Thursday, March 31, 2016

March 2016 Expense Report

This is a review of  every penny we have spent during March. If there is a category that you don't see, it is explained here 

Groceries          $ 351.99           Food Only

Electric & Gas      198.94           Heating Season

Water & Sewer      46.20            Quarterly Bill

CabTV, Int.&Tel    141.52

Netflix                     7.99

UPS                      11.86           Item DIL Left Here

Medical               387.68           Ins.,Drugs, Drs.

Gasoline               26.70            For SUV

Car Wash                9.00

Rest.&TakeOut     158.77           5 meals

Household Goods   445.18         31,dishes, misc.

Guardian                 29.85         Alarm monitoring

Homeowners Ins.   501.00         Annual Bill

Haircut                    16.00         Hubby

Gifts                      284.63         Misc.

Liquor                     72.25         Wine, misc.

Total Expenses     $2689.56

Our expenses were $1,000.+ more than last month but that is because our bills fluctuate with annual bills like the homeowner's insurance and quarterly bills like the water and sewer that come due. 

Groceries were a little high but that is because we stocked on legs of lamb and corned beefs while they were at rock bottom prices. We hosted Easter dinner for our family and that is an added expense. I will try to lower this total in April.

With heating season comes high bills. They should be going lower as soon as we can turn off the heat. Too cold here yet.

I would love to get rid of Cable TV but Hubby enjoys it. I enjoy Netflix and Amazon Prime movies so we each have our vices.

We were happy with our medical this month. Most of it is health insurance, a few drugs and  some Dr. appointments.

We had one very nice meal out for the 5 of us to celebrate our son and DIL's anniversary. The actual bill with tip came to $170.00. However,  I had $ 75.00 in gift cards that I purchased on a deal that were already paid for last Fall. So our out of pocket was $ 95.00 for dinner. The rest of the meals were  take out here and there: Dunkin Donuts, Chivettas BBQ, etc.

Household goods were high this month because we purchased 8 place settings of Fiestaware dishes and spent $59.00 at a Thirty One Party. I ended up getting the same item that I showed you but the much larger utility one. It is sturdier for my groceries in the car. The rest was personal care, toilet paper and garbage bags from Sams Club.

Gifts were high because we had 3 birthdays, an anniversary and Easter gifts.

We periodically replenish our liquor stock. So this was for 2 bottles of wine, a bottle of mudslides and Southern Comfort. 

The rest of the items are self explanatory.

We were able to invest $ 4500. this month which makes our investment total so far for 2016 $ 15,000.
If we can continue to save this quarterly, our total savings would be $ 60,000. this year. But I know that won't happen since we have a hefty school tax bill due in September. So we will continue to try to save towards our goal of $ 50,000. Even  that is going to be tough. But we are doing our best.

How about you? Have you looked at your expense totals for the month? Were you able to invest some money this month? Did you pay off a chunk of debt? I hope that you haven't given up. If so get back to tracking so that your life is planned and not just left to chance. Chance is scary! Planning and investing is smart! 

I want all of you to be debt free and happily retired  with no money worries. If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to ask via a comment.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Freezer Cooking: My Favorites

I ended up going out to pick up Hubby's prescription  this morning since he slept in. I wanted to get to Aldi's for when it opened. I have had the experience, more than once, on their Wednesday meat specials of having gone too late and the item is all gone. So at 9AM, I was in the door and picked up two packages of the $1.49 a lb. boneless chicken breasts, a pineapple for $ 1.29 and a qt. of 1/2 and 1/2 for $1.89. Now I know that the 1/2 and 1/2 is $.80 cheaper at Aldi's than Top's. But I had to get it at Top's yesterday because we desperately needed it until I could get to Aldi's. That won't happen again. With two heavy coffee drinkers here this weekend, we ran out.

I have put the chicken in the refrigerator for a couple of days so that I can make some freezer meals from it and some ground beef recipes. I am awaiting some more Freezer Containers that I ordered yesterday. I have a few but not enough to send food to my neighbor who just had the new baby. When I freezer cook, I use these for some dishes and Ziploc bags for others.

The way I usually freezer cook is to make two casseroles when I am having one for dinner. I freeze the second. Bagged meal recipes are done the same way. I make enough for two meals and bag the second one for the freezer. Many times I just put marinade in the Ziploc and the chicken. Then when we pull it out of the freezer and thaw, Hubby cooks the chicken on the grill. 

The following are the meals that I find freeze very well and that I will pick from to make the meals for my neighbor. I will make a meal for her and one for us.

I have a favorite lasagna recipe that I throw together. I am sure everyone has their own favorite. Lasagna freezes very well

I use this Spaghetti Sauce  recipe all of the time. It is one of the easiest to make in the crock pot and it is frugal and delicious. Then I will make a batch of meatballs to add for each meal and freeze. I will give my neighbor a box of spaghetti to go with it and a loaf of Italian bread.

The other recipes I will pick from are tried and 
delicious favorites:

Chicken and Rice Casserole 

Chicken Cordon- Bleu Bake 

Hearty Jambalaya   

I leave the shrimp out of this one and I will cook some rice up for her and bag it for her to freeze also.

Slow Cooker Turkey Black Bean Chili 

I will be making this with ground beef because that is what I have in the freezer right now.

Five Ingredient Chicken Enchiladas 

To Die For Blueberry Muffins 

I will be making them a batch of these after dinner to bring over for breakfast tomorrow.

Other than shopping and planning the meals that I will take to my neighbor, I have cleaned two rooms today and done a load of wash in cold water. I am about to hang it to dry.

Our bean soup is cooking on low the second day and  it has really thickened up. It smells so good and will be dinner again tonight.

Tomorrow's post will be our end of the month expense report.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

My Frugal Day

After a good night's sleep, I awoke at 6:15AM to get started on my frugal day. I took my navy shower which conserves on water and the energy to heat it, washed my hair with the last remnants of the shampoo, and brushed my teeth. Yes, I always brush my teeth in the shower. It's easy and I never forget. After flossing with yet another sample from my Dentist, I got dressed for the day in my 4 year old jeans and a 10 year old top. It looks like it is going to be a nice sunny day which is perfect for running my weekly errands.

While air drying my hair, I checked my e-mail and  blog comments and drank my one cup of coffee for the day. Then I shut down my desktop computer to save on energy. I will add to this post during the day with my tablet. 

I also put the ham bone, spices, and northern beans that I soaked over night into the crock pot. I added a little water to the mustard jar that was pretty much empty and shook it up and added it.  This will cook all day. If it is ready for dinner, we will have some. If not, we will have it tomorrow. 

I had more beans soaked than I needed so I bagged them for the freezer. They will be handy the next time I need beans for any kind of soup.  

We had some full wastebaskets from enjoying company this weekend. I quickly emptied all of them into a saved toilet paper plastic wrapper and threw them in the trash. I save all kinds of wrappers for garbage so that I don't have to buy as many bags during the year. I am also diligent about recycling everything that I can. Diligence allows us to use only one tall kitchen garbage bag a week.

Breakfast was fried ham, once over easy eggs, and Italian bread toast. The bread was leftovers from our Italian meal out last Friday night.

After double checking my errand list and making sure that I had my coupons, my bottles to return, and a package to ship, I was out the door.

My first stop was UPS to ship a package containing my DIL's tablet charger that she left here. I received a 5% discount for having AAA. I shipped it ground and it will arrive tommorrow. The UPS manager told me to always ship ground to this location because it gets there the next day anyhow. 

Next was a stop at Fast Cash to take two bags of cans and bottles to get my $.05 deposits back. I received $ 3.90.

Third stop was Dollar Tree to pick up the next 8 greeting cards that I need for $ .50 each. I also picked up 4 - 12.6 oz. Dawn Simply Dish Liquid that were $  .62 each after $ .75/2 coupons and a 24 oz. pkg. of elbow macaroni for $1.00.

My last stop was at Top's where I purchased a bag of Cheese Popcorn for my "big kid", 6 large cans of Furmano's diced tomatoes for $ .67 each after coupons, 4 Spice Classic spices for $ 1.00 each, 1 qt. of 1/2 and 1/2 for our coffee for $ 2.69, and 20 poppy seed rolls reduced for quick sale for $ 2.75 which I will freeze. But the best bargain was 7 Smithfield marinated pork tenderloins marked down from $ 8.99 each to $ 3.99 each. I did not see this deal in my ad! I stumbled on it so I don't know if it is just my store or not. People were grabbing them up like crazy. None of them expire before the end of April so it couldn't have been reduced for quick sale.
I  grabbed 7 of the flavors we like. Hubby was delighted since he loves to grill these outdoors. I also had 2- $ 1.00 off coupons for  any Smithfield product that I cut out of 2 magazines in the Drs. office  last week. So two of the tenderloins were $2.99. Because I spent over $20. on meat, I got 100 gas points added to my Top's card. The 6 cans of tomatoes and the 4 spices earned me another 100 gas points. 

Hubby has to pick up 2 prescriptions tomorrow so I am going to have him stop at Aldi's down the street and pick up $ 1.49 lb. chicken breasts and a pineapple for $ 1.29.

Lunch today was just an apple since we had such a big breakfast.

After lunch I checked my e-mail again to find a note from the mother of my neighbor next door. My neighbors had their first baby, a boy last night. She sent 5 pictures. He is so cute and I can't wait to meet him. So I spent some time this afternoon printing out a picture of their new baby boy and framing it. I will bring it over as a gift when I bring them a week's worth of meals after they come home. I always keep my eye out for cute clearance frames at stores or new ones at garage sales so that I have some for an occasion like this.

I also cleaned our two bathrooms today using homemade cleaners. The only store bought ones I use in the bathroom are the cheap denture tablets for cleaning the toilet bowls and hydrogen peroxide for any build up in the showers. I try to clean a couple of rooms a day so that the house is always clean. My spring cleaning is finished except to clean the windows and window tracks. I will be working on them a little at a time.

The soup was ready for an early dinner so that is what we ate. It is so yummy on a cold day.

I have been researching taxes in little increments of time since January. We have a lot of taxable income each year and I am trying every way I know how to minimize our tax liability. I have found a lot of things that we can do so that next year, we pay a lot less tax. I am only about 1/4 of the way through tax law. So I will be spending the evening researching some more of it. To most that would seem boring, but I like this kind of stuff.

Then it will be early to bed so that I will be rested for tomorrow. I took our electric blanket off our bed today and just put regular blankets on. It is getting warmer here so it was time. That will help reduce our electric bill.

Monday, March 28, 2016

The Phrase I Hate

I am an easy going person who bites her tongue a lot when people give their opinions of things that I don't agree with because after all we each have free speech and a right to our own opinion.

However there is one phrase that I hate and that is:

"You are lucky." Over the years I have heard that over and over again. I have always bit my tongue until this last time. It was used shall we say "by a friend". This friend was talking about "her friend" and told me that we were so much "luckier" than "her friend" because we traveled cross country whenever we wanted to. That her friend was never able to spend a holiday with her because she didn't have "our kind of money". The conversation got even worse than those phrases. For expediency to get to my point, I won't repeat the entire conversation. But the insinuation that somehow this was our FAULT was in the conversation. I was beyond ticked! I definitely went a little over board in my response even though I did try to measure it. Anyhow it is now done and over with and my "friend" and I have let it go. However I want to make a point.

First of all,  "my friend" has no idea what " our kind of money" means because I do not share our net worth openly with any friend. Secondly, we were "lucky" that we have that  "kind of money" hit below  the belt.

Luck has nothing to do with our financial situation today. It never has. Building a net worth that can sustain financial independence isn't about luck. It is about "your choices" and all of your "hard work". Lots of choices were made over these many years to get us to where we are today. Hubby had many career choices to make. We scrimped and saved so that he was able to graduate with three college degrees. Without those college degrees, we would not be where we are today. They led to his first job, his second job and his last job. No one handed those degrees to him. They were expensive and we paid for all of them. Was he lucky? No. He had made a career choice many years ago that got us to where we are today. The choice to change jobs twice was not an easy one because he worked for two major corporations where he could rise quickly in the ranks. He chose to leave those for a job that would not pay as well but that he considered a challenge and would love. However, the benefits were better and they weighed heavily in his decision. Without the graduate degrees he would not have risen as quickly in his last job as he did. But we never made money that would make us rich quickly. We made good choices over many years that made us a healthy net worth. We are not perfect, we make mistakes and we have made plenty of them. But we always kept our eye on our goals.

We made everyday choices for over 30 years that brought us to where we are today. We decided how we would spend our money and how we would invest it. We decided most importantly how much we would spend and how much we would invest. We never let envy of "the Joneses" make our decisions. And NONE of it was luck! It took hard work and dedication to reach our goals. And as you all know from reading this blog, we continue to make those choices every day. Inflation hits retirees hard if they don't plan for it. I don't have a clue as to how long Hubby and I will live but we have to plan for many more years. We have to save in order to keep up with inflation and to get us through bad economic times in our country. We have never relied on anyone but ourselves and we don't plan on it any time soon.
We had what we considered a normal middle class life. Our children lacked for nothing. We chose private schools for them for junior high and high school. One child chose a private college and the other a state college. They didn't graduate with a boat load of college loans. We paid for most of college. They were our choices as to how we spent our money. 

We spent according to what we thought was important and invested to what our goals were. We didn't waste our money on frivolous purchases that would sink our goals. We did all of our own work around the house. Everything with the house, lawn care, and maintenance of the car was DIY. We educated ourselves on how to do these things. No one taught us. There was a lot of hard work and sweat that went into our decisions. We regret none of our decisions in life. We have loved all of the sweat and planning that went into it. We have loved all of the self-learning that has gone into it. No one taught us about investing. We educated ourselves. We watched what people who were rich did and learned from them. It took hard work and dedication. So don't tell me we were lucky!

One of the reasons I got so angry with the comments that were made by my friend is that "her friend" and hubby have worked two jobs for 30 years. The income has been from two careers, one from each of them. I was a SAHM and wife for 25 years. I worked a part time job for 1 year and full time jobs for 10+ years total. Don't try to tell me that we made more money than they did. Besides they are still working.

The reason that they don't have "our kind of money" is because of the choices they made in their life that have brought them to where they are today. They are not my fault. They are their decisions. Whether right for them or not, they made them and now they have to own them. 

We have been financially independent for almost 15 years. So don't tell me that where we are today is because we were lucky! It is because of good planning and solid decisions that helped us build our net worth not sink it.

So the next time that you see someone who seems to be well off, don't think "how lucky they are". Remember, that they worked hard and made choices to get to where they are today. Don't be envious of them; learn from them. You don't have to ask them about money just look at what they do and how they live. It may teach you a lot.

To change the subject.....   I hope you all had a wonderful holiday. We certainly did. But it is back to normal today. The winds are howling and the house is creaking. It is wet and rainy. I was going to go out to UPS to ship something to my DIL that she left here.  I think I will wait until tomorrow.

While my family from the east side of NY was here, we surprised them and celebrated their wedding anniversary. They will be married 19 years tomorrow. We took all of us out to dinner at our local Italian restaurant on Friday evening. We enjoyed good food...appetizers, drinks, French onion soup, Italian dinner entrees and a great bottle of wine to toast to the occasion. We were so full that there wasn't room for dessert.  They loved it all. 

Hubby and I will be eating leftover ham and twice baked potato casserole a lot this week. I will also be making bean and ham soup, one of our very favorites. This morning I spent some time freezing leftover muffins, rolls and cinnamon buns so that they won't go bad before we can eat them. I hope you all have a great day and evening.