Since we switched from airline mile charge cards to cashback charge cards I’ve noticed a difference in our spending habits. I thought we’d be spending less since I had gotten most of our financial matters under control. Instead, it feels like we are spending more. Is that because subconsciously we are thinking if we spend more we’ll get more cash back?
When I mentioned this to hubby, a semi-sort-of-loud discussion ensued with each one of us pointing the spending finger at each other. “You overspend”! “No! YOU overspend!”
Now that the month of March is over, I printed out the credit card’s transaction list and started going through each expenditure line by line. We used to spend $60 a week at Aldi grocery shopping. Now? We’re spending more than twice that @$130 or so. Are we eating more? It doesn’t feel like it. This is an easy cutback. Next I noticed a few car maintenance items, the largest one being tires for hubby’s car @$612. That’s a much-needed expense AND I was able to space out the money owed into 6 easy installments at zero percent. So, that’s not the problem.
There were only two times we ate out. The worst one was dinner at a Greek restaurant that I knew was going to be expensive and NOT good for our budget but I caved in anyway. That totaled to $45. Gulp. The other time was just a simple soup & salad take-out @$10.47. Hubby spent $130 on some ham radio upgrade. We discussed it beforehand but I wasn’t fully aware of the pricing. Did hubby omit that part on purpose? Then there was the $79 I spent on a pair of bifocal sunglass lenses ((I already owned the frame). That’s a medical necessity. New shoes for hubby @$72. A new bathing suit for me @$32. A few shopping sprints to Wal Mart @$79 each. Several gas fill-ups. Several stop-offs at the gourmet grocery store. A delivery of propane @$261. RV Club renewal @$30.
Well, are you starting to see the picture here? Neither hubby nor I were spending foolishly. This was just pure every day life. We were spending money on things we needed. Not wanted. And our needs were costing us money.
What to do? How to solve?
Our solution is probably one that not too many retirees can do. There really wasn’t much we could cut back on. Did we really NOT want to ever have dinner out during the month? Did we really want to have dinner at a fast food joint instead? Did we really want to curtail our food intake? Did we want to go without new shoes, bifocals, heat, gas for the car or necessary new tires? Should hubby give up his one and only ham radio hobby? Should I stay home and not swim at the neighborhood indoor heated pool and not care about my physical well being?
So, what did we do? How did we solve this spending ‘problem’?
We either have to cut back on our expenses or make more money. We chose the latter. I told hubby he needs to work another day per month to help pick up the financial slack. (Hubby now works two days a month vs one day a month). That’s how some retirees solve their financial problems. They work. Personally, with hubby’s questionable health, it’s not that advisable for him to work long or hard. But for a day or two per month, in sheer project management mode (where his brain does the work, not his brawn) I think this is the best solution for us. For now. Once hubby officially retires and collects Social Security, things will improve substantially.
Till then, we work.