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Archive for February, 2007

End of the month report

March 1st, 2007 at 01:44 am

It's pay day!

I made some good progress on my credit card debt. I sent in $1039, which almost pays off all the home improvements I charged last month. I was able to do this because I really cut down in other areas. I spent nothing this month on home improvements, clothing, car repair/maintenance, entertainment or snacks. Groceries went from $174 to $111, gifts from $130 to $75, eating out from $69 to $27, gas from $50 to $21, household supplies from $37 to $9, personal from $20 to $7. Last month I spent $254 on furnishings/equipment -- this month it was $41. Overall I spent more than a thousand less. Areas where I DID spend more were medical/health (new sunglasses), vacation/travel (airline ticket I will use in a couple of weeks), pet supplies (stocked up at PetSmart), and garbage pickup (I pay quarterly).

I'm very pleased. I hope to do the same next month!

My Aldi (which I thought was closed) has remodeled and reopened. I got a couple of coupons in the mail -- one for $10 off a $40 purchase, and one for $5 off a $30 purchase. They expire at the end of March. I figure I can feed myself on $70 worth of Aldi food this month, and spend $55. I'm certainly going to try, anyway.

I talked to my cousin who will be my house-mate after I make the move down South -- she has been working on her budget and told me she's been spending $600 on food -- which she thought was high. Uh, yeah! I've got a lot to teach her!

An extra CC payment

February 23rd, 2007 at 11:25 am

I had a nice surprise on Wednesday, when I looked at my bank account online and saw that a deposit of $206.22 had been made to my savings account. I called the credit union to tell them it was not my deposit, but it turned out that it was overpayment from my escrow, so it was, indeed, mine. I immediately used it for an extra credit card payment, before I was even tempted to spend it. That's a nice boost toward getting my new kitchen paid off.

I've made an appointment with a TIAA-CREF counselor to discuss my annuity payments, which will begin after my retirement. I did this several years ago, so I have an idea, but now that I am so much closer I can get a better estimate of the monthly payout. Also, I need to find out what papers I need to sign!

Yesterday I spent $3.83 on photo development, and that's pretty much it for spending for the week! I went to the library yesterday to pick up some new books for my reading addiction, and also picked up my state income tax form, so I will take care of that this weekend.

Free food, new shades & Netflix

February 20th, 2007 at 11:13 pm

Yesterday a colleague retired and the department threw a bash. The hors d'oevres were substantial enough to make dinner unnecessary. It got even better today -- there were enough leftovers in the breakroom fridge to make a very nice lunch! In fact, today's dinner was only some cheese and crackers because I was not very hungry.

Also yesterday, I spent $156 for prescription sunglasses -- but it will be reimbursed from flexible spending. I like the sunglasses -- I think they make me look very cool for a granny. Smile

Today I spent nothing, and overall it's been a pretty quiet month financially.

Oh -- I did sign up for a free trial of Netflix today. I signed up for the $4.99 plan, because I have a funny feeling I'm going to like the service. One DVD at a time is fine with me.

Contradicting myself

February 18th, 2007 at 06:34 pm

I hate when I have to contradict myself! I said there would be no more splurges in February. But then I wanted to take advantage of the $15 rebate from PayPal. So I ordered a chili pot from Cooking.com. It is a Calphalon pot, offered at the greatly reduced price of $29.99. (I can't remember what the retail value was, but if you know Calphalon cookware, you know it's high). With shipping the final cost was $38.98. Subtract $15 and it's a very fine pot for $24.98. I am slowly collecting Calphalon, and this was an opportunity I couldn't pass up. I also desperately needed a pot this size -- I have a huge one, I have a skillet, I have some small sauce pans, but nothing intermediate. So I feel pretty good about this splurge.

I also donated $6 at work for retirement gifts.

It snowed again yesterday -- not as dramatically as it did on Tuesday -- but enough to make me decide to stay in this weekend. I have been enjoying my time with a mix of reading, playing computer games, cleaning and laundry. I also made a big batch of muffins and froze them in little snack bags, and cooked three pounds of hamburger and froze it in one-pound portions.

I truly intended to put another coat of paint on my cabinets, but I CANNOT get the paint can open. What really frustrates me is that I got one of those easy-open Dutch Boy containers. I cannot turn the lid. It was closed by the guy who put in my floors (he touched up the molding afterwards). He probably screwed the lid on with all his strength, but all MY strength will not open it. I would have been better off with a traditional metal can; at least I could have pried it open. Sooooo -- I guess I'll take it to work tomorrow and see if any of the he-men there can open it. If not, I guess I'll take it back to Menard's and throw myself upon their mercy.

I got a call from my eye doctor saying that my new prescription sunglasses are in. They are a little over $150 -- just perfect -- that will use up the rest of my flexible spending. Now I have to spend $300 more out of this year's account before I retire. What was I thinking? I shouldn't have put anything in flexible spending this year!

News from snow country

February 15th, 2007 at 12:40 am

Speaking to you live from under the snowdrifts...

The snow in my driveway came up to my waist! The snow on my patio was at tabletop level!

It started snowing yesterday and just wouldn't stop. Then it blew around all night. Work was canceled yesterday afternoon and all day today. Woo-hoo! I spent most of the morning, however, shoveling the drive. I will be sore tomorrow, but I got some incredible exercise!

Once I dug out, I went to the grocery store (and it was not mobbed -- that must have been earlier!) I spent $58.37. I totally forgot I was going to challenge myself to spend only $50 the rest of the month! I made some good buys though -- I got a nice big piece of round steak for $1.89 a lb. and I stocked up on mackerel and brown rice, both on sale. I use a lot of both, as my dog eats them (I make his food and do not buy commercial dog food). Also, part of my spending was $13.50 for two OXO mixing bowls. They were marked down and I've been wanting them for a long time. So I haven't really overspent my grocery budget. But the bowls will be my only splurge this month.

Other than that, no financial news. Tomorrow the temperature is supposed to drop, so the weather excitement is not over. I am feeling very glad to be safe and warm inside.

Got my refund!

February 10th, 2007 at 12:48 pm

And it went straight to the credit card I used for my kitchen remodel. It was a little over a thousand. Unfortunately, I still have about a thousand more to pay off, and that's what I'm going to concentrate on in the next few months.

I was feeling kind of bad about that, but then I told myself that I made good choices and got professional work done where I needed it, and did it myself where I could (painting). I'm not a high-income person, so managing a remodel at all is a good thing. I WILL pay it off in two months.

You may be wondering why I used a credit card at all, and did not save up for it. The problem is that I am on a tight timeline. I have to make a move this spring or summer, because the cousin I am planning to live with needs me now. She is disabled (with a disease so rare none of you, probably, has ever heard of it). If I don't join her soon, she will have to hire help, and the window of opportunity for me will be gone. I really want to go live with her, so I can retire and finally spend some time doing things I really want to do, like writing and doing art. Plus, I will be in a milder climate, and only 20 minutes away from my sister. It's a great opportunity for all of us.

So I need to sell my house, and to do that in this awful market, I felt I needed to upgrade the kitchen. I'm also going to put down ceramic tile on the bathroom floor, but I have a friend who will do that (at a fair price, of course). Then -- big garage sales, the sale of the house, and the move to Carolina!

If I don't sell it by August, I think my son is interested in renting when his lease is up. The only problem with that is that the rent will be a bit steep for him. My house payment is more than he pays in rent now, and I will have to charge at least enough for the house payment since I won't be working -- I'll be getting free room and board, but no income other than my pension, which will only provide about $1000 a month before taxes. That will be enough to cover my needs, but not enough to augment the house payment.

So these are the things that are constantly whirling around in my mind. But for now I will concentrate on paying off the remodel and finishing up the kitchen. Yes, I STILL have painting to do, but I'm getting close.

Winter blues

February 7th, 2007 at 11:05 pm

Before it was a deep freeze. Now it is a deep freeze with lots of snow. Brrrr! I wish I could report that winter weather has curbed my spending, but I continue to spend without going anywhere!

I bought a ticket to fly to Kansas City in March, so I can visit with son, DIL and grandson. It was a good price so I grabbed it -- $118.

Then my office ordered lunch in for a birthday celebration. My portion was $7, plus another $3 to chip in for the birthday folks.

My son's birthday was on the 6th, but since the snow was plummeting down yesterday, I canceled our dinner out. We will get together for lunch or dinner this weekend.

Meanwhile I just burrow in every evening. My office is cold -- even when I dress in layers I am practically shivering. It is a relief to come home and just get under blankets and vegetate.

Tonight I will have a frugal dinner of red beans & rice. I hope to make this a record low month for grocery spending. I've already spent $30-something but from now on I will try to make the most minimal purchases I can. I've got to cut back somewhere, so groceries it is!

January Recap

February 3rd, 2007 at 11:29 pm

January was a blowout month for me. I spent $3594, which is a new high -- more than $400 over my average spending last year. The biggest expenditure was $1061 on home improvement -- no surprise, that mostly went to new flooring. Other categories:
Mortgage - 760
Utilties - 325 (includes phone & cable)
Car Payment - 270
Furniture & Equipment - 254
Credit Card payments - 206
Groceries - 174
Gifts - 130
Eating Out - 69
Gas - 50
Insurance - 47
Household Supplies - 37
Miscellaneous - 34
Fees/Services - 32
Clothing - 31
Medical/Health - 28
Car Repair/Maintenance - 26
Personal - 20
Entertainment - 20
Vet/Pet Supplies - 18
Snacks - 2

If you take out the unusual expense of buying a new floor and microwave, it isn't so bad.

The furniture & equipment category included having a new microwave installed, as well as a new kitchen rug, a new comforter, a vaporizer and a can opener.

I also had 9 no-spend days in January, which is pretty good for me.

I started out February by spending again on my favorite splurge, gifts. I sent flowers to my daughter-in-law on her first day back to work after maternity leave (she was feeling really sad about taking the baby to daycare) - $38. And I bought a teddy bear and balloon for a friend who just finished chemo - $12. I've reconciled myself that gifts are important to me, and I am willing to make cuts in other areas as long as I can continue to give to others when I really want to.

This weekend I am staying home and I'm not planning to venture out at all. It's bitterly cold outside. I've been cooking -- I made some broccoli cheese soup and cooked off a bunch of ground beef, and froze the cooked meat in 1-cup portions. Living alone, it can be a challenge to cook for one, but I think having meat in the freezer in small portions will help a lot.

My one regret is that I didn't make a library stop before the weekend began. I have only one book, so I'll have to pace myself! I'm watching TV more than usual -- "Groundhog Day" was on this morning, and, ironically, I don't mind seeing that movie again and again. I think it carries a great message about making the most of your life day by day.