Monday, July 27, 2015

This Week on the Dining Table

It's the "Lazy Week" Edition--

Not much going on here this past week.  If you don't count getting a head start on my month end money stuff.
Here's about the most excitement I had last week......

I opened this bottle of root beer brewed in the Virgin Islands that I picked up while in Fredericksburg VA.
It was quite tasty as root beers go and if I see it again at this price in my travels I'll buy some more.
Onward to the meal planning!
Here's what was planned last week.......

1. Sunday--Chicken Parm, Tossed Salad
2. Monday--Roast Chicken, Squash Casserole
3. Tuesday--Leftovers
4. Wednesday--Tacos
5. Thursday--Pulled Pork Sandwiches with Cole Slaw(leftover)
6, Friday--BLT sandwiches
7. Saturday--Leftovers
And this is what actually happened--

1. Sunday--Chicken Parm, Tossed Salad
2. Monday--Roast Chicken, Squash Casserole
3. Tuesday--Leftover chicken Parm made into Subs
4. Wednesday--Tacos
5. Thursday--Leftover Pulled Pork Sandwiches with Cole Slaw
6, Friday--Risotto with Leftover Chicken and Mushrooms, Stir-fry Veggies
7. Saturday--McDonald's Chicken Sandwich

Pretty much everything as planned except no BLT's and I made Risotto using leftover chicken and I was too tired to cook Sat. night so Hubs went to Mickey D's and got me a chicken sandwich(he got a Big Mac).  I made a cheese grits with leftover country ham for breakfast Sat. morning and served it with fried apples slices.  Now I have a big dish of THAT to use up.

As for my grocery spending last week.....

2 trips to Weis, doing the paper product deal x 2 and some other loss leaders plus a gallon of milk at the independent grocer.  I spent $81.39 on $228.87 of regular retail goods.
Plus that $100 I dropped on Rite-Aid gift cards(to use later this year) so I am up to $181.39 of spending for last week.

Leftovers going into this week--some roast chicken, taco meat, tiny bit of barbecue pork, cole slaw, lots of risotto, stir-fried veggies and a big portion of that Grits breakfast casserole I made on Sat.
We had some food waste this week--some of the baked beans from the July 4th picnic got moldy before they all got used.  Oh well.
Here is this week's food plan--

1. Sunday--Kielbasa(from the freezer), rolls, onions, pickles
2. Monday--crab cakes and fish, leftover cole slaw, leftover stir-fry veggies
3. Tuesday--leftover roast chicken made into something TBD, grilled yellow squash
4. Wednesday--maybe Chinese take-out or "breakfast for dinner"
5. Thursday--eating out
6, Friday--eating out
7. Saturday--leftovers(risotto?)and veggies

What I need to buy for this menu?.....I don't need a thing.  It's only a partial week's menu and I am not grocery shopping again until August rolls around.  The only thing I see worth going to the store for, here this week, is pickles.  How pathetic is that? lolz
What is getting fixed and served at your house this week?    

Was last week's plan successful, did you go off plan or did you not even plan what was going to be eaten that week?

Any great deals on food at your stores this week? 


Sunday, July 26, 2015

Ho Hum Weekend

Not much going on around here this weekend.
It's hotter than hell today so I am staying indoors with the a/c on after a trip outside to check on the garden.

I haven't gone anywhere since Friday when I hit the bank and Weis(PMITA)Markets to do that paper products deal again.  And yes, I got another $3 Catalina for doing the deal. 8-)

Hubs on the other hand, has made 5 trips out this weekend and even went down the mountain for 3 of them.

I called Sonya and Eldest son yesterday but evidently they both have a life on weekends, unlike me...... 8-(

I rode my bike another 8 miles the last 2 days.

I saw on the news last night that it was 109 in Shreveport Louisiana the other day.
OMG!  I think this plan to move to LA has to be rethought..............

I made a cheese grits and country ham casserole with leftover ham we had for breakfast Saturday. Served that with fried apple slices.  It was ok but nothing great.  As we don't eat much of a breakfast during the week here, I might pan fry slices of it in bacon fat and serve that for dinner one night this week to use it up.  That plus sometime green and healthier would make a right proper meal.

Speaking of food, I am working on both my July food spending post and my Savings Challenge post, as well as my Monday menu post this weekend.
Is it really time again to make another weekly menu??  Didn't I just make one 2 days ago? lolz

I might even start in on my May road trip series of posts too.

I did do a bit of genealogy digging on Saturday as I haven't been doing much with that hobby lately.  Found some interesting information on another "new to me" dead relation.  Might make a trip somewhere while on the Family Reunion excursion in September to flesh this info out and have something proper to post on it.  I also need to work on Part 2 of the genealogy post on my paternal grandfather but just haven't been "feeling it" lately.

We do have some excitement coming up in the coming week around Chez Sluggy though.

* Later this week finds us making a trip to Pittsburgh PA and then to Fredericksburg VA to move Eldest son.  The weather is suppose to be muggy and questionable those days which doesn't bode well.  I hope things turn out for the best even so.

* Then next week it's a quick visit from a blogging friend on her way through this area.  I will try not to poison her with my cooking and OMG this means I have to CLEAN THE HOUSE?....doesn't it???!!!
Oh, now I didn't think about that when I offered her dinner.  Maybe I can talk her into wearing sunglasses(better yet, a blindfold!)inside the house so she doesn't see all the cobwebs.......ya think?

Hubs and I need to go over some retirement type paperwork that he sent off for a couple of weeks ago.  Maybe we'll go through that tonight if I can stay awake.....stuff like this just makes me want to sleep. lolz

Ok, I am off to see what I can offer Hubs for dinner here tonight and get some more miles logged on the bike.
I doubt if he will think highly of leftover baked beans from the July 4th picnic which I really need to pitch out!

What's going on in your world?


Friday, July 24, 2015

Inspecting & Whittling Down the "Nut"...A Ramble

Since we are slated to retire in less than 3 years I am obsessed with figuring out what our "nut" or household/living expenses need to be compared to what we are spending now, pre-retirement.
I am trying to reduce our "nut" every year to try to get it as low as I can post retirement. 
I figure if we commence retirement with our expenses lowered  as much as possible and find we can in fact afford to spend more, it will be easier to expand our spending, rather than to head into retirement and find we are still spending more than our savings can handle.
Sounds like a plan, right? 8-)

Using my monthly spending/expense sheets from 2014, I have concluded that we spent $53,278.52 of our regular income that year. (This doesn't count the money I paid to buy my car in 2014 which came out of the Bonus money.)
That comes out to $4,439.87 spent per month on our "nut".

So far in 2015 we've spent $23,924.09 of our regular income to "live". (Again this doesn't count the money we paid to buy Hubs car in 2015 which also came out of the 2015 Bonus money.)
This averages out to $3,417.72 spent per month for the last 7 months. 

If we stay on this track we will have approximately a $41,012.72 nut for 2015. 
(Granted this isn't all the income we have spent as there was money taken out of the check before we got it for healthcare premiums, life insurance and long term care insurance.  These items will still need to be funded in retirement and will need to be accounted for in our "nut" spending.)

So far in 2015 we have spent about $1000 a month less than we did in 2014.
July has been out lowest month of living costs so far in 2015.  Our "nut" for July was $2200 out of our regular income.  February's spending was $2500+ change.
$2,200 in July.
Gosh I wish our monthly "nut" was this low every month......

Looking at the spending for 2014 compared to 2015 so far, here are a few of the categories where we have reduced the spending......

*  A lot less money spent on car repairs.  Buying a new car in 2014 meant no car repairs on 1 of the 2-3 cars we owned.  Buying another almost new car in 2015 meant even fewer car repairs compared to what we are use to spending on vehicles. We spent $2786.72 on car repairs in 2014.  So far in 2015 car repairs have run a mere $441.61. (Sssh, don't say that too loudly lest we offend the car gods.....)

*  Ditching cable tv.  Since getting rid of cable we are saving $70.80 per month or $849.60 per year.

*  Since putting in the mini-split heating/ac system Fall of 2013 we are shaving a bit off of the heating bill each month we use it.  It's more efficient than the system the house came with.  Yes, it cost a chunk of cash to install it/buy it but we are reaping the benefit of lower utility bills in winter and it will be an added asset when we go to sell this house.  We should recoup some of the expense of having this system put in with a higher selling price. 
It's difficult to quantify an exact figure for the savings in our heating bill since weather conditions vary from one year to the next plus the cost of electricity goes up every year here but we are trending toward lower heating bills.

*  We are no longer paying for private music lessons for College Boy out of our regular income.  He take lessons at college and that cost is included in the tuition/fees we pay for his education and that money comes from a college fund set aside years ago for that purpose.  We are saving approximately $1600 a year on this item.

*  We seem to be spending less on alcohol, clothing and "stuff" in 2015.   There has been little spending on replacing clothing, shoes, household goods and "wants" so far this year.  We just haven't felt the need to buy much "stuff" this year.
I'll have to wait until the year is over to run the numbers on adult beverage spending for 2015 but with how much we spent in 2014 on liquor I am SURE that number will be down. 8-)

*  We have no pet related expenses in 2015 since our last doggy died near the end of 2014.   We paid $450ish in vet bills and kennel fees for our dog in 2014.  There were more costs such as meds and food but I don't have a figure for this portion of pet expenses.  Let's just call that another $400 a year, so a savings in 2015 of $900+/-?

So with just these categories we are "saving" at least $6000 a year in 2015 over 2014's spending.(This is without taking into account any less spending on "stuff" and "wants" this year.)  $6K a year comes out to a $500 per month reduction in spending in 2015 over 2014.

Looking over our spending categories now there really isn't much more we can cut out of our fixed bill costs.  We have basic phone service(no fancy cell plans), basic internet/cable, have cut utility expenses, gas to get to work can't get cut, taxes are what they are, keeping medical co-pays low as possible by exercising/eating well/taking maintenance drugs/etc., and not performing "retail therapy".

Once College Boy is out on his own(hopefully in 3 years! Yes I am an optimist...lolz)there will be even less spending.  No paying for his food/drink, water and electricity use, clothing, no more paying for his glasses and healthcare, incidental monies, no fetching in back and forth to/from school and no third car to maintain and insure. 
Add in downsizing to a smaller house(less space to heat/cool and lower taxes)in a cheaper area once we move and there will be some more reductions in spending.

The only way to save more would be to cut out vacation trips and the costs associate with those.  This year we have/had taken a 2 week trip to Southern Virginia to see my brother in January, a 2 week road trip to Louisiana in May, a 2 day apartment hunting trip in July, a 3 day trip to move Eldest in July, a 3 day family reunion trip in September and a 4-5 day trip to Ocean City Maryland in October.
For a year of traveling that seems financially reasonable to me.  I would hate to have to cut out what little traveling we do per year.  Traveling, sightseeing and visiting family and the associated costs are my one "wants" spending vice other than a nice meal out now and again and buying adult beverages.  I don't spent much money on house "prettifying" or crafts or buying more fashionable clothes to cram into my closet or upgrading tvs, phones or doing entertainment or recreational things that cost lots of money.
Everybody needs to spend a little of their income on leisure and this is mine. ;-)

Even if you are trying to cut your living expenses what are the things you are reticent to give up?
What things do you spend on that are justified by helping you maintain your sanity?

To conclude this long ramble.......we seem to be bringing our expenses down slowly every year over the next.  I hope to get the "nut" down a little more over the next 3 years before we launch into that unknown territory called "retired".