You know it. I know it. Despite what the government states, inflation is here and it’s rearing it’s ugly head on the prices of everything we need or want. The first thing we need to ask ourselves (before we can find a solution) is why.

Here are some of the reasons:

Closing the Keystone pipeline, the job losses, stripping us of our energy independence, the prices of meat going up. Vegetables, have you noticed, are going up. Price of eggs are going up. Price of gas is going up. Price of lumber is going up. Price of steel is going up.

The borders are wide open. Child trafficking has gone up 34%. Businesses, many of which are still closed. Entire industries are gutted. The airline industry’s being laid off and furloughed again. Thousands of restaurants have closed this past year. Some schools are still closed.

Don’t be fooled by these government-inspired inflation charts. You and I both know inflation is way abouve the 2.6% the government lies to tell us:

I’m not here to point a finger. I’m here to offer a solution. Our passive income per month is $3,000. Of this amount, $300 per month is put into saving. This is un-negotiable. At the end of the year, this money is used for our annual winter stay in Florida. Again, this is un-negotiable. We’ve been doing this for 39 years and we’re not about to stop now. So, husband and I have to constantly monitor, learn and adjust our living expenses to $2,700 a month.

As to inflation, there’s really nothing we can do about the rising costs of everything. We have no control. We’re like sitting ducks. Inflation is a way a government controls its people and its economy. Debt now is downright cheap. But don’t be swayed. This is no time to take on any additional low-cost debt. This is the time to free ourselves of credit. Because right after inflation and our current low interest rates expire, borrowing costs are going to go through the roof. Again, this is how a government controls its people.

So, the first thing we all should do is try to lower any outstanding debts we have. It’s also a time to put away our charge cards or at least temporarily stop using them if we should be carrying a balance. Rates on charge cards can fluctuate. If you’re carrying a balance you may be in for a rude surprise when your carrier raises their rates. I know the most I can pay off on my one main charge card that I use every day, is between $1200 and $1400 a month. I keep a daily tab on what I have been spending and as soon as I see myself nearing the limit, I stop using the card. That may mean I’m not buying any more groceries till the next billing cycle. If true, then so be it. We have enough food stocked up to carry us through anything. That includes milk, eggs and bread (all frozen in my freezer).

The one charge card that we use offers 5% back on all expenditures. That’s why we use it so much. Before inflation, I used to use my reward points as cash back to the outstanding balance. Not any more. Instead we’ve been using the reward points in exchange for gift cards. Since we can no longer afford to eat out in restaurants or even buy ourselves a cup of coffee, I’ve traded in our reward points for gift cards from Dunkin’, Starbucks, iHOP, Cracker Barrel, Panera etc. I buy them in $10 increments. It’s been great to simply go out and get a full breakfast at iHop, or stop and get a cup of joe from Dunkin……..literally, for free! I’ve been using the gift cards when we’re out on the road and money is critical. They’ve certainly come in handy!

We keep some cash in our house if and when we can no longer utilize our charge card. Cash is our backup.

One of the major things I have done recently is I’ve totally stopped spending. Period. All expenditures have ceased. Hubby and I now make out a list of all our goals, wants and desires. We look over the list, calculate what each item might cost and then we prioritize on what we are going to buy, if at all. We’re discovering that many of the items we were going to spend money on, we could do ourselves. For example: we were going to hire someone to come in and do a spring clean up of our property. This past winter downed a lot of trees and branches. Rather than hire someone to do this for hundreds of dollars, hubby just bought himself a standard racking system for his John Deer mower, that he can drag along the property and the branches and leaves are cleared out. The racking attachment costs $99 and will last for a few years.

I’m still having trouble getting my food bill down to $400 a month. I’ve been averaging around $460 a month but I consider this a work in progress. Now, when I grocery shop, before I get to the cashier, I look over my cart contents and ask myself, what I can put back on the shelves because I can truly do without? This system eliminates around $10 worth of product. It’s a start. Nonetheless, I still need to cut back and do more food preparation from scratch.

The other day, hubby and I dropped our dog off at the groomer. Usually, we stay in town and either window shop (buy) or at least stop into one of the many restaurants and have a bite to eat or at least buy a cup of coffee. Or two. This time was very different. For the first time, we went back home instead and made our own lunch and brewed our own coffee. No extra money spent.

While I am on the topic, I’d like to discuss my puppy’s groomer. Try as hubby and I might, we can’t do everything our little doggie needs. I can give her a bath. Hubby can trim her nails but because of our dogs constant growing hair and despite our buying all the tools necessary to groom her ourselves, we just can’t master it. The dog needs to be professionally cut at a minimum of six to eight weeks. Otherwise, she looks like a mop on wheels.

The cost of a doggie professional hairclip is $79. Plus tax. There is just no way that hubby and I, on our fixed income, can afford this luxury for our pet. We’ve done it twice and just can’t afford it anymore. Going to a pet chain clinic is unreliable and at time dangerous to a pet. We’ve already spent thousands of dollars on her since we got her five months ago. We’ve been responsible for all her vaccinations, wellness vet visits and took out a zero-interest credit card advance to pay for her spay/neutering @$978 over 8 months.

Hubby and I discussed giving up our puppy. My daughter and granddaughter would be devastated. My daughter helped out financially a little but even she has to be cautious with her own spending. Before I would give up, however, I gave it one last shot. I called up a reliable groomer, one whom we had used 11 years ago with one of our other dogs and asked her what her price was for a full grooming. She quoted me $72. This was unbelievable. So, I said something to her that I have never once said to anyone else. I told her I was 70 years old and I needed help with my dog. I never used my age or my weakness as a bargaining tool before, but this time I had no choice. It was the truth. I’m 70 years old and I need help. I told the groomer that I would bath and blow dry the dog myself in the morning. All I needed was someone to just give my puppy a basic cut, clip her hair around her eyes so that she can see and to cut her nails (I knew the groomer cut dog nails for free because it’s in her advertisement). I reminded the groomer that my puppy was only eleven pounds and won’t be getting much bigger.

After much thinking, and after me holding onto my cell phone for dear life, I was praying and praying she would say she’d do it for $50. Instead, she told me she would do it for $35. S.C.O.R.E!! Our puppy has been saved from being re-homed. I can afford the $35, every 6 to 8 weeks or so. This we can do! And thus our puppy can stay with us forever and ever. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, is my advice. And don’t be hesitant to ask for a senior discount. The groomer now has me as a steady, reliable customer and my little puppy will always look nice and neat.

Here’s my little girl. She likes to drag her bed into my office and sit next to me while I work on my computer.

For Mother’s Day this year, I am meeting my family in a park, equi-distant for all of us, and we are having a picnic. No more restaurants. No more exorbitant meal cooking. We’re packing our own lunches and a few goodies to share and we’re celebrating the day outside, for free, at a park!

Summertime is vacation time. This year we are only booking state or national parks for our vacations. At $24 a night, it’s a true bargain and truly affordable. I booked one RV vacay per month, mid-week (less crowds) from a Monday arrival to a Friday departure at some really awesome locations. All sites have ample hiking and biking trails, pools or lakes for swimming. In August, we will be RVing one block away from the Atlantic Ocean near a superb beach for only $36 a night. The beach is down the road, where we can bike to, so there are no car parking fees.

Inflation may be on the rise but if you stop and control your spending, you just might make it through unscathed. We’re still living a wealthy lifestyle (taking vacations, going out to eat) but we’re achieving it in a whole new way: lower income living……..and loving it!

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