Social Security increase still means budgeting

The recently announced Social Security increases means recipients will have to continue to keep close tabs on their budgets.

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The recently announced Social Security increases means recipients will have to continue to keep close tabs on their budgets.

Once again we are blessed with an ever so small increase in social security. I don't complain about any amount of increase, but instead I ask myself, "How will this change anything for me?"

Well, after crunching the numbers, I am still poor. There used to be an ad on television that said something like, "No one plans to fail, some people just fail to plan." I suppose that is true for some. But as long as we can't control everything in our lives, I will assume that poor planning is not always what makes us poor.

Many of us did not plan to become disabled before we reached retirement age. Some of us may have taken early retirement not realizing how expensive that could turn out to be. Whatever your story may be there is still hope to make ends meet.

Just recently one of my family members dumped his cable provider. After admitting he only watched about 10 percent of the channels he was paying for he opted for an outside antenna. Many people are now giving up their telephone landline and just using a cell. Some of those cell phones are provided for free. If you are not into texting or any fancy stuff, it is often all you really need.

Sister thinks she is rich. I send out the bills and pay the rent every month for both of us, so she has no idea what anything costs. I had to stop letting her write checks a few years back. When she started signing her name in the memo part of the check, I thought it was best.

Gas and electric can also take you to the poor house. No one wants to sweat all summer long or freeze all winter, but there are a few things you can do. First, you might consider going on the budget plan with the utility company. If you have been at your address for at least six months, they will figure out an amount that you can pay for the next six months. They will average out your bill, and you will not have to pray over the bill each month before you open it. It will have a message on top of each bill that lets you know the real amount you would be paying, and you only need to pay your budget amount. It gets reviewed a couple times a year and will go up or down.

If you pay for trash pickup you should know that the costs vary substantially from one company to another. You also should make sure you are getting a senior discount.

Most companies are more negotiable than you think. If you do have a cable, phone, or computer set-up with one of the local companies, they, too, will work with you. You are probably getting many offers from other companies in the mail. If your year or two-year commitment is coming to an end, now is the time to work out a new deal.

Do not try to do this with the first person who answers the phone. This may get you an apology of some kind, but they cannot fix anything. You need to ask for someone in what I call the "save the deal" department. You need to tell the first person you get that you want to end or lessen your services. You then get the department you really need and people who can actually make changes to your current bill. I have found that they make some pretty amazing deals if they think you are shopping for a better offer.

My mother would often say, "Why couldn't I have been born rich instead of beautiful?" We always got a chuckle out of that. We know now of course that we were rich in many ways, but that did not include a cash flow. Growing up poor is probably why we all had such a good sense of family, as well as learning to find humor in just about every situation.

So, if it appears that your raise in social security is not going to be a life changer for you, try making a few small changes that could put an extra couple of bucks in your pocket.