Shh… don't tell anyone I'm poor. They all think I'm living frugal and green just like everyone these days. This is a blog about a senior citizen living a frugal life, on a fixed income, in a low income food desert, and passing along knowledge from lessons learned. Some she learned from her Grandma Mama many years ago and some learned only a few days ago.
Have you ever heard of the debt reduction snowball? If not, let me explain that it is a way to reduce debt by paying off the smallest debt, taking the money you would have used for paying it, and applying the amount to the next smallest along with the normal payment until it too has a zero balance. When that one is paid off you take the money from both of those payments and apply it to the next smallest along with its normal payment etc. until all debts are paid. Its called a debt snowball because each time something has a zero balance you have a larger amount to use toward paying off all your debts.
Well here is a twist on the debt snowball that I use for reducing my expenses. I don’t have any debts like credit cards or loans. I have normal living expenses only but now I have a mortgage payment which I didn’t have at the other house. The mortgage takes a bit over half my SS each month. (62%) If I don’t keep working toward reducing my expenses I’ll eventually find myself living without something. Why? Because I can live without a lot of things but I can’t live without a roof over my head.
Here’s how my expenses snowball works. I have listed all my expenses in no particular order. The dollar amount isn’t important to explaining the expenses snowball.
All of the expenses are a bit flexible except for the fixed mortgage payment. You see that I didn’t list food, clothing, entertainment, and so forth? I was already struggling to pay everything and now with a new mortgage its an even tougher struggle. Sometimes I do come up short on paying the bills. Like in the winter with higher heat costs. My quilting income isn’t much but it sure does help with what I can’t pay or buy with my SS.
How this works is each time I’m able to reduce one of these by even a tiny amount that money is set aside to be used for reducing the amount of the other expenses in some way. For example: When I moved to this house I was given a reduced cost for the phone and internet. Yippie! I hit the jackpot. I’m saving $40 a month over what I was paying before. That means I have fourty dollars to apply toward reducing another expense.
I took one $40 and bought surge protectors.
I knew they wouldn’t reduce my electric usage by alot but even a penny less is a penny that can be used elsewhere. Surge protectors with off buttons keep appliances from using energy while waiting to be “instantly on” whenever I need to use them. I can do without that convenience in order to save a little money.
I took another $40 and bought a non-electric floor sweeper. I don’t know how much it would cost to run an electric vacuum but this one costs absolutely nothing. I won’t see a reduction in energy use because I’ve never had a vacuum but I won’t see a rise in energy use either. Eventually all the carpet will be removed and the beautiful wood floors refinished.
This month I bought four LED bulbs with the extra $40. These bulbs use 4 watts of power instead of the 100 watt bulbs that were in the room lights everywhere. These bulbs cost a bit over $10 each when on sale and will last ten years. According to the package it should cost no more than 96 cents a year to use each one.
When I’ve replaced all 24 bulbs in all the lights I’ll have reduced the wattage from 2400 to 98. So at only 96 cents per bulb per year that should mean my electricity for all the bulbs will not be more than $24 for the entire year instead of $600. I’d call that a significant savings. Wouldn’t you?
A friend took me to bingo not long ago and I won some money. I sure was tempted to use the money for trivial things but opted to save it for something special. I bought this.
I like the ease of opening and closing. I didn’t buy from this company but the video sold me on the brand. I bought mine through a company listed on Amazon because they advertised they had it “in stock” and “ships from USA” at a reasonable price. I fully expected to get it within a few days.
I opted for this type clothes line over other types because I couldn’t find good options for placement in my back yard. After purchasing I got an email saying it wasn’t in stock and would take six weeks to arrive because it was coming from Germany. Did I want to wait or cancel? I should have cancelled but didn’t. I ordered it on July 3 and it arrived August 20.
The ad also said it came with a screw in ground holder which it didn’t. I don’t want to set it in concrete just in case I want to move it later. I had read some of the comments to find out about that problem so I ordered a screw in base separately. The line is here but the base isn’t. I checked and the base won’t be shipped until August 30 and is due to arrive by September 7. For sure I will never order through that Amazon company again. They get a one star rating from me.
This should reduce my utility usage quite a bit over using an electric dryer. I couldn’t hang clothes outside at the old house. The neighborhood stank! I sure didn’t want to wear stinky clothes. I’m glad this neighborhood doesn’t stink.
A few days ago I started thinking about making window quilts for my windows. The old house had very old single pane windows that didn’t fit very well. It was a constant battle to keep out the cold in winter and heat in the summer. Window quilts and plastic were essential to keeping that house warm and the utility bill low. Imagine my surprise when I saw the windows in this house are energy efficient double pane. Yippie again! Plastic is not necessary and no need for window quilts unless I just want them.
I discovered another good thing about this house. It has very thick walls. At least an inch thick. The electrician told me that back when this house was built drywall was just starting to be used. People building houses were skeptical that drywall would be strong enough so they plastered over the drywall as if it was a base for plaster. That meant half inch of plaster over half inch drywall. This means my walls are energy efficient. Another jackpot.
Once again, why am I doing this expenses snowball? Because if I don’t reduce the expenses I won’t be able to keep everything. Guess what will be the first to go. Yes, the internet. I sure don’t want to do that. The internet is my connection to the outside world and my entertainment. Ok I do know it would be next to impossible to reduce any of my expenses to zero without discontinuing it. But, it can be exciting when I’m able to use new ways to save. Every little bit helps.