It’s only June 14th, the middle of the month, and I am already over budget on most of my variable spending costs by $640.96. Most of my monthly expenses remain the same, such as utilities, internet, sanitation etc. The variables, such as food, gas, medical needs, clothing, entertainment and meals out, however, fluctuate, so I need to watch these closely. I set up a panel in Excel, with an estimated expectation of costs for the month listed on top, with the actual expenditures listed at the bottom of the column. As you can see from this spreadsheet, my monthly costs are estimated to be $1050 for my variables but I already spent $1690.96. I am clearly over-budget already. What’s a girl to do?
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My monthly food bill is $400. I usually hit that mark but lately I haven’t been so lucky. That’s because we want to eat better quality meats, fruits and veggies than before. I’ve decided to cease all future expenditures in this category and just start depleting what we already have in our pantry and freezer. Other than necessities such as milk, salad and bread, I don’t see us spending more than $50 more in this category for the rest of the month.
One of the biggest expenditures we spent this month so far was for propane. That’s how we heat our hot water and the home. The price of a gallon of propane has skyrocketed. So, I’m cutting back on baths (to no more than one a week) and we use an electric heater on those chilly nights (electricity here is cheaper than propane).
We usually buy our grain-free dog food at Aldi, but its been discontinued. That means we have to pay more for the same product somewhere else. It’s a non-negotiable item. We just have to pay, so I will need to up that category to $30 from $25.
Gas prices have gone up to over $3.00 a gallon here. To adjust, we stopped using our gas-guzzling car (Citadel-strictly used from here on in for towing the RV only) and now use our fuel-efficient car that gets 40MPG instead for everything else.
We’re almost double in our entertainment and meals-out category! One of the biggest budget buster was taking my daughter and granddaughter out for brunch @$79. Daughter was all set to pay half the bill BUT DH insisted he treat everyone. I told DH right there in the restaurant that we couldn’t afford to pick up the tab for everyone but he paid for it anyway. Not a good thing. Naturally, the future remedy for the rest of the month is no more eating out.
Repair, maintenance and runs to Wal Mart are sorta of under control now. We had a bunch of projects we wanted to accomplish this year BUT as prices started escalating (we spent $3204 so far!) we had to postpone one project, putting in an automatic generator ($2500), till next year. Combined with also doing some interior painting next year, we’ll buy and install the generator next summer.
Our medical costs and co-pays have gone up substantially and that’s all because of me. I know I’ve mentioned that I don’t like to talk about health problems but I have been very ill since February 2018. If you have been following my blog, you will know that last year, because of two very selfish and horrific neighbors, my Florida condo was engulfed almost nightly in second-hand smoke. No mater what we did, including speaking to our neighbors and contacting the Florida Board of Health, no amicable resolution could be ascertained. Three middle-of-the night trips to the ER convinced me, quite reluctantly I must add, that selling the condo was the only way out for me. My health was deteriorating, and without getting into specifics, my lungs have been greatly affected. I have been coughing steadily for five whole months! with no end in sight. I’ve been to every kind of doctor on the planet with no resolution. They can’t stop my coughing which has metastasized into variable fits of uncontrollable coughing over the many, many months I’ve been seeking treatment. I cough so strongly now that I almost always vomit up my previous meal. It’s not been a pretty picture.
Thankfully Medicare and my supplemental insurance plus Plan D RX have been covering almost everything. The newest drugs, however, are not covered. One RX cost me $51 per month and the other is $43. Combined with my other drugs and co-pays, its costing me upwards of $100 a month. Throw in DH’s heart problems and you can see where this is going: UP. This is the part they always talk about in retirement planning: rising medical costs as you age. Whatever they say, its true.
Next is our clothing category. Back in Florida we lived near a Goodwill, that was in a super rich neighborhood and the pickings were fantastic! DH and I were the best, dressed second-handers on the face of the earth. LOL! But now, back in New York, the closest Goodwill to us is in a very poor neighborhood and the pickins are very, very slim. This means that we now have to buy our clothes (gulp!) R.E.T.A.I.L. Ugh!
DH now buys his work pants at Wal Mart, for $11.97 for the Rustler brand. We couldn’t find a good deal on cargo pants anywhere. Old Navy wanted $35, and even with a 20% off coupon, we were looking at a $28 price tag! The best deal we found was back at Wal Mart for the Wrangler brand at $19.97.
DH also needed a new pair of walking shoes. We both seem to love, love, love Sketchers. We stopped at a local, discount chain DSW on Monday. DH found a pair he liked at $59.99 (that”s $60 folks). At the store we searched for the same pair online and found a better deal. I asked the cashier to match the price. She said they don’t match online stores. That’s too bad. because we found the same shoe for $44 at Zappos.com. We went home, went online and DH ordered the same exact pair and paid the $44, thus saving himself from spending $16 more! Shipping was free and by 10AM on Tuesday morning, the very next day, DH’s shoes arrived and he started wearing them immediately.
DH and I are starting to love this online shopping more and more. As long as free shipping is involved, it’s a win-win situation for us. I bought ALL my furniture and RV mattress at Wayfair.com and I couldn’t be happier with both the price and quality. Customer service is king! If shopping at online stores are going to save us money, then we will continue to do so in order to reign in costs so we can keep up with inflation.
Lastly, is our travel category. Since we are retired, we can vacation in the off-season. That means taking a vacation before July 4th and after Labor Day this year, when prices drop, which is what we will be doing this year. We’ll be enjoying staycation adventures for the months of July and August (while we save up money for the real thing).
All of the above, however, does not solve nor address our additional $640.96 in our every day costs. How are we going to solve this ‘problem’ which appears to be ongoing? Granted, yes, a few tweeks we make will lower next months outgo but what can we do immediately to pay this off when we are on a fixed income? DH made a few phone calls. Located some day work and will put in two days this month (@$350 a day) and pay off our added expenses. He said he can probably do this easily every month. For us, keeping up with inflation will be a combination of several measures:
- Reduce costs
- Increase income
- Invest wiser
- Seek alternative methods (more DIY)
- Simply do without