What The Heck Are We Spending Our Money On?

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.




  1. Good morning,

    Your plan sounds workable unless your husband has a relapse. Holidays are expensive, but a joy to have. Being surrounded by family having special treats delight me. Many people create a special fund for them so they have the extra money on hand. I do that with having a Christmas savings at our local creadit union. This may not work for you.

    I just got back from my bike ride up river. I was able to get in almost 10 miles. With a south wind going north was easy. When I turned around my thighs got a workout. Of course I do not have breathing problems, just a very bad knee. I cannot walk easily anymore. If I have to go up hill, I get out and walk my bike. The bike is like my cane.

    One of the joys of all the cooking at Easter is the leftovers. Ham, scalloped potatoes, green bean casserole and French Silk pie are in the frig. Our son’s family brought over the ham and made the French Silk pie. He is teaching the grandchildren to cook. Our stepgrandson loves ham. He is going through a growth spurt. No egg hunt this year as the three are too old, but they got baskets filled with treats of bubbles, balls and candy.

    I was able to get out my good china and pink crystal glassware I got from my grandmother. I used my mother’s sterling. The table and chairs came from my sister in law’s basement. We were surrounded by family, though they were not all were with us.

    This winter has been a bear, but now the spring flowers are blooming up a storm in Northern Illinois. Today I biked early, ahead of the strong winds. Tomorrow, with our weather is so changeable, I may not be able to do it.

    I appreciate your candid approach to your spending and saving. You do a very good job!



    • Sue, your Easter sounded wonderful. Lucky you for being so blessed. We did the egg hunt here, visiting the Easter Bunny and a local farm here was giving away free pony rides to the kids. Don’t get me wrong. We had fun. But with each passing year, it’s getting harder for me to smile through the days, if you know what I mean.
      I have a wonderful set of my mother’s Lenox dinnerware set. It has been sitting in my hutch for the past 18 years. We’ve never used it. Each year when I think of using it, the work entailed to get it up and ready, washed and cleaned, changes my mind. We keep using my everyday serving set for 6. Next year I’m getting paper plates!!!
      I go bike riding too. Currently I have a Schwinn with the straw basket on the front. It’s a bit heavy for me now so I’m going to sell it this spring and get a lighter model. Hubby and I like to bike ride while we’re down in Florida. No hills there! Where we live is very, very hilly and mountainous, so it’s a no go.
      Thank you so much for your comment and to sharing a piece of your life with me. I appreciate it. 🙂


  2. The bottom line, Cindi, is things are just a lot more expensive – inflation is getting out of control – need to raise interest rates to offset this inflation – if not, it will continue – So for us retirees (in mid 70’s) who are in good financial shape , we will weather these increases by decreasing unnecessary luxuries. You have to live and there is only so much cutting back you can do – You manage your money well – seem to enjoy your life – don’t worry so much – life is short – my Mom saved all her life and now all her money is going (quickly) for her care – (dementia) – so we never know what is around the corner – enjoy everyday. Take care, Mary Ellen


    • Hi Mary Ellen. I agree with you. Prices are just way out of control. We just bought some touch up paint for our kitchen. I couldn’t get over that we had to pay $11.68 for a quart of paint! Meanwhile, when we first painted our kitchen, a gallon cost only $18. Everything is so precious.
      You’re very right about cutting back on ‘luxuries’ while we weather these increases. I’m feeling a bit sorry for myself because I’m not liking doing the cutbacks. We won’t be going out for any more meals, I’m sure. Even McDonald’s is super expensive!
      I worry about my husband’s health. That’s why I won’t touch our savings because I may need every dollar for his medical care.
      My friend needs some web work and social media updates done and has offered to pay me for her services. I’m taking her up on it because every little bit will help. Who knew???
      Thank you so much for your comment and kind words. 🙂


  3. I agree with Mary Ellen on life is short. You do a good job of pulling strings when/where you have to, Cindi. My in-laws were extremely cheap people, I mean it was ridiculous. When they both died a few years back (within 3 mos of each other) my husband comes to find out they had over $6MILLION dollars in their estate! I mean how sad is that? She would tie a rubber band around her shoe because the bottom was falling off – and here they had all this money! What was the point of it? They could have taken the whole family on a memorable vacation. They could have redone their whole house (less than 1,000 sq.ft.) – trust me, it needed it! Never bought a new car. It was just ridiculous & very sad. I say spend your money while you can on things that make you happy (within reason – we aren’t extravagant people at all!). While we don’t have kids, we’re helping the nieces/nephews pay for college so they don’t come out with enormous debt. We are taking them on a vacation to the beach for their belated Christmas present (no more crap – my lord kids have so much crap these days, I just could not contribute more to that pile!). I guess I’m more towards the practical, as you seem to be. The grandkids don’t need more “stuff” – they need your time, make memories with them. Same with your girls. You really don’t have to spend gads of money on someone – because truly, your time is priceless. Glad hubby can work an extra day to help until he starts receiving SS. As long as he’s not “stressing” – sounds like he’ll be OK.


    • Hi Sue. That is so horrible about your in-laws. Oh my goodness. Sad.
      I try to have a good balance between spending and not spending. I hope I know when to enjoy life and when to bring in the reins. I took my whole family to Italy for a 15 day world wind vacation! I paid for everything except souvenirs. I also took my daughter to Paris. Ooh la la!
      Deep down I know we’re going to be alright because I have proved it over and over again that I am very creative! I would rather err, however, on the cautious side. Life is short but retirement is long too!
      Yup hubby can work a bit more and so can I. There’s some computer work I can pick up. The extra money sure does come in handy!
      Thanks for your comment. I appreciate you sharing your story. We all learn from each other!


  4. Hi Cindi, IMHO having follow you for at least seven-eight years starting with Thrifty at Sixty blog, I think your review of your credit purchases shows one thing . That is your future non-recurring expenses (not wants) needs to be a part of your budget mindset when you get extra income. I chose when I was budgeting religiously to have an emergency fund and a long term needs fund. When you get extra money you seem to splurge more when perhaps it needs to be 75% geared to future necessary expenses for awhile to build up a reserve for the next three years. The one big thing I did to increase my income was to Optimize what my savings makes. I chose this instead of work because I like not having to work. It will be a year at the end of May that I prioritize this and I will be reviewing and possibly revising my strategy then. Sincerely, Lara


    • Mainly Inflation for necessities cause me to up my game and knowing that I would need some major money to address more of the damage from the tornado and home maintenance. At the end of May most of the added income will be used so I will be back to square one. Lara


      • There’s no doubt that you are a big inspiration on me I’m looking at different income streams now. And lastly, I have come to the decision that I need to put more money away in our savings. I just transfered $250. It’s a start.in addition to the $3400 I socked away. I cancelled some purchases. The last two weeks we are in Florida, we’ll be staying at my sister’s. I’m not paying those two weeks at another RV site. Storage will be $30 a week vs a day. So, another savings there.


    • You’re right, Lara. I have come to the same conclusion. I always admitted to being a spender. A frugal spender, yes, but a spender no less. I’m in the pangs of what it is going to feel like to be 100% totally depended upon passive/fixed income and I am NOT liking it. Nonetheless, I have come to the conclusion that I have to deal with it now. The big problem now is that neither I nor Nick are brave enough to sell our home and move. Twice burned, we’re not looking for a 3rd time. This changes everything because most of our money is tied up in this house. We can’t eat the house. We’ve sat down and figured out we will need a new boiler in 5 years, a new roof in 10, plus we’ll go down to one car but it will have to be purchased, in cash and be a more recent model. That’s putting a strain on us.
      I keep running ‘what’ if’s’ Anyway, we don’t have to make a decision for three years but I am flabberghasted that I have come to the realization that I just don’t want to move anymore. I don’t want to take the chance nor do I want to start over in a new neighborhood.
      We”ll see.
      Knowing me, I’ll find this great home on the seashore and sell in a microsecond. LOL.
      In the interim, my friend needs a computer gal and I’m doing the work and making a stripend. I’m using that money to get the extra things I need and want without touching our bottom line. UGH!


  5. I am glad I give you inspiration.
    Your last statement of using all of the added income for current needs and wants bothers me because it’s your short term spend mindset. I think you need to start thinking of 25% or more of everything made extra goes for future needs and isn’t available to spend and set it aside in a separate high paying money market. When you are done with the RV payments try to save that for those future needs that are worrying you. You seem to get into another zero interest loan so quickly after paying off one of your large monthly payment or take a more expensive vacation eating out more and this keeps you on the tight budget treadmill.
    Everyone knows there will be future replacement needs like the boiler or a car but no one knows exactly when. I am seriously considering my friends mindset of having a home equity line established now which can be drawn on for ten years if it is needed easily. I will only use it as a last resort if it is for a need not a want.it Also frees me up to maybe move to another home closer to my kids.My Premier Honor relationship with Bank of America/ Merrill gets the home equity line discounted and no origination cost.
    On your review Of Aldi’s increase charge you started using Aldi for almost all of your groceries so I would probably look at total cost. Lara


    • Lara, I updated what I set aside, but didn’t tell you. I put the $250 plus Nick’s $3400 into ourhigh interest (Federal Bonds) money market paying 2% interest PLUS a monthly dividend which comes in handy. This is my cash everyday needed fund. I have two CD’s coming due this summer. Those I am rolling over into another high paying FDIC insured Roth IRA CDs, but laddering them. One for 1 yr. The other for 2 yrs since that’s my time horizon.
      I think I’m doing extremely well curtailing the vacation plans. I had no qualms cutting Las Vegas or switching over to national & state parks for our RV travel. I saved that $3400 we might have spent on Vegas and banked the money instead. The state parks only charge between $24 and $30 a night. Way better than the $100 a nite commercial RV parks have been getting lately. The competition for the Nat’l/state parks is keen. I have to set my alarm and try to get a reservation in by 8AM. By 8:01AM most of the good spots are gone.
      FYI: we’re spending a whole week at the Outerbank beaches in NC the week BEFORE Labor Day. I scored a site for only $17! It only has electricity but we can safely handle the rest. We’re right on the beach! Woo hoo. Super excited about that!
      What I am having great difficulty with is no longer going out to eat. Restaurant meals are practically nil now. This one is a tough one for me. But I’m doing it. Today I had the urge to have a coffee out BUT I waited till I got home and warmed up a cup from this morning.
      In other words, I’m doing it BUT this last one has been very, very hard.
      Yes, I constantly have a zero interest loan to pay off one right after the other. I set aside a certain budget amount specifically each month to pay off any zero loans we take out for expensive items, such as the appliances and the tires. I don’t consider a zero interest loan a problem. It helps my bottom line. It’s easier to pay $122 for 5 months, which is covered by my SS check, that to tap into our savings and pull out the full $612 or whatever it was.
      So, the expensive vacations are over. Ditto for the expensive meals out. I’m trying to adjust to the new me. And to face my new financial reality better. This is what our retirement lives would be like when we finally go on a fixed income. I have to get used to the new reality. Because Nick told me he doesn’t want to work anymore. Not even the one or two days a month. He’s had it also.
      My girlfriend has some computer work for me, setting up a web site and social media for her new business. She pays me well and on time, so I am taking her up on her offer. It’ll be good for me because I have to learn new skills and I am def up for the part!
      We thought about an equity line of credit but I’m not sure. I’m looking in to the new reverse mortgages but I wouldn’t take one out for another 10 years or so. Looks like my youngest daughter is going to inherit this house. I’m hoping she buys it out from us instead and has our barn remodeled for livable space. Nick built it to be an apartment one day. Perhaps that day has finally come! Nick and I can live in the barn and my daughter and her family get the house. We’ll all be on the same acreage together but apart. Finger crossed.


    • PS: what I can’t get used to is that there is no room right now for extras. That’s really bothering me because I like to do a lot of things that cost money. Once Nick collects his own SS in less than 3 years, things will vastly improve financially. But until then, it’s a struggle. I admit it.
      I guess I’m just venting. I know I’ll be fine soon, as I always find another way through the maze, like those Natl/State parks! What a lifesaver!
      OK. Rant over. Thanks for listening.


  6. I found your blog and I have enjoyed reading it. I am still working at age 59 but I am probably going to retire at 62 or maybe at 65, it really depends on my finances, the economy, etc. Everything is so expensive!


    • Hi Cindy In The South! I’m Cindi In The North! LOL. Yes, everything is very expensive. I don’t think it has to do with inflation. It’s just all crazy lately. Hang in there. Hopefully things will calm down and we can figure this all out. Thanks for stopping by and I appreciate your comment!


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