Thursday, July 8, 2021

How I Live on Little $$$$$

 I know I live on less money than many people believe possible.  My past and my way of life for years has enabled me to do this.  I do have a decent income with SS and PERF (hub's retirement).  I have really started saving more - which was truly surprising to me.
I don't necessarily save to just have it - but to live in case of emergencies or need for spending on big projects.  I also like having extra to donate at times.
I pretty much live on less than one of these checks per month.

My biggest save is  the house!  It is PAID for.  We bought a very inexpensive home, smaller than most might want and worked hard to pay it off as soon as possible.  That is a blessing now.  My property taxes are very reasonable.  Homeowner's insurance costs far more than anything else I pay - as I cover myself for for any problem that may arise. (called an Umbrella).  I pay that insurance once a year and it is NOT included in my monthly budget $.  It comes from savings.

Next I stay home and do NOT shop very often.  I know people who feel the need to go to stores of some sort every day!!!!  Not me.  Staying home and not spending is a huge money saver.
I often make plans to go out shopping and then talk myself our of it!!!!  I really need nothing.  Why should I go out and tempt myself?

I don't grocery shop every week.  No need.  I have a very ample pantry and deep pantry.  If not for pets and animals I wouldn't need to spend much of anything for a LONG, LONG time.  
I can eat a very varied diet for a long while and not shop.  If I would run out of fresh - I can canned and frozen.  I could survive quite well.
I grow a garden - not huge - but ample.  It could be more if I so desired.

I USE up everything.  I use all leftovers in some way - whether another meal, re-inventing into something new, or freezing for the future.
I wear my clothes for a long time - I don't dress fancy, so no need for fancy clothes.  I spend most of my life barefoot or in flip-flops!  I do have good shoes!!  LOL

I do NOT shop online.  Nope!!!  I just don't.  I want to see what I am buying.

I have lowered my basic bills as low as I can.  I am now in the process of lowering a couple of bills that will add up to about another $100 a month that I don't have to spend.  You can call places and ask for lower rates - many times they say yes (especially if you threaten to leave!)

I don't buy a lot of gifts. I give homemade items and gift cards for most.  Little kids get stuff - but I watch for deals and  sales.

I use what I have.  I cook from home and don't go out to eat (unless it is with a gift card).  I experiment with food - so have variety.  I can make things.  I am handy around the house and yard.  I can repair many things myself.  IF I can in any way do it myself, I will.  I have and know many family, friends, and neighbors that are in various trades - and I would rather help them with my business than strangers.

My monthly budget DOES include all utilities, Medicare and supplemental insurance, life insurance and household expenses.
I do vehicle insurance 2X a year, car registration 1X, property taxes 1X (I pay all at once) and homeowner's insurance 1X a year.  These all come from savings (part of why I save).

Mainly, I have ENOUGH!!!!!  I don't need big and fancy.  I don't need new and improved.  I don't need gadgets out the wazoo.  I can make do with what I have and that is MY choice.  I am blessed in so many ways.  There are so many people in the world who would feel rich with what I have.  Many would feel rich with what you have.  Sure others would feel poor - but I do feel sorry for those people.  
People have become accustomed to having SO much - to excess.  It isn't needed and doesn't make you any happier (some may argue that).
Now I realize that there are many who have medical problems and need to spend funds on supplies and medications.  Those can be huge.  

I am content with my life and with what I have.  I could have more and bigger - and maybe I will at some point - but I don't have to.  I have enough.
Learn to live BENEATH your means and you can live well.  Don't fall for the temptations of others and for the need of stuff.  You really need very little to live a happy life.

I hope this makes someone feel OK that they don't have big, new, expensive and fancy stuff.  It is OK.  You live you!  I live me!  We don't have to be the same.  We don't have to agree.  
We just need to be true to ourselves and plan a little bit for the future.  Things happen and come up.  We DO need to be prepared for those.

Be happy with what you have - you are far "richer" than most!
Remember "rich" really has nothing to do with $$$$$$.


  1. I totally agree with you. I used to be a "shopper" and enjoyed getting the bargain, even if it wasn't something I desperately needed. My closet was packed!

    My wake up came when my husband passed and his monthly pension was cut in half (widow's pension is 50%). That loss of income hurt and I was unsure if I could make ends meet on that new amount. My ways changed -- immediately. And I worked hard to pay off all of our debt -- two home equity loans, thousands in credit card debt, his car loan ... In the 7 years since his death, it was all paid off and I have retired, too. Even with that additional decline in income, there's now money leftover at the end of the month and I've yet to have to touch any retirement funds. It CAN be done!

    A couple of things I've focused on: (1) I've learned about investing by working with a financial advisor I've come to trust, so I know what my savings is and what it is making. I may not completely understand the process, but have someone to advise me, monitor the market for me, and let me know when changes are needed. (2) And possibly MORE importantly, I've focused on my credit score -- knowing what it is and watching to make sure it doesn't drop below where I need it to be. (3) Educating myself about major purchases BEFORE I walk in the store to purchase.

    When I decided to sell my home and move into a townhome, this knowledge helped me determine where I could get the most "bank for my buck" and what rates I could qualify for. And when I had to replace my vehicle, I can't tell you how empowering it was to walk into the dealership as a single female who was assigned to the lowest level sales person, and know exactly what I wanted, what I was willing to pay (vs. sticker), what interest rate I qualified for, and to tell the salesman flat out that I wanted xxx vehicle (make, model, color preference, and options), I could pay cash but would prefer not to, I had checked my credit score that morning and knew that I qualified for the 0% financing, and they could work with me or I'd take my business elsewhere. They kept countering, trying to get me to finance for a longer term at 1%, or lowered the price if I took a 3-year term at 2%. But I stuck to my guns -- I'm not paying more than $xx,xxx, 0% financing, or I go elsewhere. As we neared the 1-hour mark in the back and forth, I actually told the salesman "you have 5 minutes to get me the papers or I'm outa here." Although it was a 5-year term, at 0% I am using their money, while mine continues to accrue interest.

    I don't buy on credit unless (1) the interest rate is well below what I can make on my accounts, or (2) I can pay it off in full when it comes due. Learning this has given me much more power than I ever knew I had.

    1. YOU GO GIRL!!!!! You are a great example of it can be done! Determination and a go get 'em attitude is what it takes. I hate that people women don't know anything and can't negotiate for themselves.
      I like you have a much trusted advisor I turn to and can call at anytime. He has steered us right for years. I have investments and don't PLAN on touching them until I have to.

      Love how you have research and stuck to your plans and did it! It sure as heck can be done!!!! Ladies - listen up and pay attention. No woman should ever feel inferior when making major decisions. Do the work!!!!

      I use a credit it card now and then - but pay it off at the end of the month. Love the phrase "using their money"!! Why not? Super.
      Thank you for jumping in and also showing what a little work and education can do.
      We sometimes get put in a hard place in life (with spousal death) and just have to figure it out!

    2. I love it! That's how we roll!

    3. Great post and response from Lori, I use a 'cash back' credit card to pay for most items and fuel throughout the month, moving the money in the bank into a special account, then I always have the allocated amount to clear the credit card in full each month - I then love the month of August when the 'cash back' is paid against my account - it's been as much as £50+ some years.
      Love reading your posts thank you x

  2. Great post Cheryl. I wish more people used their money more carefully and prepared for the unknown but so many do not and live well above their means. The peace of mind I have is worth way more than anything I could buy. Your last line sums it up perfectly. Rich really has nothing to do with money.

    1. Thanks. Most people I know live above their means - or want to look like it. I have never understood it. Peace of mind is PRICELESS!!!

  3. This is very encouraging. I made dill pickles this week with the first cucumbers from our garden. Five pints is a start! I invested in a water bath canner this week, also. I've been making due with my pots and pans for years, but it will be safer to have proper equipment. I used a gift card balance and a birthday/mother's day gift from my son. It's a gift that will give back to him as well. ~smile~
    Blessings from Harvest Lane Cottage

    1. Sure enough. Some items are worth more than their weight in gold. They give and give and the canner sure will.
      Glad you are getting veggies and plan on canning. They sure taste good!

  4. This is a terrific blog post, Cheryl. I could have written a similar one. Staying home during the pandemic cemented staying home for me. I have all that I need here, staying home is where it’s at.

    1. I agree. I have never been a go and do it kind of gal. Always a homebody - but since being alone, I am even more so. I make no apologies for that either!
      Home is where we thrive and grow and where we are comfortable.

  5. Great post as ever Cheryl.
    What good advice from you all.
    Pam in TX.x

    1. Thank you muchly! The gals always come through!!!

  6. Your post is so important to those who have not learned your habits. First of all be happy with what you have. We have so much more than most people. You are such a great example to me and others, keep up the good work my friend.

    1. Thank you so much. It is just what you make it. Life can be miserable or good. I choose good. Can't fathom why anyone wouldn't.
      Appreciate your kind words.

  7. We live very much like you! Paid off house and a 1/12th share in a house on a lake. That share saved us a ton of money over the 21 years we have owned it. We had a place to get away four times a year for less than $500 a year since we paid cash for our share at the very beginning when real estate was very cheap there. And we had a full kitchen and laundry so we did not have to spend other money. The reason we have such a low cost is that all the partners are frugal minded like us. It is comfortable and clean even if all the silverware is mismatched and the furniture doesn't all match.

    We run every purchase through a 2% cash back credit card and we make enough each year to cover some unexpected cost. It bought a new second refrigerator two years ago and this year went to a car repair. We record every purchase in the checkbook register as though it was a debit card purchase so that when the bill comes we can just pay it and it has all been subtracted from our budget.

    We only spend on what we truly need here. We are over the accumulating stuff stage of life. In June we had to replace both our waffle iron and electric griddle but they were both many, many years old and so we knew it was a need since we had worn both of them out. The new waffle iron make makes wonderful waffles. A friend recently said that it costs their family of four $30 plus tip to go out for waffles. The new waffle iron was only $36 and will be in use for probably as long as we need one.

    We were able to go to a retirement seminar at my husband's former employer and it was so helpful. We do pull 4% from our 401K every year as was recommended to us in that session. At that rate we will never exceed what it earns every year. That money goes into our money market fund for things like replacing a vehicle and paying cash. We don't want to be in a position where we have to pull a large amount at once and have a huge tax bill so we pull a small amount each year for savings. This is approved by our financial planner. I read an article recently talking about how retirees are not using their retirement savings and getting enjoyment out of them and are dying with huge amounts of money, way more than they retired with, just to be left to their heirs. That really made me think because I have a tendency to be overly frugal instead of thinking in the long term of really how many years do we have to enjoy being able to go and do. It goes by so fast.

    My husband's absolute favorite thing is eating out. So we do but we have a cash budget for it each month and when we have spent it it is gone. We can really stretch that money with coupons and specials though. My feelings on that are that he earned the money in a very stressful job while I was at home with our kids so now that he is retired he can have some simple pleasures from all those years of working. We enjoy meeting friends for breakfast a couple of times each month so it is also entertainment.

    We have a nearby park on a beautiful little lake only about two miles from home. We love to pack a simple meal and go sit by the water and eat and talk. In the heat of summer sometimes we go grab two breakfast biscuits out and pack our own coffee and go for breakfast. This is a really inexpensive outing. It is fun to watch the fishermen launch their boats. I see on Facebook all the time that families went here or there and did expensive things but we don't need that. I am happy to say that our kids don't spend money like that either. They camp and hike and go for picnics just like how they were raised. Our daughter whose family are missionaries in Germany can have an evening out for 20 cents! They walk downtown and the kids get to pick a gummy candy at the candy store for 5 cents each and then they ride the mechanical horse for another five cents each. They walk home and everybody had a good time!

    We enjoy our frugal lifestyle and I am happy to not have to lay awake at night wondering how we will pay all the bills!

    1. Love this. You sound very wide.
      Heck my silverware is mismatched and none of my furniture really matches in my HOUSE!!! LOL It doesn't have to cost a lot to have a good time.
      We used to camp - first it was tent camping, then we got a slip in for our truck (very used and then we sold it to someone we knew and got a very old camper trailer permanently set where we camped. I think we paid $1,500 for it and we enjoyed it every other weekend for months each year for years. Then sold it!

      I can take a percentage of investment but will wait till I am 70 or whatever age it is you have to take it.
      You know I wonder what we all save for. I want to be able to live a nice life and not worry - but why should I leave it all to someone else to spend? We earned ours and so can they!

      I like you idea on eating out - a budget. Nice simple meals at the park sounds wonderful. Your daughters family shows the real meaning of simplicity and happiness. That is so cool.

      There is much to be said about knowing your roof is paid for and your next meal is close by. Peace of mind.

    2. It should say WISE not wide - LOL

    3. When I said that about mismatched I didn't think about here at home! LOL! My Mom says my style of decor is 'early attic'! Well it feels good to me!

    4. Early attic - I LOVE THAT!!!!!

  8. I love this post Cheryl. My mother (who always taught us how to help others in need) always used to say 'there's always someone who has far less than we do'. We weren't poor, but having lived through segregation in South Africa, we didn't have all kinds of luxuries. Yet my mother always insisted in sharing with others, especially the hungry.

    We live similar to the way you do. Our house is paid for. We are debt free. DH & I are still employed, but we live way below our means. We can afford all kinds of luxury items or vehicles, but choose to not waste our money like that.

    1. Your Momma sounds like a smart lady. You don't have to have a lot of stuff to be rich at heart. Being a good person costs nothing.
      Simple is not bad - I think it makes for a quite nice life.

  9. I agree with every word you said on this post. And if you're happy spending less, and not buying every tech toy or useless gadget in existence that's your business and nobody else's. You could if you wanted to and you choose not to, and you're content with what you have, I say good for you! Too bad more people aren't happy with what they have.

    1. Thanks - that is pretty much how I feel. My life - I will live it the way I choose.
      Yes, people with all the stuff and tons of money really don't seem happy in most cases.

  10. Love to read your blog. You are practical and appreciate what you have. I always wonder why some people keep changing out all their decor and furniture (like my mother in law) I buy what I love and what makes me happy so that I can have it for a very long time. Why have things around that have bad memories or are not pleasing to you. I have learned a lot from your blogs like the one a few days ago about things you can make from scratch. I actually cut and pasted and printed out the ones I want to try. My food is simple but good and I appreciate little things like a good book to read and if it was free or from a thrift store or yard sale even better. Life is good if you see it that way and don't keep reaching for stuff and thinking it will all make you a happier person. You are as happy as you make your mind up to be. Take care.

    1. Thank you! I appreciate that.
      I don't care what others think of my home and my stuff - I like it.
      You are so right - some people are always reaching for more and higher thinking the next thing will make them happy. It doesn't. Stuff is stuff. A good heart and the love of those we care for is all we really need.
      Have a good one!

  11. Oh my, Cheryl, how I love your post today. It is MY life also!! I have been widowed for four years now and with no immediate family to help I have learned what I am capable of doing. I was raised with the idea that you NEVER buy the most expensive or the least expensive. You always by the middle of the road. The less bells and whistles, the less problems. I also believe in using up and using what I have. Like you, I take care of myself and find going out shopping is NOT my forte'. I prefer to make my own bread, goodies, cleaning supplies, etc. I hate spending money and prefer to just save it for things that may pop up. So good to know that you are making it on your own and I feel the same. Keep up the good work and please continue to send all your saving ideas to us. Love them!!

    1. Thank you!! It is comforting to know that others have gone through the same things and have learned along the way as well.
      Glen used to say the same thing - the fancier something was the more problems you will end up having. More things to break! It sure seems so.
      I think the same about my little house - less to clean and less to heat and cool!!

      I like shopping at the grocery - but usually talk myself out of it. I have plenty - so why go?
      You just never know when something big will happen. Last fall I had the water heater go out and boy was I surprised at how much those went up in price!!! Car repairs, house maintenance - you just never know. Best to be prepared for anything.
      Take care!

  12. Excellent post! Folks chase after happiness by shopping and acquiring goods. Philippians 4:11 "Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content". There is a difference between being wise with your money and being parsimonious. A person who is wise with her money is usually very content, whereas the parsimonious (penurious, niggardly, or just plain stingy) are also tight with their attitude toward life and others. There are so many things in this world that we cannot control but being free from debt and the desire to have every single gadget shown on TV and the newest and best is actually very freeing. The Urban Farmer and I are very blessed and acknowledge that our Elohim has provided for our needs. Amen to Miss Crystal's comment: You are as happy as you make your mind up to be.

    Gonna be a cooler day so I intend to fully enjoy it!

    1. Amen! True words for sure. It does seem like those who have the least amount of things or maybe even money are the ones who go out of their to help someone else. It comes back so much greater for the giver than the receiver.

      Been keeping busy outside this wonderful day!

  13. I find that the older I get, the less I want!! This is a wonderful post.

    1. Same here!!!!!!! Nothing much impresses me any more! Thank you

  14. Really enjoyed this post. Like someone else, we charge every purchase and receive a nice rebate. We pay it off every month and also get a rebate on the money spent! Win-win!

    We are 74 and 78 and we had to start taking our "required minimum distribution" at age 70 1/2 I believe. It is part of our monthly income. One advantage for us, my husband didn't start taking his social security payment till age 70, which is the largest amount. He still continued to work with no penalty till age 76--so we were able to save that check every month!

    We belong to a credit union so we have about 8 accounts, and $ goes in to the savings on a monthly basis, so that homeowner's insurance bill is already saved for...etc.

    I am curious as to why you have a life insurance policy? (none of my business) We got rid of ours once the kids were out on their own.

    have a great day!

    1. Thank you! I get points to use for gift cards on my charge card. I need to turn those in - I have a bunch saved up!

      That is great that your hubs kept working with the SS and required distribution as well. That really help build your nest egg.
      Funny you mention that many accounts. I have one at the credit union - that I just pretty much forget about. I figure I will never be broke!!!! Also I can use the credit union for a loan if so needed.
      Bank I have 4 accounts and still have 2 CD's! Yep I do.

      My life insurance is through Prudential and it is a life insurance and an investment account as well. Minimum amount goes for life and rest is invested. It has built very nicely over the years - then I added Glen's investment $ to it. My beneficeries (sp) are guaranteed the life insurance - investment varies. It never goes below making a certain % - but can gain a lot if the market so dictates.
      We kept life insur. just to help out w/funeral expenses and maybe loss of income for a while. My niece and nephews will have the insurance to pay for my funeral (if I don't first).
      Funny - I had more life insurance than Glen did because he was disabled and would need help if something happened to me. That would be a big expense. Sadly that isn't how things worked out.
      Funeral payment (for me) is next on my agenda.
      Have a good one.

  15. Love this post!You inspire me:)