Living Within Your Means

A Thanksgiving table set and ready for dinner.I have discovered three ways to cut down on expenses that I would like to share.

  1. Now on a very small fixed income, I kept finding myself running out of money before the end of the month to pay my monthly bills and living expenses. So I wound up drawing money out of my savings account every month to pay bills until my next monthly check came in.

    I realized that my savings account was shrinking at an alarming rate. In looking at my lifestyle, I realized I had to change some of my habits like eating out, going to a movie, or taking a day trip which cost me money for gasoline besides the fun trip I was going on. I finally figured out a way to stop running out of money. When my check comes in each month, I list the deposit in my paper bank checkbook. I then start subtracting bills I know I have to pay that are the same amount each month such as my house payment, insurance payments, phone bill, etc. Beside each entry, I write "not paid yet" in pencil, and I leave the date blank.

    When all this is done, I can see how much money I have left over to spend on groceries, gasoline, entertainment, etc. As these bills have to be paid, I write the date it is paid and erase "not paid yet" from my checkbook. The money has already been subtracted on paper but not taken out of my bank account until I write the check. Of course entertainment has been the thing that has dropped drastically; however, I do not run short of money at the end of the month. It took tightening my belt, but I thought of it as a challenge.

  2. I also do not "run to town" for one specific thing anymore. I wait until there are several errands I have to do; therefore, use less gasoline which saves me money there.

  3. But the hardest thing I had to do involved our traditional family Thanksgiving Dinner. I had always bought all the ingredients and made everything for my family. Cooking for my family and friends is the most joy I get out of life. The average headcount throughout the years has been 16 for our Thanksgiving Dinner. I cannot afford to buy everything now.

    So I ask my grown children and grown grandchildren to chip in to help pay for the dinner. This works out great because they all work and don't have time to bake anything. My kitchen is my life, so I still get to bake everything but not have to pay for it. The fact they all love my food is the "icing on the cake!"

Pies and baked goods for Thanksgiving.

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Silver Post Medal for All Time! 418 Posts
September 20, 20186 found this helpful

Good advice. Your pies look delicious!!

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September 20, 20183 found this helpful

This is sound advice and I commend you for sticking to it. Your No. 1 tip to pencil in upcoming bills and considering it as an outstanding cheque is a smart way to help you manage your bank account.


You could go one step further and pencil in $25 (for example) to Savings Account to help you replenish that account.

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September 21, 20181 found this helpful

Excellent additional to my suggestion!

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September 18, 20191 found this helpful

I do basically the same thing. I write everything in pencil in my checkbook, in case of mistakes. I put my bills all in and put a circle after the amount that is to be paid in the future. That way, at a glance I know whats paid and whats waiting to be paid. I subtract everything from the deposit and whats left is mine.

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September 23, 20184 found this helpful

That is wonderful, you took control of your finances. So many could learn from you. I see so many today, young and old who spend like there is no tomorrow. What a wonderful example your are setting for your family.It is great that your family has chipped in, you all benefit from it.


You get to do the things that you love and they get to enjoy the fruits of your work. That is truly something to be thankful for.

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September 23, 20182 found this helpful

There are some free phones available if you are on a fixed income. I used Qlinks. Totally free but you only get 350 min. I also cut cable which saved a bunch.

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September 23, 20181 found this helpful

Congratulations on your lifestyle change. I bet it feels real good. What I did my whole working life was to take the bill and divide it into the number of paychecks my husband and I got and keep that amount on paper putting the actual money in the checkbook.


When the bill came I had the money. Did it with yearly bills too! Each payday I added money to the bill ion paper and kept running total. It was fun for me!!!

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September 23, 20180 found this helpful

You should volunteer as information traveling from many you meet at work. Today met a gal who will send me a list of senior friends special night at no cost. Free concert tickets, free tickets from companies that support a fundraiser concert. Used books from Nurses in trade with you. It is fun opening your circle to the new adventure at no or little cost.

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October 4, 20181 found this helpful

Yes, more young folks should take your advice. Stop using the plastic everytime you purchase something. Keep out X number of dollars for incidentals and when that's gone, don't look for your plastic card!!


Will save you a ton. Going to a day ole bread store also helps with the grocery bills, and they have more than just bread to save you some money.

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November 24, 20181 found this helpful

Boy do I understand where your coming from! I have been on a fixed buget for about 6 years. I find that 2 months before Thanksgiving I start purchasing my can items. Cranberry sauce, any vegetables ect. Looking for the best prices also helps me. There is usually a food bank located within a 20 mile Radius that helps with monthly commodities. ( I don't know your area but if you check with a social service agency they make be able to help you locate one.) I hope this info helps. Have a blessed day.

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September 18, 20192 found this helpful

Having your family pay for the groceries and still allowing you to do the cooking, which you love, is a great idea. It would have been even nicer if they had noticed it was becoming a struggle for you to pay for this feast; however, you were very smart to let them know.

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September 22, 20192 found this helpful

My first bill to be paid is $25.00 to myself so I don't worry about emergencies. I keep an appointment book and check off NO SPEND days. I can tell you my eyes were big as saucers I could survive!!!!!!!!I use the computer for leftover ideas (Thrifty Fun) is real. I now go every 3 weeks to shop and have a ball since the money pantic is over. I make it like a fun 2 hours see my neighbors exchange food ideas, and as I'm walking I keep saying " I can make that prepackage why spend when I now have the time. One of my sons came over with tomatoes had too many never thought I would like them. Well a bounty! I now have food I can share and neighbors who I can share with. Young and old doesn't matter. I must say being alone was causing me to worry over money now HELLO WORLD.

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September 23, 20190 found this helpful

Why not go ahead and write the checks? I do this at one sitting each month. Then mail them all when my income (retirement) has been deposited. Works the same way, so that I know how much I hve to spend. Make one trip to town for errands and shopping per week.

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September 21, 20200 found this helpful

Don't forget to add in your yearly or bi-annual bills such as car insurance, State sticker for your car etc. I use propane for heating so I budget 600/12 50.00 per month. I add these up, divide by 12 and add it as a monthly bill. I move that amount into my savings so that I have it when the bill arrives.
Your doing a great job - keep up the good work!
PS - ask for Walmart or Target gift cards to cut down on your daily expenses.

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September 26, 20210 found this helpful

Have you considered ways to perhaps supplement your income, even a little? Make desserts or bake bread for neighbours? Something you love to do which others - much like your children - don't have time for?

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