The economy situation is starting to hit a lot of us pretty hard. Life’s expenses are going up all around us yet often our salaries are not – especially for us older folks where companies often choose to invest more in their younger generations instead of their older more seasoned crew that are nearing retirement. It’s sad, but often true. And while disparity and discrimination exists still in our world today, the real topic today in the blog is that what once was easily covered in the budget is now more than a stretch for many. And it’s expected to get much worse.
In our case we have invested some, but we don’t want to take it out to use on every day expenses as we are saving what we have for retirement and it penalizes you when you take it out. And even that is in jeopardy with the investments tanking. Based on that I’ve decided to be a little more frugal this year.
Let’s Start with What I Am Not Willing to Scrimp On
I do not want to scrimp on family time and vacations as that is when we see our family. That is not to say we can’t cut back some – but I don’t want to dwindle our fun experiences and adventures together. I don’t want to scrimp on our hobbies either except where it becomes unreasonably over the top as those things make our lives more bearable in this busy rat race we find ourselves in. I don’t want to completely STOP going out to eat. I don’t want to STOP upgrading our house projects because I think it will harm us in the end, like it did the last house (let’s try to forget I said that), if we don’t keep it up. And I’m not willing to stop buying vitamin supplements that seem to help.
Where Do We Spend Our Money?
I think you have to know where it goes before you can know where to cut back. Now George does the finances, so he’d likely have the more accurate picture but I’m doing the blog entry and he’s back there reading, so here’s where I see us going For us, here is where I see us going haywire:
- Groceries (We’ve been eating whatever we wanted when we wanted).
- Amazon (They love us so much they built a distribution center here just for us, lol)
- Eating out (We be the big time foodies!)
- Wine (It helps, and it’s good -what can I say).
- Subscriptions for apps, programs, streaming, music, shows, hobbies, etc.
- Cell (Oh we just went ahead and maxed it out so we wouldn’t have to worry about going over).
- Cable/Internet (we trimmed this down already last year)
- Gas (We both have jobs out of town)
- Holidays (We are Santa – did you know that? He really lives here and not the North Pole.)
- Special Occasions (Anything goes – we celebrate birthdays all month long, lol)
- Travel. (If you buy it on vacation it’s ok b/c we are on vacation- ok 4 more blouses for Sonya because “hey that’s cute and we don’t have that back home” and “I don’t get to shop when I’m not on vacation so….”)
- Vitamin Supplements (We are 60+ now and it’s a must!)
Ideas for Cutting Some Corners
Just in doing some brain storming, I’ve come up with a few possibilities. Let me know in the comments below if you think of any others. There’s also the element of time vs. money that has to be considered on some of these.
- Quit buying so much food. We have a lot in our freezer and pantry already. That said there are some repeat products I use over and over like eggs, apple sauce, popcorn, frozen quick lunches – and things I take to work on a regular basis for a quick meal. But we can definitely improve here.
- Price check. Don’t just assume that because you “prime it” that it’s cheaper. Don’t just buy from that certain on line prime favorite if it’s a lot cheaper somewhere else and you have the time. Example: We were spending a fortune on large dog pee pads via Amazon and we have slashed our costs by about 35 -40% because Tractor Supply rocks the price! It’s enough to make us drive over and pick it up!
- Watch your free shipping costs and make sure it’s not upping the costs of the products themselves! If you have a deal on the shipping, are you paying more for the products to get it? Good question. Go find out!
- Thrift Stores. I plan to do more sale shopping, thrifting, and just checking things out. It’ll take more time to find bargains and I may have to eat this one if say…I need a new pair of black pants like right now – but things like jeans, tees, household decor, and even random nice things to wear to work – we have some nice consignment places and even some of the main retail places have good sale items. I used to do this all the time til we got busy! I may have to revisit this and schedule more shopping time.
- Less eating out. I’ve already stopped eating out at work. Mainly from a time standpoint when it comes to work. I’d rather leave earlier in the day and spend the time. But now because of the costs, it just reinforces that decision and is worth mentioning. I can’t say that I won’t go out and hit the dollar menu at Taco Bell one day when I need to get OUT.
- When you do eat out, choose more budget friendly.
- If you do pick a nicer place to eat you can certainly forgo some of the courses and drinks. For example, we all know how much you can save by not ordering the appetizer, drinks, and desserts. Decide ahead of time what is important. Sometimes it just serves my psyche well to order a glass of wine, but forego the appetizer or dessert.
- Check the menu and prices ahead of time when eating out. I’m often happy with something that is 12.99 versus something that is 39.99. If it’s not our anniversary or someone’s birthday – maybe we should opt for something lesser on the menu? I know I know, sometimes healthier is more expensive. This is not a definitive – just an idea.
- Consider ceasing food delivery services, or food prep services. I have had food delivered at times when I was extremely busy or it was extremely inconvenient to do so. But it is very costly and adds up. We do Hello Fresh where the food ingredients are prepped for you and you cook the meal yourself. It’s cheaper than eating out but it’s still more than eating at home. This is one way we can slash our budget and I think we are teetering on this decision right now. We definitely cut our 3 nights back to 2 nights.
- Checking prices and being picky at the store. I’m looking at prices more often now instead of the brands I love. I used to just grab and go, but these days I’m rewarding the brand that has the cheaper price unless it’s just not a good product. The cheaper product gets the vote so that the highest loses market share. If we all did that we’d bring the prices down a bit.
- Publix BOGOs. I’m considering doing the BOGO shopping again. I quit because of time. But I may have to start paying attention to it again.
- Couponing. If this is your thing, go for it. I used to do it all the time. It really takes an investment in time to be savvy with it. That said, I don’t mind looking at the Kroger coupons that come in the mail. But I cannot stand the online couponing. I recently spent lots of precious time doing the Kroger coupling clipping on their app only to find that the app would not take my receipt. I tried once. It wasn’t worth investing any more time to see why. I don’t have time to sit around and troubleshoot things like that. If it didn’t work as promised the first time. I’m done. If you have done this, I’m curious of your experience. I also don’t have time to plan coupons and plan my shopping around them. So this doesn’t work well for me.
- Improvise ingredients in recipes. Do you really need the pecans in those brownies or the pine nuts in the spinach dish? You can really cut out a few things if you are willing to compromise on some of the ingredients.
- Make more dishes on the weekends and freeze for lunches to take to work. I am hoping to have time for this. If not I won’t be able but it is on the list. Same thing for making tea and taking that in containers to work. I love tea but even a small individual bottle of tea is what a big one used to be. Again, this is going to be time vs money and which is more valuable at the time, or just drink water instead of tea, lol.
- Consider budgeting if not already.
- Paying off any debt – check out Dave Ramsey’s approach.
- Save up for it before just buying it/charging it.
Well these are some ways that I’ve brainstormed. Let me know what you are doing these days or what you plan to do in 2023 to offset rising prices. Let’s learn from each other.