So this morning the plan is to make a very fast, very low-end Costco run: the first trip to Costco in a month!
The $50 cash card I bought to pay for gas fueled the car for a month and a half (!!). And I still have enough pork in the freezer to feed Cassie and Ruby almost to the end of the month. The visit from Borderlands — the outfit that hands out 60 pounds of produce for $10, grâce á local grocery stores donating fruits and veggies that come to the end of their shelf life — has stocked the freezer generously, meaning the only food I’ll need to buy between now and the end of the month will be incidentals like salad greens and the like.
Today Costco is going to sell me another cash card so I can refill the Dog Chariot, and while there I figure to pick up a package of paper towels and a bag of mixed veggies for the dog food. That’s it.
The difference this is making in the budget has been a life-saver. The utility bills, which the bastards have been slowly hiking up a little at a time, are more astronomical than I realized, having stopped keeping track of every penny over the past couple of years. This month’s water bill is $218 and the power bill is $248. They’ve jacked up the gas bill, too: $19, a little much when you consider that in the summertime I hardly use the hot water at all.
But the big budget-busters this month have been a $250 bill from the flicking dentist, who inflicted that gouge just to clean my teeth, and the $293 for the countertop oven.
Every time I go in for a routine cleaning, the dentist’s assistant wants to X-ray my jaws. I’ve been able to put her off for quite a while, claiming (truthfully) that I’ve been exposed to more than enough radiation thanks to the Adventures in Medical Science and do not want any further exposure. This time, though, I have a sore tooth — an old, failed root canal that has been neglected since I gave up on the former dentist after three root canals in the same goddamn tooth — and thought it had better be looked at. But nay: nothing shows up on the X-ray. The pain is prob’ly caused by my tooth-clenching habit.
So that was about $100 for naught.
I probably should have bought the $99 Kitchenaid toaster oven that JestJack found at Macy’s. The prospect of dealing with Macy’s, though…ugh! I dislike shopping there so much, it was worth paying twice as much at Williams-Sonoma to get a comparable item, just to not have to deal with the place. It’s no wonder they’re having to close 100 stores. Their customer service sucks.
Anyway, $486 in utility bills plus another $541 in surprise! bills has done in this month’s budget. I have $163 to live on for the next two weeks. The $25 needed to partly refill the gas tank will cut that to $138.
So I’m going to end up in the red again.
I wonder why it is that every freaking time the utility bills are through the roof, there’s some outrageous extraordinary bill? It never, ever fails.
Looks like I’m going to have to budget $500 for the summertime utilities. I wish I dared get one of those solar rooftop plans. But the utility companies here are trying to drive the solar companies out of business, and they’re about to succeed. The Corporation Commission, which regulates power rates (heh! after a fashion) is in the utility companies’ pocket — that’s not an exaggeration. Arizona Public Service, the most rapacious of our suppliers, buys these guys by underwriting their election campaigns, so anyone who’s likely to resist the endless demands for higher rates hasn’t got a chance.
So I’m afraid that doing one of those leases will be too risky. Some people are already complaining that because of APS’s machinations, their solar systems will not pay for themselves over the lifetime of the house. And in Las Vegas, the companies that were selling those installations just gave up and left town, thanks to the machinations of the local power companies and corrupt officials. So…forget that.
If it’s going to cost me $500 just to air condition the house at 82 degrees & water the plants, we’re reaching the point where it may be worth renting someplace where it’s cooler. I could go up to the Flagstaff area and rent a condo or a cabin. The smoke from the forest fires isn’t very pleasant, but most of the time the weather is a great deal more tolerable. I’d have to shut down this house, though…and am not sure what to do about the pool. You can’t drain it in the summer, because the plaster won’t hold up if it’s allowed to dry out in the heat. Plus of course if the irrigation system goes on the fritz unnoticed, half the landscape plants will shrivel up and die within a week. Not even “xeriscapic” plants can survive 115 degrees without water.
Well, onward. Want to get to Costco before it gets crowded. Have an economically cool day, wherever you are!