This February, hubby and I got hit with just too many bills. Some were expected. Others weren’t. Some were just out of this world! The planned for expenses included property taxes ($1272) and tax software ($76). The unexpected ones were our energy supplier canceling our much-needed budget payment plan ($581 due all at once) hubby’s driver license renewal ($128) and our new puppy’s bills ($43 for just two pills and $76 for a grooming session!! BTW, never again. We learned how to DIY instead). That brought a Grand Total of $2178 above our regular $3224 expenses. Ouch!

Truthfully, our monthly expenses should be no more than $3,000 a month. Technically we’re $224 over our budget each and every month. I’ve looked over our spending and yes, there are things I can cut but I don’t want to. We have no one to blame except ourselves on why we have been going over our budget. The reason why is because we keep spending. Period. Plain and simple as that. We need to put more restraint in to place and I’ll be the first to admit, I’m guilty of not doing so. Usually when we are over budget, I take out the difference from our savings account. We earn enough in passive income, interest, dividends to cover the shortfall but I don’t think it’s wise to constantly tap into our savings when a mere personality adjustment is in better order.

So, we cut.

Through a system of replacing all our indoor and outdoor lighting with LED bulbs, I’ve been able to cut our energy costs by $42 a month. Instead of $83, we now owe just $41 a month in energy costs. I personally think it’s my steadfast but loyal practice of just turning the unused lights off. We use LED nightlights now during the evening and I think that practice alone helped lower the costs substantially.

Despite having more heating days this year (1023) compared to last year (929) we used less kilowatt hours and still managed to save money AND lower our monthly budget plan from $83 a month to just $41

We spend entirely too much money on groceries every month. That’s because we shop with abandon and any time I see a new product, I buy it. Yes, I try to keep my monthly grocery bill at $500 but because of the way I shop, I always go over. Hubby is no better. He is forever buying seltzer (which is a total waste of money) chocolate bars and specialty salads. We certainly don’t need seltzer and we fairly much eat the same things week in and week out. I do try a new recipe at least once per week but each new recipe requires new ingredients to buy and I think we need to get back to our old routine. I’ve switched our grocery shopping over to cash and I have allotted $100 a week. Should there ever be a spectacular once-in-a-lifetime sale (for example: chicken breast at only .39 a pound or something) then we’ll buy, put it on our charge card with the knowledge that the bill will be paid off, in full, at the end of the month! This should cut our food bill by $100 each month.

I’m forever grabbing food items that are new. And expensive. I’ve put an end to that. Boo hoo! (BTW, these newfangled croissants were delish!)

Lastly, I put hubby’s Christmas present under a 6 month, zero-interest loan. I have since paid it off in full. This frees up $72 a month making the total monthly adjustment to our budget $214. This leaves a $10 gap, which can be made up anywhere else on our monthly expense sheet. Maybe not buy a bag of nails or eliminate a dog toy. Something easy and quick. That wouldn’t hurt.

We have one savings account that is absolutely off limits to every day spending shortfalls. That’s our vacation account, which compounds daily and earns us approximately $4100 a year in interest! This money is strictly reserved for our two main vacations per year: a 3 month stay on a beach somewhere in Florida during the winter and a 1 month stay on a beach in Newport RI in the summer. Due to the pandemic, we haven’t gone anywhere this year but that savings account just keeps on compounding. We still keep talking about RVing to the Grand Canyon. And there are a few NY waterfalls I still want to see. Maybe 2021 will be the year we get to do it all. Long as we can continue to keep our frugal lifestyle in check. I don’t see anything standing in our way. Unless those fancy croissants buns go on sale…………….?

We wrapped up February. Obviously we can keep the food costs down to below $400 for the month!

SIDE NOTE: Before I went on a campaign to lower my monthly food costs, I did an inventory of my freezers, my fridge, my pantry and my stock pile. I had a lot of things that I don’t need to buy for a very long time (such as 24 cans of tuna fish!!) I wrote everything down on paper. When hubby and I compiled our next shopping list, we wrote down what we needed, checked our list and amazingly we already had some of the items we needed! There’s a five day snow storm headed our way and it looks like we may be “in’ for a week or two. That about puts an end to our food shopping needs for this month. We stocked up for the last time, today. That bill only came to $54.06 which brings our total (hopefully) for the month down to $384.64. In other words, it’s very possible and plausible that hubby and I can keep our monthly food bill at $400. Also, I started dating the times we go food shopping. No need to go to the store 6 or 8 times a month! Once every 2 weeks should work out just fine! Live and learn. We did it! (PS: That ‘Kim Beef’ is our local farmer friend. We bought another eye round roast, chopped beef and some organic frankfurters. Superb!)