Monday, July 29, 2013

Austerity August

Image: http://my.firedoglake.com/greydog/files/2012/08/Austerity-401k-300x300.jpg

The new month approaches, and several are naming it, "Austerity August" for a variety of reasons. It's fitting as August is always my most challenging month, financially speaking. I am going into the new month with all of my bills paid in full, except for the CC bill which will come in a few weeks.

I've transferred my monthly payments for the car loan that I paid off early, into my savings account. I'll make my next "payment" to myself at the end of Sept. I will continue to do this until I reach the month when the former loan would have otherwise been paid off (July 2014) Then, those same funds will be set aside for my next car purchase, hopefully a year or 2 later. I also hope to see my house savings account grow quickly, as I anticipate needing little, material wise, the next year. Should we move, that will incur cost, as will some things for a possible new rental. As with this location, I would use what I already have on hand, whenever possible. If we do move, I anticipate needing to address:
-window coverings
-a bed for DS #1
-2-4 window A/C units. (one per bedroom) I currently have 2, which were the worst condition ones from my marital home, and they need replacement. One has side "wings" that are simply broken, so I've duct taped them closed.  Hoping for Freecycle on that as one can easily spend $200/unit. I also hate to invest in new A/C units when I don't know if my next home (purchase) will have central A/C or not.
-perhaps 2 dressers (one for DD and one for DS #1)
The rest of our basic furniture needs have been addressed this past year, including some wants such as rugs, decorative pieces. If we move, once settled, I wouldn't be surprised if wants/needs arose. That is normal.

To date, I am left with over 2 months worth of household budget  in the checking account.  I just need to get through until Sept 15th, when my next check arrives. In the meanwhile:

-we will aim to have days where the car sits in the driveway, all car trips will be bundled, as usual
-we will eat down more of the food on hand, before replacing it. Yes, some fresh items will be purchased such as milk, but otherwise, unless it's a phenomenal deal, expenditure will be kept to a minimum
-we will forage for wild raspberries, freeze for Winter use
-arrange to go apple picking, again putting up for the next year
-I plan on purchasing bulk "second" tomatoes for canning. I've sent out emails to 2 organic farmers to see if that is an option this Summer. Tomato crop so far looks like it will be phenomenal this year, and we certainly do use a lot of them
-a keen eye will be kept on food, to avoid waste.
-we continue to eat less meat at meals
-more and more scratch cooking
-many items are getting used up, but there is no urgency to immediately replace them. One more serving of yogurt is on hand until . . .? - we have alternatives
-restaurants? we rarely frequent them. It will be DD's birthday next month, the option is still available for her, if she chooses to eat out to celebrate. Otherwise, we simply won't. I have to make it at home instead (unless I have a GC)
-back to school/work clothes shopping will be held off as long as possible. I've always done this, especially as the kids are still in Summer gear for the first 2 months of school. I do NEED to purchase dress pants for myself. So far, the second hand market has not yielded any success. I keep trying
-no vacation this year. I am still recovering from shoulder surgery. Perhaps a day trip or 2 can be worked out, however. a trip to the movies, a pizza night out (got gift certificates), picnic at one of the parks in town
-all laundry will be line or inside air dried to further reduce the electric bill
-we are adjusting to our small, kitchen refrigerator. I am contemplating shutting off the undercounter, "bar" refrigerator used for overstock. Not much in there, this would yield savings, once we eat more out of the current fridge such as the 5 lb bag of carrots taking up 1/2 of the bottom shelf
-while the dishwasher is used, it is set to "air dry" for savings
-I use a wash basin in the sink. It costs me money to pump the water into the house (well) and it costs even more to heat it (oil burner)
-A/C, if needed, is reserved for at night and we gather in my room and stay cool while watching TV
-light usage continues to be monitored. Days are getting shorter, I've noticed already
-all bills will continue to be reviewed such as cell phone, cable, newspaper.
-our medical bills are in flux as our insurance changed to a high deductible plan, effective July 1. We have to eat $4000 in medical bills before ins. pays out 100% of the rest, assuming that the provider is in plan. Fortunately, well physicals, immunizations, well woman care are covered at 100% so this "donut hole" doesn't exist for those visits. Ditto semi-annual dental cleanings. This is an interesting change, we are getting accustomed to it. While my take home pay is projected to rise a bit, as premiums for this type plan are lower than my previous ins., after taxes, it will be a wash most likely. I need to adjust my household budget to reflect this new system.
-I have looked into selling some books at a used book store for "credit" at that store. I'll need to see what they have and glean if they carry things I'd be interested in. To purchase, I have to use 1/2 store credit, 1/2 cash-it's policy. So I am thinking on this vs simply donating these books away, taking a tax slip and being done with it. I really don't want any more books in the home. We are definitely frequent flyers at the library. : )

7 comments:

Nancy said...

Things are pretty austere around here too although I will get a very tiny paycheck August 30th that will help take us into September. I continue to be amazed by your abilities. I'm already rearranging my September bill paying schedule.

Judy S said...

I was so happy today that my youngest was able to rent all of the textbooks she needed. That is a huge savings. Plus putting the clothes line is starting to make a difference in the elec bill. Well that and cutting back on the ac a lot

Frugal Queen said...

I'm utterly convinced that a lot of American health care is sold to you, we don't routinely go to the doctor in the UK and most of us only go once every five years for cancer screening. We know how to detect cancers/lumps and keep aware of bowel movements as well as health symptoms such as change in menstrual health. We ave healthcare based on need not profit, so as you can imagine its a needs must system. I haven't been to the doctor in three years. Another thing, air con - we don't have it and the temperatures hit 40 and it's uncomfortable but we just get on with it. I'm also surprised that rented houses don't come supplied with it. Just my 10 pence worth xxxx love Froogs xx

Frugal in Derbyshire said...

Comprehensive list there. have gleaned a few ideas for myself!
Judy S's comment is useful. Also, universities have a second hand book service which cuts costs considerably
Gill

CTMOM said...

Froogs
Here in New England, we are fortunate that A/C is needed only a few weeks out of the year at most. In the South-months! 3 of us have medical conditions that requre A/C on certain days, depending upon humidity, temperature and air quality. Sadly, CT has frequent poor air quality alert days. : (
My body is comfortable up to low 80's, then it's not pleasant-especially if there is high humidity, I just don't fare well. Rentals don't automatically come with A/C-especially what I'll deem "lower on the totem pole" rentals. This is a lower rent home, originally a hunting cabin that has been added on to 3 times. Very charming "cottage." but remains a modest, certainly not a typical Fairfield county executive home, which would be more like 4000 sq feet and would most definitly have A/C-centralized, I am sure.

As far as American health care goes, yes it is a very different system than found in Europe. Typically, I have an annual well women care exam and mamograms, then bi annual dental cleanings and I'm done. I have complete physicals every 5 years. . I also go to the opthomologist every 2 years for eye exams. My children get their annual physicals, including a separate well woman exam for DD, bi annual dental cleanings, and they also go every 2 years for their eye exams, unless there is a concern. We see specialists as needed. We are keen to watch for signs of illness and address them immediately, as warrented.

Marcia in rural WNY said...

You are lucky to be younger than I and get by with annual and semi-annual exams for doctor and dental. I and each of my two daughters were diagnosed in our late 20's with hypertension. The older one, who died in an accident 8 years ago, had a stroke at 39, although not a serious one. She died at 42 unrelated to her health until then. I have gone to the doctor quarterly since age 27, as well visits. Also suffer from asthma, less of a problem now that I am retired from picking up germs serving the public at work. I have had a lot of trouble with urinary tract infections also, requiring daily medication for the past several years to ward off repeated re-infection. Of course these issues also require occasional tests and follow up care as well. Fortunately I acquired good health care coverage, including prescripton coverage, from keeping the same job for 20 years. Unfortunately, no dental or vision coverage since DH retired. We both have multiple dental problems, both wear glasses, and he has had two retinal detachments in the same eye--mainly covered by Medicare and our private insurance, but required two surgical procedures and really expensive specialist care. Just some idea of what age may hold in store for you---I know you have medical needs for your family as well. I also have (hereditary) atherosclerosis, three stents in my abdomen, peripheral artery disease---all these are being carefully watched and require at least annual testing as well. Very important for both our families that medical coverage is maintained as a job perk! Medicare has helped a great deal with ours, so we need to be vigilant that the system does not change to our detriment.

I just want to say, also, that we consider ourselves "healthy" compared to our peers. We are 70 and 71, and feel well and undertake regular exercise and try to stay at a healthy weight, although my attempts are less successful than DH's. Making sure you don't misuse money as you go along is certainly a bonus when it comes to these later in life medical expenses. We purposely bought a used house, considerably less expensive than most of our friends, because we didn't buy until age 40 and didn't want to be overburdened when college costs hit us. We are chronic "underspenders" and we like it that way! Your example helps me to keep on track as well. We think "FIX" before thinking "replace" on everything we buy. Just yesterday, DH glued the sponge bottom of my swiffer so I didn't have to replace the entire thing just yet. Mending little tears and holes using the sewing machine greatly prolongs the life of clothing and household linens also. I know you know this, because I know you sew.

The old "depression" ways of thinking that MY parents grew up with are still valid today. The one thing Mom did admit before she disappeared into dementia, is that she would have eaten out more often! I will admit that was a treat we didn't get often--and didn't miss much, since there were not fast food places on every corner then.
Nothing makes us feel more secure these days than money in the bank, and being able to handle the costs that do come up without problems. It's certainly worth the effort.

CTMOM said...

Marcia
The past few years have been filled with orthopedic issues for me. Outside of that, I am fairly healthy. I also have asthma (very mild, well controlled). Such a different ins. plan, something we are adjusting to.