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Archive for August, 2010

Da Bears

August 31st, 2010 at 10:32 am

So on Saturday my office went to see a Bears game. It was actually a pretty cheap day. Transportation (in a Bears-decorated bus) was provided and so was the tailgating, as well as the tickets. All paid for by one of our generous donors. I can't even fathom why he did this, but we had a good (though LONG) day. Weather cooperated and all was good, except that the Bears lost.

My person expenditures: I bought a Bears cap to shade myself from the sun ($15) and sunscreen for the same purpose ($9). I paid $10 for a shuttle ride from the parking lot to the stadium -- actually it was a tip. My boss and I convinced the driver that we were handicapped -- she has had back surgery and I have some scary looking scars from my ankle surgery. We tipped him well for being so nice.

In other news, my printer/scanner/copier/FAX arrived (I didn't know it had a fax component -- I don't even have a phone line!) I haven't been able to make it work yet, even after spending an hour on the phone with an Epson rep. I do have hopes, though, that after de-fragging and cleaning up my computer, it will work. It seems that the slow response time of my computer is the snag. It will be quite ironic if I end up getting a new computer -- to make my printer work -- which I got because I didn't want to get a cleaning cartridge for my old one. But as I say, I have hopes that it will work with a little tidying up.

I haven't shopped any more for my MOG dress. I may end up wearing the same one I wore to my other son's wedding. Crass, I know, but I can change the appearance with a different jacket. I actually have a lovely new jacket that might work. It would certainly be the cheapest solution, though I would probably have to get the dress altered since I've lost some weight.

Meanwhile, work is barrelling along. I get more and more assignments -- there is going to be a breaking point somewhere down the line. I've told everyone I can't do everything, but nothing changes. I either have lots of job security -- or I'm in a race to get fired. I don't know which.

Free food -- and a lot of water

August 24th, 2010 at 11:00 am

Yesterday was the unofficial kickoff of the school year at the college where I work. The whole staff and faculty gathered for a free breakfast AND lunch. Pretty nice.

The staff our our office will be getting together for a Bears game this Saturday. One of our alums is donating the use of his private box. Should be fun, but it will be a long day. We're supposed to meet at 1:30 and the game doesn't even start until 7. I'm not a big sports fan, so I am afraid it will really drag for me. I can't bow out; I've done it too many times!

Anyway, lots of free food this week, as the game will include tailgating, and we have been ordered to bring nothing but sunscreen and our appetites.

Speaking of appetites, I am trying the weight loss technique I heard about on the TODAY show this morning -- 16 oz. of water before each meal. Just did it for lunch, and I feel quite full. A little bloated, even. We'll see how long the feeling lasts. It is certainly the most inexpensive diet plan I've heard of in a while.

Spending again!

August 22nd, 2010 at 05:36 pm

This is turning into a spendy month.

My latest splurges:

A new all-in-one printer. My old one was printing blanks. I researched the problem and it was probably clogged heads. The solution to that was more expensive than a new printer. So I decided to get a new one, but also to upgrade, so now I will have a printer/scanner/copier. $80 from Amazon. The savings part -- well, I didn't have to buy new cartridges, and the shipping was free. And it was a pretty good price.

Supplements. I was out of Align and calcium. I couldn't get a deal on Align but I found a two-for-one deal on calcium, so saved $16.79. Total cost for all: $49.87.

Shower gift. I had a 20% off coupon for Bed, Bath & Beyond so I bought my DIL-to-be's shower gift, a place setting, for $50.87. I wrapped it myself at the store. While I was there I picked up two shower cards, one for me and one for my sister (who won't be able to come) and some -- makeup? They have makeup at BB&B? Yes, they do. I got some eyeliner and mascara to carry in my purse. I only wear three items of makeup -- the two above and lipstick, and I've been meaning to get some for my purse, so I won't ever be without!

Shoes Under (containeer that goes under the bed). It was at BB&B, too. I really needed something for my extra shoes. It was $11 and it perfectly held all my extra shoes. Now, do I need those extra shoes? Probably not, but right now I am not ready to decide what I need and what I don't need. My injured ankle is still unpredictable as far as swelling goes, and I am not sure which shoes will be good to wear in, say, a year's time.

Lunch at Portillo's. I was going to go to Mickey D's, but Portillo's looked so good. It was probably twice as much as McD, but a much better meal -- and so fast! I was really impressed at the way they handled the drive-through traffic with personnel actually coming to the car to take orders and then deliver. $8.39 for hamburger, fries and a banana smoothie.

A few groceries -- $11; cat food -- $6; gas -- $26.

I also went to Goodwill this morning and spent $30 on gifts -- shirts for my brother-in-law, clothes & toys for my grandsons, stuff for the shower.

I have spent two days now shopping for my mother-of-the-groom dress. I have thoroughly looked at Macy's, Lord & Taylor, Ann Taylor, and Talbot's. So far I cannot find anything. The only outfit I liked was a dark brown dressy suit, but it just didn't look right for a wedding.

I forgot to say I also looked at Neiman-Marcus. That was good for a laugh. One jacket I looked at cost more than $1,300! What? Do people REALLY spend that much on clothes? Even if I were rich I wouldn't do it. That's just obscene.

My birthday week

August 16th, 2010 at 12:27 pm

It's been more than a week since my last entry. Since then I've celebrated my birthday, got paid, and made a big trip to IKEA.

My birthday was awesome. I spent the day with my grandkids and then went out to dinner with the whole family at Chicago's favorite restaurant, Wildfire. I had tenderloin tips (the very same meal I had the last time I went, more than a year ago). It was delicious, and I had enough for lunch the next day. They also gave me some very cool stationery, but the meal was the big gift.

Then on Friday my other son hosted a cookout for me, which was attended by my nephew and his family and my ex-husband and his wife. How many people have their exes at their birthday parties? Smile We have a good relationship. We've been divorced a long time, and now we interact simply as the kids' parents. It wasn't always smooth sailing, but it is now.

On Saturday my sister-in-law (actually my brother's widow, so I guess she is not technically a sister-in-law any more) came to visit and stayed overnight. She took me to an awesome restaurant in Lombard called Praga, where I had a crab cake and a wonderful salad. The next day we went to IKEA.

So, the spending.

My birthday meals were free, but after Wildfire I treated the kids and myself to ice cream, which cost about $8.

I brought two boxes of donut holes to work the day after my birthday -- about $9.

After our IKEA trip I treated my SIL to lunch at Sweet Tomatoes -- $21. Wonderful place!

At IKEA I bought an office chair (I'm sitting on it now) for $80; shower gifts for $28, some decor items for $16, a recycling bin for $10, a dust pan for $2, and two saucepans for $32. I am delighted with all my purchases. Love IKEA. They were all things I wanted to buy, no impulse items, though there was lots of temptation!

I've also spent about $50 on groceries, $15 on Zyrtec, $30 on household stuff (detergent, etc.) and $22 on cat food and kitty litter.

So it's been a little spendy.

I also found a penny.

I put $650 into savings this month.

I still must do an oil change. And I need to start looking for my mother-of-the-groom dress. Also need to buy my DIL's shower present (the shower presents mentioned above were prizes for the shower). So I am not done yet, but overall, feeling good right now.

This weekend's spending

August 9th, 2010 at 10:56 am

I was really trying to keep spending down this weekend. I had gone a whole week without spending anything. Well, I needed some groceries so I spent $39 at Jewel for some basic things. I also bought a book of stamps for $8.80 because I had to send out shower invitations. Then I went to Goodwill so I could use my birthday discount card -- 25% off. I spent $20 and for that I got two pairs of winter pants (will be a necessity soon), a sweater, a fall/winter jacket for my grandson, an Upwords board game, and a little whatnot box I will use as a gift. For my own birthday gift I bought an earthenware pitcher -- struggled with that one, because it was not a necessity, but so pretty. It was only $2.29 after the discount, so I don't know what I was worrying about. I will use it as a flower jug.

I babysat for my grandsons on Sunday, and my DS and DIL bought me lunch. They also picked up pillow forms for me at IKEA. I only had $3 in cash on me, so I owe my DIL another $3. The pillow forms were certainly not a necessity either, but it was a good opportunity to get them, as I don't get to IKEA very often. I have some beautiful fabric I bought at a garage sale LAST summer, and it's about time I made pillows out of it.

On the way home I stopped at McDonald's because I had a milkshake craving. That was $4.32, and definitely NOT worth it -- I will try to remember from now on that I don't like their shakes much, and go to Steak & Shake when I get that urge. Or just get over the urge.

On Wednesday my Discover card will "turn over" and I can spend a little more freely. I put all my non-bill spending on the Discover card to get the rewards, but I do have to be careful never to spend more than I can pay off immediately. Hence, my caution this month, as my expenses from my mini-trips have made it high. Of course, I will continue to be careful, but I will soon be over the hump.

Bad diet day yesterday

August 5th, 2010 at 08:18 am

Actually, you could call it a gorging day. I knew it was going to happen, and I let it happen, but now I have to get back on wagon.

It started with my soul food lunch, hand delivered to my office for $10. (Fundraiser) Even though I did choose the baked, not fried, chicken, it was pretty caloric, what with the mac & cheese, cornbread and greens dressed in oil -- and the chocolate cake for dessert.

Then we had an ice cream social -- supposed to be on the lawn, but it rained. But the food was still served in the cafeteria. I had TWO dips of chocolate ice cream with all the toppings -- in an edible shell, which I ate, of course. They also served big cookies, and I snagged an oatmeal raisin, which I saved for today's breakfast.

It was all delicious. I had a slice of zucchini bread for supper last night -- I thought I would skip supper entirely, but it seemed I needed something.

Today I'm back on track and I don't think my lapse yesterday will do real harm. Gotta kick up your heels once in a while!

On the financial front, nothing is happening. I did go into my settings and put real goals on my sidebar. I decided to raise my EF to $15,000, since that would cover 6 months of expenses (roughly). I figure a used car would cost about $15K as well. My housing -- well, I would LIKE to have $100K for a down payment, we'll see how it goes. That fund is in stocks and I'm not adding to it right now. It's mostly going into EF, with a $100 automatic payment going into the car fund. When I get those funded, I'll tackle the housing. Long haul, I know.

Pouring down rain

August 4th, 2010 at 05:52 am

It's raining cats and dogs for the second day in a row. Sometimes I like rain but this is depressing, for some reason.

I have maintained no spending since Sunday. Today I am getting a "catered" lunch (soul food from the Black Student Union) but I have already paid for it. I'm glad it's coming today -- it will help my glum mood.

Things are not going great at work. I feel I am very dedicated, but I'm not working with a staff who is appreciative, and it gets me down. Wish I weren't so dependent on the opinions of others, but there it is.

I catch myself wondering what I would do if I actually lost this job. I hope it's just sensible emergency planning and not an omen!

July Expenses

August 2nd, 2010 at 07:06 pm

Rent: $610 got a $500 reduction in a raffle

Vacation/Travel: $486 two short trips

Vet/Pet Supplies: $273 mostly dental work for my cat

Utilities: $149

Eating Out: $125 includes a birthday lunch (treating three)

Groceries: $105

Clothing: $89 includes new hoodie, new bra, lots of garage sale deals

Personal: $86 haircut and pedicure

Gifts/Charity: $82

Medical/Health: $68

Insurance: $61

Fees & Services: $46

Gas: $28

Entertainment: $14

Furnishings/Equipment: $6

Household Supplies: $5

Some unusual expenses this month -- good thing I won that $500 -- it paid for my mini-vacations!

Hope August will be a little more like normal.

This weekend's shopping

August 2nd, 2010 at 10:03 am

I decided this weekend that I would only buy items which I truly need at this time. Ordinarily, I would have bought more at the grocery store, because I had a list of items I was out of. But I didn't truly need all of them yet. So I circled only the things I would be using this week: mayonnaise, mustard, celery, onion, cat food, eggs, canola oil.

The celery was a problem -- I only needed a little bit, but my choices were a big head of celery (which would go to waste) or ridiculously-expensive cut-up sticks. Then I spotted the "soup mix" -- a container of fresh celery (two sticks), an onion, a turnip, some carrots and some parsley -- for only $2.99, as opposed to 3.99 for the package of sticks. That was great -- I used all the ingredients this weekend (except the turnip, which will go into soup). I'll look for that more often. Getting fresh veggies for a one-person household is a bit of a challenge.

Then I went home and made zucchini bread, salmon patties and tuna salad -- of of which will be used in lunches this week.

I made a stop at Goodwill to look for shower invitations (which I found -- 25 for .49) -- and I also found some decorations for $1 (white "flower" confetti and some fake pearl garlands). I could not pass up two gift finds -- an elegant angel ornament for a friend ($3) and a pair of canvas stretchers for my son ($4).

I found a dime in the parking lot. I've already found .21 this fiscal year, so I thought I'd start keeping track. See how Chicago stacks up against Seattle! .31 so far.