No Washing Machine

The new apartment I moved to doesn’t have a washer or dryer. I debated buying at least a washer because I could always use the balcony to line dry. (Fortunately, the balcony is on the side of the apartment, away from the ‘public’ area and strategically hidden from the apartment next door by some tall evergreen trees).

I considered my alternatives:

  1. Rent the washer. Well, this certainly is not consistent with my goal to reduce my monthly expenses.
  2. Purchase new- absolutely not considered due to the cost.
  3. Buy used from Craig’s list, etc. I nixed this idea because I get nervous about buying something that either ‘needs work’ or will soon ‘need work’. And then there is the problem of getting the washer from there to here. I would need a truck. And a dolly to get it up to my second floor apartment.
  4. Buying used from an appliance store would provide some assurance that the machine would work and it would also be delivered. However, considering I plan to move in a year, do I really want a washer to add to the moving list?

Do I even need a washing machine? That became the question. Is there something else I could use?

I could go to the laundromat. But I hate going to the laundromat. And that means more money being spent.

Then I remembered the posts I read at annienygma when Annie’s washing machine went kaput.She mulled the options she had.

What options do I have? Hand-washing is one of them. And it is a viable option, at least for me, because I work at home, I pretty much wear the same clothes a few days in a row (except the undies, of course) and I really don’t have a lot of laundry to wash.

I discussed this option with my roomies- my sister and my mom. My sister was pretty much game for anything because she has a goal very similar to mine- downsize, minimize and frugalize.

My mom, who doesn’t even do her own laundry by the way, was aghast at the thought of living without the convenience of a washer. At the age of 94, she has lived through a lot and, while she didn’t experience the beating the laundry on the rocks at the local creek era, she pretty much saw the evolution of the modern day washer and certainly, raising a large family, saw it as a necessity.

However, since she doesn’t do her own laundry, I decided to proceed with my decision to not buy a washer and come up with an alternative.

I would be fine washing my clothes by hand either in the bathroom sink or tub. But my sister wasn’t really keen on that. So, we came up with this option:

The laundry pod the-laundry-podWill let you know how it works!

 

Budgeting for Your Health Care

One of the most difficult things, well, really two of the most difficult things in setting my monthly budget is

  1. Being able to predict the costs of the health expenses of my family for the month/year
  2. Not putting the right priority on including health care in my budget.

Both of these things together have resulted in getting blindsided every year with unexpected medical bills.

Perhaps blindsided isn’t the correct term. I actually kept my eyes closed to the possibility that someone in the family would need to go to the doctor/get sick or injured/have surgery. Then getting that bill after the insurance covered its bit was like having a cold washcloth slap me in the face when I am sound asleep. Not pleasant and it tends to piss me off.

It really pissed me off this year when my family’s medical/dental expenses were just below the allowed deductible and I ended up paying more for my federal income tax. How stupid is that.

All because I did not know how to plan.

After reading today’s post at Quinn’s Commentary, I realized he hit the nail on the head when it comes to planning for health care costs. Folks, it’s more than just paying for health insurance.

Here is that post….

I began managing health benefits in 1961. I have done everything from process claims, design and communicate health benefits, negotiate insurance and TPA contracts to serving on boards of directors of health plans and negotiating physician contracts. I am convinced of one thing with absolute certainty. From the perspective of virtually all Americans health care […]

via Any scheme we contrive will not make health care “affordable.” — QUINNSCOMMENTARY 😇 the facts about lots of stuff

The author links to this post INSURE AGAINST DISASTER, PAY FOR WANTS OUT OF POCKET, SAVE FOR THE END GAME which is another essential read, imho.

After reading these and the linked Forbes article, it is no wonder that unexpected costs of illness or injury leads too many of us to bankruptcy.

To avoid being caught unprepared this year,  I am including fully funding my HSA into my monthly expenses. And eating rice and beans all year.

 

 

Saving on Groceries

I know that the ‘experts’ advise that, to avoid overspending at the grocery store, we should shop weekly or monthly. I tried that and it just doesn’t work for me.

I have spent hours creating a beautiful menu for the week based on what’s on sale at the stores, shopping on a Saturday and buying all that I need for the week.

And I end up wasting so much food! I am talking about fresh vegetables, like lettuce, tomatoes and salad greens.If I buy enough to last the week, I don’t have room in my smaller fridge and we don’t eat it all or it rots before we do eat it.

I have to drive to the store ( I walk the three miles in nice weather) everyday to buy my mother’s daily newspaper (don’t get me started on that!) so I pick up the fresh food for the day when I am there.

I buy only what is on sale in the produce section and enough for the day, sometimes for the next day or two. I stick to my daily budget of $20 or less using the spending tracker.

When the farmer’s market is in full swing, I do go there and buy almost a week’s worth- whatever will fit in my fridge. The produce I buy there is fresher and lasts longer.

I keep our meals simple- the evening meal is usually a type of meat/seafood and a generous serving of vegetables.

It’s been working for me so far.

 

Minimalism in the Closet

There is certainly no one way to minimize and simplify one’s life but, for me, it means simplifying whatever I can to minimize the number of decisions I need to make.

So here’s what I did to simplify my clothing- I got rid of all the clothes that were too big now that I lost 50+ lbs. (go me!).

As I replace what I wear out or size out of,  I will stick with a few basic colors. I opted to go with black, white, jeans and khaki.

I went to the local St. Vinny’s and was lucky enough to hit a day where everything in the store was half-price! I scored 4 black shirts- 3 long-sleeved and one 3/4 sleeves. I think I paid $3.50 for all of them and each top was in excellent shape.

Still in my closet after the purge are a couple of pair of jeans, a couple of khaki slacks, some black pants and some shirts. Some of these don’t fit me yet but I promise I will get into them after the Biggest Loser challenge that starts tomorrow at work.

What will I wear? I don’t even need to ask myself that anymore.

 

If You’re Wondering Why You Can’t Make Ends Meet

living wage calculator
image courtesy of lifehacker.org

You might want to check out the Living Wage Calculator developed at MIT. This calculator gives you an idea of how much it costs to live in your area and, in case you’re planning a move, you can use it to decide where you can afford to live.

Another potential use is to decide just how much you really need to live on and, if you make more than that, sock the rest away for escaping the 9-5 rat race early!

The Living Wage Calculator sure shows that minimum wage is not a living wage.

I am reading Linda Tirado’s book Hand to Mouth: Living in Bootstrap America. It is opening my eyes to what it is like to try and live on minimum wage. It also makes me want to kick myself for accumulating so much debt on my more than ample income that I am forced to try to live on minimum wage.

If I could do it all over again, I would use this calculator to keep my spending to the level of the living wage and save the rest. The future would be much brighter.

 

I Will Not Commit

Ok, I will admit it. I am a very slow learner.

And I am very impulsive. I make rash decisions.

The combination of my slow learning and my impulsiveness have led me into a lot of trouble financially.

I need to stop making decisions. I need to stop and just think.

I think that a lot of my problem is the headfirst dive I take into the trapping of commitments.

I have trapped myself into apartment leases, cable subscriptions, Netflix and Amazon Prime subscriptions, cell phone contracts, iPhone leasing, credit card debt, and tuition payments. I also have a commitment to sponsor a child in Thailand at the tune of $38 per month.

Now that I finally realized this, I am making a commitment to no longer commit.

When my apartment lease is up, I am moving to a rental that will let me go month to month.

I cancelled my cable.

I am going to let my cell phone contract expire and I will find a much cheaper cell service that requires no commitment.

No further iPhone leasing.

No more charges to my credit cards. And that should translate into no more online ordering. Man, that is fast and dangerous!

Finish the tuition payments.

Cancel the Netflix and Amazon.

I will continue to sponsor the child because I do have a heart.

oh, yes, the internet. Unfortunately, I am committed to providing my own internet service so that I can have the honor of working for a multi-BILLION dollar company in this work at home position. Cheap bastard-corporation no longer provides the internet service.

 

 

Made Some Changes to Save $1176

To get out of debt I know I need to cut spending wherever I can. This week I made some changes and will save $1176 a year.

I cancelled the Y membership which was costing me $50 a month. I seldom used it and now that the weather is getting nicer, I can walk outside. $600 saved.

My daughter opted out of taking ASL this second semester and that saves the $34 a month cost for the semi-private sign language tutoring. $408 saved.

I moved this site from wordpress.org to wordpress.com. I then changed my Hostgator account from the reseller package to the hatchling package. That saves me about $14 a month. $168 saved.

Total saved = $1176

When the new webmaster takes the soccer site over, I will cancel the Hostgator completely to save another $120 per year.

I realize that one of the many mistakes I have made is signing up for monthly subscriptions- subscriptions like Hostgator, Dropbox, and Netflix. Each one of those can cost just about $10 a month so I think it’s not such a big deal. But really, it all adds up.

I still have the Netflix and will keep it for now.

Other areas I need to look at decrease spending: the cellphone bill and the groceries.