Thursday, January 11, 2018

How 2017--The Year of Austerity--Ended Up

Going into 2017 we were confronting financial difficulties.  Hubs broke his leg and was off work for 2 full months(including all of January and 2 weeks in February), which meant much lower disability income for the first month+ of 2017.

Due to this I adjusted my Savings Challenge for 2017 down $3K from $38K to $35K.

Then Hubs decided to retire in the middle of the year which changed up our finances yet again.

I ended my Savings Challenge when he left his job at the end of June.
The Savings Challenge, modified to 6 months worth of savings hit $21,100.42 when hitting $17,500 was the goal for that length of time.

Even with this, going into 2017, I had no clue how austere it would become around here by the end of the year. 8-(

I had a few action plans to try to cut expenses going into 2017(before the retirement thing happened).  They were--

* Dining Out  Consciously using the stockpile of restaurant gift cards.  

We did use them more but I still added to the pile of cards at the back end of the year. *sigh*

* Alcohol  Don't buy more booze, use up what is here.

I may have bought 8 bottles of liquor/wine(other than for cooking)total in 2017.  I also let the kids drink some of what I already had here since I don't drink much anymore(just special occasions really).  I don't think Hubs went lighter on alcohol buying however so just me reducing what I bought still helped our bottom line on that line item of spending.

*  Clothing  Don't buy new clothing unless it's a need.

I did spend a little on clothing in 2017(6 tops, a coat which was sorely needed, 2 dresses, some underwear which was also sorely needed)and I think Hubs only bought socks and two pair of shoes(more supportive footwear due to the leg break).  I bought no new shoes.  A few souvenir t-shirts were bought on our road trip for us.  The rest of the clothing was bought for the kids as souvenir items or for Xmas presents.

* Vacations/Trips  Do less trips/vacations.

We took 1 big road trip to Idaho in 2017 that's where most of the vacation $$ went this year. I went to VA to mother in-law sit for my brother for two weeks in May but my brother paid my gas/tolls and paid for some of my food while I was there.  I visited my Eldest son on the way home and paid for all gas/tolls on my return trip and stayed at his apartment so not many expenses on that trip other than some food out.  There was a trip to see Eldest son in the Fall which wasn't planned, but needed at the time. Hubs and I went to see College Boy's recital but that was a day trip, not an overnight.  So we did less trips in number but with retiring we took one very long trip.

* Stockpile  Reduce and use up some items.

I tightened up on the stockpile amounts.  Stopped buying certain items we were drowning in, gave some to the food bank, to the brother in-law who lives in town, took bags down to my brother to give out to various family and friends and then took a couple of boxes of toiletries on our road trip to hand out(much to the irritation of Hubs).
We did end up spending around $1K less on food/toiletries/paper goods compared to 2016 numbers.

With Hubs retiring suddenly mid-year it brought home the necessity of cutting expenses in 2017.  
The short term disability pay sort of prepared us to keep spending in check once he decided to retire in 2017.

Overall, we did end up spending less on "wants" in 2017.  I think not having to access the 401K the last 3 months of 2017 was a big win for us.  A few expenses came up-the rescue mission was the biggest but we also had college tuition and living expenses to cover in Fall 2017.  These but a small dent into our savings but we emerged from the year in good shape.

But sometimes it seemed like I had to drag Hubs kicking and screaming through the year.

I won't say it was pleasant at times as Hubs wasn't ready to stop spending so much on wants(WAM, alcohol and Eating Out mostly)so we did argue over finances for awhile.  By October we seemed to have settled down into a spending routine now that keeps up both happy and satisfied.

I am still working on him about having a Sinking Fund to fund each month.  He was surprised by how much we are committed to paying out on irregular but fixed bills.  Once you remove the chunk to fund the Sinking Account the annuity income each month looks quite sparse.    
While we "can" live on just the annuity income neither of us want to live that life if we don't have to.

Striking a balance between where the spending happens and how much to withdraw from the 401K in 2018 is our main goal financially we are working on at the moment.



  1. Ah husbands, always tough to rein them in. I think you did great though! If things were really really tight I am sure you would have figured out a way to spend even less. I fear the same when hubby retires as our expenses won't really go down, will go up in some areas that the company pays for now and since we have zero commute we won't spend any less on that either. We do have a retirement budget that I drafted based on what we think our income will be. It is less but then our taxes will be less too. We are traveling our brains out now as expect to do much less/cheaper travel after we retire instead of more like most people.

  2. To offset our bills a little, I've started giving blood for money. The $70+ extra a week is coming in handy for college bills so far. As long as I stay healthy... and don't get that tattoo I've had my eye on! ;) (I don't do tattoos... so I guess I'm safe)

    1. College, then e wedding, andnow college again-no doubt you are feeling the stretch of your hard earned funds. Hang in there-you're such a great mom, grand mom, sister, daughter and friend and always seem to create a wonderful life for those in your life.

  3. Well I can't give blood, and really Slugs does anyone even want yours?

  4. TheHub is like yours and has what I call a regular office job, with a specific time each day when he eats. For all these years he has been eating sometime between 11:30 and 1:30 with 2 other principals of the company. When he retires he is going to have a hard time adjusting to the fact that lunch here is whatever is left over, not what sounds good. He is also going to be amazed that there are a lot of days I do not leave our yard, except to go check on mother because if you don't go anywhere you don't spend anything. I foresee a huge difference of opinion about what WAM should be and what it should be used for. Plus we have his recreational grocery shopping habit and I can see if he is not at work, driving to Publix multi times a day. It is just not going to be pretty and I hate to say I am dreading it, but I kind of am. And I even like him and like to be around him, but we have never been around each other all day every day before.

  5. I didn't know that hubs was on disability; dealing with health issues, is something I very much understand. Hope that things are settling in this area.

    1. No, he was on disability pay for a short while the beginning of 2017 when he broke his leg and couldn't work.

  6. My hubs seems to have accepted and is even , so far, helping in the pseudo austerity plan. Other than a voucher purchased back in November) we haven't eaten out for supper or gotten take out the first two weeks of January. He even stuck mostly) to the list I called him to pick up the other night, and cooked from the freezer for dinner last night. Maybe it's a January thing, maybe the realization that in just 20 months we will be funding another four years of college has set in, but so far so good. We are saving for big things, and don't want the little leaks to derail our plans.good luck finding the spending sweet spot in 2018.

  7. It takes a while to balance things out when you have different habits. I remember when I retired I overspent for the first two months so had to readjust. All is well now but it is a learning process for sure.


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