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Archive for May, 2011

Walk was a no-starter

May 31st, 2011 at 05:05 pm

I started to walk to work this morning, but soon realized I'd left my sandals at home. I can't wear athletic shoes at work, so I had to go back, and then I decided not to make the walk after all. I was already getting hot, and my back hurt something fierce. I think it was a good decision, as it looks like rain now.

Yesterday, since no Memorial Day cookout materialized, I stayed at home. Went out early in the morning for a walk, but after the weather heated up I stayed in for the rest of the day. I spent a big chunk of the day reading "Starter Wife." Not my idea of highbrow culture, but fun to to read, especially if you've been divorced. What I found really striking was the lifestyle portrayed by the Hollywood elite. Enormous, flagrant wastefulness, all to impress "friends" who would stab you in the back in a minute! I know it's satire, and it's exaggerated, but it certainly made me appreciate NOT being rich!

Goodwill shopping

May 29th, 2011 at 01:14 pm

Went to Goodwill yesterday and did some very sensible shopping, I think. I spent $10 on clothes -- a new pair of khaki pants and dark brown capris. The khaki pants were a definite need, as my old ones are too large to wear now. The capris will just add a little variety to my wardrobe. Then I found 3 figurines for my DIL's Christmas village ($1.50) and a boxed set of tin ornaments ($1.99) which will be a nice gift for anyone -- it goes in my stash.

I carried around four plates and bowl in classic blue onion pattern before I finally put them back. I just wasn't feeling it. I have always thought I would like to collect blue and white china in different patterns, but right now I don't have the space to store it. And with my quiet lifestyle, how much do I need? I already have 10 place settings of Blue Willow. I think I'll be satisfied with that.

Seventeen items

May 28th, 2011 at 03:20 pm

I just didn't want to put two items back this time -- I wanted them all!

Toilet paper -- on sale
2 jars guacamole -- BOGO
Tortillas -- on sale
Craisins
Bag of salad -- on sale
Tomatoes on the vine -- on sale
Head of lettuce -- on sale
Milk
Wine -- on sale
Salsa -- on sale
Greek yogurt
Sauerkraut -- on sale
Ice cream -- on sale
Swiss cheese slices -- house brand, on sale
Bag of clementines
Kitty Litter -- $1 off coupon

Total: $58.40
Savings: $14.62

I had a coupon for $7 off a $70 order -- just can't ever reach $70! I left it for someone else to use as it was due to expire.

I plan to make soft tacos and turkey reuben sandwiches this week. I still have split pea soup in the freezer. I have found that planning only two entrees will feed me well for a week. I have salad and eggs to fill in.

This morning I registered another half-pound loss! To celebrate I walked to McDonald's and bought a sausage McMuffin for $1.

Don't have to work graduation

May 27th, 2011 at 04:36 pm

Found out this morning that I do not have to work at graduation, so I have a free weekend ahead. My son usually does some sort of cookout at his house, but this year his MIL's father is very ill, so it might not happen. I might just be totally on my own for a three-day weekend!

Which is not a bad thing. I have lots of stuff to do. My small apartment has become cluttered and needs cleaning, and I would like to whip it back into shape. And I have my food shopping and prep to do, and I have some mending I really need to tackle. Not to mention that book I'm writing that never gets any attention....

I talked with my brother last night. We are not too good about keeping in touch, but both trying harder. He is very depressed about the general state of things. He said at his last performance review he was all but asked to resign -- he has some issues with his wife, and a son who is struggling to become independent but not doing well. The bright spot in his life is his daughter who is graduating from high school next week. I will be sure to go to her open house next weekend, even though it is a 4-hour drive.

I wish my brother would consider Prozac or something. It is clear to me he has been depressed for a long time, and even though the issues change, the sadness is always there. He is dead set against "chemical intervention" so I have learned to say nothing -- I just wish he could feel better. He has so much in his life that is going well -- and he's sick of hearing that, too! He's really a good guy, but so unhappy.

I guess I have no financial news today!

Retirement benefits!

May 25th, 2011 at 12:32 pm

I got my notice yesterday that the College will start making contributions to my retirement fund on June 1. Whooppee!! They will contribute 5% of my gross monthly income. I did some quick math, and that will net $10,000 for me upon my retirement, not counting growth.

I decided not to make individual contributions, because it is urgent for me right now to save in a liquid fund for a housing solution. I feel the best thing I can do for my retirement is to be able to make a huge down payment on a condo, so that my living expenses will be low. (Like my income!) Oh, by the way, I already have a healthy retirement fund from my previous job, where I worked for 23 years. This $10,000 is just something extra.

On the same day, my boss told me that one of the fundraisers was unhappy with some research I had done for her. That seems to be a theme here. Let me assure everyone, and myself, that I am a good researcher and I'm good at my job. Wouldn't know that from all the complaining I get! I think the problem is that we are staffed with inexperienced fundraisers, and they have very unrealistic ideas about what I can find out about potential donors. Come on! There are privacy laws! People don't have their whole life stories and all their intimate details sitting out on the internet for me to snatch up! Not under their real names, anyway! Smile It just gets hard to keep on, sometimes, with all the lack of confidence. I miss my old job, where I was respected.

So I guess it was a good thing that I got my benefits notice to remind me that the reason I'm working now is to feather my nest, not please the unpleasable.

In other news, went to Wal-Mart last night to fill a prescription ($5) and also to scope out the blenders. I had done a lot of research on blenders, and, while it seems that someone hates every model on the market, the best-reviewed models are, of course, the pricey ones.

I went for the low end of the upper range, and bought a Better Homes and Gardens model for $79. ($85 after tax) Besides all its sound mechanical assets, it's red! I love that! I brought it home and tested it immediately on a batch of lumpy pea soup. Smooth as silk in a minute! I love it.

My greatest frugal heroine, Amy D. of the Tightwad Gazette, advocated plunking down good money for good tools, and I've always remembered that. Good tools will pay you back in service and function for years while the cheapies go to the landfill.

I see smoothies in my future!

Walked to work this mornng

May 23rd, 2011 at 01:17 pm

Made the 40-minute walk to work this morning. It was a little humid and my hair is a bit fuzzy -- and my back hurt -- probably from yesterday's strength training exercises -- but I did it!

Now it looks like rain, so I hope all that gets out of the way before I make the walk home.

I started to walk to the library yesterday to return a book and to get the exercise. It started to rain, so I ducked into a little museum I've been meaning to visit a long time. It was very cute -- a old railroad depot -- and it had railroad memorabilia, plus a lot of Ovaltine memorabilia. The old Ovaltine factory is on the site of the complex I now live in, so it was kind of fun. I have many good memories of drinking Ovaltine as a child, though Nestle's Quik was my drink of choice!

Anyway, I went back home without getting to the library and then we had some strong storms, part of the system that was so devastating to Joplin, Missouri.

So tonight's plan -- after I walk home -- is to drive to the library, then to Wal-Mart, where I will pick up a prescription and possibly buy a new blender. I have a little one-serving blender which is fine for small jobs, but I am finding I need something with some gumption for bigger jobs.

My grandson's visit

May 22nd, 2011 at 02:54 pm

Whew! Grandchildren can wear you out! I just took care of one for one day/night and I woke up this morning feeling like a truck had rolled over me!

That said, the visit was a success. We watched movies on Netflix, fed the ducks & geese at the pond, had a picnic breakfast on the patio, had lunch at a Play Place McDonald's, and, of course, the big event, went to see a live theater production of Charlotte's Web. The play was excellent -- one long act, just right for kids, and the players were extremely talented and entertaining. Not cheap, though! After all the fees and such I paid $40 for the two of us. Next time I'll see if I can go to the box office and avoid TicketMaster.

McDonald's was $11.

After I took GS home I had dinner with the family -- and went to the playground. I didn't want to admit I was already pooped!

I sure slept well.

This morning I have been filling out surveys online, and offline I have been cooking -- I had ground sirloin to use (decided to save three patties and cook the rest in crumbles). I think I'm sold on ground sirloin. There is practically no fat in the pan. As long as I can get it on sale...

I also made a breakfast casserole which should be ready in a few minutes. And I went through my frozen bread and took out the heels to make "flat" hamburger buns -- I saw a package at the store touted as low-calorie buns and thought, I already have those in my freezer -- just need to cut them into a round shape!

I've picked up all the toys, still have to strip and remake the bed, and then it will be back to normal!

I told him next time he should stay for two nights, and he said, no, three! Better take my vitamins.

Lots of panic, but easy fix

May 20th, 2011 at 07:02 pm

I was heading out for lunch today and before I even got out of the building I saw that my car key was not on the ring. I looked everywhere I had been, traced my steps to the car and back, and no luck. I asked security, and no one had turned it in.

I started to panic, big time. But I focused and called the Toyota dealer and, long story short, I got a ride to the dealer and got a new key for $5. However, if my car had had an "immobilizer" I would have had to get it towed, so I was very lucky.

No one has found the key yet. I'm sure someone will, because there are only so many places it can be!

One of my colleagues said she has heard of people finding a key and trying every car in the lot until it works and then stealing the car. I hope that doesn't happen!

I also spent $2.18 on lunch at Arby's, since I didn't get home.

"Free" donut

May 20th, 2011 at 12:54 pm

I got a free donut for breakfast this morning at Dunkin' Donuts -- but I gave a $5 donation to Special Olympics, so it wasn't exactly free. However, it is a cause I have supported in the past, and I am happy to do so now.

I did not pack a lunch today, which is very unusual for me, but I plan to go home at noon and do some last minute cleanup. My son's family is coming for dinner tonight and then GS1 will stay the night, so we can go see "Charlotte's Web" tomorrow. I am not really prepared to serve dinner -- the only thing I have in quantity right now is split pea soup and ground sirloin (but no buns, no sides). I think I might just utilize my neighborhood KFC.

Fifteen Items

May 19th, 2011 at 12:39 pm

Went to Jewel last night for my fifteen items -- a day earlier than I should, but tonight I have to clean up the house for my grandson's visit.

Garbage bags -- house brand on sale
Small plastic containers -- house brand on sale
Zyrtec -- generic, on sale
Toilet bowl cleaner - house brand
Body Wash -- $2.00 off coupon
Vegetable Thins crackers -- on sale & $1 off coupon
Stouffer's Mac & Cheese - on sale
Applesauce -- house brand
Greek yogurt
2 lb. chubs ground sirloin - $2 off coupon
l lb. turkey slices - .55 off coupon
1 dozen eggs -- on sale
2 boxes vanilla wafers - $1.00 off coupon

Plus, I used a $2 off coupon for purchasing $10 worth of Homelife items (Jewel's non-food brand)

I had a coupon for $7 off $70 purchase but couldn't use it -- my total was $60.67. Maybe next week.

My total savings were $12.27. Felt like I did a pretty good job!

Today I have to go to the dentist for a cleaning. My insurance will cover most of it, I think. Anyway, I won't have to pay until the claim goes through.

Dread going. The only bright spot of visiting the dentist is that he always calls me "pretty lady." I've come to expect it -- I'll be disappointed when he forgets to say it!

Another rainy day

May 18th, 2011 at 12:47 pm

But we may be getting a warmup. I'm so tired of this icky weather.

I found a dime this morning in my parking lot! My little bowl of change is getting full. Guess I'll find a bigger one and keeping saving change for the year-end gift card promotion at Coinstar. I'm also saving Mypoints for Christmas -- I have a lot of people on my list who appreciate gift cards. Hey, I do, too!

This weekend my grandson is coming for a sleepover and to see "Charlotte's Web" (a play, not a movie.) I'm probably more excited than he is! Tonight I'll grocery shop and be sure to pick up things he loves -- mac & cheese and applesauce come to mind!

Yesterday was my 2-year anniversary at work. I haven't heard anything about getting retirement contributions. I was told I would get the information automatically. I hate to ask again. I'll give it a few days and ask again.

(Here's a thought. Maybe I should check my downstairs mailbox!)

More buying

May 16th, 2011 at 11:40 pm

I forgot to mention that on my latest Goodwill trip, I bought a new lamp. I rarely see a lamp there I like, but this one is really cute -- ginger jar shape with the beaded lampshade and in tip-top condition. And just the right persimmony color for my bedroom. It was only $3.99. Today I donated the old lamp it replaced, plus a bag of clothes.

I also bought a pair of sandals at Shoe Carnival -- the kind with a lot of straps that go up to the ankle. They are really comfortable and look stylish, too. They were $24. I could have bought another pair of sandals for half-price, but I didn't see anything else I wanted. Now, I hope I'm done with clothes shopping for a while. And I hope the weather someday gets warm enough that I can wear sandals again!

The check came

May 15th, 2011 at 02:05 am

The $100 check my son promised me came in the mail, so I'm doing fine now. I'm still $20 short on this month's budget, but I almost forgot -- I get a pension payment before next payday, so I really didn't need to worry anyway. I will not have to transfer any money from savings. Yay!

In celebration, I spent $$$. (Isn't that always the way?) Not cash -- it all went on Discover as usual and will be paid next month. I bought gas ($24 for half a tank), got a haircut ($18) and shopped at Goodwill ($68). That's a lot of money at Goodwill, but I found so many great things!

I got a lot of clothes this time -- 3 shirts, a pair of shoes, a jacket, a sweater hoodie, a sweater, a vest, a cami, a dressy tunic, pajama bottoms, and 2 knit tops -- all for $43. All good brands, excellent shape. I feel a little guilty because I have enough clothes already to get by, but I will certainly enjoy having something new to wear.

The rest of the spending was mostly on small gifts, and a few small kitchen items. I'm particularly excited about the four matching crockery bowls that I can use for all kinds of things -- and a brand new Calphalon spatula.

I also met all my diet goals today, did my strength training in the evening, and made a big batch of split pea soup. I can't believe the day is gone already. It was a productive one.

The plan fell apart

May 13th, 2011 at 12:48 pm

It's pay day, day of reckoning. I was hoping to get enough to cover all my bills, including paying Discover in full, without making a transfer from savings.

Well, I haven't made the transfer yet, but I am $119 short. I haven't transferred yet, because many off the payments will not be pulled out of my account for a few weeks, so I have time to make it up.

For one thing, I am expecting $100 from my son, for his portion of the hotel bill in DC. He has said the check is in the mail. The other $19 I have in cash. So I am not without hope.

What went wrong? Well, the main thing was, my booth rental was $125. I did not sell one item last month to offset the rent. I'm glad I will be closing it down in July.

Fifteen Items

May 12th, 2011 at 01:26 pm

It's been a while since I grocery-shopped -- before my DC trip -- but I still kept it to 15 items.

Whole Wheat Bread - on sale
2 bags cat food on sale & 2 $1 coupons
Shredded cheese house brand on sale
16 oz. strawberries - on sale
Kettle Corn house brand on sale
Crystal Light raspberry tea
I Cant Believe Its Not Butter
Bag of soup/stew vegetables
Coffee on sale
Marjoram
Milk
Wine on sale
Package of split peas - house brand
Package of adhesive hooks

Total: $57.45

The cat food was my favorite brand -- a good sale and I had two coupons, so I bought two, even though my cats are already set for this week.

The kettle corn I gave to my boss this morning. She really likes it, and she's going through a tough time at home. Anyway, I don't need the temptation!

I watched a very compelling documentary called "Fat Head" last night -- a rebuttal to "Supersize Me." These days I just don't know who to believe when it comes to food, but this documentary made some really believable points, and I've decided to alter my diet somewhat -- keep the carbs under 100 a day and raise the fats -- but still keep within my selected calorie range.

After three days of walking to work, I drove today. I have a blister on my toe, and it looks like rain. Wish I didn't have so much trouble with my feet. And it's not the shoes, either. I'm constantly changing shoes, and I wear nice, wide toe caps. It's just my dumb feet.

The walk, theater tickets, and free breakfast

May 10th, 2011 at 03:22 pm

Walked to work today for the third time -- it's getting easier. I've found the best route to take. The only hitch is that I have to waste time at a traffic light that takes a long time to acknowledge pedestrians. But it's the best way to get across that busy street without going out of the way.

The no spending plan, on the other hand, is not going so great. I spent $40 yesterday on theater tickets. I had promised to take my grandson to see "Charlotte's Web" and I got nervous about waiting too long to get the tickets. Didn't want to end up in the back row! Looks like we got good seats, though, and the charge hasn't hit Discover yet, so I'm still good. Maybe it won't show up till the Discover cycle closes tomorrow. We will actually go to the play on the 21st.

This morning I had a great free breakfast at work -- the annual staff recognition event. AND, my boss won the big award, so it should be a good day for all of us!

Three more days ...

May 8th, 2011 at 11:52 pm

... of no spending.

Today my son and DIL took me out to brunch for Mother's Day, along with my DIL's mother. We were intending to go to a rather upscale restaurant where their friend is a chef, but the place was not open at 10 am, even though they had advertised a Mother's Day Brunch. I think 10 am is a great time for brunch, but I guess the restaurant didn't agree! Well, we were all starving, having skipped breakfast, so we walked to Le Peep, only to find that it was very crowded and had a long wait list. So we kept walking and ended up at a diner near the university. It was noisy and not at all fancy, but the food was great and we had a good time. Probably much better for the kids, anyway, because we didn't have to worry about how noisy they were.

After brunch my son and I took the kids to the park, where we met my nephew and his kids; then later, while the kids were napping, my son and I played a board game. (We are both big game buffs). A good day.

My other son called me and made plans to meet later in the week because he is working today. So I have another nice event to look forward to.

I spent no money today, but did use gas. It's a 40-minute drive to my son's house. However, I still have half a tank and won't have to fill up before the 11th.

Four more days

May 7th, 2011 at 10:55 pm

Made it through this whole day ALMOST without spending anything, but on the spur of the moment I stopped at a gas station during my afternoon walk and bought a Powerball ticket. Every once in a while I need that little bit of hope.

I made pudding from scratch today, but I guess I didn't do it right because it's a bit lumpy. I followed the directions, but my gut feeling was that I should have dissolved the cornstarch in liquid first. I should have. It's edible, but a disappointment.

I also made spaghetti sauce from scratch for lunch. I was planning on an egg casserole for dinner, but I ran out of calories! Maybe tomorrow, though I'm going out for brunch (Mother's Day treat) and I have chicken that has to be cooked.

My fridge is starting to look like a bachelor's! It looks empty, yet there is still plenty to eat. It's just mostly in the freezer and the pantry.

I not only took a forty-minute walk today, but also danced in front of the TV for a half-hour. Mostly in hopes that the 2 pounds I lost doesn't reappear! That happens to me a lot. With the combination of the exercise and my calorie intake I am under 1200, so I should be okay.

Retirement blues

May 7th, 2011 at 01:47 pm

So, last night I finished reading Chatzky's "Ten Commandments of Financial Happiness" -- skipping a lot of it because of things that didn't apply to my life. What really got to me was the section on retirement savings. The gist of it is, she recommends saving much more than I am capable of saving. At this point in my life, with only five years of working life left, I would need to save $1140 a month to meet a post-retirement standard of 70% of my current income. I can occasionally save around $700, but that's my highest level, and it's only on the months where nothing is happening. I only bring home $2472 a month, so I can't logically save more than a thousand.

I know I've made a lot of mistakes that brought me to this point, but it's too late to rectify them now. I can only continue to do my best and not get depressed about it. Good to have the wake-up call so I don't get complacent.

I will start getting a retirement benefit at work soon -- any time now, as my two-year anniversary is May 17 -- so that will help a little.

Scary.

Five more days

May 6th, 2011 at 02:05 pm

In five more days, my Discover card cycle will end. Right now, I have enough in checking, plus about $50 more, to cover the bill. I can't put any more on the card, and I can't spend anything from checking, or the balance will be upset.

However, I will soon be getting a sales report from the antique booth, and I usually owe, so if it is more than $50, my house of cards will fall.

I do have about $27 in cash in my wallet for necessities, and I could deposit it in checking if need be.

Now, I have plenty of money in savings, but the whole point is that I don't want to raid savings! This is a psychological game for me. I'm on the edge, but I want to win this one!

Oh, I just thought, I also have $3 coming in from Pinecone. Getting closer!

In other news, I lost 2 pounds after being on a long, long plateau. And I walked to work today -- first time ever. It took about 40 minutes. I'm going to try to do this a lot while the weather is nice. I'm exercising and saving on gas, and I don't have the headache of trying to find a parking place. Win-win-win!

Lost it!

May 5th, 2011 at 01:14 pm

I just put in a detailed summary of what I spent last month. It didn't appear -- may have been a user issue since I'm not quite awake.

Anyway, I'm not going to go through it again, but will sum up by saying I spent about $100 less in April than I did in March. Both were high. I ate out too much, I bought a bunch of stuff at IKEA, and half of my vacation expenses landed in April.

My groceries were only $66, but I do track household supplies and pet food separately. Still, I think that is a new low.

My goal for May is to pay my Discover card in full without raiding savings. So far it looks doable, barring any disaster!

Oh -- I see it did publish, after all. Well, two entries today!

Spending in April

May 5th, 2011 at 01:06 pm

Here is the rundown:

Rent -- 1110
Utilities -- 237
Furnishings & Equipment -- 171
Vacation -- 158
Eating Out -- 130
Business -- 94
Gas -- 78
Groceries -- 66
Insurance -- 62
Gifts/Charity -- 50
Vet/Pet Supplies -- 36
Entertainment -- 33
Medical/Health -- 22
Household Supplies -- 14
Clothing -- 9
Personal -- 7
Miscellaneous -- 4

Because my vacation fell over the end of April and beginning of May, at least half of the expenses will come up next month.

Groceries were really low! But eating out was really high!

My insurance is lower now that my annual rent insurance is paid.

Overall, I spent $100 less this month than last, but both are high and pushing the envelope.

My long weekend in DC

May 4th, 2011 at 10:16 pm

I'm back from DC. What a great weekend! I walked the 5K in one hour and 21 minutes (I was pushing a stroller). The race raised more than $2 million for brain tumor research. We had time to visit the monuments, the Museum of Natural History and the zoo, and had a delightful lunch in DuPont Circle.

It was interesting to be only 3 blocks from the White House when the news hit about bin Laden. Although many gathered at the White House, we did not. Too macabre for my taste to celebrate a death, even this death. But I am also glad this man has been stopped.

Financially, the trip was not as bad as it could have been. Since I traveled with my son's family, we were able to split gas and lodging costs. Also, my brother-in-law donated his points to secure several free rooms, so we were all able to split an overall cost that was already discounted. It's just a shame that gas was so high when we chose to make a road trip, but I suppose it isn't coming down any time soon.

I spent $113 on gas, $91 on food and $136 on lodging. I also paid $20 for a team T-shirt which will be a nice pajama top for years to come!

Our entertainment was all free, and I worked off a lot of calories with two days of walking.

And, I found .14 on the street! DC is a good place for coin-seeking.

Back to reality, but it's nice that it's already Wednesday and I only have two days to go till the weekend.