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.

Every Day

What We Will Be Doing To Save Money In 2022

This little tree was made from a larger tree. The angel on top was made by my Hubby in kindergarten. It is over 70 years old. I am surprised that it has held up as well as it has. I am waiting for our new tree skirt to arrive and it will be finished.

Now that we have put up our little Christmas tree, have written our cards, and have all of our Christmas giving taken care of, my mind has turned to the little tips and hacks that we will use to help us save money this month and next year in this inflationary cycle. These will be in no particular order. I will just write them as they pop into my head.

We will be eating from our food pantry. As we do that we will make sure to eat the proper portions which will ration the food that we have. We will only buy meat if I see a rock bottom price and then I will buy what we have room for. We only have a small chest freezer and the regular refrigerator so not a lot of freezer space. I do have the supplies to can meat that I see on sale. However, I am running out of shelves to store it on. I will buy fresh produce and dairy as I need it. We will do our best to not waste food as I told you in a prior post. I do believe that food prices will continue to surge. There are certain things that I will not buy now because I deem the price to be too high. Red meat except for ground beef and chuck roasts, coffee, soda, most fish, bacon, most junk food, etc. come to mind.

I will be keeping track of every penny of our money and tracking what is spent with the online program that we use. I will be better about using my price book to track prices as they go up so that I know what the best deal is.

We will continue to close the heating vents in our two spare bedrooms, close the doors, and put the draft snakes in front of the bottom of the doors. We will heat them back up the day before we have company coming the end of the month. This should help with our natural gas bill. We will make sure that we keep the bathroom vent and door open in the bathroom between these two rooms so that the pipes don’t freeze.

We made a decision this year to only minimally decorate our home with lights so we could save that cost in our electric bill. So our little tree is all the lights we have. It is enough for us to enjoy each evening. As we age, it is also getting harder to drag all of the decorating items from our basement to the upstairs. I think when my son and granddaughter come the end of the month, we will share decorations for my son’s tree with him. He doesn’t have many in his new home since his divorce. I will also let my other son take any that he wants. Then we will donate the rest of them to Goodwill.

Clothing prices have gone up here. I will be buying some jeans and tops for Hubby and myself when I see them go on sale after we lose some more weight. But I will be looking for a sale at that time. And the amount we will buy will be minimal.

I do not pay for shipping unless I ship something myself out of our local UPS which I will be doing today. Fortunately we have AAA. That gives us 5% off our cost to ship. I have free shipping for anything on because I have their grocery plus delivery plan. I only use Amazon when I have the minimal amount of money that you have to spend in order to get free shipping.

We are setting our budget for 2022 this week. It will be as bare bones as we can get without cutting things that we enjoy like cable TV.

We will be spending on things that help us stay in our home that we love like landscaping and maintenance services. They are a necessity.

We rarely eat out but when we do, we support a family owned business. The food is better than the run of the mill big chains. In 2022, we will plan on eating out about every three months. Other than those occasions, all food will be cooked and eaten at home.

We plan on repairing as many things that we can ourselves before we call a repairman or buy new. We have stocked on a number of things that we might need to do that. You Tube is a great resource when you need to know how to repair something.

I will be planting a larger garden this spring so that we can cross some more of the things we buy off our list.

We are learning to make things that we have always purchased. Hubby is now making all of our salad dressings as the prepared ones run out. His latest is Italian Vinagrette which is delicious.

We will be making the little bit of bread and rolls that we do eat. Desserts, with the exception of some ice cream when the grandchildren visit, will be made here at home.

Our one main goal in 2022 is to become as self reliant as possible. Things are not going to get better in this country anytime soon and there is nothing we can do to control that. So we will work all year on the areas that we can control. When we had a period like this in the 1970’s, we survived by being very creative with everything we did. It actually was fun to do all the little things that helped us thrive and get through it.

Most importantly we will do all of this with gratitude in our hearts for the things that we do have and can do that makes our lives so much richer.

Have you thought about how you will cut expenses in 2022?

Every Day

Cutting Costs On Tuesday

After our homemade coffee, Hubby and I headed to appointments in another town. I dropped Hubby off and ran a different errand about 15 minutes away(finished my Christmas shopping). I managed to get back for my appointment an hour after Hubby’s. Because we now have dental insurance, it paid for Hubby’s X-rays and cleaning today at the dentist. The only cost was $36. for a fluoride treatment. I got a new denture at no cost to replace the third one that broke. The dentist and the lab finally think they have it figured out. My bite is so strong with my lower teeth that they adjusted the thickness and the bite. Hopefully, this one will work. On the way home, we stopped and voted.

When we got home, I made us salads for brunch using up leftover tomato dices, leftover black olives, leftover onion dices, lettuce, and some shredded cheese. Dressing was homemade Italian. The cheese was colby- jack that I purchased in a block for $ 1.69 and shredded using my Kitchen Aid. Shredding my own is much cheaper than buying shredded. Plus it doesn’t have wood pulp in it. We just keep it in the fridge in a reused gallon bag.

Then after grabbing my grocery list, I headed to Top’s. It is Senior Citizen Discount day. I got 6% off my entire grocery order. This day is only on the first Tuesday of the month so I always try to take advantage of it.

Pictured above is the small order that I picked up. I purchased 2 rotisserie chickens. One is pictured and the other is in the ziploc. When I got home I shredded it. They were on sale 2 for $11.00. The reasons I purchased them is they were cheaper cooked than I can buy them raw and I forgot to thaw something before we went out this morning. The celery was on sale B1G1F. The beef broth was on super coupon for $.99. The Ragu spaghetti sauce was on a 5 for $5. deal which made them all $.99 each which is a great price for here.

I have to tell you a little story about an elderly couple( I estimated them to be in their mid 80’s.) who were getting the Ragu while I waited next to them. They each had a cart and they were loading the Ragu sauce into the carts in many multiples of 5. I was hoping they would leave 5 for me. They just kept loading it. I waited and then I noticed that they had also loaded into their carts many, many pastas that were on sale. When they were done, she looked at me and said thanks for waiting for us. As they left, I looked at the shelf and they had left 5 for me. When I left the shelf was empty. As I was walking around the store, I noticed them in line with their carts and there was nothing else but the pasta and sauce. I smiled to myself and was happy that they had gotten all of those things. Because even though I don’t know why they bought all of those things, we have a lot of senior citizens in our county living on small social security checks. If God blessed them with those sales today, I am happy that they can eat.

I was really beat when I got home, so Hubby and I watched the NCIS’s that he recorded last night. I am going to take it easy the rest of the day.

Hubby is making us BLT’s with chicken for dinner tonight. It is one of my favorites.

I hope you are all having a great day! Did you do anything to cut costs today?

Every Day

Cutting Costs on Monday

We started our day off this morning by making our own coffee. We NEVER, EVER buy coffee at a drive thru. Yes, we have a Keurig but I make my coffee with a reusable cup using whatever I have found on sale. Buying coffee out is very expensive. It’s so easy to make your own. For a long time, I have made Hubby’s using Decaf K cups. Our stockpile of them is almost gone. So when they run out, I will be making his from bagged Decaf coffee which I stockpiled at lower prices when we made this decision. Using regular K cups is expensive and they expire quicker than sealed coffee. When we go out, we bring our coffee with us in a travel mug.

Next it was time for my navy shower. I catch the water in a bucket while it warms up when I turn it on the first time. This saves water. Utility bills keep going up so every little bit helps. For those who don’t know what a navy shower is, you wet down, turn the shower off, soap up and wash your hair, then turn the shower back on to rinse off. We have a window in our Master Bath that gives plenty of light so no need to turn any light on. When I am going to be home for the day, I use no makeup so no light needed for that or to comb my hair. I let my hair air dry. I don’t let the water run down the sink while I am brushing my teeth. I turn it off until I rinse.

After my shower, I squeegee all of the glass in the shower to keep the soap scum down. Then I use my homemade shower cleaner spray on the tile walls for the same reason. That way it can go longer without a deep cleaning.

About noontime we had our first meal of the day. Since we waste zero food in our home, I heated up some beef stew that I cooked a couple of nights ago. It just had beef, carrots, potatoes, and a little gravy. When I made it for dinner, I used the crock pot on high for 4 hours. Over the summer I purchased 4 strip steaks from the meat market. We grilled 2 and they were awfully tough. As I said before the quality of the meat has gotten poor along with the high prices. So not wanting to waste them, I used them as the meat in the stew. This made them very tender.

Today is my day to clean the bathrooms. I use bleach to clean the entire inside and outside of the toilets. I stockpile bleach to purify water in case we have a water outage. Bleach only lasts about 6 months. So when it is reaching it’s expiration, I clean the toilets with it to use it up. I used a bottle of Scrubbing Bubbles that I need to use up to clean the bathtubs, sinks, shower floor, and counters. Once that is gone, I will make homemade cleaner for them. Floors and baseboards were washed down with Pine Sol in my bucket with my spin mop. The mirrors all got done with Windex. All the cupboards were dusted before I did the floors. Towels were thrown in the washer to wait for a full load and new ones were put out.

I had so much energy when I got done that I decided to clean the Master Bedroom. So sheets have been stripped and new ones put on. Baseboards, lamps and bulbs, and furniture have all been dusted with my reusable duster. Drawers were straightened up and mirrors and paintings were cleaned. The walk in closet was very neat so it didn’t need any attention. Last, I vacuumed all of the carpeting.

Then Hubby and I watched NCIS LA that aired last night. He DVR’s any program that I want to see each week for me. Sometimes we just wait until Friday and marathon all of the shows. I hate commercials and he can skip over them when he replays them for me.

Then Hubby went to clean his office. Believe me, it needed it. It’s the one room that I don’t clean because he knows where he keeps everything.

I did our net worth statement which I do the 1st of every month. Then it was time to watch some You Tube.

Dinner was last night’s planned overs. I made two dinners of spaghetti and sausage. We just reheated it all in the microwave. It saves us time and money.

What did you do to cut costs?

Every Day

Cutting Costs Today

Since it’s easier for me to sit for short periods of time, I will post short blog posts each day about how we cut costs that day.

As you can see I taught myself to take pictures with my cellphone today. I never knew how to do it. So I did some research and I am learning. So I will not have to spend $250. for a new camera.

Pictured above is about 3/4’s of a butternut squash. I cooked it in the microwave which is much cheaper than baking it in the oven. There is enough here for me to enjoy it with 3 dinners. Hubby does not like it so I get it all. Actually the other 1/4 of it, I have cut into chunks to saute for dinner. While Hubby has spaghetti with Italian sausage for dinner, I will have the Italian sausage and sauce with the the squash as a side.

Hubby made another batch of homemade granola. We have tried many recipes and this one is the best by far. It gives us a little over 1/2 a container.

Hubby always makes it with pure maple syrup. This time he used dried blueberries and cranberries. It is so delicious. I have some once in a while on top of plain yogurt which I make in the Instant Pot. You can use raisins for a cheaper recipe. We use dried blueberries, cranberries, or cherries. It costs us less to make it than to buy a good box of granola.

I did a load of wash in cold water and hung all of my lingerie and good tops to dry. The rest was dried on the EcoDry cycle.

I ordered two different bottles of OTC drugs that we were very low on. They were cheaper at Walmart than on Amazon by a lot and they will be here tomorrow and the next day. This saves me on gasoline and time.

Since we no longer get a newspaper delivered, I printed some coupons that I wanted online. I also looked at the market flyers online and have made a very short list for Top’s and Aldi. I will be going on Tuesday since it is 6% Senior Discount Day. With prices so high, every little bit helps.

Hubby and I will be watching the Buffalo Bills on our television in a few minutes. I think you can see the game better and it sure saves on buying a ticket.

We had some croissants that I did not want to go bad, so I froze them.

I stopped myself from going to Walmart for 1/2 price Halloween candy. today. I thought about it but we have enough candy here for the grandchildren after Halloween. I know if I had gone I would have spent $40. – $50.

I think that will be it today. I am off to the game. What are you doing today to cut costs?

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?

Every Day

Your Most Important Fund

Different people save for different things. They have Christmas Club accounts, vacation funds, a home fund, and many many others. But the most important fund that you should have before all others is an Emergency Fund.

Emergencies rear their ugly heads especially when you least expect them. The washer breaks or the dryer stops working. The furnace needs a repair or the A/C dies. You car needs a repair or you have a leak in the house and need a plumber. There are so many things that could happen that you need that Emergency Fund. 

So many times people have said, “But I can’t afford an emergency fund, I have too much credit card debt or a multitude of other excuses.” 

You can’t afford not to have an Emergency Fund especially if you are in credit card debt. Let’s say the dryer stops working. You have a few choices. You can try to fix it yourself by googling what the problem could be or looking for a You Tube video to watch that would show you how to repair it. You still may have to pay for an expensive part. You can call the service people to come and repair it. Or you can hang your laundry to dry until you have enough money to fix it. But no you want it fixed right away so you call the service repair people who cost you $85. -$90. just to come out to the house plus the cost of the repair.

Since you don’t have the money to pay for it you put it on a credit card that you already owe $4,000. on. That credit card you pay a bit more than the minimum payment every month. Your interest rate is
11% or more. So now you owe more on the card and if you don’t pay the repair off when your bill is due, you pay interest on that portion too. 

Have you learned your lesson and started an emergency fund? No you just hope that you don’t have another emergency any time soon. So 2 months later, the furnace stops working. You call someone to repair it and put that repair on your charge too. Do you see the vicious cycle that you set up for yourself? 

No matter how much money you have coming in or how much you owe, you have to save an emergency fund. Then when something breaks, you hopefully have the money saved to pay for it.

So how much money should you save? It depends on your situation. But when we first started saving for one over 50 years ago, we saved $1500. It was not easy back in the 60’s but little by little we saved it. Then we never touched it except for an emergency. If we did need it to repair something, we replaced whatever we had to spend as fast as we could. Back then, we only made 4 figures. Today you should be able to put more than that in an emergency fund. I would save $5,000. or more and hope that you don’t have to use it any time soon while you are saving up.

We finally built ourselves up to a year’s expenses in case Hubby lost his job. Then we started saving for buying our cars and bigger things. Once you start doing it on a regular basis, it just builds and builds. Then when you have a true emergency, you don’t have the stress of how to pay for it or have to put it on a credit card. 

Even if you are living paycheck to paycheck, social security to social security or pension to pension or are in credit card debt , you should be able to build that fund. I don’t care whether you can only put $5., 10., up to $50. or more a week into that fund, you have to start today to build it.

You have no extra money, you say to me. Well, then you have to either make more money or cut your expenses. It’s easy to cut your grocery budget by $5. or $10. per week or more. Just shop carefully, forego junk food or desserts, buy cheaper meats or do away with meat for a # of meals, and use every morsel that you purchase. Don’t throw food away. There are so many ways to save on food and other items that you need. But I will go into many of those ways over the next few months. I think you get the idea. 

Do not use that emergency fund that you are building for anything but a true emergency. And going to the movies, buying a cup of coffee out, going out for a drink or to a restaurant are not emergencies. They are wants; not needs. 

Please start doing this over the next week and do it every week thereafter. It will take you awhile to get it built to where you want it but it is the right thing to do for yourself and your family. 

I hope you all have wonderful weekend.