As I told you in Part I, our priority goal for 2016 is to save $50,000. This will be taken from our retirement income for the year. It will not be an easy task for us and we are not sure that we can accomplish it but we are sure going to try. If you can't save $ 50,000., $10,000. or even $2000. that is okay. Just set a goal for what you can save and strive to make that dream happen. If you can't save because you have debt, set a goal to pay off as much of that debt as possible. If you want to become financially independent, you have to start somewhere and build up over time.
Now back to our plan as to how we will try to reach that goal.
We will strive to spend as little as possible over the next year without feeling like we are deprived. We won't make a budget. If we do then, we will have a tendency to spend every penny of the amount set for that category. For example: How many of you have set a budgeted amount like $400. for groceries for a month? You go into a store for a needed gallon of milk and come out with things that you really don't need because you know you have $25. left in your budget that you can spend. Hence that is why we don't set budget amounts. When we do we have a tendency to spend up to them.
Clothing: We will not purchase any unless it is free after coupon. I am thinking of the $10. off type coupon from LL Bean or JC Penneys or the printable coupons for Target clothing. We will wear what we already own. Our closets are full as I am sure many of yours are. The only exception to this will be if either of us loses weight. Then we will buy no more than 2-3 outfits to get us through until we drop to the next lower size.
Books: None will be purchased in 2016. We have plenty on our bookshelves that we can read, can get free books from Amazon Prime, or go to the library and borrow them.
Restaurants or Take Out: As you know, I have been purchasing deals that give me a bonus or discount for restaurants this month. I will continue to do this until the end of December. This is what Hubby and I do for our Christmas gifts each year. Whatever we have accumulated will be used to dine out or get take out all during 2016. The only two exceptions will be a few groupons and restaurant.com coupons that we received in 2015 that are unused and any gift cards received as gifts. Those will be used when we have enough money to put with them from rebates. We also sometimes find a coupon for a free item or use points from Subway for a free sub. Many times I have gotten the one item and Hubby and I share it. The gift cards that we have will be combined with any coupons available or senior discounts to make our money stretch further. Hubby and I like to go out for a drink once in a while and split an appetizer so this makes the money really stretch. All other meals will be made at home.
Gifts: I have already made a list of whom I need gifts for next year that includes all birthday, anniversaries, weddings and Christmas. Next to each person, I have written their sizes and likes. I will keep a log of all purchases so that I don't overbuy. I hope to purchase most gifts at a 75 - 100% discount. I will keep my eye open online and when I am out shopping for these gifts. I especially love clearance. I always make sure to go through Ebates to get a percentage of money back. I also love finding the perfect toys for the grandchildren at garage sales. Once in a while I see just the perfect one and it is brand new in package. I also have no problem re-gifting something that we can't use that is perfect for someone else. There is no sense hanging onto an item that you can't use. We will use any coupon or rebate that is appropriate for these gifts also. We also pay for most gifts with points that we accumulate on our credit cards. We charge almost everything during the year so we accumulate many points.
Medical Costs: For us these costs have been extremely high. They are about to get higher. We have been notified that our Health Insurance for 2016 will be going up $ 27.14 a month or $ 325.68 for the year. This is our secondary insurance after Medicare. We have also been notified that some of our co-pays for drugs that we take will be going up 67% for 2016. So we have no choice but to cut costs if we want to continue to save money. We will be doing this by using every coupon or drug card that we can find online from the drug manufacturers that we income qualify for. We will make sure that all doctors give us prescriptions for long term medicines that are 3 month prescriptions since it is much cheaper for us to buy them that way. We always buy generic prescriptions when they are available. All OTC medicines will be researched for the cheapest price. We won't overbuy and will use up what we already have.
Our dentist is very costly and we have had to have some major work done since we retired early. We have no dental insurance and even if we did, he would charge us the same amount minus the insurance. We do not qualify for any low income dental. We have checked out getting insurance and it very expensive for the things that it does cover. We don't think it would help us much compared to what we would have to pay yearly for it. So after looking at our dental expenses so far this year which are over $4,000., we are keeping a running total on paper so that we can keep that in mind when we go for cleanings and checkups. Our dentist insists that we go for cleanings every three months. He charges you the same amount yearly for cleanings or exams whether you go every three months or every 6 months. Each time we go, the cleanings cost us close to $200. each and that is without X-rays. A full set of X-rays cost us $250. each which he does once a year. So cleanings and X-rays alone for the year for
us total $ 2100. You add in anything extra and it gets quite costly. We had an $18,000. year in 2013. So we are going to be researching other dentists costs in the area over the next few months. We feel like we are being ripped off every time we go. This dentist does not give a senior discount nor a reduction because we can pay cash either. So with this in mind, we have our cleanings and exams coming up in the next week. Both us have discussed the amount we have already spent and will not be doing any expensive work he recommends. He has been trying to get both Hubby and I to get three crowns on teeth that he says have big fillings. The answer will be no. He also told me the last time that I had my cleaning that I was due for X-rays this time. The answer will be no because I had an emergency appointment recently for a root canal and he took a full mouth set of X-rays that cost me $250. besides a fortune for the root canal. His prices go up every January 1st so I am expecting that this January will be no exception. He is also building a new building in a more costly area so I expect that costs will go up when he moves there. So we have to find an another dentist. I will be going to every dentist in the area to get a copy of their prices after January 1st and do my research. We really like this dentist but just can't afford to pay his prices.
Homeowners and Automobile Insurances: We just paid our automobile insurance and it seems to go up quite a percentage every year. So just before our homeowner's insurance is due in March, we will be looking for a new company who can match the insurance we have now at a cheaper premium per year. We will also make sure that we are taking advantage of every discount that they can give us.
Gasoline: We check prices per gallon at our closest stations and check any discounts we have from buying groceries, etc. Then we fill up at the cheapest while we are out running errands. We never make a special run just for gasoline.
Natural Gas and Electric: We will be doing everything we know how to reduce these costs by 10-15% this year.
Cable TV, Internet, and Home Telephone: We get a letter every year that this bill is going up. I will call and get them to keep it at the same cost as this year or reduce it. The trick is to get to the retention department. I also call them every time that we have lousy service and get a credit. For ex: Our sound has been cutting in and out on different channels at different times which led us to believe that it was Time Warner who had the problem. We called them the other night and they admitted that it was a service problem that they had been having and that the problem was being fixed but they didn't know how many days it was going to take. I asked for a credit for the lousy service and we were credited $10. You have to ask for credit because they are not going to offer it if you don't ask. If the problem continues into next month, I will call for another credit. I could easily get rid of cable tv but Hubby loves it and I have to keep my man happy.
Travel: Any travel will only be by car. We use our EZ Pass to get a discount on tolls on highway travel. Any hotel rooms will be paid for by checking for the best rate which usually is calling the hotel directly, being super sweet, and asking for the best price. I will also use any coupons available and pay with points given for opening travel credit cards. We rarely use hotel rooms so this is pretty easy for us. We instead stay with family or friends.
Exercise: All of this will be free by walking or biking. We have a beautiful neighborhood that we can walk in. In colder months we use our recumbent bike indoors which was purchased years ago and has many miles on it. No gym memberships here.
Groceries: This is one of our largest expenses. We are in the process of eating from our stockpile. We have decided to eat up every last piece of food in the house over the next few months so we are not doing a lot of shopping. Just filling in here and there. We want to clean out our freezers for garden season and to stockpile meat at the best rock bottom prices in the spring ( corned beef and lamb) and summer (ground meat, hot dogs, and steaks). We will be planting a container garden this coming year with just enough salad items for Hubby and I. Over the summer we will buy fresh rock bottom priced fresh fruits like we do every year to freeze and to can and to make jam for the winter. We will be eating healthy and mostly meats, poultry, fish, vegetables and fruits, cereal- mostly oatmeal, and some dairy. We will try our best not to waste one morsel of food. We will attempt to always buy at rock bottom prices. We hope to greatly reduce our food costs.
All Other Non Food Costs: They will be purchased or homemade as cheaply as possible, or made cheaper by substitution. For example: This time of year of year the sun hits the sensors on our garage door and the door won't close after we pull out of the garage. It takes some effort to get it to go down and is a pain in the neck. You can buy shields at the hardware store for about $ 20. or you can do what Hubby did. He made shields out of toilet paper tubes.
I think I have covered all of our large expenses where we can make cuts. Over the next year, please join me on this journey to cut our costs and save more money. I will be reporting every day starting on January 1, 2016 on how we do this. I will also do a monthly expense report like I have been doing. If you want to retire early or even retire when you are 65, feel free to follow along.
If anyone has any questions, please feel free to ask by leaving it in comments and I will do my best to answer them.