Hello dear friends! Hope this finds you all well and safe. The remnants of Hurricane Patricia have blown the last of the leaves from the trees and the lawn is carpeted in gold. It's so much fun to go for walks and crunch through them. It really was a glorious autumn this year. And El Nino is helping to extend its stay. Whoever designed this house had planned it well, or perhaps it is just a happy accident, but every morning the first thing I see upon arising is the sunrise through the bedroom window. Today it looked like autumn with it's golds and reds. There is so much beauty to be found, if we only care to look!
I should get a job in a lemon grove because I sure know how to pick them! Our car, that we bought when Ran retired, is in the shop once again. This time it has taken two different mechanics to sort out the problem. We have decided that we've had enough, so we have to fast track our car savings plan by a couple of years. (The car is only a few years old and has less just 60,000 miles on it, yet we are afraid to drive it sixty miles away, lest something breaks and strands us.) So now we must pare down our spending to buy a new car next year. We don't believe in going into debt for cars and we don't want to take any money out of our savings or emergency funds (although I guess not having a reliable car could be considered an emergency), so this means that we have to become extremely thrifty in order to save enough for a car that will cost almost our entire yearly income. We already have some money in our car fund fortunately, as we begin to save for the next car as soon as we buy the first. Here's some things we plan to do to save money:
1. Not travel any further than 60 miles from home and travel only once a month. We live in an isolated area, so we need to travel to buy groceries. We have a small grocery store here in town but it's outrageously expensive. Eggs are $4 a dozen.
2. Heat with wood until the temperatures dip into the 30s. Thanks to El Nino, we are having a very mild fall and haven't had to use the furnace yet. We just got our natural gas bill and it was 38% lower than last year's October bill. ($17.01)
3. Keep our grocery bill to $75 a month. Thankful we were blessed with a bountiful harvest this year and were well stocked with bulk purchases of flour, sugar, oatmeal, etc. All we really need to buy is some fruits and green leafy-s, milk, eggs, and occasionally some meat and cheese.
4. No holiday spending. Everything will be homemade from supplies we have. Sorry to all that were expecting a check this year!
5. Continuously examine our budget to find areas that can be improved upon.
Whenever money starts flowing from our bank account like a leaky sieve, it is always because we have failed to live by the spending guidelines we have set for ourselves. You should always have a guideline on how much you want to spend for a certain item. For instance, have you seen the price of clothing? For some reason, I still get a lot of catalogs, although I haven't ordered from one in years. Who pays $70 for a t-shirt? Not I, said this cat! I have a $5 limit on what I'll pay for a t-shirt. Usually, I pay a lot less, picking them up at garage sales for 25 cents- $1. Sometimes I buy them at the thrift store for $3.50, but $5 is the top limit for t-shirts and I will not go over that amount even if it's the perfect shade of blue and fits like a dream.
Meat is another area where I set a limit. The most I'll spend is $2.50 a pound, except at Christmas when we buy our Christmas sausage. That means we rarely eat hamburgers or much beef. There's lots of meat such as chicken that costs less and you can be sure I''ll be taking advantage of the turkey sales this year. Even at $2.50 a pound, I limit our meat purchases to just a few pounds a month. There's plenty of tasty vegetarian recipes to be found. There's no point in breaking the bank over something like meat.
When our cable bill exceeded our guidelines for what we were willing to pay for entertainment, we got rid of it. Our internet service is quickly approaching our limit too.
Speaking of cars, one time my husband set out to buy a used car, after looking at all of them, he found one that he wanted to purchase, but it was over the guideline for what we wanted to spend by a several hundred dollars. He told the salesman that he'd like to buy it, but it was too much and started to walk away. The salesman stopped him and asked what he would like to spend. My husband named the price and the salesman agreed to it, saving us a several hundred dollars, all because we had an agreed guideline.
In other words, set guidelines for what you are willing to pay for things and be ready to walk away when the costs goes over.
POWERFUL THRIFTY PHRASE
One of the most powerful phrases you can use to keep your budget under control is "I can't afford it.". Back in the days when telemarketers were calling on the hour, I learned the one thing that would shut them up was this phrase. Politely saying "no thanks" or "not interested" never kept them from continuing on with their spiel, but no one can argue with "I can't afford it". Since then, I've use it at the dentist office when he insists I get my teeth x-rayed every six months. Funny how you don't need things like bi-yearly x-rays when they discover that they might not get paid! Tests at the doctor's office are another one. I could never figure out why I needed tests for certain cancers that no one in my family has ever had, yet the cancer my father died from is never tested. Routine tests are given to everyone regardless of their family history. No one used to get colonoscopies until Katie Couric started her campaign for them. How many people have you ever heard of dying from that cancer? So why do we need to get that tests as soon as you turn 50? "Can't afford it.", took care of that problem. Neighbors that want you to give to this fund or that charity, are stopped by the phrase. And they usually don't ask you again. Once my sister was complaining about the expense of going out to dinner with here friends, when I told her to tell them that she couldn't afford it, she said "Oh! I couldn't do that!". Why not? It's true isn't it? She was afraid that they would think she was poor or cheap. There's no shame in being poor and not being able to afford things. I'd be more ashamed of being in debt because I spent money on foolishness such as dining out because I was too embarrassed to say I couldn't afford it. It's a crazy mixed up world we live in!
QUOTE OF THE WEEK
Cowardice asks the question 'Is it safe?'. Expediency asks the question, 'Is it politic?'. But conscience asks the question 'Is it right?' And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular but because the conscience tells one that it is right
~Martin Luther King, Jr. ~
Loved this man and was so grateful to have been alive when he was making these speeches. Although I was quite young and only saw him on TV, I still remember it. Where are the Martin Luther King Jr. s of today?
RECIPE OF THE WEEK
Hope you didn't carve your pumpkin too soon. You can roast it to make puree for this chili. Pumpkins go on sale immediately after Halloween. Guess many people think a pumpkin is only good for carving. But pumpkins are wonderful fruits that pack a lot of beta carotene into there decorative little shells. Plus they are easy to store. Just keep them in a cool dry place and they'll last for months. So here's a savory recipe using pumpkins that makes up quick.
1 lb. sweet Italian sausage
1 green pepper
2 C. pumpkin puree
1 can fire roasted tomatoes
1 can beans (pinto, kidney, Great Northern, canellini or whatever you have on hand)
2 tsp. chili powder
2 tsp. cumin
1 tbsp. taco seasoning
Brown the sausage with the onions and peppers. Drain off the fat.
Add remaining ingredients and heat through. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add water if you want a thinner chili.
Sorry no picture, we ate it all before I got a change to snap one.
THRIFTY THINGS WE DID THIS WEEK
Knitted a baby sweater from my yarn stash.
Walked everywhere, thus saved on gasoline.
Bought some hamburg at the reduced for quick sale section of our local butcher's. Made meatloaf with it, stretching it with oatmeal and breadcrumbs from stale bread.
Cut down our dying sumacs. We got about 1/2 cord of wood for next winter from them.
Heated our house with wood. Haven't had to use the furnace yet!
Bought some chocolates from the after Halloween sale at 50% off. Will use them for Christmas baking.
Watched several old movies on YouTube for entertainment.
Not much of a list, but sometimes the savings are in just not doing things. I guess you'd call it "passive saving".
So that's it for this week! Hope you get a chance to get out and enjoy the beauty of November.