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Archive for December, 2006

Post-Christmas

December 27th, 2006 at 01:46 pm

Two days after Christmas, and I'm just lazing around at my cousin's house. I've spent nothing since Christmas Eve, which is easy to do when you're at someone else's house!

My sons are on the way down to join me (they are visiting their dad, about 45 minutes away). Best part, grandson is coming, too!

Better get my gifts ready!

Merry Christmas from Florida!

December 25th, 2006 at 01:45 pm

It's Christmas morning in Florida. When I arrived, on the evening of the 23rd, I was just in time for the parade of boats through the canals. They were all strung with Christmas lights and it was beautiful. I had a front row seat, right from my cousin's porch!

Since then we have been enjoying the unusual Christmas sights of herons and egrets frolicking in the pond, and chameleons performing mating rituals on the stoop. Everyone is complaining about the overcast skies and rain, but it's so WARM! How weird to go outside barefoot in December!

Yesterday we shopped for our Christmas meal -- which is mostly a turkey dinner from Publix. I also bought a nice bamboo cutting board for my son, who had commented that he needed one, some makeup brushes for me, some magazines for my sister, some pet grooming tools so I can TRY to catch some of this free-floating dog hair before it settles all over my cousin's house. As my cousin paid for the food, my Publix trip was $62.

I met my sister at a Best Western in Atlanta on the way down -- the cost for staying there that night, along with the fee for having a dog along, was $103. I paid about $45 for gas from Indiana to Atlanta, and about $12 for meals on the way down. I also bought a little lamp at a Cracker Barrel for my cousin for $15.

My sister paid for gas and meals from Atlanta to Florida.

Hope everyone has a very merry, wonderful Christmas wherever they are!



Getting ready for the trip

December 21st, 2006 at 12:17 pm

Aha! At last! Yesterday was a no spend day.

Today is our second luncheon at work. I'm picking up a meat & cheese platter on my way to work -- will contribute $3 toward the cost -- everyone else has paid up. Yesterday's lunch was fabulous -- and I got a free dinner, too, because the nice person who brought shrimp & cocktail sauce sent the leftovers home with me. Shrimp cocktail for dinner? Works for me!

I'm almost packed for my trip to Florida. Tonight I need to tidy up the house (a friend will be coming in to feed my cat, so I don't want to leave it a mess). I'm also going to see "Pursuit of Happyness" tonight with another friend. It was actually planned for yesterday, but we both decided last night was better spent getting ready for our respective trips. She's flying to California. I'm driving her to the airport at 6 a.m. tomorrow morning and from there I will continue on to Atlanta, where I will meet up with my sister and spend the night. Then it's on to Florida the next day.

I hope I will be able to check in with you guys while I'm on vacation. I'm packing my computer!

Lunch, lunch and more lunch

December 20th, 2006 at 12:27 pm

Yesterday I went out to lunch with my boss. We ended up at Arby's because I had a two-for-the-price-of-one coupon in my entertainment book. It was $7.16 for two beef sandwiches, a jamoca shake and jalapeno bites. MMMMmmm -- junk food. I also spent $5.78 at the grocery store, mostly for supplies for a pumpkin spice cake I'm taking to work today.

Today our division is having a carry-in luncheon. Tomorrow our department is having a carry-in luncheon. It will be good eating both days. Tomorrow our little group is going in together on a meat and cheese platter, so there will be no cooking/baking for me tonight. Good thing! -- I have plans to go see "Pursuit of Happyness" with a friend -- and I have to start getting ready for my trip to Florida. Ugh. Hate that part of traveling.

Besides packing the gifts, I plan to take only three changes of clothes. There will be a washer available. I hate to pack a lot. Even though I'm driving, I just hate dealing with a big suitcase and a lot of stuff. Anyway, I'm taking my dog, and he will be challenge enough!

Progress on the floor

December 19th, 2006 at 12:32 pm

I put $950 on one of my credit cards yesterday as a deposit for the new flooring. If I am careful, I will be able to pay it off next month, and with luck the balance will not be applied till the following month. The new floor will not be installed until after the New Year, since I will be out of town between the 22nd and the 1st.

I also spent $15.60 on stamps for my Christmas cards, ~$25 on prescriptions, and $3.22 for new pictures of my grandson.

Today I am going out to lunch with my boss, but I will try to keep it very modest. I get two free lunches this week at work, so going out today is not too much of a burden. Meanwhile, I am methodically eating up all the perishables at home.

On Friday I am headed to Florida, with an overnight stop in Atlanta. I am really looking forward to seeing my sister, cousins, aunt & uncle AND my kids and grandson in the sunny south!

My day in Chicago

December 18th, 2006 at 12:16 pm

It was a day of highs and lows. The weather was great, the Christmas fairy lights were beautiful, the stores were overflowing with sumptuous goods -- and people were huddled in corners on the streets with cups of change. I could not take any pleasure in shopping when there was so much abject need all around me. I wished that I had money to hand out to all of them, but since I did not, I tried to ignore them all. It was very unsettling, and sad.

My friends and I had a lovely lunch in Pierrot Gourmet, and I bought a pair of cords and a ski sweater for my month-old grandson. Aside from that I only spent money on breakfast at McDonald's and a coke on the train on the way back. All in all, the day cost about $125, including the train fare.

On Sunday I stayed in all day and spent nothing. I really needed to recover; I did an unusual amount of walking on Saturday and was battling a cold besides. In fact, I think my cold has settled into an infection, and I will try to see the doctor today.

I will also seal the deal on my new flooring today. I think we finally have all the details ironed out. I believe the final cost will be about $1900.

Home repair woes

December 16th, 2006 at 12:06 am

I got the estimate on replacing my all my crappy vinyl floors with new vinyl tile (looks like laminate). Over $2000! I think I talked them out of some "services" -- like ripping up my subfloor -- but I'm not sure. I have to say, there are a lot of issues with putting down new floor in an area where there is a furnace, water heater, washer/dryer, and drain. There also seem to be issues with the baseboard and the quarter-round -- they want to replace them because they might be "nicked" in the process. Sheese, I know how to paint. They must be used to dealing with fussier clients. I just want the floors done!

It's looking like it won't happen till after Christmas -- which means after New Year's, since I'll be out of town. That's okay, but I have already purchased new appliances and they're waiting at the warehouse. I'll have to check to make sure it's okay to let them sit there that long.

My son and I painted the kitchen cabinets ourselves. It was not fun, but I'm sure we saved a lot of money. Next step is new hardware and painting the walls a nice olive green.

Today my handyman came in and planed all my upstairs doors. They haven't fit since I had new carpeting put in up there several months ago. Thank goodness I can now close my doors again, but it was $180.

I'm getting really sick of home repairs. I don't have much patience for it. I want to wave a wand and have it all done.

Tomorrow I'm heading up to Chicago by train with a couple of friends. No plan except a nice lunch and soaking in the big city Christmas atmosphere. I'm looking forward to it.

More house stuff

December 12th, 2006 at 12:17 pm

Yesterday I spent $21.12 on paint for my kitchen cabinets. Today, I will get the kitchen, laundry room, entryway, and two bathrooms measured for new vinyl tile; then my son and I will paint the cabinets.

I am a bit shell-shocked at how much fixing up the house will cost! There are some things I would like to do that I won't be able to do.

One of my co-workers has expressed interest in buying my house. He has not seen it, though. I suspect he hopes he will get a bargain. I hope it doesn't come to that! I want to get a fair price for it -- I will need it to pay off my debt, so I can begin my retirement debt-free.

It has begun

December 10th, 2006 at 12:33 pm

Well, before I can retire next spring/summer, I have to sell my house. To sell my house in this dreary market, I have to do some work on it. I took a big step yesterday.

First I went to a home decorating store and made plans to have someone come out and measure my home for laminate flooring in the entryway, first floor bathroom, kitchen and laundry room. (What is there now is old crappy vinyl). Since the flooring will be going into "watery" areas, she recommended Mannington Adura vinyl tiles, which look as good as laminate but will stand up to spills etc. So she will come and measure and give me an estimate on Tuesday.

As we spoke, we discussed moving the appliances, and I realized that this would be the time to replace the appliances (which has to be done anyway). It makes sense to install the new appliances on the new floor, rather than putting back the old, then replacing them.

So -- I went to the appliance store and spent $1414 on a new refrigerator, stove, and microwave/hood. They are all stainless steel and were year-end models marked down, so I think I got a good value. Still, it's scary to spend all this money.

The kitchen will look awesome, though, and I'll get to enjoy the new look a little bit before I sell.

Other spending pales beside that, but I also spent $5.17 at the bread store, $39.42 at Home Depot for a new closet door, $2.35 at Menard's for paint deglosser, $1 at Wal-Mart for paint brushes and $6.18 for groceries.

An ethical problem and a nice gift

December 8th, 2006 at 01:27 am

Yesterday was a pretty spendy day: $110 at the dentist, $14 for a haircut, $16 for gifts, $25 for gas. I also got a medical reimubursement from my flexible spending account amounting to $65, which WOULD be good news; however, $15 of it is for the name of a provider I do not recognize, and the date of service is 11/14 -- the day my grandson was born; therefore a day I KNOW I did not file a claim. Even worse, the other $50 is really for one $25 prescription -- entered twice. I think they are seriously screwed up. I suspect they have made mistakes before, but I didn't really push myself to follow up. Now, I know they have made a mistake. I would like to be ethical and straighten it out (which would mean returning money to them), but I have to figure out how. The whole thing is outsourced to a company called Fiserv, and the only way I have ever communicated with them is through faxing and mailing in claims. I have this terrible feeling that I will open a can of worms -- but I have to be honest.

Today I was out of town most of the day so I couldn't pursue the problem. It was a no-spend day, plus I got a really great free lunch AND a beautiful engraved clock as a token for serving two terms on a professional board. A very nice surprise.... I knew I would be given something, but I was quite surprised and delighted at how nice it is! I was very touched.

Good financial vibes

December 5th, 2006 at 11:49 pm

Today I had some good money news. My electric bill came, and it was only $5! It is the settle-up month on budget billing -- which I thought I already had last month, since the bill was lower -- but not this low. I'm celebrating! Also, one of my co-workers, who was collecting Christmas money for our service staff, gave me my $5 back! They decided to give them a party instead. Now, if it were me, I'd prefer the cash, but I didn't argue. I can use the $5.

On the debit side, my AAA invoice came. $59. I don't dare let it drop, since I'm making a long car trip this month. I'm not comfortable travelling without it, although some have told me that AAA is a waste of money.

Also, my checking account was debited $17.50 for a pledge payment to my alma mater. I have no problem giving back to the institution that gave me some happy years and a good education -- but I had forgotten about my pledge. So easy to say yes, so hard to say good-bye to the money!

Back to good money news; I got a nice free lunch today -- squash soup, salad and chicken. It was our recognition luncheon, which is always covered by our department. Day after tomorrow I will get another free lunch when I go to another luncheon hosted by a professional organization I belong to. My employer pays for that, too.

AND I got a free flu shot at work today. I really do have a pretty good employer -- there are some crazy politics to deal with, but over all, I know I'm lucky.

Catching up

December 5th, 2006 at 12:26 am

I've been sick for a couple of days and haven't posted, but I'm back in business now ... with a slight lingering cough.

First order of business to get out of the way -- I neglected to log $88 in boarding fees for my dog last month, so my total was not quite as rosy as I thought.

Also, I left a cosmetic bag in the hotel, and the hotel charged me $11 to mail it to me. While I'm glad to get it back -- I'm not sure it was worth $11. Oh, it probably is -- for one thing, I think it has a Tweezerman in it that is worth about $15. Just a little bummed. Wish I could get over this forgetting thing, but it will probably just get worse!

Since the beginning of the month I've spent $31 at Wal-Mart and $46 at Kroger. One purchase from Wal-Mart that I'm very pleased with is a couple of pairs of George reversible trouser socks. For the price of two pairs of socks I have two black, one brown and one gray! So cool! And they are nice-fitting socks that stay up well.

I'm also pleased with the chicken & noodles I made the other night. I used the leftovers from a rotisserie chicken, stock I made from the bones, noodles I bought on sale -- and it was delicious! I have 6 servings in the freezer and have already eaten two. Great food for a bad cold!

Tomorrow and Friday I have free lunches at work, and, I believe several more after that -- all holiday-related. Some will require bringing a dish, but basically there will be lots of good eating for little cost this month. December is always a great month for that!

November recap

December 1st, 2006 at 12:06 pm

Despite my sinking feeling that I had spent way too much in November, it wasn't really out of line. Here is a recap:

I spent $2874 all together, which is below my average ($2,937).

The biggest chunks, not counting mortgage, utilities, car payment & CC's were:

$330 for gifts
$287 for vacation/travel
$235 for car repair
$164 for groceries

The areas in which I paid less than last month were:

Utilities
Loan repayment (that's not good!)
Home improvement
Vet/pet supplies
Medical/health
Furniture/equipment
Clothing
Miscellaneous
Household supplies
Personal
Snacks

So I guess I did compensate for the unusual gift & vacation costs. I'm feeling pretty good.

Yesterday I spent $15 more on gifts and $45 for a train ticket to Chicago. My plans for tea at the Drake Hotel are scotched, however! They take reservations, and they are full up for the day we're going. So, as of now, my buddies and I are thinking of lunch at Pierrot Gourmet at the Peninsula Hotel and a visit to the Christkindlmarket. I hope the weather isn't bad by the 16th. It's bad in Chicago today, but it hasn't really hit us in Indiana yet.

Meals yesterday:

Breakfast: Corn muffins, yogurt, cider, coffee
Lunch: Sante Fe rice & bean soup, Cheese Nips
Snack: Popcorn
Dinner: Chicken salad sandwich, cider