Budgeting, saving money, SAVINGS

February’s Review & Savings.

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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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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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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?

 

 

Florida, Retirement Journey

A Move to Florida?

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My husband and I have money meetings every Saturday morning to discuss our savings goals, plans for the year, etc.  Mostly we dream about the day my husband retires.  Today, instead of reflecting on the stock market losses, we started reflecting on our monthly expenses and how they would change if we moved to Florida.

We found this site that compares locations economically.  Here is how it came out.

Comparison Highlights:

– Overall, Northern Virginia is 48.0% more expensive than Sarasota, Florida
– Median Home Cost is the biggest factor in the cost of living difference.
– Median Home Cost is 108% more expensive in Northern Virginia.

Cost of Living Indexes Northern Virginia Florida Difference
Overall Index: Homeowner 152 102.7 48.0% less
Food & Groceries 114.1 106.5 7.1% less
Housing (Homeowner) 238.4 114.4 108.4% less
Income Taxes* (number reflective of what we will live on) $6,500 $0.00 $6,500 less
Home Price Average $515,000 $228,300 $286,700 (108.4% less)
Utilities 94.2 97.4 3.4% less
Transportation 127.6 90.0 40.4% less
Health 99.9 97.6 2.4% less
Sunny Days 199 257 58 more
Personal Property Tax 4.13 per $100 in value N/A 100% less
Miscellaneous – clothing, entertainment, etc. 114.2 101 13.1% less

100 = US Average. (Below 100 means cheaper than the US average. Above 100 means more expensive.)

Although Sarasota, FL is higher than the US average in most categories, it is lower than where we are living now.

Of course there are other factors that go into a move, but financially it appears that moving to Florida would  help our wallet. (The extra 58 days of sunshine doesn’t hurt either! 😉 )

And that’s a good thing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Emergency Preparedness

Fearful of a pandemic? 15 Ways to Prepare.

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A possible pandemic for the United States?  Don’t fear it, prepare for it.

15 Simple Tips to Help you Stay Safe and Prepare for a Possible Pandemic

  1. Keep a stash of cash in your home in case you can’t get to a bank, or ATMs are down.
  2. Create an area in your home to store extra food and supplies.
  3. Make a list of your favorite foods and non perishables and stock up.  Choose long lasting storage items such as canned fruits, veggies and meats (i.e. tuna, chicken). Have enough on hand to be able to eat for at least two weeks.  A month would be better.
  4. Don’t forget comfort items such as your favorite chocolates.  You must never run out of chocolate kisses. 😉
  5. Keep a month’s worth of bottled water in storage.
  6. Keep a 90 day supply of prescription medications.  Include over the counter medications and a first aid kit as well.
  7. Keep extra candles, flashlights and batteries on hand.
  8. Stock up on soap and hand lotion.  (You should be washing your hands more often than ever before).
  9. Stock up on Clorox, disinfecting wipes and household cleaners.
  10. Purchase N95 face masks if available.  3M is working overtime to make these, but they are currently unavailable on Amazon.
  11. Don’t forget your beloved pets!  Stock up on food and meds for them as well.
  12. Stay away from large crowds.  Go for nature walks instead.
  13. At work, keep a pack of lysol wipes at your desk.  Wash your hands before and after eating.
  14. Don’t sell stock, buy it!  If stock market is crashing, it means stocks are on sale. 😉
  15. For now, avoid overseas travel if you can.  If you must travel by plane, don’t forget to wipe down seats, trays and anything else you come in contact with.  Wash your hands as soon as you get off.

Extra tip:

  1. Above all, don’t panic.  Once you have the above in place, relax.  Wash your hands, exercise, and eat well.  The majority of the coronavirus cases had successful outcomes.  Just as most survive the flu, most are surviving this virus.  Thanks to our wonderful medical researchers and medical professionals, I believe there will be a vaccine soon to alleviate the fear soon.

Check here for more information.

Please comment if you have more ideas! 🙂

 

Gratitude

I was surprised.

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Your response to this post was most heartwarming.  I had no idea that people actually liked my posts.  I’ve received many e-mails and comments saying that they will miss this blog which surprised me.  So… I’ve decided to keep this blog up, for a bit longer, and try to come up with something to write.  I have been experimenting with saving more money in ways I should have thought of years ago.  I will share them.

If I can help even one person, then this blog site will be worth it.  Thank you to all that commented.

Stay tuned.

Uncategorized

I’m leaving this space.

In a couple of days I will be making this blog private.  Eventually, I will let go of it completely.  There is no specific reason except for the fact that I really don’t have much to write about any more on the topic of money.  We save. We spend.  Repeat.

Seriously though, I’ve been more and more discouraged by social media in general, and feel it’s time to do other things.. in real life.

Thank you for reading and commenting.

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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!

 

 

 

Cashless, Staying healthy

Why I’m going cashless.

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I went to the grocery store today to pick up a few items.  I had been using cash for grocery purchases, and today was no different.  However, in light of recent developments of the coronavirus epidemic, I’ve been keenly aware of various ways that I could pick up germs.  As I  watched the clerk wipe his nose with his hands, then hand me back my change, I realized that using cash was not the best way to avoid germs.   (I washed my hands and wiped down the cash with lysol wipes when I got home.  YUCK.)

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Then I started thinking {light bulb moment] …who handled the cash before he did?  How sanitary were they?  I’ll never know.  Then I googled ‘how clean is paper money’ and was disgusted with what I found.  Read this article and you will never use cash again.

I’ll be paying with plastic from now on.  No more paper money.  As long as I can track my spending with my awesome YNAB budget system, I will be just fine.

Do you use cash?