There is just no way around this current fact: prices are too darn high. Period. No matter which way you turn or what you put on your plate, the cost this year far exceeds whatever you paid last year. And there’s no end in sight. For the first time in like forever, I don’t have enough in passive monthly income to pay my bills. I have to make a withdrawal out of savings in order to pay my basic bills (I can’t eliminate anything else). This super high inflation is nothing I prepared for. Granted yes, I prepared for the basic inflation rate of 2% to 3% but I am encountering prices as high as 50% from what I paid a few scant months ago.

I have always budgeted $25 a month on my E-Z Pass. That monthly figure has skyrocketed to $55 a month. Throw in the astronomical prices I have to pay in tolls and the monthly costs are downright criminal. I had to cough up $165 this last month in toll fees!

I have always budgeted $100 to $150 a month in gas. That budget line has stratosphered to over $600 a month (this last bill was $621.33). Granted we did a bit of vacation traveling this past month but it didn’t surpass what we did in the pre-pandemic days. How can people keep paying bills like this?

People (like me) can continue to pay bills like this by making a few adjustments and sacrifices to our monthly budget (and steer clear of our savings accounts). The Number One thing we must do is cut back on driving, living, enjoying and above all else, cut back on travel. To a retiree, whose main thing in retirement is usually travel, that’s a hard, bitter pill to swallow.

In addition to the higher gas and toll prices we have to pay, our winter booking raised their prices by 34%. As retirees on a fixed income, how are we supposed to come up with 34% more (in addition to the gas and toll price increases)? Our solution was to shorten our winter snowbirding. My solution was even better: start using my frequent flyer miles, get a free round trip ticket to Florida and stay with my sister for a month (already booked). I now lowered my snowbirding costs to zero. And I have enough frequent flyer miles to do it all over again next year. This will give DH and I time to think about how we plan on moving forward. But for now, we’re doing nothing (other than what I said). Prices are just too darn high.

Our second out-of-control inflationary spending is, of course, on food. If I can cut back on our monthly grocery shopping by 20% that would ease our monthly budget expenses comparatively. For this, we’re doing a Dave Ramsey experiment. I’m placing $400 cash in an envelope and that’s what we are going to spend per month on groceries. I’m hoping $100 a week will suffice. When the money is gone, we will have to make due with what we already have on hand. This is where my past stockpiling will come in handy. So far, we are off to a great start. We spent $92 this first week and I’ve become extremely creative with leftovers.

I had some leftover brown rice (still in the rice cooker), a few sausage links and a half baggie of canned peas. I sliced the sausages into bite sized pieces, sauteed them in a pan with a touch of vegetable oil, added in the cold rice, a bit of home made chicken broth and when all was warmed up, tossed in the peas. I was able to utilize all those leftovers and turn them in to a delicious risotto (once I topped the dish with grated Parmesean cheese).

I had two slightly brown bananas left over and turned them into two loaves of banana bread.

I had some asparagus spears and a half onion left over and turned them into a delicious frittata.

DH had a few strands of arugula and spinach and topped off his lunch sandwich with the supergreens.

Now that we will be home more, I’m hoping our tolls and EZ Pass will go back to ‘normal’. Whatever that will now be. As for driving, there are a lot of things going on closer to our home base. Staying home all the time is not going to be an option. Fall is the best time of the year up here in the valley. The leaves are just starting to turn color and nothing gives us more pleasure than taking a ride through the mountains and peeping at all those glorious autumn colors. There are Oktoberfests, hayrides, pumpkin patches and apple picking farms just waiting for us. Saying ‘no’ might not be an option.

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