Monday, September 22, 2008

Another Bleak Economy Report

The news reports another government bail-out... Not to worry - this will help us. After hearing the "no worries" reports for the last two years, I'll tell you, this doesn't give me any warm and fuzzy feelings.

We purchased some heating oil this past week and dished out almost $450 for 125 gallons. I still have a hard time knowing that just a few short years ago, for less than what a tank full costs now, we were heating our home and domestic hot water for a whole year!

Then there's the gasoline issue. We are faced with about a $300 gas bill every month. Most of it is now travel for hubby to get back and forth to work. That's a pretty big chunk out of his pay each month. We have considered moving closer to work or possibly a "new" car, but so far, we can't justify saving a couple hundred a month to carry a mortgage. The new car is a consideration, but still won't save us enough to justify a payment. Now if we can find one that actually gets great gas mileage, then it might get a second look.

I'm so glad we got out from under the debts that hung over our head a couple of years ago. It was for the thought of moving, and saving some money. No way did I think it would be for survival in these interesting economic times. While I listen to others complain about how terrible life is, I can honestly say that it's not really taking a tole on our quality of life.

Years ago, we learned how to live within our means. While others were going out and buying all the cool things that came out, we plugged along with the things that still worked well, but were far from new. As much as we'd like to have one of those huge new cool TV's, our 19 year old 19" color TV still works well.

The washer that I purchased back in 1989 was a used washer, and worked well for us with just a minor repair here and there. Last year, we new it was time to look for a new one. We were blessed with a front loading washer that came from FreeCycle. According to the poster, the washer was checked by a repair man, and would cost a lot more than they wanted to put into it, so they posted it to the list with the information they were given. My husband is handy, so he checked the price of the parts, and knew he could fix it for just the cost of parts, so we contacted the poster and picked it up. That washer was an easy fix for hubby, and we've been thrilled with it ever since. That washer saves us on laundry detergent, fabric softener, and water. We use about 1/4-1/3 the detergent that we used before! Same with the fabric softener.

We still use our credit cards - but we pay them off at the end of the month. There's a wonderful advantage to that, because cards like Discover PAY us to use their money for a month. We get a cash back of at least 1% of our charges. No big deal, you say, right? Well, if you use their cashback they give you and purchase gift cards from their partners, you can end up with an even bigger pay out. We use our cash back to buy our printer ink from Staples and buy our dinner out at Olive Garden. By using the Discover card, we do this for FREE. We do put everything we purchase on the credit card, and that means we must budget it so that we don't go over what we can pay at the end of the month, but it's no more work than budgeting it in cash.

I was asked to speak at a Christian seminar to tell others how we stretch our budget. The man that asked us was blown away with our methods. To me, they are nothing, but to him they were amazing. Maybe I should start posting to share our "secrets" with others? Would you like something like that? Just let me know, and I'll be happy to share!

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