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Archive for May, 2012

Lost Plate

May 30th, 2012 at 06:22 am

I realized over the weekend that I lost my front license plate somewhere. I could get a ticket for that, so last night I went to the DMV and ordered a new plate for $6. Unfortunately, until it comes (maybe August they said) I have to display the temporary plate on the back, which means I have to figure out how to change the plate. There are some wicked looking oddly-shaped screws holding it on, and I'm not sure I am up to the job.

I also put $10 worth of gas in my car, bringing my monthly allowance down to $9. With only one day to go, that's just fine.

The booth is now closed

May 29th, 2012 at 08:50 am

Yep -- it's done! I packed up everything (on the hottest weekend yet, I might add) and now I have fifteen boxes in my dining room. I collected $75 in sales and will get my deposit back ($82.50) in the mail. And I will no longer have to pay rent. Yay!

The garage sale idea is on hold -- I actually have to borrow someones' yard/garage to do it, and the date I had reserved for it now will not work for either me or the owner. I've got so much going on already this summer I may just do eBay a little at a time. Or even ignore the boxes for a while.

I have $25 left in my $300 challenge, and I believe I will devote most of that to gas. I have to make a 40-minute trip to the doctor on Thursday, and I'm pretty sure I don't have the gas for it.

I will not pick up either the vacuum (which I now know will cost $89) or the alterations until after Thursday.

On my weekend trip, I spent less on gas than expected, but more on eating out -- about $20. I also spent $26 on baby clothes at a secondhand store (however, they were almost all new) and $5 on a top for me.

June will be full of expenses. I'm taking a camping vacation with my son's family; I have planned two dinners out with friends, and I have two birthdays in the family, which will entail not only gift-giving but dinner-making. (I have some gifts in my stash already). I also have to go to a workshop in downstate Indiana, for which I am shouldering some of the expense.

I've had a headache for three days now and I wish it would go away!

No progress

May 25th, 2012 at 06:07 am

My seller simply rejected my latest offer without a counter. Both the realtors seem pretty amazed by her obstinance. Especially since my offer is right on the money market-wise.

My realtor advised me to just let it simmer for a couple of weeks. He doesn't believe anyone else will make a higher offer. I am fine with that. Frankly, her lack of negotiation is making me less interested rather than more interested. There are so many other options out there, and I have plenty of time.

I went to my grandson's preschool graduation last night. They wore caps but not gowns, and sang a little song using sign language. Very cute. They also showed a slideshow with each child's dream of what he/she wanted to be. My grandson said "paleontologist." And he just might be -- he is obsessed with dinosaurs.

We went out to a casual restaurant afterwards. I spent $6.82, and brought home some roasted vegetables which I will use in fried rice. I expected to pay about $10 for dinner, so was glad to come in under.

I took a present, just in case, but no one else had presents, so it will go back in the Christmas/birthday box. (It was in the car so no one knew).

My $300 account is now down to $111. I'm figuring I will have to spend about $60 on gas this weekend. I still have to pick up the vacuum and the alterations, which are unknown prices, but I'm hoping the two together will come in under $50 and I will meet my goal.

Poor planning

May 23rd, 2012 at 07:58 am

I didn't get it on my calendar -- my grandson's preschool graduation is tomorrow evening. Only a problem because I also have a doctor's appointment tomorrow. Both events are in the same general area, but 45-50 minutes away from work -- and I'm scheduled to work in the afternoon. I don't have ANY more vacation time to play with until the fiscal year rolls over on July 1, so I can't take the afternoon off. So it looks like I will make a long drive four times tomorrow. Oh, that's nuts. I'll try to reschedule the doctor's appointment. Hope it's not too late.

No news on the condo -- no counter offer yet to my latest offer. My son alerted me to another condo that seemed to have all the features I wanted at a lower price, but when I had my realtor check it out, he found they had already received a contract.

Soon I will have to talk to my rental agent. I am supposed to renew by June 15. I'll have to tell them what's going on, and that I'm in limbo. I hope they will give me a month-to-month lease, especially since I've been a good tenant for three years now.

No spending yesterday. I've given up on my 5-5-5 challenge, but I am trying to get in 15 minute bursts of exercise three times a day.

Last night I made a Bubba burger for dinner (veggies, too, but the story is the Bubba burger). Because it's so big and such a weird shape, I trimmed it down after cooking it to fit nicely in my smallish bun. I have a cup of white sauce in the freezer, so tonight I'm going warm up the leftover burger bits in the sauce, season it, and pour over biscuits (if I have the energy to make biscuits from scratch). Otherwise I'll just serve it over bread. That'll be a nice cheap meal. I'll supplement with veggies & fruit, of course.

Well, I'm off to make my call to the doctor! Hope I can cancel without penalty.

About the condo

May 22nd, 2012 at 08:37 am

The seller is holding firm for a higher price than I would like to pay. That said, in this market, prices are pretty low, and, as my realtor pointed out, it is in a desirable location and building.

I checked with my lender this morning and okayed my realtor to put in a higher offer. We're still fairly far apart, though.

I will wait and see.

As for the $300 challenge, I still have $118. But I have a 3-hour road trip this weekend, and I will have to pay for the vacuum repair and for clothing alterations. I have plenty of food to get through, I think. It will be interesting to see how close I can come, with these extra expenses thrown in. I think I have to count them. There will always be extra expenses.

Why am I writing?

May 20th, 2012 at 01:26 pm

I don't know why I'm even clicking the "new entry" button. Nothing much is going on today. I am sticking around home, not spending anything, not using gas.

I made some chicken teriyaki stirfry that should serve for a few lunches this week. I made extra rice, so I might make fried rice later in the week.

I did some laundry and hung most of it up to dry in the bathroom.

It's quite warm, but I am resisting turning on the air. When it cools off in the evening I'll take a walk to the dumpster and then around the big block this complex sits on.

I ate way too much of that good granola I made yesterday. It was just too good.

Think I'll boil some eggs and then I should be good on lunches for the week. I still have mac & cheese and French onion soup in the freezer. And I have five more Bubba burgers for dinners.

I finished watching Storage Wars and also watched a good Netflix movie, "Lebanon, Pa." An indie film with heart, but not too schmaltzy.

Household chores and storage wars

May 19th, 2012 at 08:31 pm

This morning I was a prisoner in my home, as I had to wait for the painter to arrive and paint my door -- then I had to stay inside until all the edges dried and and I could close and lock it again. I tried to be productive while I waited. I vacuumed, but it looked like the brush wasn't rotating, even though it was picking up. The area around the brush was clogged, but I couldn't figure out how to get to it. In the end I decided it had to be serviced. I've had it for three years with no servicing, so it's about time.

Then I made some granola, which made the painter remark that everyone was going to come in from the hall because of the yummy smell....

Then I tried to hem the sleeves of a jacket I've had for a while but have never worn because the sleeves are too long. I couldn't do it without puckering the fabric, so I decided to let the professionals handle that, too. As well as a pair of lined pants that I didn't even try to fix.

While I was sewing, I managed to lose a needle. No, I'm not upset about the loss of a needle, but I am upset about how I might find it. Like by sitting on it. I really, really looked, but couldn't find it.

When I was free I dropped off the vacuum and the clothes to be altered, and I also went to the grocery and picked up some kitty litter, cat food, and some fresh fruits. Spent $13.78.

I came home and spent much of the day watching "Storage Wars" on Netflix. My son told me to try it, and it is addictive! The men are pretty annoying with their competitive games, but I am fascinated by what they find in the units they buy! And it boggles my mind that people just let that stuff go because they don't pay the rent. I've never rented a storage unit -- I declutter if I don't have space. My son has done it -- and I learned first hand that everything he paid to store he considered to be junk when he finally took it out. A total waste of money.

$300 challenge & the earnest money

May 18th, 2012 at 05:53 am

I had to express-mail the signed contract to my realtor because the fax was coming out too light. So I spent $21.95 at the post office for postage and for a book of stamps. Down to $132.

As for the $10,000 earnest money -- in the contract it states that $1,000 is to be paid upon acceptance of the offer, and then increased to a total of $10,000 2 days after. I totally trust my realtor; he is a longtime family friend; I know he would not cheat me. And he works for a very large established and well-respected Chicago realty business. So I think that is just the way it is in the city.

I do need to find out if I can in turn use the $9,000 that I get back toward my down payment. That would make things easier.

I have not been keeping up on the 5-5-5 challenge at all; I have been too involved with real estate!

Tomorrow morning my apartment's maintenance team is painting doors in my building. That means I will have to stay home until the paint dries, as the door can't be closed and locked until then. So I'll grocery shop later in the day. It should be a quick trip; I am well-stocked with meat, just need to plan some meals around what I have and pick up the few things I need.

Put in my offer

May 17th, 2012 at 10:10 am

I have formally offered $110,000 for the condo. My agent has already talked with the seller's agent, and he tells me that she has a history of being reluctant to lower her price. (She had it on the market last year for six months and then took it off, even though she had a cash offer that was only $5K short of her price). The condo is listed at $133,000 and I was hoping the counter offer would be $120,000, but that might not happen. My agent thinks it will likely be $128,000. C'est la vie.

My agent also told me that I would need $10,000 in earnest money, which surprised me. I will get $9,000 back, but I am still surprised. It seems like that last time I bought a house I only had to have $1,000. I do have it, but just barely. The other bad surprise was the dip in the stock market. I now barely have the $60,000 for the down payment, and as I recall, TIAA-CREF (which is holding the funds) will withhold a portion to go toward taxes, so unless the market goes up again, I can't get $60K in hand right now. Since I don't have to withdraw it until the deal is accepted, I am going to sit tight and hope it goes back up.

When I first stepped into this, I had $65,000 in stock as well as $10,000 in savings, so I thought that offering a $60K down payment was reasonable. I'm a little bummed.

In other news, I went to a long-awaited appointment this morning to see a uro-gynecologist. I want to get a surgery called TVT which will put my personal plumbing back in order. I tentatively scheduled it for August, but first I have to have "pelvic floor" physical therapy and pass a "urodynamic" test in July. More appointments, more waiting.

Yesterday I was scheduled for a professional meeting downtown. I decided to drive rather than take the train. Wrong decision! I didn't read the directions carefully enough and went to the wrong campus. By the time I figured that out, and found the right place, I was already way late and couldn't find parking. When I finally found a parking place I couldn't for the life of me figure out how to use the parking meter. In frustration, I just left and sent my regrets. I feel like such an idiot! And I wasted a lot of gas for nothing. AND I noticed that the train station was very close to the correct destination.

My $300 challenge is now down to $154. I bought breakfast at the medical center and had to pay for parking in the garage.

A very early morning

May 15th, 2012 at 08:21 am

I woke up at 4:00 this morning. I knew if I went back to sleep, I would wake up feeling terrible, so I got up and starting reading on the couch. Soon I figured out what woke me up -- I had to RUN to the bathroom. I should have stayed home from work today, but there is too much to do. I stopped on the way to work and got some Immodium AD and right now I'm feeling much better.

It's pay day, so I paid my rent and Discover. This was the first paycheck since I changed my retirement savings. It's about $140 less for $175 in savings.

I sent $1700 to the credit union. That includes the money from closing the money market fund.

I realized I forgot to subtract the cost of a couple of greeting cards from my $300 challenge. With that and the medicine subtracted, I now have $167. I'm halfway through the month and have a little more than half left, so I think I'm doing okay.

Have not heard any more from my realtor so I'm in a holding pattern right now.

I found a penny this morning!

Oh, and I had a free dinner last night. The phonathon group had leftover hot dogs. I do like me a hot dog once in a while!

Lots going on

May 14th, 2012 at 06:30 am

First of all, I had a wonderful Mother's Day. We had a picnic in the park -- my kids and grandkids, my nephew's family, and various other family members. The weather was outstanding and the location was beautiful. I contributed a fruit tray to a lovely luncheon that included Italian beef sandwiches and grilled chicken, salads and desserts. Plus, we all took a longish walk on the trails to work off all those calories!

My kids gave me a birds' nest necklace with three "eggs" for my two grandchildren and one on the way...

Later in the day I went to take a second look at the condo I'm interested in, and I took along a bunch of family to get their opinions. Everyone gave it a thumbs up. The only drawbacks, in my opinion, are: no washer/dryer in the unit -- I'd have to navigate some pretty ugly stairs to the basement to do my laundry -- and the kitchen needs updating, particularly the cabinets. Also, the asking price is higher than I would like. I've been pre-qualified by my credit union for $120,000 -- this is $133,000. I think I will get the help of a realtor friend of my kids to see if the seller can lower the price and maybe even help me out on the washer/dryer installation. (I do know the building will approve the installation). The downside of adding a washer/dryer is that I would lose a very good coat closet. My head is whirling.

On my $300 challenge I am now down to $178. I bought groceries ($47), gas ($28), spent $5 at the laundromat to wash my comforters, $2.50 for lunch at McDonald's while I was waiting, and I also spent $2.50 for an antique cookie cutter for a co-worker who collects them. She will probably offer to pay, but I will probably refuse the take the money. Smile

Another no-spend day

May 10th, 2012 at 06:28 am

Yesterday was another no-spend day. Normally I would have gone to Goodwill for my Senior Citizen's discount, but I'm going to cut that down to once a month.

I got my check from the booth - $46.21 -- once again a little more than half the rent, so that just confirms my decision to close down at the end of the month.

Next week I will have a doctor's appointment in a neighboring suburb and then the following day I have to go downtown again for a meeting. And this time I won't get any free food! However, this meeting will take place on a college campus, so I should be able to drive and park. So the two visits will involve extra gas and perhaps a lunch out. I also have that trip at the end of the month to think about -- the one to clean out the booth. I will stay with my friend, but there will the cost of gas, and we always eat out.

Today I'm making a list of loss leaders at Jewel and Dominick's. (Albertson's and Safeway to many of you!) I have a very short list of staples to get as well. Even though I'm not doing the $20 food challenge any more I want to continue to keep food costs low as part of my $300 challenge.

It's always something....

May 9th, 2012 at 11:05 am

Yesterday was a no-spend day, and, I'm afraid, a no-exercise day. What it was, was a clean up the cat vomit day. My cranky long-haired tom throws up a lot -- mostly hairball-related, because of his long hair. But yesterday he threw up on my bed while I was at work and I came home to find that he had soiled the comforter, the sheets AND the mattress pad, AND the mattress! I stripped the bed and got the pad in the washer and I spot-cleaned the mattress, but I couldn't use the bed because the spot was wet. I slept in my spare twin bed, which my grandson uses when he stays over. It is pretty comfortable but small, so I had kind of a weird night's sleep, always feeling like I was falling off.

Tonight I'll be able to re-make my bed, but I'll have to use a different cover. The comforter will have to be washed at a laundromat, because of its bulk. Sigh. I don't really want to do that tonight; it's rainy, and if I'm going to pay to wash something, I want to do it on a day when it won't get dropped in a puddle.

Catching up

May 8th, 2012 at 10:57 am

I'm SO tired. I had another sleepless night and I am just sleepwalking through this day. And there's no reason! Sometimes I just can't find my off switch at night, and then the next day I can't find my on switch.

My everyday spending fund is down to $258. On Saturday I got a haircut ($15). I also spent $6 at the grocery store for fresh fruit.

On Monday I went downtown to attend a workshop. The train cost $9.50 round trip. I walked from the train station to my final destination -- it took about 25 minutes each way. I'm counting that as a walk to work! And I saved the taxi money. I was very lucky that, even though it was a rainy day, I didn't have to walk in the rain at all.

While at the train station, I gave $2 to a woman who said she was "short." I just can't turn away from the needy, though most do.

I had to pass up a quarter that was on the platform as I was de-boarding. I couldn't have stooped and picked it up without being trampled on. I'm sure someone got it later on. I did find a penny on the street.

At my workshop I got a free breakfast and lunch, and I got a free breakfast today, too. It was our annual recognition luncheon.

As far as my "fives" go, I am current on doing five flights of stairs on workdays. I have taken one Prairie Path walk (with an extra two blocks to the grocery store), and that downtown walk counting as one walk to work. I have done one dance session. So I am doing okay -- not exactly overachieving, but I've made a start.

A Wal-Mart trip

May 5th, 2012 at 08:55 am

Just went to Wal-Mart and used the bulk of my $100 gift card -- spent $92. I was really surprised how quickly it added up, because it didn't seem like much of a haul.

I got:

3 bags of stir-fry veggies
box of gingersnaps
box of Bubba burgers
2 bottles generic Zyrtec
can of mushrooms
jar of pimiento cheese
jar of beef bouillon
tube of liquid foundation
big bottle of wine
loaf of wheat bread
big box of Honey Nut Cheerios
box of Club crackers
box of elbow macaroni
tub of raspberry sherbet
bottle of vanilla

This was no money out of my pocket, so I'm not counting it in the $300 challenge. A nice boost!

Later, I'm going to go get a haircut. I've been looking online for Great Clips coupons, but I'm not having any success. I did enter their contest for free haircuts for a year, though. That would be sweet!

I went to the library last night and checked out the movie "Jane Eyre." I really wanted to see it in the theatres when it came out, but I didn't catch it. I think it was probably worth seeing on the big screen. But free on the small screen ain't bad.

On Monday I have to go into the city for a one-day conference. I'm trying to figure out how to get there. Train and taxi would be the easiest, but not the cheapest. Driving may be cheapest, but it depends on the parking, and parking is a nightmare. I could take and train and then walk, but it is a 25-minute walk if I make no wrong turns -- and rain is in the forecast.

Free entertainment tonight! A great big moon in the sky! I may not be able to see it, it is so overcast here.

Another treat this morning -- there was a blue heron sitting by our pond -- first one I've ever seen here. I pointed it out to a man who was walking his dog, who didn't seem as interested as I was. Smile

Closing down shop

May 4th, 2012 at 10:08 am

I've set a date to close down my booth. My rent is good through May so I will go clear it out on Memorial Day weekend. Then I'll have a garage sale on June 16 to sell as much as I can. Whatever doesn't sell I will try on eBay.

It's been fun being a dealer and learning about antiques, but it is a losing proposition. I think sales have exceeded the rent only about three or four times. Even though I have sold a LOT! When I look at my inventory list I'm amazed, but I'm losing money. It's a hobby for a rich man's wife, not for a struggling single.

The garage sale should bring in a little, and I may get a few sales on eBay, and after that, I'll donate.

I feel really good about my decision, though it will be quite a bit of work. One more money hole closed up.

I renewed my plates this morning -- $99. As an annual fee, it doesn't come out of my $300 everyday budget. That is still $291.

Chase never sent me a new card, nor communicated with me in any way. Don't know if I was turned down or if my app just didn't go through somehow. At any rate, I don't want it any more. It's too stressful trying to spend at the level I need to to earn the reward.

I also never heard from the bank about my pre-qualification questions, so I'm feeling a little paranoid. I think I will try to visit my credit union to see if I get a better response. Which would be any response.

The $300 Everyday Spending Plan

May 3rd, 2012 at 06:20 am

I've tried this before, but didn't have it all thought out. I want to limit my everyday spending to $300 a month, which will probably be what I will have to work with in retirement. I failed before because I counted bigger-ticket unexpected items -- but that's not what I want to track. I will have savings for bigger items and unusual expenses. I just want to keep the everyday, nitty-gritty stuff under $300. That includes, for me, groceries, gas, eating out, Goodwill/sale shopping, haircuts, entertainment, pet and household supplies.

Not only will I get a sense of how I need to live, this experiment should allow me to sock away some savings.

Yesterday I started it off with a $9 expenditure at Goodwill. I bought four small gifts and, for myself, a new meat thermometer. I would estimate the retail value of what I bought to be at least $35.

$291 left!

The day before yesterday I stopped at the bank just to inquire about what I would need to do to pre-qualify for a loan, if I should decide to buy a condo in the near future. They took some basic information and promised that a loan officer would get in touch, but I've heard nothing yet. Really, I just wanted to talk it over with someone knowledgeable, but I think they're treating it like an application. Either that, or they're just not going to bother with me.

It's May!

May 1st, 2012 at 07:31 am

First of all, my April expenses --

Rent - 1132
Medical/Health - 401
Gifts - 322
Utilities - 101
Eating Out - 98
Business - 98
Entertainment - 87
Groceries - 83
Gas - 76
Clothing - 42
Vet/Pet Supplies - 30
Furnishings/Equipment - 20
Household Supplies - 17
Personal - 14
Care Repair/Maintenance - 7

Total - 2524

I went out to eat with colleagues last night - had a margherita pizza and salad for $17. Plenty left over for lunch today.

I have to decides on my "fitness fives" for May, so I'll just do it, as Nike says --

Walk to work and back five times
Walk the Prairie Path five times
Dance for 1/2 hour five times
Take the stairs at work five times a day
Do my strength training exercise routine five times

Let the games begin!