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Things I learned on SavingAdvice/Financial Thoughts

October 10th, 2023 at 11:11 pm

I was thinking about all of the advice or topics I've read, or learned on this forum and blogs. These are in no particular order of importance, because different ones will be most, or more important to everyone.

1. Make a budget, and stick to it

2. Live at, or below your means

3. Track your spending, know where every penny goes

4. Distinguish between a want and a need

5. Save, save, save. Establish an emergency fund and don't touch it for anything other then a true emergency.

6. Pay off your debt, understand why you went into debt, and then don't fall back into it.

7. Learn to cook, meal plan, batch cook. Plan before you grocery shop. 

8. Have adequate insurance. especially health insurance, but also dental, vision, home, car etc.

9. Treat yourself every now and then. Save for the fun things in life too, whatever they are for you.

10. If you own a home, pay it off early, or at the very least , before you retire.

11. No one is perfect! If you fall off the wagon, go back into debt, whatever it might be, start over. And don't beat yourself up for it.

12. Learn to invest, and then do it.

I'm sure there are others! 

Also, things happen to derail the best laid plans. Think they can't happen to you? They can. Things like:

- stock market crashes, bubbles that burst (housing market, tech) banks fail, unexpected job loss, recession, inflation, serious physical and mental health issues, pandemics, war, bankruptcy, losing your home, divorce, death of a spouse or partner, etc. 

I am not fear mongering by mentioning these things, they have all happened in my lifetime. Not all TO me, but they have happened.  Some have seriously derailed my own financial plan for my life, sometimes things just happen that are out of your control. Well, I'm rambling, but these are my financial thoughts right now! Maybe it's because the world seems in such turmoil.

August 2023 Spending/Savings

August 31st, 2023 at 05:39 pm

Income Total$1353.66

      $1000 Recurring monthly retirement account distribution  

      $300 Swagbucks and My Points earnings (cash out to PayPal)

      $53.66 Credit Card Cash Back Rewards


Total Spending: $1282.67


Total Savings: $70.99

Fixed Expenses: 
Verizon (cable): $104.72

Verizon Mobile: $76.46

HVAC and water heater contract: $29.95
Condo Fee $190.00 

Health Care: (includes health, dental, vision, prescription plans) $479.50

* My internet bill is now covered through the ACP program
Utilities: $131.56
Gasoline: $ 0
Groceries: $189.55
Health: $80.93 (Doctor visit co-pays and scripts)

Shopping: $0

Take-Out: $0


* Condo is paid in full 
* Car is paid in full (2017 Camry) 
* No other debt


I had a great earnings month through Swagbucks and My Points. I am fully focusing again on earning as much as possible every month. My grocery bill was high, due to buying higher quality foods (lots of organic). I was able to send a small amount to savings! First time in a long time. 

Mid-Month Updates

August 15th, 2023 at 01:28 pm

It's already been a spendy month. Last week I had a tooth extracted and bone grafting done to prepare for an eventual implant. Everything went well and I'm healing nicely. But, even with dental insurance this is very expensive. So far I am $626.80 out of pocket with more to come. This will be paid from my emergency/savings fund. 

I also went to an orthopedic doctor last week for an evaluation and treatment of my elbow. I've been having a lot of pain in it for a few months and an MRI confirmed a partial tendon tear and inflammation. After resting it, icing it, and taking prescription strength anti-inflammatory meds which didn't really help all that much, he gave me a cortisone injection. This did the trick and it's now almost pain free. My health insurance covered all of this except for a $20 co-pay.

I am already at $107.45 spending on groceries for the month. I have changed my grocery shopping approach and am now buying the best quality foods I can afford for those things that I eat most often. Eggs are a good example. I have them for breakfast almost every day. I had been buying the 18 count large store brand eggs that i could get for just .89 cents with my store discount points. But, the quality has really gone downhill. They are really small (more like a small/medium size) the shells are really thin and the color is very pale. The taste was very bland. So, I spent the money and bought a dozen organic, free range, all the best healthy things eggs for $6.49 a dozen! It hurt my heart to spend that much. But what a difference. I don't think I can now ever go back to the cheap ones. So, I am eating a few less eggs and a bit more of the Bob's Red Mill organic oatmeal with unsweetened almond milk that I really like.

But, it has to be a balance. I can't afford to buy the best quality of everything. I eat a LOT of veggies, but I can't afford to buy organic everything. So I'm working on where the affordable medium is. It really is a struggle with prices still so high.

Not much else happening, having a quiet week while I heal from the procedures. 


July 2023 Spending

July 31st, 2023 at 06:44 pm

I spent just a pinch over my $125 grocery budget. An overall very low spend month.


Income Total$1158.76

      $1000 Recurring monthly retirement account distribution  

      $100 Swagbucks and My Points earnings (cash out to PayPal)

      $58.76 Income tax refund money


Total Spending: $1158.76

Fixed Expenses: 
Verizon (cable): $104.72

Verizon Mobile: $76.44

HVAC and water heater contract: $29.95
Condo Fee $190.00 

Health Care: (includes health, dental, vision, prescription plans) $479.50

* My internet bill is now covered through the ACP program
Utilities: $116.44
Gasoline: $35.57
Groceries: $126.14
Health: $0 (Doctor visit co-pays and scripts)

Shopping: $0

Take-Out: $0


* Condo is paid in full 
* Car is paid in full (2017 Camry) 
* No other debt

HVAC and Dental Expenses

July 21st, 2023 at 10:59 pm

Yesterday, my HVAC stopped working. I heard a loud screech and then just a buzzing sound. I turned the system off for about 10 minutes then back on and it just made that buzzing sound but never really kicked on. So, I shut it down and called my warranty company. I pay $29.95 a month for coverage on my HVAC and hot water heater. I can tell you that there have been times recently where I considered cancelling this coverage and using that $30 toward other bills. I am so glad I didn't! The motor died and needed to be replaced. I was his first stop this morning and within a couple of hours I was back up and running. Since I have the warranty, my cost was zero. I asked what this would have cost OOP and he said between $900 and $1000 dollars and that was a conservative estimate. In our condo's each unit has it's own HVAC system and owners are responsible for them. 

I also had a dental appointment this week for a cleaning and a check-up. I've been having some sensitvity around a tooth that had already had a root canal and a crown put on it a very, very long time ago. I was dismayed to learn that the remaining tooth under the crown was in very bad shape and needs to be extracted, and replaced with an implant. My estimate after what my insurance will pay is about $2100 dollars. This will be paid from my emergency fund. Dental work is so expensive!

These type of expenses are why I am trying very hard to not dip into my emergency fund for everyday living expenses. I do not want to go into credit card debt to pay for emergencies. 

This weekend I am having a few of my friends over for brunch. I will be making an egg and cheese quiche, and serving coffee and teas. My friends will all be bringing something, a fruit platter, juice and probably some muffins. Then we usually play some cards for a while and enjoy a fun few hours. We try and do this once a month and rotate who is hosting. It's a fun, low spend day!

July Midmonth Update and Applying for Utility Assistance

July 16th, 2023 at 03:35 pm

My spending so far this month is at $1019.74 with almost all bills paid for the month. My grocery spending is at $52.84 so right on budget so far. 

I've been doing a lot of financial reviewing and numbers crunching and reviewing of expenses and I've pretty much decided to start taking Social Security at age 65. I will also be switching to Medicare then as well. The estimated monthly amount I will receive will be more then enough to comfortably live on, and I will still have some money left in my retirement account. I had considered just taking Social Security now, and while things would be much easier for me on a monthly basis now, it would make things harder in the long run, so I decided to wait another 2.3 years (I'll turn 63 in October).

That means that financially, things will be extremely tight for me until then. There isn't much left to cut in my expenses, I already live very lean. 

I get these updates from my utility company with what my next monthly estimated bill will be and it was estimated to be over a third higher then last month (it actually is estimated to almost double). And, they will be increasing the rates (again) in October. I already do everything I can to keep my usage down, but it has been so hot here for weeks that my A/C has been running more. It's just going to keep going up.

I made the difficult decision to apply for utility assistance through my county. This was not an easy decision and I really struggled with feeling ashamed and embarrassed. I've always been self sufficient, worked very hard, and was proud that I could always "pay my way". But now, I just need some help. Going back to work is off the table due to health reasons, I just can't do it and my doctor's have advised against it.

I really debated about wether I should blog about this. But in the end I decided that if there are any other low income people out there who are reading this, and you you are struggling and need some help for a while, please don't beat yourself up like I did about applying for assistance. 

My application is currently being processed, and I spoke with a very nice representative last week who needed some clarification on my income. She was very nice and helpful. I should find out if I am approved or denied soon.

I made some financial mistakes when I was younger, and had to start over when I was divorced in my 40's. My ex wiped out our bank accounts and really left me with a big financial mess. But, I feel like I did a few things right too. I climbed out of debt, paid off my house and car, and saved up an emergency fund. My retirement accounts aren't huge, but at least I was able to save something. My mom lived with me for 5 years and it was my joy to take care of her. I've done the best I could. 

On a happier note, my best friend and I went to a free neighborhood concert over the weekend. It was outdoors so a bit hot, but we took our lawn chairs, packed some snacks and water, and had a wonderful time. And it was all free! 


June 2023 Spending

June 30th, 2023 at 09:14 pm

This was an ugly month. My income was down due to earning next to nothing from Swagbucks and My Points. I just didn't have the energy earlier in the month. Since I am feeling better I'll be focusing back on this again for July. I decreased my monthly withdrawl from my retirement account to $1000 a month (down from $1200). I need to stretch this account out for as long as possible. I will be using my tax refund money to make up any difference every month between my income and expenses. I'm trying not to dip into my savings (emergency fund) for regular monthly expenses.

My grocery spending was really high, but it included food for my sister too. She was still here helping me for part of June. Take out was also high, it was just convenient when I wasn't really able to cook and my sister just didn't want to! My health expenses were also up a bit as I had a few co-pays for doctor's visits. Next month should look better.

Income Total$1317.14

      $1000 Recurring monthly retirement account distribution  

      $25 Swagbucks and My Points earnings (cash out to PayPal)

      $292.14 Income tax refund money


Total Spending: $1317.14

Fixed Expenses: 
Verizon (cable): $104.72

Verizon Mobile: $76.44

HVAC and water heater contract: $29.95
Condo Fee $190.00 

Health Care: (includes health, dental, vision, prescription plans) $479.50

* My internet bill is now covered through the ACP program
Utilities: $98.99
Gasoline: $0
Groceries: $233.00
Health: $58.87 (Doctor visit co-pays and scripts)

Shopping: $0

Take-Out: $45.67


* Condo is paid in full 
* Car is paid in full (2017 Camry) 
* No other debt

June Mid-Month Update/Social Security

June 15th, 2023 at 10:49 pm

On the health front, I am feeling better and have finally been cleared to drive! I still can't lift anything and have to be careful with a lot of bending but I can at least get out of the house. Freedom! I do still tire easily but my doctor told me that it would just take some time to get my full energy back. 

Back in March, I applied for the Homeowners Property Tax Credit offered through my county. This is an income based program. I was informed that this year I will be receiving a credit of $1,332.82. They apply it directly to my property tax bill and I pay the remainder.  Our property tax billing cycle runs from July1-June 30 so I'll be receiving the bill sometime around July 1st. This is a huge help for low income residents. Even with the credit I estimate I will still be paying close to 2k.

I've been thinking a lot lately about when I want to start drawing Social Security. My full retirement age is 67, and I am currently 62. I always planned to wait until 67, but I may just start at 65 to coincide with switching to Medicare. I know that the monthly amount grows the longer I wait, and I routinely review my estimates through my SSA online account. 

I had sometimes considered going back to work only part time, but that is completely off the table now due to health reasons. My current income is very low, and while I am OK with living on a very tight budget, and feel that I am living a happy life, it would be nice to not struggle quite so much. My income when I take SS at 65 will almost double from what I am living on now. Waiting another 5 years until I am 67 just feels very long. I will keep mulling it over.

I hope everyone has a good upcoming weekend!


Thank You! $$Deals$$ Free Produce!

May 20th, 2023 at 01:48 pm

Thank you all so much for the well wishes! I am on the mend, still a bit sore around the incision site (abdominal) and I tire out easily, but I do feel a little better and stronger every day. My follow up exams have all been very positive.

I noticed that I had a bunch of CVS extra care bucks that were getting close to expiring so my BF picked me up (I'm not yet cleared to drive) and we went to the store. I purchased 2, 9 roll jumbo roll packs of name brand TP. I used $20.06 worth of CVS extra bucks, and paid only .98 cents out of pocket. My receipt said this was a 97% savings. I also earned another $5 worth of CVS extra bucks to use on a future purchase. I have missed doing my CVS deals and plan to get back into it more when I can drive again. It did feel good to get out of the house for a little bit though. 

My neighbors across the hall brought me over a large box of fresh produce that my friends at the senior center put together for me! It included onions, sweet potatoes, green peppers, corn on the cob, a 5 lb. bag of red potatoes, carrots, a few oranges, and a bag of apples. They also brought a gallon of milk. It was such a nice thing for them to do and I can really use it. My budget has taken a hit lately, and I haven't been able to pay much attention to my grocery spending, meal prepping or cooking,  so this is a big help. I am so grateful for them and thier generosity. 

My sister had to get back home to Texas, but exciting news! While she was here she looked at a condo that popped up on the market. She made an offer that was accepted. Closing will happen next month. Her and my BIL have been planning to relocate back here to be closer to family, and best of all, it is in a complex right across the street from mine. I think this was meant to be and we couldn't be happier!

Have a great weekend everyone!



Quick Update

May 8th, 2023 at 01:55 pm

I had a pretty severe medical emergency a few weeks ago that required surgery and a hospital stay. I'm finally back home and slowly healing. My sister is here from Texas to help me for a while. My brother, other family and friends have been so amazing through this whole ordeal. I am so thankful for them!

I am also thankful for the excellent health insurance I have. I pay a pretty penny for it every month, but most everything is covered except for some co-pays. Some of the statements have started to come in, and if I had to pay for this out of pocket it would have easily wiped out a big chunk of my savings. I can see how people can quickly fall into financial ruin without decent health insurance.

Hope to be back posting more soon!



Tax Refund/Health Update/Other Updates

March 13th, 2023 at 12:29 pm

I'll start with some good news, my niece is engaged! He is a wonderful young man and we are all thrilled. He asked my brother for his approval before he asked her, which I know is considered somewhat "old fashioned" today,  but it's just the kind of guy he is. I am so happy for them!

I think I mentioned a while ago that I have osteoarthritis in my neck and upper spine. Unfortunately, it has spread to my right hip, knee, and hand. For the past 6 months the pain was really increasing, so I had some scans done and it confirmed that it has progressed. So far I have been able to manage it with mostly OTC meds, heating pads, and careful stretching. My doctor has now given me a prescription strength NSAID, recommended some supplements, wants me to start a round of physical therapy, and incorporate more anti-inflammatory foods into my diet. I also have an appointment with a specialist. All of these measures are necessary, but also costly. Co-pays for PT will be $25 a visit, as will any specialist visits. And my food budget will need to be increased. Salmon, fresh berries, avacado, EVOO, tumeric, dark chocolate, there is a long list of preferable foods and they are ALL expensive!. And the cost of supplements. It all adds up quite fast. This isn't a condition that gets better, it will continue to get worse as I age, so I must do everything I can to manage it to keep quality of life. I can do it!

So, how to pay for it all? I recieved a tax refund of $3280.00 (state and federal) which I already recieved. It came fast this year! I usually just sweep the entire amount into savings, but this year I will pull from this to pay for any additional health expenses, including a larger food budget. I had been at a self-imposed $100 a month, but I'm bumping this up to $150 and see how I do. 

I also received an e-mail from Verizon that contained information about a government program that can help reduce internet costs if you qualify. I am well under the income guideline, so I applied (submitted all the required documentation) and was immediately approved. I will recieve a $62 a month credit on my monthly bill going forward. I did not have to change my current service. There is no expiration date on this program so it may be in place for a while. I didn't know anything about this program until I recieved the email from Verizon. When I called Verizon to get set up the representative provided stellar customer service! She was very kind, friendly and knowledgeable. This will help a lot with my upcoming increased medical costs. 

The weather in Maryland where I live has been rainy, windy and chilly, but we have had no snow all winter which is very odd for us. It is just so bizarre to see California get pounded with snow and we have had zero.

I hope everyone has a great week and Happy St. Patty's Day if you celebrate!


February 2023 Spending & Savings

February 28th, 2023 at 03:19 pm

Income Total$1440.00

      $1200 Recurring monthly retirement account distribution  

      $225 Swagbucks and My Points earnings (cash out to PayPal)

      $15 Product Reimbursement Check


Total Spending: $1324.62

Total Saving: $115.38

Fixed Expenses: 
Verizon bundle (internet, cable): $167.43

Verizon Mobile: $76.55

HVAC and water heater contract: $29.95
Condo Fee (includes water) $190.00 

Health Care: (includes health, dental, vision, prescription plans) $479.50 
Utilities: $135.09
Gasoline: $0
Groceries: $100.37
Health: $15 (Doctor visit co-pay)

CVS Gift Cards: $50.00 (use these for scripts, personal care items, any CVS purchases)
Take Out/Dining Out: $0

Shopping: $0

Household: $20.73 (anything other then groceries)

Entertainment: $0

Hair cut/style and tip: $60.00


* Condo is paid in full 
* Car is paid in full (2017 Camry) 
* No other debt


Notes: Good month! Spending was low, and I was able to sweep a nice amount to savings. 

February Mid Month Update

February 15th, 2023 at 01:05 am

I had the estimate done for my master bathroom renovation, and some work on my guest bath. It came in a bit higher then I was expecting, but not crazy high. I have used this contractor before when I had my single family house and they do quality work so everything is set. They can't start until the spring, which is fine with me as it gives me enough time to select all of my materials without feeling rushed. 

Spending is on track this month. All the usual bills are paid. I spent $60 on a haircut, style and tip, but when I looked back I haven't had a haircut since August! My style is just a bob, parted in the middle, not too short, with a blunt cut. When it grows out it really keeps it shape, just longer, so I can go a while inbetween without looking really shaggy.

My grocery store has really started cutting back on how many club card points can be earned through taking the on line surveys. Members used to be able to do a survey every 7 days and earn 100 club card points for each one. They cut it back to one survey every 14 days which cuts earning points by half. My cashier today also said they are raising the discount on eggs too, up to $2.99 for 18 eggs with 100 points. It started out at .99 cents, then was raised to $1.49, now up to $2.99. This is still a very good deal, but it just contributes to increased spending. I have eggs every morning for the protein so I will feel this increase. There always seems to be some little squeeze that makes things just a little tighter. 

Today I bought an 18 count of large eggs, 2 packs of shredded cheese, a loaf of bread, iced tea, a bag of organic carrots, and butter and spent $17.26. I saved $11.18 by using my senior discount, and club card points. I think it's time to start shopping Aldi more often, even though it's farther away. I made a meatloaf on Sunday, and will be making some chili later this week. I have some canned salmon I want to use so salmon cakes will soon be on the menu. I keep using what I have on hand. No food waste!

Not much else is happening, the weather is supposed to reach 70 degrees tomorrow! I will take it as it keeps my heat from kicking on. 


January 2023 Spending/Saving

January 31st, 2023 at 10:37 pm

Income Total$1400.00

      $1200 Recurring monthly retirement account distribution  

      $200 Swagbucks and My Points earnings (cash out to PayPal)


Total Spending: $1378.63

Total Saving: $21.37

Fixed Expenses: 
Verizon bundle (internet, cable): $167.43

Verizon Mobile: $60.26 (includes a refund from last month)

HVAC and water heater contract: $29.95
Condo Fee (includes water) $190.00 

Health Care: (includes health, dental, vision, prescription plans) $479.50 
Utilities: $152.55
Gasoline: $37.16
Groceries: $105.91
Health: $0

CVS Gift Cards: $75.00 (use these for scripts, personal care items, any CVS purchases)
Take Out/Dining Out: $28.58

Shopping: $0

Household: $9.20

Entertainment: $23.09

Cash Withdraw: $20.00


* Condo is paid in full 
* Car is paid in full (2017 Camry) 
* No other debt


Notes: I went over my target $100 for groceries by a few dollars, but I stocked up on frozen veggies and bread. My grocery store had my favorite frozen veggies on sale for $1 a bag with a limit of 10, so I bought 10 (these are usually $1.50 a bag so good savings), and Aldi had whole wheat bread (store brand) on sale for $1.09 so I bought 2 and froze them. 


My mobile phone bill is a bit lower this month because i was charged for an add-on I didn't want and there was a refund. Next month's bill will reflect the accurate amount going forward.


I'm happy I was able to sweep even just a little bit toward savings. 

Mid-Month Update and Good News!

January 15th, 2023 at 02:33 pm

I can't believe it's already mid January!

A couple of months ago I received a benefits package from my former employer with the new health care costs for 2023. It looked like I was going to see an increase of about $85 per month, which would have been a major hit to my already tight budget. When I received the first invoice this month, the cost was the same as last year, other then a small, $1.72 increase in my monthly dental coverage cost. I went back and looked again at the rate sheet and saw that I had been looking at the wrong line item! I have never been so happy to be wrong! I also called the Benefits Coordinator just to confirm and she did. Whew! And in addition, I received the details about the new vision plan and it is sooooo much better then the old one, without costing any more. I am so glad they switched. My glasses are so expensive and it now looks like I can get a new pair, almost totally free every 2 years. This is such great news.

My grocery spending at mid-month is at only $39.63. I had a lot of Christmas leftover food and have been workng my way through that so I haven't needed a whole lot, mostly fresh veggies and apples.

I decided it's time to move forward with my master bathroom renovation. When I bought this condo, I knew I wanted to re-do this bathroom. I want to convert the combination tub/shower into a walk-in shower, replace the flooring (the existing tile is cracking), replace the toilet (I have already repaired it 3 times and it is leaking again) and maybe replace the vanity, although the one I have is fine, I just want a more upgraded one. I have had the money set aside from the sale of my previous home, so it's already funded. I was going to start a couple of years ago, but COVID happened. I'll be calling my contractor tomorrow to schedule an estimate. While I dread the process, the noise, the mess etc., I'm excited to be getting this done. I have a second full bathroom to use during the reno, so that part won't be an inconvenience.

I'm back on my healthy eating and exercise routine after having fallen off the past few months and gaining some weight back. Things are going well and I'm moving back in the right direction.

The weather had been milder all last week, but this weekend it got colder and windy again. I cringe every time the heat kicks on. My bill last period was high for me due to that cold snap. Thankfully, it looks like it is supposed to warm up again this coming week. There isn't much else I can do to keep my bill down, rates are up and I can't control that. Sigh.

I'm still involved in delivering food from the senior center to those in need. Donations have been fewer the past few months, but we are hoping things pick up soon. Wth such high grocery prices, people are really struggling. I have really gotten to know the people I deliver to and they have such heartbreaking and compelling stories, but I never hear them complain. They are so grateful for what they do have, and recieve. 

Have a great week everyone!


2023 Goals and Other Updates

January 2nd, 2023 at 11:08 pm

My main financial goal for 2023 is to continue to live on my current monthly income without dipping into savings or increasing my monthly retirement distribution. If I find that I can't, and I am just stretched too thin, I will increase my retirement distribution by $100 a month. 

When I first retired at age 60, I knew that I would be on a very tight budget until I can switch my health insurance to Medicare at age 65, and start taking social security at my full retirement age of 67. I am now 62, so a few more years to go! My retirement account that I currently draw from will last me long past that, even if I need to incresase my monthly distribution a bit to keep up with inflation. So, I'll be fine, but will still need to live frugally and watch my spending.

My only other goal is to lose this 11 pounds I packed on since September. I am a stress eater, and after the sudden loss of my sister-in-law I just really fell off the healthy eating and exercise routine I was on. So, I have refocused and know I'll be able to get back to my ideal weight. 

I received $250 in gift cards for Christmas! I will be using most of it on things I really need. I already ordered furnace filters, filters for my water pitcher, restocking my make-up and facial care products, and a phone case for my new phone. Nothing very exciting but all things I need. There are a few other household products I will also stock up on, I'm still working on that list.

I mentioned before that I had saved $866 on my car and condo insurance by changing companies. I had originally earmarked some of that savings for a new phone, but when I got the free phone I decided that I would take $500 of that money and fully fund my 2023 Christmas fund. So that is already taken care of. The other $366 I will use for monthly expenses if I am running short any month.

I also plan to use my tax refund this year for monthly expenses, if I need to. 

I also plan to forward any money I may not spend in any given month from my monthly income to the next month to use. I doubt this will happen very often, but I did have almost $300 that I didn't spend in December that I'll be using as income for this month, if I need it.

So, overall I think I will be just fine, as long as I continue to budget carefully and live frugally. 

I had so many leftovers from hosting Christmas Eve that I have a very stocked freezer. I'll be making some ham and pea soup, having leftover BBQ pulled chicken, leftover pierogies, and more. I also still have the free frozen turkey that I got in November for future meals. This past week I have been eating things down that would not freeze well, so I haven't been to the grocery store since before Christmas Eve. 

One thing I do not want to do is return to work, even part time. I am so much happier and healthier now and just thinking about going back to work makes me anxious and unhappy. My best friend and I were discussing this yesterday and she feels the same, as do my other retired friends that I am in touch with. It helps to have a social circle of frugal friends.

So I will continue on living my frugal, happy retired life and keep finding ways to stretch my dollars!


December 2022 Spending/Savings

December 31st, 2022 at 05:49 pm

I will be staying home today and tonight for a quiet New Year's Eve so no spending will happen today, 12/31.


Income Total$1476.21

     * $1200 Recurring monthly retirement account distribution  

     * $150 Swagbucks and My Points earnings (cash out to PayPal)

     * $126.21 Credit Card Cash Back Reward 


Total Spending: $1186.26

Total Savings (using as income for next month)$289.95 (difference between monthly income and monthly spending) SEE NOTES BELOW
Fixed Expenses: 
Verizon bundle (internet, cable): $167.43

Verizon Mobile: $0 (see note below)

HVAC and water heater contract: $29.95
Condo Fee (includes water) $190.00 

Health Care: (includes health, dental, vision, prescription plans) $477.78 
Utilities: $125.52
Gasoline: $0
Groceries: $99.87
Health: $4.49

CVS Gift Cards: $25.00
Take Out/Dining Out: $66.22

Shopping: $0

Household: $0


* Condo is paid in full 
* Car is paid in full (2017 Camry) 
* No other debt


Notes: My next scheduled payment for my cell phone is scheduled through auto-pay next month so there was no payment due in December. Going forward it will be auto-paid on the 5th of each month.


The savings I had this month I will be using as income for next month. I will be using any savings I may have in any month toward income for the next month and not truly as savings. I expect my expenses to be higher in 2023 due increases in my health care costs, and utility costs. I honestly doubt I'll be realizing much savings going forward. 

Merry Christmas! Happy Holidays!

December 23rd, 2022 at 09:49 pm

Wishing everyone here a very Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays! Tomorrow I will have a houseful of family over for the day for lots of eating, football watching, opening gifts and giving thanks for each other! On Christmas Day I will be going to my niece's new house for dinner. Her and her boyfriend just closed a few weeks ago so this will be my first visit at the new place. 

I am so grateful to have such a wonderful family, friends and the means to have these celebrations. Not everyone does, and my thoughts go out to everyone during this holiday season.

Stay warm and safe during your travels!

Grocery Shop day/Free Ham!

December 13th, 2022 at 07:51 pm

I always try to grocery shop on Tuesday because it is senior discount day at my store, and I get 10% off all store brand products. I didn't need much but every little bit of savings helps. 

The biggest savings was that I used 400 store club card points to get a free ham! I picked up an 11.97 lb. Smithfield ham priced at $39.36, for free. I will be using this on Christmas Eve for our family get together. That is some great savings.

Last week I went back to Aldi for more butter as it was priced at $1.99 again with a limit of 4. The first time around I snagged 6 so I am really well stocked with butter. 

I am all ready for Christmas, all of my shopping is done, everything is wrapped and all the decorating is finished. It feels great to be ahead of things this year. Now I am just trying to stay out of crowds so I don't get the flu or COVID which are running rampant again here.

I did meet some former coworkers last week for lunch and a small gift exchange. We sat out on an enclosed, heated patio where we were the only customers (most were seated inside). It was nice and warm and we had a great time!

Not much else is going on, I have started to think about my financial goals for 2023, which is mostly to just stay on budget. I think I will be very close to being truly paycheck to paycheck, but I'll need to see how things go. Has anyone else started thinking about next year's financial goals?

The storm that is marching across the country will reach Maryland overnight Wednesday into Thursday. In my area they are calling for some possible icing with a mixture of some rain and snow, then turning to all rain. Typical Maryland slop. 

I hope everyone is doing OK. The blogs have been really slow. I miss hearing from everyone!


Holidays and Gifting

December 5th, 2022 at 05:47 pm

I really do love the holidays! I enjoy getting together with friends and family to celebrate life, and giving thanks, and reflecting on the year gone by and the new one approaching. I especially love hosting Christmas Eve, preparing a wonderful meal, and spending the day/evening with all of my favorite people. 

But what I don't love is the gift buying. I feel like such a grinch just typing that! These days, I just don't need or want any more "stuff". And anything I do need, I prefer to buy myself as I know exactly what I like. We don't have any young children in my family anymore so it's just us adults. Honestly, I could do without receiving and giving gifts. I think I would enjoy the holidays even more without the stress of it all. 

The problem is that I am the only one in my family that feels this way. Everyone else loves gift giving. My sister especially who lives in Texas (we are all in Maryland). I think it makes her feel closer to us to have gifts to open, a little piece of "home". So, I go along with it because it seems to make everyone else happy, and I don't want to spoil that for them.

This year, I just asked for gift cards and when I got some resistance because it "felt like an impersonal gift" I really stuck to my guns and assurred everyone that that was really what I wanted (and it is). 

Does anyone else struggle with this? I guess in the grand sceme of things it really isn't a big deal. It's something we do to make the people we love happy, even if it goes against what makes us happy. I save for it all year so I have the money put aside, so this isn't a financial strain issue. 

Well, I have rambled on about this enough! I hope this all made some kind of sense. 

November 2022 Spending/Savings

December 2nd, 2022 at 12:45 am

Income Total$1425.00

     * $1200 Recurring monthly retirement account distribution  

     * $225 Swagbucks and My Points earnings (cash out to PayPal


Total Spending: $1420.27

Total Savings$4.73 (difference between monthly income and monthly spending)  
Fixed Expenses: 
Verizon bundle (internet, cable): $167.43

Verizon Mobile: $137.59

HVAC and water heater contract: $29.95
Condo Fee (includes water) $190.00 

Health Care: (includes health, dental, vision, prescription plans) $477.78 
Utilities: $89.93
Gasoline: $0
Groceries: $144.32
Health: $40.00 (co-pays)

CVS Gift Cards: $50.00
Take Out/Dining Out: $0

Shopping: $0

Household: $41.18

Entertainment: $52.09


* Condo is paid in full 
* Car is paid in full (2017 Camry) 
* No other debt


Notes: Verizon Mobile this month included charges for an activation fee, taxes on the free phone, Data transfer fee, and some taxes. This will be much lower next month. 


Groceries: I stocked up on coffee $33.55, butter on sale at Aldi $11.94, and coffee creamer on sale at $5.99. These stock ups put me over my $100 budget. 


CVS Gift Cards: This is a new category. I get a small discount buying these through swagbucks and use them to pay for scripts, vitamins, and personal care products. Really for anything I buy at CVS. 

Totally blew the grocery budget!

November 26th, 2022 at 07:02 pm

I totally blew my $100 grocery budget this month! I haven’t tallied it all up yet, I will post the actual numbers in my month end spending post. But at least the overage was due to stocking up on some things that were on sale. I was almost out of the coffee pods that I use so I bought several bags. I won’t need these again for many months. Aldi had an excellent sale on butter. It was advertised at $2.49 a box with a limit of 6 per person. When I got home, I noticed that it actually rang up at only $1.99 per box (1 lb. boxes)! I froze most of it, and this will last me quite a while even with holiday baking coming up. I also bought another half-gallon of my coffee creamer while it was still on sale for $5.99 (a dollar off). So, I’m OK with the overage since it wasn’t frivolous spending.  


Thanksgiving went really well. My brother always hosts it, but I wasn’t sure if he would be up to it this year with his wife just passing away in September. My niece decided that she really wanted to keep the tradition going, so she decided to do most of the cooking and have us all over. I am very close to my niece and offered to come over and help her if she wanted. At first, she declined, I think she wanted to do it all on her own, but a few days before she called and asked if I would assist. I think she was a little nervous, she is a good cook but never pulled together a big traditional Thanksgiving dinner for 8 people before. She did an outstanding job, and everything was delicious! We had a wonderful time. I hope everyone here enjoyed your holiday as well! 


I’m almost totally done with my Christmas shopping! I got everything on-line and did snag some great deals. I’m well within my Christmas budget so far. I also started my Christmas decorating today and am making swift progress. I’m feeling ahead of schedule this year.


Tomorrow, I’m having my usual people over for Sunday football watching. I’m making sloppy joes and buying some premade potato and macaroni salad.  We have a leftover apple pie from Thanksgiving for dessert. Keeping it simple!


After a cold snap last week, it has warmed back up a bit, with rain expected tomorrow. I’m just happy the heat hasn't been kicking on as much this week. 


I hope everyone has a wonderful weekend!

Mid-Month Update and a New Free Phone!

November 15th, 2022 at 10:19 pm

Yesterday I went to the Verizon store to switch my mobile service back to them from Mint Mobile, and to buy a new phone. I was all ready for an aggravating experience, but it was just the opposite! The customer service guy was awesome. I explained to him that I was a previous customer and wanted to switch back to Verizon and I needed a new phone. He asked what kind of phone I was interested in, and I told him a Samsung Galaxy, newish model and he said, I can offer you free one. He came back with a brand new, sealed, in the box phone! He then transferred everything over from my old phone, made sure everything was working properly, and got me all signed up. The plan I picked was unlimited talk, text and data with a bunch of extra stuff included for $80 a month. I’ll get $10 off a month for using auto pay. So right around $70 a month. I know it’s expensive, but it’s reliable, and I like being able to walk into a store if I have a problem and can talk with an actual human who knows what they are doing. I’m OK with technology in general, but there are times when I need some help and it really stresses me out. After limping along with Mint Mobile for the last 3 months I am so happy to have everything working well again. I looked up my new phone online and it is retailing for between $500 -$650. I am very happy with my decision, and the money I had earmarked to spend on a new phone I can now keep in my savings. 


I did investigate Ting, which only rated as average coverage in my area, Consumer Cellular, which just felt a lot like Mint Mobile to me, so I wasn’t willing to chance that again (even though I know a lot of people use it and have no problems), and AT&T, which didn’t offer any deals on phones I was interested in, and the customer service rep was less than helpful. I’m so glad to have this taken care of and that I got a free phone!! 


Groceries: I am already at $97.76 spent and its only mid-month. Some of that was stocking up on my coffee pods. But I don’t need anything else, and I should be able to get through the rest of the month without needing to spend anything more. I bought an 18 count of large; store brand eggs and the regular price is now up to $5.19!! That is just crazy to me. The last time I bought them the regular price was $4.99. With my store card discount and my senior discount, I paid just $1.34. I had some really good store e-coupons, one for $1 off a one lb. store brand butter and $3 off a rotisserie chicken. My receipt says I saved a total of $8.86 cents using my club card, e-coupons and senior discounts. It all adds up! 


After a few weeks of absolutely beautiful weather, it has abruptly turned cold with highs only in the mid 40’s. It was nice to have a couple of months of low-ish utility bills, but the heat is kicking on so I’m dreading to see these winter bills. I set my thermostat at 69 degrees during the day and 66 at night to try and save while still feeling comfortable.


Have a good rest of your week!

Free Turkey and Walmart and Aldi Price Rollbacks

November 4th, 2022 at 04:59 pm

Today I went to my Weis grocery store and redeemed 400 club card points for a free turkey. I take advantage of this promotion every year. I got a 13.47 lb. turkey regularly priced at $25.46 for free. The quality is always very good. I don't host Thanksgiving, or serve it for my Christams Eve meal so this goes into the freezer for future use!

Walmart put out a press release that they were rolling back prices on certain food items to last year's prices to help customers afford holiday meals. Aldi also announced rolling back prices on some items to 2019 prices. I don't shop at the Walmart that is closest to me, but I was curious so I drove over to the nearest Aldi and oh my goodness the place was packed! I didn't stay. 

Safeway had a sale on boneless, skinless chicken breasts at $2.99 a pound. My family has requested that I make my BBQ pulled chicken for Christmas Eve so I went to buy a few packs as this is the best price I have seen lately. It was flying out of the case so I snagged 2 value packs. I spent $22.09 and saved $7.39. This spend comes out of my Christmas fund. 

I also bought the half gallon size of my creamer, it was on sale for $5.99 (regular price was $6.99). This hardly ever goes on sale, and they have been out of it the last few times I went in. I may go back and get another one to stock up. 

I am glad to be finding some sales and promotions on food items to help make the holidays a bit more affordable!

October 2022 Spending/Saving

November 1st, 2022 at 12:44 pm

Income Total$1400.00

     * $1200 Recurring monthly retirement account distribution  

     * $200 Swagbucks and My Points earnings (cash out to PayPal


Total Spending: $1279.53

Total Savings$120.47 (difference between monthly income and monthly spending)  
Fixed Expenses: 
Verizon bundle (internet, cable): $167.43

HVAC and water heater contract: $29.95
Condo Fee (includes water) $190.00 

Health Care: (includes health, dental, vision, prescription plans) $477.78 
Utilities: $76.57
Gasoline: $39.97
Groceries: $83.92
Health: $50.26 (co-pays, scripts refillsvitamins and personal health care items) 
Take Out/Dining Out: $31.10

Shopping: $0

Household: $14.63

Funeral Expenses: $92.75 (flowers and sympathy cards)

Entertainment: $25.17


* Condo is paid in full 
* Car is paid in full (2017 Camry) 
* No other debt


I'm happy to have been able to sweep some money into savings, and that my grocery spending was under my $100 budget. Take out was a bit high due to my sister and BIL visit. 

Insurance Savings!

October 26th, 2022 at 04:30 pm

My auto and home insurance policy bundle is up for renewal in December and of course there is another price increase looming. I decided to use a local, family owned insurance agency to shop around for a better rate and they did! The current policy would have renewed at $1908.00 for a full year. My new quote with a different insurer will be $1042.00, a savings of $866.00!! The new insurer is solid and highly rated through the Better Business Bureau and Moody's and have been in business for over 50 years so I feel comfortable moving forward with them. I can use some of this savings to purchase a new cell phone and save the rest. 

Speaking of cell phones, I contacted Mint Mobile about all of the problems I am having and despite best efforts at resetting, and sending me a new SIM card to try,  nothing worked and the same problems persist. This will be my next project to tackle. It feels less ominous now that I have the money for the new phone which I really need, definately not just a want.

I went to the grocery store yesterday for my final shop for October and my total for the month is at $85.42. I am happy to be under my budget of $100 for the month.

With so much depressing economic news it feels good to have a financial win for a change!



October Mid-Month Update

October 15th, 2022 at 12:46 pm

My spending so far this month is at $1252 which is right on track. All of my regular monthly bills have been paid except for one small one, so the only other spending should be on groceries.

My grocery spend so far has been pretty low, at $36.22. I continue to focus on zero food waste, and using up what I have on hand. I did a freezer sweep and found some things I need to use up. I have a four pack of pork chops which I will use to make some BBQ pulled pork in the crock pot. I have about 2 servings of fish sticks, 2-3 servings of chili, and 3 hamburger patties. I will pair these with mixed veggies for dinners this week. I'll also be making a pan of cheesy corn grits. These are like corn bread but with sharp cheese added in. Great with the chili! 

My Verizon cable and internet bill is increasing by $7 a month. I will call on Monday to see if there is a less expensive cable (TV) plan, but I don't plan on cancelling this. I'm happy with it, and get all of my sports viewing, which is a big part of my social entertaining. My internet works great with no interuptions or problems. 

I have been researching new phones and plans and will be going to Target this week to look at Consumer Cellular and to an AT&T store. Thanks everyone for the recommendations!

My sister and BIL left this morning to head home to Texas.

The weather here in Maryland today will be in the low 70's and sunny. But it will turn much colder this upcoming week with highs only in the upper 50's!

Have a great weekend everyone!

Costs Just Keep Going Up

October 8th, 2022 at 06:55 pm

I received a packet from my former employer with information on the new health care premium costs starting 1/1/23. My health/prescription/dental and vision plans premium total will be increasing monthly by $86.56. Ouch. The only good news is that the vision plan is a different one that is way better then the old one. I should be able to save quite a bit on my next pair of new glasses. 

My utility costs (gas and electric) has increased from 7.820 cents/kWh to 9.773 cents/kWh starting 10/1/22. It is set to increase again at the end of May 2023. Another Ouch. I don't know how this will look in dollars on actual bill yet but surely it will go up!

My cell phone switch to Mint Mobile from Verizon has been a failure. The coverage is terrible. Since I no longer have a landline I need reliable cell service, and this really hit home with the recent loss of my SIL. I was not receiving really important calls and texts. When things settle down a bit I will be switching to something more reliable and upgrading my phone. More expenses and aggravation

I stopped at the grocery store today and the regular price for an 18 count of large sized, store brand eggs is up to $4.99. I have posted many times that I can get them for .99 cents when I use 100 points on my store club card. Today, that discounted price is up to $1.49. Still, a great discount but less then before. 

And the price of gas is going back up. 

The only thing that isn't going up is my monthly income.

My sister and BIL are still here (staying with me until probably Thursday when they will head back to Texas). As much as I miss her when she isn't here, I am looking forward to some peace and quiet and getting back to my routines. My sister is a true "Type A"personality, always in motion, never sits still, and I am the complete opposite! 

The weather here in Maryland has been very cold and rainy (needed to turn on the heat cold) but then warmed back up for a few days. Now it is cooling down again , but it is sunny.


Update and Thank You

September 29th, 2022 at 08:16 pm

I want to first thank everyone for your kind words, thoughts and prayers for my SIL and my family. I am sad to update that she has passed away.

It really is true that you just never know when something like this might happen. My last happy memory of her was  on the boardwalk, enjoying the sun, eating an ice cream and watching the ocean waves. The beach was truly her happy place.

Rest in Peace Bev. 

Vacation Nightmare

September 24th, 2022 at 04:24 pm

A few days before my sister and BIL were going to leave Texas and drive to Maryland to stay with me for a few days before we all left for our family beach vacation, he had a medical problem and needed to get a pacemaker. He is fine, but they were unable to come for the vacation as he couldn't travel.

So, while this was very disappointing, the rest of us went to the beach as planned. We were having a wonderful time until on Wednesday, when my sister-in-law fell ill and had to be rushed to the hospital. She had a very serious brain bleed. This required emergency surgery. She is still in ICU, but is listed as stable. She is still sedated so we don't know the extent of any long term damage. We thought we were going to lose her so we are very grateful that she pulled through, but the road ahead will be very difficult. 

I left the beach to come home early on Thursday while I could get a ride home with my neice and her boyfriend. My brother and nephew remained at the beach so they could, of course, be with her. They had to check out today and will be coming home briefly to regroup, then head back. The hospital is about a 2.5 hour drive from where we live. 

The last few days have just been a blur. This is just devastating for us, please keep her in your thoughts and prayers. 

Thank you my on-line friends!



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