Friday, January 13, 2017

2017....the Year of Austerity

2016 was a mixed bag financially for us here at Chez Sluggy.
I did reach my self-imposed savings goal of $38K out of the regular income put away for retirement but just barely.
(We also added to our actual retirement accounts automatically having cash taken out of Hubs' paycheck before we received it but my Savings Challenge is not about that, but the extra I put away for retirement.)

Then the Daughter moved back home bringing her BF in tow mid-year.....and a rather large dopey dog. ;-)
And she continued to have rather large medical bills with substantial OOP co-pays we needed to cover(she is still on our medical plan, as is College Boy)when she stopped working fulltime to go back to school.

Then Hubs had his accident.  While this hasn't cost us any extra or impacted our income yet, it will in 2017.  If he continues into disability pay past the first month, his pay drops by 30% in the second month.  Hopefully he will be able to work from home before the third month rolls around.
We had hit our family maximum OOP for medical bills by mid November(so this accident hasn't cost of anything OOP in 2016), but as of January 1st 2017 a new year starts for our medical plan and we pay the first $3K of charges before we go to paying co-pays on the next $4K of charges.
I am pretty sure we will hit $3K in bills before February ends between prescriptions for me(one of my drugs is $800 per month U&C) and Daughter's costs and PT/Ortho visits for Hubs.  And the next $4K in charges paid out in co-pays will probably be hit sometime in October this year if nothing medical changes going forward.

So between high medical costs($12K in charges OOP plus insurance premiums), increased costs for food/energy with more adults living here for a full year, needing to fund some more money into College Boy's college account, the county here raising property taxes this year, and a possible income drop short term, I am labeling 2017 the Year of Austerity at Chez Sluggy.

Our income can still cover all our costs but I just don't see how I am going to have even as much leftover to save as in 2016.
Therefore I need to reign in spending around here in 2017.  We don't waste much money on wants as it is(outside of vacations)but I am sure I can cut some categories.....

* Dining Out  I have a small stockpile of gift cards for dining.  By limiting a bit more in 2017 when we eat-out and using these gift cards when we do eat-out we can use up this stockpile and cut the OOP in this category.  I need to not treat these gift cards as "free eating out money" but use them judiciously like I would if I was paying cash.

* Alcohol  We have quite a stockpile of booze here as we tend to buy interesting or new drinks when we travel and Hubs gets a notion to wander up to the liquor store and buy stuff whenever he wants.  I'm going to try to get him to drink from what is already here and drink some of my acquisitions too as I just don't drink as much as I use to and someone has to use it up.

*  Clothing  Neither Hubs or I are "clothes horses".  We don't go out and buy clothes on a whim or on a fashion trend.  We prefer to wear out our clothing and replace anyway.  Heck, it's like pulling teeth to get Hubs to buy clothes or to get him to agree to let me buy him something.  His last pair of pants was bought a year ago last November and before I bought him new shirts for Xmas he hadn't bought a shirt in a good 2 years.
I have inventoried our wardrobes and we shouldn't need to buy any clothing in 2017(unless one of us loses more weight and goes down a size and I won't be sad about buying better fitting clothes then).  8-)

* Vacations/Trips  Last year, besides trips to drop-off or pick-up College Boy from school Hubs and/or I went on 4 trips plus 2 day trips.  May was a 2 week trip to Louisiana, July for a 1 week trip I took with the Daughter to VA, end of July/early August was Hubs and I for 9 days to Maine and end of September was 3 days to VA.  I day trip to see College Boy perform and another day trip to a brew pub.  We were slated to go to see eldest son at Christmas time for a week but that didn't happen due to the accident.
It's looking like we'll need to go down to LA again this Spring to deal with our "vacation" home but that might involve a flight down and not a road trip and only one of us will go so expenses should be lower for that type of trip. This won't be fun trip but a business one.  We still would like to take one nice, long vacation this year and will be looking for ways to keep the costs down for it.  Not sure yet on how many small trips we'll be able to do.  If we go to see relatives we can avoid hotel costs if we stay with them though.  Still working on how many trips this year and where.

* Stockpile  I have a moderate food stockpile but a rather ample toiletries, paper goods, household goods stockpile at this point.  I inventoried a few items recently and I have on hand--
421 rolls of tp
57 boxes of facial tissues
27 boxes of dishwasher tabs
100+ bottles of laundry detergent
100+ bottles of shampoo

Shocking amounts, right? ;-)
I had no CLUE I had so many laundry detergent jugs(the shampoo I knew was out of control)!
I'll stop stockpiling on some foods temporarily and on some non-food items longer(like tp, kleenex, dishwasher tabs, detergent and 'poo).  I'll also cull some 'poo and detergent to send to the food bank later this month or in February plus give some to the brother in-law and sent some aside for eldest son to take to him.
Not stockpiling just these items will lower my monthly grocery spending a bit for now.

With all this said, I am still  up in the air on a final budget for 2017 and how much spending I can actual cut.
I'm going to put it out there that I'll shoot for a $35K Savings Challenge amount this year.  It's a bit lower than 2016's goal and I see us getting there with some effort.

So what areas can you think of that you have cut your costs that might give me ideas where I can cut mine in 2017?



  1. You could also consider selling off some of your extra stockpile on facebook then putting that money towards extra food expenses although I think your grocery spends are very low considering 4 adults in the house.

    1. I sold some last Spring, made $93. It's something, right? lolz

  2. Whoa! That's a lot of shampoo! I have to admit that I've always kind of wondered what your shampoo stash looks like since it generally seems to make your Rite Aid hauls! :)

    1. Shampoo and toothpaste are the things I tend to get for free at R-A. I sold some off last Spring locally, plus I give to eldest son and his fiancee, the nephew, send it to school with College Boy, take to my brother and his wife, donate to food bank and bring as gifts when I travel to see people. I generally keep it to a lower level than lately. I guess this means I need to travel more! lolz

  3. I've noticed a trend in a lot of the blogs I follow. Many, many people are cutting back their expenses for 2017. I've asked myself why they are doing this and I have come up with several different reasons. All valid. Life happens. Things change.
    We here have gone down 50% in salary income due to my husband's heart illness. It was a very difficult road to figure out how to continue to live on a fixed income. I had to balance survival with still enjoying life and somehow squeezing in fun. As with you still wanting vacation time and fitting it into your new budget.
    It's a juggling act, for sure and you, Denise, will manage it perfectly.
    Looking forward to your future blogs.
    Best of luck!!

  4. You could open your own rite aid. I know you will be fine. You are my inspiration so keep at it. Say hi to Hub's.

    1. I don't think Rite-Aid could take the competition if I did.
      Hubs says hi back!

  5. As I downsized this past year, I did the following:
    -sold all any/all excess, netting over $3500 in the process
    -downsized my monthly budget: moved to cheaper housing with overall lower heating costs, accessed public transportation,eliminated my longer commute and drastically reducing my gas costs, pushed everyday expenses such as personal care products, haircuts, recreational expenses, OOP medical, clothing onto the remaining kids not yet granted this adult right of passage, slashed the Xmas budget. The kids at home also contribute to the grocery budget. Anything extra in that dept is on them.
    -scrutenized all expenses, sought alternatives to reduce what we incur: conservation, changing accountants
    -eating out remains reduced as always. I budget $100/month for the 3 of us here. We try to use coupons and reward programs when available. That said, our choices tend to be a diner, pizza, take out Chinese.

  6. GASP - Alcohol is on the chopping block? I'll be right over!
    Home phone? Cable? Higher deductible on car insurance? Lower your heat a couple of degrees?

    1. We got no stinkin' cable(3 years or so now). Landline is being considered but won't save really since I'd have to use cell more instead for local calls and cell's a pay per minute plan. I'll call insurance agent about raising our deductible but it's pretty high now.

  7. As a beneficiary of your stockpile, I tapped into the shampoo and hair spray for DD2's show choir bag, saving a few $$. Thank you as every dollar helps.I don't regret my latest splurge of the subscription box, but no more frivalities and I'll look for gifting options. Austerity rules in 2017.


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