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Archive for January, 2013

Food Success

January 31st, 2013 at 06:46 am

I succeeded yesterday in not buying any food at work -- in fact, I only ate one clementine out of my "stash" because there were plenty of freebies -- co-workers brought in cheese, pepperoni, chips & dip and cookies -- no special reason, just cleaning out, I guess. It was good news for me.

I did remember to pack breakfast and lunch today.

The property managers sent out an email yesterday that the online payment site would not be up and running until next month, so I sent them my check -- $339. That was my only spending yesterday.

I would be tempted to do my January recap today, but I am going out to dinner tonight, so I can't make this a no-spend day. I will try to order something inexpensive -- or something that will provide another meal.

The brutal cold has returned, but I was warmly attired for my walk and didn't suffer too much. I briefly entertained the idea of driving, but reminded myself that there was really no reason to "spend" the gas unless it was really so cold that I absolutely couldn't walk to the already-paid-for train ride.

Well, the rain came!

January 30th, 2013 at 06:53 am

It rained all the way home yesterday and it's still drizzling this morning. They are promising it will turn into snow later in the day.

I left the house without my head screwed on this morning. I didn't pack a hat or scarf for the oncoming cold weather, and I didn't pack any food for today. I'm going to try not to buy any nonetheless. I have oatmeal in my desk, and I have a hard-boiled egg and three clementines in the fridge. I also have a bag of frozen peas in the freezer that I've never used. So I think I will have enough to get through the day.

My property management company is changing servers or something -- anyway, they have not withdrawn my automatic payment for my monthly assessment fees. I called the office yesterday, and I was told it might be resolved in a few days, but I could mail a check if I wanted to be sure. The trouble is, the automatic payment could still go through, and then I would have double-paid. She said the extra payment would go for next month's assessment, but I'm not sure I trust them to keep track of that. They seem a little disorganized. I'm going to wait for the 1st, and if it hasn't happened by then, I'll mail the check.

Tomorrow I am going out to dinner with members of my professional organization. It is in my new hometown, but a different neighborhood, so I will get off at a different station. It's been quite a month for eating out, much of it obligations, like this one. I hope next month will be quieter. That said, I'm looking forward to a good meal in a restaurant that's new to me but has excellent reviews.

If you buy an umbrella, it will not rain

January 29th, 2013 at 06:46 am

I bought an umbrella at the college book store yesterday because the weatherman cautioned that it would rain "during the evening rush hour." Well, when I walked to the station after work, the sun was shining! My umbrella cost $12.70 after the employee discount, which basically paid for the tax. I did not get the smaller mini, even though it would fit in the bag better -- I am interested in coverage. It is a pretty royal blue, since we are the "Bluejays."

But bigger financial news is that I got my first property tax bill -- and I've paid it already. It was $1958, which is 55% of the total for the year. However, our property manager has sent a notice that our second installment will be reduced -- don't know if that has been figured in already. The tax reduction comes at a price, too -- we will all get to chip in for the lawyer's fee through our assessment.

Anyway, my checking account is still in the black, but when the Discover bill hits next month ($3,283) I will have to take some money out of the slush fund. The bill is so high because it includes the cost of my new couch (minus the deposit) and half the cost of my new rugs, as well as my semi-annual insurance payment. That's on top of all my regular expenses, which all go to Discover and then get paid in full.

I should get some nice cashback rewards.

With all these big expenses out of the way, I should have a pretty frugal February. I will get hit with the other half of the rug payment, but after THAT -- I will try not to incur any more big expenses for a while.

The only unknown now is what my federal tax will be. I will try to start working on that this weekend.

Quiet weekend

January 28th, 2013 at 06:48 am

I stayed close to home all weekend, just a few errands on Saturday and in all day Sunday.

On Saturday, I got in the car to go to the grocery and set off my alarm. Puzzling, since I've stopped using the remote, which failed to work even after I replaced the battery. But on Saturday, the KEY set off the alarm. And I eventually turned it off with the remote, not even registering that for some reason it was now apparently working.

I went to the Toyota dealer thinking I should just replace the remote. I won't even tell you how long I sat in line, and how two cars weaseled their way in front of me. I'll only say, when I finally got to talk to someone, he said that it would cost $700 to replace the security system, since I had a "non-factory" remote (came with the car, which I bought used). But he demonstrated that the remote was actually working fine. Shades of Jeffrey's experience -- the car won't act up when a mechanic is looking at it.

So I left, and I will hope that the remote will continue to work. I sure don't want to sink $700 into this old car, especially for something non-mechanical.

After that I went to Aldi's -- first time in this area, but it is pretty much the same as the one I used to go to. I spent $22 on food and $4 on kitty litter. My favorite deal was a big red pepper for .49! I don't have my receipt, so I can't remember everything else I bought, but I'll try: almond milk, eggs, walnuts, frozen pizza, blueberries, canned mushrooms -- now I'm blanking out. There was probably something else.

I did some cooking -- made an invented chicken-pepperoni-rice casserole that was pretty good. I ate a serving and then froze two big servings. I also made English muffin pizzas and froze them. Then I made tuna salad, which I will not freeze, of course, since it has hard-boiled egg in it. Anyway, I'm very well-stocked for lunches and will have tuna sandwiches for dinner the next few nights.

Today I brought in one of the mini-pizzas, which I ate for breakast (I love pizza for breakfast) and for lunch, a green pepper-beef mixture to serve over rice.

It is very springlike today -- in a bad way -- ugly spring, with rain and mud and water on top of melting ice -- but warm. I do appreciate the warmth.

I didn't bring an umbrella, which I think will be much-needed. My "tote" size umbrella inverted on me before Christmas and needs to be replaced. I have a golf-size umbrella, but it is too big to take on the train. So I need to buy a tote-size umbrella. I'm going to check out the college book store today. It won't be a bargain, but a little boosterism won't hurt.

I just put $5 into a football pool. What the heck, I might win.

Oh, here's the receipt. I also bought bacon bits, cooking spray, flour tortillas, and Jiffy corn muffin mix.

Walkin' in a Winter Wonderland

January 25th, 2013 at 06:49 am

The walk to the station this morning was lovely -- just enough snow to make everything sparkle. It might not be so much fun on the way home, as it has not stopped!

There was a fire on a parallel set of tracks near the downtown station. Nobody but me seemed to be alarmed. I wonder if it is some kind of maintenance?

A long-time student worker is working her last day today. I was asked to contribute a little cash and perhaps bring a treat for a good-bye party. I had no cash at all yesterday, having given it all to the Thai restaurant. I was really too tired to go to the bank last night once I got home -- or to find an ATM -- or get in the car, even. I stopped at Walgreen's on my walk home, where I bought Tootsie rolls, and asked if I could get cash back. No. Then I remembered that there is an ATM in the downtown station, so I drew out some cash this morning between trains. Once I got to town, I stopped at a bakery and bought some muffins. (The Tootsie rolls were not for the party; they are for a communal candy jar that we all contribute to). I gave my co-worker $5 for the cash envelope, so I have done my duty, but altogether I spent about $25.

But I packed my breakfast, and I am hoping that there will be enough food at the party to serve for lunch.

I got a pledge reminder from my alma mater, so later today I will send them a $50 check.

Looking forward to my weekend! Hope you all have a great one, too!

Dinner and Taxes

January 24th, 2013 at 07:00 am

At the Thai restaurant last night I bought an appetizer and a salad -- and a beverage -- and paid $23. Whew! Part of that also went toward half of the appetizer that my friend ordered before I got there. I was very late; the train got stuck behind a freight train and it was the longest ride into the city I've experienced yet.

The important thing is that I had a really good time -- I am so glad we are maintaining our relationship even though we work in different places now.

And the walk home from the station was just fine -- in fact, it felt warmer than the morning did. Just a dusting of snow that didn't cause any problem at all.

I am collecting all my tax documents -- and somewhere along the way I realized that here at work we need to PROVIDE tax documents -- receipts for gifts given by payroll deduction during the year. The person who did that last year is gone, and nobody but me has realized that this has to be done (and it's completely out of my area of responsibility). So today I'm in the process of gathering the information I need. I'm sure there is a better process, but I'm just going to get the numbers and create individual letters. It's going to be a busy day.

The rotten thing is that my bosses (not my immediate boss, but the big ones) have no idea how much extra I do like this, on my own initiative, because they don't even really know themselves what has to be done. There is such a disconnect.

OH, here is the report. Off to work!

Thai Dinner Tonight

January 23rd, 2013 at 08:03 am

I'm scheduled to meet my old boss for dinner tonight at a Thai restaurant which happens to be in the same building as the train station. It seemed like a good idea at the time we set it up, but I had one of those awful sleepless nights last night and I'm not sure how I'll be feeling at dinnertime. And of course it will mean walking home later at night in this cold weather. So while I look forward to seeing her, I am dreading other aspects of the evening.

I ordered a $50 gift card for Kohl's through MyPoints. I'll give it to my son for his birthday, which is two weeks away. I'm sure he needs new jeans or something, or maybe new shorts for his move to Florida? Anyway, I figured it was a good idea to get it through MyPoints so I can earn an extra 300 points.

I did laundry last night ($1.50). When I first went down, I saw that one machine was filled with wet clothes, one was filled with water, and the only free machine was the more expensive one. I only had three quarters in my pocket, so I moved the wet laundry to the top of one of the dryers. I am very diligent about moving my laundry once I start, but this person (I know her by her laundry basket)is always leaving her stuff for hours. So I didn't feel bad about moving it. I AM concerned about the machine filled with water. With only three machines, we really can't afford to have one out of commission. I was about to call maintenance, but then someone came and said they already had. So I hope it's taken care of soon. Since I am a laundry fiend.

I stopped at Walgreen's on the way home and bought a sympathy card for a co-worker ($3) some Mucinex D ($30) and deodorant ($2). I am hoping the Mucinex will start to clear this mucus in my throat and lungs; it's ridiculous how it's hanging on.

My walk to the station this morning was more comfortable than yesterday morning, and I didn't wear as many layers. It was 12 degrees -- downright balmy!

Baby, it's cold outside!

January 22nd, 2013 at 07:27 am

After our rather creepily mild weather we finally got hit with a blast of arctic air. I'm not sure what the temperature is, but I know with the wind chill factor it is well below zero.

I decided to try to walk to the station, since it is such a money loss to drive after already paying for a train ticket. I wore tights and a thermal undershirt under my clothes, and a turtleneck and cardigan on top. Teamed up with my down coat, squall mittens, infinity scarf and lined knit cap, I was prepared for the weather. Only my face got cold, and that couldn't be helped, unless I got a ski mask.

At the downtown station I got next month's train pass - $105.

I packed my breakfast - quiche - and lunch - turkey casserole. Just a matter of grabbing them from the freezer. I'm finally on a roll with food prep.

More laundry tonight. I won't try hanging it up wet again -- everything dried stiff as a board! It helps so much to tumble them even for a few minutes, but I have to pay full price whether I use the dryer for a few minutes or 40 minutes, so I might as well dry them all the way.

No-spend Sunday and Monday

January 21st, 2013 at 04:37 pm

Well, almost. I did a load of laundry this morning, but didn't dry it, so it was only $.75. I was in a hurry to leave the house and didn't want to wait for the dryer. And I figured that wet clothes drying in the bathroom would only help with the dry air problem.

Yesterday I just hung around home, reading, cooking, watching TV, playing games - just generally enjoying myself. I did go to the grocery to question a BOGO that didn't happen -- turned out it was "Buy 2 get 1 free" so that explains why I was charged for two. So asked for my free box, since I DID buy two, and I got it. While I was there I also bought a $1 bottle of diet ginger ale, so I guess yesterday wasn't really a NSD either.

Today I went to my son's house and played games with him and with the grandsons. I was there for breakfast and lunch -- finally pulled myself away so they wouldn't have to feed me supper, too! I came home and made a dinner of refried beans & cheese with Mexican rice and a side salad. Delicious and cheap.

Came home to find that my cat had barfed on my new couch. ^*^*%*%!!!! Well, I guess it's like getting a ding on a new car. It had to happen sooner or later. It cleaned up well.

I'm preparing for a freezing walk to the station tomorrow. I will bundle up, but I'm a little afraid of how cold it might be. If it's really bad, I'll turn back and drive to work.

Bought my rugs!

January 20th, 2013 at 06:38 am

They were quite expensive. I paid $2950 for two room-size rugs with pads, one 8 foot runner and two 2 X 3's. The cost does include delivery and installation (which means they will move the furniture, lay the pads, etc. -- basically do all the labor). While there were many bargains on the floor, none of them were right for my rooms. I ended up selecting the patterns I wanted and having the rugs made to size. My living room rug will be 10 X 10. The dining room rug will be 8 X 12. The runner and the small rug will be made from the material that is cut off from the main rugs. They will all be delivered in 2 or 3 weeks.

No, they are not wool, but they are very good quality. I am hoping that I will not have to replace them in my lifetime.

My DIL helped me pick them out, and her advice was invaluable. She really has remarkably good taste -- she should be a consultant! (Of course, she also had the good taste to marry my son!)

After we completed the shopping, we went to a rather upscale Italian restaurant for lunch. I think my DIL was enjoying a day without children, and we don't get much chance to talk alone. I ended up spending $22, but brought home enough lasagna and ravioli for three lunches.

I also grocery-shopped yesterday. I spent $36, but I have to go back and try to get $3.59 back. I bought two boxes of pantiliners, expecting to get one free, but I was charged for both. My spending on food was only $17 (the nonfood, besides the pads, was cat food and tp). For $17 I got bread, Kraft mac & cheese, Bumblebee tuna, granola, Townhouse crackers, almond milk, 2 lbs. of boneless chicken breasts, a bag of mixed lettuce, and celery. I used a gift card that had $8 left on it, so it would have been $44 in total.

I hate to go back today, because it is very COLD outside and I would just like to stay put. Is it ridiculous to go after $3.59 after having spent almost $3,000? Nah.

I'm tackling the dryness in the house today with a big pot of water simmering on the stove, and a big bowl of water sitting in the living room -- as well as my little humidifier going full blast. When I shower, I'll put the stopper in and let the water sit in the tub for a while.

Yesterday I was tossing my garbage when I noticed a small Christmas tree by the dumpster. I could see something in its branches. Sure enough, there were three ornaments that had been overlooked, which I quickly claimed, having no idea who the owner might be. They are cute little wooden ornaments -- they'll look great on my tree next year! Guess I'm a dumpster diver now!



The couch arrived

January 18th, 2013 at 07:12 am

And right on time, too! I was surprised by it on two fronts -- it was smaller than I remembered -- almost the size of a loveseat -- and it is cherry red rather than red red. But I like it. It fits nicely in the room and it is nice and firm. The ottomans placed side by side make a very nice coffee table. I may get a couple of trays to set on top of them to create a flatter top.

DS1 came over shortly thereafter with his wife and daughter. We had a nice visit while I held my granddaughter. She is prettier every day and she's getting so alert. I got a couple of nice smiles.

In the evening DS2 came over with his wife and sons. We order pizza and had such a nice evening -- except that GS1 burned his arm on my bathroom radiator. It gets very hot and I had forgotten it was still turned on. I will have to be more careful about that.

Spending yesterday was $1.50 for laundry and $10 toward the pizza.

As far as I know dinner for all of us is still on for tonight, though the place hasn't been selected yet.

Next Wednesday I'm meeting a friend at the downtown station for dinner at a Thai restaurant.

I hope to find a rug tomorrow -- my DIL has agreed to come along and offer her opinion. I actually hope to find two rugs and a runner! I've been advised to go to a rug outlet near the mall. Hope it has LOTS of options, because what I have seen so far hasn't rung my chimes!

Waiting for the couch

January 17th, 2013 at 06:01 am

I'm at home today, waiting for the delivery of my couch and ottomans. Woo-hoo!

My son the helicopter pilot called a little while ago and is planning to get the family together for dinner (at a restaurant) tomorrow evening. He usually does this when he has an announcement, so I expect he will tell us that he got the job in Florida. I wish he would just tell me, but this is his way.

Anyway, that will be an unexpected expense, although I've gotten pretty good at selecting a cheap option.

I'm still battling the tail end of my flu/cold. I have a bad cough, and get worn down easily. Last night I went to bed early, and was almost overcome with feelings of gratitude that I had a safe, warm place to lie down and sleep. Not sure where that came from unless it is just seeing the homeless people at the downtown station. I usually just go from train to train and avoid the waiting area, but sometimes I see them anyway. I can't imagine that life.

Today I plan to do some cooking. I think I will make both cheese/tortilla soup and peanut soup, since I have some frozen white sauce to use. I'm also going to make crescent roll pizzas and freeze most of them. For dinner I'll have a sauteed chicken thigh and green beans.

I probably should change the sheets, too, so more laundry on tap.

Whew! Back in business!

January 16th, 2013 at 06:12 am

I'm so glad the blogs are working again. I, too, was checking throughout the day yesterday, wishing, hoping....

Yesterday was not a no-spend day, simply because I had a load of laundry to do. $1.50. Sure seems like I do a lot of laundry, but maybe it's just because I'm paying for it. Since the monthly cost is below my (former) water bill, I am not complaining.

I did a survey for a clinical research site yesterday and will get a check for $20.

I got a card in the mail offering $125 to open an account at Chase. The catch is that I have to set up direct deposit. I actually could do that, not with my paycheck, but with my TIAA-CREF disbursement. I'm just not sure I want two checking accounts. I have to keep the BOA account because I can transfer money to my sons' and sister's account, and sometimes I need to do that in an emergency. I at least like to have the option.

$125 would be a nice snowflake, though.

Yep, having trouble with the blogs

January 15th, 2013 at 06:07 am

So I hope y'all read this after it's working again.

I got my first paycheck of the year today. It looks like I will be getting $51 less per month. That is factoring in my small raise, so it probably would have been $100 or thereabouts otherwise.

Even so, I raised my mortgage payment by $50. I paid my Discover bill in full, as usual. My furniture will go on next month's Discover bill, so I will have to draw from savings to pay that in full.

I woke up late this morning (late is 5:30 am!) But I still made the train, just didn't watch the news or drink any coffee. I grabbed my lunch from the freezer and had oatmeal for breakfast (which I keep in my desk). I hope to make this another no-spend day -- not counting paying my mortgage and Discover bill, of course!

A low-key day

January 14th, 2013 at 06:50 am

After the grandkids went home yesterday I was pretty bushed, so I made it a low-key day. I didn't go anywhere, and I didn't do any housework other than getting things back in order and doing a load of laundry. And speaking of laundry, I'm banning myself from the use of the $1.25 washer. It's not enough bigger than the .75 washer to justify using it. I just need to be satisfied doing a somewhat smaller load.

I spent the day reading ("The Face" by Dean Koontz), playing computer games, working Sudokus, and watching some TV ("The Human Stain" - movie; first part of the Golden Globes). I wanted to watch "Downton Abbey" but I was too tired by 8 pm to stay up any longer. I trust I will be able to catch this episode next week at 7. That has been the pattern so far.

So it was not exactly a productive day, but it was a no-spend day.

This morning I packed my breakfast and lunch in my train bag. (Breakfast: English muffin, two clementines, hard-boiled egg. Lunch: pepper beef casserole) It was very cold, but I was well-bundled for the walk to that station. Only my face was cold.

I think this will be another no-spend day.

I'm really looking forward to getting my (decreased) paycheck tomorrow. I just want to know how hard the hit will be!

Still no snow, so I haven't had to move my car except when I need to use it. So far it's definitely been worth it to give up the $60 parking space!

Sunday Musings

January 13th, 2013 at 08:35 am

My haircut yesterday cost $8.95 after the $5 coupon, and I gave the stylist a $3 tip. At first I was a little wary. The stylist didn't speak English very well, and when I told her I wanted it shorter in back, longer in front, she nodded vigorously and said, "Longer in back, shorter in front!" Uh no. But she ended up giving me a very nice cut, so I think she just misspoke.

Then I went to the mall -- my mission was to find something cheap at Lord & Taylor to activate my $8 credit on Discover. There were long racks of sale items marked 50% off the already-discounted price, but I didn't find anything I wanted. I looked all over for anything that was even reasonably-priced. Finally I stumbled onto a kiosk of deeply-discounted Christmas items. I bought a glass ornament -- a pair of yellow boots -- for $3 (marked down from $13). I think my DIL will love it.

Fueled by that success I went to Barnes & Noble to buy an acrostic book. There was only one - $10 - which I paid for with my gift card. I looked around at the discount tables but didn't see anything I wanted to buy.

I came home and ate my leftovers from last night's dinner for lunch.

Mall shopping has completely lost its charm for me. I used to like going to look around, dreaming of what to buy even if I wasn't buying. Now nothing interests me. My experience at Lord & Taylor did make me appreciate my Goodwill finds. I saw brands I regularly get at Goodwill -- Anne Klein, Jones New York, Ralph Lauren -- and even after being marked down several times the prices were still ridiculous. I knew I was getting good deals at Goodwill, but I don't think I appreciated just HOW good.

Even shopping at Barnes & Noble was flat. I rarely want to buy a book, when there is so much access to free books. I enjoyed looking at the toys and games, but with the grandkids' birthdays all in the fall, I wasn't interested in buying. Evidently lots of people ARE buying, though. The parking lot was packed -- I had a lot of trouble finding a space, in fact.

Speaking of the grandkids, I had the boys over for the night last night so Mom & Dad could have a date. They slept on aerobeds on the floor. We played card games, watched "Wild Kratts" (over and over), and they got very involved in an imaginary game with little flashlights. Such fun. Of course, I'm ready for a nap today.

My new couch and ottomans will be delivered on Thursday. I am SO looking forward to having a couch again! Then my next task will be to shop for a carpet that pulls it all together. At the same time I will look for a dining room carpet and two runners for the halls. I might get a couple of throw rugs for the bedroom, too, if I find a bargain.

Once I get the rugs in place, it will be time to start thinking about a new TV and a new desk. My TV is a tube TV (I know I'm the last one in the universe!) and it's developed a light spot, so I know it's time. As for the desk, I am currently using a small rickety Target desk that was donated to Goodwill -- it has certainly paid for itself, but in my new home I have room for a much larger desk which would be more useful, especially if it provided storage.

But I also want to upgrade the dining room. Both the sideboard (a revamped dresser) and the table set are pretty shabby. I now have room for a bigger, expandable table, and that would be nice.

Most of this is still at the dreaming stage, but I'm so glad the couch is almost here and the rugs will not be far behind. Then I'll get the pictures on the walls and start feeling like I'm really living here!

Spending

January 12th, 2013 at 08:58 am

Dinner last night cost $19 including tip, and I brought home leftovers for lunch today. I spent $20 on gas.

This morning I grocery-shopped -- $31 all together, with $4 going to household supplies (Kleenex). So the food I got for $27 is: 2 packages of granola bars, liter of diet Pepsi, bag of coffee, can of pasta sauce, chicken soup base, almond milk, 2 cups of Greek yogurt, frozen green beans, tub of ice cream, a white onion. I used three coupons -- on the Kleenex, yogurt and granola bars. The coffee was a deal because it was pumpkin spice "holiday" coffee. Everything was on sale except for the onion and the chicken soup base.

Next on the agenda is a haircut at Supercuts. I have a coupon from RetailMeNot for $5 off at participating dealers -- but it doesn't say who is participating, so I guess we'll see if it works. I've never been to Supercuts but in my new neighborhood it is the closest hairdresser, so I'm going to give it a whirl.

If I'm really feeling ambitious I'll go to the mall and buy some puzzle books with my B&N gift card, and then see if I can find something to buy at Lord & Taylor that's only $8. Probably not! But if I use my Discover card at L&T I'll get an $8 credit, so it's worth a try. Surely they have socks?

I got up early this morning and washed my blanket and towels -- $1.50.

New checks

January 11th, 2013 at 06:24 am

I got a call the other day telling me I am a Platinum member at BOA, and she listed off a string of services, most of which I didn't catch. But I did hear her say "free checks" and since I have a new address, and only one book of checks left, I decided to look into it.

Via online chat, I ordered 120 checks for free. They are the standard blue, no design, which suits me fine. I don't use checks a lot any more, but I do still use them. And free is good!

Today I drove to work, since I will be driving to Naperville tonight for dinner. I packed breakfast and lunch, so avoided the temptation to stop for food along the way. I already selected my dinner tonight and logged it into myfitnesspal. I will go a little over on calories today, but I have been well under all week, so this little splurge won't hurt. Really looking forward to rigatoni with vodka sauce! MMmmm.

My friend in Hyde Park emailed me yesterday to see if I was interested in a movie on Saturday. Since I'm babysitting that evening, and have all kinds of errands to do during the day, I declined. The old me would have tried to pack that into my day, but I'm getting wiser (as I get older). Between grocery shopping, haircut, laundry and a run to the mall I will be quite busy till the boys come -- and quite busy afterward, too!

Once again, another no spending day yesterday. But today, with dinner and gas, will be quite different!

Slack in my Slacks is Back

January 10th, 2013 at 07:01 am

I'm not weighing myself, but I can tell already that my pants are getting a little looser -- good thing, because I was bustin' out of everything!

This morning at the train station I saw a coyote running down the track. It was a bizarre sight. He was just barreling. I turned and watched him, and he stopped and turned back and looked at me, like "Whachoo lookin' at, lady?"

I hope he got off the track before the train came!

I believe yesterday was a no-spend day. I should have washed my blanket, since my cat barfed on it, but I just cleaned it best I could and then put it in the hamper. Maybe tonight.

My son called and asked me to babysit for the grandsons on Saturday night -- an all-nighter. They'll have to sleep on the aero bed on the floor, as my sleeper sofa still hasn't arrived. Sigh.

I'm really looking forward to my dinner in Naperville tomorrow night. First of all, the woman I'm meeting is someone whose company I really enjoy. Also, it's an Italian restaurant, and I really like the food. I'll try not to overdue in terms of cost AND calories, but I'm looking forward to it.

It does mean I will have to drive to work and then drive out to Naperville after work. I checked, and I cannot get to Naperville on the train from my station. Just as well, since I don't like to do the train at night, anyway. So there will be a gas fill-up tomorrow, but I should be able to find a cheap station.

My clock is ready

January 9th, 2013 at 07:01 am

Today I'm going to spend $45 to pick up my Lenox clock. The timepiece had to be replaced. While I don't particularly need another clock -- I seem to have a lot of them -- this one is very attractive and small enough to fit in anywhere. And I'm thinking about giving it to my DIL for her birthday.

Picking it up will mean a little extra walking, too. I'm glad the weather is pretty nice today.

I got my ComEd bill and it is up by $11. My kilowatt usage is up. Perhaps because I spent more time at home -- or maybe just turning on more lights against the darkness? Anyway, my combined gas & electric is under $50, which is right where I want it to be.

I had oatmeal in my office for breakfast and brought in soup to have for lunch. I've been doing well at avoiding fast food.

However, on Friday I have a "dinner date" in Naperville -- will meet up with the woman who is turning over the Treasurer's duties to me on our professional organization's board. It is an Italian restaurant I've been to before -- it can be pricey -- but I think I can get an appetizer or salad and be okay.

I am among those still waiting for the first 2013 paycheck. I don't get paid until Tuesday. I am hoping to see not too great a change, but I will deal with whatever it is.

This and That

January 8th, 2013 at 07:15 am

I've done a $2 load of laundry four days in a row. I'm not quite sure why it piled up so much -- I guess I let it go while I was sick -- and then I had to wash the tree skirt and and linens needed changing. I hope I am done with it for a while.

I've been doing much better on cooking and freezing food for lunches. Right now the freezer is stocked with cream of carrot-cauliflower soup, chicken noodles soup, broccoli cheddar quiche, turkey broccoli casserole, and green pepper beef. I brought chicken salad for lunch today, and tonight I'll have an egg fajita. I have most of the makings for tortilla pizzas -- forgot to buy marinara sauce on Saturday, but I will remedy that this weekend. I have lots of English muffins in the freezer, too.

I have stuck with myfitnesspal for a week now, and I have come in under goal every day. The extra walking I do helps.

I just got my new gas bill and it was only $14! I love having "free" radiator heat.

I was playing around with my post-retirement budget. I have a projected "everything else" category -- that's the money left over after bill-paying, grocery shopping, laundry, savings etc. It's only about $100. Just looking at my spending this month, I'm already up to $62 in the EE category. I don't see any room to cut in other places, but at this point so much is unknown. For instance, I don't know what I will pay in medical premiums (supplemental to Medicare) once I retire, so I just estimated $250. I don't know if I will continue to have a car, or if I will walk and use public transportation. If so, I won't have to worry about car insurance, but of course there will be fares to consider.

And it looks like I am three years away from retirement, despite what my sidebar says! I could retire on my ex-husband's benefit in 2015, but it is just not quite enough to make ends meet. If I wait until I am 66 and retire on my own benefits, I will at least have enough to have a shot at it. The only thing is, I think that if I retire on his benefits, I can switch to my benefits at age 70. I need to talk to someone who knows about this stuff.

I do know I can't continue at this job until I am 70. I would go nuts.

I can't see anyone else' blog, either!

January 7th, 2013 at 07:57 am

But I trust it will eventually be fixed.

I've been out of the loop. I got bad news on Friday night. Well, bad for me. My son is most likely going to take a job in Florida, and my new granddaughter will be miles and miles away! I hate to be such a baby, but I cried all that night and the next day, feeling completely sorry for myself. I've got my equilibrium back now, but I'm still sad. I knew this could happen, but I was in denial.

The new job will be bundled with some additional schooling at first, so they are planning on getting a cheap apartment and living very lean. So visiting them will mostly likely mean a hotel stay for me. Add that to the airfare, and it will be a big expense on my budget. I just don't know how this is going to work out.

I'm also a little worried that he might not have medical benefits, but I was so upset I forgot to ask. I do realize that this is a step he must take in order to be fully qualifed as a helicopter pilot, and that this is his dream job. I understand, but I don't like it.

Spending this weekend:

$10 for dinner at Mexican restaurant
$4 for laundry
$332 car insurance payment (semi-annual)
$24 for groceries
$11 for cat food & kitty litter
$8 for a movie (Les Miserables) (since I was so miserable Smile)
$5 for extra keys for new front door lock
$2.50 for parking

The lock, the train, the diet

January 4th, 2013 at 07:26 am

I am waiting for the locksmith to arrive any minute, so I may be interrupted.

Since I'm staying home this morning, I did some early morning laundry ($2). I think I surprised the person who came in to collect the quarters -- he's probably used to seeing no one there at 6 AM!

I got a $15 Pier One gift card from my boss yesterday, so I'm counting it as a snowflake for Christmas. I get most of my decor items secondhand, anyway, so I'm not really tempted to use it for myself. I also found a penny in the station yesterday, so I'm really on a roll!

Speaking of the station, I missed my train on the first leg home yesterday -- by a second or two! It really wasn't my fault -- there was another train blocking the intersection, so I had to take the underground tunnel, and by the time I got across, the train was pulling away. So frustrating. There wasn't another one for an hour. I just stayed there and read, resisting the temptation to 1) shop at the resale shop 2) get Chinese food 3) get Italian food and 4) shop at the cute children's clothing store. All were diversions nearby, and would have been more fun than waiting in the station, but would have meant spending money I didn't need to spend. So I'm pretty proud of myself!

I actually got home only 1/2 hour later than usual, because I was able to catch a train that was leaving the downtown station just as I arrived. I mean, they closed the door right behind me! Too much train excitement for one day.

The locksmith is here. Sounds like I will need a new combination and new key for the front door, but the lock itself will not have to be replaced. A good thing. The lock is original to the building. As he just said, "You'll never find another one!" Though I suppose a modern replacement would be possible, it just wouldn't look the same. No idea yet what this is going to cost me.

I am back on myfitnesspal.com, and I have been doing very well so far. Of course, my cold is supressing my appetite, so it's easy right now. When my appetite comes roaring back, it will be more difficult. But I am committed. I am straining my wardrobe, and no, I am NOT buying bigger clothes. And for several health issues I just need to get some weight off. I am not going to worry much about weighing myself (it makes me crazy) but I will be vigilant about accurately logging what I eat and how much I exercise, and meeting my daily goal.

.91 Humidifier

January 3rd, 2013 at 06:07 am

I was researching humidifiers yesterday online -- it was pretty clear I was in dire need, between my cold and my dry, dry condo. I was very tempted by a $100 model by Humio which was attractive, had a night light option and could also do aromatherapy. Plus it had great reviews. But I couldn't bring myself to spend the money. I decided to check out Walgreens after work, since I still had money on my gift card. When I got there, I picked up a coupon booklet and found a coupon for $5 off a $30 humidifier. I also picked up a big bottle of Advil, and when I checked out, the bill was $19.28. I figure that $18.35 went to the Advil (including tax) so the humidifier was .91. A $99 savings!

I set it up last night and found it easy to fill and operate and not too ugly. It was pretty loud, but the white noise was soothing. I wouldn't try to watch TV while using it, but I don't have a TV in my bedroom anyway!

I'm very pleased with my bargain.

I also stopped at Batteries Plus and got a battery for my car remote for $4.30.

Something a little odd happened a few days ago. I came home and found a note under my door with profuse apologies for entering my home. It was a pet sitter, who was supposed to go to a different unit. The interesting thing was, the key he had worked for mine! I called the property manager, who was very surprised that I use the same key for entering the building and entering my unit. I have to call a locksmith and get my front door lock changed. It makes me wonder how many units are opened by the building key. Anyway, I'm going to get it fixed.

The up side is that the pet sitter cleaned the litter box and filled the cat's water before realizing he was in the wrong place!

I'm starting to feel better. I slept well last night and my head is clear. Which is making me feel very grateful!

2012 Recap

January 2nd, 2013 at 09:25 am

My overall spending for the year was about $4000 more than last year. Not so bad considering all that happened….

Housing was $14,826 – average $1236 per month (as opposed to $1121 last year). The increase was mostly because of fees I paid as part of my condo purchase (I didn’t include the down payment, however).

Medical was $2,686, or $224 a month. Last year was $220 a month, so amazing similarity! Especially considering that last year I had a long hospital stay and visiting nurse care in addition to surgery. This year I had a surgery but it was much less major. Still, the out-of-pocket expense was much the same.

Car repair - $2199, or $183 a month. That was $97 more per month than last year, but with the car aging, that’s not surprising.

Gifts/Charity - $2093, or $174 per month. Only $35 more per month than I spent last year, though it felt like more.

Vacation/Travel - $1977, or $165 per month. Actually a little better than last year, when I spent $179 per month. (But still close) Both years, my “vacationing” consisted of family visits/events, extra days at conferences, and girlfriends’ weekends.

Utilities - $1705, or $142 per month. Down from $215 per month. The new condo is part of that; also, last winter was really mild.

Fares - $460, or $115 per month. A new category.

Fees & Services - $1282, or $107 per month. Last year I only paid $19 per month. This is a very fluid category. I think I counted a lot of my real estate expenses here this year.

Groceries - $1279, or $107 per month. As opposed to $111 per month last year. The challenge will be keeping it this low this year, with rising prices and different demands on my time.

Insurance - $975, or $81 per month. It was $71 per month last year. I switched from renter’s insurance to homeowner’s insurance. The car insurance ought to be going down, as my car gets older, but I think I moved to a higher-risk area.

Furniture & Equipment - $859, or $72 per month. I spent $106 per month last year (and I don’t know what on? My computer, maybe?) I know this will go up, as I will add new living room furniture and carpets to my home this month. And plans after that to replace/upgrade my desk and the dining room sideboard. And I expect I will need a new TV soon.

Eating Out - $794, or $66 per month, $11 more per month than last year. Not as bad as I thought it might be.

Clothing - $756, or $63 per month, $29 per month more than last year. This year I needed to replace coats, boots, etc. – things I usually can’t find secondhand.

Moving Expenses - $710. A new category and hopefully, one I won’t use again!

Gas - $672, or $56 a month. Despite fluctuating prices, that’s only $8 more per month than I spent last year.

Entertainment - $568, or $47 a month. Again, $8 more per month than I spent last year.

Phone - $275 or $31 per month. Didn’t start tracking this separately till March – it used to be part of Utilities.

Household Supplies - $275 or $23 per month, $6 more per month than last year.

Business - $264. This expense ended in April, but it was costing me $66 per month till then. Even so, that was $28 better per month than last year! Closing the antiques booth was a big savings.

Vet/Pet Supplies - $222, or $19 per month. Last year it was $36 per month. The cats’ health has been stable, and since they are indoor pets, I haven’t needed to get vaccinations.

Personal - $210, or $18 a month. Last year I spent $25 a month. This is mostly haircuts and cosmetics, so I guess I was better looking last year!

Laundry - $52, or $17 per month (since October). New category.

Miscellaneous - $105, or $9 per month. Up from $5 per month last year.


What always surprises me is how much expenses stay pretty much the same, even when it seems that big changes are taking place.

My next step is to figure out how to pare things down in 2013.

On the savings side, my net worth went up by $5210. This is based on the assumption that my condo is worth $120K (which is what the appraisal said). But even more important, I now have a permanent place to live which is affordable and which will eventually grow in value (barring any new recessions!)

December Recap

January 2nd, 2013 at 06:10 am

Housing - 989
Gifts/Charity - 594
Car Repair/Maintenance - 151
Medical/Health - 143
Entertainment - 137
Groceries - 134
Vacation/Travel - 125
Clothing - 112
Utilities - 109
Fares - 105
Eating Out - 92
Gas - 85
Furnishings/Equipment - 53
Household Supplies - 23
Laundry - 19
Vet/Pet Supplies - 16
Misc. - 26

Total: 2913

Well, I knew it was a spendy month.

Housing included double mortgage payment & assessment fee.

Gifts - this included many Christmas gifts, of course, but also some donations, and a birthday.

Car Repair - replacing the spare tire cover. I saved a little here because my son installed it.

Medical - anesthesia for surgery in October. Awful glad I had that!

Entertainment - this was bumped up by my spur-of-the-moment weekend downtown with BFF.

Groceries - a little high considering how little I bought.

Vacation/Travel - this is my girls' weekend -- which I counted as vacation since it is a planned event, as opposed to the spontaneous weekend.

Clothing - Secondhand sweater, mittens, shirt, socks, scarf.

Utilities - includes a late payment to Nicor - a transition problem.

Fares - train pass.

Eating Out - another problem to tackle. Too much grabbing food while in transit! This does include treating son and grandsons at Steak & Shake.

Gas - I'm driving to work more than I should, but I had some unavoidable events. This should tame down this month.

Furnishings/Equipment - more stuff to help organize at home; also plants and tea lights.

Household Supplies - Paper towels, tp, etc.

Laundry - highest yet. I've been using the bigger $1.25 machine and I thought it would pay off in fewer trips, but it appears it is a bit more expensive overall.

Vet/Pet Supplies - Kitty litter & cat food.

Misc. - mostly postage.






A Bit of a Whine

January 1st, 2013 at 06:19 am

I left work last night at about 5:30 and stopped for gas on the way home. I scope out the gas prices on the way down and then stop at the best place on the way back. This time it was Shell, which was a double winner, because I can also use my Jewel-Osco rewards card for a discount. I believe I only got a .25 discount, but every snowflake counts, right? I think it was about $19 -- don't have the receipt handy right now.

I'll do my recaps tomorrow. Normally I would be excited to get to them, but I am so sick today I have no interest. I was better yesterday, but today my cold is in the draining stage, but I still have the headache. Yuck. Taking Theraflu doesn't seem to help at all, but ibuprofen seems to help. Unfortunately I took the last one this morning. I may need to venture out to get more, and while I'm at it, I ought to get a humidifier, too. This condo, with its radiator heat, is very dry, and that isn't helping me any.

I parked on the street last night. While there were places on my street, they were tight and would have required skillful parallel parking. I was willing to try, but there was too much traffic. So I parked on a cross street that was actually quite close to my alley. Really only a few steps more than my "old" parking place.

It's a bummer to be sick at this time of year. All year I look forward to the time between Christmas and New Years to catch up on things and get organized. This year it's been a total wash. Between work and illness, it's been a total waste of time. Blah.

I really wanted to go see Les Miserables today, but I will have to improve a lot before I can do that.