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Archive for February, 2015

"Poor Me" is Back!

February 27th, 2015 at 05:52 am

"Poor Me" is the one who drives to work, and buys fast food, when the weather is bad and the road is long.

I drove this morning not only because it was cold, but yesterday my train home was an hour late due to mechanical problems. When it finally came, all the extra power was off, so there was no light, no heat. It was a pretty miserable trip. So "Poor Me" decided to drive today! I bought a $3 breakfast on the way. Last night I bought a $5 dinner, using a 1/2 price coupon for an Italian deli near the station. I had a really delicious corned beef on rye, so I'm not regretting that decision at all. Especially since it turned out I didn't get home until 7.

I'm really glad it's Friday. It's been a grueling week.

Tomorrow morning I've promised to go to the Field Museum for a meet-and-greet event. Not sounding fun right now, and when I think of the parking cost! And the food! At least I won't have to pay to get in.

And I'm sure I'll enjoy it once I'm there.

Have a good weekend, everyone!

Snow!

February 26th, 2015 at 06:16 am

I was just thinking yesterday, that even though it is cold, it is SO nice that the sidewalks and roads are all clear. Not today! It started last night and it's still coming down. Roads are hazardous so I took the train. The walk to the station was a bit challenging, but the temperature is much more comfortable than it's been earlier in the week.

I would have opted to work from home, but I have important stuff that is due tomorrow, and I didn't want to take a chance that technology would throw a spanner in the works. (My remote access is not very reliable).

So, financially, I have to report that I bought dinner at McDonald's last night. I was just too hungry on the way home. It was $6, because I sprang for a shamrock shake, which is one of my biggest weaknesses.

But it looks like I will have at least $1000 to sweep into the slush fund this payday! Hope I can be careful enough to do that! It makes me nervous that my slush fund is so low. Once the slush fund is above $1000 I'll go back to sweeping money into the e-fund.

Thanks to everyone on the input about the museum job yesterday. I did not hear back from my former boss, and I think it will probably be a long drawn-out process. If it looks like a viable job option, I will at least apply for it, but I'm also going to go ahead with my retirement plans -- which will involve applying for Social Security, and getting a Medicare supplement. I don't have to set them up till May, so by then I may know a lot more.

Museum Job

February 25th, 2015 at 05:44 am

Just when everything was starting to seem settled in my life, I got an email about the museum job that I thought was never going to materialize. My former boss wants to know if I am interested.

I responded with a carefully-worded noncommittal email. My heart is saying no. I don't want to start a new job, take on a new commute, commit to more years in the workplace. Now that the prospect of early retirement has been opened up, I can't bear the thought of plunging right back into it. And yet my head says yes. It would be more money, a cushion. It would be sensible. I could travel, get a new car, do things I couldn't do on a retirement income.

Added to this, I am becoming interested in a man who lives three hours away, and I was looking forward to having more time to visit him and really get to know him, with the hope of a permanent relationship. Taking a new job would make this difficult.

I don't know what to do. Perhaps I should go through the process and see what comes of it. The last job opportunity didn't pan out, after all.

Yesterday would have been a no-spend day, but the girl scout cookies came in, so I owed a co-worker $4.

I did go to the HR office about my train ticket, where they reiterated that I could have just used my flex debit card to pay for it. They printed out a form for me to get my reimbursement, but they clearly would prefer that I use the card. I would have, just didn't remember that it was an option! Oh, this aging brain!

I drove this morning, not only because it was still cold, but because my hair was still wet when it was time to leave. It's supposed to snow later in the day, so I hope I haven't made a bad decision. But -- good for me -- I did not stop at a fast-food place on the way in!

This and That

February 24th, 2015 at 06:22 am

My only spending yesterday was buying my monthly train pass. ($96) I now have to turn in the receipt for reimbursement (a flex-plan thing) but I can't remember what to do, and there's nothing about it on the website. Guess I'll make a trip to HR today. So embarrassing. I just did this last month.

I've taken the train yesterday and today despite the brutally cold weather. I can't say taking the walk is pleasant, but I'm getting through it. Driving, though warmer, is not pleasant, either. The traffic and burning through gas are both big turn-offs.

I've also resisted the "poor me" excuse to buy comfort food at the station.

I got paid back $20 -- a loan I had forgotten all about! I will resist the temptation to call it a snowflake; I just made the adjustment in my spending log. It was for a group lunch that I put on my credit card. This one particular person did not pay me back on the spot, and I forgot about it. I'm glad she remembered!

Woot-Woot!

February 23rd, 2015 at 07:35 am

My federal refund of $1042 hit the bank account today! Now, with some cash on hand, I can fund those college accounts for the grandbabies.

I used up the last of my grocery store gift card and spent $15 over. I stuck to ten items: kitty litter, Greek yogurt, creamer, wine, ham steaks, sun-dried tomatoes, sourdough bread, jam, butter, and salsa. I also picked up a birthday card, but didn't include it in the ten-items count. It's not a grocery and it weighs nothing!

I spent $4.50 on laundry, and $23 on gas. I bought a StreetWise magazine from a vendor for $2.

On Saturday I went to a new friend's birthday party and met quite a few local folks. She apparently does a big open-house birthday party every year and most of the attendees were repeaters. It was nice to meet some of my neighbors. And she did a very nice spread; I felt kind of bad that I only brought a birthday card!

On Sunday I made dinner for my son's family -- pepper beef over rice, with loaded cornbread on the side. Went over very well, except that my grandson was deeply disappointed that I didn't have any ice cream. "Why didn't you buy any?" he said, in complete bewilderment. Smile I guess ice cream is something I need to keep on hand!

I didn't try to explain to a five-year-old why I would only buy ten items!

No Spending -- Except for Comcast

February 20th, 2015 at 06:10 am

I had a no-spend day yesterday, but my automatic payment did go out to Comcast. It was $30 higher than usual, due to extra costs from switching to an HD TV. About $5 of that will stay, but the others were one-time charges. I called Comcast and went over the bill with them just to make sure that all the charges were legit and I understood them.

Today I go to the dentist, but the cost will go to my flexible spending account. This is just a cleaning/checkup. I've spent so much time there recently it seems odd to go back so soon, but it has been six months since the last cleaning.

I will get gas on the way home, too. Looks like I will have to pay $2.32. I'm sure missing those low prices we had for a while!

COLD!!

February 19th, 2015 at 06:32 am

Okay, I've said it was cold before, but this is cold. When I walked out the door, my nose hairs instantly froze up!

Even though my boss said I could work from home today, I decided to drive in. I have a meeting today, and it's just easier to get things done in my office rather than at home. (Hate to admit that!) Walking to the train station would have been painful, but driving is warm, and now that I can park free right next to my building, it's just so worth it to drive on cold days. Despite the fact that I've already paid for the train ticket!

But enough of that, I have wonderful news! Another grandchild coming in September! And my son is taking a new position. He's still in the drone industry, but in a bigger company. He'll have to move, because it's three hours north of his home, but he's very pumped. He says that what he will learn in this job will put him in very high demand for jobs in the future.

Now I'm REALLY glad I have the possibility of retiring in June, so I can go down to Florida and spend some quality time there in September!

I haven't given the kids the college money from my snowflakes yet, because I was waiting for a better cash flow situation, but now I'm glad, because now I can split it four ways and include the new baby!

Lost My Hat

February 18th, 2015 at 06:40 am

But I found it again!

Yesterday morning, when I was going through the ordeal with my dysfunctional key fob, I inadvertently left my hat in the car. It was such a cold day, and I didn't know where I had lost my hat or if I would ever find it again, so I bought a new one at the train station for $19. It's a nice, practical, warm hat. Cable-knit taupe, with a thermal lining. And it was 30% off!

Then when I got home, I saw the original hat on my car seat, and I was glad, because it's actually cuter. Smile I'll be glad to have both hats.

It was not so easy getting the battery for the key fob. The Toyota dealer didn't have it, Radioshack didn't have it -- I finally got one at Batteries Plus. It was only $2.50, so I bought two. Then I paid the guy $10 to install it. Yes, I probably could have done it myself, but at that point I wasn't taking any chances on my all-thumbs handiwork. I wanted this done.

I had to ask a co-worker to drive me around to get the battery, since I had come by train. This morning I gave her a Darden gift card for $15. She has done me many driving favors before and never wants compensation, but I felt I had to do something!

Anyway, the key fob works, the car is drivable, and all is well.

I drove this morning, not only to make sure it worked, but because it is very, very cold. I have decided I am not walking to the train station when the wind chill is below zero. It's not worth it.

But, best news of the day -- my Tightwad Gazette was in the mail!! Thank you CCF, for running the contest, and excellent packaging! You're way better than Amazon!


Not a Whole Lot Better

February 17th, 2015 at 06:53 am

Though I did feel better yesterday afternoon, enough to walk to Supercuts and get my hair cut, I feel pretty crummy today. But I'm at work.

I still had one cut left on my gift card, so it was free except for the tip. I gave the stylist $5 because she did such a nice job -- and I didn't have any smaller change!

This morning I decided to drive because I had stuff to carry. No go. The battery on my key fob was dead, so I couldn't start the car. I took the train, and at noon I'll have to have a co-worker drive me to Toyota so I can replace the battery. Kicking myself, because I did notice it was getting weak, but did nothing about it.

I forgot to list my eleven items from the grocery yesterday:

Bread
Cat Chow
Keurig cups
Eggs
Almond Milk
Grated Cheddar
Greek Yogurt
I Can't Believe It's Not Butter with Olive Oil (2)
Shampoo
Wine
Sweet Peppers

I see it's actually twelve items! I must have miscounted in the cart.

It is really hard to stay down to ten items. On the other hand, it's really hard to carry more than ten items upstairs, so I do have my motivation.

I paid my $1208 property tax this morning. I'm expecting a very low bill for the second half of the year, since it will reflect my new senior status.

Sick

February 16th, 2015 at 07:09 am

I'm sick at home today. It doesn't happen too often, and obviously I'm not too sick to use the computer -- but I have a sour stomach, congestion and a total lack of sleep to deal with. Hoping rest will cure it all.

I had a productive weekend. Lots of laundry, cooking, and cleaning. I did my grocery shopping, too, breaking my rule and buying 11 items. I got free eggs for buying two tubs of I Can't Believe It's Not Butter with Olive Oil. Since it's something I use regularly, I got the two tubs. Just couldn't sacrifice anything else to drop down to ten.

I used my gift card, so it was no spending. The laundry, however, cost me $7.50.

I gave my grandsons the beanie babies along with the little boxes of chocolates, and they were a big hit. Whew, I made the right choice! I have yet to mail the Valentine's package to my granddaughter. My bad. She is getting a beanie baby, too, and some clothes I got at Goodwill. If I feel better later today, I will mail it. I'll get a haircut, too, which is another thing I should have done on the weekend. I still have another cut on my Supercuts gift card. Just have to make sure my favorite stylist is working today. This may all be wishful thinking, as I'm really not feeling like leaving the house -- or the couch!

Another pay day

February 13th, 2015 at 07:18 am

It's pay day -- two days early because the 15th falls on a Sunday! I paid my mortgage, Discover, Target and Citi bills. I am holding off on my tax bill, because the $419 credit from Discover hasn't hit the bank yet, and I want to make sure I am not cutting it too close.

I did have one nice surprise. I got fully reimbursed (from flexible spending) for the train ticket I bought last month. I thought I was only getting a portion, so it was a pleasure to see that addition in my bank account!

I had a few bad moments this morning when I thought I had lost my Red Card -- finally found it in my purse (not in my wallet). I needed it to set up my online account for the first time, and I went into a panic when I couldn't put my hands on it.

Last night's Happy Hour was pretty cheap. My parking was only $5 and was paid for by the board. My meal was $16 including the tip. The board bought appetizers. My meal was a huge grilled chicken sandwich! I thought I couldn't eat half of it, but I put away at least three-quarters!

Tonight I'm going to babysit my grandsons. This weekend I have to do tons of laundry, grocery shopping, get my hair cut, do my taxes, clean my house.... It never ends.

Oh, and I heard yesterday that they have only just now received 25 applications for early retirement. I think my chances have increased!

.10 in and $10 out

February 12th, 2015 at 05:42 am

Yesterday I found a dime in the station. But then I went to an impromptu happy hour after work and spent $10. Probably shouldn't have done that, but it occurred to me that I won't be seeing these people much longer, and I kind of wanted to get my socializing in. My $10 bought a chocolate porter and half an order of pot roast nachos. Yum!

I have another happy hour tonight; this one an obligation -- a "meet the board" event, and since I'm on the board, I have to go. It is downtown, and I decided to drive rather than fiddling with the train and a taxi. Hope it is not the wrong decision. I hope there will be affordable parking or valet service nearby.

I'm glad I drove, anyway, because temps are dropping and I hate walking when it's so cold.

Just sent my Discover reward of $419 to the bank account. That feels good!

Financial Counseling Session

February 11th, 2015 at 06:27 am

I met with a rep from TIAA-CREF yesterday. Mainly I wanted to know what to do with the very small 403(b) fund I have earned in my six years at the College. I was under the impression that I would need to make a decision to withdraw it somehow upon leaving, but in fact it can continue to sit there and grow. So that's what I'm going to let it do. I also learned I can pull money out of it any time I need it (after retirement), so there is no reason to touch it now. In fact, I made it a little less conservative, so I should see some added growth.

I am anxiously awaiting payday on Friday. I have to pay my Discover bill, which will be around $1300, and my tax bill, which will be $1200. I think I will have just enough to cash flow it. It's close. Then I can FINALLY start building up my savings accounts again. Very excited to get going on that. I don't have any big bills coming up in the near future.

I am also anxiously awaiting to hear about the early retirement decision. It's going to be very hard to get my head back into the notion of working till December, if I don't get accepted. I am so ready to put it all behind me! But I will make the best of it, if that's how it turns out.

Just Ruminating

February 10th, 2015 at 06:40 am

No spending yesterday.

This morning I was running a little late getting ready, so I drove. I will take advantage of that by getting gas at the cheaper suburb rate, and mailing a package before I leave town. I can never mail from home during the week -- I don't get home before the post office closes.

The day after tomorrow I have to go to a happy hour event downtown. It may mean getting a taxi (unless the bar is near the station) and I'll have to pay for my drinks, though there will be free appetizers. I'm not complaining, I enjoy these social opportunities, but there is always a cost! At the end of the month, the same group is going to the Field Museum. Free entrance, but there will be a cost if I want to see the cool new Viking exhibit (I probably do) and there will be a meal cost, too.

I have to do something for Valentine's Day for the grandkids. I have little candy boxes (shaped like footballs) for the boys, and for my granddaughter I have her "new" Goodwill clothes. I think I'll get a little candy box for my GD and send off the package. For the boys, I'm stumped as to what to include with the candy. They don't like clothes; they have a kabillion Legos; maybe some new Beanie babies? They love the ones with the big eyes.

Big Find

February 9th, 2015 at 06:47 am

This weekend, at my brother's up in Michigan, I was very pumped when I found a nickel -- then a quarter! Thought I was doing really well, as I can go for weeks picking up random pennies and not raising the pot very much. But this morning I found $10! I was in the station, and picked up a book from the take-one-leave-one bookshelf, and there was a $10 bill stuck between the pages! Awesome!

It was a good weekend. My brother made prime rib, which was fantastic! (I have probably mentioned he is a retired chef.) I was treated to lunch by my old professor, and we had a lovely conversation. I am wishing I didn't have to travel so far to see him! It would be nice if we could get together more often, as I would really enjoy getting to know him better as a person.

I spent $29 on gas (and I noticed gas prices are rising again). I also spent $10 on a bottle of wine for my brother, $13 for a box of bakery cookies, and $3 on some valentine candy for my grandsons. I stopped at a Goodwill and found a top, pants and a jumper for my granddaughter for $6. I also got a car wash for $6, and my big splurge was a no-chip manicure for $36 (counting tip). Love the way it looks; hope it lasts!

I got home later than I should have last night, since I stayed to play cards with my niece and nephew. I came home to a mess, because a stained-glass hanging had fallen off my bathroom window and there was shattered glass all over. I hope I got it all. Since it fell on tile, it really smashed.

The temperatures fell this weekend, but a refreeze has made everything icy. It was a treacherous walk to the station. On Friday, on my way to the car, I fell once again on an icy patch and really bruised my arm. I'm tired of this! It's only mid-February, but I'm longing for blue skies, warm air, and clear pavement!

I have not even started my taxes yet, but I hope to get to it this coming weekend. Meanwhile, I have to do the stuff I usually do on a weekend -- laundry, grocery shopping, cleaning up, etc. I love a getaway, but I pay for it!

Glad I Looked!

February 5th, 2015 at 06:22 am

Yesterday it occurred to me that I could solve this month's cash flow challenge if I could put my property tax payment on a credit card. Turns out I can't. BUT -- when looking on the site, I realized that needed to file my senior citizen exemption and senior freeze exemption to the county assessor. The first will give me a break on my second tax installment, and the second will freeze my taxes at today's rate, so I am protected from property tax hikes. This is the first year I could do this, having just turned 65 last August. The window of opportunity is between January and March. So I am so glad I looked!

I stopped at Walgreens on the way home yesterday. I bought two bags of Dunkin Donuts coffee for 4.99 each and a bottle of Caress body wash, and Dial hand soap. They were marked down to 1.99 and 1.49. I will try to remember to check out that clearance aisle from now on!

It's very, very cold today, but the snow has stopped. Last night I fell again, but just plopped down on my butt on a soft mound of snow. I wasn't hurt, but it was tricky getting up again. Once again I am dealing with snow dams over the curbs -- I have to climb over them to cross the street. Where is spring?

I learned that one of my co-workers in my unit is also applying for early retirement. She is only 62, and has concerns over medical care, but she is doing it anyway. I'm going to go crazy waiting until the end of March to learn my status! But I did figure out that if I do get accepted, I have only a little over 100 days left to work! Not that I'm counting. Smile

January Recap

February 4th, 2015 at 06:31 am

What a big spending month! Here is how it broke down:

Furnishings/Equipment/Decor - $1434

(This included a new mattress and box spring, a set of sheets, a coffeemaker, a suitcase, a tablecloth, a steam cleaner, a new frying pan, and a bathtub pole.)

Housing - $677

Groceries - $184

($100 of this was in the form of a gift card.)

Utilities - $144

Eating Out - $139

Clothing - $136

(This included a sweater, SmartWool socks, and winter gloves.)

Gifts/Charity - $123

(This included my son's birthday.)

Fares/Parking - $99

Phone - $50

Vet/Pet Supplies - $31

Gas - $29

Laundry - $23

Household Supplies - $18

Entertainment - $15

Personal - $10

Car Repair/Maintenance - $6 (Car wash)

Grand Total - $3118

This month has some challenges. I have my first semi-annual property tax bill to pay. And I have promised to start putting funds into my grandsons' college accounts. With the tax bill looming, I don't think I'll be able to put in the $1100 I was planning on. (Last year's snowflakes) But I will put something in, and eventually get the full amount in. My kids don't know yet that I'm putting $1100 in, so they'll be happy with anything, to start!

No spending yesterday -- and I got a free lunch! (Bagels and cream cheese, in celebration of a new employee) My couscous creation was good, and made enough for dinner last night, and lunch today.

I found a penny on the train this morning. I'll be so happy when my Found Money tops $50!




Short Week

February 3rd, 2015 at 07:24 am

I got a snow day yesterday, and I'm taking a vacation day on Friday, so this will be a short week!

On Friday I'm driving up to Michigan (weather permitting) to visit my brother; also to see my former professor for lunch.

The weather is, or has been, horrendous. Today it seems pretty clear and the roads are getting cleaned up, but on Sunday we got a massive blizzard. I had trouble just walking across the street to my son's house.

And this morning, I had my first fall of the season. I slid on the ice and fell on one knee. Luckily, not too hard, but I hate to do anything to my wonky knees. I seem to be okay, though.

It was a pretty low-spend weekend. I bought groceries with a gift card, so although I spent $48, it won't be tracked, since I tracked the price of the card already. I also spent $10 at PetSmart for fish food and water clarifier.

On Sunday morning I drove my car to the city parking garage (free during snowstorms so they can plow the streets). My son picked me up and I spent the day at their place. They had a little Superbowl gathering for their friends and the grandmas. I may have won the "guess the score" contest in my family's football pool. I guessed the total combined score would be 51, and it was 52. I'm betting no one came any closer, but I haven't heard from the bookie yet.

On Monday I just stayed inside. I made a big batch of oatmeal breakfast cookies, and cooked off some ground beef, which I froze in one-pound packages. I watched another segment of The Borgias on Netflix (working my way through the series) and then watched "Salmon Fishing in the Yemen" on Amazon Prime, which was a very sweet movie -- I liked it a lot.

Tonight I'm going to combine some leftover couscous with some leftover creamed chipped beef, add some cheese and call it dinner. I'm betting it will be good!

I'm also going to pick up my car from the garage tonight. Free parking ends at midnight. I'll just take the train to the station nearest the garage and walk there. I hope they've made some real progress on the side streets, so there will be a place to park it when I get home!

Haven't done my January recap yet -- I'll do that later today.

Oh, and I turned in my early retirement packet. There's lots of buzz and excitement. Everyone wants to do it! Darn!