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Archive for June, 2020

June Spending/Savings

June 30th, 2020 at 02:20 pm

Income Total: $1654.65
* $1500 Recurring monthly retirement account distribution
* $100 Swagbucks earnings (cash out to paypal)
* $54.64 Credit card cash rewards

Total Spending: $1326.00
Total Savings: $328.65 (difference between monthly income and monthly spending)

Fixed Expenses:
Verizon bundle (internet, cable, home phone): $158.83
Cell phone: $61.28
HVAC and water heater contract: $27.95
Condo Fee (includes water) $190.00
Health Care: (includes health, dental, vision, prescription plans) $450.90

Utilities: $75.66
Gasoline: 0
Groceries: $225.91
Health: $70.02 (scripts refills, vitamins and personal health care items)
Dining Out: 0
Shopping (on-line): $65.45 (includes a birthday gift for my niece)

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

Property Taxes/Weekend Update

June 28th, 2020 at 10:48 pm

In my county in Maryland our property tax cycle is from July 1st through June 30th, so I went online today to see if the new bill had posted and it had. Property tax and various fees for this year's cycle are $3214.14. Last year it was $3194.85, so a modest increase of just $19.29, which was actually an increase in the Water Distribution line item. I should receive the paper bill in the mail this week and then I will just pay it in full online. I just like to be sure the paper bill and online bill are the same before I pay. One year there was a discrepancy and of course it took a while to get everything straightened out.

I had a very nice weekend that included a small birthday party for my niece at my brother’s house yesterday. There were 6 of us, just family, and we sat outside (safe distances apart) and had some cake and ice cream. The weather was beautiful, and we really enjoyed the day together. I hadn’t seen my niece and her husband for months and it was great to see them.

Today my best friend and I met at the park for a walk and then our usual sit and chat at one of the picnic tables. After that I ran my car through the car wash and then stopped at a local farm stand for some fresh produce. I’m lucky that while I live in a populated suburb, I am only a few miles from farmland and in the summer, there are usually several small outdoor farm stands selling the most delicious fresh fruits and vegetables!

On July 4th my brother and I would always co-host a big party at his house, inviting lots of relatives we don’t get to see very often as well as friends. This year we won’t be able to do our usual big bash, but we will have just a small family cookout instead.

My sister lives in Texas and they are getting hit really hard with the current spike in COVID. It's doubly hard for her because her husband has cancer and they must be extremely careful. He only leaves the house to go for treatments, and my sister has to strictly limit her outside contact as well. She has groceries and prescriptions delivered to the house, but she still must wipe everything down before she can bring it inside (per the oncologist's instructions). It’s been really, hard on them. I’m still hoping that they will be able to come home for Christmas this year.

Random Updates

June 20th, 2020 at 12:30 pm

I had some CVS extra bucks that were about to expire, and a bunch of coupons so I went early (the store was empty) and got some great food deals. I usually don’t buy food at CVS, but they were having a great sale on items I use. I got a case of water, 5 boxes of my favorite cereal, and 6 bags of Chex Mix (all on sale). After coupons and extra bucks applied, I paid zero! All free. Then I went to the grocery store and spent $44.01. I used my accumulated grocery store rewards points and got a free gallon of milk. I should be good to go for food for the rest of the month, except for one more stop to pick up fresh produce next week sometime. I’ll be donating the bags of Chex Mix to the food distribution center where I have been volunteering. It felt good to do a little couponing again.

This is my first month of my new budget since retiring and I’m right on track. So far, my spending this month is at $1106.41. The only bill I have left to pay is my cell phone, and a small grocery run next week and that should be it. I should come in well under my goal of staying under $1500 for the month. Any money I have leftover at the end of the month I will be saving toward a possible 2021 summer beach vacation! I was talking with my brother and they have been thinking about a family beach vacation next year and asked if I was interested in going. Yes! Something to look forward to.

Back to work? I’ve been contacted by my former supervisor to see if I would be interested in teaching an on-line class in the Fall. I’ve taught this class before, so I don’t need to go through any training. I was also contacted by a friend in the Continuing Education Department about a part time Career Coach position, this would be partially on-line and partially in person. I haven’t made any decisions yet as both positions have pros and cons and I’m just not sure I want to go back to work so soon after retiring, even if it is just part time.

I finished cleaning out and organizing my master bedroom closet and linen closet. I have so many towels! A lot of these were my mom’s, she loved buying big fluffy towels. I will never have to buy another one. I also found that I have two sets of sheets that are missing the fitted one. I have the top sheets and the pillowcases, but the bottom, fitted sheets are nowhere to be found. I think when I moved in here, they must have been put in a donation bag by mistake. So, I’ve been looking for where I can just find a couple of fitted sheets to buy and so far, I can only find them on Amazon. Anyone know other stores (preferably on-line) that sell single fitted sheets?
I met up with my best friend in the park and we sat at one of the picnic tables to visit for a while. We wore masks and stayed at opposite ends of the table, so I think we were fine. It was good to see her and catch up.

I hope everyone has a safe and happy weekend!

Prepping/ I miss couponing!

June 7th, 2020 at 07:05 pm

I really miss my couponing and deal hunting! When I was still working, I really only had time to focus on CVS deals and sometimes Walgreens. On Saturday night I would get all my coupons and extra care bucks together, check the new CVS circular for the upcoming week and plan out my Sunday morning shopping trip.

My plan when I retired was to branch out to other stores because I would have more time to learn their policies and how things worked. But all of that has come to a halt as I am trying to stay out of stores as much as possible. Also, a lot of the best deals included products that are now either not in stock, or very limited per person, like TP, paper towels, cleaning products, etc. And I just want to note that this was fun for me! I really enjoy finding deals and saving money on things I use. I didn’t shop just to shop...if that makes sense.

For the past year (before the pandemic) I had been actively building a stockpile of products that I routinely use through couponing combined with sales to prepare for retirement. I built this up slowly with the goal of paying as little as possible for things I regularly use so I wouldn’t need to spend money on these things for a while after I retired when my budget got much tighter. I didn’t stockpile food, only things like TP, paper towels, cleaning products, personal care products etc.

I never really thought of myself as a “prepper” in the traditional sense of the word, I was just a couponer building a stockpile to save money. But having this stockpile has served me well during the pandemic, and it also allowed me to help my family and a few neighbors.

So now I’ve been thinking about slowly building up a small food stockpile with some shelf stable items, and look at a few things that I probably should have anyway, like a really good battery operated radio (I have a very old one but could use an upgrade), and an indoor lantern of some type for light in case of an extended loss of power. Because I live in a condo, I can't have a generator. I know many of you garden and grow your own food, and do some canning, but I am limited due to not having a yard to grow things.

It’s one thing to be financially prepared for emergencies but having savings won’t help if you can’t purchase what you need. Who would have thought that we would not be able to easily buy TP, or hand sanitizer or Clorox wipes, or that we might experience a shortage of some foods due to a disruption in the food supply chain due to a pandemic? I surely didn’t.

I’m wondering if anyone else who typically hadn’t done any prepping or stockpiling (not hoarding, there is a difference) is now considering it to some degree? I’ve seen some very interesting conversations about this on some other sites I frequent. People in certain parts of the country who are prone to extreme weather events like hurricanes prepare, so why not prepare for other types of disruptions?

Something to think about.