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Archive for January, 2012

No seat belt yet

January 31st, 2012 at 06:18 am

Once more I went to Toyota to get my seat belt buckle replaced. Once more they had ordered the wrong part! The service guy was so embarrassed. So it's back again tonight, hopefully, this time, to get it done. The guy promised me I would get this really, really cheap for all my trouble.

Yesterday I got my W-2 in the mail. I opened it up and looked at, and I swear, I thought it was blank. I even brought it in to work this morning to show it to payroll. Good thing I looked first, because the numbers are there; they are just small. I didn't know my eyes were getting that bad!

I picked up my prescription last night at the grocery store - $5. They included a bag of samples, which was a nice surprise. I also got my second stamp for a refill -- when I get three, I'll get a $25 gift certificate for the store. I already got a $25 card just for the transfer, so I'm glad I did this. Ir will be more convenient, too.

Had a good day on Sunday -- went up to see my kids and watch my grandson at his hockey practice. He is such a diligent little pupil, but he hasn't learned yet to just let go and glide. He "walks" on the ice; and is so careful he never falls. He probably should have just had skating lessons first, but he is so entranced with the idea that he is playing hockey. He lights up whenever he gets to hold the stick. Fun to watch!

Saturday errands

January 28th, 2012 at 02:45 pm

I did my $20 grocery shopping this morning. It was certainly quick, because I bought three items. A bag of cat food, and two bottles of Co-Q-10, which were BOGO. With a $2 off coupon, that got me just .07 over $20.

Just for the record, I am merely pretending that I have only $20 to spend, and making my decisions based on that. I still have food to get me through the week. If i hadn't, I probably wouldn't have bought the Co-Q-10. I take it because I also take statins, but when I talk to others it seems I am the only one who does this (upon the advice of my doctor). I'm always wondering if I'm wasting money, because Co-Q-10 is one of the more expensive supplements.

I also picked up the pants I had shortened. For some reason unknown to me, I got a $2 discount, so it was $8 rather than $10. I didn't argue.

Then I swung by the library. I wanted to see if "Seize the Day," which was recommended by PS was there, but it wasn't. I checked out a couple of videos and three books, so I'll be busy for a while. I have a bunch of books here at home that my sister gave me, and I've been working my way through them, but I had a craving to read some of my favorite authors. One of them is Alexander McCall Smith, and I got his latest in the Scotland series today.

I still hadn't made the split pea soup that I bought the ingredients for last week, so I got that on the stove today in my beautiful new stock pot (Christmas gift).

I printed out a BOGO coupon on Hallmark cards and my printer let me know I was low on ink. This is the first time I've had to replace the ink since I got the printer -- gosh, must be at least a year ago. I got it from Epson online with no shipping charge. (Otherwise would have had to go to Office Depot, which is not particularly close by). It was $38.

I went to the Toyota dealer on Friday evening to get my seatbelt buckle replaced, but it turned out the wrong part had been ordered -- passenger side rather than driver side. I think it was just a miscommunication, but the guy was all apologies. I have to go back on Monday, but he told me he would knock $50 off the price. I hope he remembers that! I am really not upset about having to wait a couple more days and would be delighted to get $50 off.

A meatball sandwich and seat belt troubles

January 27th, 2012 at 07:47 am

Yesterday I bought lunch for the first time in a long time. My boss' son was making a run to a local Italian Beef restaurant. I ordered a meatball sandwich for $4. I enjoyed every bite of it!

I also called the auto dealer and ordered a new seat belt buckle. Mine has been functioning poorly for quite a while -- I have to pry it open with my key before I can slip the clasp in. Lately, it has sometimes not held even after I do that. I've made a few short trips not wearing the seat belt because of that. One of my co-workers had to go to court yesterday because she and her daughter were caught not wearing seat belts. I don't want that to happen to me!

I don't know how much it will cost, but it has become a necessity -- and it will help me earn that $250 from Citi, too! I'm waiting on a call from the dealer today to make the appointment.

My Goodwill trip

January 26th, 2012 at 06:22 am

Since it was Wednesday I stopped at Goodwill on the way home from work yesterday. I had a big bag of stuff to drop off, and then I did my shopping with my senior's citizen discount. I spent $12 altogether - $2 for gifts (a puzzle and a card game, both new) -- and $10 for things to put in the booth. I came home and priced them and entered them into the inventory, and their market value is $70. Best finds were a Tolana pottery cat and a Salem China "Yorktown" creamer. Oh, and a handmade earthenware vase that I just love -- may keep it if it doesn't sell.

I looked over the clothing sections lightly, but didn't see anything I needed.

There was another woman there loading up her cart with dishes and bakeware. She wasn't being choosey, like me. She looked well-to-do, so I wondered what her story was. I mean, she bought a LOT! I think she must have been setting up a kitchen for someone or some organization. I would have asked her, but she didn't seem very approachable.

Staying on my frugal course, I hung up laundry again on my drying rack. And I am being very conscious to use up my food before it spoils. That's why I am STILL eating mashed potatoes! (OH, I made too much!)

Bills and an eBay question

January 24th, 2012 at 06:01 am

Yesterday I paid a dentist bill -- $72. It was for a December visit, so I couldn't use the FSA, which is done for 2011. I charged it to my new Citi card, to help get the spending up to $2000.

My water bill came as well -- $27. And I sent my monthly rental to the antique mall - $84. I know I have sold something -- my BFF reported to me that a toy tractor was gone -- so I'll pick up a check next time I get down there.

I sold two books yesterday on half.com. It tickles me; every time I put new books online, I get a sale or two. The old ones just stay there. Guess they're not hot items. Anyway, these two books both came to me free, so it will be pure profit. Each is less than $2, but, hey, I'm happy with anything.

I attempted to put an item for sale on eBay, but didn't have a picture. So I guess I'll have to take a picture and get it on my computer. Does anyone know if it's illegal to use a picture that is already posted on line? There are already so many pictures of the same thing, and they are clearly sometimes the same picture.

$20 Groceries

January 22nd, 2012 at 12:30 pm

Well, today I ventured out of the house, mainly to do my grocery shopping. I was pretty excited that I had no non-food items I had to get, and that I could devote all $20 to food.

It went fast. On my list I had the makings for split pea soup and lasagna, but it became clear pretty fast that it was only going to be pea soup. (And I already have the split peas!) I had to buy onions, carrots and celery for the soup. Determined to get the best unit price, I bought 3 lbs. of onions, 2 lbs of carrots and a lb. of celery. Then I needed the meat component. I was going to get a ham hock, but they only had them packaged in units of 3 or 4. Well, I only wanted one. I went to the butcher's counter and asked for one, and they said they couldn't do it -- there were none in back and they didn't want to break up a package. Okay, I know I could have frozen the other hocks, but it kind of irked me. I decided instead to buy a ham steak with a bone. That way I would have the bone plus meat for the soup, as well as plenty of extra meat for my low-carb days. The ham was $6. I didn't have enough money for ground beef, too, so I went to other things on my list, skipping the lasagna items entirely. I picked up cream, soy sauce, eggs and bread. I had $2 left. How to spend $2? It's not easy. There is very little, anymore, that only costs $2! I ended up buying a jar of bay leaf, which I needed for my soup, anyway.

I had forgotten until the last minute that I had a coupon for $2 off my order (someone had left it at the register last week!) So, using that, I still had $2 left.

I was on my way to Wal-Mart anyway, to buy a button, so I decided I'd buy a $2 grocery item there. I did; I got a can of Grands biscuits.

Now, the story behind the button -- I put on one of my favorite cardigans this week and realized that a button was missing. They are somewhat large, somewhat unusual black buttons. I knew that matching it was a slim chance. And especially so at Wal-Mart, it turned out. They have severely cut back their sewing department; what they have now compares to what they would have at any grocery store -- a very slim selection.

So I didn't get a button. Now, I can either go to a real fabric store, or I can substitute a different button. If I put the different button at the neck it might look intentional, especially if is a bit fancy. And if that's what I do, I really need to look at what I have here at home. I have a button box somewhere. I just don't know where!

Ever since I've moved here, I've had the "where is it?" problem. I knew where everything was at my previous home, but here it is a mystery. It's not that I'm not organized, it's just that the space is different, and my memory is worse. I had the same thing with safety pins recently. Where are they? I looked everywhere, and finally remembered I had put them in a covered casserole I had on display. I need to write these things down. And then hope that I can find the list. Smile

Anyway, after Wal-Mart, I filled the tank. It was almost half-full, but in cold weather I don't like to ever let it get below a half-tank. That was $27. And I picked up my dry cleaning - $6 - and left off a pair of pants to be shortened. (They were the Talbot's pants I got at Goodwill a few weeks ago. I decided not to shorten them myself, as the work I do never holds up in the wash -- and these are washable pants).

Came home and had the mashed potatoes/cheese/onion dish for lunch again. Watched a movie on Netflix.

I took the laundry off the rack. It was indeed very stiff, but I dried it for 10 minutes and it was fine.

I hear the freezing rain hitting the pain. I'm going to pour a glass of wine and get back to my reading!

Lazy day

January 21st, 2012 at 04:42 pm

Well, I stayed in all day, didn't even take a shower or get dressed. It's not really that bad outside -- it's not snowmageddon -- but why go out if I don't have to? I'll probably go to the grocery store tomorrow, though.

I tried out my drying rack today. I've used it before for a few little things, but have never hung up a whole load of laundry. I got everything on it except for a pair of jeans, which I draped over my shower rod. I expect that tomorrow I will put everything in the dryer for a few minutes to take out the stiffness. If I can do this fairly often, it will save on the electric bill.

I made a frugal lunch of mashed potatoes (made with sour cream and garlic) topped with cheese and grilled onions. Yum. Supper was leftover cream of vegetable soup. Just to make it different I put it in the blender to make it smooth. Because there were a lot of carrots in it, it came out apricot-colored, which looked a little odd. Still tasted good.

For sweets, I had a big cookie my boss gave me yesterday, and some tea breads that were laid out in the break room. Since I was on a low-carb day yesterday, I wrapped up a few slices and brought them home for today. I really ought to track how much free food I get. I take something in to work every once in a while, but it would never occur to me to bring in as much food as others do. Are they getting rid of stuff they don't want around? I do know that some of it is left over from meetings. But a lot of it is just food that people bring from home, not necessarily for any special occasion.

There is one of those Time-Life "Music of Your Life" commercials playing in the background. They are certainly targeted for people my age -- so many songs I remember, but never hear anymore. Making me quite nostalgic. And, of course, who else but people my age would actually buy a set of CD's? Everyone else downloads what they want on their I-pod -- or whatever. I haven't gone there yet. Guess I am officially old. Smile


Here it comes!

January 20th, 2012 at 01:07 pm

The predicted snowstorm is whiting out the landscape beyond my window. I can't go home for another hour. Others are leaving early, but I have no excuse really, since I live within a couple of miles of work. I can't really say that I have to get on the road.

I was going to grocery shop either tonight or tomorrow morning, but I have a hunch I will be sitting tight instead. Since the next two days are not low-carb days, I should have plenty to eat. And I have cat food and cat litter, the REAL necessities of life!

This has been pretty much a no-spend week. That's good of course, but my timing is little off, since I just got the Citi card, and I have to spend $2000 on it in the next three months to get my $250 reward. Usually that kind of spending is no problem for me, but with my $20 challenge, Christmas over and done with, and no travel in the near future, I now wonder if I will be able to do it!

Oh well, if worse comes to worse, I can have body work done on my car. I've put it off for ages, and at some point decided it wasn't worth doing. But now I'm starting to think that this car might last a really long time and I should take care of the body.

I'm kind of looking forward to being snowbound this weekend -- once I get safely home, of course!

A little update

January 18th, 2012 at 05:51 am

In my last entry, I said I was going to look at a condo. I did, and it was cute, though small and a tad grungy. But I think I have decided against the whole idea. I timed what the drive to work would be -- 55 minutes in light traffic! Ugh. I really don't want to do that two times a day. I know people do -- but I don't think it's for me.

May be looking at a condo

January 16th, 2012 at 07:30 am

There is a condo available in my son's neighborhood in Evanston for only $79,000. It has two bedrooms and it is on the garden level, meaning it is partly underground. But from the pictures it looks like there is plenty of light from the (high) windows. It is in a vintage building with radiator heat; heat and water would be included in the association fees. ($250 a month). The annual taxes are more than $3000, but all told, if I put $40,000 down and got a mortgage for the rest, I would be paying between $700 and $800 a month for mortgage, fees and taxes -- quite a bit less than I am paying for rent. Even more savings for not paying for heat and water.

I left a voicemail with the realtor. I'd like to see it, if only to rule out the idea.

The big drawback is that it would be a 40-45 commute to work, which would really shoot up my gas expense, and would be quite a hassle.

But I would be near my grandchildren, and settled into the home I would have in retirement.

Yesterday I spent the day in Evanston. I went to my grandson's first hockey lesson. He was really very receptive to the teacher's instructions, and so cute tooling around in his little skates.

Well, the realtor just called. I may get in today!

Errands

January 14th, 2012 at 12:43 pm

Ran some errands this morning and yesterday evening. I picked up my necklace which needed repair -- $22. The jeweler told me that once the chain breaks it is weakened, even after being soldered, so if it breaks again he recommends a replacement. It is a sterling silver chain and would only cost $50 to replace, but it is of sentimental value to me.

I did my big $12 grocery shopping. The cat food was on sale, so I was also able to also buy 2 lbs. of Greek yogurt and a lb. of sharp cheddar cheese, both of those on sale also.

Then I stopped at the dry cleaners; dropped off a jacket and picked up the suit that was being cleaned and altered -- $22.

I had a coupon for a $10 haircut at Great Clips. When I went, they were running a $9 special, so I'll save my coupon for next month. (If I get my hair cut next month -- I've been averaging once every two months). I gave the stylist a $3 tip, since it isn't her fault they are running a special; her labor is just the same. And -- I think -- it's a good haircut.

I went to Kmart to look for the poker chip carousel that I saw online, but it isn't in the store. Darn. I don't want to pay shipping.

Yesterday at work treats were brought in -- danish and bagels. I was on a low-carb day, so at about noon I took a bagel and wrapped it up to take home for today. When I checked at the end of the day there was an apple danish left. I knew it would be thrown away, so I wrapped that up, too. I had it for breakfast and the bagel for lunch. Woo-hoo! I'm such a scavenger.

I stripped all the meat off the rotisserie chicken and made a chicken salad, which is now in the fridge. The bones are now simmering away in the new stockpot I got for Christmas.

I said at year's end that I would try to limit my spending to $2000 a month. Well, it's halfway through the month and I've spent $2332. I might assume it's an unrealistic goal, but that includes my semi-annual car & rental insurance, a weekend vacation, and a belated (big) Christmas gift. So I think maybe next month I can hit it.

I did put $200 into savings, which isn't the worst I've ever done!

This and that

January 13th, 2012 at 06:32 am

Not much going on in my world, other than winter finally arriving. I have to park outside both at work and at home, so I've been doing a lot of snow-brushing. This morning it wasn't too bad -- I guess the windiness actually helped by blowing the snow off the car.

I think I will be a Wednesday night regular at Goodwill now that I have ascertained that every Wednesday is 15% off for Senior Citizens, and that, at 62, I am one! This past Wednesday I bought myself an Audubon bone china coffee mug, and I bought a Fitz & Floyd candy dish to put in my gift stash. Last week I found two sets of heavy-duty Vegas-style poker chips still in shrink wrap. I was disappointed when I took off the shrink wrap (to remove the price) and found that the plastic boxes they were in were shattered. I have decided to try to find a wooden tray or carousel to put them in. Once I get them properly presented, they will be a great side gift for my son.

I have already spent $8 of my $20 grocery money this week for a rotisserie chicken. (I was starving on my low-carb day!) So only $12 to spend tomorrow. It's interesting how this exercise is forcing me to use up my frozen and pantry items, and to be creative with what I already have. Last night I made fried potatoes and onions and mixed in a little French onion dip -- it was delicious! Never would have done that otherwise. I had to throw out two potatoes that were going bad -- just shows me how I have been overbuying in the past. It's very eye-opening to have to focus on ONLY WHAT YOU NEED! This week, I know I need more cat food, which just may take up most of the $12! Eventually, I will not include cat food or toiletries in my $20, but I will until my freezer and pantry start to dwindle.

Catching Up

January 10th, 2012 at 06:01 am

I went to Indiana this weekend to check on my booth and visit with my friend.

The booth earned $49 this month -- I say earned, but I paid $83 in rent, so it's still losing money. I put in a bunch of new stuff, a lot of it free from my friend; we'll see how well it moves. She's been cleaning out her attic and had some old toys, dinnerware etc. and she doesn't want payment for them -- just wanted to get rid of them. She would have taken them to Goodwill otherwise.

I spent $76 on gas, $20 on food, $13 at Goodwill, $6 for a car wash, $7 for a movie (War Horse). The Goodwill items were all half-price -- I got four gifts, a booth item and some Pyrex custard cups and an ornament for me.

When I got home I did my $20 grocery shop. Forgot to mentally add in the tax, so it was $21.03 when I checked out. What that bought: Cat litter, maxi pads, two packages of chicken tenders (BOGO) and a can of Rotel.

I also wrote a check to my DIL for my grandsons' Christmas presents -- a hockey class and a swim class. $270.

Last night a number of us at work went out to a bar as a sort of welcoming party for our new VP (who is very nice, by the way). I spent $16 on wine and nachos.

I'm on a low-carb day today, so I packed hard-boiled eggs, a low-carb soup, cheese, celery and dip to get me through the day. When I get home, I'll saute the chicken tenders.

I really need a haircut, but I think I'll try to make it to the weekend.

I think that's it! Hope the spending stops soon and I can start saving again!

Really upset with Comcast

January 6th, 2012 at 08:49 am

Well, you know I was trying to cancel cable but keep my internet, and the agent told me if I went to basic cable, my bill would be $46 -- lower than the $59 for internet alone. This was my understanding anyway.

This morning I get my email to view my bill online. Still $86. I called, and I was told that with both cable and internet it is $86. So, by signing a frickin' 2-year contract for LESS service, I get to pay the same rate???????? Maybe I misunderstood, but why on earth would they even offer that as a good deal?

I got a call from a representative really, really pushing me to take a $60-some deal for "100 channels" blah-blah-blah, but I said no, still believing I had a $46 deal for basic & internet.

I should just cancel, I know. They gave me a different number to cancel, but I'm thinking, God knows what kind of crap I'll have to go through to do that.

I sent them an email, more nicely worded than this, and I'll give them 24 hours to make it right. Then I guess I'll investigate other resources.

Not a senior today!

January 4th, 2012 at 07:48 pm

I went to Goodwill after work today, fully expecting to get the 15%-off senior-citizen discount again. I didn't get it. I couldn't complain, because I'm not 65. I guess I just looked younger today!

I did use my Goodwill card, which saves 5%. And let's face it, the prices are already very low.

I spent $30 and here is what I got:

A Van Heusen shirt for my brother-in-law
A summer top for me
A silk scarf
A porcelain Santa, sleigh & reindeer for my DIL's Christmas village
A pair of Talbots pants
A set of Winnie-the-Pooh storybooks
2 Blue Willow plates
A Ravensburger puzzle
A Pampered Chef adjustable measuring spoon
2 red Carolina candles (new, in wrapper)
2 pairs of men's Adidas socks (new)
A wooden spoon (new)
A decorative wooden schoolhouse

Some will be gifts, some will stay with me, and some will go to the booth. It was a good trip. I always feel a little guilty when I'm leaving the store, but when I come home and unpack my stuff, I marvel at all my good bargains. The pants alone probably retailed for $50-60. The socks had a price tag for $12.

I got onto the Comcast website today to check my account after making the change to basic cable yesterday. My account was deactivated! I called and got a nice person who helped me through the process of doing the on-phone contract, which I should have done yesterday, but was disconnected. At the time I thought it was weird, but it wasn't until I got on the website today that I realized it was just wrong. I'm so glad I checked.

I got a free breakfast today -- donuts at work -- always such a nutritious meal, but hey! It was free! I still kept within my calorie count

A couple of financial acts

January 3rd, 2012 at 05:43 pm

I did two things today I've been planning to do -- I called Comcast to cancel cable (and keep internet), and I applied for a new Citi card, just for the rewards.

It turned out I did not cancel cable; I just dropped down to basic. It was cheaper than going just with the internet. I will save about $40 a month. And I will still get to watch the news, which was my biggest regret about dropping cable.

The Citi card offers $250 in gift cards if I spend $2000 in the first three months. That should be no problem; I usually put at least $1000 a month on my Discover card. I'll just have to remember to cancel after I get the points. I have too many credit cards as it is, although I have no debt.

Today was my first day back at work. At first I felt overwhelmed, almost panicky, but as the day wore on I got back into the rhythm of it. But I think it is shaping up to be a very busy semester.

I'm on a low-carb day today, and I resisted the urge to stop at the grocery and get a rotisserie chicken for dinner. Maybe I'll get one on Friday, my regular shopping day. I went straight home and had sausage and scrambled eggs with cheese and I'm quite satisfied.

I got $3 from Pinecone today. I'm going to start formally keeping track of my extra income this year. I've never really tracked it before, though I carefully track my spending. I never get enough extra income to have to claim it, but I should know what it is!

Silly me

January 2nd, 2012 at 05:14 pm

So I went to work today after my week off. Uh-oh, no one else is there. Smile

I really thought I was supposed to go back to work today, but apparently it is tomorrow. That's a good thing because I couldn't sleep at all last night and it would have been an awful day. As it was I came home and fell asleep on the couch. After lunch I went to check on my son's cats and leave the key. I spent the afternoon and evening going through magazines, doing laundry, and exercising.

I just hope I can sleep tonight after my long nap this morning.

Only spending today -- I bought a shake at Steak N Shake. I was really craving it. It kind of breaks my rule about supporting local restaurants, but I actually don't know where else I would get a shake but at a fast-food place. I guess I could have found a diner, but I didn't want to sit down -- just wanted it for the drive.

It's really the McDonald's habit I am trying to break. (However, someone pointed out that I might consider McDonald's a local restaurant since its headquarters is just down the road from me). Smile

Anyway, I really enjoyed that $3 shake.

I can't believe it's almost over!

January 1st, 2012 at 08:22 am

I have to go back to work tomorrow. For months I looked forward to this time at home between Christmas and New Year's. I have loved it. I didn't accomplish a whole lot, but I accomplished a lot of resting and relaxing.

Today I have to rewrite my job description for our new VP who is starting in a few days. I am procrastinating. I will do it this evening. I just want to enjoy this last day.

I used to take down the Christmas tree on New Year's Day -- and I may yet -- but I have sometimes waited till January 6 -- the Feast of Epiphany -- as the "real" end of the season. I am still enjoying the tree.

Yesterday I went a little overboard and ate too much. The only way to compensate is to exercise. I logged into MyFinessPal that I did 30 minutes of running in place -- and then I did it! Sounds easy, but I am in my sixties and I have an ankle full of metal, so it was a challenge.

This would be a no-spend day, but I just sent $20 to Baselle for the death bet. Game on!