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Archive for March, 2012

Ironic

March 31st, 2012 at 01:57 pm

One of the main reasons I decided to have the body work done on my car was to put it on my new Citi card, to help earn the $250 reward. Imagine my surprise when I pulled out my credit card to pay, and the body shop owner told me they don't take credit cards! Should have checked on that, but in this day and age, I just assumed.

They had a sign posted that they don't take checks either. I suppose most of their work is done through insurance, and it isn't a big issue? Anyway, I don't carry $1000+ in cash, so I offered to go get it from the bank (though it was after five, and I don't even know if an ATM will give you $1000.) He took the check. And in reality, I had to run to an ATM to transfer the funds from savings. The total cost was $1023.

They are a very old-fashioned shop, but old-fashioned in good service and honesty as well, so I'm not too disappointed. Especially since I have already spent the required $2000 to earn my $250 reward (though I'm not seeing it yet on the website). So I guess I must say it was my decision to go ahead and keep the appointment and have the work done even though it was not going to add to the reward.

The repair is amazing; the car looks beautiful. And it was so nice to have wheels again. I went straight to the grocery, without a list and without a plan, so here is how I spent my $19.81: Club crackers, DiGiorno pizza, American singles, ice cream, butter and peanut butter. Nothing fresh at all! However, I do still have a banana, some beets, lettuce, onions, part of a green pepper and some frozen vegetables at home. And I have four containers of leftover meals in the freezer, so it's not like I'm going to live on dairy and fats this week. Just amusing to see what I hone in on when I don't have a plan. Oh, and most of these things were on sale; I saved $7.80.

I also spent $7 on some garbage bags.

A Walk in the Rain

March 30th, 2012 at 04:06 pm

I am still carless. This morning it was raining when I woke up. I don't mind asking for a ride home, but I hate to call someone in the morning to pick me up. For one thing, they always have trouble finding me, as my apartment complex is daunting to people who aren't used to it.

So I watched the news and it looked like the rain would soon stop, and that another storm would come through later. I headed out with my raincoat and umbrella. Before I got too far the rain started. There is a grocery store about halfway into my walk, and my goal was to reach that and take shelter until the rain diminished. But by the time I got there, the rain had stopped again, so I kept on going. When I was about 10 minutes away from work, it started again. Overall, I did not get TOO wet -- a little damp on my feet and lower legs, but I had shoes to change into.

It was a really pretty walk. There is something about the freshness in the air, the rain-washed streets shimmering with reflected light. And I was rewarded at the end with free bagels in the breakroom, and fresh, hot coffee.

After I got to work, I got a call from the owner of the body shop. He knew I was walking and he was worried about me. He offered to send a ride! How nice was that?!

So it looks like the car won't be ready today, and I'll be confined at home for the weekend. Not really a problem. I think it will mean, though, that I will do my $20 grocery shop at the dollar store, which should be an interesting experiment.

In all my walking this week I have found .25. Not a quarter, but a combination of dimes and pennies. Of course the real value was in saving gas, and getting a good workout. A 35-minute walk twice a day has to be doing something good!

Walking in the cold

March 27th, 2012 at 01:21 pm

Now that it's cold again -- here I am walking to work! My car is in the body shop. Perfect timing, eh? So I crossed the usual "Here's Where I Pick Up Coins" parking lot last night and found nothing. I thought, what, is someone else working my territory? This morning I found a dime and a penny, so I'm back in business.

I had a bit of a spendy weekend. I went to Indiana to check on my booth and visit my BFF. Gas was only $23, as I was pretty full already and waited till I got to Indiana to fill up again at a lower price. We ate out at Logan's Roadhouse and Applebee's -- I spent about $35 on that, plus a couple of stops at McDonalds on the road was about $9. The Hunger Games movie cost $7 and popcorn was another $4. (But it was also my lunch. And I found a dime under my seat!) We went to Goodwill and I spent about $10, evenly divided between booth items and gifts. I put some new stuff in the booth and moved things around, and picked up two checks -- one for $30 and one for $65. And my BFF will pick up another on the 3rd of April. Still not breaking even, though.

Once home, I did my grocery shopping. Food came in at just under $20 again. I bought milk, bread, granola, frozen stir-fry veggies, poppyseed dressing, Vanilla wafers, a head of lettuce, four bananas and wine. I find I am surviving quite well on $20 a week, and it's probably what I should have been doing all along! I spent another $16 on cat food, kitty litter and Zyrtec.

I just got a doctor's bill for $52, but that will come out of flexible spending.

Yesterday I went to a meeting on another campus and in their bookstore I found recorder instruction books on sale for $3. I bought one for myself and one for my BFF. We have talked about learning to play the recorder together, so this is a start. (Neither one of us has a recorder yet!)

I'm really looking forward to warmer weather and getting my car back!

It's a rainy Friday

March 23rd, 2012 at 05:07 pm

So it's already a melancholy sort of day (especially after all that unseasonably warm, sunny weather) -- and to make it more melancholy, I am going through old emails at work (I have a bad habit of letting the mailbox pile up). Anyway, it's kind of like reading a diary -- so much has happened at work, and I am feeling sad about people who have left, some in not-too-happy circumstances.

I found a retirement calculator that estimates working days left -- not just calendar days. I have 622. That seems really doable! Oh, I have decided to retire as soon as I get Medicare. If -- when I get closer to the day -- I decide that it can be borne another year, I'll go to 2015, like it says on my bio, when I'll get the full social security benefit. But since I am retiring on my ex-husband's benefit, that may be a moot point. I really need to drag him to the SS office and figure this out.

Anyway, I'm liking the sound of 622 days.

This weekend I am going to visit my friend in Indiana and visit the booth as well. I have two small boxes of stuff to put in, and, hopefully, a check to pick up.

I just got a half.com payment today -- $6.77. I think I paid 4.94 in postage, so it's just a bit.

Jump in savings

March 21st, 2012 at 04:38 pm

I forgot to mention that when I got paid last week, I transferred $700 into savings. Woot!

The body shop called and scheduled me to bring my car in on Monday. They will need to keep it up to four days, so I hope the weather is good for walking! He offered to try to fix rather than replace the tire cover (I didn't know it was an option), which would save me some money. I told him that was great, and that I would also be just fine with a soft cover rather than the hard one. He will figure out which is cheaper to do.

I grabbed the $10 Amazon card for $5 yesterday. I also, finally, ordered a $5 Amazon card through Swagbucks. Can someone tell me how that will work? The confirmation email said it would appear on "My Accounts," but do they mean on Swagbucks or on Amazon?

My electric bill dropped by about $10, mostly due to changing my dryer habits, I think.

My natural gas bill was double, because I hadn't paid last month. What?? I pay through CheckFree, and I remember going through the process, but maybe I didn't hit the submit button. Anyway, the money was not drawn from my account, so I do owe it.

Busy weekend

March 19th, 2012 at 03:47 pm

I got a lot done this weekend. I took my car for the emissions test and it passed -- yay! That was a relief, because it's an older car and I've heard of people needing to get expensive repairs after failing the test. It took a big chunk of my morning, however, both to find the facility and then wait in line.

I also went to the lab and got my annual blood work done. I got a haircut. I did my grocery shopping and got gas. I filled a prescription.

On Saturday night I worked registration at a fancy fundraising dinner (got a free dinner!) Before the event, I bought a belt at Target that I thought the outfit needed. It turned out the outfit looked better without the belt, so I took it back for a refund on Sunday.

I also went to the library and returned a DVD that I had forgotten I had. That little mistake cost me $5. I will not forget again.

I also did some Goodwill shopping. I mostly got things for the booth, but also a few gifts for the stash. I made myself sit down and enter all the new inventory into my computer -- that way when I take the stuff down to put in the booth I can just label it and put it in. It's so much better to research the prices ahead of time, anyway. I found some good things! I invested about $14 in some brooches that are worth about $100. And a fish-shaped bottle that I thought wasn't worth much is selling on eBay for $15 -- and I mean there are bids on it.

So I'm planning to go down this weekend, work on the booth, and visit with my BFF.

Work is going okay so far. On Friday, I spent the whole day trying to get past a glitch in the software. An IT person was helping me and she finally figured out a work-around. Quite a relief, as it would have been a BIG problem if I couldn't process the donations.

Once again, I hit the $20 mark on grocery shopping. (This time it was 19.99!) For that I got 3.5 lbs. of boneless chicken breasts, a bottle of wine, a bag of frozen green beans, a BIG bottle of ketchup and a banana. For an additional $6 I bought three boxes of garbage bags -- the 8-gallon size was on sale and they are sometimes hard to find -- and it's the only size that works in the bathroom.

I got a little check - $23 -- from the United Health class action suit. I only had that provider for a year and didn't really expect anything, so it was a nice surprise.

Had two more restaurant bills -- one for the final, informal friends-only going-away for my boss at a local bar. The other with my other former boss who happened to be in town for the day. I think I have participated in five good-bye parties now! Most unusual, but I suppose this is how the other half lives -- eating out a lot. I do it rarely. Not this month!

It's a bad week

March 15th, 2012 at 01:16 am

And it's only Wednesday.

My boss is leaving tomorrow. I have to take over her duties, and so far, my computer and/or the software is not cooperating. There is a certain task I must do -- it has many steps and I CANNOT get through it without the program hanging up. I just want to scream.

I learned that the new reporting structure, which I do NOT like, will be permanent. I will always report to Mean Girl now.

And then -- and then -- I found LICE on my head! I did the treament yesterday and washed all my bedding and vacuumed the whole house. I think I've taken care of it -- of course, I'll have to do the treatment again in a week to eliminate any -- euuweeuuww -- eggs. I've never had lice before and this was a huge and unwelcome surprise.

On the positive side, the weather is lovely -- so nice it's surreal. But I'm too depressed to enjoy it. Ugh.

Oh. I guess I should make this money-related. The lice treament was $14.85; I got the generic.

AND -- I accidently left my purse at home this morning and it didn't even phase me. I'm so used to no-spend days it wasn't an issue not to have my wallet. I was only upset because I had to drive without my license.

Apologies to my server....

March 12th, 2012 at 08:17 pm

So yesterday I went up to see the grandsons. It had been a while, what with my cold and all. I felt like going out to lunch and offered to treat, since my kids so often feed me at their home.

We went to Buffalo Wild Wings, and we all had a yummy lunch. I got the bill, charged it, and signed the receipt, putting a nice tip on it. This morning I pull out the receipt, and I have the signed copy -- I walked out with it!

I called the restaurant and explained what happened. They were still able to charge me, since I had left the other receipt, but of course the poor server got no tip at all. So I verbally authorized the tip to go on my card. Luckily I had the girl's name, so it will go to the right one.

I felt so bad! My son is a server and I know how important that tip is. But hopefully it is now all rectified.

After the restaurant, we went to GS1's hockey lesson. Then he and his mom went to a birthday party and GS2 went down for a nap, so my son and I played a couple of rounds of "Ticket to Ride." If you like board games, check this one out! It's lots of fun, has some strategy but is not too complicated.

I came home, did some laundry, made some French onion soup, changed all the clocks, and went to bed early, preparing to get up early! (I was still exhausted this a.m.)

Another book sold on half.com, so I'm off the post office after work. Then -- a date with a good library book and a glass of wine. The good life!

Goodwill & booth answers

March 12th, 2012 at 02:51 pm

Once again I missed my Goodwill expedition on Wednesday, so went Saturday instead. I spent quite a bit of time there (much easier to do on a Saturday than a Wednesday night). I spent $36, and I'll try to recount from memory what I got:

A pair of Ralph Lauren khakis (look like new)
Sweatshirt, new
White turtleneck
Off-white t-shirt, new
Purple sweater, Croft & Barrow
Navy bra with aqua polka-dots, new (Target brand)
2 Corning ware dishes, for the booth
1 Pyrex baking dish, for the booth
Honey Bee Tree game
4 dishcloths, new

Somebody asked me before how the booth works. I rent space in an antique store -- my space is basically 10 X 10. I have to provide the fixtures, meaning any shelves, etc. the goods are displayed on. My rent is $82.50 per month. I paid a deposit equal to one months rent, which I will get back. The shop does the selling, and they take a commission -- and off the top of my head I can't remember what it is -- 10% I think? They take care of the sales tax, etc. They cut me check for what I've sold whenever I make it in there. It's three hours away, a place I chose because the rents here in Chicagoland are outrageous. However, I still don't make any money! My checks are almost always less than the rent.



In my next life I will have a brain....

March 10th, 2012 at 02:50 pm

I had a great plan on Thursday. I was going to take advantage of a Procter & Gamble promotion -- buy $20 worth of stuff and get a $5 coupon for anything on my next trip. There were restrictions -- I could only use two manufacturer's coupons, and the particular items that qualified were pretty specific. But I carefully made my list, searched out my best two coupons, and double checked everything I put in the cart against the ad to make sure about getting the correct sizes, etc. I did a pretty good job, because I spent $22 and only bought items I needed, and that were on sale. Only problem was, when I checked out, no $5 coupon appeared.

I asked the cashier about it, but she didn't know why. I went to customer service, and she pored over my receipt and the ad, too. Finally she said, "Oh! This promotion ended yesterday!" Yes, there it was in black and white. I was a day late.

And I was so excited that I was going to get an extra $5 to bump my food shopping up to $25. Oh well, better luck next time. It seems I am not very good at this stuff!

So last night I did the $20 food shopping. I went over a bit, not meaning to -- spent $21.66. That bought: an 18-oz. box of granola, a 16-oz. loaf of wheat bread, a pound of strawberries, a gallon of milk, 24 oz. of cottage cheese, 8 oz. of shredded mozzarella, a 28 oz. can of tomato puree, and a bottle of wine.

I will make lasagna this week. I also have the makings for omelets and soups to fill in, as well as some chili and chicken-cheese casserole in the freezer.

On Thursday I and three co-workers took our boss out for lunch (one of the bosses who is leaving). I spent about $6 toward her lunch, and $28 on mine -- but it fed me twice; I ate the leftovers on Friday. I ordered a rotisserie chicken half, a baked sweet potato and grilled vegetables, so it was healthy as well as easy to reheat.

My boss will not leave till this Thursday, but the partying is done. I had been gradually taking on her duties, and some of it is interesting, but I hope I don't have to do it too long. My normal duties are going to suffer.

The other morning I was pulling into the parking lot at work and someone told me a rear light was burnt out. I appreciated that -- I wouldn't have noticed until a cop pulled me over. I went to NAPA Auto Parts, and the guy there was so nice. He refused to sell me the package of two amber bulbs and went to the back and got a single clear bulb (I didn't need the amber bulb, since the cover is amber -- duh). Then he put it on, no charge. It was only $3.

It's early in the morning

March 8th, 2012 at 12:01 pm

I woke up early and I know if I went back to sleep I'd feel like a truck ran over me when it was time to get up. So I'm catching up with you guys.

I've been training at work to temporarily take the place of my boss -- some of the work is very detail-oriented and I'm going to have trouble remembering all the steps. I do have them written down, but still.... This might have been an opportunity if I were younger, but now, just a few years before retirement, it is a trial. My only assurance is that I am very much needed now whether I do the job well or not!

Yesterday TV went digital in my area. After all my wrangling with Comcast I was still getting basic cable, but yesterday it disappeared. Well, now I've gotten addicted to The Big Bang Theory, and I've always been a news junkie, so I did order the adaptor and install it. I don't know, it will probably mess me up on the bill.

I had some trouble getting it going and then getting the remote to work. Sure do miss the days when you plugged in a TV and turned the dial.

Today we are taking my boss out for a farewell luncheon, although she won't actually leave till next week. My other boss left yesterday. I'm excited, not only to go out to lunch, but to give her her gift, which is an Apple Store gift card. I think she'll be surprised.

Last night I picked up a good-bye card, and at the same time got some Easter baskets and plastic eggs. I'm going to fill the eggs with Lego pieces for my grandsons. I'll put a little candy in there, too, but my DIL is very strict with sweets and I don't want to rock any boats. The card, baskets and eggs were $13. I already have the Legos from a Goodwill find.

We've reserved a cabin in an Indiana park for early June -- DS & DIL, GK's, me and DIL's mother. Just for a long weekend. It should be a nice getaway. I hope by then I will have a new boss and it won't be hard to get away from work.

Body shop estimate

March 6th, 2012 at 03:40 pm

I went to the body shop last night. The estimate was higher than I expected -- not that I have any sense of what these things cost. It will be in the neighborhood of $1250; I was thinking about $600. Most of the cost stems from the extra work it will take to actually get at the problem, since the dent is in a difficult spot on the rear hatch.

Though this gives me pause, I think I still need to have it done. I plan to keep this car as long as it will hold up. The spot where it was damaged is rusting, and eventually it will rust through. And, if I do move to a more urban area and want to sell the car, it's going to have to be in good shape.

I don't need to get other estimates. I already know that this body shop does the best work, and has the most honest owners I could hope for. I've had work done with them in the past myself, and their reviews from others are stellar. In fact, if another shop were to give me a lower estimate, I would assume they were taking shortcuts that I wouldn't want.

This will definitely earn me the $250 from Citi, so I guess I can count that as a discount.

They won't be able to take me until next week, or possibly the week after. They are very busy.

So, $600 on tires last month, $1250 on body work this month. This is definitely the Year of the Car.

Goodwill trip, and other stuff

March 4th, 2012 at 02:54 pm

Yesterday I went to the body shop to get an estimate, but it was closed. They used to be open on Saturdays, but the sign on the door says that their hours are now basically 9-5 M-F. So I guess I'll have to stop in after work tomorrow.

Since I was already out, and I had missed my Wednesday shopping at Goodwill, I went to Goodwill, and I'm glad I did, even though I didn't get my 15% discount. I spent $34. Here's what I got:

A Honey Bee Tree game -- will keep here for grandson visits
3 rolls of gift wrap that will work for Xmas and birthdays
A tree for my DIL's Christmas Village -- it goes in the gift stash.
A replica fish bottle (blue) for the booth
3 wooden nutcracker ornaments for the booth
2 trinket boxes -- one with the Eiffel tower, one with the Arc de Triomphe mounted on top -- gift stash
Set of Wilton cookie cutters in cool flower shapes -- gift stash
Wedgwood oval plate -- booth
Mini pitcher -- booth
Melissa & Doug US puzzle in shrink wrap -- gift stash
Hammersley bone china mug -- booth
2 packages of Batman napkins -- gift stash
Ceramic pie server with snowman motif -- gift stash
Set of gloves & scarf -- new, and go with my new coat
Mini strainer -- for me!
Large T-shirt -- pajama top for me
Reading pillow (wedge shape with arms) -- for me

So many good finds, but I'm especially pleased with the reading pillow -- I've been wanting one for a long time. This is a new one, by the way, and it also happens to be a shade of green that fits right in with my bedroom decor. I tried it out last night and it's great! Very firm and just the right support.

The gloves & scarf were a great find, too. The coat I bought last week is turquoise and purple, and this set is comprised of stripes of turquoise, purple and black. They look great together.

Oh, and the puzzle! Gift-ready, and something I had already looked at as a gift for my grandson (in Barnes & Noble for QUITE a bit more). I had a United States puzzle when I was a kid and I loved it. GS is probably not ready for it yet, but by Christmas he will be six, and I think that is close enough. If not, it will keep for another year!

I had a terrible night's sleep again last night. My cold is settling into a cough and a sinus headache. Ironically, I was just thinking about asking my doctor for a sleep aid prescription, and she came on TV advising AGAINST them. (She does a health segment on the local news every Sunday morning). So I guess I won't. Smile

Last week I borrowed a one-week book from the library. It was the latest Sarah Paretsky, and since it is new and in high demand, it circulates one week with no renewals. And, I believe, a .50 per day overdue fee. Well, I knew I had to get it back yesterday, and I had lot left to read. I just tore through it, way too fast. I think I missed a lot of nuances, not to mention I'm not sure why the villain did it. And then, I got it to the library just minutes after it closed! I had to put it in the outside chute. They should not charge me a fee since it was technically back on time, but we'll see.

February recap

March 3rd, 2012 at 08:24 pm

Rent -- 1132
Car Repair/Maintenance -- 616
Utilities -- 174
Entertainment -- 163
Business -- 89
Groceries -- 82
Gifts/Charity -- 78
Clothing -- 63
Gas -- 58
Eating Out -- 46
Furnishings/Equipment -- 43
Vet/Pet Supplies -- 12
Personal -- 8
Fees/Services -- 5
Household Supplies -- 3

Total -- 2572

No surprises. The car repair is new tires & an oil change. The bigger entertainment cost is my ancestry.com subscription. The clothing includes a new coat. My grocery bill continues to be awesome!

Grocery trip

March 3rd, 2012 at 02:51 pm

I stopped for groceries last night on the way home from work. It was snowing and I didn't know what might greet me in the morning.

I spent $20.05 on groceries and $10 on cat food; $2.50 on maxi pads.

For $20 I got: 3 lbs. ground beef, 8 oz. fresh sliced mushrooms, a box of granola, a green pepper, a dozen eggs, a Caesar salad bag (with dressing & toppings included). The cat food, mushrooms, granola and salad were all on sale. I thought the ground beef was, too, but it didn't show up that way on the receipt.

I made a cheeseburger last night and set aside another patty for today. The rest of the ground beef I cooked for later use. This morning I simmered about a half-pound with Rotel and Mexican seasonings for tacos later in the week. The rest I may freeze.

Yesterday at noon my only option for lunch was oatmeal, and I just didn't want that, so I went to the cafeteria and got a flank steak salad. It was $6.50, but I came up short -- I forgot how low I was on cash -- and they don't take credit cards. Oy. The cashier very nicely only charged me $6. I'll be sure and get the extra to her next week.

Today I'm heading to the body shop to get an estimate on my car repair. It's old damage -- I just decided to fix it after all, since I'll probably keep this car until it won't go anymore. It seems to be going and going, so I'll fix the dents and make it look nice again.

New tire happiness & more

March 2nd, 2012 at 02:28 pm

I am really enjoying my new tires. I remember my late mother-in-law lamenting about spending money on things that don't "show" -- i.e. tires, mattresses, etc. Makes me chuckle because I have never been about the "show." I love it that my new tires make the ride so much better. I feel so buoyant and secure.

I won't do my February recap till tomorrow, because I am still collecting money from others for our joint gift to our departing co-worker. It has turned out to be quite complicated, with some people in for the dinner but not the gift, others the opposite, and some giving for both.

I saw the doctor yesterday for a regular checkup. I now need to make several more appointments. I'm not sick, but I do need to get some routine labs and imaging, and I'm finally going to see a specialist for bladder issues.

With my two bosses leaving, a new temporary reporting structure has been set. For the second time in my life this has happened: the one person I had already pinpointed as someone I would NEVER want to report to -- I will report to. This on top of all kinds of extra work and responsibilities falling on me will make this a very stressful time. I am glad I am so near retirement.