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Day Two Hundred Sixteen

September 24th, 2016 at 07:38 am

Calories: 1566

In a few minutes I have to leave for a baseball game. I've already been to the gym and the grocery store. I spent $34 at Food4Less for 9 items: crackers, pantiliners, kitty litter, cat chow, canned mushroom soup, frozen green pepper, 2 packages of muffins, and one box of nut bars. The nut bars are for my travels; the muffins, thinking ahead to work days (I'll freeze them).

After the game, we will hold my grandson's birthday party at the park. I got him a stack of books he can read by himself. He won't be excited, but I'm also providing gift receipts, so they can be exchanged if they are not quite right. I still need to get a birthday card -- also one for my cousin, whose birthday is Monday.

I reserved a taxi for tomorrow morning -- it will be $42 to go to the airport (including tip). I'll have to make sure I have the right cash, though I think this taxi service will accept a credit card.

I have to finish packing, clean the litter box, clean the fish tank, vacuum and take out the trash. So much work involved in travel.

I talked to my son yesterday, and he said my DIL will pick me up at the airport. I probably won't see him at all, unless he is able to finish his project early.

I really hate the day before travel -- does anyone else feel this way?

I probably won't be checking in while in Florida, so this is good-bye for a while!

Day Two Hundred Fifteen

September 23rd, 2016 at 08:48 am

Calories: 1333

My visit to the podiatrist was very productive. He gave me a removable pad to wear on the bottom of my foot to both pad the corn and correct my gait. He assigned some calf-stretching exercises. He also instructed me to take ibuprofen 3X a day -- three tablets at a time -- for 3 days. And ice my foot each evening. He wants to wipe out all inflammation to see where we stand then. Needless to say, my foot feels better -- and so does my hip and and my knee, and everything else that hurt even a little! Smile

He said that surgery is off the table -- it won't help. But I will probably get orthotics. He wants to see me in a week, but I'll be in Florida -- and then he's out of the office from Friday-Monday -- so the appointment was made for October 4. I made it for 7AM so I can go from there to work!

My co-pay was $50. I've hemorrhaged so much money this month it really doesn't matter.

This morning, after the gym, I went and got my labs done. I'm ticking off as much of the medical stuff as I can before work starts. I think the labs will be covered by my Medicare supplement.

Does anyone here use Uber? I have downloaded the app but never used it. Can you schedule a ride ahead of time? I don't want to fool around and get to the airport late. I'm wondering if I should just go ahead and schedule a taxi.

Day Two Hundred Fourteen

September 22nd, 2016 at 07:20 am

Calories: 1534

In a couple of hours I am going to the podiatrist -- first visit. I am going to have him look at my corn (which I've had for more than a year now) and I want to discuss the pain I have on the ball of my foot and in my toes. It is the same foot that was wrenched when my ankle broke, and I suspect it is all related.

Tomorrow I'm getting my labs done. I've also made appointments for physical therapy - pelvic issues. My PT appointments are on Wednesday and Friday afternoons, so I am going to set up my work schedule to have Wednesday and Friday afternoons free. I'll make any upcoming appointments on those days. I do still need to make a follow-up appointment with my primary physician, but that's in 3-4 months.

It will be interesting to see how much is covered by Medicare and my supplement. So far I have paid nothing out of pocket except a couple of $15 co-pays since I've been on Medicare.

It's supposed to be hot today, but so far it is not bad, and I just have the fans going.

I've decided what clothes to take to Florida and have them set aside to pack. I can't take the suitcase out until the last minute because my cats give me the evil eye.

Day Two Hundred Thirteen

September 21st, 2016 at 07:44 am

Calories: 1459

It's raining. It matches my mood. I'm feeling down. I think I'm worrying about money, and at the same time worrying about getting back to work and keeping that kind of schedule.

I elected to drive in and use the on-site workspace, rather than try to do it remotely. Remote didn't work well last time, what with the clunky equipment they provided and the weak connection. Also, this time I will be working in the same area as the other researcher, who will be a great resource when I have questions and problems. I will be able to work a lot more efficiently.

Of course, going in means using more gas, tying up time on the commute, having to pack food, etc. etc. etc.

I'm also going to have to figure out how to fit in Planet Fitness. I think I'm just going to have to go in the evening after I get home. I'm glad they're open all the time.

I would say I'm glad I have a vacation in Florida coming up, but I don't think I'll do much relaxing, what with caring for two little ones. My DIL will be there, but the idea is to take the burden off her....

See, I'm just in a sad, whiny mood. I'm going to work on getting out of it!

Day Two Hundred Twelve

September 20th, 2016 at 01:12 pm

Calories: 1632

Oy Vay! What a day!

Actually, it started last night. I went to election judge training. Everyone was nice, but we were packed into a FREEZING room, and information was just thrown at us, nonstop. Turns out there is MUCH to do, many steps to remember, and a lot of technology to master. Half the time I felt I didn't know what they were talking about. I wish they had explained a little more about the "why" and not just the "what." I can retain instructions better if I understand the purpose.

But I do have a big manual that explains everything, step by step, so I should be okay on the day, especially if I am teamed with someone who has done it before.

I'll have to help with set-up the night before, so it is more than a one-day thing. And I'll have to be there before 6am, to help get everything ready, and stay till after 7pm -- probably an hour after the polls close, to do all the necessary paperwork and packing up. It will earn me $195, but I don't think it will be easy money.

I won't know where I am assigned until I get a letter in the mail. I hope it's at my own polling place, but there's no telling.

So, anyway, at break time I was DYING for something to drink (something wet, not alcoholic!) I spent $1.25 for a diet coke, which I just about had to wrestle out of the vending machine.

That was just the beginning of my spending.

This morning I went to the gym as usual, but the sound in the back of the car was worse. I decided to go to Firestone after my workout -- to get the tires rotated, as I was planning, and to have the mechanic take a look at the back brakes.

Yeah, I've spent another $423 on the car. I am dealing with it this way -- this car was almost trouble-free for many years. It's been paid off since 2006, and I've enjoyed the luxury of having very little car expense. Now, all the repairs seem to be coming at once. I am paying my dues now for all those carefree years.

So I was sitting at Firestone, dressed in my stinky sweats, waiting to get the car back. I had my museum appointment coming up, and it started to look like I wasn't going to make it on time. I emailed my boss, but she didn't reply. The car was finally ready at the last possible minute. I drove home, pulled on some clean clothes, and drove to the museum, pulling into the parking garage at the exact moment I was supposed to be there.

My boss had been in a meeting, but I saw later that she DID reply -- just not before I had started my mad dash.

We had a good talk. I'm going to get my contract renewed. I'll start on October 3, and it sounds like I could work full-time till the end of the year if I want. They are that backed up and desperate for help. Once I get started, I'll see how the work goes and figure out how much time I want to devote to it.

I'll be working with the new researcher, and I could tell just from our few moments together that we will get along very well.

I spent $9 on breakfast and lunch, because of all this running around. Then I gave $10 to a homeless man! I know, crazy. I was just feeling grateful that I had the money to take care of all this expense, and I had the urge to help someone else.

I have used up all but $15 of the surplus I had in my variables budget, plus I'm taking almost $5K out of savings. Unbelievable month. May I not have another one like this for a long time!

Day Two Hundred Eleven

September 19th, 2016 at 08:12 am

Calories: 1454

Dang it, more car trouble? When I brake, I hear a gentle, rhythmic, thump-thump-thump in the back. I'll have to get it checked out, but I would like to wait until after the Florida trip.

I was confused about my days; my election judge training actually takes place tonight.

When I get done with this, I will add 1.26 to my snowflakes -- $1.25 for a free MyMixx item (Starbucks Refresher) and .01 found money.

Someone abandoned a basket of laundry in our laundry room about three months ago. It has sat there undisturbed all this time. Yesterday I decided it must be truly abandoned; that no one is ever coming back for it -- so I decided to re-wash it and donate the contents.

Would you believe there was a pair of workout pants in there? Very nice Nike pants. However, I believe they are too long for me, so I will probably donate them. What I will keep, however, are a couple of towels and a cat bed and a North Face fleece pullover -- which is also too big, and not at all new, but it will be good for layering this winter.

I hope this isn't the wrong thing to do -- I just can't see leaving it there to be ruined eventually.

I went to my grandson's soccer game yesterday. It looked like he started out enthusiastically and then just checked out. Turns out someone on his team had said something mean to him. Poor heart, he is so sensitive, and as I have said, not at all athletic. I just can't bear how kids can be so mean. And always to the nicest ones.

Day Two Hundred Ten

September 18th, 2016 at 05:30 am

Calories: 1607

I didn't get to the gym until late in the day yesterday, but I felt so much better once I did.

No spending yesterday.

This evening I go for training to be an election judge. It lasts four hours! The location is in a neighboring suburb, so I'll have to figure out the best way to get there. Driving, probably. I hope there is free parking. There was no training scheduled in my own suburb.

I will get paid for training, but it will be rolled up in my payment on election day. All together the payment is $195. The payment for training is $45. Apparently, some people work without getting trained. Maybe because they've done it a lot already?

Next year, after I see how this goes, I may apply to be an Election Coordinator. They get paid $500.

Have to do laundry today. I have a shortage of workout clothing, particularly pants. I need to get some sweats or yoga pants, but obviously, this is not the time, financially, to do that.

I would also like to get a pair of black clogs. I have black loafers that have served me well, but now they hurt the back of my heel for some reason. Increasingly, I like clogs because they will not hurt my heel -- and they usually have a nice wide box, so they don't aggravate my corn.

This, too, is something I have to wait for.

10 days until pay day (which will occur while I am in Florida). There will be more spending before then. I will have to Uber to the airport, and I've decided to pay $25 for my larger suitcase. That way I can haul along the clothing I've collected for the kids, as well as have room to pack a change of clothing every day. I don't want to be worrying about laundry when I'm taking care of two little ones. That will be challenging enough.

I'll probably be buying food at the airport as well, simply because I will start my day at 5 am and will arrive in Florida at 3 pm. Don't think I can carry enough food to cover that time span.

On Tuesday I start at the museum, so I am entering a busy time. I plan to do some relaxing today.


Day Two Hundred Nine

September 17th, 2016 at 11:39 am

Calories: 1370

I finally heard from the museum yesterday. My boss' daughter had been in a serious car accident, and that was the reason she did not get back to me, or respond to my emails.

I asked how she was doing, and she said getting better. Sounds like it was bad, and she didn't want to talk about it.

Anyway, I'm going in on Tuesday to talk about what needs to be done. I told her I am unavailable the last week in September, and she said that was no problem.

So whew, yes, I will make a little extra money.

I spent $45 yesterday for a fundraiser for my grandsons' school. The parents have shelled out so much for various fees and expenses; I felt like this was the least I could do.

I attended a baseball game last night and this morning -- both wins, and both times my grandson was chosen MVP! He is getting really good. This morning the coach called out to my son, "I love your kid! He's all business!"

Tomorrow it is soccer with my younger grandson. This will be a different story. As my DIL says, he's there for the outfit, snacks, and socializing. This one will never be an athlete, but he is a great kid -- very caring, kind and sensitive -- all traits so much more important than athleticism.

I have yet to go to the gym today, so that will get done later.

Variables now 144%. Auuuggghhh!

Day Two Hundred Eight

September 16th, 2016 at 09:00 am

Calories: 1362

I'm home from the gym, and from shopping at Aldi. I spent $25 and got my ten items: spinach, ground beef, corn muffin mix, ice cream, frozen asparagus, honey wheat bread, granola, canned biscuits, canned mushrooms, and white baking chips.

I got 5 lbs. of ground beef for 1.99 per lb. It is only 80% lean, but I will cook it off and drain it. Cooking and freezing it in batches will be one of my chores today.

This morning I made some peanut soup to have later. Yesterday I made chicken taco meat, and chicken barbecue, using up the remainder of two huge split chicken breasts I baked off the day before. Then I boiled the bones and scraps, creating the broth that went into today's peanut soup. Suddenly I have a lot of food on hand; I'll have to decide what to eat and what to freeze.

GS1 is playing baseball this evening and tomorrow morning. GS2 is having a Tae Kwan Do class after school, but now that the class has been moved to the school, I'm not sure if spectators are welcome any more. Anyway, my entertainment is set.

My List

September 16th, 2016 at 05:58 am

What fun! I'll do a second post today about calories and such. Many of these things you know if you're a reader....

1. I retired in 2015.
2. I was married for 14 years, and I've been divorced for 32 years. (Wow!)
3. I have two grown sons, both married. I have four grandchildren, ages 9-1.
4. I love animals, and I've had many dogs and cats through the years. Now I have two cats, Mystery and Enigma (Iggy).
5. I work post-retirement as a consultant, but my one client, a major museum, hands out work sparingly and unpredictably.
6. I have traveled outside the US only once - to Canada, and I'm dying to change that.
7. I am working on a novel, but right now I am stalled, and avoiding the whole idea.
8. I enjoy cooking, especially using up leftovers in a new way, and avoiding waste.
9. I am an avid reader.
10. I am a recent convert to working out; I go to the gym almost every day.
11. I have met two fellow bloggers, and would love to meet more!
12. Sometimes I don't read very thoroughly and I just realized this list was supposed to have 20 items!
13. I was an English major in college and then earned an MLIS (Masters of Library and Information Science).
14. I was a librarian for about 20 years, then switched to the research arm of development (i.e. fundraising).
15. I received an award for alerting development officers to a donor who gave us a $4M lead gift.
16. Last year I stepped down from 10 years of service on the board of my professional organization.
17. My good-bye gift was a scholarship established in my name for professional development for young researchers.
18. I really like to make things last -- my current ride is 15 years old, and I plan to make it last three more years.
19. Even though I am divorced, I have a cordial relationship with my ex, and see him at many family gatherings and holidays.
20. I was born in Indiana, grew up in Ohio, Wisconsin, and Michigan, and am now a happy resident of a Chicago suburb famous for mansions, education, and temperance!

Day Two Hundred Seven

September 15th, 2016 at 07:58 am

Calories: 1076

Very low calorie day without much pain & sorrow. Makes up for the day before.

After the gym workout this morning, I stopped at PetSmart and got cat food and fish food. I used $8.50 worth of coupons, and total spent was $21.

I've not taken the statin for two days now, and I can feel the difference already. I still have pain if I squeeze my thighs, but there is none of the buzzy, throbbing pain that was there even when I was just lying down. I am very hopeful that I have found my solution. However, I know that I am one of those people with inherited cholesterol problems, so I am sure that labs will show high cholesterol and a need to find another statin. My doctor says there are others out there that won't do this to me.

Diet and exercise does not help my cholesterol problem. I've been down that road already.

I started taking the Pepcid prescription yesterday. I don't have acid reflux more than a couple times a week, but it's uncomfortable when it happens. I haven't been able to tie it with any dietary habits. I'm pretty sure I won't have any symptoms at all while taking Pepcid.

Now I need to start scheduling appointments -- labs, podiatrist, physical therapist. Sigh. Plus my doctor wants to see me again in 3-4 months.

The museum is still leaving me hanging, so I'm just going to proceed as if I haven't been asked to work. I can't just put my life on hold while they get their act together. (I think I've said this before!)



Day Two Hundred Six

September 14th, 2016 at 09:40 am

Calories: 2227

It was a good day -- just not calorie-wise or financially!

Calories were not too bad until I succumbed to ice cream after dinner. Can't even explain why I did it, except that it sounded good and I wanted it.

Financially -- I expected there would be a lot of spending. I spent $14 for two meals out, so that was not bad, but the dentist cost $235, even with the senior discount. I was due for x-rays. No problems were spotted, and I got a pat on the back for good dental care. After the dentist, I went to a fundraiser the College was holding, and the cover charge was $10. I bought a $2 drink while there. I paid $26 for gas and the oil change cost $69. That did include a new rear wiper, but the rest was the oil and the labor and topping off fluids.

I was advised that I should rotate my tires, but when they attempted it, one of the bolts was too stubborn to loosen. They didn't want to risk breaking it, so they recommended that I go to a tire shop and have it done. If the bolt breaks there, they have the equipment to fix it. So that's another thing to do.

Today I filled a prescription - $10.

So here is the bad news. My variables spending is 132%. That includes everything except the bill for the $4K+ car repair I had done in Indiana. However, because I have often come in under budget, I'm still in the black overall. I have a surplus of $193.

This kind of month will happen now and then and I'm not worried. I'm sure I can rack up another few under-budget months this year.

I had a lot of fun yesterday visiting with old friends, but today I'm really looking forward to being quiet and lazy!

Day Two Hundred Five

September 13th, 2016 at 08:00 am

Calories: 1374

The doctor's appointment went well, I'm going to follow up on a lot of things we talked about -- foot problems (I'll see a podiatrist), GERD (going to read up, plus fill a prescription), urge incontinence (will see a physical therapist), and muscle spasms in my legs (will take a break from my statin; perhaps switch to another). I'm going to get a bone density test, which I've neglected to do for too long -- it just kind of fell off my map. I also got my second pneumococcal vaccine.

My weight was only about 7 pounds less than it was last year. Two reasons, I think -- I gained during the year (hence, couldn't fit into my pants) before starting the diet, and I have probably built up some heavier muscle in the last few months. It was discouraging to hear, but I won't be swayed from my course. I know I am doing the best I can. (Oh, I forgot the other reason -- NO FRICKIN' METABOLISM!) Okay, I feel better now. Whew.

I had to pay $2 for a parking place, but found .14 as I walked to the medical building. One dime and four pennies, all in different places. I also spent $1.50 on laundry yesterday.

Today I'm heading to my old work town, where I will see my dentist, see some old friends, and get an oil change. And fill the gas tank. I will have to buy lunch, maybe dinner, too, if the day gets long. I will try to be frugal.

I've already been to the gym, and I had my free bagel breakfast. And orange juice. Life is good.

Day Two Hundred Four

September 12th, 2016 at 05:13 am

Calories: 1302

I knew I had a doctor's appointment today, and I had it in my head that it was 9 am. So I had it in my head to wake up early, so I could go to the gym beforehand.

I woke up at 6, got up, got my coffee, and looked at my calendar. My appointment is at 6pm!

Besides that, I don't want to go to the gym until later, because it's pizza day! I'll aim to arrive there at 5. With any luck, I'll get the pizza AND get to the doctor's on time.

My Discover payment cycle closed today, so I paid it, just to get that pain out of the way. $4771 payment, which includes that big repair bill. I took it from my e-fund. The good news is that I earned $49 in cashback savings.

I only ate two meals yesterday, so I never made the shepherd's pie. Hope to get that done today, as well as at least one load of laundry.

Day Two Hundred Three

September 11th, 2016 at 09:08 am

Calories: 1465

After the gym this morning, I stopped at Jewel for some groceries. I specifically wanted to pick up another MyMixx deal -- free Yoplait. Only .88 value this time, but free food nonetheless. While I was there I bought nine more items: turmeric, chicken breasts, tuna, sugar-free drink, mayonnaise, crescent rolls, frozen pizza, frozen mixed spring vegetables. $21. Everything I bought was on sale, except for the turmeric.

Going to GS2's soccer game later in the day. The weather is lovely; it will be nice. Yesterday's baseball game took place right while a storm developed and wind was gusting. They finished the game, but I took GS2 home and thus missed the end myself. Too bad, since our team won, and GS1 made a double play.

One thing that the focus group reminded me about was that I will have to take a required minimum distribution from my 403b when I turn 70 1/2. (Not for a few years). Right now I am taking interest only. It sounds like I have to take the required distribution out of the principal, so it would be in addition to the interest payment -- in short, I will be getting more income than I had realized. I knew I would eventually need to draw down from the principal, but forgot that it was a requirement. With my SS payment going up at age 70, and the RMD coming in, that will be a nice income boost.

Yesterday I made fried rice out of leftovers, which yielded two servings. (I'll eat the second one today.) Today I'm going to use up leftovers to make shepherd's pie, which should serve for a few more meals. And tomorrow, it's free pizza at Planet Fitness! Yay!

Day Two Hundred Two

September 10th, 2016 at 06:47 am

Calories: 1405

It's really cooled off a lot! Love the fresh feeling!

I'm going to a baseball game this morning, my grandson's first "fall ball" game. This is the fourth league he's been in. He's really stuck with baseball, and I'm proud of him!

Yesterday was a no-spend day.

I added my Chase account to my Discover profile so I can pay the upcoming big bill directly from my e-fund. Since the bill will be too big for my slush fund.

I've just returned from the gym, where I did the bicycle and abs. I forgot to bring my headphones, but I did okay just watching the captions on the TV's.

Next week is a busy week. I have a doctor's appointment on Monday -- my annual. They will weigh me there, so I will finally know how much I have lost. I already know I will be disappointed, so I just have to keep reminding myself that I'm wearing a smaller size and feeling better -- that I am making progress, however slow.

Then on Tuesday I have a dentist's appointment, which is in my old town. While I am there, I will stop in at the College to see old friends. I'm going to try to arrange lunch out with one of them. While I'm there I'm also going to get my oil changed. I have an $8 coupon from Jiffy Lube, and there is a Jiffy Lube there which I've used before and liked.

Tomorrow there is a soccer game -- GS2's first one. And then two baseball games next weekend.

Guess that's it!

Day Two Hundred One

September 9th, 2016 at 09:18 am

Calories: 1396

I woke up late this morning -- 8:30! Scandalous! I had a leisurely coffee and then went to the gym, then went to the library to return materials.

Now I have an egg casserole in the oven which will serve as brunch -- two eggs, a slice of cubed bread, a little milk, 1/2 cup of cheese, 1 Tbsp. bacon bits, and one cooked asparagus spear, cut into into pieces. I think it will be delicious!

I spent a gob more money yesterday, and I'm feeling a little blue about it. Not that it could be helped. My son in Florida called and asked if I could come and help out with the kids while he is traveling the last week of September. The airline ticket cost $388. The good news is, it flies right into Gainesville, so there will be no car rental or ground transportation. I will bring only carry-on luggage, so there will be no extra baggage fee.

I am very excited to see the grandchildren. But it came at the wrong time, just when I am already so bummed out about the car repair expense.

Also, after dangling the possibility of work in front of me, the museum has been silent. No answer to my inquiring email. So I think I may not have extra income after all.

It's not like I don't have an emergency fund. I have a HUGE emergency fund. It's just that when it goes, it goes. My budget is too tight to recover from a big expenditure very quickly.

Well, I'll continue to save in all the little ways I can. I did get a Pine Cone survey last night, so that $3 is a start. And I am scheduled for training to serve as an election judge, and that will be $195 on election day. I think I heard that training is paid, too, but I can't find any verification on that. And of course I just got the $175 for the focus group. Sure wish I had won the drawing for the extra $75! I was just one digit off!

The weather is cooler today, and I have the windows open and a nice breeze coming in. I'll try to be even more conservative about using the AC as the summer winds down.

Day Two Hundred

September 8th, 2016 at 07:39 am

Calories: 1600

Woohee! Two hundred days! Really, it's just the beginning of the rest of my life.

Yesterday I wore my "new" capris in a smaller size, which felt really good. I put away a few more big things in my Goodwill donation bag. This is slow, but I'm getting there.

The focus group was really interesting! We talked about retirement, retirement products, and different ways to access your retirement money. More men than women. Most of the group seemed to be much more heavily invested in their retirement funds -- but I'll bet they're not as good with frugal living as I am!

It was nice to get an envelope of cash at the end of the session -- it makes me feel rich! And they offered sandwiches prior to the session -- I had a veggie sandwich with goat cheese and tomato. Yummy. Cookies, too, but I passed on those, as my calories were already up there.

I was nervous about parking -- I used SpotHero for the first time, and I wasn't sure how it worked or whether I would mess it up somehow. It worked great, and I got a $3 discount for using it. The only problem I had was that I arrived too early for my reservation time, so I had to drive around downtown Chicago for about 20 minutes. Good experience, I guess! I left early on purpose because it was rush hour, but the roads were clear and I was way early.

I just returned from the gym, stopping on the way home at the post office to mail my grandson's birthday package. His birthday is on Sunday, and, to get it there on Saturday, it would have cost more than $40. I opted to send it for $11 and let it be late. I'll text my son to make sure he knows it's on the way and GS hasn't been forgotten.

I did two loads of laundry yesterday for $3. It seems like I'm doing more laundry lately, and I think it is because going to gym is generating more dirty clothes. But it's certainly worth it, for the benefits.

While it is supposed to be cooler today, it still feels hot and sticky outside. I'm keeping my air on. We're supposed to get a break tomorrow, which will be most welcome!

Day One Hundred Ninety-Nine

September 7th, 2016 at 07:10 am

Calories: 1572

Just got back from the gym -- recumbent bike & abs.

I heard from the company that's running the focus group and I'm all signed up to participate this evening. Then I had to figure out how to get there and park. Or whether to ride. It turned out that it was an 8-minute walk to the El. That's fine at 6pm but not at 8pm. Not for me, anyway. I'd rather pay the safety tax. So I reserved a parking spot in a nearby garage for $12. It is a garage I have used before, so it won't seem too strange.

I learned that they will provide a "light supper" if you get there early enough. Yes, I will get there early enough! And there will even be a drawing for $75 extra if you're there ahead of time. They really want to start on time! The compensation is $175. All in all, sounds like a good deal to me. I hope it's not a selling situation, but I researched the company, and it looks like it is truly market research.

More laundry to do today, and I have to pack up my Florida grandson's birthday package. I'm a little late on that; his birthday is Sunday.

Variables spending is now at 37%; think I will be okay if there are no surprises.

Day One Hundred Ninety-Eight

September 6th, 2016 at 06:09 am

Calories: Cheat Day!

Just roughly estimating in my head, I'm sure I went over 2000, and ate all the wrong things, but I did enjoy our labor day cookout.

Now I'm back on the wagon. Back from the gym.

No spending except for the $29 which was withdrawn by my Medicare supplement plan.

Today it's laundry, and firming up my plans (or not) to attend the focus group.

We're going to have two scorcher days, so I've revved up the AC.

No word yet from the museum, but my boss probably isn't in her office yet. I assume she will respond to my email.

Guess that's it!

Day One Hundred Ninety-Seven

September 5th, 2016 at 07:33 am

Calories: 1484

Today I'm going to a lakeside cookout for the Labor Day holiday. I expect I will be eating a couple of hot dogs. Who knows what the sides will be? I'll have to be strong.

I asked what to bring and was told -- a chair! So I guess I won't bring food. I hope it isn't one of those deals where everyone else ignores the host and brings food anyway to show how generous they are. I'm going to do as he says and bring myself and a chair.

I got my hair cut yesterday - $16. People were telling me it looked nice longer, so I was kind of hesitating about getting my hair trimmed. But I went, and I asked for an inch off, and I'm glad I did. In my opinion, it looks so much better. And that inch makes a difference in how easy it is to care for.

The gym is closed today, so I will try to work in a walk. The weather is nice, so there is no excuse. Oh, and I learned that free pizza day has been rescheduled for next Monday. Yay!

After the cookout, there is at least one load of laundry to do.

Variables spending is at 35%, with 23 days to go.

Day One Hundred Ninety-Six

September 4th, 2016 at 10:13 am

Calories: 1546

It's September, and I have two grandsons with September birthdays. I just took care of both at Barnes & Noble. I had a 40% off coupon and a $20 gift card, so my out-of-pocket cost was $30. I bought a wooden helicopter for the little one and six early-reader books for the one turning seven. (I already have an outfit with a hat for the little one.) Included in the total above were two bookmarks, which I will give to my ex and his wife at Christmas. I saw them while standing in line, and since I often wrack my brain in desperation to think of some little thing to give them, I thought I should grab them now.

So, anyway, birthdays are done except for the wrapping and mailing.

I went to B&N after my gym workout, and got there a little before opening time. I was all set to fill in the time by buying breakfast at the nearby Corner Bakery, since I hadn't eaten yet and I was hungry. But instead I sat in the car and cleaned and organized my purse until the doors opened, and I forestalled breakfast until I got home -- yogurt. Saved money and calories. That was a close one.

My variables spending is at 33%. I still have to get an oil change and a haircut (think I'll do the haircut today). And I have to put money on my Ventra card (for train/bus travel). Also, when I go to the focus group, there will be a parking fee. Add to all that normal expenditures for food, gas, etc. It will be the usual challenge to come in under 100%.

Day One Hundred Ninety-Five

September 3rd, 2016 at 09:11 am

Calories: 1347

Just returned from the gym; recumbent bike & abs today. Planet Fitness will be closed on Labor Day -- also the first Monday of the month. Does that mean no free pizza? Oh no! Smile

I stopped at Jewel to get my free MyMixx deal -- this time it was Amy's Organic Yogurt, a $4.29 value. I also bought nine other items: Pecan Sandies, chocolate chips, hamburger buns, coffee, vinegar, shredded cheddar, a Vidalia onion, creamer, and butter. $26. The Sandies are only 80 calories apiece and will be good for that sweet craving after a meal. The chocolate chips I keep on hand for making trail mix, and making cookies when the grandsons are here. Obviously, I am not one to buy diet products -- taste is very important to me. I just keep my calorie count in line. Most of the time. Smile

I'm going to add $4.29 to my snowflakes for the free yogurt.

I also went back to Aldi and swapped the quick oats for old-fashioned oats, no problem.

I did two loads of laundry yesterday for $3.

Today I'm going to do some mending and filing.

I got a call yesterday -- which I missed so I got a voicemail -- that I can take part in the focus group after all. But since I missed the call, I'll have to call back on Tuesday morning to make sure there is still a place for me. The session will take place on Wednesday from 6 to 8 in downtown Chicago and pays $175. I hate the idea of traveling home alone after 8, but if the building is close to an El stop, I'll do that. Otherwise, it means driving and parking -- expensive! And the garages are so creepy at night, not much better than walking to the station, really.

Since I hadn't heard from the museum yet, I emailed my boss. I got an out-of-office reply. Hmmmm. I expect I'll hear from her on Tuesday.

Day One Hundred Ninety-Four

September 2nd, 2016 at 07:42 am

Calories: 1506

Just got back from the gym. I went last night for strength training and this morning for treadmill. I am already feeling better.

I stopped at Aldi yesterday and bought 11 things (meant to buy 10, but I guess I miscounted!) They are: Ranch dressing, oatmeal, salsa, salad, Greek yogurt, ice cream, sourdough bread, eggs, tortillas, applesauce, blueberries. I bought quick oats by mistake, so I'm going to see if they will exchange them. I've never tried to exchange anything at Aldi. The 11 items cost $22.

Then I went to PetSmart and spent $3 on fish feeder blocks.

I forgot to report yesterday that I spent $18 on gas on the trip home. I was very pleased to find it for $2.19 per gallon -- it's $2.30 here.

I unloaded all my Goodwill purchases (I had left them at BFF's until I got my car back). Two disappointments -- a kitchen clock I bought does not work -- why didn't I check it? It had no battery but I could have insisted they demonstrate that it worked. And I broke a figurine that I bought as a gift. Darn. It's just a chip, but I can't give it as a gift any more.

I sorted out all the clothes in my separate laundry baskets (by color). The dark basket is definitely overloaded; I'll be washing darks today. There are a lot of shorts and tops for my littlest grandson, who lives in Florida. I have to get them washed before I send his birthday box prior to September 11. (He will also get a new outfit for his birthday, but a lot of gently-used. He won't mind. He's one!)

My Florida kids, by the way, are fine. They got a lot of rain, but didn't lose power, and didn't sustain any damage. And now they've experienced a hurricane!

Day One Hundred Ninety-Three

September 1st, 2016 at 11:38 am

Calories: 2214

My calories would have been 1799 yesterday (still not great) but when I arrived at BFF's house at 10 pm she had fettucine alfredo prepared for me. I didn't have the heart to say no. And it was good!

I caught the local train at 4:20 and the train to Indiana at 5:45. So I spent a lot of time on the train yesterday. For dinner I ate a cup of peanuts on the train, which also added to my calorie splurge. I was seated right next to the dining car, and I kind of wished I had a real meal, but I was determined not to spend the money.

The train kept losing electrical power (though that didn't affect its movement.) But I couldn't charge my phone, and I was quite worried that it would lose its charge before I got to my final destination. I had promised to text BFF when I was near the station. Instead, I texted her when we were about two hours away, and asked if she would check with Amtrak about the arrival time. It all worked out. She was waiting for me at the station, and I actually had a little bit of juice left on the phone.

I arrived very tired and slept poorly. But BFF drove me to the repair shop in the morning and I got my bill settled and hopped in my car and drove home. $4305. Lots of moola. I charged it to Discover so I won't have to raid my savings till next month.

The car ran great, and I felt glad that I had done it.

After resting up a bit, I'm going to go to the gym, and then stop at the grocery on the way home. And I've got laundry to do, but I think I'll let that wait for another day.

One bit of spending: I bought coffee for $2 on the way home, just needed the boost.

It's good to have wheels again.

Day One Hundred Ninety-Two

August 31st, 2016 at 06:15 am

Calories: 1550

Yay! The car is ready! And the total cost is less than the estimate: $4305. Now I just have to get there to pick it up. I bought an Amtrak ticket last night - $25. Unfortunately, the train only runs that way at 5:45 pm, and arrives at 9:45 pm (because of the time change.) So I'll spend the night at BFF's and pick up the car tomorrow.

I want to put the charge on my Discover card, but just in case it is too large of a charge to go through, I'm going to transfer enough $$ to my checking account as a backup. I don't see why it wouldn't go through -- I think my credit limit on Discover is quite large, and I pay off the card every month. But I don't want anything to go wrong!

I got an offer yesterday for a Chase Sapphire card - $500 bonus for spending $4K in three months. That's a nice bonus but the spending is a little high for me. I think right now I am better off curtailing my spending -- drastically, if I can!

So, in the interest of "earning" the car repair bill money, I have turned off the AC for the last couple of days. Today, I think, it will be no problem, as it is cooling off. I will pack my dinner to eat on the train, rather than buy food on the way (peanuts & raisins, probably). If I have time I will run a load of laundry at BFF's house. These are little things, but I am trying to think in terms of little things, which are mostly the ones at my disposal. I think, combined with the extra income from the museum, I can make up the difference fairly quickly if I put my mind to it.

The museum still hasn't contacted me. It's always a waiting game with them, but I assume since I have been asked if I am available, they will eventually get in touch again.

Day One Hundred Ninety-One

August 30th, 2016 at 05:42 am

Calories: 1483

I spent a quiet day at home yesterday. No spending. I didn't accomplish much, except some household tasks.

I did not hear from the museum, and I heard nothing about the car. Of course, I don't expect to hear anything about the car until this afternoon, since they will get the part today (I hope).

I was called by TIAA to participate in a focus group that would have paid $175. However, after answering a series of questions, they decided I did not fit the profile they needed. This usually happens to me on surveys and such. I don't know what it is they are looking for, but it's not me!

I don't know the final tally on my car repair yet, but when I do, I'm going to actively work on making up the deficit. One thing I've decided to do is put a cap on my college fund gifts to my grandchildren. It doesn't make sense to give all my snowflakes away, when I need to pay for unexpected expenses. I will give them $350 each, which is still above what I gave them last year.

Of course, the money I make from the museum will be a big help, but last year I made $5K altogether, and that's about what the repair will cost. I can't really count on this particular stretch of work amounting to $5K.

All that said, yes, I DO have an emergency fund! It's just that, in retirement, it is so hard to replenish an emergency fund. I don't want to just drain it away.

Day One Hundred Ninety

August 29th, 2016 at 05:52 am

Calories: 1387

I had a really pleasant day yesterday, just getting back in the groove after my little vacation. I was thinking -- I love a break in my routine, and then I love getting back in the routine!

I took a walk with my grandson and his other grandma to get frozen yogurt, which was my dinner. ($5) Then we went to the park; GS played while the grandmas talked. On the way home, I picked up a bottle of creamer ($3) at Walgreens.

I also registered for a networking event ($60).

I also did a load of laundry. ($3)

Variables spending is 20%.

I'm going to be without a car until at least Wednesday -- that's the very best case scenario. I expect it will take longer than that. And then I have to take the train down to get it. The only train leaves at 5:30 pm, so it will be a two-day event.

Meanwhile, I can't go to the gym -- not only because of transportation, but because I left my pass on the key ring which is with the car! I can't go to the grocery, but I have enough to make do, and Walgreens is near enough in case I really need something. So I'm just going to enjoy this time until life gets back to normal. I have a stack of books to get through, after all!

I expect I will hear from the museum today with more details about what they need from me. I am hoping that it won't be such a hassle getting on the payroll again, since I've been on it before. I am also hoping they don't need me to actually come in immediately, because that will mean more public transportation.

Days One Hundred Eighty-Five to One Hundred Eighty-Nine

August 28th, 2016 at 08:25 am

No calorie counts to report. Not because I didn't eat, but because I didn't count.

My little vacation in Indiana was great, but disastrous in one way -- car trouble. Basically, my transmission went out.

I was faced with the decision to repair or buy a new car. I didn't feel ready in any way to buy a new car, so I decided to repair, even though the repair is a little more than the retail value of the car. The truth is that right now, while I'm in my lean years, I would rather spend $5K than $15K, and I'm gambling that the car will last without any more major repairs until 2019, when my income will go up and I will feel more secure financially. I know many others would make the decision the other way, but this is what feels right to me.

So the car is in Indiana. I took the train home, and I'll take the train back when the repair is done. They had to order a part (ironically, from Chicago), and don't expect to get it until Tuesday.

I am hoping I will earn enough from the museum to pay for the repair. If not, I will make up the deficit in other ways. I want to maintain my net worth.

Before that little bomb fell, I was having a good time on my vacation. My BFF and I did some eating out, and we hit THREE Goodwills! We both love treasure-hunting at Goodwill, so it was great fun. And we went to see Florence Foster Jenkins, which was very well-done and quite touching.

My vacation costs were $72, which counted food, movie, and transportation. At Goodwill, I spent $26 on gifts, $35 on clothing, $18 on household things, and $4 on books. My most exciting purchases were the clothing -- I got some nice pieces for the cruise (where you have to dress for dinner), some workout wear, and new jeans and capris. All a size smaller than what I was wearing before.

We made our eating out dollars stretch. We had gift cards to use up, and ordered meals that gave us leftovers to eat at home.

Yesterday was a bit of a disaster. I was scheduled to take the train to Chicago at 7:30 in the morning, but the train didn't come until 10:30. It had hit a tree that fell over the tracks in a storm, and the engine was damaged. When I finally got to Chicago, I had to wait for two more hours for a train home. I was so, so tired, but a good night's sleep restored me.

This morning I did my August recap:

Housing: 677
Home Repair/Maintenance: 200
Utilities: 144
Vacation/Travel: 110 (that was my Michigan vacation)
Groceries: 84
Household Supplies: 81
Eating Out: 69
Gas: 57
Phone: 52
Entertainment: 51
Medical/Health: 39
Gifts/Charity: 24
Furnishings/Equipment/Decor: 14
Laundry: 11
Car Repair/Maintenance: 7
Fares/Parking: 6
Grand Total: 1626

Day One Hundred Eighty-Four

August 24th, 2016 at 05:51 am

Calories: 1329

I had a lovely dinner in the city with E; it cost me $20, plus $2 for a train ticket. Next time I take the train, I'm going to have to put some money in my account, so that's another September expense coming up.

I'm getting ready to go to Indiana for three days with my BFF. I expect there will be a little spending. I moved this trip up by one day so I can be home on Saturday morning for my grandson's first fall ball game.

I bought fuel injector cleaner yesterday for $6 -- can't tell yet if it's made a difference, since it has to mix into the gas in the tank. I'll know by the time I get to Indiana!

I got an email yesterday from my boss at the museum -- they need more work! So I'll have a little extra income again -- we won't talk till Monday though, to figure out the details.

Today is payday, and I've paid my mortgage and credit cards. I won't do my August recap, though, until I get home again. I can report, though, that variables spending came in at 90%, and that's including the dinner last night! The clock starts over today!

I'll check in again with you guys when I get home on Saturday.


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