They were $ 4.49 for each of them. The cheeses are for me to snack on instead of junk food. It was $ 4.19 for the Cabot and $ 4.99 each for the Yancey’s Fancy cheese. Yancey’s is local in our county but not worth the drive right now. Usually when we make a trip to eastern New York, we stop there on our way home and load up. But we were out of them.

Hubby only drinks Decaf Coffee and this is his favorite. I am trying to get him off of buying pods for the Keurig. We have our reusable pods that we can refill over and over again.

Lastly, I bought the canned mushrooms on sale to add to my pantry for the future.

You can bet I won’t be buying any beef again unless all of the beef that ranchers are having slaughtered right now, because of high feed prices and shortages, brings the prices down on it. That should hit the market in a month or two.

Are you guys refusing to buy some items because they are way to high right now?

Every Day

Stress That Ended Up Saving Us Money

It has been a very stressful week. To explain what happened, I have to go back about 10 days.

We had an extra cable box on a TV that we were not using in a bedroom. I discussed turning it in to our cable company with Hubby. After all we were paying about $11.75 every month for it. So that was money that we might as well have been burning. He agreed it should be turned in.

So about 10 days ago I took it on the recommendation of our cable company to UPS who ships it back to the company. However, even though our current bill was made out 3 days after that, we had been billed one month in advance for the box. So I called the cable company and asked why that was. The representative advised that they did not show the box as having been turned in. I gave her all of the appropriate numbers that they needed from my receipt and she opened an investigation and gave me a case number. She said I would get a response within one week. So I marked my calendar to follow up with them if I had no answer within that period.

It was exactly 7 days into the investigation when we got an e-mail saying they had found the box and had credited our bill. At the same time, I got a telephone call from the company. I answered our landline phone and there was no one there. So I hung up. Then the phone rang again from the cable company and when I picked it up, I got a screeching sound. Having worked in the telecommunications industry, I recognized pretty quickly that our telephone line was dead and it seemed like the cable company had done it. Sure enough at the same time the telephone went dead, we got another e-mail stating that they had worked an order to disconnect our telephone. It was 6pm in the evening and we did not want to go without service through the night. We have an alarm system that is monitored via that landline.

Fortunately we have a cellphone and so I called the company on their customer service number. I explained the situation to two representatives who ended up disconnecting me while they had me on hold. I called the third time and got a man who helped me. He put me on hold for the longest time and came back and told me that the company had accidentally cut our service. Why, he did not know. But he said that he would transfer me to someone who could turn the telephone back on.

He transferred me to a woman who advised me since we had a legacy service they could not turn it back on until we migrated to their service. You see a few years ago our cable company was bought out by a larger nationwide company. Our regulatory agency made them keep the service we had had with the other company even though they had their own. So many people stayed with the legacy service because it was cheaper. Now because the company made a mistake, they had no way anymore to turn the legacy service on. Their service was going to cost us about $ 20. more than we were paying even before they credited back the box I returned. After being on the telephone for one hour with the company, when I heard that, I gave the rep to Hubby to talk to.

When he realized they couldn’t put our old service back, he told them to migrate the service to the new but he was not a happy camper especially when they told him how much it was going to cost. He just wanted the telephone back on. So the rep migrated the service. However, when they did that, the internet switched to the high speed and the cable TV switched but our DVR would not work. But most importantly, the telephone did not come back on.

That started a series of being transferred to many, many people in over 8 different states who could not figure out why the telephone didn’t come back on. The last person we talked to told us that until we signed some form that stated we accepted the companies terms and conditions, which we had never been told about or seen, he would not turn the telephone back. He told my husband with a very harsh tone that he was giving him an ULTIMATUM. Well, Hubby told him he was not happy about his choice of language or his rudeness.

But he marched on and asked the rep for a copy of these terms. The rep said I don’t have a copy. Hubby told him to find out how we could get a copy. After the rep put us on hold yet again, he came back and gave hubby the web address where he could find them. Hubby pulled them up and started to read them. Of course, it was written by a lawyer so it was not easy reading and it was very long. He told the rep to stay on the line while he read them and when he signed them, the rep could turn our service back on. The rep hung for a few minutes and then told Hubby he had to release us and hung up. The time was 12:30AM.

So there we sat after 5 and 1/2 hours on the telephone trying to get our telephone turned on with no telephone service. At this point we were very cranky and tired. Yes, we are patient and determined people. Hubby continued to read the terms and I told him lets go to bed because he was tired and I was exhausted. So off to bed we went with no telephone or monitored alarm system.

When I got up the next morning, we had two texts from the company, telling us we had to sign the terms and agreements or no service. At that point, I had had enough. The minute our state regulatory commission opened, I called and filed a complaint against the company. Well they do not do things the way we used to when I worked there. The man told me that they would send the complaint to the company but that the company had two days to respond to us. If they didn’t, to call them back and then they would investigate. UGH! Just the thought of being without telephone service for many more days was really stressing me out.

So Hubby contacted my son to see if he could find the e-mail of a higher up executive in the corporate office of the cable company. My son being a CIO has always been able to get us that information. He quickly gave us the e-mail of the top two ones. Hubby sent an e-mail explaining the situation and his displeasure.

In less than an hour we got a call from a man in the corporate offices in another state who gave us his name and telephone number. He said he had been given the complaint by the higher up and they also had the state complaint. He had me summarize all that had gone on and apologized for the poor customer service and the 5 and 1/2 hours we had been on the telephone with no results. He also told me not to worry about signing the terms and agreement. That didn’t have to be done. He told me that they were immediately going to review all of the telephone calls since they tape them which I knew. He also was not very happy with the ultimatum that Hubby was given. He also told me that they would make it a priority to get the telephone service on and that they would be investigating who had done it. He asked if the cable TV DVR had been taken care of and if the internet service was good. I advised yes. He also said that a liaison that he would assign to us would be calling us and giving us their name and telephone number.

The liaison called us around dinner time and she put our telephone service back on within a few minutes and stayed on the phone to make sure it happened. She apologized for everything. Hubby called her to make sure that he could make an outgoing call and she called him to make sure that we could receive a call and to verify that we had the same telephone number that they had disconnected. She advised us if we ever have another problem to call her directly, even if we just have a question. So her info has been put in our address book. She was intelligent and lovely to deal with. As for the rest of their staff, they need a lot of training in not only how to handle people but how to take care of an issue without shuffling people from person to person. I think they were just each trying to get rid of us to someone else because they didn’t know how to fix the telephone.

Anyhow we are so glad to have our telephone service back on. Now how did we save money? Well, at one point Hubby had them transfer us to their retention department. He explained all that had gone on and how he was not happy that we were going to have to pay $ 211. for our upgraded service. We were paying $ 191. for the original service we had and that through no fault of ours the company took away our telephone service and then wouldn’t give it back. The representative reduced our new bill down to $ 156. for all three services for one year. You better believe that at the end of that year, I will be calling them for a new deal. That is $ 35. a month under what we were paying for the old service plus the cable TV service is better with more channels and we have high speed internet which we are very happy with.

The liaison verified with us last night that that the amount we will be paying is correct and that the $ 11. 75 for the returned box was credited. I also asked her to credit us for the two days of service that we had no phone. That has also been done.

I don’t know if we will hear from the corporate office today or not. We are not happy that we had to go through of all of this, but we are happy that we now have telephone service.

Could we save a lot more money by cancelling the cable TV service? Yes, we could but since we are home more often than not it is our one pleasure. But we would still have to pay for the internet and telephone anyhow which is the majority of the bill.

So if you are faced with a problem, it may not be easy to solve. But stick with it and most of the time you are better off in the long run.

Every Day

Saving Money Every Way We Can

When I got up one night this week, I noticed that the A/C was constantly running even though it was 61 degrees outside. I thought that was peculiar so when Hubby got up I told him. He checked the thermostat and noticed that he had accidentally left the fan on when he changed the batteries in the thermostat that day. He switched it over to auto and everything then seemed to be running correctly.

However I went down into the basement later that day and noticed a puddle of water in front of the furnace. Hubby went down to see what the problem was. After turning everything off, the first thing he did was pour some water into the drain pipe you see in the picture to make sure that it was flowing properly. It was and there was no leak.

The next thing he did was open the furnace door. That is when he noticed where the water was leaking from.

The pipe that you see on the right side had popped out. When they installed it over 12 years ago they used some silicone to tighten things up. The silicone had warn away. Hubby cleaned and tightened everything up and applied new silicone.

As you can see the water is drying up. When it is totally dry, we will clean up the floor. I have been going down when the A/C turns on and making sure that the puddle it not coming back. It is not and we will watch it for another couple of days to make sure.

This would have cost us more than $100. for a service call and probably another $50. for the repair if not more. And the thought of going without A/C was stressing me out.

Hubby always assesses the situation before he calls someone else to repair things. That has saved us a bundle over the years! In these times, with parts for almost everything being in short supply, it pays to have the items you need to make repairs for just about everything. Hubby is getting some new pipe and fittings in case there is another issue.

Since today is Sunday, we are taking it easy. Two nights ago, I made fajitas with a chipotle and lime sauce. We ate them for two dinners and will finish them up today for lunch. We waste nothing.

Dinner tonight will be grilled hamburgers with tomatoes, red onion, and lettuce. I am thawing the hamburger for those and then I will take the rest of the thawed meat, cook it, and freeze it in food saver bags to use in a casserole.

My garden is doing okay. On 4 plants I have 15 tomatoes that have not started to turn red yet. We will most likely eat them fresh unless they all ripen at once. Then I will can some.

I am on the hunt for flats of tomatoes to can. The best place to buy them around here is the Mennonite store or Niagara Produce. I am also keeping my eye on prices to get the best deal.

So what have you been doing to save some money in these inflationary times?

Every Day

My Meat Bargain Today

Since it is grilling season here, I have been looking for a deal on good steaks. My store has these T-Bone and Porterhouse steaks on sale for B1G1F. They were $17.99 a lb. which I would not pay for on a regular basis.

However at about $ 9.00 a lb., I will. So I got two of each kind this morning because that is all they had at 8am. The butcher shop was just opening so I assume that they will put more out in the meat counter soon.

But 4 is just fine for us because we will be cooking one at a time for the two of us.

Can you guess what we will be grilling out to celebrate the 4th of July tomorrow? Yes, it will be a T-Bone. With a baked potato and some green beans, we will have a nice meal.

Enjoy your day tomorrow!

Every Day

Cutting Expenses Where We Can

I think all of us would have to have blinders on to not realize how expensive food, water, OTC, personal care, soaps, and cleaning products have gotten.

But utility bills, gasoline and diesel, insurances, cable TV, telephone service, streaming services, etc. have also gone up.

Lumber, clothing, auto parts, parts to fix just about everything, and just about everything else have also risen.

Our tax assessment went up by $140,000. this spring. Hubby has estimated that our school tax bill due in September will go up by $786. using the numbers that our town gave us. Our property tax will also take a major hit because of it in January. We do get a basic star rebate on our school taxes each year which every homeowner is entitled to but we do not receive the enhanced star for seniors nor a reduced property tax because we make too much money. To make things even worse, our school district is considering having a capital project in addition to safety and security upgrades. They want the residents’ feedback on a multi-purpose turf athletic field, re-routing of bus traffic to get it off a certain road, pool reconstruction, and a Pre-K addition. I foresee a special vote to pay for all of this. You can bet we are putting our two cents in on those items. This period of inflation is a horrible time to hit the residents with more expenses after the huge increases in tax assessments.

I expect that prices will rise into 2024 or longer. As long as our government continues to spend money they do not have, inflation will continue to rear it’s ugly head.

I am seeing seniors and other people in the markets checking out the prices on meats, produce, and other items and not buying them. I have gotten to the point that I am very selective about meat purchases. If I feel it is too expensive, I will not buy it. Most of the meat that I do buy is always on sale. That has mostly been ground beef and chicken to can. I did buy 2 sirloin steaks about 2 weeks ago that were on sale for B1G1F. We have given up buying filet mignon since the last sale in early spring. The price has gotten too high and the quality has gone down the tubes. So my sister told me that the sirloins were good. We have never liked them. But at the sale price they were worth a try. We have only eaten one that we split into 2 meals and it was delicious – flavorful and tender. If they go on sale again for a decent price, I will buy more.

You know that we do our best to keep the utility bills down as much as we can even though the rates continue to rise. We do not use lights when it is daylight out. At night we only use one in the room we are in. I think about what appliance will be the cheapest when I cook anything. We eat a lot of cold food so as to not have to use electricity or natural gas. We use our A/C sparingly. I only run the washing machine with a very full load. I do the same with the dishwasher.

Our cable, home phone, and internet bill was $192. in May. On that bill they put a note that new pricing and packages are coming in June. That means the bills are going up. We have a cable box on a 2nd TV that is costing us $10.00 a month plus taxes and fees. That is the TV that I only use with my ROKU to watch You Tube. Hubby always turned the news on at late night on this TV. But I noticed that lately he has not been doing that. So I took our 2nd box to UPS to return it to Spectrum this morning. Yes that is how we do it here. I now have a receipt dated today to show that it was turned in. So I should not be paying for it now. This $10.00 a month plus tax will save us $120.+ a year. I can’t wait to see the new rates! NOT! Then I will do more cost cutting if need be. I also had an Amazon return to take to UPS so I got them both done.

We use Top’s gasoline points to get our gas cheaper. Right now we have $.40 off a gallon but the car is only 1/2 empty. When the tank empties a little bit more, I will fill it up. We also have discounted gasoline at the warehouse clubs which I only use if I am down in that town running other errands. I will not drive 14+ miles each way just to get gasoline. If none of those options are there, we have a cash only price station near us that has a good price. So I am always checking the prices per gallon.

I am watching our grocery budget very carefully. I will only buy on sale or where a needed product is the cheapest. I am buying mostly store brands these days. There are just a few name brands that I continue to buy. Name brands have gotten way too expensive. I buy most of our produce on sale and I am very selective because it seems to be rotten more often than not on the store shelves. I have had bags of onions and potatoes that turn bad very quickly. I will buy veggies and fruits frozen if they are cheaper per pound. They seem to be much fresher too.

We rarely buy liquor or wine anymore. It is not worth the money. I would rather use the money instead for nutritious food.

I continue to baby the tomato plants. I think they will make it. We bake potatoes in the air fryer a lot in the summer as a side to go with our grilling outside. When I do that, I make enough for a couple of nights. We grow our own chives to go with the sour cream we put on top of them.

To be honest I am always looking at ways to cut expenses. Each day I think about what I am doing that day and how I can cut that expense. I am always looking at what I can discontinue buying and make a substitution for certain things.

We no longer purchase liquid hand soap or body wash. I have lots of bar soap and it works just as well. I rarely buy bread. We make our own in our bread maker. I only wear makeup when I leave the house. I am actually considering giving it up all together. Even when I do wear it, it is very basic. I don’t purchase mascara or compact powder.

I purchase many things from the Dollar Tree. They carry my deodorant, tissues, our shampoo, 2 pound boxes of spaghetti, rice, dry beans, Himalayan pink salt, frozen peppers and onions that I use for making fajitas, a winter blend of cauliflower and broccoli, etc. I purchase all of our greeting cards that we use for a year in January.

I am going for my haircut today. My salon is right next to Rite Aid and we have prescriptions to pick up. The Dollar General is across the street and I will go in there to pick up a few things. I try to make the most efficient use of gasoline by doing many things when I do go out.

Since I have been so busy this week, I did a grocery delivery. It not only saves me time but it prevents me from just wandering in the store and seeing other things to buy. I needed new soap dishes for the bar soap we are using because mine were getting really old. I moved some of our old washcloths to our rag pile today and purchased some new ones on my grocery delivery. I love the half length spaghetti. It lets me easily use a smaller pot and it is so much easier to get it in that pot. Best part is it is the same price as the regular full length spaghetti.

I hope you all have a wonderful July 4th weekend! We will be watching the fireworks around us again this year.

If you would like to share with all of us what you are doing to survive this high inflation, please feel free to add your two cents in the comments.