From the Editor’s Desk

Andrea Norris-McKnight

 

Keeping Rising Pet Care Costs Under Control

Hello My After 50 Friend!

According to the latest data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (July), almost every expenditure category has increased over the past 12 months. However, some are outpacing inflation. We’ve discussed ways to save on some of these expensive budget categories, such as gas and food. But one we have not yet touched on is pet costs.

Pet costs have risen about 9% over the past year. Coupled with the increasing costs of everything else, it’s no wonder some people are having to give up their pets. Unfortunately, there are no new revelations on cutting pet care costs. My best advice is to go with a “use less” approach so you can spend less. Here are some examples of ways you can save by buying less for your pet:

Perhaps the easiest place to save is on food and treats. Many of us probably give our pets more treats than they need. I know we do. So start with cutting back on their treats. I now give our dog half the amount by breaking his biscuits in two. He doesn’t seem to know the difference. Also, we give him just a few pieces of our cat’s kibble, which he thinks is a big treat and is much cheaper than his dog treats. When I do buy treats, it is because they are BOGO.

Unless you know you are over-feeding you pet, I certainly wouldn’t recommend feeding them less. However, if your pet is not on a particular diet, you might be able to save by mixing their usual brand of pet food with a less expensive one or switching completely to a less expensive one. Remember that this is only temporary. I am not suggesting you put your pet on a lifelong less-healthy diet. But if it means being able to afford to keep your pet, then consider cheaper food for now.

We’re also stretching out the use of our cat’s litter. My son cleans out the box twice daily right now rather than once a day, and it is making a difference in how often we need to change out the entire box of litter.

These small changes are saving us about $25 per month on our three pets, which is not huge, but in conjunction with our other cost-saving efforts, it is making a difference. Until costs come back down, find ways to save on your pet’s needs and forgo the toys, cute collars or anything else unnecessary to your pet’s health.

Here are some articles that might give you some ideas for ways to save as pet costs continue to rise:

Sometimes saving cents comes down to common sense. When you can’t find any other ways to get what you need for less, sometimes the best money-saving answer is to use less.

Here’s to a comfortable retirement,
Andrea

Protecting Against Elder Financial Exploitation

Hello My After 50 Friend!

For those interested in the “From the Editor” piece I wrote for The Dollar Stretcher newsletter this week. you can find it here. It provides links to information to a few monthly challenges that can help you free up some extra cash before the holidays.

This week for After 50 readers I wanted to share a few stats from the latest Financial Crimes Enforcement Network advisory on elder financial exploitation (EFE). According to the advisory, EFE “affects at least 10 percent of older adults each year in the United States, with millions of older adults losing more than $3 billion to financial fraud annually as of 2019.” EFE only worsened during the pandemic, and EFE is now the most common form of elder abuse.

FinCEN classifies most instances of elder financial exploitation as elder theft or elder scams. Sadly, according to the EFE’s classifications, theft is committed by a trusted person known to the elder victim.

Scams are committed by unknown persons and are much easier to prevent. One of the best ways to avoid scams is to stay current on common ones and learn to recognize signs of possible scams. One thing you can do, whether for yourself or an elder loved one, is to sign up to receive AARP’s fraud watchdog alerts via email or text. Also, follow some basic online and phone safety practices. Neither the IRS nor financial institutions ever ask you to send personal information, passwords, or account numbers via text or email. If you ever receive a text or email regarding any account you have, go to the website itself to log in directly rather than clicking on a link in an email or text. If you have older loved ones who you think could be susceptible to scams, sit down and show them what scam emails and texts look like.

We also have a few expert interviews on After 50 Finances that can help:

Times are tough enough without getting scammed. Take steps to protect yourself and your loved ones.

Here’s to a comfortable retirement,
Andrea

It’s Not Too Early To Start Thinking About Saving on Home Heating

Hello My After 50 Friend!

First, for those interested in the submissions I received regarding declining product quality, you can view the list here. Keep in mind that this list is merely to help readers make better consumer choices and not disparage companies that make these products. One reader mentioned that she contacted one company regarding their product quality and received a full refund and an explanation – they are experiencing supply chain problems.

This week, I thought the following reader question regarding home heating could help many people:

I know it is summer, but we’re already planning for winter! Our local heating oil company has offered us an option to lock-in our oil prices for next year for a cost of $432 for price protection insurance. The lock in capped price would be $4.799 per gallon and I have a 275 gallon oil tank. The price for one tank of oil will cost us approximately $1319.73. Usually, we refill our tank five times during the year. That means the price for the year would cost us roughly $6598.65 + $432= $7030.65. I’m looking for suggestions on how to save money on home heating costs this year.
Can you please help?
Christine

First, for anyone debating whether to lock in a home heating oil price (for those with that type of HVAC system). This year’s high oil prices make this a tough question to answer. I certainly am not qualified to accurately predict what oil prices will do. Here are two links that can provide some more information to help you weigh options about when/if to lock in:

As for saving on home heating costs, regardless of what type of HVAC system you have, weatherizing your home can go a long way in keeping heating costs in check and now is an excellent time to begin weather-proofing your home. Here are some articles that can help you seal any air leaks and ensure your home has enough insulation. There is also one on installing a programmable thermostat. Performing these tasks can help you save on cooling and heating bills:

Here’s to a comfortable retirement,
Andrea

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