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Old 01-31-2021, 05:27 AM   #161
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I know someone who used to volunteer in a nursing home pre covid. Her meals were comped . That's a savings on food right there.
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Old 01-31-2021, 07:17 AM   #162
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Originally Posted by Katsmeow View Post
For the first 6 months or so after everything sort of shut down I just let my hair grow. I kept thinking I would get back to my hairdresser but it was never safe enough for me. Finally when my gray hair had grown out 4 inches (!) I contacted her and she mixed up color for me. I started out with dark brown hair but am almost completely gray now so blond works best for me. Anyway, I applied it to my roots with DH's help.

What I learned from this: coloring roots is very easy. I thought it would be hard since I am coloring it blond. But, no, it is really very very easy. Now, my hairdresser applied highlights every few months and I am not sure if I could do that. But, I am pretty sure that I will continue to do my own roots. I probably won't continue buying the color from my hairdresser. It is a lot less than having her do it would be but is a lot more money than it would cost for me to buy color and developer myself.
I have been coloring my roots myself for years. I tried a few different products until I found a brand and color that I liked best. I usually pick up a couple of boxes when I see it on sale or have a coupon, and it comes to maybe $6 or $7 a box. I color about every 10-12 weeks.

I really dislike going to the hairdresser and have joked that I'd even cut my hair myself if I could. Well, COVID changed things as I didn't feel safe going to the hairdresser for a cut. I wear it past my shoulders, and have a lot of wavy hair, so don't need a frequent or precision cut. I decided to try cutting it myself and so far it hasn't been too bad. I watched some YouTube videos and have haircutting scissors as well as thinning shears. I think I'm getting a little better at it and am hoping to continue doing it myself in the future.
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Old 01-31-2021, 09:17 AM   #163
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When COVID was bad I didn’t go to the hairdresser for 6 months. I considered going white but really hated it. I go to a one person shop and the stylist is my age with asthma so I know he’s careful. I am going to Europe with my kids in 2022 and that will probably be my last trip there. I have been there 4 times. I will continue to take cruises once it’s safe which will be a few years.
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Old 01-31-2021, 09:26 AM   #164
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I don't live in SF/CA either. I live in Texas and pay almost $6500 a year in taxes. It would be more if I didn't get some tax relief for being over 65. We don't live in a terribly expensive house. But, Texas has no state income tax and so you pay a lot in property taxes.

. . .


. . .


Good example of how people vary on priorities. I am with you on the pets, but travel is of minimal importance. We go on a vacation every several years. Last "big" vacation was 10 years ago. We did a trip for a few days (about $1200 as I recall) 3 years ago. We were actually going to go on vacation last year but.... Now we are thinking maybe next year.... But a lot of what other people spend on trips we spend on doing things at home that we enjoy....


. . .


For the first 6 months or so after everything sort of shut down I just let my hair grow. I kept thinking I would get back to my hairdresser but it was never safe enough for me. Finally when my gray hair had grown out 4 inches (!) I contacted her and she mixed up color for me. I started out with dark brown hair but am almost completely gray now so blond works best for me. Anyway, I applied it to my roots with DH's help.

What I learned from this: coloring roots is very easy. I thought it would be hard since I am coloring it blond. But, no, it is really very very easy. Now, my hairdresser applied highlights every few months and I am not sure if I could do that. But, I am pretty sure that I will continue to do my own roots. I probably won't continue buying the color from my hairdresser. It is a lot less than having her do it would be but is a lot more money than it would cost for me to buy color and developer myself.
NY has both high income and (at least for me) high property tax on a very unimpressive house.

Re travel, I could be happy with minimal travel except will visit children/ grandchildren; and my elderly in-laws.

Yes, I am going to have to do something about my hair this week - at home. My youngest kindly commented something to the effect that I must have been under a lot of stress lately as my hair had turned gray (Maybe try to weave in some light brown streaks.) We'll see how that works out.
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Old 01-31-2021, 10:03 AM   #165
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So 2 adults eat for about 6 dollars a day? 1 dollar per person for each meal. I would love to see what your typical meals consist of because it is impossible to eat a somewhat normal diet for that unless you are growing a lot of your own food.
We mostly cook from scratch, and we have flexible tastes so we're fine with whatever's a good deal. That running FIRE joke about "lentils and rice" we've made a significant base for our regular diet. We almost never eat beef or lamb, shellfish, or wild-caught salmon; mostly it's chicken, eggs, and the like. For me a microwaved russet potato or a peanut butter sandwich works just fine for lunch. I realize this isn't "normal" vs say junk food, but I don't feel disadvantaged by our food choices. Our landlord prohibits vegetation on the patio, so no we're not running a hobby farm either.

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I'm a fan of 99 Cents Only and Grocery Outlet. I've been spending more now because we're doing mostly stores that offer curbside pickup, but when there isn't a pandemic my target is $300 a month for two. Our 99 Cents Only stores don't have the selection of Whole Foods, but they always do have a large selection of nice specialty items and fresh produce, some organic, and a lot of specialty items like fresh herbs, microgreens and gourmet mushrooms. I spend an average of around 80 cents a pound for produce and buy 30 pounds or so a week. Add in some other foods like dried beans and rice for $1 a pound or less, organic chicken on sale, and mixed nuts and we eat what we consider pretty healthy for around $5 a day. The prices at Whole Foods and the local supermarkets near us are often 4 times the prices of 99CO and Grocery Outlet for the same foods.
We used to shop Grocery Outlet regularly, but ours is a small-ish store that seems pretty busy most times, so we'll go back after we get vaccinated. Ours does salvage, meaning meat+dairy they'll mark down 90+% on the expiration date. I've heard they're also standout on reasonably priced organics. Hard to beat their offers on frozen foods and discounted breakfast cereals, but their fruit/veg isn't very good. Unfortunately their steep markdowns are scattered throughout the store, so we've switched to Aldi during the pandemic. Aldi rarely marks down by much but their base prices are lower.

Now our 99 is well-stocked with vegetables and fruits, and prices are low enough here that I don't bother checking out their clearance shelf (IMO half that stuff really isn't sellable...). Last week they were overflowing with boxes of frozen salmon burger patties at $1 for the 1-lb box. Occasionally they have clearance sales on Oscar Meyer deli chicken or ham-- $1 for 16oz. But they regularly offer tomatoes at $1/lb (or $2/3lb) and usually have huge cauliflower heads for $1. Decent sized cabbages too.
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Old 01-31-2021, 10:21 AM   #166
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Our property tax has touched $12K this year. One of the reason I planned a move to a large (to me) country property with a half the size of the house. Property tax is going to be $3K in the new place. House hack if can call that: We realized that lot of the space in our current huge house was not even used which we pay tax and utility for. So we built a small dwelling on a large land, plan to build a huge "shop" with play/storage areas and the empty land has use-based agricultural valuation which has close to zero property tax.
For those on the coasts who are considering TX, plan to spend a lot more than you might expect on property tax. TX doesnít have income tax, but it has rather high property taxes to compensate. $15K/year on property tax for a $600K home may be about right.

When I lived in south central TX, I lived in a $435K house and my property taxes were nearly $13K/year. That was three years ago and Iím sure taxes have gone up since then. Fortunately, if you move to many parts of TX, you can still get a decent enough home for <$300K. But taxes will still be unexpectedly high for you.
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Old 01-31-2021, 10:28 AM   #167
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TX doesnít have income tax, but it has rather high property taxes to compensate.
From what I've seen, that equation applies to a number of states. They have to get money somehow. Sales tax, income tax, and/or property tax.
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Old 01-31-2021, 10:40 AM   #168
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From what I've seen, that equation applies to a number of states. They have to get money somehow. Sales tax, income tax, and/or property tax.

Yes. In NH we have high property taxes but overall tax burden is very good(low) compared to many. Somehow we are the only NE state to get way down (#45) on the list. Has been this way now for the 32 years we have lived here.

It was a large benefit while we were both working. In retirement, the high property tax tends to hit widowers and widows as well as low savers.
Sometimes prices them right out of their long held family homes which somehow just doesn't seem right. For us we are still way ahead and very much like living here.

https://wallethub.com/edu/states-wit...x-burden/20494
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Old 01-31-2021, 10:51 AM   #169
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Paid off the mortgage, by far my largest expense in October of 2020. I could probably survive on 20k a year. It would be miserable though.
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Old 01-31-2021, 11:31 AM   #170
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Late to this discussion but wanted to highlight a complication to low-income retirement that I discovered while working a free meal delivery hotline during the pandemic. Our callers were seniors (usually the "oldest old" who were still living alone) and/or SAH caregivers of significantly disabled adult children. Many had SS incomes of $12,000/year or less, were living in paid-for homes or subsidized housing, and relied on public transportation or rideshares to get to the grocery store. Once covid hazards were added into the mix, the fact that they couldn't afford Internet, paid food/grocery delivery, or cars meant that they had few options for getting food. Many were candidates for food stamps but couldn't get to the market without the risk of contracting covid on a long bus ride. Sure, this is a scenario that (hopefully) won't happen often, but it heightened the importance of having spare cash to temporarily or permanently "upgrade" one's frugal routines.
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Old 01-31-2021, 11:59 AM   #171
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First few months of retirement for us. Never had a budget before but DH is now tracking every expense to the penny. He’s worried we can’t make it on his pension alone. I am not worried at all.

Time will prove me right I am sure. We own 2 homes have 1 paid for and 1 rented. Pension after taxes is 10 k a month. If we can’t manage on that we are a sorry lot.

In 11 years I will have 2 very small pensions totaling 1.4K a month and equal SS for me alone. Then RMDs at 72. Our biggest expense will be taxes property, federal, and state.

I can’t even fathom living on 20 k when our property taxes are 10k. I cook more at home than ever and we are feeding 4. 1 of which is a 250lb muscle machine with an endless appetite.
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Old 01-31-2021, 12:53 PM   #172
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What do you pay for property tax and insurance? Any kid expenses?
Property tax and house insurance is included in the mortgage, it makes up about 8.4k of that. Health insurance is from work. So "just subtract mortgage" estimate was way too optimistic! Good catch.

No kid expenses, I expect a lot of the difference between what people consider baseline is kid expenses.
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Old 01-31-2021, 01:44 PM   #173
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The whole trick to living on less is living in a LOCL area. The median income in our county per household is just under $40K. We don't stay anywhere near that, especially with all the traveling we like to do when the world isn't insane with Covid, but in a pinch, I see how we could. I checked our town on a Cost of Living calculator compared to the SF Bay area and SF is 113% more expensive.

Of course, we have no world class opera company (have to make do with the local community theater's annual musical). There are fewer choices for dining here, but we do have a new Thai place that just opened (Imagine that! Thai food in the Ozarks!) No professional sports teams in our area, but our local state college offers football, basketball, & womens' volleyball. We don't have a big aquarium, but we live about five minutes from a Blue Ribbon Trout stream.

It's like they say, "Take what you want and pay for it." If a HCOL place offers you more of what makes you happy don't worry about others living on less.
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Old 01-31-2021, 06:51 PM   #174
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The whole trick to living on less is living in a LOCL area. The median income in our county per household is just under $40K. We don't stay anywhere near that, especially with all the traveling we like to do when the world isn't insane with Covid, but in a pinch, I see how we could. I checked our town on a Cost of Living calculator compared to the SF Bay area and SF is 113% more expensive.

Of course, we have no world class opera company (have to make do with the local community theater's annual musical). There are fewer choices for dining here, but we do have a new Thai place that just opened (Imagine that! Thai food in the Ozarks!) No professional sports teams in our area, but our local state college offers football, basketball, & womens' volleyball. We don't have a big aquarium, but we live about five minutes from a Blue Ribbon Trout stream.

It's like they say, "Take what you want and pay for it." If a HCOL place offers you more of what makes you happy don't worry about others living on less.

The two main things I really like about where I live now is the year round comfortable weather and proximity to airports. I assume we will move to a LCOL area some day. I'm sure we will want to be near our kids and it is hard to imagine our kids being able to settle down around here due to the HCOL. Most of my neighbors' kids have moved far away.
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Old 01-31-2021, 07:32 PM   #175
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Oops, I meant I shoot for $350 on the grocery budget for 2, not $300, but I don't always make it.

On the cost of living in the Bay Area, most of the high cost is in housing, which isn't an issue for households who bought homes years ago. Our overall state and local tax burden is actually pretty low between Prop 13 and SS not being taxed. We ran the numbers before retiring and except for housing would not save much, if anything, if we lived in a lower cost of living area. There is a lot of price competition here for goods and services like groceries, so some things are actually cheaper for us than they are for relatives of ours in a more rural area. Our rural relatives live where there is only one big grocery store, one plumbing company and one Internet provider so they are all free to set monopoly rates.

Related link : Cost of living is really about housing
https://www.bloomberg.com/news/artic...-about-housing
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Old 01-31-2021, 11:45 PM   #176
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Oops, I meant I shoot for $350 on the grocery budget for 2, not $300, but I don't always make it
On the cost of living in the Bay Area, most of the high cost is in housing, which isn't an issue for households who bought homes years ago. Our overall state and local tax burden is actually pretty low between Prop 13 and SS not being taxed. We ran the numbers before retiring and except for housing would not save much, if anything, if we lived in a lower cost of living area. There is a lot of price competition here for goods and services like groceries, so some things are actually cheaper for us than they are for relatives of ours in a more rural area. Our rural relatives live where there is only one big grocery store, one plumbing company and one Internet provider so they are all free to set monopoly rates.
Actually it is not always true, about housing in Bay Area. I bought mine in 2007, right before the recession. Right now, the market price almost double since then, but I still need to pay around $13K in property tax. On my estimation, after 10 years I would need to spend $20K annually even if Prop 13 stay as is. This is a serious factor which may force me to move out some day. But otherwise I completely agree, you always can make the cost of living less when shop around here.
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Old 02-01-2021, 01:43 AM   #177
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Yes, I am going to have to do something about my hair this week - at home. My youngest kindly commented something to the effect that I must have been under a lot of stress lately as my hair had turned gray (Maybe try to weave in some light brown streaks.) We'll see how that works out.
YouTube is your friend. I watched several videos on just followed them.

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I have been coloring my roots myself for years. I tried a few different products until I found a brand and color that I liked best. I usually pick up a couple of boxes when I see it on sale or have a coupon, and it comes to maybe $6 or $7 a box. I color about every 10-12 weeks.
The big issue for me is I really need 40 vol developer and most grocery store kits are 20 vol or 30 vol. You can buy the color and developer separately on Amazon but have to figure out which brands, etc. I wish I could buy a kit. I would buy it from my hairdresser but she is charging $55 which is just too much.

Quote:
I really dislike going to the hairdresser and have joked that I'd even cut my hair myself if I could. Well, COVID changed things as I didn't feel safe going to the hairdresser for a cut. I wear it past my shoulders, and have a lot of wavy hair, so don't need a frequent or precision cut. I decided to try cutting it myself and so far it hasn't been too bad. I watched some YouTube videos and have haircutting scissors as well as thinning shears. I think I'm getting a little better at it and am hoping to continue doing it myself in the future.

I was in the midst of growing out my hair from short to chin length when COVID started. So, by last month it was shoulder length and wasn't very even since it had grown out from a short cut. You could see where it had been shorter over the ears. So I bought a scissor set from Amazon. Had regular shears and thinning shears. I watched the videos. We did the thing where you put the hair in a low ponytail and then DH cut it. It came out pretty well. In evening it up, he got it maybe an inch shorter than I ultimately want it. He was a nervous to use the thinning shears (I have thick hair) so we didn't do that. It isn't as good as professional cut but is OK for now.
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Old 02-01-2021, 07:01 AM   #178
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The amount is for two people on Medicare, but I realized that I only included one person's Part B so it really should have been $8k for two rather than $6k. Essentially $150/month for Part B, $10/month for Part D and $175/month for Medigap Plan G * 12 months * 2 people.

Before Medicare our costs were about the same but we had a special situation and were able to qualify for catastrophic coverage for $260/mo each and would have a couple grand of deductibles and co-pays in a bad year.

$10k for one under ACA is very reasonable. Have you checked out healthsherpa.com for plans in your area? Can you manage your income to qualify for ACA subsidies? Many people here do and end up with affordable health care costs.
Appreciate all who responded on the healthcare costs. The ACA route is complicated for a lot of reasons. But I will definitely keep the $10K+ in mind for annual healthcare costs. Makes a big difference in my attitude and to how I approach the daily grind.
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Old 02-01-2021, 10:04 AM   #179
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Living in the Florida panhandle, paid off home, no debt. Property taxes about $1200. Three vehicles. I'm on Medicare, my wife and two kids are on her BCBS policy, our total cost for HI is $12,804. We spent $55,000 in 2020 including taxes.
I didn't include tuition cost for a grown child still in college, $60k+, but we only have one more year left and that's done.
Edit to add,
I want you to know I splurge about two times a month and buy a chocolate shake at

Chick-Fil-A. :-)
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Old 02-01-2021, 12:55 PM   #180
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Actually it is not always true, about housing in Bay Area. I bought mine in 2007, right before the recession. Right now, the market price almost double since then, but I still need to pay around $13K in property tax. On my estimation, after 10 years I would need to spend $20K annually even if Prop 13 stay as is. This is a serious factor which may force me to move out some day. But otherwise I completely agree, you always can make the cost of living less when shop around here.
I'm in the same boat but it we see some real inflation over the long haul, our prop taxes will seem small in comparison. Though I pay over $15k, my neighbor only pays $6100 and their house is worth more than mine. However, they bought in 1987 whereas I bought in 2005.
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