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People Before Money

January 21st, 2017 at 04:20 pm

That's what Suze Orman says, and that's what I was operating on today. Despite my plan to spend as close to nothing as possible, I went out to breakfast with C and DIL and my grandson. It just felt right. We need to treasure these good times.

Also spent about $1.50 on parking. I'm not sure, because my grandson kept shoving in coins from my coin purse before I could count them, but we ended up with about an hour and a half in time, so I assume we spent $1.50.

I planned to go to the gym this evening, but it's not going to happen. I WILL do it in the morning.

I was very domestic today. I baked molasses cookies, which I froze in individual baggies for my lunches, and I worked on shortening a pair of pants I bought at Goodwill some time ago. I'm going to double hem them, and I'm about halfway done. I'll finish them tomorrow. So, baking and sewing, very home ec, right? I also really scrubbed my stovetop, which never looks very clean, but at least it looks better.

Grandson's basketball game was very exciting. A win for us! That's why we had the celebration breakfast.

Unfortunately, my son couldn't come because he has strep throat. I am so hoping I don't come down with it. I've finally conqurered the cough from my last cold -- I don't want more illness. But I do think I kissed him the other day....

It's Friday

January 20th, 2017 at 02:30 pm

I haven't even had a long week -- only three days of work -- but I'm glad it's Friday.

My boss treated me to coffee and a scone this morning, so it would be a no-spend day today, except that I just put in a load of laundry.

I got my test results. Most of it means nothing to me. There was only one comment from the doctor -- CR improved. I think that means creatine level is improved, which is good; that would mean improved kidney function. I can see offhand that potassium and sodium are high, but still within normal ranges. Same with glucose. I guess I'll learn more when I actually see the doctor on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, the plan for this weekend is to keep my spending down to a bare minimum. I haven't got the gas yet -- I can do that on Sunday, before I go back to work. The only household thing that is in danger of running out is toilet paper! I have two rolls. Hmmmm. At least they're BIG rolls. Smile

Enjoy your weekend, everyone!

Waiting for Pay Day

January 19th, 2017 at 03:14 pm

My day at home yesterday was pretty quiet. And, other than a $1.50 load of laundry, it was a no-spend day.

I didn't even use any gas. When I went to get my blood work done, I took the train. I didn't want to deal with parking. Of course, there is a cost in using the train, also, but it is not out of pocket, since I prepay by making deposits on my Venta card. And as a senior, I only pay half of what others pay.

Today I spent .71 on coffee at work. I had an assignment that went fairly smoothly, and I was able to leave early. I went to the gym afterwards and it was still light when I came home. I love that!

I have enough gas to get to work and back tomorrow. A fill-up this weekend will insure that I will get there and back next Monday and Tuesday. Then on Wednesday I will get paid. If I can hold off on spending till then, my variables will be 88%, which is great, considering that I spent $461 on vacation expenses.

$2.71

January 17th, 2017 at 04:03 pm

That's what I spent today - $2 for a prescription and .71 for coffee.

Even though I slept well last night, I felt kind of unfocused at work today. I struggled to finish my assignment -- actually, it wasn't an easy one. But I completely forgot how to run a certain report, and it was embarrassing to admit that to my boss. It's been a while since I've done that, and when you get older, that kind of stuff doesn't stick any more. Annoying!

I asked for tomorrow off last week, because I thought I would be needed to pick the boys up from school. That is no longer the case, but I'm taking the day off anyway. I'm going to get my labs done in the morning, and next week I will see my doctor to follow up on the kidney disease. This will be the first time we can judge how quickly it is progressing.

Yesterday I got a lot of ordinary house work done, including getting all the Christmas stuff stored in my basement storage room. It felt good to finally get that cleared out.

I've been diligent about going to the gym since I got back from the cruise; not so diligent about my diet. I'm not pigging out, just not cutting back as much as I should. So that is something to work on.

I'm looking forward to reading in bed tonight, and waking up whenever I want to in the morning!

Free Lunch and More

January 16th, 2017 at 08:20 am

Yesterday 12 members of my family got together at a local pizza restaurant for lunch. My ex paid for the whole thing! He has these spots of generosity. He certainly has his faults, too, but I do appreciate his good points, now that I don't have to live with him any more.

Anyway, I not only got a free lunch, but took home a box of sauteed vegetables and three slices of pizza. The pizza slices I froze individually for lunches. The vegetables I divided into broccoli, for broccoli cheese soup, and peppers/onions/mushrooms for omelets or migas. I froze those little packets, too, because I have a lot of food on hand to use up now. I have not yet used the tortellini -- I must do it today -- and I have a cooked chicken breast to use up. The reason I didn't make the tortellini last night was that I was too full from my big lunch.

I did a load of laundry yesterday, but it cost me $2.25 rather than $1.50. The washer I was using quit in the middle of the cycle, so I had to transfer my wet clothes to a new washer and start over. I see today that said washer is still full of water. I didn't report it, because I was too hurried yesterday, but I hope someone else has.

I need to do another load today, but now there is one dysfunctional washer and two filled with wet laundry. It's so annoying to share laundry facilities with others, especially when they are not very considerate of others. That wet laundry has been sitting there for hours.

No big plans today except to catch up on housework.

Indulgences

January 15th, 2017 at 05:12 am

Yesterday I caved and bought some things for myself. I had a 30% Kohl's coupon and the usual 20% BB&B coupon, so I went shopping with the thought that I could do some gift-shopping, which I would like to spread out more this year prior to December.

At Kohl's I looked only at the clearance areas -- where the markdowns were 70-80%. I ended up buying two bras for myself ($12 for both) some kitchen towels for myself ($6) and baby clothes for my soon-to-be-born grandniece ($16). So yes, I did get a gift!

At BB&B I bought a kitchen waste bin, the kind with the flip top and and the pedal. With my coupon, it was $25. I've been wanting to replace my bin for quite a while; it is highly visible in my kitchen and my old one was a disgrace.

I also picked up $13 worth of groceries (getting two free items) and did a $1.50 load of laundry.

My variables spending went up to 86%. I have ten more days in this pay period. I'll probably have to get more gas, but I think I'm pretty good on groceries.

I got an $80 bill for the tail end of my physical therapy. I'll pay that when I get paid so that it will go on the next cycle.

I was planning to make chicken with cranberry sauce last night for dinner, but when I opened the bag of cranberries, they were spoiled. Stupid me! I guess I was thinking they were like dried cranberries, and would last forever. Should have frozen them. So instead I had plain chicken with peas on the side.

I've been writing down my menus in the morning along with my to-do list. Today I'm having blueberry pancakes for breakfast, lunch out (free), and dinner will be chicken tortellini soup.

Guess that's it!

Saturday Morning

January 14th, 2017 at 05:40 am

I worked 7 1/2 hours (straight) yesterday. I was reminded that Monday is a holiday, so I had to finish my assignment. There was still quite a bit to do, and I am afraid it is rushed work, but it was what I had to do.

I came home tired and did not stop at the gym or do anything else.

I've had diarrhea for two days now and I can't figure out what's wrong. The only food I had both days was strawberries, and I can't imagine they would do this to me. I finished them this morning, so we'll see.

I do need to make an appointment with the doctor anyway.

I spent $3 on coffee and a scone yesterday. I forgot to pack the cheese and crackers I was counting on for lunch, though I did have carrots and strawberries and gingersnaps. I was going to buy a sandwich, but they are very expensive at the museum, so I bought a scone instead.

This morning I am going to my grandson's basketball game. Yes, he has begun his fourth sport! He keeps me entertained.

I have lots to do today, but I am enjoying the thought of a three-day weekend!

Life Going On

January 13th, 2017 at 05:24 am

Last night I went to my grandson's orchestra concert and C was there. She seemed to be in excellent spirits, smiling and actually looking quite well. My DIL says her tears come and go, but she is determined not to stop living, and I say good for her.

I spent $16 on groceries yesterday, $23 on gas and $1 on coffee. I was going to stop the coffee habit at work, but it seems I really need it to get going.

I am working on a family tree at work, which is interesting. It's good that I have the ancestry.com subscription so I have a "secret weapon." For those who wonder why I would create a family tree at work -- sometimes donors come from well-known families with historical wealth, and the fundraisers like to know how all the pieces fit together when they plan their strategy.

Anyway, it is complicated work, because it is a very large family, as well as very private, so it is challenging. I have no idea if I have "captured" all the descendents yet, but I can figure out a lot of them from obituaries.

So it's off to work today. I have to miss my grandson's MLK performance. Ordinarily, I would take off, but I can't do it after having been off for 10 days.

Tomorrow, at my grandson's request, the whole family will meet for lunch tomorrow. That includes my ex and his wife, my nephew and his wife and children, as well as my son's family (which, of course, includes C). It will be a big table. I think it's so sweet that my grandson wants to do this. It's also very nice that my ex offered to treat.

Oh, and I should say I talked to my boss yesterday, and she said she had budgeted for my wages for the year ahead. So it seems I will work through 2017, anyway.

The Worst News

January 12th, 2017 at 02:43 am

C did not have surgery yesterday, because they did a preliminary laparoscopic procedure and found more tumors. Her cancer has metastasized. She will have chemo, but they are not encouraging about her prospects.

Needless to say, my DIL is beside herself. We are all grieving hard. I have not been able to see C yet; she was groggy yesterday and did not want visitors.

I took care of the boys after school yesterday and spent $4 on snacks.

I'm going back to work today, but will leave early if I am needed. Sounds like I will have a slick commute, so I will be extra careful.

I'm getting started in collecting my tax documents. So far, I only have the W-2 from the College. Still need the SS statement and the one from TIAA. That might be on their website, come to think of it. Also the statement from the museum.

I reapplied for the Senior Freeze Exemption -- a freeze on property tax. I have to reapply every year. I almost forgot last year.

Life goes on, doesn't it? It seems so trivial now to think about taxes and such, but it all has to be done.

Getting Back to Reality

January 11th, 2017 at 08:06 am

Well, back to reality. No one made my bed, no one cooked me any meals, and I had to clean up everything myself. Not to mention it's cold and dreary.

I went to Planet Fitness this morning, so I'm officially back in the routine. I stopped at the grocery and spent $19. Just staples and meal-finishers.

Today I'm having French Onion Soup for lunch, and tilapia with veggies for dinner.

I've done two loads of laundry. My "whites" basket is nearly full, but I'm not going to do it yet. Maybe tomorrow. I should wash towels, too.

C's surgery is scheduled to begin in about a half-hour. I'm going to go sit with DIL for a while later on. The surgery is estimated to take five hours, and she will be on pins and needles.

Work begins again tomorrow. I've already been warned that payment will be delayed, because they are having to open a new PO number. Sigh.

But it looks like my Medicare Advantage plan is charging me a little less this year. They only withdrew $26 rather than $29. Don't know yet if this was a mistake or an adjustment.

I did not take down my tree and Christmas decorations before the cruise. I would have, if I had been ahead on packing and everything else, but it was last on my list and I didn't get it done. So I came home to Christmas! Last night I took down the decorations and ornaments and boxed them all up. It is a little disturbing that they don't quite fit in the containers that I just took them out of -- did they multiply while I was gone? Anyway, I put some things in the Goodwill bag, because I'm not going to start a new container.

Now I have to take the tree and the containers downstairs. My new plan is to leave the tree assembled, since there is plenty of room in the storage unit and it is a major pain to get it back in the box. And it will be so much easier to set it up next year.

Not Cruisin', Soon to be Snoozin'

January 10th, 2017 at 12:58 pm

On the cruise, they gave me a door sign that would flip from Cruisin' to Snoozin' -- basically a "do not disturb" sign. Well, my cruisin' is over, and I'm ready for some serious snoozin'. I'm exhausted, but in a good way.

So, for the financial part. I spent $461 on vacation expenses. This was beyond the cruise ticket which I paid for a few months ago. The $461 included land travel, hotel stays, long-term parking, road food, pet sitter, gratuities, excursions and entertainment, taxis and souvenirs.

We made two stops -- one at Costa Maya, which seemed to be nothing but tourist shops. We didn't stay there long, as it was hot and and the kids were cranky. Our other stop was Cozumel, where we spent the whole day at Paradise Beach. It was lovely. I basically just lay around all day under the shade of palm trees, with short dips in the gulf. The boys played hard all day, climbing, sliding, splashing and snorkeling. The rest of the time was spent on the ship, where we ATE, danced, swam, watched movies and shows, and I even won a trivia contest. (The prize -- a ship on a stick!) We had one rough day at sea, when the temperature dropped and we were riding 15-foot waves. No one got seasick, but everyone was dizzy and disoriented. We all finally figured out that napping in our beds was the best defense.

Anyway, it was a great time and I would do it again in a heartbeat.

I got home a day later than planned due to an ice storm. My son's family was traveling about 100 miles ahead of C. and me yesterday evening, and they called to say "GET OFF THE ROAD NOW AND GET A HOTEL ROOM!" They had run into an area where cars were sliding willy-nilly off the road and wanted to make sure the grannies weren't going to try it. We stopped and stayed in kind of a fleabag motel (not much choice) and had dinner at a restaurant straight out of the fifties (not retro, just never updated). It was okay, though, better to be safe than sorry.

Now I'm back, sorting through mail and doing laundry. Cruel reality.

C's surgery is tomorrow. I am taking the day off to sit with my DIL and assist in any way I can. Tomorrow it is back to work again.

My vacation expenses have already pushed my variables budget to 66%. It's going to be a month of scrimping and cheese-paring. Totally worth it, though!

Goals and Resolutions

January 1st, 2017 at 02:45 pm

Financial -- I just want to do what I did this year, preserve my nest egg, and even raise it a little. If I can do that every year, I'll make it through retirement fine.

As I've mentioned before, my big resolution is to find joy in everything I do. It's easier than I thought, too. I just have to remind myself. The joy is there.

Then I have some really pedestrian resolutions --

Dry my hair all the way! And use the low setting! No more wild woman hair.

Take better care of my teeth, especially the flossing.

Be more vigilant about cleaning the litter pan. Twice a day wouldn't be a bad idea.

Make my bed every day. It's so much nicer to get into.

Enter my financial data more quickly. When I procrastinate, I forget.

Be more serious about staying within the variables budget.

Buy Christmas gifts all year long -- don't leave it all to December.

Set up a cleaning schedule.

Get back on that 1400-calorie diet.

And always, always take the frugal option, when I have a choice.

I'm heading out tomorrow for the cruise. I have all my clothes and stuff set aside, and I'll pack it quickly in the morning, maybe in the hallway, where my cat can't see what's happening.

I dealt with all the perishables in my fridge. Today I made French onion soup and froze it, and I hard-boiled some eggs. There is nothing in my fridge that is going to go bad.

I went to Kohl's and spent my $5 coupon on a package of nail files. Out of pocket cost - .46.

I went to the bank and got a bunch of small bills. I didn't realize you can now get ones and fives and tens from the ATM!

I bought more fish food and more kitty litter just in case. $14. It probably won't be needed, but heck, it's going to get used eventually and I might as well put my mind at ease.

C. and I are driving down in her car; we will split gas and parking. We are all staying in a two-bedroom suite at Homewood Suites. I used to work for one of those. It's an awesome place!

Then the following day we will drive to New Orleans and board the ship.

I will not be online at all -- will not even be using my phone once we are onboard! So I will see you guys on the other side!

Getting Ready

December 31st, 2016 at 03:22 pm

Ah! Just lost an entry! And I almost always remember to copy it, but I didn't this time.

I spent $3 today on laundry, so made the adjustments to my final tally for the year.

My packing is almost done, except that nothing is in the suitcase yet -- can't pull that out till the last minute, so my cat doesn't get upset and PEE ON THE BED, like she did last time!

Tomorrow I'm going to Kohl's to use a $5 coupon -- good on any item over $5, so I have to use it! I'll find something, if only socks.

Also have to return a library book. Wish I could take it on the cruise, but it's due and it's non-renewable. Not going to start out the new year racking up fines!

Pet sitter came today and picked up the keys. The cruise is almost here -- it's real -- it's happening!

Year-End Recap

December 30th, 2016 at 04:34 pm

What a high spending month.

Gifts: $1,967 - This includes $1200 contributed to grandchildren’s college funds.

Housing: $1,355 - Ended up paying mortgage and assessment fees twice this month.

Furnishing/Equipment/Décor: $588 - Mostly the cost of a new dishwasher plus installation.

Medical/Health: $246 – Physical therapy, labs, office visits, scrips, gym.

Home Repair/Maintenance: $189 – Plumber

Utilities: $176 – Ended up paying gas bill twice in the same month.

Groceries: $152

Fees/Services: $140 – Amazon Prime, AARP membership, bank fees

Eating Out: $124

Vacation/Travel: $122 – Gas for weekend trip and prepayment for pet sitter.

Gas: $88

Vet/Pet Supplies: $60

Phone: $52

Household Supplies: $27

Entertainment: $23

Personal: $22

Laundry: $18

Fares/Parking: $3

Grand Total: $5379

Variables spending (which doesn’t include Christmas gifts, the dishwasher, or the housing) was 151%! Mostly thrown off by the medical bill, the plumber bill, the fees and the higher food costs.

Ish. December. A budget-killer, and I had some bad luck besides.

But it was a good year. My net worth rose from $205,789 to $213,004. That I am pleased with, considering that I am retired. My retirement nest egg itself actually rose by a couple thousand, even though I am drawing on it (interest only). My liquid savings rose by $2,500, even though I feel like I hit it hard throughout the year.

Notable events this year:

I kept my old car going to the tune of $7K. Time will tell if it was a wise decision or not. I just want it to last 2½ more years.

I took three trips to Florida and quite a few short trips to Michigan and Indiana.

I not only joined a gym, but became a regular attendee.

I never weighed myself, but I lost enough weight to wear a size smaller – sometimes two sizes. And I had a lot of smaller clothes set aside, so there was very little cost to getting smaller. What I did buy, I got at Goodwill.

On the darker side, I learned that I had chronic kidney disease, and I am continuing to learn about it. It is not yet affecting me in any adverse way.

On the good side, I switched my statin and got rid of a lot of muscle pain and insomnia.

I went to a podiatrist, and finally have pretty much solved my foot pain with orthotics.

I continued my contract work at the museum, earning about $5700 this year before taxes. And as far as I know, I’m continuing in 2017!

I bought a new dishwasher. I don’t think there was anything else I had to replace.

Actually, it was a pretty uneventful year!

Going to the Movies

December 30th, 2016 at 05:54 am

I'm home today, but in a little while I will go to my son's house to watch the grandsons. We are going to see "Sing" today, and will probably buy lunch, too. Wish I had a gift card for food, but I didn't get any this year!

I created my final invoice for 2016 for the museum work -- $450. Won't see that until well after the new year.

I did some shopping yesterday - $35 at Aldi and $15 at PetSmart. Much of it was getting ready for the cruise -- pet food and litter, road food. I bought only one perishable -- blueberries -- because I will soon be leaving for 10 days.

I also did another $1.50 load of laundry, and I will probably need to do two more before the trip.

My son called to get some info from my passport and also the number of the credit card I plan to use for "purchases" on the cruise. (He was filling out forms.) I wonder what kind of purchases I would make. Food is included. I don't plan to shop! I suppose there will be little fees here and there. It will be interesting to see how I fare.

A Lot of Nothing

December 29th, 2016 at 05:22 am

Got paid yesterday, but will make my month-end and year-end analysis at the real year's end.

My only spending yesterday was $14 for cat food. (Except for mortgage payment and credit card payments and paying my $201 medical bill.) It is interesting that my medical bill was lower, when I went online to pay it. There must have been a credit or insurance payment they were not counting before.

I was coming off a sleepless night, so I was too tired to go to the gym. I only went to buy cat food because I was completely out. When I got to the store, I realized I did not have my wallet! (It was at home.) I did have my change purse with me, so I paid cash.

Not having my wallet meant I couldn't deposit my museum check, so I am doing that this morning on the way to work.

I slept well last night, so I should do a lot better today. Today is my last day of work this year. I won't go back until I get back from the cruise. And even though I will be in town on the 10th, I probably won't go to work, as that is the day that C has surgery, and I will probably be watching the boys while DIL is at the hospital.

I heard from one of my girlfriends that it is fine to reschedule our luncheon to mid-January. The other I will call today, since she has not responded to email.

Well, that's it -- a lot of nothing!

Yesterday's Frugalities

December 28th, 2016 at 04:04 am

I'm trying to dial back in all the little ways I can. Yesterday I went to the library to pick up a new audiobook. I checked out the library book sale (ongoing -- it never closes). It is my usual habit to pick up a few books there, so I can pass them on to my sister. Well, the price had gone up to $1 from .50. I looked, but didn't see anything I thought was worth a dollar.

I also walked two blocks instead of paying for parking.

I managed to buy no food or beverage at work. To do this, I have to take a lot to restrain my urges!

I have committed a scheduling goof-up. I told DIL I would babysit on Friday, forgetting that it was the day for the girlfriend luncheon (1 1/2 hour trip -- each way). I really don't want to back out on DIL, since she has already said she has no other options, and she is already dealing with enough what with her mother's diagnosis. So I emailed the girlfriends this morning. Hoping they will be understanding....

Yesterday was another day of being alone in the office. I expect I will have some company today.

I did spend $1.50 on laundry yesterday, but that was it. Today I have to do some stocking up at PetSmart, and another load of laundry.

I got my check from the museum yesterday! So I will deposit it today. It is also my SS payday. I think that this time, though, since it is SO close to the true end of the year, I will wait to do the financial reckoning until December 31 and get a true annual count.

Tuesday Morning

December 27th, 2016 at 05:29 am

Other than going to the gym yesterday, I spent the day at home. I would have enjoyed it more if I hadn't started feeling woozy -- that cold I had, which is lingering as a cough, seemed like it was going to start over. I took some mucus expectorant before bed and I feel better this morning.

I got some good things done, like cleaning all around the litter pan. What a mess that makes. I am trying something new -- spreading a big towel under the pan and partway up the wall. I wish the cats would use a covered pan, but they won't.

I readjusted my variables budget for the coming year. It will be tighter, because taxes were higher than I expected, so I have to reserve more. There is not a lot I can control in my budget, but I can be more frugal in grocery shopping (and using my food stash) and eating out, especially the convenience eating. I don't have any big clothing needs coming up. I DO have two vacations, so I don't think I can cut back there.

About the cruise -- we are going to drive to New Orleans, where the cruise ship takes off. It is a two-day trip, and we will stay in Jackson, Mississippi overnight. My son has already booked a two-bedroom suite, so we can all stay together and split the cost. We will stay in the same suite on the way back. I am expecting that C. and I will split the cost of gas and long-term parking. We will probably take her car, since it is newer. I will take some road food, but I am sure everyone else is expecting to make food stops.

I have set aside 5 pairs of capris and 10 tops (so I can change the top for dinner). I'm also going to pack a nice pair of white pants and two cardigans. Maybe a hoodie, too. Two pairs of PJ's. Sandals and sneakers. Plenty of underwear and swimming gear. I don't have to pack a hair dryer, because the room as one. Hooray!

It's time to go to work!

And Now It's Done

December 26th, 2016 at 07:24 am

The day after Christmas is so anti-climactic, isn't it? But I'm always glad to get back in the routine.

I had a really nice day with my local kids, my local grandchildren, and my friend C. For once I didn't feel bad about the gifts I had given. Either I'm getting used to it, or I'm getting over it. My DIL put herself out too much with not only hosting the gift-opening, but making homemade cinnamon rolls for breakfast, and a great Christmas dinner. I tried to help, but only succeeded in making the risotto and helping to clean up afterwards.

Today I've already gone to the gym, and I'm doing a load of laundry. I am jotting down New Year's resolutions whenever I think of them, but they are mostly of the small variety. My big one, I think, will be to find joy in everything I do.

More good news about C. It appears that the cancer MAY be stemming from her gall bladder rather than the bile duct. It IS in the bile duct, but that may be secondary. It is not in the pancreas or liver. (Though they won't know any of this for sure until the surgery.) The gall bladder is easy to remove and not needed. The bile duct can be replaced with part of the intestine. (And a topnotch surgeon will do this). If the cancer has spread nowhere else, we can be hopeful of a good recovery.

Christmas Eve Eve Meanderings

December 23rd, 2016 at 08:50 am

I went into work yesterday, but there was no one else in my office. Since I don't have a key to the main office, I had to call security to be let in. I ended up only working three hours, because it just felt so weird and I couldn't concentrate. I know most people do better without people around when they work, but for some reason I am just the opposite.

After work, I went to the gym and then to Walgreens, where I spent $8 on a prescription and sundries.

This morning, it was back to the gym again, with a $24 stop at the gas station. I have also run a load of laundry for $1.50.

I'm trying to spend money only on needs.

That said, I have yet to withdraw $600 for the grandsons' college funds. I already sent the $600 to the Florida grandchildren, but the local kids have a specific fund and I need to find the info and log on. Need to do that before Christmas, so that I have a printout to wrap up!

I have earned $2,229 in snowflakes this year. Ordinarily, I would have divided this among the four grandchildren, but I decided to stick to $300 apiece since I had such big expenses this year.

Here is how my snowflakes shook out:

Rewards/Bonuses: $1086
Freebies: $288
Dividends: $175
Focus Group: $175
Coupons: $151
Discover Cash Back: $148
Surveys: $70
Gift Cards: $55
Cash Settlements: $26
Unclaimed Property: $13
Found: $8
Peak Savings: $6
Rebates: $3

Also $25 that was not categorized.

I will be earning another $3, as I have a Pine Cone survey to do.

Tonight I'm going to my nephew's for dinner. There will be a small gift opening. I will only bring gifts for my ex & wife, and nephew's family, as all the others I will see on Christmas Day. If I am up to it today I may bake cookies to bring.

I don't have to go back to work until Tuesday, and I will enjoy this break. Today is payday (at work) but I get my check in the mail. I am hopeful that it will arrive Tuesday so I can count it in this year's budget, but with the offices being closed, that's doubtful. There's a chance if they did payroll yesterday.

I still have shepherd's pie to eat, but I am thawing my last container of hamburger in anticipation of making tacos. I am going to try to be better at staying ahead on cooking. Of course, I have a free meal tonight, and another one on Christmas Day, so I'm not going to be hurting!

Oh, brother!

December 21st, 2016 at 03:44 pm

If you looked at the comments on my last post, you will see that Another Reader very nicely informed me that today is not my pay day. For some reason, I thought it was coming a week early.

Therefore, all my calculations will have to be redone next Wednesday. I'm kind of glad, actually. This will be a truer representation of not only my monthly spending, but my annual spending.

I bought C. a pair of pajamas today. I found a nice, soft set at Marshall's for only $20. I also gave $10 to a school fundraiser.

I got my annual notice from Social Security letting me know what my income will be next year. It will be exactly the same.

I logged into my homeowner's portal to update my automatic payment for assessments fees. They are going up by 5%.

I just prepared another invoice for the museum, another $1,100 to come in. I'm working tomorrow, and Tuesday through Thursday next week. I won't work again until after the cruise, so I'll probably prepare another small invoice to capture the remaining hours in 2016.

I made a shepherd's pie today out of leftovers. It's only fair, but it will be cheap eating for the next few days.

I went to my grandson's stage production of the Nutcracker today -- he was a snowflake, and pretty darn cute, I have to say!

The weather has become more temperate, which is very nice after the polar temperatures of the last few days. It's supposed to rain on Christmas Day! Oh well, that will wash away a lot of the grimy slush.

Welcome to the End of the Year!

December 20th, 2016 at 03:37 pm

Well, for me, it is. I get paid tomorrow, so December is closed for me.

It was a high-spending month. Not only did I have Christmas expenses, I bought a dishwasher and had a plumbing issue -- both totally unexpected.

Gifts/Charity: $1344
Housing: $677
Furnishings/Equipment/Decor: $588
Home Repair/Maintenance: $189
Fees/Services: $140
Groceries: $131
Vacation/Travel: $122
Eating Out: $83
Gas: $64
Phone: $52
Medical/Health: $41
Household Supplies: $27
Utilities: $22
Vet/Pet Supplies: $19
Personal: $17
Laundry: $12
Fares/Parking: $3
Grand Total: $3531

After all my hand-wringing, Christmas spending was in line, especially considering that it included postage and contributions to the college funds. I was aiming to come in below $1500.

The fees & services included Amazon Prime, AARP membership, and bank fees.

Vacation/Travel includes $100 prepaid to the pet sitter for next month's cruise.

That crazy low utilities bill is just a fluke. My electricity and cable/internet bills didn't hit before pay day. So next month's utilities will probably be unusually high.

Everything else is reasonable.

Here's the really good news, though. My net worth rose by $5,549. My liquid savings rose by $3,011. This despite the feeling that I was always raiding savings for car repairs, big ticket items, etc.

(I should add here -- that's for the whole year, not just this month.)

So, hooray for the museum, for giving me that extra edge!

I feel really inspired now to tighten my belt in all the little ways that I can.

Two Big Bills

December 18th, 2016 at 08:17 am

Two big bills have arrived -- my semi-annual auto insurance payment ($335) and a medical bill ($230). The medical bill is a combination of money owed for the podiatrist, two metabolic panels, and physical therapy. I won't pay it till after Wednesday, so it will go on next month's tracking. The insurance payment will be automatically withdrawn on January 1.

I still have one more gift to get. For C., my friend with cancer. I had bought her a workout ensemble, but she has canceled her gym membership. I think it is not quite the right thing now. Then I thought of getting her a gift card for her hairdresser, but what if she loses all her hair? I'm sure chemo is not out of the question after surgery. Kind of stumped right now.

She and I went together to our grandsons' recital last night. This was not a school event, but a recital organized by their private music teacher. Neither of the boys played up to par. I think nerves played a part, but also, the older one forgot to bring his music! He did pretty well from memory on his own piece, but the duet suffered. Afterwards I treated them to McDonalds - $6. Also yesterday was a day of flag football -- my DS1 had three games; it was the end of the season. I stayed for one, went out for lunch during the second, and came back to pick up DS1. My lunch out was only $2 -- a very small quesadilla at Chipotle!

Today the pet sitter is coming for a meet & greet. I have to tidy up!

I need to get a haircut, but I hesitate to go out. (Cold and snow). But I probably need to move the car, anyway, since it's on a main road, and if I do that, I might as well go to the gym and get my hair cut!

I haven't adjusted to winter yet, but it is surely here, and I might as well get my mind around it.

Happy Friday!

December 16th, 2016 at 02:40 pm

Today I did NOT buy any food at work. I brought my breakfast and lunch and didn't even buy coffee. My only spending was $15 toward a $20 Starbucks gift card -- had a coupon for the other $5.

I made it a rather short day at work so I could beat the snow. It hasn't started yet, so I guess the early exit was unnecessary. But it was nice to get home when it was still light. Even with a stop at the gym and at Starbucks.

Looking forward to a morning without an alarm!

Can't Stop Spending

December 15th, 2016 at 04:40 pm

I just hate December. I hate the draining cost of Christmas, the way it just dribbles, dribbles, dribbles; you never feel done. Yesterday I spent another $20 on gifts, having learned that I will be going to my niece's house for a dinner/gift-opening before Christmas. I still should get a gift card for that event. I've also spent $11 on packing tape, $5 on hot chocolate and a candy bar, $9 on kitty litter, $20 on gas and $27 on groceries. Yeah, the hot chocolate and the candy bar were not only unnecessary but I shouldn't even have them. I didn't care; I just needed the comfort.

It was bitterly cold this morning, and I was halfway afraid to drive to work. It was a grueling trip, too -- slow, crawling traffic almost the whole way. I wonder if more people drive when it's cold because it's too miserable to wait for the trains. When I got home again I filled the tank, even though it was only a little under half-full. I don't take chances in weather like this.

I got my tree up and decorated yesterday. I still have to bring up another container of Christmas decorations for the house -- I'll probably do that this weekend. Most things I don't really care about, but I do want to get my Santa collection out. I look forward to seeing those little fellows every year.

Variables spending is at 91%. For the year, it's 104%.

After the bad news, some good

December 14th, 2016 at 05:19 am

My friend C (DIL's mom) had her meeting with the surgeon yesterday, and there is good news. The tumor is operable, and she is scheduled for surgery the day after we come back for the cruise, so the cruise is a go! We are going to have nothing but fun on that cruise, and treasure every moment. She seems to be in pretty good spirits. I gave her a care package of homemade potato soup and beef stroganoff, and she was grateful.

I bought breakfast at work yesterday - $3. I have spent 83% of my variables budget, with one week remaining in this pay cycle. But I have not counted the Christmas spending or the dishwasher, which will come out of savings.

Today I am staying home. I finished a big project yesterday. My boss said she has something else for me, but it's not urgent. She strongly suggested I stay home today. I think they're all tired of listening to me sneeze and cough!

I am making a list of things to get done. The big one is to get the Christmas tree up and decorated. I could just skip the whole thing, but there is something uplifting about getting decorated for Christmas. I always love the way the house looks.

Went to my grandson's orchestra concert last night. He is such a good player. He is in the most advanced group, and is much younger and smaller than the others. But of course, he has had private lessons since he was a tyke. He was started on the Suzuki method and he continues to have weekly lessons. And I think he has some innate talent, too. Anyway, it was a very sweet event. Amazing to watch the progression of ability from the beginners to the advanced.

Bad News

December 13th, 2016 at 05:04 am

It took so long to get information on my DIL's mother's condition -- I was afraid it would be bad news. And it is, and I was knocked for a loop. She has bile duct cancer and is meeting with a surgeon today to see if the tumor can be removed. I looked it up online, and shouldn't have. Apparently, it rare for this type of tumor to be removable, and the survival rates are quite low.

She is more than my DIL's mother -- she has become my good friend, and she is deeply loved by my grandchildren. I am just heartsick.

After work today I'm going to take her some potato soup and beef stroganoff. She does not cook much, and might appreciate some homemade comfort food.

Don't know what is going to happen with the cruise.

I am meeting with a pet care supplier on Sunday, in case the cruise goes ahead as planned.

It is turning very, very cold here, after our first big snowfall. Between that, my cold, and this bad news, I am feeling overwhelmed and despondent.

Checking In

December 12th, 2016 at 02:07 pm

My cold is so much worse today. I went in to work but felt terrible and left after four hours.

Yesterday I went out just once -- to the local Jewel to pick up MyMixx freebies. I got $12.76 worth of food for free! That included some mozzarella and pepperoni sticks, two juices and a box of red pepper quinoa.

The snow was coming down hard, and this morning it was all crusted on my car, but I got it scraped. The roads were nice and clear but the traffic was slow anyway.

Today I bought a scone and coffee at work - $4. I just needed the comfort and distraction more than anything else.

I did quite a bit of cooking yesterday -- made lasagna, potato soup, and beef stroganoff.

I am waiting to hear something about my DIL's mom...

What a Relief!

December 11th, 2016 at 06:31 am

This morning I thought I had lost my driver's license. It wasn't in my wallet; it wasn't in my purse; it wasn't in my car; it wasn't in my coat pockets; it wasn't on my desk. Finally I found it in a zippered section of my purse I had overlooked. Now I remember putting it there when I was boarding a plane.

It was going to be ugly getting it replaced, so I am so glad I found it.

The reason I even noticed was that I bought myself a new wallet yesterday and I was transferring the contents of the old one. I paid .01 for the wallet! I had a $10 DSW coupon and the wallet was marked down to $10! It is a bright teal and white striped affair, so it will be easy to spot in my bag. The old one was really falling apart.

I mailed my Florida package yesterday -- $18. Parking at the post office was .25.

Then, after my stop at DSW, I went to Hallmark to buy ornaments. I always try to get Christmas ornaments for the grandsons that reflect their Halloween outfits. I found a baseball player for one of them, but nothing for Robin Hood. I'll probably have to go online to find something for that. I also picked up a candle for my BFF and some gift wrap supplies. The total bill was $13, because I had $10 in coupons.

I still had a $5 coupon for Kohl's. I ended up spending $9 without using the coupon, because it wasn't in effect yet! I bought earrings and a necklace for BFF and DIL. Great deals -- the necklace alone was originally $50.

From there I went to GS1's flag football game, where I spent $4 on Gatorade from the vending machine for the boys. I was really starting to drag, because a cold is trying to take hold and I had awakened at 4am. So from there I went home and tried to rest. But I wanted to catch up on laundry before the snow started (because the snow gets on the steps to the basement). I did 3 loads - $4.50 - and then I finally slept.

My DIL's mother was admitted to the hospital this weekend. She is jaundiced, and they found a blockage near her liver. She was released and she is going back tomorrow to have the blockage cleared. It's all a little scary, because they don't know until they get in there what is causing the blockage. If it is a tumor pressing on the duct, then it is not good news.

She is planning on going on the cruise with us, and mostly seems upset that this might upset the plan. I am just hoping for a quick resolution and a good prognosis.

We have about 2-3 inches of snow on the ground this morning, and lot more expected today. I don't plan on going anywhere, and I just hope the roads are clear tomorrow. Needless to say, the girlfriend luncheon is off; we are having trouble rescheduling and it may not happen till after I get back from the cruise.

This and That

December 9th, 2016 at 03:45 pm

The plumber came back and cleaned out the tube connecting the dishwasher to the sink. Apparently some crud was blasted in there when he cleaned out the drain. Now it's working -- I think. He says so. I don't have enough dirty dishes to make it worthwhile to run it, so I'm going on faith. There was no charge, thank goodness.

Spending today:

$9 on breakfast and lunch
$50 on fees

So much for my plan to eat out of the pantry & freezer. When I got up this morning, I realized I didn't have anything prepared to take to work. Plenty of food, yes, but all in its raw state. I'll have to work on that this weekend.

And the $50 fee. My stupidity. Chase has charged me a $25 fee in October and November because my savings dropped below $15K. Yes! I don't look at my Chase account very often, so didn't even notice. Now I need to transfer some $$$ from my credit union to bring the savings balance back up. I would just close the Chase accounts, but the College is direct-depositing my stipend there, and I would have to go back there to sign some papers (during office hours) in order to change it. It's an hour drive the opposite way from work, so that's not going to happen.

Grrr. Hate stupid fees. At least I can take comfort in knowing that Chase paid me a $500 bonus, so I'm still ahead.

Just got another $1000 check from the museum. Will probably just put it into checking to go toward Christmas expenses.

Still trying to find pet sitters during the cruise. Waiting for a callback now.

I ended up not going to the Happy Hour downtown. The plumber made me late to work, and I worked late to make up the time. Saved me some money.

The girlfriend luncheon this weekend is in jeopardy because 12 inches of snow are predicted. I sent an email to the others asking about a re-schedule. I hate to be a killjoy, but I don't want to drive an hour and a half in 12 inches of snow.

And the lunch with my local professional group has been canceled because only two people signed up. I'm not surprised, everyone is too busy this time of year!


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