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Archive for June, 2012

The condo, again

June 28th, 2012 at 01:13 pm

I got word from my realtor that the reluctant seller asked her realtor if I was still interested in the condo. I said yes, but explained that I had just signed a new lease (which actually hasn't gone into effect yet). My landlord will let me out of the lease, though,if I vacate by Aug.1, so time is of the essence.

Today I learn that the seller is in the hospital and "needs a few days."

I could just pull my hair out. A few days will mean having to break a new lease. My landlord is trying to work with me, but this lady is making it impossible.

I'm thinking about just walking away. I don't have to move this summer. I had already started thinking about the advantages of waiting. There will be other condos.

Meanwhile, I have a headache that will NOT go away.

Adding to the stress, work is crazy now with the fiscal year ending. That means we are trying to bring in as many gifts as possible in order to meet our fundraising goal. I made a big snafu when I entered a batch that put triple entries on each record. Jeesh. If I don't get fired this week, I guess I'm fireproof!

In a remarkable stoke of good luck, I found a $10 bill on my lunchtime walk yesterday!

Eighty-one cents

June 26th, 2012 at 05:46 pm

Eighty-one cents. That's what I have left for the next four days.

Last night I bought 18 eggs, a pound of shredded cheese, and a feminine hygiene product, for a grand total of $8.05. I have plenty of food to get through the week, and almost half a tank of gas in the car, so I should be good.

I'm pretty amazed that with all the spending challenges I had this month I still managed to come in under $300. I definitely made some adjustments I wouldn't have done without the challenge, and I've surprised myself. There's always another way!

I'm really pumped to start a new month. Just have to to lay low for a few days.

I'm anticipating that I will be able to put $600 into savings come payday.

I have another birthday dinner to make -- not yet planned. It was a June birthday, but hectic schedules are making it difficult to pick the day. If by any chance my son calls and says to do it this week, I'll count it off July's budget.

Otherwise, July looks pretty free. I have a conference in August, and a wedding in September, but those expenses will not come from the everyday budget.

The Birthday Party

June 25th, 2012 at 02:58 pm

My lunch for my DIL went splendidly. She wanted homemade tacos with all the fixin's, and carrot cake. Everything turned out well, and there were lots of leftovers, all for $29. The old tradition was taking the whole family out, which would have been WAY more expensive (though easier, I admit!)

For presents, I gave her two Fiesta bowls, an orange whip to go with her orange-accented kitchen, some new kitchen towels and cloths, some Wilton cookie cutters in snowflake shapes, and a crafts book she had put on her Amazon wish list. She seemed pleased, even though this is less, too, than it used to be. But we are all feeling the financial pinch, and I am sure she understands.

After the celebration, we all went swimming in "my" pool and then she and my son left for some couple-time while I took care of the kids overnight. Yes, I'm exhausted, particularly because I didn't sleep well (and not the fault of the children, just that off-switch problem).

Since I didn't go anywhere, I still have $9, but I'll spend it tonight for a few necessities.

While at the playground with the kids, I found a Sacajawea dollar! Awesome!

About $9 left

June 22nd, 2012 at 01:17 pm

I went to Target last night, and after using my $5 gift card, I spent $29.17 on groceries for the birthday dinner. I bought guacamole, tomatoes, creamed corn, an onion, a head of lettuce, taco shells, beef chuck, a cake mix, cream cheese, sour cream, shredded Mexican cheese and carrots. The carrots were unnecessary since I ended up buying the carrot cake mix, but I'll use them (even though they are not a low-carb veggie -- darn!)

Went home and cooked up the meat with with spices and salsa. Tonight I'll make the cake, and tomorrow morning I'll put the rest of it together.

I also did some general cleanup -- much needed. My dining room table is a catchall for paper, and instead of dealing with it properly I just put it all in a bag, but at least the table's clear. I had a pile of books to put on half.com and I got that done. I still need to repackage some booth items that were thrown into open containers -- can't have them sitting out with grandchildren around!

This morning I made a cheese omelet for breakfast -- yummy! But I didn't pack a lunch, forgetting I still had pizza in the freezer. Well, I got to work, and a co-worker was getting rid of an extra sausage burrito she had got free by mistake at McDonald's. She wouldn't take any money for it. So I have it tucked away in the fridge for lunch!

Bad news that the stock market went down. I meant to move my stock money to a savings account (for my down payment), but I didn't get around to it. Shame on me. Oh well, right now, I'm not close to a deal anyway.

Spent $10

June 20th, 2012 at 05:17 pm

Last night my son and grandsons went with me to look at the condos. Afterwards we all went out for pizza. Naturally, I had to put in my share, so there went $10.

The condos were very different from each other. Number one was small, with one bedroom, tiny kitchen and bathroom, both outdated. But its good points: great building in a great location (one block from the beach and one block from the grandchildren!), fireplace, bay window, big dining room with molding, beautiful wood floors, high ceilings, views of flowery gardens. It's on the second floor, which around here means it's two and a half flights, and laundry access is in the basement, which we entered from the outdoors. (Don't know if it has to be that way). Nice storage in the basement.

Number two: BIG condo, three bedrooms and two bathrooms, lots of closet space, wonderful large balcony. Drawbacks: right next to the train tracks, water damage on the walls, ugly carpets, not so close to the grandchildren. Also, it's a foreclosure, so nothing will get fixed.

I like number one but wish it were bigger. I'm percolating.

Back to the $300 challenge. The $10 dinner takes me down to $23 -- BUT -- I got word today that I'll get reimbursed for the workshop, so that's $15 back in. $38 for the birthday meal and general survival for the next 10 days.

I did order a book on Amazon for my DIL. Since I used gift credits, there was no expenditure.

I think I will shop for the food at Target, just because I have a $5 gift card to use. Someone at work shared three hot peppers with me so I'll have those to add to the meal, too.

Down to $33

June 19th, 2012 at 06:46 pm

I remembered I had a Wal-Mart gift card with a little money left on it, so I used it to buy cat litter and cat food. I had to pay $2.11 out of pocket, so I'm down to $33. But I got that need out of the way quite cheaply.

I spent a big portion of last evening sorting through my gift stash and wrapping presents for my two DIL's. I think I have some pretty nice things to give them. I'm struggling because I think I need a little more for one of them (even though they won't be together to compare). Ordinarily I would get a gift card, but that would take most of the money I have left -- and I still have to buy the makings for the birthday dinner. But I don't want to punish her for my "experiment."

Since I have Amazon credits, maybe I will order something from her list and tell her it's on the way. I'll look into that.

Tonight I'm going up to see two, maybe three condos. My realtor has chosen them as being in my target area both financially and geographically. Here's hoping!

Nice rental agent

June 18th, 2012 at 05:33 pm

I went into the rental office yesterday to discuss my lease. I explained how I am in negotiations to buy a condo (technically, I still was, since I didn't know till this morning that the latest and last offer was officially rejected). But I explained also that I was most likely going to have to start all over looking, and what should I do about the lease? The agent suggested that I renew, because they are seeing that sellers will often pick up the cost of breaking a lease. She will renew at the cheaper rate, even though I missed the deadline, and she told me that even though she will type up and deliver the lease today, I don't have to sign till the 1st of July, just in case I get a last-minute break.

The other option was month-to-month with a $300 per month increase, which would add up quickly, and a seller wouldn't be likely to reimburse me.

I thought she was very nice and helpful, and it put me in a good mood for the rest of the day.

Now I am trying to figure out how to stretch my last $35. I MUST buy kitty litter and cat food. I also must buy the makings for my DIL's birthday meal on Saturday. I think that money will have to come out of the slush fund as an irregular expense. DIL has asked for beef tacos, guacamole and corn casserole, with carrot cake for dessert. I don't think I can do that with the measly $24 I will have after feeding the pets, as I lack almost all of the ingredients, as well as the extras like sour cream, shredded cheese, etc. I guess I could see how close I come.

I decided what to do about my carb changeover. I will only eat carbs within a designated one-hour period in the evening. Believe it or not, that was a popular diet plan some 10-15 years ago, and it works pretty well.

But when the carbs are gone, I won't seek to replace them. I will, however, still allow some carbs when I eat out. I don't want to make this so strict that it is unlivable.

On day 2 of no carbs I am feeling pretty darn good, with no gas, no joint pain, no cravings!

Time out for sickness

June 17th, 2012 at 04:22 pm

My attention to things financial has taken a turn the last few days because I got sick. I was already on the road to the conference when I started to feel off. by the time I got there I was feverish and dizzy, and I woke up the next morning with a severe sore throat. I got through the day of the conference popping Advil. It was grueling. When I got home at the end of the day I went straight to bed and stayed there. My poor travel companion, a co-worker, had to do all the driving (and it was a trip from hell -- traffic jams, wrong turns, and a pullover by a cop!) Five hours each way. A nightmare.

On Saturday I was finally able to get out in the late afternoon to visit Urgent Care. I seem to just have a nasty virus. I'm better today.

I had been planning to go straight to the rental office when I got home to renew my lease, but now I've missed the deadline for the "good" rate. GRRRR. I'm afraid I'm really going to pay through the nose for this one.

Needless to say, I didn't look at condos yesterday, either.

I was invited at the last minute to a wedding shower for my ex-husband's daughter and didn't make it to that either. I'm planning to send her something from her Amazon wish list, since I've amassed a few credits there.

On the trip, I spent about $10 on food and I believe I spend about $38 on gas. I still owe my co-worker more for gas and also for half of the hotel room. The one good thing I can say about the whole ordeal is that it was an informative conference, and my co-worker, who is a beginner in the field, said she got a lot out of it. And that was the whole point.

I read a compelling book called "Why We Get Fat" by Gary Taubes. It really makes a case for low-carb eating that is hard to refute. I've always felt better when eating low-carb, but haven't stuck to it. But I am inspired to do it again. The trouble is, I've got all this high-carb food in the house. I guess I will have to make a gradual change.

Met my dinner goal

June 14th, 2012 at 01:08 pm

I wanted to spend only $15 for dinner last night, and I did it! $35 left.

I ordered a shrimp creviche appetizer and drank water. I also ate a lot of tortilla chips and salsa to fill in. The serving was small, but delicious, and I actually felt quite satisfied.

Getting together with friends was priceless!

Today after work I'm off to an out-of-town workshop, so that spending will be off the table. Still, I will try to keep it down.

Down to $50 for the month

June 13th, 2012 at 05:26 pm

When I looked at my Discover bill online I "discovered" (ha ha) that the $40 payment for my I-pass had been charged. This is an automatic payment that appears whenever the the balance runs low. The I-pass is how I pay for tolls.

Since tolls are a way of life in this area, I have to count it in my $300 everyday expense, just like I would count gas. So I am now down to $50.

I'm going out to dinner tonight with a group of friends -- it's been planned for about a month and it's really hard to get all of us together. So I'm definitely going to do it. I just have to do it cheaply. I may just order an appetizer, or maybe a salad.

Tomorrow after work I have to head down to Terre Haute, Indiana, for a workshop. The cost for this is on my head, although, as a board member, the professional organization I belong to may help out. Anyway, none of this cost will count toward the $300, since it is definitely a pre-retirement type of expense!

On the plus side, I worked at a golf outing/dinner last night, selling raffle tickets, and I got a great dinner for free. You could tell it was planned with men in mind -- ribs, pulled pork and roasted chicken were the entrees, and the sides were potato salad and corn on the cob. No dieting last night!

Back from Vacation

June 11th, 2012 at 05:38 pm

My camping vacation cost me only $185! That included four days in a cabin, all the food, gas to get there, firewood, parking and other fees, and a new pair of flip-flops! The weather was great, and we did some swimming, hiking, and lots of good eating! Now it's back to reality.

I brought home all the food the others wanted to throw out, and probably have a full week of cheap eating ahead of me. Also have a free meal scheduled tomorrow night when I work at a golf outing.

Just before I left, I okayed a $125K offer for the condo with the reluctant seller. She still hasn't responded to my agent, so later in the week he is going to show me a few more places that just came on the market.

Since my vacation didn't count in my spending money, I still have $90 left.

Dinner, vacuum and camping

June 6th, 2012 at 04:22 pm

Last evening I went out to dinner with my former boss. I had estimated that I would spend $15 and I spent $14.98! It was Happy Hour at a Pan-Asian restaurant and appetizers and drinks were 50% off, so I had coconut shrimp, dumplings, and an apple martini. Yummy. That leaves me with $90.

Tonight I will finally pick up my vacuum. The serviceman had apparently had some kind of family emergency, so the repair was delayed. No problem, really, since I didn't have company, but I will be glad to give the carpet a good cleaning!

The repair cost is $89. Obviously, I can't take it out of my spending money and leave myself with $1 for the month, so I will count it as an emergency expense. (And a broken vacuum is a kind of emergency, isn't it?)

Just before I hung up the guy said, "Don't forget my Oreck!" I said, "What? It's a Dyson." No, he said. The loaner. I told him I didn't get a loaner, but that when I talked to the guy who was covering for him, we had a bad connection, and for all I know he offered a loaner. But I didn't take it. I hope this doesn't turn into a problem. Someone else has his Oreck.

Tomorrow I start my camping vacation. It's going to be pretty cushy camping -- in a cabin, not a tent. I have to bring my own linens but so far that's all I know. Oh, and I did volunteer that I would bring the coffee maker and coffee. My DIL is planning the menu; I assume I will reimburse her for groceries. Other than sleeping and eating, we will spend our days taking hikes and scouting out playground areas, maybe swimming a bit. The grandsons are only 5 and 2, so we won't be doing anything TOO adventurous!

Condo hunting & the $300 challenge

June 4th, 2012 at 04:41 pm

I looked at two more condos this weekend (open houses, not appointments). Both were in the same large, vintage building complex. They had charm but some serious drawbacks -- like ancient plumbing. So I'm still looking.

My lease has to be signed on July 1. I can either pay about $300 more a month for a month-to-month lease, or sign a 12-month lease at $22 more per month, but with the caveat that if I break it, I have to pay two months rent in penalty. (Almost $2500). Ouch. I don't like either option very much. If I can close by August 15, however, they will give me a break and let me out of the lease. But since I'm not even close to a deal now, I don't think that will happen.

In other news, I've already spent $200 of my $300 challenge money. $83 for groceries, $13 for household supplies, $11 in cat food & litter, $11 for TWO FATHER'S DAY CARDS (obviously I didn't look on the back of the card to see what I was paying. Nice cards, -- BUT!) $20 for alterations on a jacket and pants, $39 for gas, $15 for a program fee, $58 for a doctor's appointment. I believe I may get reimbursed for the program fee. Gee, and only 26 days to go!

Wow!

June 1st, 2012 at 04:19 pm

My $300 challenge makes a difference. I spent $293 on my designated categories, and that made for a low-spending month and an anticipated transfer to savings of $854!

Here's the breakdown of my total spending: $1712.

Rent - $1132
Utilities - $181
Fees & Services - $115
Vacation & Travel - $64
Groceries - $54
Gifts & Charity - $40
Gas - $38
Miscellaneous - $22
Personal - $15
Eating Out - $13
Medical & Health - $11
Vet & Pet Supplies - $11
Clothing - $5
Car Repair & Maintenance - $3
Entertainment - $8

June will be more of a challenge. I will be taking a camping vacation with the grandkids and I will have to count that outside of the $300 -- there's just no way to include it. Which is okay, I think. Once I am retired, vacations will have to come out of a savings account for special expenses -- and they will have to be cheap! (As I think this one will be). However, much of the planning will be under my DIL's control, so I will go with the flow and try to optimize my spending where I can.