Budget Friday

I’m trying to come up with a good blog title for Fridays. I’m not sure Frugal Friday quite fits.

Overall, we are frugal because we have no income per se except SS. So maybe just Budget Friday would work. I’ll see. But budget-wise, all Octobers bills are in. We do have the 2 annual bills of house insurance and Allstate which is twice a year. With ALL the insurance companies getting out of insuring California property, for the most part, we are now having to do the California Fair Plan which is added to the AAA insurance. We went from our annual bill being slightly over $1,000 to now we are slightly over $2,000. Quite a jump.

Costco was just at $450, so that will go on October’s food budget. About $70 was wine and beer. I did buy a bottle of nice champagne for celebrating birthdays. Actually, it wasn’t expensive at $15.00. Plus there were a few prepper items and 2 bags of Starbucks coffee that was on sale. With all 4 of us drinking coffee we go thru quite a bit. But I don’t see us going back to Costco till the very end of October or even the first week of November which could then include any Christmas food or items. Prepper stuff included tuna, Cholula sauce, TP, another case of water, extra butter, and extra cheese. The only thing I didn’t get and I need is some tamari sauce. I’ll probably just go down here to the store and pay their price. The best place to get low sodium tamari is Trader Joe’s but I don’t think I’ll be getting there any time soon.

So far this morning I have made pizza dough, washed living room windows, cleaned the ceiling fan, and am just about ready to clean the rest of the sunroom.

Our lovely fall weather continues with absolutely beautiful days with temperatures in the mid to high 80’s. Next week does have a few 93degree days but this time of year that doesn’t seem so bad.

Budget-wise, I did my LLS for the UHC premium and my medicare which they cover for 2 months so that will be here in a week or so. I am very grateful to LLS for my grant (myeloma) as it does cover health insurance. If we had to pay OP for us both it’s almost $700 so I’m not sure how the budget would do. Probably we would be in the red. But there are gifts sometimes even with having cancer.

B did order the boards for the house ( 5 of them) so that was $120 about. But the siding needs to be fixed. Other stuff, even the fencing by the barn is optional and can be put off if we don’t have extra money.

If you’re looking for a new TV series, The Boys, is quite good. It’s super heroes that are darker more evil and is well done. We just started Season 2 on Netflix.

Well, that’s a wrap for now.

Simple Sunday and a review of our first month of full retirement.

 So it’s been a month since Barclay ‘officially’ left UNFI. With only now SS as our income, it went ok. We did get our tax refunds, which weren’t big but it was added income and I was able to pay our April property tax early.  So that’s a big win.

Essentially, our basic income with be under $3,000.  Moving is not an option and plus in the housing market here we couldn’t rent a place for what our mortgage is. SS does take out our Medicare and that’s good.

We can do it if we’re careful. Annual bills will need to be paid with the small savings we have. Also, by mid-year, I’ll expect our 2 adult children who live here( well, my son lives in the Studio) but still, there are utilities,  etc, to bump up what they’re paying in rent.  That will give us the padding we need.

We paid off the car last year so that was a big payment.

Food is the variable that gets me. If I add in a Costco trip my food budget gets blown. Even though most of that stuff is bulk such as coffee, TP, rice, etc. It still adds up. I’ve tried to separate nonfood and that helps some.  Still, if I combine that with a Trader Joes in the same month the food budget easily goes over $600.

This week was really nice and our trip to Tahoe just perfect.

Today is a gym day.

I’m also making Joanna Gaines Chocolate chip cookies. We’ll see how they compare to Tollhouse.

For dinner, I’m making crepes again with my new Lodge pan. I also ordered the crepe spreader from Amazon to spread the crepe mixture. I used the spatula last time and it did work ok but this tool allows you to have a broader surface to spread. I’m planning on ham and cheese for the meat-eaters and spinach mushroom for the veggies.  I’ll also make a gruyere sauce.

This week we are in the entryway zone and dining room if you’re following Flylady.

Be sure to clean off patios and front doors. I put up the spring wreath I have that is forsythia flowers. Plus I bought a few pots of pansies and violas. So perhaps just tidy and freshen up your entryways.  I try and keep shoes in a wood crate.

As 2019 comes to a close

It has been a year of highs and lows.

Lots of things were awful with B’s diagnosis and then being transfusion dependent. Lots of chemo visits weekly. But in spite of that, there have some great things. His brother was a 10/10 match for the BMT and that was amazing.

Being at UCD med center in the BMT unit for a month was hard, very hard, but it all went way better than expected. Staying at the Kiwanis in our friends RV was also great and made the whole experience of having to be there almost 3 weeks delightful. Being able to be just minutes from the clinic made it all worth it.

Recovery and gaining strength and energy back has been slow but sure. B is doing amazing and he is almost 7 months post-transplant.

There has been no major graft vs host although he must remain vigilant as that can happen even down the road.  Now he is tapering off immunosuppressants and that means less prescriptions. He will still need his vaccinations sometime next year.

So the year really was a mixed bag of emotions but overall I feel very positive about it. We did fine financially with the extra GoFund Me and the SDI. This week will be his last SDI and I am totally grateful to have had NOT to worry about money. After my transplant in 2006 and that following year, we were in serious,serious debt and it was awful. There were no GoFundME things or networks to receive financial help. I did have 2 friends that were very generous and that was a blessing.

At the end of this year, I feel grateful for my health and my children’s health. Both of my children have excellent jobs that they earned this year.

B will also officially retire as going back to full time just isn’t going to work for him. I will miss the paychecks and being able to travel with him, but honestly, he is 69 and with everything that has happened, life is just too short to go back to a job even if it’s only for another year. Who knows what will happen and he has this chance to retire. Social Security will be tough but hey, so what! We have struggled before and made it and if we can only do so much then so be it. Actually, I’m just grateful we have the little we will have coming in as it will cover our basics.

WE didn’t do any traveling and that was okay. We are planning something once a month for  2020. Next month we are planning an overnight to Chico where B has a free room at one of the nicer hotels downtown. We are planning to have dinner at a place I’ve wanted to go forever called the Red Tavern. I can’t remember where I read about it over 5 years ago, but it’s supposed to one of the best restaurants around.

House wise, we didn’t do anything major except outside and tree removal.  We did replace two windows and they look great. Next year we will replace a few more windows in the bathroom and kitchen and my daughter’s room as well. Next year, we hope to work on the kitchen and do a minor remodel( mostly the sink and counter as it is 25 years old this summer and the sink connections are pretty rusty.

So life keeps on keeping on and it really is a wonderful life.

Things to think about for 2020

I don’t do goals so much anymore and I try to avoid putting myself in the position of expectation on myself. I do like lists of things that I would like to do or things that need to be done.

I like Flylady as it gives me a focus on weekly chores.  And I like grocery lists and menus. I also like budgeting and do that daily and weekly and monthly. I also have annual bills tallied. ( This might be the challenging area once were on SS solely).

Now that SDI is ending money will be different.  I have saved as much as I felt I could but there were some big expenses in 2019. We had over $6000 in medical bills. The trees were almost $5000. Plus travel and other expenses during B’s transplant. We were very blessed to have the GoFundMe account which covered Kiwanis’ house for 3 weeks and other expenses.

Overall, financially, 2019 was good. We didn’t rack up any CC debt related to medical bills or anything related to the transplant. I used CC to pay things but was able to pay in a timely manner.

In 2020 we will need to be ultra frugal as there won’t be bonuses, or extra money coming in. Honestly, I ‘m not sure how it will play out but it will one way or the other.

We’d still like to take down the big tree in the back of the house and that will be upwards of $5,000 as it will need a big crane. the other big thing will be, do we want to redo the bathroom so it is ‘age ‘friendly. We plan on staying here so a walk-in shower seems prudent.

I’m also figuring that I’ll be starting Velcade sometime in the next 6 months so that’s weekly trips to Sacramento. Lots to think about.

Five on Friday

  • I decided to do a Walmart order so I can get the items I needed for going to Tahoe. Vegetarian baked beans, veggie dogs, sauerkraut, rolls for the first night. Since I’d spent so much at Costco last week I wasn’t going to but then it seemed the easiest thing to do. Not really frugal, but it is overall cheaper than Bel-Air or Safeway.
  • I have to go to the dentist to have them check on my tooth that broke. I called the Delta Dental that we have on Cobra and it is activated or some such thing( I hope)  so we’ll see how that goes.
  • Today I’m going to call either AARP or a broker to get B signed up for Plan F ( I’m guessing that’s the best although a reader did tell me Plan G was also excellent. And then also the PArt D. I plugged in his prescriptions and it’s the Noxafil that is a Tier 5 so that’s what will make it expensive but we’ve got to do it one way or another.
  • I don’t think that this can all be in place by October 1st but definitely by Nov 1st. Our plan is to pay for another month of Cobra then cancel.
  • All the monthly bills are done except Verizon which comes out at the very end of the month. So that’s good. Next month will be expensive since 2 of our annual bills will come due. AAA house, which is going up because it was canceled and it needs to be done thru California Fair insurance. AAA will still handle it but it’s going up quite a bit. And our bi-annual car insurance, and then in November the property tax which also went up.  Not sure how all this play out once B is not getting SDI anymore but I guess we’ll cross that bridge when we get there.

Five on Friday

  • Over at Minimally, Trisha is doing a no Plastic September. Check it out for really good ideas on how to reduce plastic consumption. She’s also one of my favorite bloggers:) I am always trying to use less plastic stuff but I have to admit I fail a lot of the time. ( Costco’s packaging). But I am trying to be MORE aware of when I use stuff and consequently how to try and do better.
  • I had good luck at AAA on the house insurance. I had to wait a little longer than I wanted to ( almost 30 minutes) but in the end, I got the story that most companies are cutting house insurance and you have to go thru Calif. Fair insurance with a rider. Fortunately, AAA does offer this and after going thru numbers said it would be about$1600 a year. So an increase but not a crazy one. I guess having a small house just might be the ticket. Plus we have a fire station at the bottom of our hill so maybe 500 yards away. I’m happy with the number and feel more secure about it all.
  • We’re going to bite the bullet and sign Barclay up for Medicare part B with the additional plans. When he went for the biopsy on Wednesday, I tried to get his prescriptions and NOPE, the insurance says not covered. WEll, GD it. He is covered but the Cobra will get activated as soon as the check clears. So that means all that billing in August is going to get kicked back and then I will have to be on the phone trying to get it straightened out. So I am sick of it and said that’s it we are signing you up. So I have the form printed and he will email it to his HR person by Monday. And then as soon as I have it back we’ll go in.
  • We were going to to go to Costco today but decided not to as it can wait so I did a small Walmart order to pick up. It includes ice cream, of course. I’ll do that tomorrow. I have to say, not going into Safeway every other day has been great. Especially, since I am a bit of a compulsive shopper, well not really, but when I see stuff in the store, I will go oooh, I could use that. So this really has saved me money.
  • Today is a gym day and then home.
  • Tonight is pizza night. I was going to order one, but I think I’ll use the TJ’s dough I have instead. BTW, the TJ’s dough is really quite excellent.

A certain feeling…

I’ve been working on letting go of even more things that are just not essential.

When I was in Sacramento for those 2 1/2 almost 3 weeks, I had only what was most important and essential. There was the Mr. Coffee I bought for the RV, 2 cups, a sharp knife from Ikea, and a few other things.

I’m a sensory/visual person which is why I’m so attracted to minimalism. I get anxiety if there is too much stuff around me or on shelves. So down at the RV, visually it was very simple and undecorated.

And I had a FEELING about it. It was something I could tell was a subtle elusive thing. When I got home, with everything going on, it took a few weeks to get back to routines. Then I had that elusive feeling pop up. It was very fleeting and then I stopped and really examined what I was feeling.

It was to have around you only those things you love or use.

I’m officially ‘old’!

I received my Medicare card which now reflects Part A and Part B.

I had gone into the SS office ( because you have to go in, in order to show them the official letter from HR that shows you have been covered by your spouse’s employer) and then you don’t have the penalty.

So then I called AARP and signed up for their Part F because I want the most coverage and Plan F is the most comprehensive. I also signed up for the Walgreens RX for my prescriptions. Since I have been on what they call Tier 5 drugs in the past I want sure what to do. But after talking with the person we decided to go with this one as the 3 prescriptions I have are low cost. If I ever need to go back on Revlimid let’s say, I would just have to accept the initial cost and then it would go to catastrophic since it’s so expensive. I doubt that would be the way my doctor goes as we have discussed when I relapse, I’ll go back on Velcade which is given at the infusion center and therefore covered by Part B of Medicare.

I’m still a little nervous about it all and haven’t gotten the paperwork yet from AARP but I should soon.

Next, I need to sign up for the AARP Delta dental so I can continue with the dentist practice I’ve had for almost 40 years. I cannot understand why Medicare does not include a dental part. It seems so odd to me that under my husband’s group plan everything (almost) was covered.

Anyway, I feel good I finally figured it out and now I’m officially ‘old”…..