Wednesday, December 12, 2012

From Head to Dirty Floors

My first prairie blog stated:

You'll hear all about our trials and misfires and what works. Maybe my glimpse into retiring with nothing in the bank but love will inspire (or scare) others in the same boat. Keep the bucket handy for bailing. Oh by the way, the retiring part is my husband. I will still be toiling away at my writing career, which is in its infancy - but I work hard!

Looking forward to more sunsets
Now, we're nearing the year mark, and I thought it'd be good to take inventory on what I discovered - financially speaking first. Maybe these money saving discoveries would work for you too. A little disclaimer here on senior discounts. I'm lucky that Frank is always able to get them but there are places that go as young as 55 for discounts. You have to ask.

Hair. Funny, my head comes first, but I've always said finding a good hairdresser is harder than finding a good doctor. After paying around $150 a visit for the last few years, I had to make some changes.
Result: Beauty school hair style $6.00 plus tip
          Drugstore hair dye $8.00
Downside: My color is not streaked and multi-shaded like I prefer but I don't look ugly either - I can live with that.

Will the Verde overflow its beginning this year?
Entertainment. This encompasses a lot.
Result: Senior movie discounts - you can't beat $5 movies
           Ask for your senior discount at restaurants. Nearly every eating establishment has some sort of senior discount. Hey a free drink is worth it!
           Hotels often have senior discounts too. Ask. If you're not a senior, then travel on the cheap days. Example: During the week, Laughlin, NV has hotels that charge $10-$20 a night compared to $45-$75 on the weekends.
           Parks, both state and federal have a couple of ways to save. Seniors get discounted lifetime passes. For $10 we get into any federal park. If you're not a senior, check on yearly passes which are much cheaper than paying for each trip.
           Wherever you go, ask if discounts are available. Often, they aren't advertised. 
Downside: None from our point of view.

Result: We all look for the cheapest stations. Up here it's Maverick or Costco. Another way to get cents off is to trade at a supermarket that gives points. Safeway and Frys in Arizona do and have their own stations.
Downside: The store stations are not plentiful so you have to plan your gas filling trips.

Charge card benefits.
Result: We charge most things and accumulate points. We now have two airline tickets. On my other card I had enough points for a couple of Christmas presents.
Downside: None for us because we pay them off entirely each month. So please take caution if you choose to live this way. Don't charge what you can't pay off.

Christie, Lance, Gabby, Xena
Sharing expenses.
Result: We couldn't do what we're doing if we didn't cohabitate with my son and daughter-in-law. It's working for us so far. Financially it's a win-win.
Downside: I don't always get my way! We have to agree on what big expenditures come first, and there is compromise.

I can't do a point by point on all the other aspects of how our experiment is working. I think we've barely scratched the surface. Next year won't be like this year - the farm is expanding, a baby is coming and other milestones are expected. But here are a few observations after the first year:

I've lowered my standards on neatness, others have improved.

Frank keeps asking me what part of retirement don't I understand.
Gabby, Rusty, Xena

Rusty is so much happier with a larger pack and someone always around.

Two cooks in the house makes me happy (since one of them isn't me).

I have to be careful to command myself to write and not get caught up in ALL the farm and household activities.

Shopping is not an activity anymore.

I love eating what we grow.

"Going into town" is a real thing and not just a line off Little House on the Prairie.

So much for my wrap up. Now I'll gather my thoughts on the upcoming year and what we intend to do with it. Hint: we have a tractor! I'll be a grandma!


  1. I forgot one other way to save money - Skype. I keep in touch with a friend in Austria and another in Minnesota without paying a penny.

  2. Brenda, I've so enjoyed following the first year of your adventure. I can't wait to see what happens next - kind of like a good story.

    1. Thank you, Alison. I kind of can't wait to see what happens either. It's like the way I write - a pantser who doesn't know where her characters will take her.

  3. LOL not what I expected when I saw your blog title on TWRP loop. Then again, I figured I was just being 'naughty' thinking that way. Glad you're loving your move, and CONGRATULATIONS on becoming a grandma!

    1. Then I succeeded, Sarah! A title has to draw you in - no matter where your head is. LOL

  4. What fun, and you are kicking butt!

  5. Well done, Brenda. I can't believe it's a whole year. It just gets better and better, believe me. We also lived with my son and daughter-in-law for a while when we began our own 'pioneering' life. That was 12 years ago. We no longer have much in the way of financial worries, and we're not really pioneers any more. When we came we had no mains electricity or mains water, no TV, no internet. Now we have all those things and just about every modern convenience. Your lovely blog makes me remember what it used to be like and how hard it was in the early days. I'm so glad we did it.

    1. That's a great story, Jenny. Fortunately, we do have Internet (I'd be lost without it) and TV (hubby would go nutso) and water from the well! But I get what you mean. I think you had a bit more of an adventure than we're having. Wondering if any of your books deal with your early days.

  6. I can't believe it's been a year too. It has been a wonderful journey for me to read about. I believe you've enjoyed it yourself. Looking forward to 2013!

  7. Brenda, I am so happy to have "discovered" you through a mutual FB friend!! From MN to AZ move, then meeting you at Author Conference(how fun was that?!)to this new adventure year in your lives. Bonus...reading your books!! Thanks for sharing it all, very fun to follow:)

    1. Nancy, thank you for saying so. You've enriched my life with your friendship!

  8. Brenda,
    I am truly impressed with all the sensible cost saving measures. I'll have to try some, if not all of them out.

    From on prairie girl to another. Thanks.