|Bread dough rising on the pellet stove.|
Jeff and I had a long talk this morning about our finances this month due to the unexpected Emergency Room bill from the hospital that finally showed up here 9 months after the services rendered and after we had been asking about where it was for months. They demanded payment upon receipt. We also had to buy another ton of pellets since we were down to 6 bags and that is what we use in our pellet stove to heat our home. We had budgeted for the pellets but not for the bill from the hospital which was higher than we had originally been told because someone fell down on the job and did not bill out for professional services or something like that in a timely manner and apparently just found those charges and sent them to the insurance company months and months after the fact. Personally I think someone should lose their job! 😡
Anyway, those 2 expenses alone took up most of the money that we have left after paying our monthly bills. Time to use my mad ninja frugal moves for this month! I am pretty frugal for the most part, but we do still go out to eat, have fun shopping at thrift stores, and maybe go out to see a movie. Not this month! This month we stick to a bare bones budget and cut spending down to a minimum. You can't spend what you don't have and we need to avoid using the credit card. So here is what we are doing.
We contacted our Credit Union and did their skip a payment service on the credit card for this month. We did incur a $15 fee but it could not be helped. Our bills had already been high this month with taxes due on a loan we had to take out on my life insurance policy several years ago for a horribly painful and scary breast biopsy that I had to have done. By being able to skip credit card payment and taking some money out of our savings, we were able to pay the Emergency Room bill that just arrived.
Our grocery budget has been slashed dramatically this month. I have 2 grocery lists going. One for the things that we absolutely need and another for things that I need to restock but that can wait until we have more disposable income. Things on the needs list are milk, cheese, fresh fruit, and veggies. Things on the restock list are liquid smoke (I just used the last of it), certain spices, etc. and can all wait awhile to be restocked. We are also shopping our pantry, fridge and freezer. I have been making our bread and looking for new recipes for things like English Muffins, which we really enjoy, that I can make at home. Back to back baking sessions will be used so that I don't waste the heat of the oven. I went through a local Hawaiian cookbook that I bought at a local thrift store a couple of months ago and an finding lots and lots of recipes that I grew up eating. Many of these recipes use things from your pantry that have long shelf lives because almost everything has to be shipped in by huge boats. I have most of these things on hand because my pantry is well stocked with these items. I grew up with a mother who knew the value of a well stocked pantry since a storm, longshoremen's strike or damage to a harbor could delay shipments getting to the stores. I will never forget the toilet paper shortage, along with other needed items like milk, that happened when the boats could not get to us in Hawaii and the stores had no backstock. I now have a stockpile at home of toilet paper because I know what it is like to go without...not fun! We are using all the fresh produce and things with a close experation date first and then going to canned and frozen produce. Luckily I took having a well stocked pantry to a much higher level than my mother ever imagined so we are set for months!
We have at least a year's supply of shampoo, conditioner, body wash, liquid dishwashing and hand soaps on hand. We also are well supplied with OTC medications, antiperspirants, feminine hygiene items, toothpaste and just restocked our vitamins and supplements, so we will not have to worry about those for awhile. I made at least a 3 month supply of laundry detergent so that is taken care of as well. I also just used a Walmart gift card that I earned through Swagbucks to buy a huge bag of dog food for Caesar that should last us through the month and I have enough of Doofy's expensive cat food to last the month.
Entertainment this month will be borrowing movies and books from the library and watching lots of movies and shows through our Roku that we bought for $25 as a Christmas gift to each other. That was money well spent since we do not have cable or satellite anymore. We also will be getting together with family and friends either here or at their homes and sharing meals and lots of laughter. If we go out to eat, we will be using gift cards given to us for Christmas. More board and card games will be dug out and played near the warmth of the pellet stove. I plan on reading some of the books that I have here in my own personal library that I have meant to get to but have not yet. Of course we will continue to use our hot tub which is a luxury that we love but keep it on economy mode when not being used.
I will be limiting my using of my car as much as I can. I do have work 3 times this month as well as a doctor's appointment and a medical procedure that needs to be done so the plan is to combine those with any other errands I may have. I'm sure we will be going to see the grandkids and can use my hubby's little commuter car to do that if the roads are good. My car has 4 wheel drive where my hubby's little car is only front wheel drive.
Since my husband works nights and sleeps during the day, I will keep the thermostat down on the heat as much as I can and dress in layers. I never thought I would be thankful for hot flashes, but I must admit that it does help to have my own "internal thermostat" turned way up this time of year. 😉 We dress in layers, wear warm socks and house slippers in the house and also snuggle up under cozy quilts and throws. I make good use of the curtains to hold heat in and open them to let the sun in to warm the home during the day and I close doors to rooms that we do not use. He does bump the heat up when he is up and about, but I can handle it a little cooler when he is not.
So that is the plan for this month's Frugal Ninja Skills test. Hopefully we will not be thrown any more financial challenges this month. I think our plate is full enough already.