I think we all struggle with finances. Sometimes choosing between food or medication or housing. We lie away at night trying to figure out how to stretch our limited dollars. Where will the money come from?
We try every way we can to make food go farther. To keep and put money in the bank. And often just how make it through the month.
Many are retired and have a fixed income. Others of us are self-employed and our income varies.
So how on earth do we keep up with inflation and manage these days?
Housing is often our biggest expense unless you’re fortunate enough to have a home paid for.
I rent an apartment as you all know. When I was looking to move over 5 years ago, it took me nearly a year to find a place to live that was in a safe neighborhood, was single level and didn’t have multiple steps.
But the biggest calculation to take into account was cost. Rent was not cheap. Little houses 1000 square feet and under went for $1000 to $1500 per month.
No way could I do that. I would love for Abi and Charlie to have a yard to run around in. But there was just no way.
So I rented this apartment and at least had a big fenced patio. But it still wasn’t cheap at $625 per month. And of course rent goes up. Plus I had to pay my water bill to the apartment complex. And then pay for my all electric home separately.
Rent, Water & Electricity:
That now brings me to about $800 per month for what I pay the complex and my electricity. That is a big bite out of my income.
So I tried to see what I could cut back or eliminate. I tried reducing the bills that I could reduce. But now I’ve kind of hit the wall on that.
So here are the ways I find to make ends meet.
Cars & Gas To Put In Them:
Luckily my Pathfinder is paid for. It has 47,000 miles on it and is now 13 years old. It has been a great vehicle with (so far, fingers crossed) very little upkeep.
I buy premium gas for my car because that’s what is called for. But I could not do this if I drove around a lot. The gas I have in my car currently is between a quarter and a half tank. And I last filled up four weeks ago.
Combine Errands when going out:
I chose a neighborhood that was close to everything. If I go to the pharmacy which is a mile away, I usually have another errand to run, like driving to the grocery store or going by the vet’s office to pick up Charlie’s medication.
I try to drive in a circuit that uses the least gas and makes the most sense.
Picking Up A Meal:
Sometimes I just want a burger or a taco for supper. Sonic is less than a block away. Taco Bell or Taco Bueno is about a mile away. So is Arby’s.
I happen to like Arby’s Reuben sandwich as well as their turkey sandwich, both of which are very filling.
Every week when the weekly circulars hit my mailbox, I look for coupons to the fast food places I like. My favorite is when Arby’s gives you a sandwich meal for $4.99. I eat half the sandwich, put the other half in a ziplock bag and refrigerator for the next night.
That brings two night’s meals down to $2.50.
At Taco Bell I can buy a taco supreme and a bean burrito for less than $4. That is sometimes my supper.
I admit I don’t cook much. And when I do, I always make meals that will stretch more than one night. Often I make taco soup. I eat it for several evenings, then I put individual portions into baggies and freeze.
There is one TV dinner (yeah, I know they’re not very nutritious, but it’s a cheap quick meal) that I especially like. I actually ate it for both Thanksgiving and Christmas. It is the Stouffer’s turkey, dressing and mashed potatoes TV dinner.
It is the best turkey TV dinner I’ve f0und. It costs $2.50. I add cranberry sauce and a vegetable and/or salad with a dinner roll and I have a great meal.
By cooking it in my Breville Oven instead of the microwave it is quite tasty. (I highly suggest not cooking TV dinners in the microwave. They just don’t taste as good.)
I might have grilled cheese (cooked on my electric skillet) and canned soup. One can of soup provides two meals. My favorite is potato soup. I like the Progresso brand.
My Go-To Fast Meal At Home:
If I don’t have anything else, or if I’m rushed for time or just don’t want to get creative with a meal, I always fall back on an egg salad sandwich. I almost always have the ingredients and it’s fast.
When I fix Charlie’s one a day egg in my egg maker that I found on Amazon.com, I put two eggs in. It only takes a few minutes to cook. Then I let it cool.
My Recipe For Egg Salad Sandwiches:
I’m a simple gal and don’t go crazy with ingredients. I take one egg and chop it up in a bowl. Then I add mayonnaise (just enough; I don’t like it real creamy). I chop up a few sweet pickles and add a dash of Trader’s Joe’s Onion Salt.
Trader Joe’s Onion Salt has granulated onion, garlic, minced onion Kosher salt, green onion and dried chives in it. Trader’s Joe’s spices cost from $1.99 to $2.49 and I think they’re the best.
Then I typically have baked beans. I like vegetarian beans. I add a bit of ketchup, a bit of mustard (not dried), the onion salt and a bit of brown sugar to my concoction and cook in the microwave for a few minutes.
These baked beans can help feed me as a side dish all week long. Then I usually have a few potato chips to round out my meal.
Groceries I Buy:
Due to Charlie and my egg sandwiches, I always have to buy eggs. I also typically buy almond milk, bread, canned and frozen veggies. I need mayonnaise and pickles to make my egg salad sandwiches. So I keep that on hand.
I tend to buy those cartons of fruit containers unless it’s summer and more is in season. If I buy fresh fruit, it is usually bananas (for smoothies and snacks) and Granny Smith apples. Sometimes I will buy grapes.
And I must say that with two pets I have to have paper towels. Personal choice and what keeps me from going crazy.
I prefer to buy Dawn dish washing liquid because there are multiple ways to use it, and not just on your dishes.
Here’s a tip I’ve found to be a good one:
About seven years ago a plumber told me to only buy Cottonelle toilet paper. I always had used Charmin before, but he told me that is the brand people typically use who frequently call him to unclog their toilet.
I started buying Cottonelle right then and there. And in seven years I have never had a problem with my toilet! Not one plumber call. I know I’ve told you this before, but I’m saying it again for anyone who didn’t read it before.
Now I live alone so that might have something to do with it. But the success rate has been 100% for me.
Other food tips I suggest:
As soon as I get home I freeze sliced bread. Otherwise it tends to sit there too long.
When I’m going to have a sandwich, I simply take two slices out and put it on a plate for a bit. Then I toast it in my Breville. I always have it toasted. Might not taste the same if you don’t.
I also will sometimes buy frozen store brand fruit to make smoothies.
Sometimes I will buy those little quarts of ice cream. If I’m hungry for something sweet, I will have a teaspoon or so at night. I have never been one to sit down and eat a whole bunch of something sweet or anything else for that matter. I quell my hunger for it and I’m done.
I also love peanut butter. Preferably Peter Pan smooth peanut butter. It’s a quick way to curb hunger and get some protein.
For coffee I will buy Folger’s Decaffeinated and a generic flavored brand and mix them. I’ve found that the K-cups are a bit too strong for me and also more expensive.
I don’t go to movies or eat out unless it’s lunch with my daughter about once per month. I know some of you like to go to movies, but the noise drives me straight up a wall.
I don’t watch much TV, but have to pay for it in my Cox bundled package. Before anyone even mentions it, I have to use this service because the complex does not want TV equipment to be seen in yards.
I only watch a couple of channels. Actually I don’t even know what channels I have. I rarely if ever watch a movie because that’s a bit too long a sit for me.
As I have to have decent internet and prefer a home phone, the only way to go is with a promotional bundle. And it isn’t cheap. $250 to $350 per month. And yes, I bargain with them. Or try to.
I don’t know about this year, but in previous years my accountant has deducted the whole cable bill when doing my taxes, due to blogging being my means of making money.
I don’t know about this year, as I think the deduction law may have changed. If it has, I’ll change things up accordingly wherever I can.
I truly hate cell phones, but know I might need one for emergencies. Especially due to the age of my car. So I pay a bit over $13 a month to Consumer Cellular just to have it. If I use minutes I pay extra. That has happened twice in three years.
I have to pay a ridiculous amount for internet at home. So I surely don’t want to pay for it when I’m not home.
Once in a blue moon I will buy a decorating or gardening magazine. I do this when I’ve accumulated enough points at Walgreens (which is the pharmacy my health insurance chose). If I have enough points to use $10 in store, that is when I will buy magazines.
I only buy books occasionally at the bargain table at Barne’s & Noble. Otherwise I get free books from publishers to read and review.
Lately I’ve been reading on my Kindle. I get books free from Netgalley, Bookbub and however else I can get them free. I no longer pay for Amazon Prime, so I don’t get them there.
NetGalley is a site where book reviewers and other professional readers can read books before they are published, in e-galley or digital galley form.
Where To Find Free Ebooks:
Here is a list of places where you can get free books.
I love my Kindle. I wasn’t as crazy for the iPad I purchased a year ago. And I ended up giving it to the maintenance man (Nathan) to pay for extra work he did for me in my apartment.
I like my laptop. And in the evenings I make myself get off the internet and read in order to relax. This also helps the pain in my hands to limit typing.
You might think I write my post for the day and I’m done. No, with a blog you have SEO to work on for older posts and taking photos for future posts. There is maintenance to be done on your site. All in all, I spend a minimum of six hours per day working. About full time.
My blog is my business and I’m constantly looking for ways to improve on it.
So this has taken me hours to compile. I’m sure I’ll think of more later after I hit Publish. But in the mornings after Charlie takes his diuretic pill, I get up every few minutes for several hours until it has cleared his system.
Please include your own tips for stretching your dollars in the comments.
And of course I have Charlie and Ivy for daily entertainment. They sure keep me laughing with their antics.