The Single Woman’s Guide To Stretching Dollars

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.

pink piggy bank

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.

tiny house on calculator

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.

dollar bills

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.

calculator

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.

grocery store

Cooked Meals:

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.

turkey 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.

grocery carts

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.

toilet paper

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.

Entertainment:

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.

movie popcorn

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.

woman watching TV

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.

Reading Materials:

woman reading kindle

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.

FREE sign

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.

Charlie

And of course I have Charlie and Ivy for daily entertainment. They sure keep me laughing with their antics.

ivy on chair

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88 Comments

  1. Brenda, thanks for these tips! I’m always looking for ways to save money and cut spending. The property taxes here in Texas will break you, so you have to look for other ways to hold onto your $$$. Love and hugs!

  2. When you add left over coffe to baked beans, they taste smokey. A little bacon provides fat that will satisfy your hunger longer.

  3. What a wonderful post! Thank you everyone for all these wonderful tips, which are unfortunately extremely relevant to my life right now. In September my partner and I split up and all the expenses we had been splitting are now my sole responsibility.
    Also in October, my two senior dogs who had been seriously ill for a few months passed away and I had a series health issue myself…all of which were wildly expensive. I have been on SSDI since 2015 and when I turned 62 it transitioned into regular SS which came with a Medicare part B payment. Needless to say, I have no money.
    This is the embarrassing part.
    Credit card debt. I just can’t make my payments. They are calling me all the time and the interest rates are pulling up. I am so stressed, grieving the loss of my babies, can’t sleep and don’t know how to fix anything. They refuse to accept $10 a month apiece and even paying that little would be a stretch. I hate not honoring my obligations. This time last year I had no debt but then car issues. Dogs. Hospital and medications. Life.
    I would love to see this become a regular feature.
    Any suggestions for the debt – ridden?

    1. File bankruptcy. It will be on your record for quite a few years. But I had to do it in about 2013 after I got divorced. Within a short time I was being offered credit cards. My accountant told me to get some and buy stuff and simply pay it off fast. Now my credit is very good and I never get turned down. That’s how I did it because my ex was so materialistic he ruined my credit. My credit is not in the 700s.

        1. Thank you, Brenda! I thought of bankruptcy but I know it’s expensive and I am broke. It’s nice to know that you can come back from bankruptcy. You should be so proud of how you’ve rebuilt your life.
          I keep you and (of course) Abi Rose in my heart too.

  4. Another thing I just thought of… not sure if you can do this in apartments, but I just had this done last summer. OG&E provides a free “weatherization” review. I got free light bulbs put in every single light and I also received new up to date surge protectors for every TV/Computer. Check with your electric company to see if they have any programs like this.

    1. I’d rather just get rid of the TV before I have one of those ugly Dish things. The manager here said we aren’t allowed to put it on our patios. Just in certain places is it allowed, but they are certainly discouraged. I really don’t care much about TV. I just have to have internet.

  5. Hi. I’m going to share some things my mom does with her two siblings and some other relatives, because they all live in the same town. I know a lot of readers here don’t have family close by due to the way family members often live in different places nowadays (such as how I live in a different state from my mom) but, maybe readers can get ideas here of things to do with neighbors or friends.

    One of my mom’s brothers has a subscription to the local community weekly newspaper (it isn’t online so that’s the reason for the subscription) and when he finishes the newspaper, he passes it to the other brother, who passes it to my mom, who passes it to her uncle, and so on. About a half dozen or so people read that one newspaper each week! My mom also shares trash pickup with one brother who lives on her street. She pays for the trash service and he pays her for half the cost, and then he walks or drives his trash down the street to her garbage can each week. (They are in their 80s and don’t generate much trash since they both live alone in their little condos.) My mom’s other brother still lives in a house with a yard and he grows a garden and shares the vegetables. They all share food from the grocery store — for instance, my mom will get a loaf of bread and then put half of it into a bag for her brother down the street. They all share cooked food, either giving it to the others in containers or inviting the others over for a meal. They also see some of the same doctors, so they schedule appointments on the same day and ride together to save gasoline.

    There are younger relatives in the little town, my mom’s nieces and nephews, who invite her to events and meals. Oh, and my mom and one of my aunts do something to get free entertainment — they volunteer as ushers at the arts center at a college that is about 12 miles away in another town. After they do their ushering duties, they get to stay and watch the performances for free. They see plays and concerts that sometimes include some well-known singers and actors.

    My mom and her siblings also take part in that college’s free offerings for senior citizens. During certain hours of the day, they are able to use the exercise equipment in the gym, use the pool, walk on the track, and so on. I think they also can go to sports events for free, but it could be at a reduced price, I’m not sure. It’s one or the other. So, my mom is down at that college a lot, and she rides with someone else to get there.

    So, if you can think of ways to share rides and expenses with others, it could be a way to save money and have some companionship too. I’ll admit, my husband and I are more of the loner type, and don’t lean toward being part of a crowd as much as my mom does. She grew up in a big family, surrounded by lots of relatives, and then she and my dad moved us away from that area when I was small for my dad’s job, so my two siblings and I didn’t grow up with so much family interaction. Then my parents moved back to that town when they retired and they took right back up with the extended family, and it has ended up being good for my mom now that my dad is deceased and my siblings and I all live 100 miles or more from her. But it does pay off to have someone close to share some expenses with, and we do try to do that some with my son and his wife, but they live 25 miles away and it isn’t quite as easy. But perhaps 2019 is the year for me to look for ways to do some sharing with my neighbors.

  6. Happy New Year, Brenda! I love this topic, as I always need reminders of how to save money. Here’s a few money-saving strategies I’ll add to the discussion:

    I use Ting for my mobile carrier. They offer very reasonable rates – around $20 a month – and great coverage.

    If you are a bank customer, switch to a credit union. You’ll be surprised how much you’ll save in fees. CUs are cooperatives, so you are part owner as a participant, and they exist to benefit you (not stockholders). For example, banks will process incoming account debits (what you’ve spent) before they’ll process credits (your income). They are hoping you overdraw your account and hit you with fees. But CUs will process your credits first and then your debits, and avoid those fees. That’s just one example. Your money is federally insured at a CU, and it’s very easy to join one (membership requirements are not that strict). It’s worth searching out.

    I buy toilet paper and paper towels in bulk from Amazon. I’m going to use that stuff anyway, and I save quite a bit purchasing it in bulk.

    If you are of a certain age and income, Meals on Wheels can be wonderful. In my area, they give you 5-6 frozen meals along with cereal, milk, orange juice, and fruit cups per week. It’s administered by the county senior services department, and it can really help stretch your budget. In some areas, they help with pet food too. I got it for my mom, and it really helps.

    Health insurance, housing, and transportation are the huge hits to our budget, which I suppose is true for most everyone. I wish I had words of wisdom for these items. Researching, cutting corners, lowering expectations, and making do – I suppose these things work for these three budget categories too.

  7. Great ideas today!
    I look at the 2 supermarket flyers and see what’s on sale and then decide what to make for the week. I stock up when food is cheaper, esp around the holidays.

    For instance, I will buy a butt ham and have a ham dinner the 1st night. Then decide on ham and scallop potatoes, ham fried rice, a western omelet, ham with white sauce, or chopped up ham and pickles on a roll. I also will make pea soup, but only with the whole yellow peas. ?The wind is whipping tonight…wish I already made my soup! Brrrrrr!

    Chicken is cheaper next week, so I started to plan on that and see what else I need. Broc is cheaper too, so I’ll make a big batch of broc soup too. When I get sick of something, then I’ll freeze the rest for later.

    I make alot of quick breads…med size and freeze those and give some away. They thaw out quickly to eat. I also eat yogurt alot.

    I make cookies and freeze them and take out 1 or 2 to thaw…can even put in micro for warm ones.
    Sometimes I will make a shrimp dip or spinach dip and give some to my parents and eat that for a snack all week with wheat thins.

    I also make dog biscuits for my dog…2 others and freeze them.
    That’s how I have always saved. I always make a list and buy a few things extra. Never go to the store when you’re hungry and buy for the week.

    I always stocked up and was prepared coz I was a single Mom and nobody knew if there was going to be a layoff and for how long.

    Besides my kids had alot of friends and sleepovers. So I made alot of food and know how to stretch the dollar and found alot of bargains brand new. I also did alot of layaways at a Levi place, Olympia sports, and 3 other stores. Now I don’t think many stores do that anymore.

  8. Hi, great tips! Here are a few of mine! Buy the canned ham, Celebrity brand, from Walgreens. They usually have them on sale for 2 for $5. They are a great staple to have on hand and they are fat free! They taste great! If you need tops, look on ebay. They have brands such as Karen Scott for a very decent price. We use trac fones, very cheap. Buy underwear on eBay, cheaper than Walmart and usually free shipping! Just my size, has great prices on bras and usually free shipping. And, whenever you buy a box of sos pads, cut them in half! U never usually use a whole one, and if you don’t it rusts! Keep a tax receipts folder for any tax deductions you can take throughout the year, such as car taxes, goodwill donation receipts, house taxes. Put all check registers for the year along with check copies. Keep all of this when getting ready to file taxes in a large envelope marked for 2018 taxes with a black magic marker. Also, mark all boxes in your storage, so you will know at a glance what you have stored. Keep a box ready for goodwill donations and when full take to local goodwill. Thanks to everyone for all the tips!

    1. I keep all my receipts I can use for my blog deductions in a shoe box. I just shove the folded receipt in the hole and at the end of the year add them up.

  9. I found this on a Oklahoma news website:

    EveryoneOn, a national nonprofit organization, has partnerships with Internet providers like Comcast, Cox, AT&T, T-Mobile and Mediacom. The organization can help you search for services in your area that provide high-speed Internet for about $10 a month, with no contract and no equipment fee.

    You can also call them at 877-947-4321.

    However, there may be a one-time setup/ equipment fee of $62 for non-income qualifiers.

    If your income is low enough, you may look into the Lifeline Assistance Program, which is a federal program that provides a $9.25 monthly subsidy to help pay for broadband Internet service.

    Only one benefit is available per household- either phone service or Internet.

  10. Whoa! What a treasure-trove of fabulous money-saving ideas! Many of them I already use and am going to go back over the comments to see if I missed anything that I can add to my “thrift program.” This has been a very useful idea–to share ways to stretch our pennies. If anyone discovers something in the future that hasn’t been mentioned here we must pass it along to add to our “thrift list”!

    Brenda, here’s a question about plants and flowers: how do you economize on the plants you grow in the spring and summer. Do you grow mostly from seed? I know I’ve seen you write about bringing home certain plants from garden stores. I would grow most of my annuals from seed, but I just don’t have the space to spread out a lot of little peat pots! Buying flowers in the spring is one place that I get a bit carried away money-wise. I’d love to hear from your other readers on this subject, too.

    1. That’s where I typically spend my money. On my patio plants. I don’t often use seeds because when I plant them directly in the pots they often don’t come up. I don’t have room to start them inside and Ivy would dig them up anyway. I mostly get annuals for instant color and buy enough to get a discount. However, I get to deduct on my taxes any of the plants, furniture and whatever I show on my blog up to a point. My accountant says it’s part of my work product.

  11. You can buy an ooma for your personal phone ~$150 up front and only $4 per month thereafter. I only have netflix $9 and hulu $6 – that covers all of my tv and movies. Internet would be separate, but there are always promotions, and when one ends, choose another.

    1. Ooma is an internet phone. It sounds just like a landline. You can even transfer your current phone number to it! It doesn’t cost $150 upfront. You can get it at Costco or directly from Ooma! You can call anywhere in US for free! Each month you pay the federal & local tax. Mine is $5.50 or so. You can use your regular phone with cordless extensions around the house. Ooma also has voice messaging, caller ID all free! Go to Ooma.com to read about this wonderful product!
      I have Internet thru phone company & have Dish for TV. It is federal law the landlord can’t say you can’t have a Dish. Dish has a small cost subscription for $35/month. You can add things for $5-15 per month. So I do all of those things for less than $100/month.
      Your library also should have newspapers & magazines to read online!
      Get LED light bulbs. Get warm white or full spectrum. Saves tons of energy.
      When doing errands go to your furtherest away one first. You use less gas as your engine gets heated up early in the trip!

      1. When I bought the ooma about 3 years ago it was $150, but now on the ooma website it is $70. That’s pretty awesome cost savings.

        1. I’ve got to get educated on all these new things. I’ve never heard of them. But then, I really only talk to my daughter and you guys! And she uses a cable company.

        1. I just called management. She said there are very strict rules about TV dishes. Because they don’t like the look of them. She said it is different from state to state. Before my neighbor moved he got the dish and never could get the TV to work so had them come pick it back up. I don’t really care much about TV.

  12. Brenda you could save money by not putting premium gasoline in your car. Very few vehicles specifically need premium.

    1. All I know is that my 13 year old car has never broken down on me and it runs great. Nathan took my car to the car wash and said it was the best running older car he’d ever driven. He said it drove like it was brand new. I don’t claim to know about the premium gasoline. I haven’t gotten gas in over a month. But my car does call for premium, and that’s what I put in it. I drive so little too. It is years before I need an oil change because I don’t have the mileage.

      1. Yes if it calls for premium that’s what you should use. And if it runs great after all these years, that’s even better. I have a 2004 sport trac with only 42000 miles on it. But I also have a car, that’s why the low mileage. I put regular gas in it and it runs great but if yours says to use premium, then that’s the way to go. (I really enjoyed this post, thank you for blogging)

  13. These are all suggestions that I currently use, but my husband is quite the spender, so he tends to negate my thrifty ways! One thing I didn’t see is that the Kroger stores around here have a clearance section where the dented or discontinued canned or boxed foods are marked down to about half price. They also have bags of produce for 99 cents, mostly apples, oranges, peppers, things like that. It is produce that mostly needs to be eaten in a few days, but not rotten! I also buy a lot of stuff at thrift stores and have never gotten bedbugs. As any website will tell you, you can see them so if you see them, don’t buy whatever they are on!! But I have never ever seen any or found any. I also go to estate sales, I have a booth in an antique mall. You can find amazing stuff at estate sales, kitchen appliances, decorative items, books, clothing, holiday decorations and even unopened things like spray paint, coffee filters, paper cups. These are all at a fraction of the retail cost, especially if you go on the last day of the sale. I shop at Costco for bulk paper goods and other products where I know I’m saving money. There are websites that list senior and military discounts, I try to remember all of these if I am in a store or restaurant that offers those. Even thrift stores have senior and military discounts!

    1. No, you can’t always see them. They are also in holes screwed into furniture, etc. I have a whole post on this I am about ready to publish. You would have to take the furniture completely apart to look.

  14. You are so lucky to get an apartment with a separate bedroom and an outdoor space for what you pay. Where I live a one room ( studio) apartment with no balcony goes for $1200 without utilities. These are older units in iffy neighborhoods. My friend just moved into a studio in an converted hotel and she is afraid to use the elevator after 5-6 PM or go out in her car after dark. It’s so easy to look at others and see what we are missing instead of looking at what we have and realizing how really lucky we are.

    1. Oh, I realize how lucky I am on the rent. I just need to be able to pay it! I don’t know what kind of salary people make that can afford these exorbitant rents, but I don’t make it and likely never will. Oh yes, I am very grateful for what I have.

      1. I never go out after dark. I understand that some people have to work at night, so they can’t do that. I haven’t gone out after dark in the nearly 5 years (in April) that I’ve lived here. I’ve written too many crime stories years ago to know that darkness + women simply is a bad idea. Most crimes are crimes of opportunity.

    2. Those rent prices are very similar to those here in Connecticut. No wonder people are moving out of this state in droves.

  15. So many great ideas and tips in your post and from everyone else. Thank you so much! I’ve gleaned so much information.

    I’m just starting to live totally on my own however I’ve already learned quite a bit. Grocery shopping and cooking are a daunting task but I must admit I’m enjoying the challenge. LOL Sounds quite silly I know. I usually cook enough for at least two meals. I’ve made a nice pot of soup of couple of times – have a meal, refrigerate one more meal and freeze at least three more meals. This way when I simply don’t want to cook I have something ready to go in the freezer. I’ve also been doing either a baked potato with a salad or a sandwich with a salad – makes me happy.

    I buy all my groceries at Fry’s because I can get fuel points to save on gas. I make a list of errands and do all my running in one day – seems to save on time and gas.

    Wish I had more to offer! Give me a little time to learn. 🙂

  16. Hi Brenda,
    I read your blog every day and also have similar life stories. I have Spectrum and only use internet. It is about $75/mo. I use Basic Talk for my landline. It’s an internet phone service that plugs directly into your modem. It’s about $13/mo. I have Hulu and Netflex for around $20/mo total. So my total cable/phone/tv bill is a little over $100/mo. Spectrum just bought out Comcast in northern Kentucky where I live. I had the same deal with Comcast too.

    1. I looked up Spectrum, but it had pretty bad ratings. But you like it? I looked up Hulu, but I’m behind technologically with things like this and don’t quite understand what it works on. I don’t like to watch TV on my laptop. I would only want the Hulu that has lots of cable news, as that’s mostly what I watch.
      Then I read reviews on all these things, and it said using these alternate methods could cost you more in the long run due to all the things you get charged for.

      1. For Hulu and Netflix you need either roku which is what I’ve had for years. In fact my son gave me a TCL Roku tv for Christmas a couple of years ago. But you can get a Roku Stick or Amazon fire stick really cheap. I’m on my son’s Amazon prime so I get that for free. But to be honest I spend more time on YouTube than anything. I don’t have a lot of time to watch tv because I work part time but I certainly have more choices than I can watch. About your social security. My husband died in december. We have been separated for 8 years but not divorced. I applied for his SS over the phone. They told me to take our marriage certificate and his death certificate to the local office so they could make copies. This was the second time I had been to my local office. I had previously talked to a rep on the phone when I called about my own benefits. He said you don’t need an appointment, just go early. They have a sign in computer. You tell it why you are there and you get a number. I brought a book both times prepared to wait but hardly got started reading before I was called and the waiting room was pretty full. I think they give priority to people applying. It was NOT an unpleasant experience. Be sure to get everyone’s full name just in case. The lady i spoke to on the phone when have me her direct line to call her back. I don’t think you should wait until February. Just call them and ask to apply on the phone. I will start getting benefits in March a month after my 66th birthday. Hope this may help. Good luck! You can email me if you want.

          1. I think it may be that the roku is needed to watch Hulu or Netflix on a TV, but not necessary when watching on a computer.

  17. There are so many great ideas here. What a wonderful idea for a post and asking commenters to make suggestions was brilliant. I don’t have an Aldi near me, but I hear their prices are great and I’m hoping one goes in near me soon. I like the idea of asking ANY business if they have a senior discount or military discount. My husband was 100% service connected disabled and even though he has passed, I am still allowed a military discount when I mention it. Also, just asking abount discounts opens doors. I asked at Fred Meyer one day if it was senior discount day and it was not, but the person behind me told me of several discounts in the area; including that Taco Bell gives a senior drink for free. I was headed to Taco Bell next, so I asked, “Can I get a free drink because I’m old?” They laughed and said yes. I’ve gotten an unsweetened iced tea with extra ice ever since. I also love Little Free Libraries. There are many in my neighborhood and surrounding areas. I borrow from them once in a while and always take my extra books to one or the other. You don’t have to return the same book; any and all books are welcome. One day I even found a beautiful Christmas ornament left for someone to take. I pulled up to what I thought was a Little Free Library the other day and it turned out to be a neighborhood food pantry. I didn’t need anything, but have since placed several non perishable food items in it at different times.
    I took the Dave Ramsey classes and have used the debt snowball to reduce debt. In just about a year I will be totally debt free and have a nice emergency fund in the bank. Great post Brenda. Thank you. Sandra

  18. Hi Brenda, do you by any chance have Spectrum in your city? I have used them for a bit over 10 years now and there has never been even one problem. Always have service even when it rains. No outside equipment and a very competitive price. I’m a bit embarassed to say that I have cable (on 5 TV’s in a long house) , FAST internet & phone for under $200. I’m a TV person so one or all in on all the time. But I rarely go out so it is my connection with the world.

    You might be able to save some money by changing your carrier with one or the other specials they have that lock your rates for a couple of years. Then you can change again if you need to if they go up.

  19. Good tips! I save on the price of gas per gallon by having a BP Visa card (through Chase) and charging my gas purchases to it. I pay the card in full monthly. I don’t charge much else to it but gas, and we only fill up (two cars) once or twice a month. If you have to buy premium, you could save some by simply using a card such as that. A quick internet search of Cox Cable for your area shows they are offering internet (up to 100 mbps) and phone for $59.99 a month. Granted it’s an introductory offer for new customers, but even if it’s double that, you would be saving quite a bit. I’m glad you are going to check into it again. Also, I agree with a previous commenter that if you have savings in a low interest account at a local bank, you might check into better interest rates available online. I use Sallie Mae (it’s not just for students–I’m close to your age), and currently their high yield savings account is paying 2.1%, with no minimum balance and no monthly fees, FDIC insured.

  20. Brenda, there are so many great ideas here. I am sure that everyone can benefit from them. Cable/Bundle is outrageous. I am sure that with a few of these tips you might be able to get it down a little. I read recently that when you call to negotiate with your cable company you should tell them the price that a rival company is willing to offer you for a bundle and typically rather than loose you they agree to that price.

    I agree with the others who mentioned Aldi, not everything is less expensive there but they do have very inexpensive and fresh vegetables and fruit and so many other items.

    As for making money from/on your blog. Here is my suggestion. Sign up for Amazon associates. They way is works is, you place affiliate links in your post, for books, products, etc. I typically only use links for books and links of products that I personally use, read, buy etc, If someone clicks on the links you make a few pennies, if they purchase the item you make a little more and then if they purchase anything else in 24 hours you earn a percentage of their order. There is no added cost to the person clicking the links. With the amount of books that you review you should be able to earn something from promoting them. I would also recommend a “page” on your blog where all of your book reviews are kept with affiliate links to amazon, barns and Nobel etc so that you can earn money from the links whenever someone clicks to buy it.

    There are people that make a lot of money a month from links, and then there are some that only make a few dollars a day, that said, if you just promoted the books that you read, your favorite products, the place you order your dog food, etc, you might earn an extra $100 dollars or more.

    Also, I do not know which host that you use for your blog, but I know that most hosting sites have affiliate programs, for instance Bluehost. I have seen other bloggers make thousands of dollars a month from affiliate links to hosting sites.

    Another affiliate link idea, the person that designed your webpage? Maybe they offer an affliate program.

    You could also write articles and reviews for sites and they pay you. This is not something that I have first hand experience with but something that maybe others who follow you have done.

    If you are willing to write posts/review products you can join programs or approach companies and ask to write/review their products. With the amount of followers that you have you could earn from that.

    These are just a few suggestions. If you would like more information about my experience with Amazon, and other affliate links let me know.

    Have a great night!

  21. I have no cable and only a no frills landline. My car is 13 years old. I very rarely use a clothes dryer no takeout food or drinks at all. I only clothes shop when the clothes are falling off my back. I do use my library. Everything has gone up this year a lot house taxes, medical, utilities, food. I feel fortunate I have been able to stay in my home. My home is only a bit bigger than your apartment. It is the yard that is a challenge. As always Baron is my number one concern! Colleen & Baron

  22. Once again,Brenda,our lives pretty much mirror each other
    I’m on a fixed income,never enjoyed cooking so there are some processed foods that I buy,I try to look for Stouffers and Marie Callenders when on sale.I’ll also do a bowl of cereal here and there…I don’t have a stove either,I have a convection microwave combo and a hot plate and an electric skillet,it works.
    The fur kids supplies probably run about 20.00 a week,I’ve just started feeding a stray so that ups it a bit but I can’t stand the thought of an animal being hungry in this cold.
    My apartment is all electric and though tiny,its a very old house with tons of drafts and bad Windows add to that my thyroid problems that leave me cold,my electric bill is scary in the winter:)
    I look for Amazon deals on Kindle books,I cut cable 2 years ago and have a firestick,my bill is 69.99 a month for high speed wifi,your bills are high,but I understand, I’m rural and we only have 2 choices.
    Hi to the fur kids from Bella and Buddy:)

    1. Pat, my friend up the street puts plastic on the insides of her windows of her sun room during the winter with curtains over them. She says they then can use it when her kids and grandkids come for a visit. Just a thought….

  23. All of your ideas, are great, and many of them I use myself. We don’t have a cell phone, and our landline is only $20.00 a month, because we bundle with internet and TV. I do not have a tablet or Wifi, so I still buy books, but only those that are used on Amazon, and at 99 cents with shipping of 3.99, I don’t think that is bad. And most all of the books I get, are like new, never read. I go to the thrift store now and then, not too much any more, I have all the holiday things from years of collecting, and no longer collect vintage items, but again, I find books there for 50 cents or a little bit more. Your food items are pretty much what I have on hand, and what we buy also. Soups are a great meal, with cheese toast, and a applesauce cup. I do the same as you with the bread too. It lasts much longer that way. I go to a movie, once a year, when I visit my brother in the Twin Cities. It’s our get together and we go out for Chinese food. All and all, it’s amazing how much alike we are. Hugs from Wisconsin

  24. Here are some of my suggestions – please know I am not judging anyone with my comments. I follow these and share them in the spirit of community. Completely disregard if they don’t apply to you or your beliefs.

    You can get lots of free books and ebooks from your library. Most use Libby or Overdrive. You can download them right to your Kindle or your computer. I very rarely purchase books. The library is my friend! They will also happily order a book for you if they don’t have it on the shelves. Most libraries have websites that allow you to make suggestions and then be notified if it is purchased.

    Where ever you are saving/investing your money (should you have some) try to get the highest interest rate. Most often this not your local bank/savings account. If you have enough to invest, do so. You want to outpace inflation. (I know, I know, but it’s not that hard. Follow blogs like The Simple Dollar, Get Rich Slowly, and Mrs. Frugalwoods.) Vanguard or American Funds can be extremely helpful as well. Read up. Knowledge is power. {I hope it’s OK that I mentioned those blogs, Brenda.}

    Be very routine in calling your providers (insurance/cell phone/credit cards) and attempt to lower your rates/interest rates. They can only say no and you will be surprised how much negotiating power you have.

    Thrift stores! Go to thrift stores in the nicer areas of your City and I guarantee you there are nice clothes/items there. I cannot believe what I find at my local Goodwill. We live in such a consumerist society that people just get rid of perfectly good stylish clothing/household items because they want something new.

    Autoship. If you have pets Amazon’s subscribe and save or Chewy will save you money if you autoship. Amazon will do that on lots of products as well.

    Credit cards: Use one that gives you the “points” or rewards that you will use. If you shop at Nordstroms, their Visa gives you Nordstrom Notes. This allows you to drastically reduce your clothing budget. Amazon has multiple cards that provide points back that can be applied to your monthly credit statement. If you travel, get a travel card. Learn the terms of your credit card. They offer more services than you think.

    Exercise to the best of your ability. Eat properly with no/low processed foods. Medical expenses are crippling. Taking care of yourself is the best long term solution you have at your disposal.

    Reduce single use items. Grandma was right. Handkerchiefs, cloth napkins, rags to clean and wash all save money long term. Glass jars can be reused for storage of just about anything. Upcycle and reuse where you can.

    Just a few suggestions. Hope they help!

  25. Hi Brenda,
    I shop at Aldi for groceries. Their prices are great and they offer 100 percent money back guarantee if not satisfied with an item. Luckily I have one 5 minutes away.
    I also get a couple of my prescriptions filled at Meijer which offer certain generics free.
    I just switched to a different cell phone carrier Mint mobile that is 20.00 a month for unlimited text and minutes and 5GB data. We cut our home phone about 5 years ago.
    We are hoping to cut the cable cord within a year. We are paying 50.00 a month for wifi but have cable with it for a year for an additional 60.00. I’m researching tv apps now to replace the cable. I could go really cheap but my husband wants that darn ESPN that raises the price.

  26. A great post — thank you for giving us so many good tips for saving money and stretching our income.

    I do love to read and I feel extremely fortunate that the main library in our county is just a couple of blocks away — close enough to walk. The library has quite a good selection of reading materials and also offers free programs/lectures/exercise classes for the community. So if possible it might be a good idea for some of the readers to take advantage of the local library. Quite a few of the programs are directed to those on fixed income — free income tax service, cooking for one, managing your budget, using coupons, etc. Also, in my small town, there are numerous lending libraries that are located in my neighbor’s yards. Usually the message on each small lending library is: Take a Book, Leave a Book. Enjoy. Quite a few of these offer books, magazines, and slightly used coloring books.

    Hope you have a wonderful relaxing Sunday with Ivy and Charlie. Great photos as usual!

  27. Hi Brenda,

    Another good place for reading free books is Libby. Get the Libby app and connect your library card. I use it to download audiobooks that I listen to when I walk my dog.

  28. Lots of good ideas. I have internet and a landline but no cable; I have a Netflix subscription which gives me plenty of tv watching for $8.99/month. I don’t subscribe to the newspaper because I can watch the local news/weather on my computer, and I need one postage stamp per month because I pay my bills online. I consolidate my errands too to save on gas and time. Ask at stores for senior discounts! Petsmart here offers a senior discount at the grooming salon on Tuesdays, and it is also the “senior discount day” at the supermarket.

      1. I just checked Hulu and Netflix. What I mainly watch is Cable News. And apparently only a few types of TVs can be used. I don’t like to watch on my laptop.

        1. Brenda, check into a roku , it hooks up to your older tv and enables you to access streaming apps such as netflix and hulu or my personal fav direct now. You can go to each streaming service website to research which one would be best for you, some offer local channels too. And you could also do what I did and split the cost with my neighbor and we share the service

          1. LOVE my Roku. I added a sports package for $5 just through the winter and then I have the Lifestyle package for $5 all the time. So I think my bill is $30. I do have Hulu for $6 and Netflix for $14, but I share those with both of my kids. We can all log into those accounts (Hulu & Netflix) on the TV, computers & Kindles so it’s worth it to me.

            Also, most banks offer free bill pay. So if you have any bills you need to actually write a check and mail, set up on your banks bill pay. Zero hassle! No postage for you!

  29. Hi Brenda,
    You have great ideas. A lot of them I’ve done and still do. Thank you. I am currently living with me adult children (or they are living with me), but I am trying to plan for retirement as a single woman and it looks like its going to be tough. I raised my 5 children before I returned to get my degrees and back to the work force so my Social Security isn’t much. Anyway, I am looking for ways to prepare ahead of time.

    I do want you to know that your public library gives you access to lots of free items. Depending upon where you live, you can get all kinds of ebooks (Kindle and epub format), DVDs, live streaming of movies and television shows (my favorite BBC shows) through HOOPLA, and of course actual print books. I’m a librarian, can you tell. I am always surprised by people who come in to the library who didn’t know that they can get Kindle books. Of course, it depends on your public library and what databases they subscribe too, but don’t forget. We have all kinds of programs too-educational and recreational.

    Thank you for sharing your life with us. I know many of us feel like friends even though we don’t comment all the time.

    Clara

    1. I started accessing ebooks through my library a year ago and I love it. They offer the latest books and have even bought books that I’ve requested. There’s no driving involved and no late fees. Hooray for libraries!
      Like Clara, I look forward to your posts.

    2. I just personally have no reason to go to the library. I can get what I need online, even from there. When my kids were young we practically lived at the library!

      1. You can pick and download the Kindle books from the library at home. I rarely go to the library unless there is a book I want to read that does not come on Kindle. They have thousands and thousands of books you can read for free.

        1. Brenda, The library to obtain online ebook and magazines is GREAT. All you need to have is a library card from your local library, which is free. You just open up the library’s website, sign in with your library card number and search for ebooks and download them to your Kindle. They will automatically disappear from your Kindle when they are due back. Magazines, on the other hand, will remain, with no dues payable, until your “return” them.

  30. Have you looked for a Thrift store in your area, especially one that supports a Cancer Cause? Wonderful people donate & volunteer there and I recycle great magazines and books there. On top of that, I then shop there for darling decorating accessories. Magazines are .25/each usually and bundles of yarn are .50-$1.00. Oh it goes on and on…Maybe you can save your Walgreen’s points for more needed medical supplies and find ‘goodies’ in a thrift store.

    1. I was talking to a guy who runs a pest control company. And he advised me not to buy anything from a thrift store or garage sale now due to the infestation of bed bugs in almost anything. Even wood furniture. And especially books and such.

  31. Okay – here’s a suggestion. Are you sure you need to pay an accountant to do your taxes every year? I am thinking you might be able to take the forms from last year and just plug in your new figures from 2018. You mentioned laws possibly changing on the deductions. You could either look those up on your own or have your pro figure it out for this year and then use that info starting next year.

    1. I’m not Brenda, but I also have a blogging business and yes, you do need an accountant. I save about $600 or more a year when my accountant does the taxes from when I was doing them. And he costs $200. So it’s definitely worth it.

      When you work for yourself, the taxes get more complicated and you can miss a lot of deductions and rules. And those rules change from year to year.