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For the last months, really since gas prices skyrocketed, I've pretty much stopped retail shopping (except ffor ood, of course), especially for clothing, even for our son. Trying to make do with what we have. Eating out and take-out are definitely on the wane for us--and when we occasionally go out, it's somewhere inexpensive like Pizzeria Uno's (which seemed pretty empty to me the last time we went with some friends). Our two twelve-year-old cars are going to have to make it through another winter and year--had been planning to go new this year, and the prices are great--but with all the uncertainty around our income, never mind savings, it's hard to justify. As a pick-me-up, my big luxury is taking in a very occasional ballgame--basketball or baseball--with a friend. It's pricey but a few games a season, with the excitement of the crowd and cheering on the team--makes me forget all the really crummy news out there. For a few hours, I yell my head off with a few thousand other people and really feel great. When weather's good, we hike which is free or virtually free (sometimes admission or parking fee). That's a terrific high, with the added benefit of good for you too. How bout other folks?
It's so nice to read all these different ideas and priorities. One of the best things I've done is use financial software for handling my budget and projected expenses. I use Money from Microsoft, but know some people who like Quicken by Intuit. I lost my last full-time job in February, 2007. At that time I started drawing unemployment and did get some part-time income at the business I was terminated from (figure THAT one out!), thus I was able to pay off my home and also my new hearing aids.
As soon as I hit 62 I signed up for SS and since it has now begun, I have that wonderful security of it hitting my bank account every month. I found a very good home-business, and am working that consistently while keeping the expenses very low. With my budget, I can focus on paying off my one remaining interest-added bill and also set aside some into my savings account to pay for the maintenance I so sorely need on my home. I also have a certain amount each week for my 'fun and frolic' which a couple of times a month include eating out at small locally owned restaurants.
Due to my first career, I have some great benefits and have utilized them to cut back on other expenses. Also, I gave up driving over a dozen years ago, and bought a home that is at the edge of a beautiful park area, yet only a few steps from the metro bus line and 1/4 mile from a large grocery chain. I believe the quality of our food is essential for good hearlth, so I avoid processed foods. Every few weeks I purchase a couple pounds of brown rice and use it for the basis of my primary meal. By adding seasonings and whatever veggies strike my fancy, I have a good variety and very filling meals.
A couple of times a week and always on Sunday, I travel about the area and either do some volunteer work, enjoy various amusements and look for places that I can help support a bit. All-n-all, I am very happy with my present situation and feel that I am living life very well.