There’s no more hiding it or pooh-poohing it away. Inflation is very visible right now in my world and if I believe the financial advisors (which I do) the higher prices are here to stay. They are not going away. In addition to higher food and gas costs, I’ve seen increases in almost all of my bills: internet, electricity, home and car insurance, life insurance and heating costs to name a few. I worked on my budget this morning and the increase per month of all of the above amounts to $167.37 more per month. And to top it all off, I received in the mail this afternoon my property tax bill and the increase, though subtle, still amounts to the addition of another $13.76 bringing my monthly budget increase to $181.13 per month (that’s almost $2,175 more per year!)
When you’re on a fixed income, as we are, coming up with the additional cash to pay our moderate bills could be a challenge. For us, thankfully, the additional funds needed per year can be met by our interest/dividend paying investments. Up until now, we’ve never withdrawn a penny. Oh I’ll probably try some cost cutting and substitutions and eliminations as well as some sacrifices first, but in the end, if we need the money to cover our bills, the funds will be available. That’s why it is so important to save whatever you can towards your retirement. You really will need the additional funds to maintain any semblance of financial order. Or you may get a job. Hubby has been out of work for almost two years but he is trying to rev up any part time work in his field. So far, no luck.
There is nothing more I can cut out of our budget. Period. I can’t increase deductibles or discontinue any services. Whatever we have now is vital and can not be eliminated. The first thing people try to reduce is their grocery bill. Ours is set at $500 a month. Granted yes, if we purchased cheaper food items I could probably lower my bill. But we’re not going to do that. Through the process of substitution (more vegan meals) and elimination (red beef once per month vs once per week) we still eat well and healthy. I’ve noticed, however, that the newer products coming in lately are smaller in size and weight but priced the same as before the decrease. After spending a week on an American beach and noticing the glaring obese Americans stacked up like helpless beached whales, IMHO I don’t think it’s such a bad idea that many products now contain less than before.
I bought an ice cream cone that when I unraveled it out of its wrapper there was no disputing the product was way smaller than it was in the pre-inflation time. Honestly, it didn’t bother me. I was relieved actually. That meant I was consuming less wasteful calories yet somehow enjoying a vanilla ice cream cone. I noticed last I went food shopping (yesterday) that almost all of the snacks, cookies, potato chips, popcorn, candy etc were priced slightly higher than before BUT the serving sizes were smaller in ounces. In other words, you’re going to get hit with higher inflation prices if you eat crap!
Hubby and I have teamed together and now shop loss leaders. If you’ll notice prices on snacks haven’t come down as much as good, healthy veggies and fruits have. Granted these items are in season, but isn’t that the way we are supposed to eat: seasonally? Here’s what we bought yesterday at our local Shop Rite.
By shopping loss leaders and ONLY for food products on sale (and planning our meals accordingly) hubby and I have saved a lot of money BUT it still falls within our allotted $500 monthly budget. Go figure! Our total savings on this particular shopping trip (yesterday) saved us $74.99 off the regular prices with another actual cash savings of $24 that goes back into our pocket. Not the grocery store.
The biggest savings for us this week came in buying coffee. Word is out on the street that coffee is going to be hard to come by due to climate conditions and delayed shipments. I only like 100% Colombian coffee and I don’t care what brand it is. Colombian is Colombian. So, we stocked up. Every few weeks a brand goes on sale, so we stock pile.
I have enough coffee that if Juan Valdez himself came over, he’d be pleased!
Other things that we are doing to keep our bottom line affordable: mending, fixing, finding alternatives or simply doing without. For example, my professional adding machine of 20+ years finally died. Instead of buying a new one at $35 I simply use my solar powered, hand held calculator instead. No money spent. Hubby was tired from unloading the RV the other day and wanted to send out for Chinese food. That’s a complete no-no in my book. I whipped up a dish of sauteed chopped turkey, onions and peas and served it over a bed of rice I prepared in the rice cooker, sprinkled some soy sauce over everything and that’s what we had for a quick dinner. That’s about $30 we didn’t spend. My new slippers have fallen apart yet once again. I called Amazon and despite the return window being closed, I got a full refund. Rather than order another pair of slippers I just fixed up the old previous slippers (they just needed a touch of gorilla glue) and that was $26 I didn’t have to spend. One of the concerts I had purchased tickets for back in July (for an August show) got slammed with new CDC guidelines such as wearing masks and proof of vaccination. Since the theater could not provide the 6 feet of required social distancing and despite the fact they posed ‘No Refunds’ I got my money back. That was a credit of $60.
I comb through every one of our invoices. I check our balances daily. I constantly search for ways to save money, cut costs or just simply do without. I ask myself is it a want or a need. We only spend money on needs here. Our propane billing went up .62 cents a gallon. Based on that one fact alone, since we use 1000 gallons of propane a year, that paltry few pennies will amount to a yearly increase of $620!!! To counteract this increase and prepare for the future (because word is out due to the fires and hurricanes there will be upcoming fuel shortages) we are putting a pellet stove in our living room. We also might be knocking down the partial wall that separates the kitchen and the living room. This will increase our living space AND provide heat for the entire area from our new pellet stove. How are we paying for the pellet stove and all it’s needed equipment: zero interest finance over the next 12 months. We prefer using THEIR money vs ours. Estimated cost to buy the equipment (hubby will be doing all of the work himself) $1200. It won’t be adding anything to our monthly budget because we always have at least one zero interest loan going on at all times. I just finished paying off our doggie’s operation, so we’re ready for our next need.
I’ve come to realize that loyalty to a company or a brand is immaterial right now. All that matters is price. Next comes quality. I spend money now with the term ‘value’ at the top of my mind. We will probably have to endure these high inflationary prices for a while. I haphazardly attended my vegetable garden this summer. Next year will be different. I bought a small bunch of green beans the other day at the grocery store and balked at the $3.99 price! Green beans are so easy to grow. I still have the seeds in my freezer. Next summer both my raised veggie gardens and flourishing peach tree will be more valuable to me than ever!
Live and learn.