I cancelled my monthly gift to World Wildlife Fund yesterday. It is only $9, but after retirement $9 will matter!
I found a penny in the station this morning. But I bought breakfast. I had a free coffee card to use, so I only paid for the muffin - $2.53. I earned $3 yesterday from Pine Cone, so I'm actually a little ahead!
Yesterday a colleague gave me $6 worth of quarters, knowing I like to have them on hand for laundry. I had only four ones, which I gave her with the promise of giving her two more today. It was my intention to get change this morning, when I bought breakfast, but I went into auto-mode and used my credit card! Maybe someone else can break a $10 for me.
I think I might as well just enjoy my senior moments -- I don't think there's anything I can do about them!
This is my Friday, since I'll be at an all-day workshop tomorrow, which doesn't feel like work at all. In fact, it is a fun day, because I get to see my friends, and I get a free lunch! The only drawback is having to park downtown, but this time I get to ride with a fellow board member and only have to pay for half the parking fee. Which will be about $10, at least! Still not cheap.
Oh, and I won a free pass for two for an open-air classical concert at Ravinia! I'll have to read up to see which ones are eligible. Supposedly it is a $24 value. I won't count it as a snowflake, since it will actually cost me something to use it (in transportation and/or parking) but it is almost-free entertainment. I just have to figure out who to take along!
Later today I will do my April recap, as I don't anticipate spending anything else today!
Archive for April, 2015
I cancelled my monthly gift to World Wildlife Fund yesterday. It is only $9, but after retirement $9 will matter!
I had a really hard time waking up this morning -- it must be a sleep-cycle thing. Luckily, I was already planning to drive, as I have to bring home a big box today. I did the minimum I had to do to get ready, and I bought breakfast on the way - $3 at McDonald's. Well, now I know. McDonald's muffins do not compare to Corner Bakery!
Yesterday my donation of $9 to WWF hit the bank. I also donated $3 to Wikipedia, since I use it all the time and would rather NOT see ads on it! I've now used 88% of my variables budget.
I had a good dinner of broccoli cheese soup last night, using up the leftover undercooked broccoli I took home from a lunch last week. There is plenty more for another meal. My 10-item grocery scheme is continuing to hold up, even with having company last weekend. Today I will finish the pizza and salad, and tomorrow I'll have eggs & veggies. On Friday, I expect I'll have leftovers from my free lunch (unless it is a buffet). Usually, if it is a box lunch, I can't eat it all! However, if I have no leftovers, I will make pancakes. Or have more of the soup. Then I'll start over on Saturday!
So. I've spent 87% of my budget. I have only today, tomorrow and the next day to get through. I've essentially accomplished my goal, but I still want to spend! I really had to talk myself down from a muffin and coffee at the station. And I knew I had food at work to tide me over once I got there! There is something about that treat that makes the morning seem better.
Of course, in two months, I won't be faced with such temptations any more, but there will probably be other temptations to deal with.
I'm looking forward to just fixing food at home and eating it, rather than always packing food, and always having to plan for portable meals. I'm looking forward to making doctor's appointments without having to take a whole day off. Heck, I'm looking forward to sleeping past 4:45 AM! I know that retirement will have its challenges, but in many ways it will also be an incredible relief.
I won't be retiring from my board position, however, and this Friday, in that capacity, I will be working registration for a sponsored workshop. I'll have a free lunch, but I will also have a hefty parking fee. (It's at Navy Pier.) At least I am riding with someone, so we will split the cost.
I forgot my phone today, but remembered my charger. How dumb is that?
Well, it was kind of a wild and woolly weekend. It started out yucky. My BFF couldn't come on Saturday; it was a cold and rainy day; and then the kicker. Someone had broken into my car! Nothing was stolen -- I didn't have anything worth stealing -- but someone had pulled everything out of the glove box and all the pockets and compartments within the car and tossed them around. Then they left the door cracked open so the battery was drained. (I don't know how they got in; I always lock up, and no window was broken.)
I called my son who came quickly and tried to jump it, but it appeared the battery was dead. So I called AAA and they came about an hour later. They jumped it, and it took. The mechanic said the battery was fine; just needed charging. So I drove around for about an hour, listening to the rest of my audiobook. I also drove through at Steak N Shake, where I spent $5.
When I was satisfied it had been charged long enough, I went to the grocery store and spent $42. My ten items: Cat food, honey, ammonia, dishwasher detergent, granola bars, Greek yogurt, creamer, frozen pizza, bagged salad, and wine. Five items were on sale and I had one coupon; saved $5.98.
My menu this week:
Broccoli Cheese Soup
Tuna Salad Sandwich
Mac & Cheese
Scrambled Eggs w/peppers & onions
I tried to turn in my $5 winning Monopoly board but the clerk pointed out I had duplicated one piece and thus was still missing one. Pooey! I removed the $5 from my snowflakes.
However, I got a new piece that was an instant win for a can of tuna, so I will log that when I buy it next week.
Okay, back to the weekend.
My BFF did come on Sunday morning. We went out to lunch ($17) and then we went to a Goodwill in a ritzy neighborhood, where I spent $2 on another Scrabble Jr., $2 on a trinket box to use as a gift, and $13 on clothes for my granddaughter.
I filled up the tank for $31.
We planned to go out for dinner, too, but the restaurant was too crowded, so we went home and had pizza and salad. (And yes, there is still plenty left over to count pizza and salad as meals on my menu.)
This morning I left for work, and she is probably on her way home now. We had a great time, even though it was very short. That will change after I retire.
I've spent 87% of my variables budget. I'm pleased that I am still under! With only a few days left in the month, I should make it.
Oh, and I found .21 this weekend!
My financial news today is that I really had to push myself to take the train this morning instead of drive, and I did it. And I didn't buy a muffin to reward myself. And I also had to push myself to even go to work, I felt so out-of-sorts. But I can't afford to take a day off, as I will get paid for all my vacation and sick time in the end! So there will be no taking off work for the next two months, unless I am DEATHLY ill!
Yesterday's train from work into the city was delayed by a broken switch. I got into the station too late to catch my usual train home. I took the next train, which doesn't stop at my station. So I had a 40-minute walk home. I thought it would be a little warmer than it was, but it was okay. I walked through a neighborhood chock-full of grand old mansions, and it was fun to gawk. But I also caught myself thinking, my gosh, the maintenance! And the lawn care! I am not sorry I am not in a home like that.
This morning I felt heat coming from the bathroom radiator! Blessed heat! I guess they finally decided to turn the boiler back on, since there is no warm-up in the forecast.
With my BFF coming tomorrow, I have a lot of work to do at home to get it company-ready. Thank goodness she is not leaving till Saturday morning and I will have those hours to clean up.
My grocery list is exceeding 10, and that's not counting any meat, veggies or fruit! Maybe, with my BFF on board, I can make a 20-item trip this weekend and get her help with carrying!
Which reminds me, I've been thinking about how to incorporate exercise into my life post-retirement, and I thought it might be a good idea to make daily walks to the grocery store. It is about a half-hour away on foot. I could buy one or two items a day. That would save me gas, too! But I couldn't get frozen food, or heavy items, so it might not be the best plan, at least not all the time.
Racked up another no-spend day. I've used 70% of my variables budget, with only a week to go, but this weekend, with a house guest, will probably put me over. We'll see. It's supposed to rain all day Saturday, so we won't go downtown for sure. That's a big savings right there! May do dinner and a movie.
The cold continues. There were frost warnings last night, but still no heat in the condo. I was pretty warm in bed, though. I set up my little heater, put on an extra blanket and wore a sweatshirt over my pj's. The only critters who are staying warm are the fish, who have their own heater!
Speaking of the fish, I did lose my angelfish who had the swim bladder problem. The one with a fungus still survives. I wish I could help, but three doses of the recommended treatment have done nothing.
I got free hot chocolate on the way to work this morning. Something about commuters' day. I am always glad for any freebie, but it was especially welcome this cold morning!
We are in a somewhat vicious cold snap right now (saw snow this morning!) and my building has turned off the boiler. I have had two uncomfortable nights, and my cat agrees, as she has been trying to get under the covers with me. When it gets cold, I don't get things done. I don't cook and I don't pack lunches. I just huddle under blankets for warmth. So I bought dinner and breakfast at McDonald's. At least I'm going for the dollar menu -- for the two meals I spent $3.
I drove this morning, for two reasons: one, I didn't want to walk to the station in the cold (although I did it all winter! Attitude is all!) And, I needed to carry a large box, which is not heavy, but awkward. That's always difficult on the train.
My flex debit card is still being denied for transit, so this morning I mailed off two receipts for reimbursement. I'm too close to retirement to worry about fixing the debit card now.
There were treats in the break room this morning for administrative assistants' day. I wasn't hungry but I grabbed a couple of oatmeal cookies to have for breakfast tomorrow. There is fruit, too. I may indulge later, if there's any left.
Well, I had a $5 coupon for Goodwill, and I was determined not to spend any more than that, and also to only buy something I needed. I did spend $5 on the nose. I bought body wash, some awesome wrapping paper, and a Monopoly Jr. game. The third item might not be considered a need, but let me explain. I am seeking out this particular game in order to collect the letters. I use the letters to help create double acrostic puzzles, which I hope will be an income stream in the future! I need as many letters as I can get.
So, I counted the $5 as a snowflake.
I also found a dime in the parking lot!
I resisted buying dinner on the way home. I knew I had veggie cheese soup already made, and that helped.
Today it was back to train-riding, and it was a cold and windy walk to the station. BRRRR. I'm ready for REAL spring, not just teaser days!
Our HR rep told me yesterday that I will have three months to use up my flexible spending after I leave, so I am less panicked now about getting that done. I can do that when I have more free time -- and who knows, I might really need it between now and then!
Yesterday I went out for Mexican food with my kids. My share was $16. It was well worth it. I had an excellent chimichanga meal, and it was a very cozy setting, made even more so by the rain outside the window. And the camaraderie at the table was priceless!
I've now spent 69% of my variables budget, with 10 days to go. It helped that the Medicare supplement adjustment put a little more money back into the variables pool.
With my BFF coming, I will no doubt spend more than I would otherwise this weekend. However, I don't see her terribly often, so I'm not going to ruin the weekend with an austerity mindset. BUT, I will be mindful.
I won $5 yesterday in the grocery's Monopoly game! I added that as a snowflake, plus the $5 coupon I used at PetSmart, and the .13 I found on the ground!
I forgot to post my weekly menu yesterday, so here it is. I don't assign meals to days, since I live by myself, and the actual day-to-day consumption is pretty fluid. But here are the possibilities:
Broccoli/Cauliflower/Carrot Cheddar Soup
Tuna Salad Sandwich
Grilled Cheese Sandwich
Yes, I bought only one can of tuna, but it was a big one, albacore, and I think I can stretch it to do all three of the tuna meals above.
I drove this morning so that I could return some equipment to Comcast (internet modem was updated). I packed both breakfast and lunch. On the way home I will stop at Goodwill to use a $5 coupon. I think I can find something that is useful, like dish soap, in which case I will count the $5 as a snowflake.
I don't have to buy gas today, but I might have to before the month is over. C'est la vie.
I went to the grocery early in the morning, since I had a 9AM eye appointment. My ten items were: tuna, coffee, crackers, eggs, Advil, mascara, frozen yogurt, green peppers, sourdough bread, and kitty litter. The kitty litter I actually bought at PetSmart, so I could use my $5 coupon. It was only $1.62. The other groceries were $41.89; the Advil was the main purchase driving up the price. I got 200 tablets; hope they will last a while. I don't seem to need nearly as much pain relief as I did even a few months ago.
My eye appointment went great! There is nothing at all wrong with my eyes, and I got all the tests to make sure, since I hadn't been to an eye doctor in ten years. My co-pay was $15. I don't need to get glasses -- reading glasses from the drugstore will do me fine.
So that means, I still have to figure out how to spend my flexible spending money! Maybe I'll finally get that shingles shot. The holdup has always been the insurance -- they will only pay for a shot performed at my doctor's office, and I would have to make a special appointment during work hours -- thus losing a whole day of work. I addition, my doctor's office wants written proof from insurance that they will cover it. What??? If I pay out of pocket I can get it done at Walgreens! I'll have to investigate just how expensive it is.
I woke up hard this morning for the second day in a row. Not sure what's going on, because I'm sleeping okay. Anyway, I could barely get myself out of bed and pull it together in time for the train. I did manage to pack a lunch, but not a breakfast, so I bought a muffin and coffee at the station. The good thing is, I got the last punch on my affinity card and I'll have free coffee next time.
My variables spending is still at 60% of the budget despite the $5 spent this morning, and the $1.50 spent on laundry last night. Thank goodness the laundry is finally caught up, and I probably won't have to do any this weekend.
Speaking of the budget, I realized yesterday that my BFF is coming for a visit next weekend. That may cause some budget problems, as we usually go out to eat and shop and catch a movie. I'll just be honest with her about my constraints this month and hope that we can figure out a fun weekend that is low-cost.
I did some looking around at Medicare supplements yesterday, and it looks like I can get a good plan, that my doctor will accept, for $66 a month. That's about $50 less than I estimated, so that will be a boost to my budget. I spoke to someone at BC/BS, and she recommended that I call in May to sign up, given my retirement timeline.
Correction: I have spent 64% of my budget. (Made an Excel error, now corrected!)
Yesterday I was hit with a service charge from Citi for the the ancestry.com subscription. Even though I paid over the phone the moment I was aware that I had been charged, I was four days overdue. Maybe I got an e-bill; I don't know. Seems like I would have noticed it, even in my glut of junk email.
So that was $27. But I found a quarter on the train!
So the pressure is on more than ever to curb my spending this month. This morning I woke up to a rainstorm. I really wanted to drive rather than walk through the rain. But I walked through the rain and took the train. Then I really wanted to buy breakfast at the station. But I knew I had oatmeal at work, and I resisted. I brought my lunch (but that is a usual thing). Still, I have managed in my first few hours of the day not to spend anything! If I get past the morning hours, I'm usually okay. That's where all the temptation is.
I've spent 60% of my budget now, with 53% of the month to go.
I have a $5 coupon for PetSmart, which I will use this weekend on kitty litter, and I also have a $5 coupon for Goodwill, which must be used this month. I will definitely count the PetSmart coupon as a snowflake, and I will also count the Goodwill one -- if I find something to buy that I would buy anyway. That may be a trick, but sometimes Goodwill has household supplies, and that is what I will look for.
I did another $1.50 load of laundry last night. I have one more to do tonight, and then I will be caught up.
The exciting thing about Pay Day is not money to spend, but the opportunity to sweep my savings into the bank. This time I put $1400 in the slush fund. My plan was to transfer $1600, but yesterday my annual subscription to ancestry.com hit the bank account. It was $189. This will be my last year to subscribe. I'll try to get everything done that I can this year and then let it go.
I counted the $189 as entertainment. It has upset the statistics I was bragging about yesterday. Now I've spent 52% of my variables budget. But that's still good. I'll be careful about other things for the rest of the month. It's been quite a month so far, with not only this expense, but a parking ticket and a renewal of my virus protection -- all unexpected -- and a weekend trip, as well. If I come out at the end under budget -- my new restricted, retirement budget -- I will know I've done well.
So today I paid my Discover card and my mortgage. Everything else will be withdrawn automatically.
I did another load of laundry last night ($1.50). It looks like I'll have another one to do tonight. And I should clean the fish tank again. If I keep at these tasks, then the weekend won't be awful!
I stopped at the grocery on the way home last night and bought my ten items. I spent $35 and saved $6 on six of the items. What I bought: Cinnamon, wine, chicken breasts, lettuce, dried cranberries, granola bars, butter, olive oil, bananas, and Greek yogurt.
Meals will be:
Salad with chicken strips
Grilled cheese sandwiches
Chicken medallions and vegetables
Cheese quesadillas with pineapple salsa
There should be enough chicken left over to make fajitas next week, but I'll need to buy peppers for that.
Once home, I did a load of laundry for $1.50. Lots more to do.
I got my phone bill for $50.
I've spent 34% of my variables allowance. Since we're almost halfway through the month, I'm doing well!
Almost forgot to say! I dug a pot of jonquils out of the trash yesterday, and they're sitting on my desk, looking just lovely! One person's trash is another's treasure, but I can't figure out why anyone would throw these away!
My weekend trip to Michigan was very cheap! I spent $28 on gas and $8 on food! My brother not only fed me at home, but insisted on buying dinner when we went out. I think he is unduly worried about my imminent retirement.
I also went out to lunch with my former professor and he paid for that as well. On the way out I saw a dime on the pavement and handed it over to him as my "contribution." (Hope he found it amusing and not silly!) We had a really good talk and I hope this is a conversation that will continue a long time!
The weather was beautiful. It was not warm enough to sit on the deck, but it was warm enough to walk to the restaurant, and Sunday was a great day for antiquing. And I didn't spend a thing, though I had a blast looking everything over!
For the drive, I checked out an audiobook from the libary, which I am still enjoying. I'll have to drive around some more to finish it! (Or I could listen to it on the Bose, I'll bet)
Now I have to do some catching up on grocery shopping and laundry. Small price to pay for such a nice weekend.
We had some wild weather last night. I don't think they've come anywhere near to assessing all the damage, but tornadoes hit heavy in north central Illinois. Many homes destroyed, and at least one fatality. They did not come near our area, but we did have thunderstorms and winds.
I spent the evening listening to the weather reports and packing for my trip. I am leaving the cats and fish alone this weekend, as my son is vacationing too. It makes me nervous, but they all have plenty of what they need. I'll have to deal with a pretty dirty litter box when I get home.
I drove to work, and I bought breakfast on the way ($4). I have lunch already here in the fridge, but I'll be buying dinner somewhere on the way to Michigan. I also have to stop at the grocery and pick up rolls. I know it will be a grueling trip. I hate to drive around the bottom of the lake on Friday nights (always jammed!) but that's what I have to do.
I just got notice that $42 will be added to my checking account; reimbursement for transit. That assures me that I will be able to sweep $1600 into savings this payday. I will probably put it in the slush fund so that it is nice and plump as I go into the uncertainties of a new budget, post-retirement.
It was completely my fault. I moved my car to the right side of the street on Tuesday, but completely forgot to move it to the other side on Wednesday. I got a parking ticket from the city because those were street-sweeping days. The ticket is $55.
I sure can't afford to do that kind of goofy stuff after I retire!
I did a load of laundry last night, and will do another tonight. On Friday I will leave for my Michigan trip straight from work. My boss has okayed me leaving early, so I can get a decent start without sacrificing a vacation day. My "vacation" will probably only cost me a tank of gas and a fast-food dinner on the road. My brother will feed me well. I will need to pick up something to contribute. I'm thinking rolls this time. Our grocery sells fantastic brown-and-serve and rolls that he can't get in his area, so that might be just the thing.
Oh, and did I mention, I have 57 days left to work? Woo-hoo!
Update: It pays to read carefully! It turns out the ticket is only $30 -- $55 if you fail to pay within 10 days. The check is in the mail!
I drove to work yesterday -- combination of wet hair, late timing, and the need to stop at PetSmart on the way home. I bought gas for $31. I did the PetSmart stop and got $19 back for returning the fish medicine. No other spending.
The funny part was, during the day I got super-worried that I had not turned the coffee pot off. My new no-frills coffee maker does not have an automatic shut-off. I knew that there was a large amount of coffee in the pot, so it wouldn't burn up the pot or start a fire, but I expected a real stink when I got home. Nope! I had turned off the pot, just must have done it unconsciously.
The fish seem unchanged today, no better, no worse. I'll try to do a 40% water change tonight, and another before I leave for the weekend.
I'm going to see my brother this weekend. It's a three-hour drive. Normally I like to take Friday off, so I can leave early and avoid rush hour. However, now that I will soon be getting paid for my unused vacation and sick days, I have a strong incentive not to use them! I will soon have vacation all the time, anyway. So I guess it will be a frustrating evening drive through the city. At least it's not a holiday weekend.
We had a very interesting presentation at work yesterday which outlined the college's plan to reduce the budget by $6 million. Glad I'm not in charge of THAT budget! Only half will be achieved by staff reduction; there will be many other cuts as well. I'm glad my retirement came along at the right time, I think it will be difficult going forward.
Oh, and I forgot to say -- I'm getting reimbursed for that workshop after all! But then I signed up for a tour of Frank Lloyd Wright's studio, so that's another $17 out!
I went to PetSmart and spent $19 on new medicine for the fish. However, upon reading the directions, and reading the fish websites, I realize it is not the right one. Will have to take it back.
I did get some good advice on cleaning the tank (I haven't been aggressive enough) and water additives (I've been using too many.)
They also recommended that I get rid of my pleco. He is very large; too large for my tank, and his waste is probably contributing to the water problem. I know he should be in a bigger tank, but I am not interested in upgrading. They recommended that I talk to the local mom&pop fish store, who might take him and give him to a new home.
I actually kind of like the pleco; he is very interesting-looking. I've named him Toothless. But clearly he has outgrown his environment.
Other random expenses: I had to renew my virus protection plan - $30. More laundry - $1.50. I registered for a workshop - $20. Ordinarily my work would pay, but I don't think they will now that I am on my way out -- but I still need to go as a board member. I guess I will count it as an entertainment expense!
Gotta go! Call the Midwife is on!
My poor neon tetra. I keep waiting for him to die naturally, but he just lay on the bottom of the tank for days, still alive, just shifting around, fading away. I couldn't stand it. I finally looked up how to euthanize him humanely. The recommendation for a tropical was to put him suddenly into very cold water. I put a little bowl of water in the freezer till the top froze over, then broke the ice and put him in. I wasn't brave enough to watch him, so I set the bowl on the counter and left the room. When I came back a little later, he was gone. It made me sad, but I felt like I was helping him.
The angelfish are still alive and still peppy, though the fungus isn't gone. If they start lying on the bottom, I'll know what to do now.
Later today I'll take a water sample to PetSmart and hopefully find out what's wrong. Maybe they can be saved.
I had the day off yesterday for Good Friday, so I took the opportunity to get a few things done. I got my hair cut ($17 with tip), I made an appointment for an eye exam (two weeks away), and did my grocery shopping. I spent $35 and my ten items were: applesauce, Italian bread, rolls, mac & cheese, cat food, laundry detergent, almond milk, cheese slices, deli turkey slices, and blueberries. Six of the items were on sale and I saved $8. Not only that, I found .13! But I gave a dollar to a panhandler.
I also did a load of laundry for $1.50.
I found a $5 coupon for PetSmart, so maybe I can use that today. I'm almost tempted to count it as a snowflake!
It wasn't raining when I left home this morning, so I chanced it without the umbrella. Since I have an umbrella at work, I figured I would be covered for the trip home. However, when I got to my work town, it was pouring! I got soaked on the walk in. Glad I didn't fuss with my hair!
I found a dime and a penny. I love watching the total creep up!
I made the most awesome soup last night! I used the broth I made from leftover items (see post a few days ago), added leftover beef from my dinner out, the last of the sauerkraut I bought for my Reubens, some onions and carrots, and -- OMG, it was so good! It made enough for lunch today, too.
I think tonight it will be eggs for dinner, and then, since I have tomorrow off for Good Friday, I'll bump up my shopping day. Once again, I have a very robust list that will have to be pared down.
Also on the docket tomorrow -- a haircut, and a trip to the eye doctor, if I can get in. I really have to start using up my flex money!
This month I started tracking variables separately, so that's what I'm going to share. My goal is to keep everything in these categories under $760 per month. The first number is what was budgeted, the second number what was spent.
Groceries - $130 - $153
Eating Out - $60 - $98
Vet/Pet Supplies - $40 - $49
Car Repair/Maintenance - $50 - $38
Gas - $40 - $37
Gifts/Charity - $60 - $35
Laundry - $20 - $16
Medical/Health - $70 - $15
Miscellaneous - $5 - $10
Entertainment - $25 - $8
Furn./Equipment/Decor - $50 - $2
Fares/Parking - $20 - $2
Clothing - $40 - $1
Vacation/Travel - $60 - $0
Fees/Services - $30 - $0
Home Repair/Maint. - $25 - $0
Household Supplies - $25 - $0
Personal - $20 - $0
Total - $760 - $464
I'm practicing for retirement, so I didn't count work expenses, like the train ticket.
It looks like I may need to do some tweaking with the budget, but overall I'm pleased. I kept well under! I know not every month will be like this, though.
My groceries were high because of a K-Cup order to Amazon. Come to think of it, that's a work expense, isn't it? Oh well.
Eating out was high but much of that will go away, too, when I am not commuting.
Pet Supplies was high because I bought some aquarium equipment.
I know there will always be unders and overs. Hopefully, the unders will fund the overs in the future, if it all works out right!