Sunday, February 23, 2014

Cutting Back





When you live on a fixed income (Social Security and small pension) such as I do, the steady rise of monthly bill is very noticeable and painful.  Thus recently I have been reviewing my bills and deciding what to cut back on.  

Our biggest expense is technology.  I have a very expensive Internet connection with Comcast. I can't cut back on that, I need my Internet connection.  Just this month they raised their modem rental fee from $7.00 to $8.00.  So far in the few years I've been with Comcast (reluctantly because I can't get FIOS where I live), their modem fee has risen from $6.00 to $8.00.  Same modem mind you.  

Now for Verizon.  I'm embarrassed to tell you what my total Verizon bill is so I shan't.  But we do have three iPads, two iPhones and DirecTV with four TV's.  How in the world my grandfather

Fieldon Jacob Tipton - my grandfather - farmer - uncomplicated life


survived without all this digital age stuff boggles my mind.  My Verizon account is ready for a cut back.  I've already disconnected the Internet connection from my iPad, Bill's iPad and I will disconnect his Internet connection from his iPhone.  We don't use any of those.  We use our house WiFi connection.  This alone is a $90 a month savings.  Just about enough to cover my every increasing supplemental insurance charge, that automatically goes up every six months.

Perhaps the main reason I moved to Delaware was to escape the ever increasing school taxes in my former home state of Pennsylvania.  Plus their township tax, the state income tax, the county tax, the per capita tax and the sales tax.  Here in Delaware I have the school tax that doesn't go up 16% to 22% a year like mine did in Pennsylvania. 

So I'll end this boring post about this retiree trying to make my limited income stretch.  I'm telling you folks, just surviving in this day and age is a challenge. I don't know what people do who are in a worse situation than me.  

22 comments:

  1. And when you work for a government entity, and don't get raises for 5 years, it's just like a fixed income. I feel your pain, Ron, 100%. Every time gas prices jump, something else gets cut in my budget. Drives me crazy. Good luck with your snipping, I'll be lopping, too!

    Peace <3
    Jay

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    Replies
    1. Jay,
      I sometimes feel like I'm on a treadmill losing ground.
      Ron

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    2. Jay, I worked for the state of NC for 6 years, setting up their sleep lab at UNC-Hospitals in Chapel Hill. The pay was lousy, few raises, and we had mandatory money taken out every paycheck for our pension. At times, I thought I was working for nothing, and when an opportunity arose at another hospital, I was out-of-there!

      However, I got and am still getting the last laugh. After 6 years (5 yr. requirement), I was totally vested with the state and had a choice of taking all the money I had set aside for my pension as a lump sum, or leaving it there for a future pension and state provided health insurance. I decided to leave it there. I was 49 when I left the state. At age 60, I started receiving a small pension, and the insurance. The insurance at first was secondary to my then current employer, but then I retired at age 63 and for two years until I reached Medicare, it was primary. To date, the state of NC, on my behalf with my pension, health insurance, and drug benefits, has paid out over $129,000!!! The state of NC employee benefits today are not quite as generous as when I was there, but it still is a damn good deal!

      Delete
  2. Nowadays it seems everyone, retired or not, has a limited income and has trouble making it stretch.
    4 TVs for 2 people? We have 1 TV for 3 people, but we do seem to have a lot of computers here.
    Everybody has their own priorities but there are always ways to cut back and make the pennies go further.
    We are a self indulgent society, not like in your grandfather's day I suppose. 8-)

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    Replies
    1. Denise,
      We actually have SIX tv's. Only four are hooked up to DirecTV. I use our first 40 inch HD flat screen for watching VHS videos. That TV costs us over $4,000! It was one of the first. I have a 60 inch in my bedroom for Netflix movie watching. Also a small flat screen in the kitchen where I do most of my TV watching. Also another 40 inch in my home office and the last 40 inch in Bill's bedroom. I am cutting out our land line tomorrow though. That will save us $30.00 a month. I rarely use that phone and can use my iPhone instead. 95% of the calls that come in on that phone are from telemarketers. It's going to be a pleasure to deprive them of the use of my land line. Besides, it always annoyed me that I was paying to have them bother me.

      Ron

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  3. I am so sorry Ron that you have to cut back on your toys! Are 2 iPhones really necessary? One iPad would do as you are mostly home and can be on your computer. While you are on your computer, Bill can be on the iPad. I just think you need to be more practical and thoughtful how you spend your hard earned dollars. Yes, life is getting harder for the working class and probably harder for retirees that are not part of the 1 %. We live in a wasteful society and we need to wake up and stop being slaves to corporations.

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    Replies
    1. Nadege,
      Bill has to have his own phone for when we're separated like when we go shopping or when he is at the VA. The iPads, Bill gets my old iPads. I'm on the third generation now. Bill is on his almost all the day. I use mine at work because the computer at work is so shackled with virus protection. My very old iPad Bill keeps down stairs in his bedroom. It only works with Wifi. Tomorrow I'm going to call and get rid of my land line phone. That will save another $30 for a total savings of $90.00 this month! That's great.
      Ron

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  4. Anonymous11:07 PM

    We retirees that live on the other side of the tracks have to work every day, long days to just make ends meet; I have been cutting too. Still have
    lots of extra stuff to sell or give away it all needs to go and boil my life down to something more reasonable. With my work I must drive almost
    100 miles a day and the cost of gas and tires is really hurting me. Looking to do a different type of work.
    Oh, and you are right about losing ground. With interest rates so low no one can earn anything on their savings. You've got to make at least
    3% to breakeven. Joe and Mary Q Public are just slaves to the Corporations that run the show now with their big banker buddies as Nadge
    pointed out. Hey thanks for warning me that my Comcast modem is going to go up.
    Stuart in FL

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    Replies
    1. Stuart,
      You comment reminded me that I too have LOTS of stuff to sell (on eBay) an give away to to thrift stores. I too want to "boil my life down to something reasonable." To get ready for the Grand Exit.
      Stuart, 100 miles a day you're driving to work? Wow. I thought I had it bad when I used to commute to Philadelphia every day for eleven years. My commute (by train) took a minimum of two hours a day. I felt like I was wasting my life away plus all the money (over $250 a month) I spent commuting.
      And another thing, years ago when I was planning retirement I never counted on interest rates being near zero. Never in a million years would I have dreamed that was a possibility. We are slaves to the Corporate Interests. They are the ones making millions and billions. Hedge fund manager make 550 million a year? And they only pay a 15% tax rate? Something is wrong there. Don't get me started.
      Ron

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  5. Ron

    Every time I've had to drop a subscription to a service the companies come back with a better offer. Incredible. Not always an even playing field among us consumers. I found out that I could make a one time rental payment on my modem of about $60 - and that's for life. Otherwise I'd be giving $60 annually and the price would surely go up. The only reason I keep a land line is it's only $30 yearly with Magic Jack Plus and it's handy when I'm on hold for so long when calling government offices. I know it's fun to spend money - but there's a great deal of satisfaction in finding ways to save.

    Pat

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    Replies
    1. Pat,
      You have a good point! I've found the same thing. I call to cancel the service and they give me a counter offer. I was paying $59.99 a month for Verizon's Freedom Essentials (land line phone for the telemarketers). I called to cancel and they gave me a counter offer of $27.00 a month for the same service. I succumbed.
      Ron

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  6. we have cut back on eating out; it's cheaper to cook at home.

    we shop at aldi for most of our groceries (best prices around here!). if you have an aldi nearby, I highly recommend it.

    my neighbor and I have teamed up for trash/recycling service; instead of both houses paying $160/quarter each for service, we pay $80/quarter!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anne Marie,
      I too cut way back on the eating out. I only do it now for social pleasure, not because of the food. It's way too expensive. Besides, I cook better (and cleaner) than most of the restaurants I go to.
      Ron

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  7. Ron, as you know, I started snipping a long time ago. First to go was my landline in 2006. Then a couple of years later, I gave Time-Warner cable TV the boot and went to antenna only as I only watch PBS. Of course, I had to keep Time-Warner cable for my internet connection, but I have WiFi throughout my house, and my son and I have 4 computers on it, as well as our 2 Samsung smartphones. Cutting out the landline saved me about the then cost of $40/month and cutting out cable TV saved me another $100/month. I monitor my electricity usage on a spreadsheet for the past 10 years, and despite rate increases, I am paying the same or slightly less than I did 10 years ago.

    My biggest expense that I cannot control is property tax and property insurance. They have been and are continuing to go through the roof. I may in the future have to cut out property insurance on my three properties. Only property taxes on the farm have remained low, but those in the cities of Durham and Wilmington are still climbing! The government will take whatever you have away.

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    1. David,
      I've already saved a little over $100 a month in fixed expenses since I began my "snipping" a few weeks ago. That's $1,200 a year that I can use! When I lived in Pennsylvania I didn't have any control over my property taxes (school real estate taxes) and that was the main reason I moved to Delaware. My tax bill went from $8,000 a year to $1,400 a year which has stayed about the same since I moved in 2007. Pennsylvania's school taxes went up every year from 15% to 23%. I scoped out the remaining time I had left to live and came to the conclusion that Pennsylvania's taxes would soon exceed my fixed retirement pay. I had to move, I had no choice. However, one of my biggest bills here in Delaware (and it keeps growing every year) is my propane gas bill. When I first moved here it was $1.99 a gal. Now it's $3.99 a gallon. I'm trapped!
      Ron

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  8. Can you buy your own modem and dump the rental? We have our own (it's a combi modem and router so it handles our wifi as well) and don't pay the ISP for one.

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    Replies
    1. Walt,
      Yes, I know this. My friend Pat told me the same thing. I think this is the way I'm going to go. The only thing is Comcast will refuse technical help if I have problems with my Internet connect. I'm checking into buying my own modem though. Thanks.
      Ron

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  9. My pet peeve on expenses is car insurance. Here in NJ it's literally highway robbery!

    Top 10 most expensive U.S.
    auto insurance jurisdictions:
    New Jersey: $1,157.30
    District of Columbia: $1,133.87
    Louisiana: $1,121.46
    New York: $1,078.88
    Florida: $1,036.76
    Delaware: $1,030.98
    Rhode Island: $984.95
    Connecticut: $965.22
    Maryland: $947.70
    Michigan: $934.60

    Sources: Insurance Information Institute and National Association of Insurance Commissioners -
    See more at:
    http://www.northjersey.com/news/205053701_Driven_up_and_up.html#sthash.gDKZLCNU.dpuf

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Stan,
      You're right, car insurance is highway robbery. I had to change when my insurance with State Farm climbed to over a $100 a month and yet I never had a claim or driving infractions. I went with AARP's The Hartford which cut my insurance bill almost in half for the same coverage. But I expect in time that bill will also climb. Just trying to stay one step ahead Stan.
      Ron

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  10. You should have a series of garage sales and clear out that King Tut's basement hoard - you would make a fortune!

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    1. Dr. Spo,
      You got that right! Believe it or not, I've already exited a lot of stuff from my King Tut's storage room and yet I still can't tell the difference. More will go at the upcoming Bloggerpalooza extravaganza.
      Ron

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    2. You mean we are all going to visit your place and carry off the hoard?

      Delete