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Archive for July, 2011

Just checking in

July 28th, 2011 at 03:09 pm

I'm at my conference, just have a few minutes between sessions and they are offering this free internet access (first come first serve on the computers).

I LEFT MY CASH AT HOME! What's even worse, my bank card doesn't work (demagnitzed maybe?) so I can't even get it at an ATM. The financial genies are definitely against me. So far I have done okay paying for everything with my credit card.

Went out to dinner last night with friends at a BBQ bar -- $22 with tip. Not as cheap as I was hoping.

My cookie cutters made it through security just fine, and my friend loved them.

Tonight I am planning to see the bats under the bridge. It's a big Austin thing!

Had a great session this morning -- that's always a bonus at a conference, isn't it? Tee hee.

Oh, and I missed out on the opportunity to earn a $400 voucher at the airport. Volunteered to take a later flight, but I was too late; others beat me to it.

Later!

Packed and ready

July 27th, 2011 at 01:32 pm

Today I fly to Austin, TX, for a conference. I'm now at work, with my two carry-on bags. My boss will drive me to the airport in a couple of hours. I will leave my car in free parking in the college lot. I WILL have to get a taxi home on Sunday, because my neither of my sons will be available to give me a lift.

It was tricky getting four days' worth of clothes into a bag that will fit under the seat, but I did it. My other bag has my laptop, my Nook, my wallet, my camera and the various power cords to go with them all. I also packed a couple of gifts for a friend -- a small set of cookie cutters and a banner. I hope they don't confiscate the cookie cutters as a possible weapon.

I'm taking care of my son's betta while his family is at Disney, but for these four days the betta must be on his own. I bought a 7-day food block for him, but he doesn't seem interested in it. I hope he will be okay. My cats are all set with lots of food and water and an extra litter pan. A friend is going to deliver food to my patio for the ferals.

I have cash and few power bars for food emergencies.

I think everything and every critter is covered.

This is the part of traveling that I hate. The pressure of getting ready. I've done everything I can to make it economical. Luckily, a lot of the food will be provided, and whatever isn't will be reimbursed by the college. Still, I will be frugal. It is already very costly for them to send me, and I don't want to make it even more costly.

I'll try it again in a week

July 25th, 2011 at 12:36 pm

My earlier entry details how I messed up my $300 challenge. Since I'm going to a conference on Wednesday, I've decided to wait until I come back and then start the challenge again. Spending will not be normal again until then.

Two days to get ready for the conference. Other than setting aside a few outfits, I haven't done much, so the next two days will be busy. After the conference is over, I am staying an extra day to see my Texas cousins. That will probably be spendy, but seeing them is something I don't get to do very often.

I'm operating on very little sleep today (insomnia again), but I have lots to do at work, so I hope I can stay alert enough to do it.

I didn't spend anything yesterday. I should get a haircut and a pedicure before the conference, but I don't know if I'll have time. Feeling a bit overwhelmed, but I think mainly I'm tired.

$25 left

July 24th, 2011 at 12:39 pm

No, I'm not kidding. I spent almost the whole wad this weekend.

Here's what happened. My son called and suggested that they come down to my place for his wife's birthday celebration. I was all for it. I had a groupon I could use.

Then he said the kids would love swimming in the pool afterwards. I was for that, too, (and I've suggested it to them many times) but I didn't have a suit. I thought it over. I could have opted to sit on the sidelines in clothes, but I didn't WANT that! I wanted to be in the pool, playing with the kids.

So I stopped at Kohl's on the way home from work and found a suit on sale for $46. But I also bought a cover-up (which will double as a nightshirt) for $31. Then I realized I didn't have a beach towel, so I got one for $7.

When the family arrived, I looked up the restaurant for their hours and realized they didn't open till 5 p.m.! So, we all went through my coupons for ideas, and we settled on Buca di Beppo, where I had a $10 off coupon. The coupon essentially paid for the tip. We got a family-style meal for $68.

We went home for dessert -- ice cream -- and then went to the pool, where we had a wonderful time. When dinnertime rolled around, I was too exhausted to cook, so I offered to get Taco Bell. $15 for that.

Before the family arrived, I squeezed in my grocery shopping. That was $66. My fifteen items were:

Iced tea -- house brand
Milk
Orange juice
Greek yogurt -- on sale
Lemon juice
Cat litter
Detergent
Dishwasher detergent
Generic Zyrtec -- on sale
Aspirin
Can of gravy
Wine -- on sale
Cream cheese -- house brand
Ice cream -- on sale
Applesauce -- on sale

I saved only $6 this time.

While at the grocery, I realized that I had to pick up a pair of pants from the dry cleaners which I'd had altered. I wanted to have them for the conference. That was $10.

So that's the story of how most of my money disappeared in one weekend.

I guess since I still have money I won't declare my experiment a failure quite yet.

But I wasn't willing to pass up a good day for the sake of an experiment. And it was a really good day.




$285 left

July 22nd, 2011 at 05:54 pm

This morning I stopped at a grocery store on the way to work and bought an anniversary card for my aunt & uncle and 2 pounds of blueberries. I went just for the card, but the blueberries were only $5 and looked irresistible. So I spent $8.

Yesterday my feeling of crumminess got overwhelming and I went home sick at noon. Turned out I was running a fever but didn't know it. (I don't seem to get a hot forehead like other people do). I took Aleve and slept on the couch in between watching The Tudors (the later episodes are now on Netflix streaming). Blood, sex, and beautiful costumes. Something for everyone! Anyway, I'm much better today.

The other day I looked at the heyitsfree website and really went through the birthday freebies. My birthday is next month. I signed up for a lot of free food from a lot of restaurants. I won't be able to use it all, especially if I am restricted to one day, but I think I can count on several good free meals. Of course, now I am in all the "clubs" and will get e-mail forever, but some of them sent "welcome" offers at well. I'll have to sort through them tonight.

I used a grill pan that I really like to cook kabobs the other day, and the marinade badly scorched the pan. I've tried everything to get it clean, including using oven cleaner. I guess I'll try one more round of oven cleaner, but after that I'll have to decide whether I want to dump the pan or use it as is. On the same day the bra I was wearing started poking me -- the underwire had worked its way out of the casing. I couldn't figure out how to get it back to its original state -- the wire actually seemed too long, like it grew or something! So I ended up throwing it out. With any luck, my weight loss will continue and I will need smaller bras soon, anyway. AND, on the same day, I decided to put a good pair of Clarks sandals in the Goodwill pile because every time I try to wear them I get a sore on top of my foot. It just rubs me the wrong way, literally. I hate to give up on things that should still have a lot of use in them, but c'est la vie!

Still $293

July 21st, 2011 at 12:53 pm

I didn't spend anything yesterday after the farmer's market.

I had quite an unusual eating day yesterday, beginning with cake for breakfast (because it was free). Later, I learned that the HR office was distributing free ice cream, so I got a Snickers ice cream bar. Along the way I also consumed 6 Pecan Sandies. Don't know what was the matter with me, but I was craving sugar big time.

In the evening I was tired and queasy and didn't feel well, so I went to bed early and skipped dinner. I skipped exercise as well.

All in all, a day in which I did everything wrong.

I lost two pounds. Go figure.

$293 left

July 20th, 2011 at 12:57 pm

I spent my first $7 out of the $300 allotted for the next 30 days. I stopped at the farmer's market on the way to work and bought apricots and cherries.

I pictured this as a typical thing I might do as a retiree, but soon realized that, while lovely, the produce was not cheap. Rather upscale farmer's market. But I couldn't resist having something fresh and out of the ordinary.

I shared a few cherries with my boss, who loves them, thus sowing seeds of good will at work!

I recalled that a co-worker had brought in a Tres Leches cake yesterday, so I just had a piece for breakfast. Not very healthy, but free and delicious.

I have some spending challenges ahead. I need a haircut. I need an oil change. I have promised to take my DIL out for her birthday this weekend (yes, I've mentioned it before; it keeps getting put off).

I'm also facing my first dilemma. Last night I had baked chicken thighs for dinner, and soon after I felt some -- hmmm -- gastrointestinal discomfort. The last time I had chicken thighs, last week, I had the same reaction, only somewhat worse. I'm taking them from the freezer, from a big batch I bought on sale and divided into individual servings. I think I have to throw the rest away, if they are going to make me sick. Oh, how I hate that! And just when I want to stretch what I have on hand.

New challenge

July 19th, 2011 at 09:00 pm

I'm going to "play retirement" for the next month. Austere retirement.

I really need to get a handle on what my variable spending limits need to be in the future when I am dependent on social security and my 403b. My worst-case scenario planning indicates that I might have only $300 to spend monthly on food, clothing, transportation, etc. after I've paid my housing/utilities/insurance/medical. That's pretty low, but I think I could do it if I had to. A brief look at last month's spending indicates that I spent about $482 in all those areas, and I'll bet if I really try I can cut way down.

I have a conference coming up, and I won't count those expenses (they will be reimbursed anyway).

But everything else -- the clock starts now. 30 days.

Fifteen items

July 18th, 2011 at 04:23 pm

Birthday card
Fresh raspberries -- on sale
Yellow squash
Green pepper – on sale
Bag of nectarines
4-pack Pillsbury biscuits
Bag of frozen mixed vegetables – on sale
Pecan Sandies – on sale
Cat Food – on sale
2 bottles vitamins – BOGO
2 bottles CoQ10 – BOGO
Shower cap
Bag of mini-pads – house brand

Total: $89.09
Total Savings $47.43

Big cost, but big savings. The main reason is the CoQ10, which is 33.99 a bottle, but I got one free.

I take CoQ10 because I also take a statin. It was recommended by my former doctor that I always take CoQ10, because statins eat it up, or something.

Now I hear rumblings that women don’t even need statins – I’ll have to ask my doctor about that. If I can stop taking statins, I’ll save a lot in CoQ10!

I also went garage-saling this weekend. My best finds were a black turtleneck and a denim shirt for .50 each. Both classic items, both missing in my current wardrobe. I also found some Royal Copenhagen and Bing & Groendahl plates for my booth – 3 for $8. Not the greatest price, but I’ll charge at least $10 for each. I also found a cool weathered, crackled frame that will look great with a Mary Cassatt print I already have, and a ceramic jar that says “Lollypops for Good Children” It looks like it’s from the ‘fifties. The frame was .50 and the jar $1. Both will go in the booth. I also found a wicker shelf for $1 which I will probably use for display, and a $1 Santa for my own collection. I really like this one. Santa is bald and feeding a reindeer. I also found some books and stocking stuffers for my grandson ($2.50) and some snowpants (.50). So, a good day, but no major finds.

I stayed inside all day Sunday – I had a headache and the weather was HOT. It’s hot today, too. I hope a thunderstorm will cool things off, but just a mild one. No more broken trees and power lines, please!

Pay day

July 15th, 2011 at 03:23 pm

I put my $52 into savings.

Today I'm getting a free tire check at noon (employee benefit). Hope to hit some garage sales tomorrow, but I also have to get up to see my grandkids, and take my DIL out for her belated birthday. And do my grocery shopping. Maybe I'll save Sunday for the family time.

Wish weekends were longer.

Some frustrations

July 14th, 2011 at 09:13 pm

The weather was still good today so I walked to work. My scale showed a one-pound loss this morning, so that was a nice reward.

I have a project at work that is driving me crazy. Has to be done fast, fast, fast; it's BIG, and the rules keep changing. Talk about a stress cocktail. At least it will be done tomorrow -- until the powers that be decide it has to be done all over again differently.

Tomorrow is payday and the first day of my new, higher rent payment. It's getting tougher and tougher to save. Even though I have $323 left in my checking account, I can't transfer it to savings, because my Discover card payment is $271 higher than my budget allows. (I pay in full every month). I guess I will put the $52 difference into savings -- it's better than nothing.

I WOULD say I'll be more conservative with the Discover card this month, but I'm going to a conference at the end of the month, and I'll be charging food and hotel and ground transportation. (The airline fare and conference fee are already paid.) I WILL get everything back, but it doesn't happen very quickly. I guess I can console myself that it will all go into savings then.

Just feel like I'm not gettin' anywhere!

Settling down

July 13th, 2011 at 12:59 pm

After my vacation spending frenzy, I am settling down into frugality again.

Had a no-spend day on Monday. Yesterday I bought cookies at the cafeteria -- mainly because I was freaked at a big assignment and -- and hungry -- and I needed a boost. $2.

Today the weather was cooler, so I walked to work.

I found a nickel on a busy road. I didn't want to pass it up, so I waited for the traffic to clear and then quickly stepped in and got it. I suppose people thought I was nuts.

While on vacation I found a quarter in a CVS parking lot. I updated my sidebar. While my gains are modest, it is still pretty amazing to me that I have picked up a little over $2.50 on the street in about a year!

All done!

July 11th, 2011 at 04:30 pm

The booth is now completely set up in Indiana. It was a lot of work, but it looks very nice, and I hope the new location will spur some sales.

I'm home again, and last night I did my grocery shopping (15 items):

Cat Chow – on sale, $1 off coupon
Crackers – house brand on sale
Shredded cheese – on sale
Milk – on sale
2 Loaves Bread – BOGO
Mayonnaise – house brand on sale
Eggs -- $1 off coupon if 2 sausage purchased
2 Breakfast Sausage -- $.55 off coupon on each
Greek yogurt
Spaghetti sauce – on sale
Wine
Peanut Butter – house brand on sale
Coffee

Total: $52.91
Total Savings $10.36


Vacation/Booth-moving Costs:

Food: $134
Pet Sitter: $40
Gas: $200
Lodging: $102
Hired help: $20
New labels, etc.: $14

I paid $44.48 to settle up at the NC booth, but got back $108 from my original deposit, so I came out ahead there.

Incidental expenses: reading glasses, $15; movie, $7, a new print for my bedroom wall $42. I KNEW I packed my reading glasses, but couldn't find them. After I bought a new pair I found them inside a shoe. I don't mind having an extra pair. It can live in my travel bag. The print for my wall is for a space I've been looking to fill for a long time. I found this oriental print in green tones, perfect color, perfect size, and I got the dealer discount since I bought it at the antique mall in NC.

Looks like I won’t be able to deposit extra savings this month – the remainder in my checking account will have to go toward next month’s Discover bill. Still, it’s always a plus when I don’t have to raid savings for unusual spending like this, and so far I'm okay.

All packed up

July 5th, 2011 at 11:31 am

My booth, that is.

I got everything in boxes yesterday, labeled A, B, and C. A -- going into the new booth. B -- maybe, if there's room in the car. C-- going to Goodwill.

Well, the B's are going to Goodwill, too, but there will be room in my car, I think, for my sewing rocker, and I won't have to rent a trailer.

Today we deal with the fixtures. The owner will consign our secretary and a nice coffee table. The bookcases have to be delivered to my sister's house -- she's set someone up to do that. We sold a bookcase yesterday as we were packing up.

There are a few occasional tables that we will leave with the owner, to either consign or use as he sees fit.

I have saved receipts, but haven't tracked expenses yet. So far I have spent the gas to get here, a night in a hotel, lunch out, and $44 for my last month's booth rental. I also got back $108 from my deposit.

The new booth will be somewhat smaller and the rent will only be $85 as opposed to $150. And it will be three hours away instead of 17 hours away! Also, my best friend will look after it (dusting, filling spaces) when I can't be there.

I do wish I could have moved it closer to home, but the rents in Chicago are crazy. Granted, I could jack up the prices, but I don't feel right about that. I like to charge what I think the real value is.

I forgot to put my half.com bookstore on vacation, so of course I sold a book! I had to email some friends to pinch-hit for me. One of my them is looking after my cats, so she will find the book, and she will take it to another friend who is also a seller and knows the drill. Sheesh. I sell so rarely anymore, I didn't even think of it.

My cousin and I had a lovely fourth watching fireworks on TV in air-conditioning. Definitely the way to go. It is HOT here in NC!

June totals

July 1st, 2011 at 03:47 pm

June totals:

Rent: 1110
Vacation: 426
Gifts: 205
Business: 200
Utilities: 153
Fees/Services: 139
Groceries: 89
Gas: 82
Insurance: 61
Eating Out: 50
Medical/Health: 37
Clothing: 23
Vet/Pet Supplies: 16
Furnishings/Equipment: 8
Car Repair/Maintenance: 7

Vacation was a long weekend in Tennessee. Gifts included a wedding and two birthdays. Business included deposit on new antique booth location. Fees included license plates and I-pass payment.

July will be similar, with high vacation and business costs (I will actually be physically moving the booth items across country as part of my vacation). And my rent will go up.

In other news, I finished my appeal and will drop it in the mail at noon today. If I win it, I will feel like I made $8,000!

I'm getting ready for my trip -- will head out tomorrow and stay one night somewhere along the way. I'm getting too old to drive alone for 12-14 hours. I also plan to have a nice meal along the way, maybe at a Cracker Barrel. And I'm paying a co-worker to look in on my cats, both my pets and my ferals.