It is with a heavy heart that I have come to the final awakening that these high prices many of us have had to endure lately, will be here to stay. According to the many reports I have been following lately (click here) Inflation is pushing prices higher and higher, and some of those costs may never come back down to the levels Americans were accustomed to before the pandemic. The people being hit the hardest are folks such as myself: retired and on a fixed income of about $40,000 a year. Granted yes, we used to live on $25K a year, then $30K a year till we hit a high of $35K. I thought we had our retirement made at $40K. Then the pandemic came along, as well as a new administration with new greener laws and our whole economy, as we used to know, came tumbling down. With no end in sight. I suppose the final nail in the coffin is the Ukraine/Russia war. I know things can get a whole lot worse, but I’ve got some real live living readjustments to do if I intend to maintain any semblance of financial order in my quality of life.

We all know that our current rate of inflation is NOT 8.5%. When you go back to the original CPI of how the government calculated the cost of living back in the 1970s (when they included food, energy and fuel) our current rate of inflation now is probably 17%. And rising. The inflationary moment we’re in right now won’t last forever. But the good old days of cheap goods, and even cheaper services, may be long gone.

The higher cost of living, (food, energy and gas) is costing most Americans more than $300 per month (click here). How does one come up with the extra $3600 needed annually just to make basic ends meet? That’s the question of the day. Not even the promise of a raise or an increase in pay can guarantee the income will match (or exceed) the expenses.

Take a look at my own budget. (I close out the month on the 19th):

My monthly limit for the categories, as listed above is $1100. Thanks to the higher costs I am paying for food ($800 vs $450), gas ($250 vs $150) clothes ($70 vs $10) and repairs and maintenance ($374 vs $150) I am $514 over my monthly limit ($1614 vs $1100). I’ve completely eliminated eating out or take-away, all travel and entertainment (no streaming!) and have switched to odd lot and consignment stores for most other expenses and still it’s NOT balancing out! I make up the difference from my savings investment (but it pays a measly 3%, so technically I’m losing money)

The other day I wanted to cook up a batch of turkey chili. Unbeknownst to me, while I was away visiting my sister in Florida for two weeks, my husband ate every single meat in sight without notating it. The only chopped turkey I had in my freezer was the cheap roll type we get for the dog. Of course, it’s fit for human consumption but we prefer to purchase this low grade of chopped turkey for our dog. We mix it in her kibble. Anyway, I made the turkey chili using this roll type meat and when it came time for me to eat it, I choked. It was disgusting. Plus, psychologically I couldn’t eat it because in my mind it was technically dog food. There I was, an elderly senior citizen and I was eating dog food just like the old people did back in the 1970s!!!! How did this happen to me? Thankfully, I had the money to run right out to the store and stock up on meats and refill our freezer. Damm the dire costs! (and thus why my grocery category for the month of April is sky high!) I had to re-stock our freezer.

The biggest adjustment we have made to our expenses has been the elimination of most travel and vacations. We used to go away a lot in our RV but due to the high cost of fuel and the higher increases in booking full hook up sites we have narrowed our travel destinations to just one site, once a year. That would be wintering in Florida. That’s our priority. That’s mainly the sole reason why we bought our RV in the first place. To winter in Florida. I’ve already booked a 3 month stay for January, February and March 2023 and the resort ground offers storage @$35 to $55 a month and I think we are going to leave the rig there when not in use. The savings on gas and overnighters back and forth makes it all doable.

Lastly, my husband has returned to work. He (nor I) really had a choice. Three of his clients are back and there is no way in hell hubby is going to turn down work. He raised his price a bit to compensate for the higher fuel and toll costs. We’re still sticking to our original budget BUT I am saving every last penny he earns in a money market account to prepare for any future increases in our costs of living. Hubby packs a lunch and snack every day (he works 3 to 4 days a week). He also brings along a coffee thermos. We’re not deviating from our goals. We just had to re-arrange them a bit. I’ve eliminated as much as I could off our expenses. I’ve either substituted or did without. All we care about is maintaining our four walls: home, energy, food, vehicles (the last two visits however, to Goodwill caused us to throw the duds in the trash. pure junk! we clothes shop at Odd Lot now). We have a ROKU as our free streaming device. We’re almost done paying off our pellet stove (we already paid off the new couch). We take out at least one zero interest loan per year to pay for one big ticket item. Hubby’s 21 year old riding lawn mower has finally hit the point of no return. Tomorrow our brand new Cub Cadet riding lawn mower will be delivered. That’ll be at least a two year zero interest loan we need to pay off. And then after that, I’ll need a new computer. Mine is already seven years old and as slow as molasses.

It’s always something, isn’t it?

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