Every Day

UPDATED: 2024 Budget: Rest of the Budget that I Can or Can’t Cut

We have certain things in the budget that are every day bills that we can’t really cut. We pay for cable TV, internet, and a home phone that we have deemed necessary for the moment. Hubby wants the cable TV because he enjoys it. Some things are entertainment for him that many people could go without. The bill runs about $ 192. a month but does include our internet and home telephone so I guess it is really not too bad. Since I believe they will have a rate increase this year, we are budgeting $ 215. per month. We have no other choice for internet here. The home telephone we use for our alarm system. I will be trying to negotiate a better price again with a telephone call next week.

We have to pay property taxes and school taxes every year. They are hefty. But that is the cost of being a homeowner. Our property tax bill for 2024 was just under $4900. Since our school taxes for September 2023 were just under $6000, we have budgeted $ 12000. for 2024. We based that on the fact that they keep reassessing us every year. We have no mortgage so we just go to town hall and pay them.

Healthcare is another thing that we can’t go without. Medicare is going up this year from $ 164.90 to $ 174.70 month for each of us which is an increase of $ 235.20 for the year. The total for that Medicare for 2024 is $4192.28 for the both of us. But our Medicare Advantage plan is going up $ 137. a month for 2024 which is an increase of $ 1644. a year. That really shocked us. That is a lot of extra money that we have to budget. The total for the Medicare Advantage plan for 2024 is $5040.

We spent $ 1306. for drug co-pays in 2023, so we are budgeting $ 1600. for 2024 or about $ 134. a month.

We spent $ 858. in medical co-pays for doctors, tests, etc. in 2023. Fortunately neither one of us was in the hospital this year. So this was a cheaper year. We will budget $ 1000. for 2024 for this.

So our total medical that we are budgeting for 2024 is $ 11,832.28 or about $ 987. per month. You know I often wonder what happened to all of that money that we paid into Medicare all those years we worked. If you could see what they actually pay doctors, hospitals and labs, it is almost nothing. And many times we have to fight to get them to pay it. So did that money that we paid in and that people are paying in each year, get spent on something else or is it paying for the people who administer the plan? It seems a shame in this country that the elderly, especially those living on social security, have to pay this. I don’t know how they do it.

Then there are dental bills. We paid $ 1242. for our dental insurance in 2023. That covers 2 cleanings and exams for each of us. It does not cover fluoride or varnish. It covers X-rays once a year. Then everything else we get 20% off. I go every 6 months and Hubby goes 4 times a year so he has to pay for 2 of the cleanings. They cost about $180. each. Plus we budget about $ 1500. for tooth repairs. His fees go up every January. Also the plan goes up just a bit every year. So we have budgeted $ 2950. for 2024. So for 2024 we are budgeting a total $ 14,782. for medical and dental just to stay healthy.

We also pay for pest control. We have voles in the area that can destroy our lawn so they are treated every 3 months along with treatment for all other things like spiders(which I hate), bees and taking down hives, and all other bugs. We just got notice of the third increase in less than 2 years starting in January. They haven’t told us what the increase will be however. This week when I am making calls, I will call and find out. There are only 2 good pest control companies in the area and we used the other one first and they were terrible. So we have to stick with this one. Right now we are paying $185.18 every 3 months or $ 740.72 a year. I would almost bet that it will go up $ 30.+ every 3 months. So we are budgeting $ 220. every 3 months for 2024 or $ 880. for the year. I will know next week so we will see how close we come to that.

We pay the town for water and sewer quarterly. We paid a little less in 2023 because we didn’t have to use the sprinkler system a lot because we had a lot of rain. But it usually runs about $ 341. per year. Since they have a rate increase, we are budgeting $ 360. for 2024. We can try to conserve as much as we can on this one.

Our garbage and recyclable bill comes on our January property tax bill which I should get soon. Since we have a new garbage can that we have to pay for and the prices have gone up, it will be higher than last year. We may also have to purchase another can and pay an additional $50. per year for that can. I will update this when I get the bill.

We pay Guardian monthly to monitor our alarm system. That is $ 44.27 a month or $ 531.24 a year. We will budget $ 575.00 for 2024 or 47.92 a month.

Snow plowing cost us $500. for this winter. It went up $ 100. So we will budget $600. to pay in the Fall of 2024 in case of another increase. We have had a very warm winter and have had no snow so far this winter for him to plow. However, the cold front is starting to come in and I am sure there will be plenty soon. It is a good insurance policy.

We donate 10% of the money that we have to spend every year. That goes to our volunteer fire department which we also pay for through our property taxes, the Tunnel to Towers organization, etc., and various people who we see during the year who need help to buy their groceries or drugs. I will keep this amount private.

We have property in Texas that we own with 2 other people so we pay one third of the taxes for 2 city lots. Those were $ 74.94 this year. So we have budgeted $ 100. for 2024.

We paid $395. in 2023 for maintenance of our sprinkler system so we have budgeted $ 425. for 2024.

We have set aside $ 5,000. for gifts for family birthdays. anniversaries, and holidays for 2024. This amount changes depending on things like family graduations, baby gifts for neighbors, etc.

Our Auto and Homeowner’s insurance gets paid yearly in March. 2023 it was $ 1831. Since I am hearing from almost everybody that it is going up by 20-40%, we will budget on the 25% side which will be about $ 2289. or $ 190.75 per month. We will get our bill sometime next month and then we will know for sure. I will update this post with info when I have it.

Hubby gets the Buffalo News online. It costs us $ 29.99 a month or $359.88 a year. It goes up often so we will budget $ 395.88 for 2024.

We have other subscriptions. I purchased Hulu on the Black Friday deal for $ .99 a month. We will pay for the year and then cancel. So that is budgeted at $12.00 for 2024 for now.

We also pay for our WordPress subscription for this blog every other year. It runs about $100. for 2 years. It is due this Fall. So we have budgeted $120. in case of an increase.

We have Paramount + which we get free through our Walmart+. We pay $106. per year including tax for free shipping and delivery services. We pay for tips of about $100. per year. So our total for that is about $ 206. I will budget that amount for 2024.

We also pay $ 5.99 a month for Peacock. We are keeping track of how often we use this, If not much we will cancel it. But for now we will budget $ 80. for the year.

Hubby pays about $20. a year for Quicken. We will up that to $ 25. for this year.

I did not renew our Instacart and B.J.’s subscription for 2024 and I have no plans to.

We have budgeted for 4 new tires to purchase when our snow tires come off. That will cost us around $ 800. We also have $200. budgeted for oil changes this coming year. Plus we have budgeted another $1500. for repairs and $92. for our AAA membership. So a total of $2592. for 2024 or about $ 216. a month. Then we have to add on our inspection and registration of the car which is $ 37. a year for inspection and $ 81.50 for a 2 year registration. So that brings the total for all up to $ 2669.75 or $ 223. a month.

We have purchased our cars for many, many years with cash. Our car right now is a 2013. However, cars do eventually wear out. So for the past 10 years, we have budgeted $ 4,000. a year for a new car. We will continue to do that until we have to buy one. So we have again budgeted $ 334. a month for 2024.

The gasoline budget is one that we can control. We spent a little under $50. a month in 2023 or $ 600. a year. We have budgeted $700. for 2024. We don’t know if the prices will go down or up. I am betting up because of inflation and everything else that is going on here and overseas right now.

We spent about $ 400. in 2023 on beer, wine, and liquor. We have cut that back to $200. for 2024.

We will also budget about $8,000. to do one last garden outside and pay for the spring cleanup in the spring. I am hoping it will be much less than this or we will have to get estimates from a few companies. So we have budgeted $ 667. a month. Plus we just got the bill for fertilizing the lawn, so I have added another 450. per year for that. So a total of $8450. for all in 2024.

We hope not to have to buy any clothing this year. But just in case one of us needs some item or shoes, we will budget $ 35. a month or $ 420. for 2024.

We also have a miscellaneous category that covers stamps, cards, wrapping paper, shipping costs, printer paper, envelopes, occasional supplements, etc. We budgeted $ 1,200 a year for that for 2024.

We travel to visit family during the year. Those visits include many tanks of gasoline, Thruway tolls, gifts, out to dinner expenses, etc. We have budgeted $3500. this year for those.

Lastly, we have budgeted $ 6,000. in 2024 for home maintenance. This also includes cleaning products. This helps build up this account so that when we need furniture, appliances, or to replace our furnace or air conditioning which we did this year or to replace our roof or any other repairs. We have to hire some painters this year for inside and I know that we will hire a carpet company do some tiling for us and to shampoo all the carpeting and furniture in the house. It is time to get it professionally done. So this is $500. a month.

This may seem like a lot of money to you for two retired people. But I don’t expect that anyone would have the same expenses as us. It is to just show you what we are doing this year and how important it is to have a budget so that you know where every dollar goes. Without knowing where every dollar was going all these years, we would not be able to afford our retirement. Budgeting is what got us here. It keeps you in control and shows you over the years where the unnecessary spending is. We have been retired almost a quarter of a century and have only gotten increases at 62 because we started collecting social security. Many years since we got no increases in social security and the rest of the years except 2023 were dismal. Plus except for 2023, the primary medicare has increased every year. We have Hubby’s small pension but that has only increased $2000. over the last 22 and 1/4 years. You can imagine what all of this money purchased in 2001 and how it hardly purchased much in 2023 especially with the high prices on almost every thing. If you look at an inflation calculator, it will show you that if you purchased a $1.00 item in 2001, it now costs $ 1.73 in 2023. That is a cumulative rate of inflation of 73.5%. I also believe we will be in a world of hurt in 2024. Fortunately we saved a lot of money over the years by investing and saving. I took our money out of stocks and bonds about year ago. I guess I timed it right because they made $ 0.00 over the past year. All of it is now in high interest rate CD’s. But now you understand why we watch every dollar. If we want to continue to save, we have to.

People believe that they don’t have to budget when they reach retirement. It is more important than ever that you continue to budget and track every dollar. Otherwise you will end up broke. Everyone has to save to beat inflation over the years.

We will be taking the rest of today, New Year’s Eve, and New Year’s Day off. We are exhausted from the last few weeks of company. Time to do nothing for a few days. So I will wish each of you a very Blessed New Year. Stay safe.

It’s time now for me to go frost the cinnamon rolls for brunch.

Every Day

2024 Restaurant and Take Out Budget

This is an area that we struggle with. Some years we rarely get take out food. Others we get it about 6 times a year. If we do get take out it is usually submarine sandwiches or wraps, Panera Take Two, fish fries, Arby’s, or KFC. These take out purchases occur when I am either sick or just plain worn out. Most meals are cooked in our home. It is so much cheaper to cook at home and tastier too.

This year I will try out the KFC copycat recipe that is here: .

I can make up this recipe ahead, freeze the chicken, and then quickly reheat it when I know that I am not up to cooking.

The fish fries this year have not been as good as other years and they have gotten much costlier. So now that it looks like I can get haddock at around $9. a lb. , I will make our own. Hubby has a great homemade recipe that he uses when we have haddock.

The rest we will get take out for.

Restaurants we only go to a couple of times a year and for the most part it is Russell’s which is one of the best steakhouses in our area. It is very costly but we love the food. It is the best prime meat that I have ever tasted and the service is top notch. It is worth every dollar that we pay. Once in a while, we take family with us. We have some gift certificates that were given to us by our son and DIL for Christmas so that will help defray the cost this year. We always go there for our anniversary. Their menu is here:

Sometimes, we go to a small family owned restaurant in town but that is usually it. We are not big on chain restaurants.

We have decided to set our eating away from home budget at $750. this year.

If you want to save money this year to build an emergency fund or some other goal, this is an area that most people could easily cut. Even with inflation so high, restaurant parking lots seem to always be full. Many would be shocked at what they spend in this category if they tracked every dollar.

Feel free to share in the comments.