Every Day

Bare Bones: A Dilemma

I have a dilemma tomorrow. Those of you who have read here know that I get my hair cut, colored, and highlighted at what some would think is a high end salon. It really is only a few dollars more than the cheaper salons in my area. Part of my dilemma is that I love my hairdresser because she does a fantastic job. I also enjoy chatting with her because she reminds me of a young me. She is very frugal and has her head on straight when it comes to money.

I definitely need a cut tomorrow and my roots done. But I believe that the highlights are good for another 4-6 weeks. So it will cost much less than normal.

However this is definitely not bare bones. I do pay cash for this each time I go out of my monthly spending money. But it nags at me that there must be a better way.

I am not good at coloring my hair. I make a mess and I miss parts of my head so the gray shows. But I am considering doing it myself and trying to do a better job. I have blonde highlights put in but I have so many that my hair is almost all blond.

So I am thinking that buying hair color in a light shade that kind of matches the highlights would work. I know that I can get some good deals on hair color using coupons. I have also seen hair color on clearance at my local drugstores. But then again I wonder if it really wouldn’t look as good as the highlights do. 

I would then only have to pay for a haircut. Hubby used to cut my hair for me and he did as good a job as most hairdressers. But ever since he developed back issues, he does not want to do it because the standing for any length of time puts him in major pain. There is no way that I would even attempt to cut my own hair. 

So help me with this dilemma that has been eating at me for a very long time. Do you go to the salon or do your own hair? Is the salon worth the price? What do you think? Is it a luxury that is worth paying for? It is so expensive that it nags at me that I should be spending that money on something else or investing it.  

Every Day

Bare Bones: Make Every Penny Count

Remember to make every penny count! Those pennies become dollars. When you are living on a bare bones budget, it is important to scrutinize every expense. Don’t just look at it once, do it twice, or even three times to make sure that you are getting value for those pennies and dollars you are spending.

If your income has been drastically reduced, pay the basics to keep yourself afloat. Here is a video by Dave Ramsey who gives great advice on what to pay if your income has been reduced or you have been laid off from your job: Dave Ramsey

He has many more You Tube videos out there that you can google if you want to learn more.

My goal is to live Bare Bones so I can pay some large bills the rest of the year without touching savings and investments.

So I will show you what we are doing in a day to help with that goal. I need bread for Hubby and West this weekend. It was not on my grocery list this week because I can pay $1.00 to $4.00 for a loaf or I can pay about $.35 to $.50 to make a loaf. Bread is baking in the bread maker as I write this. 

It is daylight as I write this so no lights are turned on in this house.

Our A/C is now off because the temps have cooled off a bit. We are hoping to be able to keep it off until Tuesday. If I had a loss of income, I would turn it off and use a fan in the room or rooms we are in.

Here was my grocery list this week. As you can see, I crossed many, many things off. I have produce that needs to be used up so no produce purchased. The Tostito chips are to use with salsa we already have for a snack or lunch. We will need mayonnaise soon and Hubby will only eat Hellman’s. The mayo is necessary to make sandwiches. The ice cream is because West will be here this weekend and I promised him I would get his favorite kind which is cookies and cream. I purchased it at Walmart because it is a whole lot cheaper there than Top’s. These two stores are 1 block apart.  I shopped on Tuesday to take advantage of the 6% off senior discount at Top’s.

Hubby is installing wire shelves on the wall in the garage to house items that are on the floor and in a cabinet that we will sell to get them off the floor. He did a pick up order from Lowe’s and paid for $200. of the order with gift cards that I purchased almost two years ago at a discount. I got cash back for this order from Rakuten.

He is putting in enough shelves to house my very large appliances. I keep them on a roll around rack in the garage. Now I can use that rack in the basement for my stockpile. 

We had homemade cold cuts to use for dinner last night. I cooked a ham that I purchased at $.89 a lb. last Thanksgiving and we sliced it up on our meat slicer so that we could have ham sandwiches over the next few months. The homemade bread will be used for Hubby’s and mine will be in a lettuce wrap. 

When I drive I am still starting up from a light or stop sign under 2 x 1000 rpms to save on gasoline. No jack rabbit starts which eat gasoline. 

I washed our SUV in the driveway. I vacuumed it out with the handheld vacuum. I washed the windows with homemade “windex”. I rarely use the car wash unless it is the middle of winter. 

I have planned out our menu for this weekend while West is staying with us. He requested my homemade spaghetti and meatballs so I will take a precooked bag of it out of our freezer to thaw for dinner tonight. The bread I am baking today will be used to make parmesan garlic bread and sandwiches. I will keep it fresh in a reused bread bag.

Breakfasts will be homemade muffins, cereal and fruit, or scrambled eggs and bacon. Tomorrow night, I will use some frozen pizza which is in my freezer. His lunches will be cold cut sandwiches with cut up carrot sticks or PB&J which he loves. I also have some Annie’s mac and cheese if he prefers that. Snacks will be fruit or some of the ice cream. 

Entertainment this weekend will be walks, tablet time, playing some Pokemon Monopoly, etc. He also loves watching sports with his Grandpa.

 We did no impulse buying. The shelving was a planned purchase.

I managed to slice open a finger while I was helping with the shelving. It took a long time to stop bleeding but now it has a bandage on it and I didn’t have to go to Urgent Care. That was not the way I wanted to start my Friday. 

I hope you all have a safe and fun weekend.

Every Day

In My Quest for Bare Bones

Over the weekend, I thought a lot about my quest to stay bare bones. I spent some more time updating my stockpile list with pantry items and refrigerator items. Hopefully, I will be done with that in a few days. I am only spending about an hour a day working on that. I already have the freezers’ list done.

In order to use up what we have already spent money on, this is an important inventory to keep. The last thing that I want to do is end up with freezer burned meat or expired food. It has also helped me make a list of canned goods that I want to purchase for the winter. So many canned goods are becoming scarce in our stores. When I can find what I need I will purchase them. The prices have already gone up and I think as things get more scarce, the prices will climb even higher. When and if they climb to a price that I will not pay, we will just go without them. There are always things we can substitute and do differently. 

We have a small seating area in the front of our home. It has always had 2 chairs and a small table. Hubby and I enjoy sitting out there when the weather permits. Many neighbors stop by but we have to scrounge up chairs if they want to stay and visit for a while. This happened on Friday night. So I grabbed a spare chair from our office and a chair from our dining set out on the patio. This wasn’t ideal but it worked. Hubby had saved two of the best chairs from our old dining set which were stacked in our locked shed. He decided on Saturday to put those in the seating area and to put the two that we had been using in a corner of the garage to be able to easily access them when company comes by. Those chairs are smaller to store. The seat cushions on the chairs he put in front are satisfactory and comfortable for now. But we will have to replace them in the next year or so. I will be on the lookout for a good deal on those.

Using the ads that came in the Sunday paper yesterday, I have made my bare bones grocery list for Senior Citizen’s discount (6% off) day tomorrow at Top’s. My son was looking my list over and said it looked good. He wanted to know why I crossed off so many items. I told him they were unnecessary items that I wanted but did not really need. There was a great price on the frozen pizza that Hubby likes but he also likes my homemade pizza just as much. So the pizzeria frozen one got crossed off. Shrimp was on sale but I have so much fish that needs to be eaten so shrimp was not really important. Pasta sauce is cheap with coupon but I can make a huge  homemade batch for just pennies using a large can of tomato sauce, some paste, and some spices.

I had put some fresh local veggies on my list but I still have some to use up in the fridge so we will eat those before we get more. 

I thought I needed Scotties but while counting my stockpile ones, I found I had 18 boxes so they are not necessary right now. So they got crossed off. If I run out before we get more, we both have handkerchiefs. 

Hubby has been working on a project on our shed. he bought shims because the shed needed to be jacked up in areas and the shims put under. From settling, there are areas that need this. He and my son tried to jack it up a little yesterday but the crowbar broke. Hubby can not find his car jack so my son will bring his next weekend. In past winters and springs we have had critters live under the shed. A groundhog did a bunch of damage to the lawn near the shed because he dug there. Hubby has repaired that but he is putting wire fencing between the ground and where the shed begins to keep them from living under there. He will be working on that today. 

My son and Hubby also told me yesterday that they think a mouse is living in a storage cabinet in the garage. I hate mice. Hubby said he would clean the nest out and clean up the mouse droppings. But I want to make sure it is gone for good. So when I put my thinking cap on, I realized that the sticky boards that I use to keep bugs out are for mice too. So we put sticky boards down in front of the cabinet in hopes of catching the mouse or mice. I will check those later this morning. 

I was going to wash a load of laundry this weekend but realized that it wasn’t quite a full load so I put it off til I have a full load.

My “jet dry” was gone in my dishwasher. The light came on to alert me so I filled it up with the usual vinegar as my “jet dry”.  

We have an on demand water heater. So I took a shower right after Hubby this weekend to use up the hot water that was still in the pipes before it cooled down. 

We are so happy that it is supposed to rain 3 days this week because we probably will not have to use the sprinkler system this week. We need rain badly.

I am off to make some phone calls. We got two bills in the mail this weekend and they are both incorrect.

I hope you all have a great day! 

Every Day

What Do I Mean By Bare Bones?

Bare bones is ONLY essential expenses. I consider them to be mortgage payments or rent, utilities(water, electricity and natural gas), transportation( car payment, gasoline and maintenance), from scratch food made with actual ingredients(no processed food), basic health and paper items(like toilet paper) taxes, medications, and medical insurance if you can afford to keep it. In my estimation, car insurance, homeowners or renter’s insurance, and life insurance are also essential expenses. They are things either mandated by law or that would not be to your benefit to let lapse.

Take a look at all of your last three month’s of spending. If you haven’t tracked it, then look at your checkbook register or bank statements and credit card statements to see what you have been spending your money on.

All other spending except for those mentioned in the first paragraph are non essentials. Clothing is not essential unless you have nothing to wear. Eating fast food, going out to restaurants and stopping at Starbucks or anywhere else for coffee is definitely not essential unless you were gifted a gift card that will cover the total cost. Going on vacation is not an essential item nor is buying home decor or kitchen utensils for your home. Going to the movies, sports games and concerts is not essential.

Cable TV is not essential if you have had a loss in income. Nor is Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon Prime, etc. The first two you pay monthly and can cancel. If you have Amazon Prime, you can cancel at any time and they will refund your money for the months you have left on your membership. Magazine subscriptions, the daily newspaper,  warehouse store subscriptions, and gym memberships should be cancelled. Some kind of telephone, whether it be landline or cellphone, is essential. The most expensive plan is not. 

I am not giving up cable TV, Hulu or Amazon Prime because I have not had a loss in income. If you have, you should consider cancelling them. 

Question each and every purchase. Am I buying something that is really unnecessary? Can that money be used for something that is basic to your survival? Will it help keep the lights, heat or A/C on? Will it buy oil, flour, fruits and veggies, dairy products or some more meat? Do whatever you have to to make sure that you have all of the basic expenses paid. Look at each and every penny that is being spent and decide whether it is really important to do it.  

I will be scrutinizing our expenses until at least the end of 2019 to be able to get to our goal of not touching savings and investments to pay for upcoming expenses that are important to us. 

Come and join me. You don’t have to let anyone know that you are doing this. Just do it!   

Every Day

Going Bare Bones

This is not going to be a savings on utility post today. Instead I want to tell you that we are cutting our budget to the bare bones for the next couple of months and why.

You all know that we are retired so we have a fixed amount of income every month. This amount comes from many years of savings and investments, a pension, and social security. So we know how much we have to spend and we try not to spend it every month so that we continue to invest and save. Many of our friends spend down their income each month now that they are retired. We still live as frugally as we always did. We don’t waste our money but rather we buy when we have a need and just a few wants. It is still a joy to watch our savings and investment income go up month after month. It is a joy to know that we have enough to live out our lives and be comfortable. It is a goal to leave our family an inheritance like we never had.

As I have told you before, I grew up poor. I didn’t know it at the time because there was always barely enough. But when we got married so young, I knew we had to make every dollar count. There are times when we tighten our belts and times when we loosen it. 

Right now it is a time to tighten it! Even though we have the money we need in savings and investments, we want to save the money we need over the next few months out of our monthly amount so that we don’t have to touch those savings and investments.

We already started building that up over the past couple of months but we have not gone bare bones. Now we will and I will tell you why.

You all know that we charge some expenses every month on two major credit cards to reap the rewards. One stipulation that we have for the use of credit cards is that we never pay interest. When we get our bill every month, we pay it in full when it is due.

The past couple of months, those credit card amounts have gone up because expenses have been higher. I needed a large clothing purchase because of my diet, we have some household projects and repairs in the works, we had some travel and associated costs with that, and we had about $3,000. in dental bills out of pocket. It would have been more if we hadn’t purchased a dental discount plan which was $1147. for a year. Last months credit card bills totaled over $2900. which were paid in full. This month’s credit card bills totaled over $4600. I have sent in the payment for the largest one which was over $3600. The other credit card will get paid when it is due in a few days. We continue to pay no interest.

We have school taxes due again in September. They will be just under $5,000. We save all year for those but I would like to be able to not withdraw from those savings to pay them if possible. Time will tell if we can do it.

We have dental appointments again this month. I do know that Hubby needs some major work so we will have more high bills. 

We want to save over a $1,000. for large rock bottom food purchases at Thanksgiving to restock our freezer. You all know that certain items go to rock bottom once a year and Thanksgiving gives us many of those prices.

We continue to eat from our freezer and pantry stockpiles so that we will have room to stock up on those sales. Since we have enough food to eat only from the stockpiles the next couple of months, I will not be buying much food. Matter of fact, every food purchase on my lists will be scrutinized and crossed off if I deem it unnecessary. 

In November, I want to stock up on turkeys because we love turkey, it is on my diet, and they are at the cheapest price all year. Plus you all know that it is a great time to stock on canned soups, stuffing, and lots of other items. Christmas will bring great prices on hams which I will also stock up on. My goal is to eat a lot of $.49 to $.99 a lb. turkey and under a $1.00 per lb. ham next year. That is the cheapest meat I can buy. I know some of you can stock on $.39 a lb. chicken quarters. We don’t get those prices here in the Northeast. 

We also have many birthdays in the Fall leading right up to Christmas. I want to build a large fund for those gifts. And we will have property taxes to pay in January of about $4700. We had an increase in our assessment for both property and school taxes. With new building in our housing development, those assessments will continue to go up. Our town reassesses every year or two. 

So I will keep you updated on the many things we are doing to keep our everyday costs low. I would like the credit card bills to be just bare bones the next couple of months. And I really mean I will cut them to the bone!

If you have goals that you are saving for whether it be for a house, college fund, retirement savings, Christmas gifts, charity giving, etc., join me in making a goal to do what needs to be done. If your income has been reduced or you have been laid off from a job, join me in going bare bones and doing what has to be done to stay afloat. 

What are some of your goals for the next few months?