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Mid Month Update

May 15th, 2022 at 10:20 pm

I went to the grocery store yesterday for a few things. My favorite International Delight coffee creamer was on a great sale, so I stocked up. I bought 2 of the large, half gallon size on sale for $4.99 each. The regular price is $6.49. The expiration date isn’t until October so they will keep.

  

The price of eggs went up again. An 18 count of large size, store brand eggs is now priced at $4.45. The price just 2 weeks ago was $4.29.  I continue to buy these for just .99 cents using my club card points. I hope they continue to offer this. 

 

I picked up 3 bags of shredded cheese on sale for $1.99 each if you buy 3, regular price is $2.39. I needed cheese for some meal plans, including lasagna, and some cheesy corn grits. I also bought a loaf of bread for $1.99.

 

In total I spent $18.93 with a savings of $7.66, not too bad. Careful grocery shopping and spending is a necessity for me these days.

 

I received some great items from this month’s senior center food distribution. A 5 lb. bag of flour, 2 bags of fresh apples, and a 2 lb. bag of Kanza Corn, corn grits. Apples are my favorite fruit and I usually eat one a day, so this was such a treat. I made some biscuits from scratch (my first attempt) and they turned out delicious! Thanks, Rob62521 for your biscuit recipe suggestion and the tip on how to best store flour. I don’t bake a lot so I never buy flour, but this gift will not go to waste!

 

There is a recipe on the bag of corn grits for Baked Corn Grits and Cheese that I will be making this week. I have also been using up other things I have received from the senior center. I made an applesauce cake to use up some individual snack cups of applesauce and a box of white cake mix. This cake was moist and very flavorful without being overly sweet. Very good.  

 

I have a lot of peanut butter and oatmeal to use up, so I have been researching some recipes on different things to bake with these.

  

I went out to lunch with some friends today, it was nice to get together and enjoy a fun afternoon.  

 

We have begun to plan a family vacation for September, the first vacation in many years. There is a popular beach destination that is only about a 3-hour drive away, so we decided to go there. Something to look forward to and an easy drive to get there.

 

Not much else happening. The weather has been hot and muggy the last few days with rain off and on and more rain and possible thunderstorms expected tomorrow. Sounds like a good day to stay in!

April 2022 Spending/Savings

April 30th, 2022 at 02:21 pm

April was a rare month where my spending was higher than my income for the month. While I was only over by $87.03, and I have a very healthy emergency fund to cover it, I began thinking how easy it can be to fall off the “frugal” wagon and suffer from belt tightening fatigue. 

 

An unexpected dental bill of $102.40 was the main culprit, but I still did some shopping, dining out, gift giving and grocery stocking up while some foods were on sale (chicken). A few of the things I bought were wants, not needs. And while I am not really concerned about overspending a little one month, it just goes to show how easy it is to do. It seems to be getting harder and harder to balance staying out of debt, saving money, and still being able to enjoy life.

 

I know I’m not alone in feeling frustrated with inflation, the continued rising costs of food, and other consumer goods. Not to mention gas prices, utility costs, and well, pretty much everything!  

 

Here is my monthly spending update for April:

 

 

Income Total$1475

     * $1200 Recurring monthly retirement account distribution  

     * $275 Swagbucks and My Points earnings (cash out to PayPal)

     

      

Total Spending: $1562.03

Total Savings$0 (difference between monthly income and monthly spending) 

Overspent: $87.03
 
Fixed Expenses: 
Verizon bundle (internet, cable): $160.43

Cell phone: $59.78
HVAC and water heater contract: $29.95 
Condo Fee (includes water and trash) $190.00 

Health Care: (includes health, dental, vision, prescription plans) $477.78 
 
Variables: 
Utilities: $103.76
Gasoline: $38.83
Groceries: $105.32 (stocked up on coffee and chicken)
Health: $122.40 (co-pays, scripts refillsvitamins and personal health care items) 
Take Out and Dining Out: $34.80 

Shopping (anything other then food): $163.98

Gifts: $75

 

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

 

Notes:

Groceries: I stocked up on coffee pods and chicken that was on a good sale. I should not need these again for quite a while.

Gifts: I gave my nephew a $50 gift card for his birthday and also gave a $25 gift card to a good friend for her birthday.

Dining Out: I took my brother out to lunch and had take out once.

Shopping: Some wants and some needs. I needed to restock my makeup and skin care basics as I was almost out of everything. The rest was household stuff and clothes (some wants, some needs).

Health: I had a $102.40 dental expense

 

 

 

The Price of Eggs! Mid Month Update

April 14th, 2022 at 05:28 pm

I went to the grocery store to pick up a few things this morning and checked on the price of eggs. An 18 count of large store brand eggs was tagged at $4.15. Yikes! Just 10 days ago on 4/4 the price was $3.39. That’s an increase of .76 cents in just 10 days! They were well stocked though so no shortages yet.  

 

My store is still running the club card deal where you can get an 18 count of store brand large eggs for just .99 cents when you use 100 club card points. I bought 2 cartons of 18 back on 4/4 to stock up and paid just $1.98 for both. I’m glad I did! I really wonder if they will continue to run this deal. I usually have an egg every morning for breakfast but now I am having oatmeal a few times a week instead.  

 

I also usually buy Hellman’s mayo as my preferred brand, but it was up to $4.99 (and I think that was a sale price). I bought the Weis store brand instead for $2.99 for the same size and it tastes just the same to me, so I’ll be purchasing that instead from now on. 

 

They are still running the ground meat deal, so I got one pack priced at $12.26 for just $2.71, and a second pack priced at $12.46 for just $2.75. I made a meatloaf with some of it and froze the rest. I also wonder how much longer they will be able to offer this club card deal too. 

 

Yesterday I put together 2 canned goods storage racks that I bought to organize my pantry. They are great! They are stackable and hold 36 cans each. They were really easy to assemble, are pretty sturdy and are angled so when you take a can out from the front the rest of the cans roll forward. I also wrote the use by dates in black marker on the cans so I can easily see them. Love it! 

 

My brother and I went out to lunch yesterday, my treat. We always have fun and good conversation, and it was nice to get out on a beautiful, warm sunny day. The weather here hit the mid 80’s yesterday with the same for today, then it will plummet and get chilly again over the weekend.  

 

My cousin and his wife are having us all over for dinner on Easter. It’s been a while since the whole family has been together, so I am looking forward to it.  

 

I also did my first senior center volunteer free grocery delivery to the seniors who are unable to drive or have no transportation. I just text or call them when I am on my way. 2 of the ladies were out on their front porches so I got to meet them (at a distance and masked) and chat for a few minutes. They were so nice, and it was such a pleasure to be able to help them. The other 2 people did not come out, so I left their groceries at their front doors. I really enjoy doing this and will continue for the foreseeable future.  

 

I hope everyone has a great day and upcoming weekend!

March 2022 Savings/Spending

March 31st, 2022 at 03:48 pm

Income Total$4973.30

     * $1200 Recurring monthly retirement account distribution  

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

     * $3514.00 Tax Refund

     * $34.30 Product Refund 

 

      

Total Spending: $1849.87

Total Savings$3123.43 (difference between monthly income and monthly spending) 
 
Fixed Expenses: 
Verizon bundle (internet, cable): $160.43

Cell phone: $59.81
HVAC and water heater contract: $29.95 
Condo Fee (includes water and trash) $190.00 

Health Care: (includes health, dental, vision, prescription plans) $477.78 
 
Variables: 
Utilities: $116.47
Gasoline: $0
Groceries: $81.64
Health: $42.18 (co-pays, scripts refillsvitamins and personal health care items) 
Take Out and Dining Out: $0 

Household Shopping (anything other then food): $0

Personal shopping: $303.65

Gifts: $25

Dryer vent cleanout: $75

AAA Yearly renewal: $76

Haircut, tip and product: $76.96

Cash withdraw: $20

Tax prep fee: $115.00

 

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

 

Shopping was high, but these were all planned purchases. I was waiting to receive my tax refund to pay for them. The dryer vent clean out is required by the condo association for all owners once every 2 years. My grocery spending included a little stocking up. I think as long as I stay below $100 a month for groceries these days with such high prices I will be happy with that level of spending. If I see something on sale that I routinely use I stock up, so some months may be higher then others depending on sales.

 

I'm very happy to send a big chunk to savings.

Some Updates

March 17th, 2022 at 09:59 pm

I am so excited to have found a volunteer opportunity at the senior center! Twice a month I will be delivering free groceries to seniors in the community who are unable to pick them up themselves for the monthly food distribution. So far, I have 5 people lined up for the month of April. I call or text to let them know I am on my way, then when I arrive, place their food on their porch or right outside their door. For safety reasons we do not go into the house or apartment. They all live pretty close by so gas usage will be minimal.  

 

I went to the grocery store and was very happy to find that my Weis store was still running the points deal on ground meat. Buy the Weis brand 80/20 and use 100 club card points and the price is just .99 cents per pound up to 3 pounds. I picked up a 3.04 lb. pack and paid just $2.99. It was originally priced at $13.49, for a savings of $10.50.  

I also used another 100 points on an 18 count of large eggs. These were originally priced at $3.09, and I paid just .99 cents, for a savings of $2.10. 

 

I searched around for the best price I could find on fresh chicken breasts (boneless, skinless) and the lowest I could find was $2.99 a pound. I bought one family pack that was originally priced at $16.20, and paid $12.14, for a savings of $4.06. This will last me a while.  

 

I also picked up a head of lettuce on sale for $1. Regular price was $2.49 for a savings of $1.49, and a bag of fresh spinach for $2. Regular price was $2.50 so a savings of .50 cents. 

 

I also purchased butter, iced tea, taco seasoning, and one onion but these were not on sale.  

 

My total spending was $29.51 for this trip. Not too bad considering I bought chicken and ground meat. I should not have to go to the grocery store for the rest of the month.

 

I was also very happy to see that both my state and federal tax refunds were deposited into my account. This took only 2 weeks. Last year it took at least 4 months for me to receive my federal refund. I was expecting the same kind of delay this year, so this was a nice surprise. 

 

I have planned to do some spending with some of this. I need some things for the condo and some personal items I have been putting off buying. Today I ordered a rechargeable battery-operated lantern with a built-in phone charger, and a battery powered AM/FM NOAA radio. I want to be prepared in case of a prolonged power outage. I also need some new walking sneakers and want to get a few canned good racks for my pantry. There are a few other small things as well. I figure I will spend about $300 on everything I need. The rest of the refund will go to savings. 

 

I finally got a haircut yesterday and splurged on some hair products. After a nice tip I spent right around $75.

 

Happy St. Patrick’s Day if you celebrate!

Tax refund/Stocking up

March 6th, 2022 at 06:02 pm

My friend/CPA completed my taxes, and I will be receiving a total refund of $3514 (combined federal and state). I have decided to use some of the money to stock up on some food. I want to stock my freezer with some meat, more frozen veggies, and a few shelf stable items. The rest will go into savings. The price of food is just going to continue to rise, so stocking up now just makes sense to me.

 

The March senior center food distribution was last Friday and included a one lb. pack of ground meat and a bag of frozen fish fillets. I also received a gallon of milk, a loaf of bread, and a variety of canned goods and dry goods. Thanks to this program my pantry is very well stocked with pasta, pasta sauces, soups, canned veggies, tuna, peanut butter, oatmeal, mac and cheese, and rice and beans. These are all items that I eat and will use. I am very, very grateful. 

 

I am so happy that my elderly neighbors finally agreed to register with the senior center for the food distribution! I took them with me on my last trip so they could see how it worked and be comfortable with it. Their daughter came for a visit this weekend (she lives about 3 hours' drive away). She is a single mom of 2 kids and works a lot and can’t get here to visit as often as she might like. I was invited over for dinner on Saturday, and she gave me a bunch of sweet potatoes and a few baking potatoes that she brought with her that she had too many of as a thank you to me for looking in on her parents. It was a very sweet gesture, and we had a really fun time. 

 

Last week I did a CVS deal on TP. I bought 3, 12 packs of Scott TP. They were priced at $9.99 each. I used a combination of coupons, CVS extra bucks earned on previous purchases and my $10 Carepass rewards for the month to pay for it. I paid a total of just .58 cents out of pocket for tax. And I earned another $5 of extra bucks to use on a future purchase. This was 100% savings!

 

The weather today will hit the upper 70’s with some rain on the way. Next week it’s supposed to get cold again with a chance of a mix of snow and rain. I will take these warmer days, so my heat doesn’t need to kick on. The price of utilities keeps going up along with gas prices. We are at $4 a gallon.  

 

My thoughts and prayers continue for the people of Ukraine.

February 2022 Spending/Savings

February 28th, 2022 at 03:09 pm

Income Total$1563.05

     * $1200 Recurring monthly retirement account distribution  

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

     * $163.05 Cash Back Credit card rewards 

      

Total Spending: $1306.69

Total Savings$256.36 (difference between monthly income and monthly spending) 
 
Fixed Expenses: 
Verizon bundle (internet, cable): $160.43

Cell phone: $59.81
HVAC and water heater contract: $29.95 
Condo Fee (includes water and trash) $190.00 

Health Care: (includes health, dental, vision, prescription plans) $479.19 
 
Variables: 
Utilities: $149.76
Gasoline: $43.37
Groceries: $63.56 
Health: $63.42 (co-pays, scripts refillsvitamins and personal health care items) 
Take Out and Dining Out: $0 

Household Shopping (anything other then food): $0

Personal shopping: $67.20 (clothes)

 

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

 

Notes: My utilities saw an increase, and I wasn't using more. Gas for the car was also higher. I'm happy with my grocery spending and hope to continue to keep this down as much as possible to offset other increases that I noted. I'm also trying to decrease take out and had zero this month! Now that football season is over this will be easier.

Fantastic Grocery Deals!

February 10th, 2022 at 05:17 pm

I saw a post on my neighborhood Facebook page that my local Weis grocery store had added on some new food deals by using your club card points. These are fantastic! Weis brand ground meat, 80/20 is just .99 cents a pound up to 3 lbs. when you use just 100 points. Also, you can get Weis brand ice cream (1.5-quart size) for FREE by using 100 points. They still have the deal on eggs, an 18 count of large eggs for just .99. after using 100 points, and you can also get a gallon of milk for just $1.39 when you use 100 points. ** I do not know if these deals are offered at all Weis stores**

 

Today I purchased (all Weis brand): 

A 3-pound pack of ground meat (80/20) originally priced at $13.47 ($4.49 a lb.) for just $2.97 TOTAL, after cashing in 100 club card points! This is a great deal and I hope they continue it for a while. 

A container of ice cream for FREE using another 100 points.! Regular price was $2.99 

An 18 count large eggs for just .99 using 100 points. Regular price is $2.79 

Total saved: $15.29! 

 

These savings took the sting out paying $3.69 each for my International Delight Sweet Cream coffee creamer. They finally got it back in stock, so I bought 2. This is a splurge for me, but I love this stuff and haven’t found a comparable store brand that tastes as good. I love my morning cup of coffee Smile 

 

Last week I stocked up on Dawn dish soap at CVS. I bought six of the very large bottles (34oz.) and after using all my CVS extra bucks and my monthly $10 CarePass bucks I only paid $7.91 out of pocket (including $1.02 tax) This was an 86% savings. Just for context, one bottle is regularly priced at $8.29. And I got back another $8 in CVS Extra bucks to use on a future purchase.

 

I also filled up my gas tank today. I was almost on empty and spent $43.37. Ouch. That’s $3.50 a gallon.

 

My senior center had the food distribution earlier this month. The highlights were: 2, four packs of center cut pork chops, a large can of wild caught salmon, bread, and a variety of canned goods and other dry goods. As usual I shared with my elderly neighbors and my brother. I kept the chops and salmon though. I haven’t had salmon cakes or pork chops in ages!

 

So far this month I spent $32.30 on groceries and won’t need anything for a while. A lot of this was fresh produce. I was happy to see that most things I normally buy were back in stock.  

 

The weather here in Maryland will be spring-like for the next couple of days before the cold comes roaring back on Sunday with a threat of snow.

January 2022 Spending/Saving

January 31st, 2022 at 03:11 pm

Income Total$1450.00

     * $1200 Recurring monthly retirement account distribution  

     * $250 Swagbucks and My Points earnings (cash out to PayPal

      

Total Spending: $1169.23

Total Savings$280.77 (difference between monthly income and monthly spending) 
 
Fixed Expenses: 
Verizon bundle (internet, cable): $160.43

Cell phone: $59.81
HVAC and water heater contract: $29.95 
Condo Fee (includes water and trash) $190.00 

Health Care: (includes health, dental, vision, prescription plans) $476.37 
 
Variables: 
Utilities: $111.72
Gasoline: $0
Groceries: $78.54 
Health: $10.43 (co-pays, scripts refillsvitamins and personal health care items) 
Take Out and Dining Out: $51.98 (my share of cost of pizza and other food for football gatherings)

Household Shopping (anything other then food): $0

Personal shopping: $0

 

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

 

I am happy to put some money into savings after all the December/holiday spending. 

Pantry Challenge/Food Shortages?

January 22nd, 2022 at 03:54 pm

Grocery shopping has been different for me this month. I started out participating in the January eat from the pantry/freezer challenge but slightly modified because I was out of some staples so I knew I would have some minimal spending at the start of the month. My goal was to keep it as low as possible and really refocus on using up what I had on hand after the holidays.  

 

When I went to the store at the beginning of the month I encountered (for the first time) that my usual store was completely out of some of my preferred brands, such as butter, iced tea, ice cream bars and coffee creamer. I have tried many other brands of these over time but really prefer certain brands now and like to stick to them. I went to a different store, and they were also wiped out of these brands, or they just don’t carry them. I had to have butter so that was the only item I bought a different brand. I went back to the store a few times over the past few weeks checking to see if my preferred brands were in stock and they were still out until this weekend, so it took 3 weeks to get them in. So, I stocked up not knowing if they would run out again, which threw off my attempt to keep my spending lower. 

 

I also noticed that bottled water was almost completely wiped out, the frozen cooked chicken patties and tenders (which I haven’t been buying but looked to see what they had) were also very limited. I needed an onion, and the quality was terrible. They all seemed very soft, but I did manage to find one that was ok. The apples also seemed limited and somewhat bruised. I passed on those.   

 

So far this month I have spent $78.54, and don’t intend to spend any more. Of that amount I calculated that $16.62 of that was due to stocking up on the things they had been out of.  

 

The shortages may have been due in part to some winter weather up and down the east coast, and maybe some supply chain issues. This is really the first time I have encountered noticeable shortages on products I regularly use. I realize that I didn’t HAVE to have ice cream bars, or iced tea, and changing brands of butter and coffee creamer isn’t a hardshipBut it contributed to me stocking up on these products when they did come in. Instead of buying one of each item, I bought two.  

Is anyone else noticing shortages? Do you stock up a bit when you see your usual items back in stock? I feel like I’m grocery shopping a bit differently now. 

It's snowing and other updates

January 3rd, 2022 at 04:34 pm

It’s snowing! This is the first snow of the year here and I’m glad to be able to stay at home and enjoy the beauty. It went from 65 degrees yesterday to 32 degrees today with wind and snow. Crazy! 

 

I hope everyone enjoyed the holiday season, I had a wonderful time celebrating Christmas with my family, and a quiet New Year. I’m busy now taking down the decorations and packing them away for next year. 

 

Eat from the pantry challenge for January: I did an inventory of my freezer and have a 19 lb. (free) turkey that I am defrosting, 4, 1 lb. packs of ground meat, 1 chicken breast, and a pack of 10 chicken drumsticks. I also have about 7 packs of a variety of frozen veggies. My plan is to stretch this out over the month, so I don’t have to purchase any meat.  

 

In the pantry I have numerous cans of chicken and tuna for lunches, as well as canned soups for lunches. I also have a lot of canned veggies that I like to use to make vegetable soup. I have several cans of beans and tomato products, so I’ll be making chili using these and the ground meat. I also have a LOT of pasta and pasta sauces so while I am cutting back on carbs, I will be having some pasta throughout the month. 

 

For breakfast I will be having my usual eggs and toast, cereal or oatmeal. 

 

Almost all of this food, including most of the meat, was from the food give aways from the senior center. There will not be a distribution in January due to the recent covid outbreak in Maryland. Sadly, our infection rate is way up.  They are hoping to resume the distribution in February. 

 

I will need to buy a few things that I am out of: eggs, milk, iced tea, bread, butter, apples, fresh spinach and ice cream bars as my occasional treat. So, this will be a modified eat from the pantry/freezer challenge with the goal of spending as little as possible by using what I have on hand. 

 

Goals for 2022: I didn’t really make any new ones. I want to continue to focus on being healthy, eating well, keeping my weight down and exercising every day. Financially, I just want to continue to live within my means, look for ways to continue to save, and enjoy life on a small income. My greatest joy is the freedom of retirement, even it means living very frugally.  I did want to spend more time volunteering in different ways, but covid has interrupted this goal. Hopefully after this latest wave decreases, more opportunities to volunteer will happen that I feel safe doing. 

 

I did receive my covid booster shot recently and was happy to not have any side effects like I did after my second vaccination dose.  

 

I hope everyone has a happy week! 

December 2021 Savings/Spending

January 1st, 2022 at 08:23 pm

Income Total$1350.00

     * $1200 Recurring monthly retirement account distribution  

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

      

Total Spending: $1389.92

Total Savings$0 (difference between monthly income and monthly spending) 
 
Fixed Expenses: 
Verizon bundle (internet, cable): $160.43

Cell phone: $59.90
HVAC and water heater contract: $29.95 
Condo Fee (includes water and trash) $190.00 

Health Care: (includes health, dental, vision, prescription plans) $476.37 
 
Variables: 
Utilities: $103.39
Gasoline: $0
Groceries: $193.92 (includes food for Chritmas Eve dinner for 8 people)
Health: $0 (co-pays, scripts refillsvitamins and personal health care items) 
Take Out and Dining Out: $15.38 (my share of cost of pizza for football gatherings)

Household Shopping: $0

Christmas Gifts and personal shopping: $160.58

 

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

 

My grocery spending includes all food for a sit down dinner for family (8 people) on Christmas Eve. It also included some paper products that I didn't seperate out.

 

Shopping: I went a little over budget on Christmas shopping, and bought myself a few things. No regrets.

 

 

November 2021 Spending/Savings

December 2nd, 2021 at 02:19 pm

Income Total$1400.00

     * $1200 Recurring monthly retirement account distribution  

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

      

Total Spending: $1484.34

Total Savings$0 (difference between monthly income and monthly spending) 
 
Fixed Expenses: 
Verizon bundle (internet, cable): $160.43

Cell phone: $59.90
HVAC and water heater contract: $29.95 
Condo Fee (includes water) $190.00 

Health Care: (includes health, dental, vision, prescription plans) $476.37 
 
Variables: 
Utilities: $68.33
Gasoline: $35.35
Groceries: $86.15
Health: $72.50 (co-pays, scripts refillsvitamins and personal health care items) 
Take Out and Dining Out: $23.07 (my share of cost of pizza for football gatherings)

Household Shopping: $44.39

Christmas Gifts: $136.46

Car maintenancce: $81.10

Personal: $20.34

 

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

 

*Groceries included drinks and snacks for football gatherings

*Car Maintenance included oil change, oil filter, tire rotation, topping off all other fluids and basic engine       check. I also had a coupon for a free set of wiper blades and free installation. 

 

*Christmas gifts: My sister and I went in jointly on a few of those gifts and she will be sending me a              reimbursement, but we haven't figured out totals yet.

Thanksgiving Update and Some $Deals$

November 28th, 2021 at 02:59 pm

I hope everyone had a Happy Thanksgiving! I celebrated with my family at my brother’s house. There were 10 of us total and we had a fantastic time with lots of food and laughs and football watching afterward. It was so nice to have everyone together again after last year, when there were only a few of us.  Lot’s to be thankful for! 

 

I am mostly finished with my Christmas shopping; I only need to pick up a gift card and a doggie toy for my niece's fur baby. I started wrapping yesterday and today I will start to decorate. I always host on Christmas Eve with a full dinner and then we open gifts. I’m looking forward to having everyone over this year. 

 

I went to CVS this morning to pick up some TP as part of a spend $30 get $10 CVS Extra Bucks back deal. But they were completely out of the TP. Since the sale just started this morning and I got there really early I asked the manager if maybe they just hadn’t put it out yet, and she said that they never received the order to stock the store. She said they have been experiencing supply chain issues like this for a while now on a variety of productsbut especially on paper products. Just something to be aware of.  

 

While I was there, I did the toothpaste deal that they have been running almost every other week, buy 2 for $7.98 and use the $7.98 off 2 CVS app coupon so these were free. I have enough toothpaste stocked up so I will give these to BFF.  I also bought 2 boxes of candy, a Whitman sampler, and a Russel Stover sampler. These were buy 1 get one free. I paid using my $10 Carepass Extra Bucks so I only paid .48 cents for tax. I give these for Christmas gifts.   

 

The senior center gave out a really nice Thanksgiving food box last week. I received a 15 lb. frozen turkey, potatoes, sweet potatoes, gravy mix, stuffing mix, cranberry sauce, etc. Really everything for a standard Thanksgiving dinner. Since I already have the free turkey from the Weis grocery store points giveaway, I gave this turkey and some of the other items to my elderly neighbors. They are a sweet couple in their late 70’s who I check in on every so often. They don’t have any family close by, their daughter lives about a 3-hour drive away. Miss D reminds me of my mom and I enjoy her stories and lovely kind nature. It’s a pleasure to help them out here and there. 

 

The weather here on the east coast has been cold and windy the past couple of days and I even saw some brief snow flurries last night. Today is sunny and a bit warmer. Well, it’s time for me to get to decorating!  

Free Turkey!

November 5th, 2021 at 02:05 pm

I went to my Weis grocery store and picked up my free turkey! I got a 19-pound Weis brand frozen turkey that according to my receipt would have totaled $31.48. I redeemed my 400 club card points to get this for free. I did this deal last year and even though this is a store brand turkey, it was delicious. I will prepare this for Christmas Eve dinner when I host my family for the holiday. This will be a huge help with keeping my Christmas food budget reasonable.  

 

I also received my November senior center food distribution. I won’t continue to do a full list but here were some of the highlights: 

Meats 

2 pounds of ground meat 

I pound of bacon (I can’t remember the last time I bought bacon, such a treat!) 

1 pack of hotdogs 

pack of chicken thighs 

 

Fresh produce (first time receiving fresh produce) 

4 sweet potatoes 

5 russet potatoes 

3 apples 

2 oranges 

3 white onions 

 

I also received a dozen eggs, a half-gallon of milk, 2 loaves of bread, and a variety of other baked goods. Also included were a bunch of canned goods, cereal, and pasta, pasta sauce etc. As always, I share this with my family. 

 

I went to CVS and used up some extra bucks that were getting ready to expire. I bought 3, 12 packs of soda to have on hand for when my family comes over for Sunday football watching. The sale was buy 2, get 1 free.  After using the extra bucks this was free, I only spent .30 cents on tax. I don’t drink much soda, though I will have a diet coke now and then so this will last a while. I also ordered some CVS brand, gallon sized freezer bags (18 count). After using extra bucks, and having free shipping through CVS CarePass, I paid .94 cents for these, including tax. I’m going to need these to freeze all that turkey after it’s cooked! 

 

In other news, my dental issue is still not over. I now need a root canal (same tooth,) and developed an infection that required antibiotics. Sigh. When everything is finished, I will tally up the final out of pocket expense. Even with dental insurance I’m still looking at over $1000 out of pocket. That includes a crown, which are crazy expensive. Thankfully, I have a healthy savings account to cover these kinds of expenses.  

 

And finally, the heat is on! It got really cold, really fast here in Maryland. I had to turn on the heat. I keep it set at 68 degrees during the day, and with a sweater on that is comfortable for me. I turn it down to 66 degrees at night. I sleep better when its cooler.  

 

Have a great weekend everyone! 

October 2021 Spending/Saving

November 1st, 2021 at 09:23 pm

Income Total$1405.00

     * $1200 Recurring monthly retirement account distribution  

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

     * $5 Amazon credit through Swagbucks for a product review

      

Total Spending: $1222.79

Total Savings$182.21 (difference between monthly income and monthly spending) 
 
Fixed Expenses: 
Verizon bundle (internet, cable, home phone): $170.57

Cell phone: $59.90
HVAC and water heater contract: $29.95 
Condo Fee (includes water) $190.00 

Health Care: (includes health, dental, vision, prescription plans) $476.37 
 
Variables: 
Utilities: $82.56
Gasoline: $0
Groceries: $69.33
Health: $24.99 (co-pays, scripts refillsvitamins and personal health care items) 
Take Out and Dining Out: $13.56 (my share of cost of pizza for football gathering)

Shopping and Other Spending $105.56 ($47.69 was a Christmas gift, the rest was clothes)

 

 

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

 

Notes: The monthly food distribution I receive from the senior center has had a significant impact on my grocery spending. And, probably $20 of what I spent was on food for the family when they come over for football sundays (snacks and drinks). 

 

I am very happy that I was still able to save something with my lower monthly income ($1500 down to $1200 from my retirement distribution)

 

 

Birthday Weekend!

October 29th, 2021 at 02:51 pm

This is my birthday weekend! On Saturday I will be going out to dinner to my favorite seafood restaurant with my brother and family, then back to thier house for cake and ice cream. On Sunday, my best friend is taking me to lunch, then we will hang out for the day. 

Today (Friday) we are getting hit with a high wind and rain storm. Public schools in a lot of the state actually cancelled classes today because of flooding concerns. I hope to not lose power. 

I did a freezer and pantry sweep and will be eating up a bunch of leftover things for the rest of the month. I have a single hamburger pattie that I will pair with some carrots, a serving of mini meatballs and gravy, and will add a side of greenbeans. I have 3 breaded chicken patties and will fix some instant mashed potatoes and corn. Two servings of vegetable soup that I froze, I will probably have these for lunch. I have plenty of eggs, cereal and oatmeal for breakfasts. Lunches can be tuna or chicken salad, or PB&J. The next senior center food distribution is on Wednesday so I won't  need to do much grocery shopping, usually just fresh produce. 

I started my Christmas shopping and hope to have everthing done in a few weeks. We are keeping the spending low, everyone agrees to keep it simple this year.

I hope everyone has a great weekend!

 

Mid Month Update

October 16th, 2021 at 08:39 pm

October is the first month on my reduced income amount from my retirement distribution (from $1500 to $1200). I also average another $200 - $250 from Swagbucks and My Points. So far, my spending for the month is $1053.61. All of my usual monthly bills are paid, except for the cell phone bill so I am right on track.  My grocery spending is at $46.29. The food I receive from the senior center monthly give away has really had an impact on keeping this low. I only really need to buy fresh produce, butter, milk, eggs, iced tea, and some ice cream every now and then. 

We are expecting some storms today, and then a cold front will move in. I'm ready for the cooler weather. It's mid October and it is still very warm and humid. I'm over it! Smile 

Keep an eye out for grocery store promotions for free turkeys and/or hams for Thanksgiving. My Weis grocery store is giving customers a free one when you have enough points on your grocery club card. I will easily reach the 400 points needed by completing the on-line customer satisfaction surveys on the bottom of each shopping receipt. I earn 100 points for each one I do, limit of one per week. I will probably get a ham, and use it for Christmas Eve dinner when the whole family comes over. Meats are so expensive now so this will help the budget a lot. 

My brother, nephew and cousin will be over tomorrow for our football watching Sunday get together. We all just pitch in for food so it's a fun, low cost get together. 

Have a great weekend everyone!

 

October Senior Center Food Give Away

October 7th, 2021 at 04:13 pm

October Senior Center Food Giveaway (once per month) 

 

Just a reminder. This is not income based (not a food bank), the only requirements are that you are a member of the senior center, you live in the qualifying neighborhood zip codes, and are a senior (age 60 and up). None of the food is USDA (government subsidized). Everything is donated by local grocery stores and are store brands or name brands. Nothing was expired, opened, or damaged. Everything is aleady bagged up, they just load it in your trunk. I have no idea what I am getting until I get home and unpack it all. 

I got there right at the end of the distribution time and they still had a LOT of food left. I asked what they do with anything left over and she said they donate it to local churches that have food pantry’s 

 

Here is what I received: 

 

5 lbs. of frozen boneless, skinless chicken breasts (amazing)! I searched around in my pantry and had everything I needed to make some BBQ crock pot chicken. I am using half the chicken for this. Yum! 

 

1 gallon of milk 

1 box of cereal 

1 box of hot wheat cereal (like oatmeal) 

4 cans of low sodium spaghetti sauce 

boxes of spaghetti pasta 

1 box of rigatoni pasta 

2 cans of sweet corn 

3 boxes of mac and cheese 

1 small package of instant mashed potatoes 

2 beef ramen noodle soups 

1 cup o noodles chicken soup 

1 box of graham crackers 

64 ounce bottle of apple juice 

2 cans of tuna 

1 can of green beans 

1 can of sliced potatoes 

1 can of diced tomatoes 

1 can of Beefaroni 

1 can of vienna sausages 

1 can of mixed vegetables 

1 large can of pork and beans 

2 cans of tomato soup 

1 can of mixed fruit 

1 can of unsweetened applesauce 

1 can of sliced peaches 

1 can of kidney beans 

1 can of sliced pears 

small jars of peanut butter 

2 jars of grape jelly 

4 small individual cups of apple sauce 

1 can of luncheon meat  

15 ounce bag of raisins 

1 (2lb) bag of brown rice 

1 (1.6 lb) package of instant non fat dry milk 

1 (6 pack) of bakery sandwich rolls 

1 loaf of unsliced bakery sesame bread 

1 (6 pack) of bakery sour cream cookies 

1 large pouch of Market Street Beef stew 

2 pouches of Market Street chicken (like canned chicken but in a pouch) 

 

2 toothbrushes 

2 rolls of TP 

2 bars of bath soap 

1 large (32 ounce) bottle of 2 in 1 shampoo and conditioner 

1 tube of toothpaste 

 

I am VERY grateful for this program, and will be sharing with my family.

September 2021 Spending/Saving

October 1st, 2021 at 03:12 pm

Income Total$1700.00

     * $1500 Recurring monthly retirement account distribution  

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

      

Total Spending: $1475.14

Total Savings$224.86 (difference between monthly income and monthly spending) 
 
Fixed Expenses: 
Verizon bundle (internet, cable, home phone): $174.51

Cell phone: $59.97
HVAC and water heater contract: $29.95 
Condo Fee (includes water) $190.00 

Health Care: (includes health, dental, vision, prescription plans) $476.37 
 
Variables: 
Utilities: $97.70
Gasoline: $39.84
Groceries: $105.58
Health: $61.82 (co-pays, scripts refillsvitamins and personal health care items) 
Take Out and Dining Out: $49.11 (most was birthday dinner for bff)

Shopping and Other Spending $63.10 (birthday giftcard for bff, wireless mouse, phone charger)

McAfee yearly renewal: $127.19 (multiple devices)

 

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

 

Notes: Starting in October my recurring monthly retirement account distribution decreases from $1500 to $1200. The dental expenses (ongoing) will be paid from my emergency fund, so I do not count it against my monthy spending. Likewise, I have a seperate savings account specifically for paying yearly property taxes, car insurance and condo insurance. Prior to retiring I funded this account for at least 10 years of payments. I do not count these expenditures in my monthly spending. Thanks to the monthly food giveway from the senior center, my grocery spending was a lot lower, and I expect it to be even lower in October. 

$$Money Saving Deals$$

September 28th, 2021 at 07:11 pm

I went to CVS today and took advantage of the following deals:

 

Buy 2 name brand toothpastes for $7.98 

I used a CVS store card coupon for $7.98 off 2 of these toothpastes 

These were free, except for tax which was .48 cents 

 

Buy one name brand deodorant on sale for $2 

I paid $2.12 (.12 cents tax) 

Received a $2 CVS Extra Buck back to use on a future purchase 

 

I received a CVS app coupon to purchase any hair, cosmetic, or nail product up to a $5 value for free. I chose a bottle of name brand shampoo that was $4.29. This was completely free. 

 

I purchased: 

3, eight packs of name brand toilet paper (mega rolls, 24 total) 

1 pack of name brand tissues (48 count) 

After applying coupons and CVS extra bucks earned on previous purchases, I paid $5.15 out of pocket (.86 cents of that was tax) 

My receipt said this was a 91% Savings Value 

I also received a $10 CVS extra buck to use on a future purchase. 

 

Total out of pocket for all of these products (and tax) was only $7.75. And I received a total of $12 CVS Extra Bucks back to use for future purchases. 

 

Disclaimer: I do not work for CVS! 😊 

$$Dental Work$$

September 25th, 2021 at 03:08 pm

Last week I needed to go into the dentist and discovered that I had a cracked tooth. After 2 visits and some significant pain I am happy to say that I am finally feeling much better, with just some minor soreness. This not only physically hurt, but it hurt my wallet too. Even with decent dental insurance I’m still estimated to owe around $1200. A large portion of this is the cost of the crown I will need. It also includes another small procedure on another tooth and an upcoming cleaning.  

 

Fortunately, I have a healthy emergency fund to pay for this expense, so while I will put it on my credit card to earn cash back points, I can pay it off in full when the bill is due.  

 

I’m looking forward to having my family over tomorrow on Sunday for football watching and lunch. My cousin is bringing pizza and wings, and I’ll be serving homemade apple pie for dessert. We always have such a good time on our football Sundays. It’s a low-cost way to have a great time with family. 

 

The weather here on the east coast has turned cooler and I am loving it. It felt so good to open the windows and turn off the AC for a bit. Fall is my favorite season! 

Mid Month Update and Some Changes

September 15th, 2021 at 10:23 pm

After reviewing my assets and expenses, I made a few financial changes: 

 

I reduced my monthly recurring retirement account distribution amount from $1500 to $1200. This will go into effect in October. After a thorough review of my investments by my sister who is a CPA and CFA, and independently by my friend and tax preparer, who is also a CPA, both made similar recommendationsMy basic bills are covered monthly by this reduced amount. I also consistently earn between $200 and $250 a month through Swagbucks and My Points. This amount will be used for any other expenses I may have each month. I feel confident I can continue to live modestly, but happily on this amount. 

 

I reduced my monthly Verizon bundle expense by dropping my land line phone that I wasn’t using. I also increased my internet speed. This reduced my monthly bill from $174.51 to $160.43, a savings of $14.08 per month. 

 

I contacted my cell phone provider (Verizon) to see if there were any discounts for my current account. I could save $5 per month if I signed up for auto pay, but for various reasons I prefer not to. I am considering switching providers, but I’m just not sure yet. I am very happy with my service, and since I dropped my land line phone it is important that my cell phone and service works well. I have heard both pros and cons about other providers. So, for now I am staying with my current provider and plan, even though it is more expensive than others. I may change my mind as I continue to investigate other choices. 

 

My grocery spending at mid-month is $42.50. The grocery give away from my senior center has had a real impact on my ability to significantly reduce my grocery spending this monthI spoke with the Director of the senior center, and she said this program is solidly supported and will continue well into the foreseeable future.  

 

I will continue to shop for deals, use senior discounts, use coupons and always search for ways to reduce my expenses.

 

Next up will be reviewing my car insurance and condo insurance plans.  

 

On the spending side, I purchased a backup wireless mouse and a phone charger. My electronics are now all new or newish, so I’m in good shape there.  

Groceries From the Senior Center

September 5th, 2021 at 07:11 pm

I mentioned in a previous post that my neighborhood senior center sent members an email notifying us they will be having a monthly food giveaway. The only requirements are that you live in the qualifying neighborhood zip codes and are a senior (age 60 and up) I organized what I will be donating, keeping, and sharing. Here is what I received: 

 

Donate Items 

1 large (64 oz) bottle of Apple Juice  

2 small snack packs of Welch’s fruit snacks 

1 box of Farina hot wheat cereal 

2 boxes of mac and cheese 

1 can of cheese ravioli 

1 box of devil's food cake mix 

1 large box of instant mashed potatoes 

1 can of red kidney beans 

jar of grape jelly 

1 can of condensed cream of mushroom soup 

jar (15 oz.) of Alfredo sauce 

 

Keep Items 

package of salted caramel cookies (from the bakery) 

1 individual pack of cheese crackers 

2 Quaker granola bars 

1 small snack size of Ritz cheese crackers 

2 packs of Ramen Chicken Soup 

2 cans of chunk light tuna 

box of graham crackers 

half of a bakery marble cake (gave this to my neighbor) 

1 can of white chicken 

1 package of Market Street Chunk Chicken Breast 

1 small can of Carnation evaporated milk 

2 cans of vegetarian beans 

1 box of Quinoa blend 

1 can of pears 

1 can of tomato sauce 

1 can of condensed tomato soup 

1 can of sliced peaches 

1 can of condensed vegetable soup 

1 can of diced tomatoes 

1 can of chili with beans 

1 box of honey nut cheerios 

1 box of rigatoni 

1 box of thin Barilla spaghetti 

2 lbs. of ground beef 

2 lbs. of American cheese (I will be sharing this with my brother) 

1 jar of peanut butter 

1 loaf of rye bread 

6 Kaiser rolls (gave these to bff) 

2.5 lbs. of frozen peas (gave half of these to bff) 

1 small chocolate parfait 

 

Personal Care Items (all keep) 

2 Palmolive bath bars 

2 rolls of TP 

1 tube of hand cream 

1 tube of lip balm 

1 large nail file 

1 pencil eye liner (gave this to bff) 

1 bottle of laundry soap (64 oz.) 

I large bottle of 2 in 1 shampoo and conditioner 

 

75% of this was from my local grocery store chain; it was their store brand or still had their labels on it. Everything was very fresh, and nothing was expired. Some meals I have planned to make are pea soup, chili, grilled cheese and tomato soup, PB&J sandwichtuna and chicken salad. I already used some of the ground beef to make some meat sauce for spaghetti. I had stopped buying ground meat because it is just too expensive now. 

 

It makes me very happy and grateful that the grocery stores in my area are donating food to the community instead of just dumping it in the dumpster. This will really help me to reduce my grocery spending. I will mostly just need to buy some fresh produce, eggs, and chicken on my next grocery trip. 

August Spending/Savings

September 1st, 2021 at 08:53 pm

Income Total$1829.00

     * $1500 Recurring monthly retirement account distribution  

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

     * $104.00 Credit Card Cash Back Rewards

      

Total Spending: $1411.13

Total Savings$417.87 (difference between monthly income and monthly spending) 
 
Fixed Expenses: 
Verizon bundle (internet, cable, home phone): $174.51

Cell phone: $60.03
HVAC and water heater contract: $29.95 
Condo Fee (includes water) $190.00 

Health Care: (includes health, dental, vision, prescription plans) $476.37 
 
Variables: 
Utilities: $114.71
Gasoline: $0
Groceries: $153.35
Health: $70.00 (co-pays, scripts refillsvitamins and personal health care items) 
Take Out and Dining Out: $20.72

Shopping and Other Spending $52.49 (birthday gift for my brother)

Eye Exam: $69.00

 

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

 

I had challenged myself to stay below $160 for groceries this month and came in just under at $153.35. 

$$Great Deals$$

August 29th, 2021 at 10:18 pm

I went to CVS early this morning for some itemsHere is what I purchased: 

 

2 Colgate toothpastes (these were 2 for $7.98, but CVS sent everyone a digital coupon for $7.98 off 2 to your CVS card, so these were free) 

1 pack of 4 Charmin TP (mega rolls) (on sale for $4.99) 

1 small bottle of Palmolive dish soap (on sale for .99 cents)