saving money, Spending, Using cash

6 Reasons I’m Switching to Cash. (even during the pandemic.)

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Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

I’ve written about using cash in the past, and most recently how I won’t be using it during the pandemic.  However,  I’ve changed my mind, and here’s why.

  1. It will lower my food bill.  My food bill was reaching all-time highs — upwards of $800-900 a month.  Not acceptable for 3 adults. Now that I’m shopping for food myself and use only cash, I will have a better chance of not overspending.
  2. It will help me lose weight(I know this is a stretch) This goes with #1.  There is an interesting phenomenon that has happened during this pandemic,  Something called the Quarantine 10, 15 or 20. (I fall under the 10 range).   We should be eating less, right? Instead, I am overindulging on food and it’s showing up on my waist.  If I have a limited amount of cash, I’ll make sure I have enough of the right foods (i.e. fruits, vegetables, meat) before I pick up the Coke, Hershey Kisses, beer, wine, chips, pretzels… You get my drift.
  3. I don’t have to track it on my credit card.  Although I get cash rewards with my Chase Blue card, I end up spending a bit more than I would normally.  Although I’ll still use it, I will use it much less.
  4. It will delay gratification.  I grapple with impulse purchases, especially online.  If I use only cash, I won’t be able to indulge my impulse whims.  Or, if I do, I know that it was budgeted for, and no guilt will be involved.
  5. It’ll keep me away from online spending.  Let’s be honest.  Online spending is so darn easy.  Although it was necessary during the pandemic, stores have opened.  Using cash will decrease my online spending by a lot.  Just sayin… 😉
  6. Ultimately, I’ll have more money to save.  Reaching my retirement savings goals sooner is the best reason of all. 🙂

Are you using cash?

Budgeting, saving money, SAVINGS

February’s Review & Savings.

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Photo by Oleg Magni on Pexels.com

February was a high income month for us as we received a nice tidy sum from Uncle Sam for our tax returns. I was able to fund a spousal IRA with the proceeds.

This month I also continued to see how I could lower my fixed expenses.  After a couple of phone calls, I was able to lower my homeowner’s and car insurance policies by $200.00.  I also received Chase Rewards and Rakuten (formerly Ebates) for a total of $100.00.

However, February was not without its challenges.  We had some pretty hefty bills.

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Some health issues reared their ugly heads which came to some big bills.  CT scans, new crowns, fillings and a tooth pulled, numerous doctors visits…. It all adds up.  Thankfully we had the money in our Health Savings Account to cover them.

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Our final payment for our 25th wedding anniversary trip in May was due this month to the tune of $3,500.  We are heading to Seattle/Alaska/Las Vegas!!  I had the money already saved, so I was all set there.  Fingers crossed we’ll be able to go.  It seems the west coast is experiencing the start of the Coronavirus.

Which brings me to our next large expense.

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Photo by Oleg Magni on Pexels.com

I told myself to stay calm and even wrote a blog post about it.   I thought I was calm until I saw the end result of what I purchased from Amazon, Aldi, Trader Joe’s and BJ’s.  After stocking up on food, medicines, personal care and household supplies, I ended up spending a whopping $1,000! What the heck? How calm is that???

But the good news is that I’m pretty sure I won’t have to buy another bar of soap, shampoo, conditioner, garbage bags, toilet paper, tissues or cleaning supplies for two years and of course we’ll be able to eat for two -three months without stepping into a grocery store. 😉

Even with all those expenses, it was a good savings month. I was able to send $4,230 to an IRA (thank you tax return!), $1,200 to personal savings and $250 extra to the mortgage.

Total Savings for February:  $5,680!  I’m very pleased with the result.

How was your February?

 

 

Retirement, saving money

Seriously. What took me so long?

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Procrastination.  It can be a true enemy to your financial life.  I procrastinated for many years by not looking at my fixed costs more closely.  Fixed are fixed, right?  Wrong.  And it cost me.  Big.  $3,240 to be exact.

I’ve been on a kick to save as much money as possible, as my desire to retire early is lighting a fire under my butt to get it done.  So, I’ve been looking at ways to lower our monthly bills which will allow more money to be saved.   In the last 30 days, I reviewed my fixed expenses, which included insurance policies, cable bills, cell phone bills, electric bills, water bills, and natural gas bills. The results were eye opening.

This is how I found more than $3,000 in savings:

INSURANCE

Homeowners.  I was being overcharged for home insurance by $400 a year.  They had an enormous replacement value on my home because they had in their records 1000 more square feet than its actual size.  If I had really read the insurance papers last June, I would have noticed it sooner.  I’d love to blame them for incompetency, but this one is on me.

Car InsuranceNot much to change here, but I did find an overcharge on my car for $80 a year.  $80 is $80, right?

CELL PHONE/CABLE

Our service provider changed it’s policies so I was able to get out of a cable contract that I had with no penalty.  I capitalized on this recently, and documented it here.   I also took advantage of internet/cell phone bonus and got 1 GBT internet and unlimited data for my cell phones .  This is where I saw the most savings, about $2,000 a year.   I am MOST happy about this change. 🙂

A side note:  If you are financing your phone through your cell phone bill, it’s not a utility bill, it’s DEBT.  It took me YEARS to realize this.  I’m glad we own all of our phones, and no longer finance them.

UTILITY BILLS

GAS & Electric:.  This should have been done YEARS ago, but I finally changed all of my lightbulbs to LEDs.  I’ve also lowered the temp to 68 degrees, lowered the hot water heater to 120 degrees, turned off the garage refrigerator, and started sealing up the windows.  I have yet to get the new bills with these changes, but based on the wattage usage, I should save $25-40/mos. just by unplugging the garage refrigerator.   By lowering the heat and hot water heater, I should be able to save another $20 a month.  Total savings for the year: $720.00.

Water/Sewer Bill: I changed out shower heads to get a slower flow, as well as other faucets.  The water bill has always been an issue, so I’m making a conscious effort to use less.  I am taking fewer baths, and shorter showers.  Hopefully small changes will add up to big savings.  I’ll keep you posted on this one.

I’ve realized, finally, that fixed bills don’t have to be ‘fixed’.  There are ways to save money.  And I have $3,000 more to prove it.  So, not only do I have $3,000 more in savings, but I have $3,000 less to come up with when I retire.  A win-win for sure.

If you have ways you save on your fixed expenses, please share!

 

 

 

saving money, Spending Freeze

Gearing up for a 3-mos Spending Freeze

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Photo by Pixabay

How does one save a bunch of money really fast?  Don’t spend any!

I’ve been revisiting the idea of a spending freeze. I did a successful one for the month of February several years ago. And I saved a bit of money.  But as I was perusing the internet, I found one person doing an arbitrary 4-month spending freeze. Hmmm.  If I want to save a lot of money fast, why not do more than a month, perhaps a 3-month spending freeze?

We are about to enter my least favorite months of the year Jan/Feb/Mar- which I affectionately call winter suck.  Why not do something productive to get ready for spring?

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Photo by Pixabay

This spending freeze will be about giving up wants.  After all, I’m already living with abundance and more than enough.  I certainly can go for 90 days without purchasing any more.

THE RULES:

The following items are off limits for 90 days: (Every one of these items is a trigger for me.)

  • Clothes, shoes
  • Books, cds, dvds
  • Household decor
  • Wine (I may or may not stock up in December)
  • K-cups
  • Purses/wallets
  • Jewelry/clothing accessories
  • Planners, stickers, pens (yes, they are a thing)
  • Trips (other than NY to see my parents)
  • Eating out
  • Travel items/accessories
  • Manicures/Pedicures
  • No online spending (unless it can’t be purchased in a brick/mortar store)

Things I can spend money on:

  • Groceries (within a budget of $100/week)
  • Medications/Medicine/Drs. appts.
  • Anything that Ben (my sweet, sweet boy) needs
  • Replacement products (i.e. toothpaste, toilet paper, shampoo, conditioner, make up) * Find the cheapest way to replace through coupons, sales
  • Bills (utilities, mortgage, etc.)
  • Gasoline (but only one fill up a month for me)
  • EZ Pass for my husband to go to work
  • Date night (2x) No need to punish my sweet husband. 🙂
  • Travel to my parents in NY (a necessity)
  • Gifts (3 to be exact – 2 birthdays and an anniversary)
  • Hair cut and color 1x (absolutely, positively necessary.)

If anything else should come up that I didn’t account for, I will update this list.  In the meantime, I will work on coming up with at least 100 things to do for free to keep me from spending.

This freeze will officially start January 1st.

I’m actually excited.  A challenge that will bear fruit at the end.  Money fruit, that is. 😉

Anyone with me?

Retirement Journey, saving money

Retirement Series: Our current savings.

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Photo by energepic.com

After posting about our expenses, the next retirement nut to crack is savings.  Do we have enough?

Ah.  The million dollar question.  Literally.

We used  NewRetirement, a free retirement planning tool to figure out if we were on the right track for retirement.  After inputting all of our financial information, and with the assumption that we will continue to contribute the maximum to our retirement account over the next four years, we come out with a ‘great’ score for retirement in 4 years.

 

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Our net worth includes retirement accounts, home equity and cash savings.  This program also included our mortgage and healthcare expenses, so if we wanted to, based on the above, we could stay in our home.

Thankfully, we have weathered the stormy markets and have come out ahead.  We are more conservative investors, and have rarely averaged a 12% return in a years’ time.  Our average is closer to 8%.  But we still managed to hit the $1M mark.  After 35 years of saving in our retirement accounts, we are finally seeing the fruits of our labor. 😉

What I LOVE so much about the New Retirement site and the chart they provide, is that it lets you know when your social security starts and when you need to take RMDs (required minimum distributions) from your retirement accounts.  It also assumes a 2-3% investment growth, which, to me, is very realistic.

So, do we have enough to cover our expenses and retire in 4 years?  I believe we do.

I will follow this post up with a future post on how we managed to accumulate $1.7M in net worth.  But for now, know that it took hard work, steady investing and a bit of luck.  No inheritance.  No rich relatives.

How are you doing in retirement savings?