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Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Living With A Reduced Budget: January 2016

January was our first full month of living with our new reduced budget (due to a huge increase in our health insurance premiums) and I thought you might like to read some of the things we did.

We …

Stayed out of the stores as much as possible

Stayed home as much as possible

Lived almost exclusively from our pantry … let’s hear it for a well-stocked pantry!!!!

Utilized the library

Took advantage of free kindle books

Used gift cards we received for Christmas combined with coupons and sales to get the most from them and give us a little something ‘extra’ (blow money) for the month.

Utilized coupons and sales for the groceries we did buy

Took ‘Christmas gift money’ we were given and purchased meats for our pantry

Earned gift cards/rebates/money through Swagbucks, Bing , Ibotta and by doing Pinecone surveys.  This gave us a little more ‘discretionary’ money

Tracked where our money went … this has been a real eye opener and has shown us some areas we can work to reduce.

Stuck to our budget … this was the one single thing that made the most difference.  We spent our income on paper before we even got it and then followed it very carefully.

It is my hope that by sharing how we're coping with a reduced budget that it might help others who might be going through the same thing.

patsi
She looketh well to the ways of her household … Proverbs 31:27

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24 comments:

  1. I totally understand. My health insurance went up drastically per month as well starting in January. We are also on a fixed income.
    I stayed home biggest part of the month - spent minimal at the stores. Did have a nice anniversary dinner from Outback, but that was with a Gift Card we got for Christmas. I used a WM gift card we received to add to pet food.

    I am thinking ahead on projects to make for Christmas this year. Can't wait for the garden to start again.
    Trying to do all I can to cut expenses.

    Love learning new things here. Thanks.

    http://cherylsfrugalcorner.blogspot.com

    Having to really cut back.

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    1. I'm already working on Christmas too Cheryl. We really had to cut back also so I understand!

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  2. Dear Patsy, I love this subject and thank you for sharing it. There are many people living on reduced budgets... less money coming in or more expenses or both!
    I have a verse that I am using in a coming blog post
    "forget the former things, do not dwell in the past.
    See, I am doing a new thing!"
    We can do the same thing over and over but change is good and learning new things is good. We can do things differently! It is quite exciting! This is one of my mottos for this year!
    With love Annabel.xxx

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    Replies
    1. Annabel, I love that verse, I can't wait to see what you're doing with it!

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  3. We are working on a reduced budget also while we try to pay off even more debt. I think you are doing great. I'm so glad you had gift cards to use so that you were able to combine with coupons to stretch your budget even further. :)

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    1. Debbie, I hear from many people that for various reasons they are living on reduced budgets. I hope by sharing our journey that others will be helped as well.

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  4. Patsi,
    I can tell you from experience the small things do add up. The biggest thing is to make the most of each season for what it has to offer for example spring and summer are better months to add to our scrap pile and of course the summer fruits and vegetables. Hanging the wash out to dry and cooking outside. I have very spoiled kitties and have eliminated treats from their diet. If they get treats now it's a free sample of cat food I signed up for. My 3rd kitty passed away in Nov. and I am not replacing him although that is hard for me because there are so many animals that need a loving home. I cannot do beagle rescues at this time and at one time had 8 of them. We don't turn the lights on until it's dark and we recycle and cut our trash bill in half that way. The biggest thing is recognizing the blessings we receive for what they are no matter how small they may seem.
    Blessings,
    Vicky

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  5. Our income was drastically reduced three years ago. We now have an income one third of what it used to be. Through careful planning and downsizing we are living a good life. One thing we still do is to seek out the best deal. My husband is good at ringing around to do this. I get on line and seek out the best deal. In this way we have kept the important things, like insurance, under control. I love reading what yourself and others like you are doing to keep their household costs down. So many wonderful ideas can be found through so many wonderful, like minded, people.

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  6. My health insurance went up again this month, so we're trying to cut back again.
    So thankful for my pantry and freezer. Checked my garden seed, can't wait to start gardening. This year we are making the garden bigger. I'm working on Christmas too!
    Have a great week!
    Sue

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  7. Less processed food in this house and more cooking and breadmaking. We have also stopped eating out so much and instead have been trying new recipes.

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  8. It looks like you are doing great, which is encouraging. We are downsizing to come into line with major financial changes in our lives. One thing I'm doing is slowly sorting my things, trying to weed them out before all of my friends and relatives show up to pack and move me so it will be less overwhelming. I've been able to sort out some things that I don't want anymore and list them on e-bay to hopefully sell them instead of donate them when I'm in a hurry later. I've sold over $500 worth so far. That money is getting earmarked for the new house, as I anticipate it won't look like much for what we can afford, so I'll be able to paint, get new curtains, etc. to perk it up. I'm also sorting the donations, saving out the best for a rummage sale for my daughter's mission trip.

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    1. Beckyathome, downsizing is a chore, we've been slowly doing it for a few years. Glad you're going to be able to save some of the proceeds from selling your stuff to go towards decorating your new home. It's always nice to have something to work with in that situation.

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    2. Becky have you checked for local to your area FB online garage sale type pages to sell things now instead of waiting till later and having a sale? Something new at least to me is what they call FB quarter auctions they are local groups that you make an album and post pictures of the things you want to sell. Then people bid on the items starting at $.25 or $.50 depending on the rules and at the end of the sale everyone meets up at a local parking lot with all the sellers lined up and the buyers going to the cars to pay for the items. So much safer and quicker then setting meetings with individuals. The ones in my area meet for 1 hr each week. And if you have more expensive items for sale look for a local DEAL or NO DEAL site.

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    3. I would have an interest in that if I could go to a parking lot somewhere. I'm fighting with having enough time for everything right now, so could never set up times for people to come here for each individual item. That's why we are picking out the more expensive stuff and trying to sell it, and finding a good place to donate the small stuff. Thanks for the info!

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  9. Thanks for sharing such a realistic, helpful list. Our health insurance took a jump, too, and with the home improvement expenses we've been doing a lot of the same things you're doing...in some ways because we don't have time to do anything else. It seems that I run around less and spend less when I'm busy with projects at the house. I appreciate that you mentioned not only eating from the pantry but also your strategies to refill it, like Ibotta, coupons & sales, and directing gift money toward meat. You're really on top of your plans! Blessings, Leigh

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    1. Leigh, I have a plan and am working that plan. It's my goal to keep my pantry well-stocked through this lean time!

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  10. Your doing great Patsy.
    I suggest you might like to try contests for a little free fun and maybe a bonus. I have a blog friend that has won some big national contests but I stick to contests-giveaways on small blogs where the odds of winning are much greater. I've recently won a very nice Bible and a fresh fruit delivery and other things in the past too.

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    1. Now that's something to think about. Thanks for sharing that Rhonda!

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  11. My health insurance went up also this month. I never thought I'd look forward to Medicare, but maybe turning 65 in September will reduce it some. We ate from our pantry and freezer in January and now I'm trying to cut back on our eating out each month to keep the budget in check. The lower gas prices are also a big help!

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    1. Glenda, the lower gas prices are definitely helping us!

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  12. Staying out of stores is a big help for me. My husband and I live in the mountains and it is 25 minutes to a small market and 45 minutes to a town with Walmart, Lowes, Aldi's and thrift stores. We make lists and try to go to town every 2 weeks. Once we learned (still learning!)to use what we have on hand and not run to town every time we need something it made a big difference in our spending. We save on gas, eating out and splurge buying by limiting our trips to town.

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    1. K Burke, staying out of the stores and using what we have on hand or substituting when necessary, has been a big saver for us.

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  13. Patsy we've officially been on our new budget for a month, unofficially for three months. It's working just fine. As you say, a well -stocked pantry makes a huge difference. I'm being very conscious of what I use and I'm trying to re-stock when I can within our budget so the stockpile doesn't become to depleted. Tracking spending is so important if you really want to stick to your budget and it's a simple thing to do. I love looking back over our past spending to see the improvements we've made. I think you're going to be just fine on your new budget, you have a plan and you're working it to suit your needs.

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    1. Cath, we learned so much about our spending in January. Keeping a spending log is proving to be a fantastic budgeting tool. I really feel like we can do this! So glad that you are having success with your new budget as well, it's amazing what we can do when we set our minds to it!

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