Every Day

What I Have Been Doing The Past Few Days

Well for one thing, I have been missing in action. I cannot believe that it is Thursday and I haven’t posted most of the week.

First, I haven’t felt well all week and made a Doctor’s appointment that I couldn’t get until the first week in October. UGH!

Second, I spent a good part of the day at the dentist  who fit me in between patients yesterday. My permanent denture which I got last Thursday is just awful. It doesn’t fit well. Every time I try to eat something, I bite my cheek. The entire gum on the left side is sore and blistered from rubbing. I resorted to drinking smoothies for all meals over the weekend. The dentist has sent it back to the lab which in this area means dropping it off to them. He told me his office would call me when it was ready for me. I got a call this morning saying the dentist needs to see me next week for an hour. The receptionist said she had no idea why because the dentist didn’t say. Either it will be ready or he is taking new molds and we are starting from scratch. We’ll see.

Tuesday, I spent running errands to the market( purchased strawberries and cantaloupes), to Fast Cash with the bottle deposits, to UPS to ship a package, and to the drugstore to pick up a prescription. I also caught up laundry which had been piling up around here.

We also spent some time getting rid of a nest that bumble bees had built in the ground near our front door. Those things are awful.

The landscape crew was here yesterday so that entailed telling them what we wanted done and keeping en eye on them. 

One day I spent a lot of time on the phone between QVC and my bank trying to straighten out an error with an easy pay charge. It is all straightened out now but I am very aggravated with the bank who screwed up with a key error. I get so tired of fixing other people’s mistakes. You just can’t rely on good service anymore. If I get good service from someone, I let the company know because it is non-existent today. 

Other than those things I have spent every other minute laying in bed either sleeping or reading the above book by Andrew Mellen. It’s very interesting. Most of his ideas are very similar to how I organize but I am picking up some new tips.

Poor Hubby is on his own for meals. So we have resorted to buying a rotisserie chicken that he has been making sandwiches from. I am hoping tonight to feed him a hot meal such as spaghetti since it is quick and easy to make. We will see how I feel before dinner. I have been eating cottage cheese and tomatoes. It is the only thing that tastes good to me. 

Do these sound like excuses? Yes, but I just can’t function when my brain is telling me how bad I feel and won’t let me write a great article that will benefit you.

So hopefully in the next few days, I will be back with one. I am off to lay down.

Every Day

Frugal Things We Have Done

These are some of the frugal things we have done the last few months that I haven’t told you about before:

– We had a beautiful flowering plant put in on the south side of the house. It really did not do well. I was sure it was dead. But Hubby insisted on moving it to a shady spot to see if he could revive it. Take a look at the picture above and see how well it is doing now.

– Here in New York, there is a rebate program on your school taxes where they send a check back to you for a certain percentage of your Star Exemption based on your income. They have 4 income tiers. The less you make in income, the more your rebate check is. We got a check in the mail for approximately $256. It was very tempting to cash and spend. However, we are depositing it in our investment account rather than mindlessly frittering it away. 

– Over the summer, I have done major decluttering especially in our basement. I can now find everything in storage when I need it. Everything that I really want to keep has been put in bins and labeled. Some of these things are only used once or twice a year and I do not want them taking up residence in my kitchen cupboards. They save me money when I do use them. We also have a stockpile of lined paper pads, computer paper, office supplies, business envelopes, etc. that I purchased in bulk at dirt cheap prices. That has all been organized and labeled. I have also gone through our Christmas decorations and weeded out a lot that we don’t use. Some I am going to gift to my children. Mostly things that they made me over the years.

– My stockpile is now perfectly organized with all of the early expiration dates in the front. When I put anything down there now, they go in the back. Even Hubby can go down there and find what he is looking for.

– I am giving away most of my frugality books. My sister was reading one while she was here so I gave it to her to take home. My DIL took quite a few. My kids know that if they want more they can just take them while they are here. Rather than sell them for a few cents on the dollar, it is PRICELESS to me that my family will enjoy reading and learning from them. They have been a great source of reference for me over the years. Now they can benefit my children. 

– Gifting the books will also give me more shelf space for stockpiling.    

– I now only use the ecoegg to clean my laundry. No laundry detergent! If something has a stain on it, I  will spot treat it.  

– This week I will be making a small amount of homemade laundry detergent to use for hand washables only. I will post the recipe it when it is done.

– I have been staying way under budget on food all summer and now in September I am staying under my challenge budget. 

– We have sprayed the foundation of the house for bugs every few weeks using cheap bug spray that I bought in bulk at Walmart. This has killed all the ants around our patio and kept spiders and other bugs out of our garage and basement. Some of our neighbors are paying a fortune to have their homes done professionally. 

– Even though my credit card company said they doubted that I would get my money back from Zaycon since the claim had to be within 60 days and it wasn’t, they decided after investigation to credit my credit card back the full amount. However, if in the next 60 days Zaycon reverses it,they will charge it back to me again. I am keeping my fingers crossed.

– Every few years, I do a full price check at all of my food stores on most of the items I buy every month. I did this over the summer and have added prices to my list so that I am now up to date with my prices. I  know which store has the best prices on the groceries I need. This makes it so much easier to make my lists.

– I collected the pine cones from our Spruce trees in the backyard so that I can use them for fire starters in our backyard fireplace. As soon as the weather turns cooler, we will be enjoying that a lot. We are still using wood that was leftover from when all the homes were built in here. As soon as they start building the new section of our neighborhood, I will be scrounging wood scraps again from the dumpster. 

– I made roasted diced potatoes from fresh yesterday morning to give a little variety to our family breakfasts. It seems like I always make hash browns.

– I love Naturalizer flat casual shoes for everyday wear. The pair I purchased 17 years ago finally fell apart this week. I definitely got my money’s worth. They were so comfortable that I had to get 2 new pair- one in black and one in navy. They were $59.99 each. But I did find a coupon code, got free shipping, and I will get $5.00 back from Ebates. The coupon code was good for 20% off when you bought two pair so that was a reduction of $24.00. If they each last me as long as the shoes I am throwing out, it is a great purchase. 

– My daughter-in-law e-mailed us a picture of my granddaughter in her school uniform this week. The picture was just beautiful. So I asked Hubby to make an 8X10 on our photo printer. He did and it is now sitting in a frame on the shelf in our great room. He also made some wallet sizes. The photo paper we are using I got for just pennies after a sale and rebates when we lived in Arizona. I bought so much that we still have many packages of it left.

– And lastly, there is one frugal thing that we are going to be doing very soon. Our brand new YMCA in our little town is opening the beginning of October. Hubby and I decided a long time ago that when it opened we would join so that we could use the pools, sauna, steam room, track, and any exercise equipment they might have. They are running a special that if you sign up as a charter member before October 1st, they waive the $40. per person membership fee. You can bet we will be signed up before then because it will save us $80. Using the facility will be adding $ 37.00 to our monthly bills for the two of us. We get this low price because we are seniors. It is well worth it.

What have you been doing frugally? Feel free to leave a comment.

Every Day

How I Have Cut Food Costs For Over Fifty Years

When Hubby and I were married over 51 years ago, we made very little money and really adhered to a strict budget. I had about $15. a week to spend on food. I would spend that every week at the old Central Market which I could walk to from our apartment. There were very little convenience foods back then, so I bought fresh. Whatever meat and veggies were on sale that week, I would purchase. There was no stocking up not only because we didn’t have the money but because we had 1/2 a freezer above the fridge in the apartment. It was tiny!

I adhered to many strategies so that we could eat well. Many of which we still use today. I cooked simple meals of meat, veggies, and/or potatoes or rice. I only used a couple of spices like oregano for Italian meals and chili powder for Mexican meals. We liked spaghetti and meatless lasagna. I would make a big lasagna with just a little bit of cheese and cottage cheese and we would eat it for 2-3 meals and take it work for lunch. I made stir fry as I do today with whatever meat and vegetables were cheap that week. I made a lot of casseroles and skillet dishes where we could use just 1/4 to 1/2 lb. of meat. I made soups at least once every two weeks- chicken rice with bits of cheap veggies like carrots and celery, bean and ham soup, beef barley with the meat from short ribs. They would give you a ham bone for free at the market if you asked. It always had little bits of ham on it. I made my own chicken and veggie stock as a base. I made stews that were heavy on potatoes, onions, carrots, and celery, and just a little bit of beef. 

I try to stay away from expensive ingredients to this day. I find the simpler meals are cheaper and healthier.

We never purchased lunch out. We would pack our lunch faithfully the night before we would take it to work. I would buy a loaf of bread each week for sandwiches. We took peanut butter and jelly most days.

Twenty two months after we were married we moved into our first home. We really had to stretch every dollar to make our mortgage payment and property taxes and save for furniture. We started out with a bed, fridge, and sofa and a bunch of hand me downs. So we had to save, save and save. We also had depleted our savings buying the house so we wanted to make sure we had an emergency fund. We never touched our retirement savings.

I had a Central Market where we moved to so our shopping continued the way we had always done it. On sale that week and just enough for the week. About 4 years after we moved into our home and our first son was born, we purchased a scratch and dent freezer from Sears. At that time, we had more money to spend on food so we would stockpile meats and frozen veggies when we would find them at rock bottom prices. I made some of our son’s baby food from scratch. But because my Father-in Law was constantly dropping off big grocery bags of baby food jars. I think it was because he wanted to see his grandson a lot. Our home was on his way home from his hardware store.

What are rock bottom prices you say? They are the lowest prices you will pay all year for certain items. I still do this today. Turkeys are at their cheapest before Thanksgiving, hams before Christmas, corned beef around St. Patrick’s Day, and hams and lamb around Easter. Butter and other staples are also cheapest around Thanksgiving. I would stock for a year on these items. I still do.

To this day I compare prices and buy the on sale cheapest meats and freeze them. I also freeze fresh fruits and veggies when they are in season to be used over the next year.

We ate easy and cheap breakfasts like oatmeal or cereals or eggs on toast. I still love oatmeal and Hubby loves cereal. We both love eggs and eat them a lot.

As I got older and wiser, I started to make some things like salad dressings, sauces besides spaghetti sauce, and all of our bread. Then I started making our spaghetti sauce from scratch. I still make a lot of those things today but bread not as often. If I can find bread on the markdown rack at Walmart, I will buy it. We use more wraps than bread today in our home. Those are purchased at Aldi.

I shop Aldi more often than any other store these days. It is a discount store. I know some of you shop salvage stores. If I had one close, I would but unfortunately the closest one is almost 2 hours away. Save- A – Lot and Price Rite are two other discounters near me. But Aldi and Super Walmart are closest to me so they are my first choice. If I find a great deal at Top’s I will shop there for that deal. I also buy a lot of my meats on sale at Top’s in bulk because their prices are lower than Aldi’s many times. For example they had whole pork loins on sale for $ 1.49 a lb. this week. If I had needed pork, I would have purchased one and had the butcher cut it into roasts and chops for me. 

If you have a discounter or Aldi’s near you, check out their prices against your supermarket prices. I think you will be amazed at how much money you can save each week. We have always kept a price book or online spreadsheet which I update often so that I know who has the lowest prices at any one time. 

I also have Niagara Meats and Produce close to me. I  buy whatever is in season there if the price is better than Aldi or Walmart. 

Another way we save is to eat the proper portion of  proteins. No one needs more than 3-4 ounces of meat at a meal. We also eat a lot of bean dishes. I buy huge bags of  black beans and northern beans because we use them a lot, I cook up big batches in our slow cooker and freeze them in the portions we use for a meal. Don’t buy the cans unless you can get them for pennies. They are so expensive compared to uncooked beans. When we buy meat, if we are not buying at rock bottom in bulk, I look for reduced for quick sale meat. As long as the sell by date is today or tomorrow, it is okay to buy it. Either cook it that day or freeze it for future use. Your stores may offer this more than mine do. I now rarely find reduced meat.

I always shop with a grocery list that I have made at home after I have checked my pantries and freezers to see what I can use that week. Don’t go into the store and just throw things in your cart that look good!  You will spend a fortune and then get home and find out you are missing an ingredient for a meal. I stick to my grocery list most weeks. I rarely buy impulse purchases.

I try to buy as little junk food as possible. It isn’t easy because Hubby likes his junk food. But I have a limit on how many bags I will buy a month.

I also buy store brands as much as possible. I find a lot of them are as good as name brands and they are usually made by the same name brand company. Aldi’s store brand of mayonaise, Burman’s, is Hellman’s. My husband has been eating Hellman’s since he was a kid. He always knows when I don’t buy Hellman’s. He has been eating Burman’s for over a year and doesn’t even realize it. 

I try to not overbuy produce. This keeps our food waste down. We also do our best to eat all of our leftovers. We either eat them for lunch, have a “smorgasbord night  to use them us up, incorporate them into another meal, or freeze them for a future meal or to make soup. Every week, I check my produce to see what can be used up for lunch or dinner. 

I like to make meals that give us at least two dinners. It takes up less of our time that can be used for other money saving pursuits. It also saves us money when we can cook once and eat twice. Heating in the microwave saves us money over using our stove twice. Our second night dinner of Hubby’s homemade chili is pictured above. He just needs to nuke it and make some rice in the rice cooker.

Shop alone! This one is a biggie. The more family members you have with you, the more you will spend. I leave Hubby home 99.% of the time because if bring him, he loads the cart with whatever looks good to him that day. In all of the years we have been married, I only sent him to the market when I got my knee replacements and I sent him with a list and specific coupons. He still came home with extras. So for the rest of my recouperation, I had my groceries delivered. It was much cheaper!

I have written this for the Jones and Noreen and Bruce. A lot of you have seen these suggestions over the years from all of my blogs. But it never hurts to see a reminder.

What do you do to cut food costs?

Every Day

Meal Planning

I never meal planned. I would just look in the pantry or freezer and determine what meat I would cook that night and add sides to it.

But in the past 30 years, I have come to enjoy meal planning. I do it on Saturday night for the following week. Before I even think about a meal, I check my calendar to see what appointments we have for the week and when. Then I plan my meals around those things. For example, I had a long dentist appointment yesterday and a long day out of the house so we went out to dinner. We hadn’t been out in well over a month so it was a treat. When I had kids at home, we planned meals around their activities. They played sports in junior high and high school so my crock pot got used a lot.

On Saturday night, I ask Hubby if there is anything special that he would like to eat this coming week. Sometimes, he will make a suggestion and sometimes he won’t.

Then I come up with 6-7 meals for dinners that I will make during the week. Each week I try to have at least one meatless meal. Because I knew we were going out to dinner last night, I penciled that in for Tuesday night. Next I checked my pantries, refrigerator, and freezers to see if I had the ingredients for those meals. I had all the ingredients this week so I needed no food at the grocery store to make them. If I did need an ingredient, I would put it on my grocery list. However I did shop for a few things this week. I purchased the liquid dish detergent pictured above at Walmart for $ 5.96(stockpiling for the winter). It is the cheapest dish detergent that we like. So I just buy it and pour it into a smaller bottle.  I also went to Dollar Tree and picked up 6 packages of Jennifer’s Garden Spring Rolls for a $1.00 each. We rarely buy food at Dollar Tree but when I find something we really like, I stock on it. When I saw these a while ago, I purchased one package to try. They are vegetable spring rolls. I deep fry them or air fry them.  They are delicious! My store doesn’t always have them so when I see them I snag a bunch. They will make a nice snack on Sundays during football season. I also picked up 2 lbs. of butter for $ 2.36 each at Aldi’s.

Here is our menu this week:

Sunday – Homemade chicken vegetable soup, crackers with butter
Monday – A repeat of Sunday night
Tuesday – Dinner out
Wednesday – Chicken with Orange Sauce on rice, green beans
Thursday – Hubby’s meat chili on rice, tomatoes, and cucumbers
Friday – A repeat of Thursday night
Saturday – Meatless spaghetti, side salad

I find that meal planning saves us money because our leftovers get eaten and I can work food that needs(think produce) to be used into our meals. We have very little waste in this house.

We always have many choices of breakfast food in the house – cold and hot cereal, eggs, bacon, sausage, ham slices and I make pancakes, waffles, various muffins and quick breads. This week I have been eating a bowl of plain yogurt, fresh blueberries, and granola sprinkled on top for breakfast every day. It’s easy to grab what we feel like eating when we get up.  Lunches are usually sandwiches, peanut butter on English muffins, salads, fruit, cheese and crackers or leftovers. Sometimes we even skip lunch if we know that we are having a heavier meal like stew for dinner.

So if you haven’t tried to meal plan at least your dinners, give it a try. It only takes a few minutes to do. We save money not running for takeout or going out to dinner two or three nights a week because I forgot to thaw something or I don’t know what to make. I keep my menu on the side of the fridge so we always know what we are having that day.

Every Day

Stretching Every Dollar

The couples that I am mentoring want to stretch every dollar that they can. Noreen and Bruce want to get themselves out of debt and financially fit. The Jones want to save for their dream house. Both of them can do it with some restraint on their spending and with cutting expenses. However Noreen really needs to get a job so that they can get rid of the debt. She has been looking for a few weeks. She was called in for a second interview for a job last Friday. I am hoping she hears back soon.

Noreen and Mrs. Jones are both doing the grocery challenge. Noreen only spent $22. last week. They pretty much ate from her pantry. Mrs. Jones spent $31. which is on target to be below her monthly budget.

I didn’t think that Mrs. Jones could lower her budget. But she was not signed up for any of the grocery rebate programs like Fetch, Ibotta, Checkout 51, Saving Star, etc. So she has done that and is checking her grocery list before she goes shopping to see if any of the things she needs are offering rebates on those sites. Noreen already belongs to all of those sites. But she has resolved to checking them with her list before she goes grocery shopping. She had not been doing that very often.

Right now if you join Fetch Rewards 
and use my Referral Code of JQ5QH, you get 3000 reward points as do I. This is good through tomorrow night.

Using rebate sites, doing wine and beer rebates, saving bottle deposits, credit card reward rebates, and Ebates, I have managed to accumulate in cash and gift cards a total of $1108. that I have saved toward Christmas gifts and other associated costs. It has been well worth my time and effort.

Both couples have resolved not to buy packaged or prepared foods and to make their food from scratch. I have talked at length with Noreen about how she can do that when and if she is working. She will use her crock pot and pressure cooker to cook up their meals for the week on Sundays. She will also make double batches of entrees to freeze so that she can have a meal ready when she is rushed. I relied heavily on both of these things when I worked. My Sunday afternoons were spent cooking. It made the whole week of meals so easy. 

Both couples are going to skip eating out and getting takeout at least for the month of September and see how that goes. It will free up some money to pay off debt for Noreen and Bruce and to save in their house fund for the Jones. They have both resolved to do that and not spend it on anything else.  

I think they are off to a great start! 

Today is my grocery shopping day so I am off to do that as soon as I eat brunch. I have made myself a scrambled egg, sausage, cheese, and salsa wrap using ingredients leftover from breakfast yesterday. 

Every Day

Grocery Challenge Last Week

As you read in a prior post, I am doing a grocery challenge for the month of September. We are eating out of our stockpile and spending no more than $ 25. for the week on necessities.

We needed milk. I have been drinking a lot of it lately and we use it to cook. Top’s had it for $ 1.59 after store coupon. The half gallon of creamer was $ 2.53, the breakfast sausage were $ 1.50 a package,  and the tomatoes were $ 1.98 a lb. at Walmart.

We were down to our last quart of creamer so we desperately needed this. We are very low on breakfast meats so when I spotted this, I purchased one for breakfast this morning and one for a future Sunday breakfast. I have never paid less than $2.50- $3.00 for a package recently. So this price was a bargain. The tomatoes which ending up costing $ 5.21 were the cheapest that Walmart had and we needed them for salads. So our grand total for the week was $12.33 which is $12.67 under budget. The leftover money will be rolled into next week in case I see a rock bottom price on something that we can stockpile. 

Last night was “clean out the produce drawer” in our home. We made quite a dent in it. Hubby, who sometimes is my resident Chef, made Chef’s salads. I had leftover chicken on mine from a whole chicken I cooked recently. Hubby had ham. Mine looks good even without the Catalina dressing on it yet.

After our family breakfast today, which will be eggs, sausage and cinnamon rolls, I will make homemade chicken soup using the chicken carcass. It will taste good on a cold day like today. 

Those of you who are joining in on the Grocery Challenge, feel free to tell us how you did in the comments.

Every Day

Family Number Two

The second family who has asked for advice are the Jones(not their real name). They are in their 20’s.  Mrs. Jones is pregnant with their first child. They rent an apartment in the Midwest. Their net income after all deductions is $ 28,281. divided by 12 months equals $ 2357.

Here are their expenses each month:

Rent: $ 950. 
Groceries: $ 150.
Restaurants and Take Out: 60.
Clothing: $100.
Entertainment: $75.
Household: $25.
Travel: $100.
Medical Co Pays: $100. 
Car Insurance: $95.
Gasoline and Oil: $55.
Cell Phone: $ 64.
Electric and Gas: $75.
Emergency Fund: $50.
Renter’s Insurance: $ 10.
Miscellaneous: $ 50.

Total Monthly Expenses: $ 1959.

They have been putting the extra $ 398. into a savings account in case they have extra medical expenses with Mrs. Jones high risk pregnancy. They have a good health insurance policy through Mr. Jones employer.

This is what they have saved:

Retirement Fund: $2100.
Emergency Fund: $2000.
Medical Savings:  $1592.

When they were married a year ago, they took their cash wedding gifts and opened their retirement fund and their emergency fund. Mr. Jones has started contributing to his 401K through work and it is a deduction from his paycheck.

With a baby on the way, they are starting to think about buying a home. They would like to save a deposit of 20% down so that they don’t have to pay PMI. Housing is not really expensive in the area they live in but they still need to save $20,000 – 30,000. depending on how much they spend plus closing costs.

They want to know if they should start putting some of that $398. into a house deposit account? They also want to be able to save more money than what they are saving.

I told them I thought it was great that they didn’t have Cable TV or internet. He said it is included in their rent. They also have no car payment because they have a paid for car that her parents gave them as a wedding gift.

Mrs. Jones is not working because of her high risk pregnancy. They will rethink that after the baby is born. Her parents live close and would love to babysit. 

When I first looked at their finances, I thought this couple is doing great and they are for only being married about a year.  I also think it was very smart of them to fund some of their savings with wedding gift money.

I have had many conversations with them since they first contacted me. I have told them that I would continue to earmark that $ 398. for the high risk pregnancy. Then when they baby is born, if all or most of the bills get paid, they can just earmark it for their home deposit savings. I also reminded them that they need to get some life insurance for when the baby is born. Mr. says he already has it through work. 

They had a little outstanding credit card debt;however since I first starting talking with them, they have paid that off.

Since they would like to save more money out of the paycheck, they need to cut their expenses. I do not believe that they can cut their groceries. It is pretty low. Nor can they touch the household amount because they will be needing diapers soon. However, they could consider cloth diapers which would be much cheaper in the long run. 

The expenses I think they can lower or cut are clothing, restaurants and take out, entertainment, travel,and perhaps their car insurance although it is pretty low compared to what I pay. So these are the ones they need to work on.

Okay, now it is your turn to give them your $ .02!
What do you think they should do?

Lastly, I wanted to let you know that Bruce and Noreen want to thank all of you who gave them advice.  

I will be updating you once a week on what they are doing.   

Every Day

Family Number One

I told you previously that I have agreed to give advice that hopefully will help two families who have asked for my help with their finances. Both families have asked that I keep their names anonymous. I have agreed. 

So couple number one are Bruce and Noreen(not their real names). They are in their mid- forties and have one son who they would like to see go to college. Bruce has a professional office job and Noreen is a stay-at-home mom. They live in a home in suburbia in one of the Northeastern states.

I am going to give you their net income and expenses after Bruce’s Federal and State taxes, Social Security, Medicare taxes, 401k deposits, and healthcare payments through his employer have been taken out. They have $ 55,397.  yearly left for all other expenses.

I want to remind everyone that this is a no judgement site. I and you are here to help with suggestions not criticism. Bruce and Noreen have told me that they made some bad choices in the past so they have $21,000. in credit card debt. They have consolidated them onto the lowest interest card and they pay $1500. a month towards paying them off.  

Their monthly spending that is deducted from the $55,397. figure is as follows(all numbers have been rounded):

Mortgage and Property Taxes:  $1298.
1 Car Payment:  $ 570.( a second car is paid off)
Groceries: $ 300.
Restaurants and Take out: $150.
Clothing: $100.
Entertainment, Hobbies, and Misc, etc. – $250.
Household: $160.
Travel Savings: $120.
Car Insurance(2 cars): $160.
Gasoline and Oil: $ 121.
Car Registration and Inspection: $ 19.
Car Repairs, Tires and Other Maintenance: $100 
1 Cellphone: $60.
Home Telephone: $43.
Electric and Gas Bills: $ 183.
Cable TV, Internet: $123.
House Insurance: $ 71. 
Credit Cards: $1500.

Total Monthly Spending: $ 5328.
Total Yearly Spending: $ 63936.

They have $125,000. in 401K savings.They have drained their bank savings to help with their credit card payments. They only have $2,000. left which is $500. more than one monthly payment. They have no emergency fund. 

Any spending that they can’t account for they have added into their entertainment, miscellaneous figure above.

They are spending $ 8539. more per year than income. Hence they have asked for advice on how to fix this. They were absolutely shocked once they started tracking their income and expenses to find how much money they were in the negative. This is the reason why everyone should track this every month. Otherwise you have no idea what you are spending and for what.

I asked how they have kept afloat and they told me by spending down their savings which was an inheritance they received. But as you can see they don’t have much left.  They also rob Peter to pay Paul within their budget.

My first look at this told me a few things. They are paying too little on their debt so the interest is eating them alive. They must cut expenses and Noreen needs to make some income by either finding a job outside the home or finding one that she can do from her home at least until the credit cards are paid off. They need to sell anything in the home that is not being used to help pay their debt. I don’t think their grocery spending is out of line for a family of three. But with careful use of every morsel of food and all the other tips that I will give them via the blog this month, they should be able to knock $100. a month off of that spending. The restaurant and takeout and clothing budget spending needs to stop until their credit card bills are paid. The miscellaneous budget needs to be reduced. 

I asked them what the household amount encompasses. They said it is everything for the house inside and outside except for food. So basically it is HBA, cleaning products, personal care and yard and house maintenance. That probably can not be reduced by much. But they can try.

I also noticed that they had no money shown to pay for garbage pickup or water and sewer. They told me that it is included in their property taxes. 

The monthly travel savings needs to be stopped until their debt is paid. 

They can research other auto and home insurance companies to see if they can lower those amounts. The gasoline and oil figure is reasonable since Bruce commutes to his job and Noreen only runs local errands. 

Perhaps they can cancel the home phone since they have two cellphones. Bruce has one that his work pays for and Noreen uses the one they pay monthly for.

I will show them how to reduce their gas and electric bills. 

Can they look at cancelling cable and using some other services that are cheaper until their credit card debt is paid?

The lack of an emergency fund is one of the reasons that their credit card bills became so high. Every time prior to the inheritance, they would use the cards when an emergency came up.  

I also see no money spent on gifts and I asked them why. They said they charge them especially at Christmas. 

They have to do everything they can to reduce expenses and bring more income in to the household to pay off credit cards, bring spending into line so that it is less than income coming in. They have no choice or they will lose everything in the long run. They also need to do this so that they can save an emergency fund and save some money for their son’s college education.  

Being in their mid forties, they also need to ramp up their retirement savings.

These are my quick thoughts. This month I will show them how to cook cheaper meals at home and never get takeout or eat at a restaurant. They do have a stockpile and are doing the stockpile challenge this month along with me and others.

Anyone that has any quick thoughts for this couple, please feel free to comment.   

I will introduce the other family in my next post.

Every Day

Frugal Things That We Have Been Doing

These are the things we have been doing lately:

– My granddaughter is a history buff. She just soaks up everything she reads. Right now she is reading about WWII by borrowing books at her library. Hubby and I had a WWII book that we inherited from Hubby’s mother. But we thought we had donated it to our library in Arizona when we moved to NY.
I was thrilled when I found it in our basement bookcase this week. The book is 68 years old. The binding was coming off the book so Hubby researched online how to fix it. He followed the instructions on how to glue it, did it and let it dry. It is as good as new. We probably could have looked for a bookbinder but they are far and few in between since the internet. So we saved some money by doing it ourselves. My granddaughter will love it. 

– I made a mandarin chicken teriyaki stir fry for dinner one night. We had almost enough leftover for dinner the second night. It had plenty of chicken but needed more veggies. So I sauteed more peppers and onions and added them to the heated chicken dish.That gave us more than enough for our second dinner.

– We are now exclusively using our Eco egg for our laundry. Every drop of laundry soap is out of our home. The egg is doing a great job cleaning our clothes. 

– Our cellphone wouldn’t work. I kept getting what some people were saying was the “black screen of death”. Hubby tried to fix it by taking the battery out for a few minutes and then putting it back in. It would work until you turned the phone off and then I would get the black screen again. It was useless. I talked to my son and he said, let me bring an old phone out and perhaps we can switch the sim card. 
When he came out this weekend, he decided to do some research on the bad phone. He found that the peel on the phone had been updated recently by Sprint and that a lot of people were saying to uninstall it. That the update was causing a lot of problems with the cellphones. He tried to uninstall it and it wouldn’t. So he disabled the peel and made sure that no update on it would pop up again so that Hubby nor I would accidentally install an update on it. The cellphone is now working perfectly. Yeah!  We thought we might have to buy a new one and the cost was between $600.- $800. when you are not renewing a plan. We still have 5 months left on the contract. Yikes! 

– We are eating from our stockpile and have been for a couple of months. Right now we are trying to eat up everything in the fridge. It is pretty full. There is way too much cream cheese. I will have to get some bagels today at Panera Bread because they are discounted on Tuesdays. I still have a lot of money on our Panera gift cards that I purchased 2 years ago. So I will just have the $6.99 cost taken off one of the cards. If anyone else knows how to use up cream cheese or has a good recipe to do it, please share in comments. 

– It is so hot and humid here that we have had the A/C on almost non-stop(only a day here and a day there that it was off). Our electric bills this summer were running $25. more per month than last summer. I am doing my best to keep the shades and blinds closed as the sun moves around the house. We hardly use our stove and oven. I can’t wait until we can turn it off permanently.

– I sprayed the entire perimeter of the house for bugs again since we had heavy rain. The spiders are liking to come in since it got a little colder at night. 

– Our favorite local garage keeps e-mailing Hubby saying it is time to bring the car in for an oil change. Hubby checked his paperwork to see what the mileage was last time and checked the mileage on the SUV now. We still have many miles to go before it needs to be done. I am glad he didn’t take their word for it. They have no idea how little we drive every month. 

– Our John Deere riding lawn mower was giving Hubby a little trouble last time he mowed. It just shut off by itself while he was doing it. He checked and it looks like it needs the filter changed. So rather than have the John Deere place do it, Hubby will do it himself. He found the best price on the one it needed at Amazon. It was only $ 4.51+tax. 

– I had my yearly mammogram and my every other year bone density scan last week. Both were good.  Make sure all of you women get yours done when they are due. Your health is your most precious asset!  Take good care of it!

Please feel free to tell us about your frugal endeavors in the comments.


Every Day

September Eat From Your Stockpile Challenge

I meant to post about this yesterday. However I was very busy doing things with company and time just didn’t allow. Since everyone is sleeping right now except me, I now have the opportunity.

We are doing a Stockpile Challenge this month. $25. per week will be allotted for necessities like bread, milk and produce. Any of the $25. that doesn’t get spent can be used for an item that has a rock bottom price.

We will be eating from our pantries, the refrigerator, and the freezers. We are hoping to use up a lot of random stuff that has been hanging around. My hope is to free up some space, especially freezer space for those November and December bargains like turkeys, hams, cranberries, butter, etc. 

Yesterday, I did Eggo’s with real maple syrup and strawberries for breakfast for my grandson. The rest of us had oatmeal and strawberries for breakfast. The strawberries were getting really ripe and needed to be eaten. The Eggo’s were left over from enjoying my granddaughter’s company earlier this summer.

Lunch was turkey and ham and cheese sandwiches with added tomatoes and lettuce on them. I used some of the meat that I purchased this week.

Dinner was spaghetti and meatballs. I was going to make homemade meatballs but I found a 3/4 full bag of frozen in my upstairs freezer. We had tossed salads on the side with lettuce, celery, onions, tomatoes, and carrots.

Today we will have scrambled eggs, fried ham, and homemade hash browns for breakfast. I grated all of the almost 5 lb. bag of potatoes so we will be having hash browns a few times this week either at breakfast or dinner.

We rarely do lunch on Sundays because of the big breakfast which is eaten about 10am. 

Our company will be leaving sometime this afternoon. So dinner will be the leftover meatballs and sauce (pictured above)on leftover buns with melted mozzarella cheese. We will have guacamole halves on the side. 

The two couples that I am mentoring are also joining me in this challenge. They both want to cut their grocery spending and eat some of the food they have stored. More on their numbers later this week.

If anyone else would like to join in, feel free.