How to Save Money And Still Live Versus Exist

The simple mention of the words money, save, budget cause my brain to freeze!

When I worked in the financial planning industry, helping my clients to budget was  routine. It seemed so simple and doable! It is, but if one never budgeted before, as any change, it could be difficult at the beginning, but worth sticking to it until it truly becomes routine.

Here are some general rules:

1. Keep it simple!

2. Know your NET income.

3. Determine your fix expenses versus variable/ flexible expenses.

4. Shop around for BOTH.

5. Know what to pay first and why.

Fix Expenses are those nagging bills which you don’t have the power to change. However, you do have the option to shop around and use less (examples of fix expenses: mortgage/rent, taxes, health, car, homeowners/renters insurance, water, heat, electricity, cable TV, internet.) You could drive less, use less water and turn off the electricity when you leave a room.  One might argue that you don’t have to have a T.V. or internet, but the reality is, most of us feel disconnected without these conveniences of our modern lives. Personally, I consider Netflix ($8 month) as a necessity to maintain my sanity, so I have it listed under fix expenses, mental health care:)

In truth, the story that follows determined me to write this post and would like to share it with you.

Perhaps I am the only person on Earth experiencing financial difficulties and trying to cut corners, but just in case there are others in similar situations, I am writing about it anyway. If it could  help one person, it would be better than none.

Here is the story:  

My health insurance premium increased to $582.70 every two month (this constitutes just the “supplement part,” meaning, in addition I also pay $104 monthly.) For me, this is a prohibitive amount and the increase forced me to look into alternatives.

I will not go into the details of how long and convoluted the path to a less expensive premium was, but well worth it. I managed to find a similar plan for $131.30 monthly. I hope the saying, “If it looks too good to be true,” doesn’t apply! If we do the math, this change results in an annual saving of $1,920.60!!! Not too shabby and worth it every second I spent on hold with the insurance companies.

In other words, when writing down your budget, take each FIX EXPENSE and take the time to determine if it could be lowered.  Most times, it could.

Other ways you might be able to lower fix expenses:

Check out if based on your income or age you might qualify for a lower rate. If you are over 50, many companies offer discounts (I believe AARP starts giving such discounts after 50)  Another example is Verizon, which based on age and disability offers a less expensive rate for your phone. Please check with Verizon, as I am NOT sure of the specific rules and they change often. Please don’t be mad at me if they don’t offer the discounts which I think they do.)

Car insurance is another example of a fix expense which you might be able to lower, depending on the number of miles you drive, the purpose (is it for work, pleasure, both?) number and age of drivers, taking an online good driver exam, etc) You could also lower your premium when you “bundle” and use the same company for your homeowners insurance as well. If you select a higher deductible (what you pay before your insurance company does) would significantly lower your premium, as you assume more risk.

I guess this is all that comes to my mind about lowering fix expenses…

Let’s move to the fun part: Fluctuating expenses!!!

Examples: Food, gas (transportation,) unexpected house or car repairs, eating out, clothing, toiletries (soap, shampoo, tooth paste, skin care products) hair cuts, etc.

Food–

In Central Pennsylvania we are lucky to have plenty of farms. Not only could we buy less expensive food, but also fresh and hopefully, pesticide free.

We know the general rule:

The larger quantity of anything, one purchases, the less expensive it is. This rule is excellent for large families. If you are a couple or a single person, you might not be able to eat the large quantity before it spoils. If you buy large quantities, either buy non-perishables, or share with a friend.

Don’t assume that because it’s Walmart, it has the cheapest prices.

For instance, in Central PA, I find that a local chain, Sharp Shopper, carries for CERTAIN items, better and fresher produce. Most areas have such local stores, make sure you compare.

Purchasing gas. Gas could be a major expense we could not avoid, especially in areas where public transportation is non-existent.

We always have choices. One could just pull in the first gas station and fill the tank whenever it’s  empty. I am not one of these people, and must confess this is a habit my ex-husband carved in my brain so deeply, I am hopeless: I MUST FIND the cheapest gas!!! This could be good or dangerous, if driving around to find the cheapest gas, you run out of gas, as I did!

Let’s say such an example is not realistic, but what follows, is.

. Some people have Sam’s Club Memberships and qualify for gas (purchased only from Sam’s gas station) which is generally cheaper than the average price of gas, by .05 – .06 cents. The grocery store, Giant, offers a similar deal if one purchases a certain amount of groceries.

Several gas stations in my area, offer similar discounts if one pays in cash. Always make sure you read the small print on the sign.

Another general rule, when shopping make sure you remember to look at the very bottom shelves, as well as the highest.

Use Groupons and coupons and similar services which would save you money.

I am not a coupon clipper and always felt guilty when the cashier at the grocery stores asked: “Any coupons?” and I had to admit I had none!

When companies such as Groupon emerged, my problem was solved at last! Groupon could save you money on just about anything, including travel, massages and haircuts. All you have to do to receive their best offers, is,  provide Groupon with your zip code and they would email you the offers in your area. I even use groupons when I travel. If you know well in advance when and where you will be, provide Groupon with the zip code of that specific area, and you will receive pertinent offers. Oh God, I sound like a commercial for Groupon:) Disclaimer: they do not pay me and I do not profit in any way. Just like groupons:))

If after applying all these simple suggestions, one is still behind paying current bills, prioratize what you pay first and always contact the company if you are unable to pay on time. For instance, if you know that your county or borough will turn off your water, pay that bill first. If you are unable to pay the entire amount on anything, contact the company and ask for a payment plan. Generally, it is important to pay your credit cards on time. If you don’t, not only would you incur huge late payment fees, but it may negatively affect your credit history. When you pay a credit card bill, try to pay more than the minimum amount required, as otherwise the interest is so high, it would take you forever and a day to finish paying it.

I just remembered, at the beginning of the post I said “keep it simple,” and this post is already too long.

I hope it helps someone, somewhere in our world and I encourage you to please share with us your saving tips.

Wishing everyone a great weekend. With all the money we saved, let’s treat ourselves to a cone of ice cream. I like Rita’s with or without a groupon. After all, one must have a good reason to save money!

How to MAKE Your Money Last a Whole Month. Fancy– Called Budgeting .. Either Way Necessary and Boring, We Need a TWIST of Humor!

How many times do we avoid depression if only we manage to make fun of a bad situation, or unpleasant one? They say this is exactly what humor is, I mean “professional comadians,” take an unpleasant situation, tell it to us, we relate and thing it is funny and laugh and here you have it, we all win different things! Some of us more money and fame, some pay to laugh or perhaps apply to “The Last Comedian Standing,” next year. I must worn you though, a lot of sad situations made funny are already taken! We kinda running out of them: we get fat, we answer back to whoever is at hand and make fun of them, parents, lovers, if we have lovers if we don’t. Someone is rude, we make fun! 

But, no matter who you are, unless you are a trust-baby. Do we know what’s a trust-baby?? No? Not one of them… you know, those who only have cards, never cash, but people around them know they are “good for it,” so they are not denied anything and somehow, their credit is better than yours, their house in a better neighborhood… ask the grandfather who really work to create “TRUSTS.” Yes, the grandfather is at the foundation of generations after him living comfortably without really having to work because the grandfather did for the next 300 years! Sometimes, another ambition heir comes along and adds on to the money left by grandma or grandpa. Who said ” you have money to have money?” Well, it was right!

The big advantage of not having money are actually two: You don’t have a heart attack when the market goes up and down together with your pension savings, and two, you ONLY have honest friends who love you POOR, for YOU! This is the big advantage. Apart from these advantages, unfortunately,
MONEY is the foundation of love, friendship, networking, family, sadly I know it by personal experience. Money equals your personal worth for most of our consumer society. Especially those who only like to read numbers and suffer from some reading disability when it comes to other values. Novels? Is that a food? Oh, no, “I text” ONLY! Spirituality? Other cultures? You must be kidding me! The whole world speaks English! Why learn another language?

What follows is NOT for trust-babies who get their rent or mortgage or the house are paid for already, who do not pat that $5.00 penalty because you get paid on Fridays, but you get your cell phone on Wednesday before Friday, and the insurance. Here we go, insurance: you must about insurance the monster who eats monthly from your money, and we are obese already! However, if you have a “claim,” A claim is when the insurance MUST make good for a loss you had, and they do! Next? Oh! No! Your premium, this is what YOU pay goes UP. You dared have a loss, meaning the Insurance Company didn’t make as MUCH profit as they needed for those fluffy CEO Salaries and bonuses. 

Okay,
Here are the FIX expenses which we absolutely (the exceptions mentions excluded) you MUST pay MONTHLY.

 This a fictional list not adjusted for inflation, but replace with your own numbers:

1. Mortgtage or Rent or to get a cheaper roof over your head, house share–If you live in certain parts of California, get a third job, in other parts is more reasonable. Do your research of Best Cities or Cheaper Cities in the US or where you want to move. 

Generally “the roof over your head,” will cost you between $600- and $3,000 — Clearly you must read, do research, before you move in and after a month discover that, what were YOU thinking, your monthly income is $2,500 and yo have an unemployed boyfriend who is playing “gigs” and now has a big chance at America’s Got Talent!” Hold YOUR breath!

2. Big fix expense is INSURANCE: ALL kinds of insurance: Health Insurance (a MUST -that’s a post in itself!;;now just right the cost of all your insuarance that apply): health ___Life___ Auto (car)___Homeowners or renters. If you have valuables you must inure OVER the policy limit and have they appraised and pay more for more coverage)

3.Electricity– you could turn lights off when no one is in the room or if some is and requires lights off  for “atmosphere.” Lights off results in less $$$ anyway but warning, there could be other consequences, like breaking your neck in the dark or long term, if you play for atmosphere, … a baby, which is always a joy!  My electric is around $50 a month but I did fall 15 steps trying to save on light, so the medical care was more. Be careful where you are cheap! Think of long term consequences. 

4. Gas (My company is UGI — this works my heater. So it is like a sew-saw: Electric goes up in summer, Gas goes up in winter. Suggestion. Take the YEARLY amount for both and divide by 12 (months) and make sure you have money BEFORE you pay late fees and mess up your credit.

5.Medication premium: -depends on plan —- write in your plan

6. Comcast or Verizon or a different Cable company–will cover your cable, internet and phone (land line) Prices vary CHECK FOR SPECIALS

FIX EXPENSES EVERY TWO MONTH OR TWO MONTH

For your piece of mind, I’d add all these expenses and divide them by 12 month so it is easier when a huge bill comes

What are these expenses:

Water

A health insurance supplement

I splurge of NETFLIX $8.00 being hooked on Mad Men and Orange is the New Black and… don’t start me please:)

OTHER PRODUCTS –HYGENE:

Shampoo, conditioner, soap, face creams you buy from a pharmacy after checking the ingredients, detergents, desinfectants. YOUR REAL ESTATE/SCHOOL TAXES

EMERGENCY: Car breaks down, accidents, Membership AAA (recommended)

NON FIX EXPENSES

FOOD – are you on a diet? Where do you shop? Do you shop LOCAL?

LUXURY 

TRIPS, presents if you want to keep your friends, cards or emails or texts, or something to keep in touch with your friends

For me, books are another must and I buy mine on Amazon OLD books, where a book is .01 yes one cent, BUT shipping and handling is $3.99. Yes, I get it, they make a profit on picking up the books and placing them in an envelope. I empathised with them, because my first jog was in a book warehouse.

I am sure by now, those of you following this blog who was awarded a ” Versatile Award,” think, how do I know about so many things. 

May be because I have an inclusive mind, or life forced me to reinvent myself or… what? have a boring life? Not boring, for sure.

For a majority of the world, including my daughter, I am still trying to make enough money so she would talk to me without that she will “fear” she will be “required” as she stated to me recently,”  to be nice to me because I am her mother, and after all “the “good world where she belongs now, no longer needs me” but this world requires to be nice to your mom. “

I assured everyone, MY WORLD only requires honesty and in this BLOG you will read it as is: NO LIES!!!

Please ask me questions on any subjects on the blog at rodimihalis@yahoo.com

I do NOT respond to computer generated emails.

My credential for writing this post? I have INACTIVE insurance licenses in life, health, homeowners, fire and mutual 6 securities, although currently I am an online counselor for Proven Therapy (oh, bragging again, yes, people, I have an M.S. in Counseling and Clinical Psychology and was knocked down and got up as many career changes I had to have) It made me a BETTER person, so now I share with you.
And YES I actually sold insurance door to door and cold call people who were rude to me and I learn:

1.” NO “is not personal, is against the product because who wants to be told he’ll die and must get life insurance so his widowed wife could still 

.

 

go to the spa weekly (maintain the present way of life.) Thank you for reading and I look forward to your questions. Rodica
https.www.proventherapy.com/rodica