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Archive for May, 2006

Payday

June 1st, 2006 at 12:50 am

Payday, yay!

I paid off Discover, plus all the charges I made last month.

It will be another month with very little expendable cash. I'll just have to be very careful.

I have a birthday gift to buy this month -- about $50. Other than that no unusual expenses on the horizon.

I compared May's spending with April's, and I was pleased to see I spent less on groceries AND eating out. But more on gas, and there were unexpected expenses (aren't there always?)

I'm proud of myself today because I REALLY didn't feel like going to the gym. It was raining, I was tired, traffic was bad ...
But I went. After 15 minutes on the treadmill I wanted to leave in the worst way. But I switched to the bike and went 15 minutes more. Then I did the weights, and crunches and stretching -- the whole routine.

All I spent today was $30 on gas -- aside from the bills I paid, of course!

Weekend wrap-up

May 31st, 2006 at 01:12 am

Well, I went to my niece's shower on Sunday and had a good time, though I cringe to say that it cost $50 in gas (more than I spent on the gift!)

I enjoyed it, though, and everyone seemed very pleased I had made the effort. When I left (first one to leave, since I had to drive three hours), I saw the whole group standing on the porch waving good-bye. What a nice feeling! (I hope it wasn't because they were that happy to see me go):-)

On Memorial Day I mostly rested, but did go out to dinner with a friend and her mom. $8.70 for a chicken dinner, with leftovers to bring home.

Today I went on a retreat with my co-workers. Breakfast and lunch were provided, so it was a no spend day.

Tomorrow is payday! I'm looking forward to a fresh start -- even though I already know it will be tight. It will be good to have something in my savings accounts again!

Not a cheap day

May 28th, 2006 at 01:57 am

I skipped grocery shopping, because I think I can make do till payday. But I did buy some dishwasher detergent at Wal-Mart, because hand washing isn't getting the dishes as clean as I like.

Then I went to Bed, Bath & Beyond for a shower gift. I had a $5 off coupon, and I set a $30 limit, which I did not exceed. Free gift wrap, so all in all I did pretty well there.

Then I filled the gas tank - $31. And then refilled a prescription - $6. It's the last refill, so I will have to make a doctor's appointment.

None of this is really too bad, but since I had to charge it all, it made me sad.

My niece's wedding shower is tomorrow and it's a three-hour trip. The frugal thing to do would have been to skip it, but it means something to me. I want to be there for my niece.

I talked on the phone with my aunt in California who is dying of cancer. I told her how much I loved her and I couldn't keep the tears out of my voice. I hope I didn't upset her. She told me she is not in pain, just "annoyed." She's always had a remarkable attitude.

So I'm grieving about her inevitable loss and also about losing my dear 12-year-old cat this week. I'm sad. I'm hoping for a happy diversion tomorrow at the shower.

Kidnapped for lunch

May 27th, 2006 at 01:54 am

Today I went out to lunch with my boss. It's not something I have any choice about -- she schedules monthly lunches on my Outlook calendar -- as she does with everyone else she supervises. Yet she doesn't pay. Is that unethical? We're not allowed to say no, only that we need to reschedule.

I didn't have a bad time, but I really couldn't afford lunch out. Ah well.

Our VP sent an email message out today telling us that there will be a 2% merit raise this year -- meaning some will get 1% and some will get 3%. I don't think that's enough to cover the rise in gas prices. Certainly not enough to get excited about, but I will take what I can get!

Good news & Bad news

May 25th, 2006 at 11:57 pm

I haven't checked in in a couple of days. I have good news and bad news; and both involve spending.

The bad news -- I had to put down my elderly, diabetic cat (who also had cancer) this morning. He was coughing up blood and refusing food and water. I know it was the best thing I could do for him, but he's left such a hole in my heart. He was the sweetest cat I've ever had and a true-blue buddy.

The good news -- my son got a new job he really wanted and which should get him on his feet after some tough times. But he needed new clothes in a hurry and didn't have the resources to buy them.

The vet cost $70 and the clothes cost around $100. Both went on the credit card -- not good but unavoidable. At least we found good sales for the clothes, and they should be useful for a long time.

I also transferred all my credit card debt to a new account with a fixed 2.99% rate. So that's a good thing -- one bill and a low rate. I hope I can really make some progress now. But I'm praying for no more emergencies.

A frugal day

May 23rd, 2006 at 12:30 am

Who was it that said that frugality makes your life uneventful? So true!

Today I went to work, making sure to buckle up, because they're monitoring seat belts today. I took leftovers for lunch, and drank water from the fountain. I walked to the gym after work, did my weight training, and walked back to the car (picking up rocks along the way).

I came home and fed the beasts, ate some yogurt and toast, washed the dishes. Planning to read this evening and maybe do some mending.

Oh...how...dull.

Why are you reading this? :-)

Carolina Bound

May 21st, 2006 at 10:27 pm

It's been a quiet, lazy day. I haven't even showered yet, and it's after 5:00 p.m. I guess I'll wait till tomorrow morning and save $$ on the hot water! I've spent most of the day reading, cooking and pulling weeds. Weather is lovely and I'm airing the house.

I did not yet receive my medical reimbursement, and I'm starting to wonder if it will be denied. It was for a blood profile, which I had done at my gym. It was operated by a mobile unit of the local School of Nursing. I wonder if they're going to somehow claim it was not legit.

I had to charge groceries yesterday -- a little over $47. I hope they will pretty much last me until the end of the month. I hated to have to use the card, but at least it won't be on the bill until July, when I will have more wiggle room in my budget.

I have gotten word that my aunt is in the hospital with cancer, and she is not eating. She is in her nineties, and I think the end is near. I would like to go to her funeral when it happens, but she is on the West Coast and I am in the Midwest. That wouldn't be such a problem if it weren't for my money problems. Buying an airline ticket now and perhaps getting a hotel room for a day or too is just not feasible. This is when it makes me so mad that I'm broke! When I can't even do the decent thing.



Dingbat expenses

May 20th, 2006 at 04:25 pm

I've been such a digbat today. First, I left my purse at a friend's house this morning, and had to waste gas making a trip back to get it. It's not terribly far, but enough to think about the gas you're using.

Then, I fell for a deceptive display at Kroger. There was a sign advertising Tyson chicken thighs, buy one package get one free. Right under the sign were piles of Perdue chicken thighs. Big packages, too. I wasted $7 buying chicken thighs at full price. Didn't realize it till I got home and looked at the receipt. Sigh.

I've got to get my head on straight!

Crazy lady picking up rocks

May 20th, 2006 at 12:26 pm

I have an area of rocks in my back yard. It's where my dog goes potty, and I have been buying the smooth river rocks from various nurseries over the years. The area needs replenishing because the rocks gradually sink, I guess. The darn rocks are not that expensive but they come in 50-lb. bags that I have a lot of trouble picking up.

IDEA!! Rocks are free. I need exercise. I decided to pick up rocks while I'm out walking. Yesterday, during my noon break at work, I picked up a large plastic cup full. If I do this the whole summer, I will surely pick up fifty-pounds worth, a little at a time.

I wouldn't say I got funny looks, because people that passed me were pointedly not looking. I guess that means you look dangerously crazy!

Next month

May 18th, 2006 at 04:59 pm

I've worked up my budget for next month, and it looks like it's not going to be a lot better. The killing factor is that I have to pay Discover $433. About half of that is for an airplane ticket for which I will be reimbursed, but probably not until after my conference in August. I also paid off a pledge for a charitable contribution that I had been putting off and felt pretty guilty about.

After that and all my fixed expenses are paid, I'll only have about $20 a week to play around with. But I will also have $644 going into various savings accounts, which is good.

I will have to continue being very careful. By July I should have adequate cash flow again.

As supplies run out at home, I am learning to re-evaluate their importance. For instance, I ran out of dishwasher detergent last week, so I have been hand-washing dishes. I'm finding I don't mind it so much. When I'm doing better financially, I'll get dishwasher detergent, but for now I don't mind.

I'm really enjoying reading books from the library, but I do have to learn to avoid overdue fees. So far I haven't accrued the cost of even one book, but it's so silly to have to pay anything! I just have to remember to get on the website and renew.

I've been invited to a wedding shower at the end of the month, and to the wedding in August, so I need to be thinking of gifts for both, and also, what I will wear to the wedding. I realize now that if I don't plan ahead -- out comes the credit card!

Goals

May 17th, 2006 at 01:58 am

Next month -- when I have some cash again -- I have some goals.

My first goal -- I will NOT raid my savings accounts. My emergency account will be for EMERGENCIES. My home improvement account will be for HOME IMPROVEMENT.

My second goal -- I will not charge anything on my credit cards.

My third goal -- at the end of each day I will save all my $1 bills in a change jar -- I guess it will be my bill jar.

Sounds simple? It is, but I am already shaking in my boots; afraid I can't do it. Oh well, I still have half a month just to ruminate!

Frugal weekend

May 14th, 2006 at 09:32 pm

Yesterday I had $6 in my checking account and about $2 in change to use for grocery shopping. I made a list of the absolute essentials -- milk, bread, tuna, cat snacks (yes, that is essential; I wouldn't get a moment's peace without them), eggs and laundry detergent. I thought I could get them all at Wal-Mart.

But there was a flyer from Kroger sitting on my table, so I took a look. Turned out that milk & bread were two of their loss leaders, so I went to Kroger first. Got those two items, and paid with my change at the self-checkout. (Using the self-checkout is a good way to use up change! It doesn't look at you funny like a cashier would!) I also picked up a free piece of cheese at a samples table (could have had a piece of cake, too, but didn't want it).

Then I went to Walmart and got the other items for under $6. I was quite pleased with myself.

In the afternoon I made brownies, and brewed some iced tea in the microwave (from tea bags that were a gift and I just never used).

Today I made apple cinnamon muffins and some apple crisp from some apples that were quite pretty but not good eating apples. The brownies, muffins and apple crisp will all add some zip to my brown bag lunches this week.

I noticed today that my potatoes were starting to grow a few eyes, so I scrubbed them and baked one for lunch (in the microwave). Surprisingly filling!

My son called for Mother's Day and asked me to check my email. He and his wife had sent me an Amazon "coupon." I was touched, as I don't expect gifts for Mother's Day. I couldn't think what I wanted to do with it, so I saved it in my account. Later, it occurred to me that I would really like to use it for a gift, but of course I can't tell my son that!

I went to the gym and did my routine -- because NOT using that membership would be such a waste. Tonight I'm going to watch a DVD that a friend with Netflix loaned me.

Life is still good!

I found another little cache of coins, so I'm not totally broke yet. But close! I'm really hoping that the medical reimbursement shows up this week.

Budget

May 12th, 2006 at 01:14 pm

Okay, here is my basic budget.

Mortgage, taxes & insurance - $760
Taxes & SS - $465
Life insurance & disability - $39
Medical premium - $44
Medical flexible spending - $67
Savings for home improvement - $250
Savings for emergencies - $275
Retirement savings - $120
Car Payment - $270
Car Insurance - $50
Water - $18
Credit Cards - $340
Electric - $66
Cable - $80
Sewage - $48
Phone - $48
Gas (Heating) - $118
Garbage - $20
Parking - $20

Income - $4070

Here is my average spending per month(since January):

Vet & pet supplies - $320
Home improvements - $207
Medical - $96
Groceries (Food only)- $86
Household Supplies - $14
Gifts & Charity - $108
Vacation - $72
Eating out - $67
Gas - $42
Furniture & Equipment - $37
Car Repair/Maintenance - $79
Miscellaneous - $40
Entertainment - $10
Clothing - $7
Personal - $9
Snacks - $4

The high vet cost came about because my oldest cat is diabetic, has cancer, and had to have a tooth extracted. But he still seems to be enjoying his life, so I don't want to put him down.

My savings look impressive, but right now both my emergency fund and home improvement fund are wiped out. Thank goodness I can't get to my retirement account!

No, it doesn't add up. That's my problem!

Raindrops & BBQ

May 10th, 2006 at 10:31 pm

It's a lovely, rainy day. I'm not being sarcastic; I love a gentle rain -- it's so soothing.

I went out to lunch at a barbecue place with co-workers today. No, it wasn't in my plan, but I had such a good time. I live alone, so it seems the only time I get to hang out with other people is when I get invited out to eat. Or at least it's the major social activity in my life. Anyway, the person who invited me is someone I've wanted to get to know better, so I jumped at the chance. I feel a little guilty, because I'm SO broke -- and yes, I charged it, since I had no cash on me. But it was pretty cheap entertainment: $7.47. And quite yummy.

This evening I had leftovers and worked another Sudoku puzzle. After I log off, I'll read. I'm almost finished with my Fairstein mystery -- so tonight I'll know whodunit! It's a nice life.

No spending today

May 10th, 2006 at 01:15 am

Got through another whole day without spending a penny, and I also went to the gym and walked the treadmill for 30 minutes (while reading a book I have to review for work) and then did my weight-lifting routine, crunches and stretches. I feel quite virtuous!

I recently figured out how to get on the website of the company that handles my retirement account, and check my balance every day. What a rush! I used to have to wait for the updates in the mail every three months, but now I can look and see it jump up day by day. It really makes me realize that all my sacrificing IS for something good.

Money dwindling away....

May 9th, 2006 at 02:16 am

Well, heck.

After a frugal Sunday, when I spent nothing, Monday comes along and I'm shelling out the dough.

I had to renew my supply of special cat food for my diabetic cat, and it's only available from the vet. My vet is a 20 minute ride away (when traffic is good), so I called and asked if I could buy it from a clinic nearby. They said, yes, they'd fax a presciption over. Whoo hoo! I saved a bunch of gas, I thought. I go to pick it up, and the clinic charges $2.00 more than my vet. So did I save anything? I don't know -- does a 20-minute drive cost $2.00?

Then my dry cleaning was delivered -- (I'm on a plan where it's picked up and delivered to my workplace because my building has a contract.) Only $5.40 for a couple of skirts, but I'd forgotten I'd sent them out.

Then I go home and the boy who mows my lawn is hard at work. $30.

It's hard to hold onto your money when you've already obligated yourself to pay for services! Not that I really regret either the dry cleaning or the lawn mowing, but I guess my point is that my iron will to curb spending is being sabotaged by contracts I have made!

On the good side, I made a yummy dinner of fried rice using leftover chicken and vegetables. And I got free fruit from a breakfast buffet to welcome a new employee. Love it when they provide whole fruit! I got an apple and a banana. I'll put them to good use tomorrow.

Scrimp, scrimp, scrimp

May 6th, 2006 at 09:22 pm

Well, I got through yesterday without spending a penny. And got some nice freebies, too. I (and three others from my office) provided training to some new people in a satellite office about 2 1/2 hours away. The place where I was training gave us a very nice sit-down lunch and then gave each of us trainers an golf umbrella. The best part is I actually needed an umbrella!

I didn't even have to take my car out of the garage, because my co-workers picked me up, and the company provided the car.

Of course, I worked hard. It was a long day -- 12 hours. But the people we were training were so nice, and interested and eager to learn. Altogether a very good day!

It was a good start to my personal challenge to spend as little as possible this month.

Today I had to go to Wal-Mart to get cat food and kitty litter, which are necessities -- I can't reason with the cats! I also picked up some milk. $15.34 altogether.

I did NOT pick up detergent, which I would have done in normal circumstances, because I am very low. But I did three loads -- my whole week's worth of laundry -- with much less than the usual amount of detergent. I gave each load a nice long soak before starting the cycle. They came out looking as clean and fresh as usual. I think I've learned something!

I also cooked and de-boned a whole chicken and made a batch of muffins, I'm preparing for the long month ahead.

I am hoping to get a reimbursement from my medical flexible spending fund any time now. It's only 30-some dollars, but it will give me a little boost. Till then I will scrimp, scrimp, scrimp.

Meanwhile I'm having a fun day, reading "Death Dance" by Linda Fairstein (from the library). Reading library books is the greatest free entertainment ever! So glad I have a good library close by.

Confession

May 4th, 2006 at 11:33 pm

Okay, I messed up. I spent too much last month vacationing with my kids -- and bought a digital camera to boot. I paid it all off this month, but now I have almost nothing to live on until I get paid again at the end of the month. So dumb.

So this is my challenge right now -- get by till the end of the month without whipping that old credit card out again. To be honest I don't know if I can do it, but I'm going to try. I'm tired of that credit card merry-go-round and I want to get off!

Tomorrow I have to go out of town for an all-day training session. The transportation is paid for by my company, and I expect a free lunch also. So it should be a pretty frugal day. I'll keep you posted. One day at a time!

May I join you!

May 4th, 2006 at 11:20 am

Hello! I love your forum and I want to play, too! May I join you?

I'm single and in my late fifties. My goal is to retire in about a year and join my cousin in the Carolina's, where we will share a house and expenses.

BUT before I can do that, I have to build up my retirement savings more, pay down my debt more, and fix up my house to sell. All on a very slim income, and this month I am particularly cash-poor. Okay, I'm always cash-poor. I've been on the frugal bandwagon for about ten years, but I haven't really gotten ahead, so I need to seriously re-evaluate my habits.

Anyway, I thought that talking to (and listening to) you guys might help me on my way.