Retirement Journey, saving money, Using cash, Weekly Spending Update

Weekly Spending Update: The cost of playing the return game.

Every Monday during 2022, I am posting an update on what I spent for the week (variable spending only) as a way of keeping myself accountable for my impulse spending. Also, to see my true savings, I am tracking items I was tempted to buy but didn’t.

This week I ended up spending $60 in return fees with no products to show for it. UGH. The return refunds have yet to hit my bank account. It’s so frustrating, but I only have myself to blame. All items were purchased impulsively, with no real thought behind them. I failed to wait at least 24 hours before making the purchases, and I didn’t double-check the return policies.

I finally put some controls in place for online spending, and I’m hoping it curbs the ugly spending monster that still lives inside me. the impulsive spending.

Without further ado, my June 13 – 19th spending:

  • Groceries: $167.00 (Stock up from BJ’s)
  • Eating Out: $50 (lunch for Father’s Day)
  • Personal Care: $64.00 (Hair color from salon, sunscreen)
  • Home Maintenance: $229.20 (annual filters, broom)
  • Mom: $39.76 (dinner sent)
  • Spontaneous giving: $55.00
  • Weight Watchers: $42.95 (3 mos.)
  • Miscellaneous: $39.73 (books)
  • Gifts: $17.00 (Father’s Day)
  • Return fees: $60.00

Total: $764.64

Returns: ($40.12) (Phone case and charger)

Total: $724.52

I thought this week was a low-spend week until I totaled everything up. Almost $800?? The good news is that I won’t have to buy filters for a year, and I’m saving almost $250.00 by coloring my hair over the next two months instead of going to the salon. I guess it wasn’t too bad, except for the return fee. 😦

Here is a monthly recap of my spending for June so far:

Week 1: $1,660.73

Week 2: $321.13

Week 3: $724.52

Total variable spending: $2,706.38

That seems high for three weeks in a five-week month. I will need to slow way down on the spending if I want to meet some savings goals.

How was your week? How does my spending compare to yours? Please share!

Cash Savings, Cruising, No Buy/Low Buy, saving money

How we are saving over $1,500 on our upcoming cruise.


Cruising is our preferable way to vacation. We love the convenience of unpacking once, having multiple venues to eat, free entertainment, and many ports to visit. But we’ve learned there are more costs to cruising than just the cruise/airfare. Even the “all-inclusive” lines sneak in extras. Since we have taken quite a few cruises since 2016, we have figured out what is worth the extra cost and what is not.

And, in the spirit of my 2022 No/Low Spend Year, we have decided to cut out some most of the ‘extras’ and save a bunch of money.

Pre-Cruise (at home):

  • Manicure/Pedicure/Waxing: Usually I would treat myself to a gel manicure and a spa pedicure before the trip, as well as a brow/lip wax. Instead, I’ve decided to give myself a spa day at home and save the time and money at a salon. I have all of the tools to do so. I will bring touch up nail polish on my trip. Savings: $150.00$200.00
  • Dog sitting: Original plan was to hire a dog sitter. Instead my daughter graciously offered to take care of him (which hopefully will always be the plan!) Savings: $400.00


We chose a less expensive hotel this time that included a few extra perks: Free shuttles, free happy hour, free breakfast. (You would be shocked to see how much two eggs over easy and toast cost at hotels in Ft. Lauderdale!) Savings: $100.00

On Ship:

Photo by Live on Shot on
  • No alcoholic drinks. For this cruise, all drinks are included. One might argue that we already paid for the drinks. However, we booked this cruise over a year ago, and prices were a lot lower. We are figuring we have saved at least $150 – $200 on drink costs.
  • No specialty dining. Most cruise ships have specialty restaurants that offer different food fare – Hibachi, Italian, and steak houses to name a few. We have always taken advantage of trying one or two out on a trip. This time we will not. There are more than enough food venues already included, so we will not be paying extra for dining out. Savings: $200.00$300.00
  • No shopping. Even though the $10 sale will entice us me, we will not buy a thing. Savings: $10 – $100.00
  • No gambling. Ah, the excitement of the casino. We often played the slots ‘in our downtime’ between dinner and a show. However, we won’t be contributing to the cruiseship’s bottomline by participating this time. Savings: $100.00

At Ports:

  • No Excursions. We’ve been to all of the Caribbean islands on this itinerary so we won’t be taking any excursions. We do plan on getting off the ship and enjoying the public beaches for a couple of hours. At most, we will pay for chairs and an umbrella. Savings: $250.00 – $500.00
  • No Port Shopping. With the exception of a possible t-shirt for my husband, we will not be purchasing anything on the islands. Savings: $100.00

Total savings: $1,460 $2,000! Wow!

We will still have extra expenses — Uber rides, meals outside the cruise, and tipping. But saving almost $2,000 on stuff that won’t make or break our trip? Ahhmazing.

No/Low Buy Update, Retirement Journey, saving money

No/Low Buy Update: Week 1

Every Monday during 2022, I will update this blog on what I spent for the week as a way of keeping myself accountable for my No/Low Buy year . Also, in order to see my true savings, I’ve decided to keep track of items I was tempted to buy but didn’t. It’ll be interesting to add it all up at the end of the year, and see if I actually still want the items.

What I spent (not including regular bills) from January 3 – January 9.

  • Dog food: $57.92
  • Groceries: $123.15
  • Gas for the Rav4 Hybrid: $27.12
  • Supplies for my parents: $101.76
  • Kohls: $5.07 (gift for my daughter)

Total Spent: $315.02

Items I was tempted to buy:

  • Two books: $13.99, $24.99 = $38.98
  • A planner binder and inserts: $13.98
  • ChickFilA: $20.00 (We were out running errands at lunchtime, but held off and made lunch at home.)

Total: $72.96 (Wow, a little here and a little there adds up to almost $80! )

All purchases I made this week I would make again (a good sign I’m going in the right direction!). And the purchases I almost made? Well, I don’t even remember one of the books, and after decluttering this past week, I certainly don’t need a planner binder. Purchasing those items would have added more clutter to my home and ultimately leave less money in my bank account. (And, of course, my waist appreciates not eating ChickfilA). So far, this No/Low Buy is working.

It was a good week.

How did you do last week? Did you add up your spending?

Emergency Preparedness, Goal Setting, Retirement Journey, saving money

How I saved almost $45,000 in 6 months.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is pexels-photo-2068975-1.jpeg(In case you were wondering, I stopped blogging for a while so the robo boomer haters would stop commenting. Life is stressful enough without reading such garbage. BUT, this is my happy place, where I can talk about all things money and I wanted to continue to document my journey to retirement, financially speaking. Besides. There are way more nice commenters than mean, so I’m back. 😉 )

There are many ways the present pandemic has changed my life, but none so significant as the way I look at money.  After all these years, I thought I had it down. I didn’t. I’m still learning.

After my husband’s salary took a 10% pay cut, and many employees were furloughed, I started to realize that we may have to retire earlier than we’d like. It changed how we looked at our preparation for retirement, and how we would change the way we handled our money going forward.

We wanted to save money….FAST.  And we did.  $45,000 in six months.

How did we save $45,000 in six months?

Here is my breakdown by categories:

TRAVEL/VACATION ($11,942.00)

The pandemic cancelled our Anniversary trip.  We had prepaid all of the trip, so all of the money that has been returned to us went straight into savings.  Unfortunately, the airlines decided they needed our money more than we did, so they kept $3000 for future flights (to be used by December, 2021). The cruise lines had no choice but to refund the money on trips they cancelled.

Our anniversary trip was expensive.  We had hotels, airfare, cruise, etc. Our total refunds for that trip totalled $9,000.

Because cruising has taken a huge hit during this pandemic, and the unlikely chance our Disney cruise would be “normal” by May, 2021,  I decided to cancel our family cruise.  I received our deposit back in the amount of $2,942.00.  It, too, went straight into savings.

CAR REPAYMENT ($12,000.00)

We purchased a car for my son while he was in college with the assumption that he would pay us back as soon as he started working.  I’m proud to say he is now gainfully employed as an Ensign in the Navy.  And I am equally proud to say he paid us back every penny (in record time, I might add).  We deposited that $12,000 directly to savings.

MONTHLY SAVINGS. ($15,000.00)

I’ve been able to save $2,500 monthly based on salary and expenses.  (the 10% pay cut didn’t occur until May.)

OTHER SAVINGS ($6,000.00)

The rest of the money came from saving on our usual spending categories:

There have been monthly expenses that have increased.  Food for instance.  The cost has been ridiculous.  But by saving in other areas, it has not busted my budget, thankfully.

We also did a few home projects totaling $1,500.00. In fact, I’m typing this blog in my new ‘yoga/office room’.  🙂 I’ll write about these projects in another post.

$45,000 added to our other savings gives us almost a years’ worth of expenses.  We are comfortable with this.  However, we will be very selective about how we will spend future money.  Our plan is to send most of the extra money to pay down our mortgage, leaving us some for fun.

Although we still have the travel bug, we will start up again with small, weekend trips.  Cruising is no longer appealing as long as they have ‘pandemic’ procedures in place.  I mean really, who wants to have their temperature taken every day and wear masks on a cruise ship?  Really?

Anyway, that’s how we did it.  How did the way you handle money change during the pandemic?  Please share!



saving money, Spending, Using cash

6 Reasons I’m Switching to Cash. (even during the pandemic.)

Photo by cottonbro on

I’ve written about using cash in the past, and most recently how I won’t be using it during the pandemic.  However,  I’ve changed my mind, and here’s why.

  1. It will lower my food bill.  My food bill was reaching all-time highs — upwards of $800-900 a month.  Not acceptable for 3 adults. Now that I’m shopping for food myself and use only cash, I will have a better chance of not overspending.
  2. It will help me lose weight(I know this is a stretch) This goes with #1.  There is an interesting phenomenon that has happened during this pandemic,  Something called the Quarantine 10, 15 or 20. (I fall under the 10 range).   We should be eating less, right? Instead, I am overindulging on food and it’s showing up on my waist.  If I have a limited amount of cash, I’ll make sure I have enough of the right foods (i.e. fruits, vegetables, meat) before I pick up the Coke, Hershey Kisses, beer, wine, chips, pretzels… You get my drift.
  3. I don’t have to track it on my credit card.  Although I get cash rewards with my Chase Blue card, I end up spending a bit more than I would normally.  Although I’ll still use it, I will use it much less.
  4. It will delay gratification.  I grapple with impulse purchases, especially online.  If I use only cash, I won’t be able to indulge my impulse whims.  Or, if I do, I know that it was budgeted for, and no guilt will be involved.
  5. It’ll keep me away from online spending.  Let’s be honest.  Online spending is so darn easy.  Although it was necessary during the pandemic, stores have opened.  Using cash will decrease my online spending by a lot.  Just sayin… 😉
  6. Ultimately, I’ll have more money to save.  Reaching my retirement savings goals sooner is the best reason of all. 🙂

Are you using cash?