Friday, April 19, 2024

The True Rate Of Inflation

 


In all honesty, it doesn’t matter what government reports tell us or what is reported on the news.  The articles that are written by economists or even Harvard Business School don’t accurately portray the true rate of inflation either.  The true rate of inflation is how the cost of goods and services impacts each individual.  I know exactly how inflation has affected me because I track my expenses in detail.  I have shared my grocery expenses on this blog and my previous blog for years.  I track it all.

 


As I sit here I can tell you my greatest impact from rising prices and the highest rate of inflation I experience is at the grocery store.  It’s food, plain and simple.  Something so basic as a ten pound bag of potatoes.  Well, for one thing, they don’t sell ten pound bags of potatoes at my grocery store, they are now eight pound bags.  A couple years ago at the holidays I used to be able to buy a ten pound bag of potatoes on sale for $1.99.  This year five pound bags of potatoes were on sale for $1.99 making the rate of inflation on potatoes 100%.  And I live in Idaho.

 


A loaf of store brand whole wheat sandwich bread was regular price 89¢ a loaf in 2022.  That same loaf now sells for $1.99, a rate of inflation of 120%.  I used to buy chuck roasts on sale for $1.99 a pound, now they go on sale for $3.99 a pound, a 100% increase.  I used to buy a gallon of milk for $1.99, now it is $2.99 a 50% increase.  A head of iceberg lettuce was 99¢, now it is $1.99, a 100% increase.  That is a lot in just two years and these are just basic food items, nothing fancy.

 


So in the long run, it doesn’t really matter what the reported rate of inflation is, it matters how you are personally affected by the rising costs on the goods and services that you require.  Now we just need to take the steps we need to take and work our way around it.  Stick around and we’ll figure it out together.

 

 

Wednesday, April 17, 2024

I'm A City Girl

 


For years I’ve dreamed of a little cabin in the woods or a place in the country.  I’ve even planned it on paper and looked at properties.  I’ve dreamed of taking my RV on road trips and staying in the mountains or the desert for weeks on end.  But the truth of the matter is, I’m really a city girl at heart.

 

I love the downtown architecture

I’ve finally come to the realization that for me I love the little city that I live in and now work for.  In fact, since retiring I’ve fallen even deeper in love and since I went to work for the city my feelings have only increased that much more.  Everything I need and want to do is right here, I just didn’t know it.

 


I’m truly a homebody.  I like to be at home and putter around the house, working on projects or doing some sort of crafting or sewing task.  I love that I have a sweet little yard where I can grow flowers and a few tomatoes and zucchinis.  A little coop with some hens who still lay the occasional egg has taken my urban homestead to another level.  I have kitties to love and cuddle with.  What more can a girl ask for?

 


As I am exploring the city I live in I am seeing so many new things and loads of stuff I had forgotten about in the everyday hustle that once was my life before retirement.  I am rediscovering the place I call home.  I love my creature comforts.  I enjoy coming home at the end of a day out or at work and relaxing which a hot or cold beverage and a kitty in my lap.  I like that wherever I go I’m close to a store to buy food or whatever else I happen to need and most recently that I can access those places with public transportation.  Being less dependent on a car to get from here to there has made me feel even more independent than I already did.  It’s very liberating to have options.

 


All of my pipe dreams of country and mountain living have been archived.  Reality has set in and I’m not sad about it at all.  Instead my plans will be to visit those places and enjoy them on a part time basis.  It was fun to plan and dream about it, but the truth is I love where I am at right now and how every day is still a new adventure.

 

 

Monday, April 15, 2024

My Tireless Retirement – Week 106

 


Well, hello everyone!  Winter arrived, rained a bunch, then dumped an inch of snow on the ground overnight, warmed back up and melted off.  After a few days of near freezing temperatures overnight which required me to turn the main heat back on the weather changed yet again and spring returned.  The heat was turned back off as temperatures rose and by the end of the week we were nearing the 80s.  Now it has cooled back down.  Has your weather been as crazy as ours has been?  Every day is different, that’s for sure.

 

Mother Nature has been very liberal with the weeds this year

All the wind and rain littered my yard with lots of sticks, twigs and other yard debris as well as some trash from my neighbors that blew in too.  I’ve also got quite a weed infestation going on right now.  They are mostly milk weeds, which actually ends up being a good thing because my chickens absolutely love them.  I’ve been going outside each day and picking them a big pile.

 

FREE chicken food!

I was further able to finish cutting up the pruned apple tree limbs and get them into the bin for pickup on trash day.  It felt really good to finally have that project 100% complete.  I gave the bunny a couple pieces of wood to gnaw on and that made her very happy.  Now I’m on a mission to get the plethora of weeds pulled from the yard.  I grabbed my yard bucket, gloves and dandelion tool and have been going out each day and filling the bucket.  Then I give the weeds to the chickens, which they absolutely love.

 

My happy girls

Things I Did To Save $$: 

Gas prices right now have jumped up to nearly $4 a gallon so I gave my little truck the week off and rode the bus to work the entire week.  I have also done some additional research on other bus routes so I can run errands and go places that way rather than drive if I choose.



I made a minor repair to one of my shoes.  I tend to be a bit of an ankle kicker when I walk and I'd rubbed a hole onto the top edge of my shoe.  I stitched it back up and added some extra reinforcement stitching.  Good as new!

 


I supplemented the chicken’s daily diet with freshly pulled weeds and they in turn laid some eggs for me.  I gave them some kitchen scraps as well so there was zero food waste at my house last week.

 


Meals I Prepared: 

Knowing I had a full and busy work week ahead I did a little bit of meal prepping so that when I got home all I had to do was pop something into the microwave to reheat.  I had three cubed steaks in the freezer so I made Salisbury steak in brown gravy with rice on the side and used the rest of the pan roasted veggies from Easter as my sides.

 


I had pesto shrimp pasta on the menu plan in February, but due to my schedule and the leftovers in the fridge it didn’t get made.  I went ahead and made up half a box of bow tie pasta and sautéed the shrimp with pesto, a bit of butter and some extra garlic.  After tossing the pasta into the shrimp I sprinkled it with some grated parmesan.  It was delicious and made enough for me and a guest as well as three additional meals to enjoy during the week.  I made simple green salads for my sides with the pasta.

 


Sad news.  The mini fryer quit working so I ended up returning it to Wal-Mart and since I really don’t need that type of an appliance I used that money to purchase a set of mini pans for my toaster oven.  I think I will use those far more often than the fryer.

 

My first daffodil!

I had a rather busy and productive week which makes me very happy.  My home is neat, clean and well cared for as are my animals.  Me too!  How was your week?  Anything exciting going on? 

 

Signs of spring are everywhere

FYI - My retirement week runs from Friday through Thursday.

 

Saturday, April 13, 2024

REAL Food Recipe - Granola

 


This granola is delicious, wholesome, nutritious and easy to make.  It makes the perfect companion for homemade greek style yogurt too.

 

Granola 

4 cups old fashioned oatmeal

1/2 cup nuts or combination of nuts & seeds

1/2 cup unsweetened coconut flakes

1/3 cup avocado or coconut oil

1/2 cup pure maple syrup or honey

1 tsp. pure vanilla extract

1 tsp. cinnamon (optional)

1 cup dried fruit 

Preheat oven to 300°.  Oil a large baking sheet, set aside.  In a large mixing bowl thoroughly combine oatmeal, nuts, coconut, oil and syrup or honey.  Spread mixture evenly on baking sheet.  Bake for 20 minutes.  Stir granola and return to oven for 15 minutes more.  Remove granola from oven, sprinkle with dried fruit and stir again.  Allow to cool completely.  Store in airtight container. 

Nuts – use slivered or sliced almonds, peanuts, chopped pecans or walnuts. 

Seeds – pumpkin, pepitas, sunflower, sesame, etc.  If you use chia or flax seeds add after baking so they don’t burn. 

Dried fruit – use raisins, cranberries, chopped cherries or apricots, blueberries, banana chips, apples, etc.


With various combinations of fruits, nuts and seeds and alternating the maple syrup with honey you can change up this granola recipe several ways always keeping it interesting.  Enjoy alone, with milk or alongside a serving of yogurt.  Garnish with fresh fruit or berries if you like.  I’m sure you will enjoy this recipe a lot.

Friday, April 12, 2024

Saving My Nonfood $$ - Hair Care

 


Over the years I’ve simplified my hair care routines to downright minimal.  The years of perms, highlights, hair dye and yearning for Farah hair are long behind me.  At some point you come to accept what you were born with and learn to just go with it and as I’ve aged I’m embracing the fact that gray hair is inevitable.

 


In my home I keep inexpensive shampoo and conditioner, a couple brushes, one for dry hair and one for wet, a comb and a flat iron.  No leave in conditioners, gels or mousses, dry shampoo, hot oil treatments, not even a bottle of hairspray.  When my youngest left home she took the hair dryer with her and I have yet to buy a replacement.  I wasn’t using it anyway so I don’t really miss it.

 


About once a year I get a good haircut at a simple chain salon and then I maintain it myself with a trim about every four to six weeks.  My style is simple, cut just below the shoulder with bangs.  Not much has changed lately and I’m fine with that.  I’m not out to impress anyone but myself so it really doesn’t take much.  And that is it.  I don’t spend much money and to be quite honest, I feel I’ve had better results in recent years.  I think I do better now that I don’t try so hard.  Or maybe I just care a whole lot less.  Who’s to say?

 

Wednesday, April 10, 2024

One More Super Thrifty Year!

 


I had always planned to retire early.  Originally I had planned to retire at the age of 58, however after a few heart attacks, you tend to reevaluate things in your life a bit.  I worked one more year after that and during that time I got all my ducks lined up in a row and did some major planning and financial calculating.

 


If I had stuck to my original plan I knew I’d be able to do it if I was super thrifty those first two years.  For me that was entirely worth it to be able to retire early.  After all the health issues I had in 2021 I quickly realized that if I didn’t do something different I may not make it to my retirement date.  Instead I decided to be super, super thrifty for three years and I retired on April 1, 2022.  Looking back I can tell you it was the best decision I could’ve made.

 


Prior to retirement I filled up my pantry and deep freezer, stockpiled my LTFS and stocked my linen closet with toilet paper, tissues, toiletries, housekeeping supplies and laundry products.  During the year leading up to my retirement I lived very frugally and put away as much as I possibly could into savings.  I set budgets and set aside money for things I knew I’d need to take care of or projects I had planned to finish in that first year.  I did everything I could to prepare and be ready.

 


This year I will turn 60 in September and I celebrated my 59½ years this past March which means I have full access to any of my retirement accounts without penalties for early withdrawal.  My plan for the next year is to continue to live as I’ve been doing for the previous two and not touch any of those accounts.  Instead I am using those funds to invest and grow my wealth.  The current rate of inflation (the cost of goods and services) has impacted all of us.  It has meant more belt tightening and making any necessary changes to stay within those budgets I set for myself before I signed my papers at work and left my job.  I need to protect my wealth and make sure my retirement plans continue.

 

Let's see where this takes us!

Now I am embarking on my final year of super, super thrifty living and I’m really happy to have all of you along with me on this journey.  It really helps to have the support of friends and other likeminded individuals.  I know I am not alone.  We can totally do this!

 

 

Monday, April 8, 2024

My Tireless Retirement – Week 105

 


Hello everyone!  I tell you what, I’m all about celebrating milestones.  This past week I celebrated my 2 year anniversary on my retirement, but even more important, on April 5th & 6th I celebrated three years post heart attack.  And!  The fact that I feel better and am doing better than I ever have since going through all of that gives me great hope as I head on into the future.  Go me!

 


Easter weekend was very nice and rather relaxing.  I had an entirely different menu planned out for that Sunday, however after the BFF came up with a ham and a request for my potato salad I quickly changed things up and I was glad I did.  Menu planning works best when you are flexible.  Our dinner was amazingly good.  I even baked a Dutch apple pie for dessert.

 


With it being registration time for summer activities it ended being a rather busy work week for me.  In fact, all of April is looking to be busy for me as certain programs are gearing up and they are shuffling employees around to meet the need.  They’ve got me well scheduled this month to help them out while they interview new employees in hopes of getting someone hired soon for the additional help they need.  In May I actually plan to take some time off just to be home and to do my own thing for a bit.  I love, love, love my “job”, but I also love my time not working as well.

 


After we finished up with the bulk of registration on Wednesday we were provided with lunch from a nearby restaurant as a thank you for all of our hard work.  We completed over 10,000 registrations, approximately 7,000 were done online and the rest were made in person or over the phone.  I think that was pretty impressive.  Along with registration I also finished up my work on the city’s property tax rebate program where I personally processed over 1300 applications.  I love the positive interactions with people the most, either on the phone or in person, so regardless of what I’m doing I do find the work rewarding.  Plus, it is ever changing so it doesn’t become tedious or boring.

 


Things I Did To Save $$: 

I did not do any shopping, go out to eat or go to the movies last week.  I was able to keep the main heat turned off and only used the fireplace for a few hours each morning, two days I didn’t need to use it at all. 

As I’ve been going through items I already have in my freezers and pantry I’ve been washing out the Ziploc and vacuum seal bags to be reused.  I was able to use the vacuum bags I’d washed and saved to put away the majority of the Easter ham I cut up and divided for future meals.  I used one of the gallon size Ziploc bags to place those vacuum sealed portions of ham into simply to help me keep them together and organized in my deep freezer. 

Last month I had purchased a two pound bag of frozen mixed veggies even though my plan was to only buy a single one pound bag.  Because it was much less expensive than the price to buy two one pound bags it just made more sense to do that at the time.  I took half of the veggies from that two pound bag and vacuum sealed them in one of the washed out bags for the deep freezer so I will have that for future recipes, mainly soups or a casserole of some sort.

 


Things I Used Up: 

As I’m making my grocery shopping lists this year, last year too, I’ve been using a pad of pretty floral stationary I’ve had laying around for nearly twenty five years.  Why I’ve been holding onto these pads of stationary for so long?  I could not tell you.  Yes, they are very pretty papers, but I don’t need to hold onto them and never use them.  I finished up one pad and will be starting in on another one soon.  I have to say it is kind of nice to use these papers for my lists. 

Condiments!  Oh my holy cow, did I ever have a lot of condiments in this house.  I’ve been making a concerted effort this year to use up a bunch of these items and not buy any more new ones until I’ve made a considerable dent in what I already have.  I have bought ketchup this year, but other than that I’ve not bought anything new.  Last week I was able to finish up a bunch of odds and ends of stuff in the refrigerator and add those empty bottles to my recycle bin.  Progress is being made!

 

Delicious Easter leftovers

Meals I Prepared: 

The first half of my week I reheated and ate leftovers, mostly meals I had prepared and frozen.  I made a delicious Easter Sunday dinner using up quite a bit of fresh produce I had in the refrigerator.  I made a small batch of potato salad, a pan of roasted vegetables and an apple pie.  I also baked a ten pound ham and put away most of it into vacuum sealed bags and into my deep freezer.  I had plenty of Easter leftovers to cover the remainder of the week.

 


Thursday was a gloomy, wet and rainy day so I holed up indoors and enjoyed myself being home all day.  I watched a miniseries documentary on the war of 1812.  I love all things historical and I was particularly interested in knowing more about this particular war as it isn’t as well known as some of the others.  Plus I had ancestors that fought in this war so I had felt the pull to learn more about it.

 


I hope you enjoyed a lovely Easter and a lovely week following the holiday.  Is spring springing where you live?  My tulips are about to bloom and I have blossoms on my fruit trees now.  It is still pretty chilly most days, but no freezing temperatures overnight, which has been nice.  Enjoy your week ahead my friends!