Do you find yourself suddenly fighting with your Significant Other over money problems? Are you accusing someone in your household or circle of friends of mismanaging your money? Are you feeling financially squeezed lately over your available cash but are dumbfounded as to why you feel the way you do?
“It’s the inflation, stupid!” is the current battlecry of the not-so-rich-and-famous. You’re being nickeled and dimed to death and you don’t even know it. You’re being hit from every angle and you don’t know which way to turn. There is no escape from inflation. You either have to fight back and be as creative handling your finances as humanly possible or just give up and fall alongside the capitalistic highway of no return.
My husband and I have been at each other’s throats blaming each other for our rising costs and our financial strain. How preposterous did that sentence sound? We haven’t done anything wrong. We haven’t made any wrong investments. Neither one of us is spending money needlessly on superficial crap. We’re not even buying Christmas presents for anyone other than our two grandchildren. Yet, my daughter keeps asking me when are we going to reimburse her the $25 she laid out for her own daughters present supposedly from us. Why is that? A once super rich offspring, who spent $10,000 last summer to stay a week at a beach house in Newport Rhode Island keeps sending me texts asking me when I’m going to pay her back the $25 I owe her.
I told her I’d send it when my husband gets his first paycheck. Hubby has been out of work for the last two years, thanks in part to the pandemic and the inability to fill part orders to complete his work due to the supply chain shortages. Thankfully but reluctantly, he recently found an outside job and he’ll be getting a twice monthly paycheck.
We live in upstate New York where the air is cleaner, the cost-of-living is affordable and the taxes low. Or so we thought. The state of New York has officially transferred all their human toll booths into automatic EZ Pass barometers. When we drove to visit one of my daughters (who both insist on living in New York City) a simple two hour drive turned into a toll booth disaster. When I looked over our billing, the tolls to visit amounted to $19.10. WTF? Ditto for when we had to bring our RV in for warranty work in Albany NY, a simple one hour drive away, a week later. Those tolls amounted to $14. Without even calculating for the rest of the month, we had already amounted $33 in tolls, of which were automatically billed to our charge card. At the end of the month we owed an additional $22 in tolls (we have to pay a toll bridge in order to go grocery shopping or any other kind of shopping) resulting in $55 in toll charges. Throw in the additional rising fuel costs, car maintenance fees and now you can understand why DH and I are feeling the financial squeeze.
And this is just the beginning. They’re just getting started.
As a former thirty year employed Budget Administrator, I have the habit of commonly tracking DH and my spending. While hubby was blaming me for our money woes (as if I go out and buy mink coats and diamond rings) I whipped up my special spreadsheet report where I listed all the extra expenses we incurred during our spring/fall project period. When I showed hubby this report, he shut the f***k up. Practically ALL of the expenses were DH related. He put a lot of time, money and effort into property upkeep PLUS we installed a pellet stove and bought new furniture because of said stove. Throw in a few car repairs and maintenance projects where ALL the expenses had risen and our normally $2,000 annual expenses turned into a $4,471 nightmare. Both the pellet stove and new couch were put on two separate zero-interest loans, thus adding two more budget line items that had to be paid monthly. Thanks to inflation and the rising costs of everything, we’re starting to feel that financial squeeze.
We’re retirees living on a fixed income, so other than those living on low incomes, we’re the first ones to be hit the hardest, when it comes to inflation. DH and I have already taken the proper steps to reign in costs during our retirement. We’ve downsized. We’ve gone from a 9 room house down to a 4 room house. We’ve gone from a $5,600 a month budget down to a $2,500 a month budget. We’ve relocated to a less expensive area to live. We’ve cut our expenses down to the bare bones. We’re debt free. We don’t have a mortgage. We don’t have credit card debt. We pay off the balances each and every month, in full. We don’t have car loans. DH says his first few paychecks should be 100% used to pay off the two zero-interest loans we have.
I planned for 3% rises in retirement inflation and that’s where my financial errors reside. As if. As if I knew we’d be actually facing 50% rises in basic costs, energy and transportation expenses and food prices.
Last night DH and I finally came to our senses. Neither one of us have done anything wrong and we need to stop immediately blaming each other for our financial woes. We also need to stop fighting, yelling and arguing with each other. It’s the inflation, stupid! And we have to deal with it. DH is furious that he had to take on an outside job to earn money to make ends meet. And at 65 I suppose he has a right to be upset. “But you told me you wanted to work till you turn 72“, is what I reminded him of. “Well, I changed my mind” he replied. I know DH for forty years and of those forty years he could NEVER hold down a 9 to 5 job. That’s not who he is and that’s not what he can do. Thankfully he lasted 12 years with Walt Disney Imagineering but that was a fun, challenging job that he loved because they allowed him to be his creative self. He didn’t punch a time clock and he didn’t have to ask anyone for permission to use the bathroom. Thankfully, he qualified for a Disney Pension and that has made all the difference in our retirement journey.
He’s only been on this job for 4 days and he’s already contemplating calling in sick. His last job that he held last month only lasted 3 days before he quit. They made him carry oversized, overweighted packages and with his heart problems, he just can’t do that. Ditto for his current job. The once mighty macho guy that he used to be can not cut it in today’s workplace. Period. When he’s self-employed, he has a team to do the heavy lifting. But that ship has sailed.
I told DH to do whatever he felt comfortable doing. We still have assets and can make several financial moves to balance out our new reality budget. We’ve always been exploring selling our home and moving to a less expensive area but even Florida is putting in humanless toll booths and their cost-of-living expenses are on the rise. Once DH and I calculate the numbers it always comes back to there’s no place like our home already for affordable living. So, we stay put. Plus, despite the saving costs, it’s cheaper to pay the $19 toll to visit with our daughters than purchase two round-trip airplane tickets.
We’re choosing to fight back when it comes to inflation. Within reason, of course. This isn’t our first rodeo. We’ve been through the super high inflationary era back in the 1970s and 1980s. And we’ve also been through the Stock Market crash of 1987, the Dot Com disaster of 2000-2001, the Great Recession of 2008 and now the Great Inflation/Pandemic of 2021. And should all of this result in the Greatest Depression of 2022, we’ll be ready.
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