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Archive for July, 2015

I'm Going to Be Bold

July 31st, 2015 at 06:32 am

I'm going to say that nothing will be spent today, so I might as well offer my July recap:

Housing: $677
Taxes: $501
Insurance: $282
Home Repair/Maintenance: $160
Utilities: $136
Groceries: $134
Household Supplies: $72
Fees/Services: $58
Gas: $57
Clothing: $54
Vacation/Travel: $54
Phone: $51
Personal: $49
Eating Out: $27
Fares/Parking: $22
Vet/Pet Supplies: $16
Laundry: $15
Gifts/Charity: $11
Medical/Health: $9
Entertainment: $8
Car Repair/Maintenance: $4

Grand Total: $2436

It's been a rough month as far as having to pay taxes and insurance, which are both semi-annual expenses. So I'm glad I still kept the total down to just under $2.5K.

My variables spending was at 92%. This included some "treats" like window-washing, new shoes, vacation, and a mani/pedi.

I was also very lucky this month that almost every time I ate out, I was treated! That won't last!

Another Day

July 30th, 2015 at 05:01 am

Well, it seems to be a pretty, low-humid day, so I'll be taking a walk. Soon, before the temperature rises. Yesterday I did not walk. It was just way too hot and sticky. This morning, the air is off and the windows are open. We'll see how long that lasts.

While filling out my papers yesterday, I realized that the questionnaire seemed to be a document for my boss to fill out -- lots of questions I can't answer. I emailed her and I'm waiting for her reply.

I went to the library yesterday (by car) and checked out three new DVD's: About Time, Enough Said, and Broken English. I tried to put in a hold for the next season of Outlander, but it is too early to do it -- it hasn't been published yet.

I'm taking the last chicken breast out of the freezer today. I'm looking forward to grocery shopping. It won't be a big stock-up though. It will be a ten-item shop. I have plenty of food on hand, just need the right items to make it all work!

Papers Came -- by Email

July 29th, 2015 at 07:52 am

I should have expected it, but I didn't. The papers I need to sign for doing the consulting job came by email rather than in the mail. That presented a problem, since my printer was running low on ink.

I had to go to Office Depot and buy new ink cartridges, to the tune of $60. (Hate the cost of those cartridges!) But I was able to print off the papers this morning just fine.

That spoiled my no-spending plan. I'm now up to 91% of my budget. This has actually been my highest-spending month since I began tracking this in March. And I still have two days left!

I have to go to the library today to return Outlander. I do not think I will walk. It's really hot and humid. I have my air conditioners on full blast.

Thinking again about my spending next month, I realized that the dentist bill will not have to be paid in August. I'll have the appointment on the 28th, but I'll pay with my flex card (I've been told it's good through the calendar year.) Even if it turns out it is not covered, there will be a lapse of time before it actually has to be paid.

First up will be the car repair. I plan to do that on August 1 to get it out of the way. I have to drive into the city on August 6 (I think) so I want it done by then. On August 6, I'm meeting the person who will eventually take over the Treasurer job on the board. I'll just show her how I do a monthly report -- just a first step for her.

Morning Walk

July 28th, 2015 at 06:43 am

I just took my morning walk. The early morning temperature is not too bad, but it is humid. I'm glad I didn't bother to take my shower first!

I checked out all the parking meters and parking lots, but no coins today. I think you have to be an early bird, like I used to be! Smile

I only watched two episodes of Outlander yesterday, so I will watch two more today. I also watched Grapes of Wrath yesterday, another great classic movie.

I'm wishing I could go to the grocery, if only for coffee, but I'm determined to spend no more this month. I have tea for my morning fix.

I will do a load of laundry, however. And that should be the last one for this month.

I've fallen into the habit of taking afternoon naps. I seem to fall into a coma after lunch. Of course, I never had this option before, but I am surprised -- I've never considered myself a napper. I stay up later, but my sleep is not disturbed.

I'm thinking about my spending next month. I will have a dentist's visit, which I expect will take up a big chunk of my variables budget. I am also planning to go up to see my brother again, and to visit my BFF in Indiana (or convince her to come here -- which is harder to do!). I need to have my air/fuel sensor checked -- it is making my "check engine" light come on. It could be a loose connection, or it could be that I need a replacement. I guess I'll do that first, and see how everything else falls out. Other things on my list: senior center fee, new aquarium plants, a car booster seat for my grandson, new walking shoes. Ah, there's always something.

No Spending

July 27th, 2015 at 05:29 am

I didn't even go out yesterday. Not that it wasn't lovely -- but it was too hot to walk, and I had no where I had to go. Staying inside means nothing spent!

I have four more days to navigate before I get a new budget. I have enough food, the cats have enough food, the fish have enough food -- I think I'm good!

Yesterday I went through my sock/lingerie drawers. I ended up throwing out a bunch of those hospital footies that I don't ever use. I transferred my pantyhose to the shoe bag (and frankly, I don't know if it's any good, I wear it so rarely). I made permanent space for my PurMist beside the bed. I have also figured out that if I just loop my yoga strap over the bedstead, I am much more likely to use it every night! The more regularly I stretch my legs, the better they feel.

Finances are kind of on hold. I won't know until next month when my Social Security payment will come, and I don't know exactly how much my stipend will be -- but I do know that it will come on the 15th. I won't rest easy until I know what to plug into my spreadsheet. Meanwhile, I just stick to my budget. I have plenty of money in checking so I am certainly not in any danger.

Today I plan to take a walk before it gets too hot, and then I will enjoy an Outlander marathon! I have the DVD for Season 1 from the library, and it's due on Thursday, I think. I also have new episodes of Last Tango and Poldark to watch. I don't watch very much on regular TV (I have a basic subscription) but I do watch the news, and occasionally there is a good movie. Last night it was Breakfast at Tiffany's, which I have seen a lot, but still enjoy. Even with all those very annoying interruptions.

Company Gone, Back to Normal

July 26th, 2015 at 06:55 am

I had a nice visit with my SIL. There were no real uncomfortable moments. I think I've learned how to politely stop the conversation from going into areas I don't want to discuss.

She even suggested that we take a weekend trip together, which is amazing, but I don't think that will happen.

My spending was not bad. I treated her at Sweet Tomatoes, which cost me $22 (got the senior discount!) We went to IKEA, where I spent $22 on a new saucepan to replace one with degrading Teflon. Then we went to Goodwill, where I spent $11 on clothes for the new baby and my granddaughter. I also got gas for $21 (the weekend involved a lot of driving around). In return, she bought my dinner at a vegetarian restaurant, and brought some wheat-free muffins for breakfast. (Which were heavy as a rock, but what the hay! Well-meant.)

My variables spending is now at 83%. I think I can hold out from spending these last few days of the month, so I can keep it there, or close.

It's very hot, and I've been running the air conditioning a lot. I would welcome another cool snap!

Clean!

July 24th, 2015 at 06:18 am

Wow, my windows look great! They've NEVER looked this good! It was really interesting, too, to watch them at work. How quickly they produced perfect results! It makes me wonder why on earth we even struggle with Windex and paper towels. That's obviously not the right way to do it. They mopped the windows with a soapy hand mop, then squeegeed for a perfect finish. Of course, they do it all the time, so knew exactly how to handle the squeegee. And I'm sure their squeegees were much better quality than we find at home stores.

The total cost was $160, well worth it to me.

My variables spending is at 74%. I'm very pleased. I've gotten my windows washed, had a little vacation, bought some shoes ... and I'm still within budget. Only a few days to go now. There will be some cost having my SIL here this weekend, but I don't expect that it will exceed my budget. We will eat out, but I am pretty sure she will insist on paying, especially since we will seek out a vegan restaurant to accommodate her diet.

My heel is feeling so much better now that I'm stretching my calves. Amazing what doing the right exercise will do! Stretching my IT band really makes a difference, too.

I didn't exercise yesterday, and today it is heating up again. I've probably already missed my window for a comfortable walk this morning. I could do a mall walk, but I have to get ready for company. And frankly, I hate to battle the traffic to get there. Maybe SIL and I will walk this evening. She will probably be here by late afternoon.

Waiting for the Window Washer

July 23rd, 2015 at 06:39 am

I'm so excited about getting my windows washed I woke up early this morning!

Just as well, I needed to clear all the windowsills, something I had forgotten to do. I have one kitchen window that is fitted with glass shelves, where I display colored glass objects. I put most of them in the dishwasher -- I will hand wash a few that seem too fragile. And later in the day I'll wash the shelves, which I have removed and have stashed under my hutch. It will be nice to have EVERYTHING sparkling!

My bathroom windowsill was just cluttered with stuff that I use a lot, and I just need to put it back where it belongs. The other windowsills I use to display a few things. I'm going to be more selective about what I put back! They were getting a little too cluttered.

Decluttering my decor makes me realize I need to decide if I am going to have a garage sale. If I do, I won't do it here, I'll go to my BFF's house which is in a better location, and where I would have help. But that would mean packing everything up and hauling it. On the other hand, if I donate to Goodwill, it's easier, but I'll lose out on the extra cash, which I can really use.

I know the last time I had a garage sale, I said to myself "Never again." Too much work for too little profit. But now I have more time..... more stuff .... it might be better!

What to do, what to do....

My Latest Ramblings

July 22nd, 2015 at 09:09 am

This morning I got my free flatbread sandwich at Corner Bakery. I bought coffee, so my breakfast was $2.28. I also had a coupon for a free cookie, too, so I got that to eat later.

Afterwards I went to the library to pick up the first season of "Outlander," which I had on hold. Once again I was early. (Why can't I get opening hours straight?) So I walked to the station, hoping to use the facilities, but that door was locked. So I went to the main room and looked at the books. There were two I liked the look of -- a Michael Connelly mystery, and a book called "Miss Garnet's Angel," by Sally Vickers, which got lots of praise on the cover and is "complex and haunting." With this "library" I don't need the real one, except for DVD's!

Then I walked back to the library to pick up Outlander. I had already parked two long blocks away, so the point I'm getting to, is that I did a lot of walking, plus some stair-climbing, since the station is on a platform -- and I first climbed up on the wrong side of the tracks, so I had to go down and up again. A lot of exercise! On the stairs I made sure to stretch out my calves, as Kiki suggested.

Last night my sister-in-law called to say she wants to come and see me this Friday and Saturday. The main reason she is coming is to pick up her son at the airport, who is flying in from Texas. She will take him back home to Michigan, but first will spend a little time with me. This is my late brother's widow. I don't see her very often, and while she is a very nice person, she is very conservative and religious, and it is sometimes a little uncomfortable talking to her. We have to skirt around a lot of issues about which we are in disagreement! Still, it is good to keep up this contact. I don't think she gets much from her own family -- she really seems to want to keep in touch with ours, at least in a nominal way.

All this is preface to saying, I will probably eat out when she is here. She is a vegan, and there are vegan restaurants around here, so eating out will be a treat for her and a way for me to get her fed. I am not a vegan cook!

She mentioned IKEA, too. I will have to be very careful around all that delectably-priced merchandise!

Another Walk Done

July 21st, 2015 at 06:41 am

Just completed another walk to the store. (It's about 30 minutes each way, so it's a big one.) I left earlier in the morning, and the day is cooler, so it was more comfortable than yesterday. And my foot doesn't hurt once I get going. It's after I've rested that my heel really hurts.

I spent $7 and got parchment paper, brown sugar, corn muffin mix, and a peach.

I did not find a single coin, or anything cool by the dumpsters, which is a disappointment!

Later today I'll make a Tex-Mex casserole. It's basically shredded chicken, peppers, salsa and cheddar cheese, topped with corn muffin mix and baked. I may call my kids to get some help eating it!

I have not been running the air conditioning at night. I sleep under a big ceiling fan, which keeps me comfortable. But I have been turning it on when I get up. Today I didn't. We'll see how long I hold out. So far it feels pretty good, and I like to open the windows and get fresh air.

Budget is now 55% spent. Paying for the window washing will change that. It is $5 for a small pane, and $8 for a large pane. I am guessing they will count each window as two panes. I think it will cost about $100. Which is fine with me; I'm very excited to be getting this done!

My Big Day (Not)

July 20th, 2015 at 06:53 pm

This morning I decided to walk to the post office and then to the grocery store to get my exercise in. I had a small package of children's books to mail to ex's daughter, who just had a baby. Unfortunately, I didn't check to see how early the post office opens! I thought it would be open at 8, but it opens at 9. So I had to carry the package to the grocery store, shop V-E-R-Y slowly, and hang around the store a bit before I walked back to the post office.

The package cost $4.22 to mail. The groceries were $19.05 -- eggs, tape, toilet paper, Kleenex and Zyrtec.

I have to go back the grocery tomorrow, because I realized I need to get a Jiffy corn muffin mix to finish a casserole. And I ran out of parchment paper today, and nearly finished off the brown sugar.

Once home, I did a load of laundry ($1.50). I made the potato pancakes again (and I'll have the last bit tomorrow!) I also made my granola, since it seemed cool enough to turn on the oven for a half-hour.

Someone was interested in my granola recipe. Here it is:

3 cups oatmeal
3 Tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup honey
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla

Mix thoroughly and spread out on a baking sheet. Bake at 300 degrees for 15 minutes. Stir, and bake 5-15 minutes more, or until it turns golden brown. Let cool, stirring a few times as it cools.

I add dried fruit, nuts, etc. at the end. Or not.

My sinus headache was gone today, but now my heel hurts like the very devil. I thought it was plantar faciitis, but it is so concentrated in the heel, I'm not sure.

However, I'm planning to walk again tomorrow, if I can.

My variables budget is 54% spent. 64% of the month is gone, so finally, I am ahead. I would like to come in under budget as much as possible so I can keep adding to my cushion.

Oh, and I found a dime! And I witnessed someone else picking up a coin, which made me very jealous that I hadn't gotten there first! Smile

Not Much to Report

July 19th, 2015 at 08:28 am

There's not much to report today, but I like to stay in the habit of daily entries.

I brought up the 42-lb. bag of kitty litter this morning. With the dolly, it wasn't too bad. Reminded me that I should use the dolly more often. It has heavier wheels than my little cart, and therefore takes the stairs more easily.

I've had a sinus headache for days now, so I used the PurMist this morning. I feel a little better, but I think I will use it again this evening before bed.

I need to exercise today. Yesterday I stopped in at the senior center to inquire about exercise classes and fitness room access. The guy at the desk knew nothing but I got online to figure it out. It looks like, if I get a senior resident's membership of $30 per year, that will qualify me to get a fitness room membership for $115 a year. That's a pretty good price, but if I want to take a yoga class, for instance, there is an additional $90 fee for 20 sessions. Sigh. Not quite the bargain I was hoping for.

I think today, anyway, I will go to the mall and walk. It is way too hot and muggy to walk outside.

I had a delightful breakfast this morning of potato pancakes and applesauce. I love being at home to make meals and eat them on the spot, rather than all the prep and brown-bagging I had to do pre-retirement!

The museum job

July 18th, 2015 at 12:30 pm

I had a good meeting at the museum yesterday, and we came to an agreement that I can live with. I will be a consultant and will work 15 hours a week. That will include one day a week in the office and the rest done remotely. I will work on profiles while the full-time researcher pursues other projects. They will send me the papers to sign, and I won't begin till mid-August.

After I left, I realized that we didn't even talk about pay! I'll see what the papers say. I am sure I will at least get the going rate; she has always been a generous boss -- but if it turns out to be too low, I'll decline, or counter.

Since it is a contract job, there are no benefits, other than free parking, and free tickets for guests. But I don't need benefits since I am covered on Medicare et al.

I had lunch with my Hyde Park friend. She insisted on treating, and I'm wondering just how long I can work this retirement celebration angle! Smile

We ate at a Mediterranean restaurant, and I had enough leftovers to feed me breakfast, lunch, and dinner today!

Since I can't decide whether to put my earnings toward the mortgage, or save it for an overseas trip, I decided to divide it and do both. Otherwise, I will keep to the retirement budget I have set up. I'm not going to let this income get eaten up by little indulgences.

Today my son installed the air conditioners. Hooray! It's really hot and sticky here. Then we went to my grandson's baseball game, which was bearable because there was some cloud cover and an occasional nice breeze. After the game I went to PetSmart and bought a 42-lb. bag of kitty litter for $16. It's still in the car. I'm going to try to bring it up with my little dolly, but I'm going to wait for the early (cool) hours tomorrow morning.

I also did two loads of laundry today ($3).

It's a reality

July 17th, 2015 at 05:38 am

Well, my friend at the museum emailed me yesterday, and we made an appointment for today to talk about the project, and terms. I'm going to drive down this morning for the appointment.

I have mixed feelings. I know it is prudent to work and take the money. But I have enjoyed my down time so much that the thought of working again is depressing. I hope I get a better feeling as I take a look at the work at hand.

Yesterday, on top of my regular tasks, I finally tackled the box of stuff I brought home from work. Finding places to put those things led to a chain reaction of reorganizing. One thing it led to was going through my travel toiletries bag and my box of extras. I threw away stuff that was out of date. Then I pulled out the one-time samples of shampoo, etc. I'm going to use them up day by day, because they really aren't needed for the travel bag, which is well-stocked with refillable bottles. I shouldn't have to buy shampoo, conditioner, or lotion for a while!

I found some cream for cracked heels, which I ought to be using. Not because my heels are cracked right now, but because I need to be proactive.

No spending.

Today, I may buy lunch. I texted a friend who lives in Hyde Park on the off chance that she could do lunch today. She hasn't answered yet. I don't get to see her very often -- but if I end up working there, I guess I will see more of her!

Later today, I will arrange for the window washing. It would be so good for my soul to have clean and shining windows!

Variables budget is at 49%, so I am doing fine.

Yesterday and Today

July 16th, 2015 at 09:18 am

The board meeting yesterday went well, and I got my free lunch, which was a calzone so big I saved half for dinner.

It did involve a lot of walking to get there, plus I had to carry three liter bottles of soda, so I got my workout.

Unfortunately, I missed my grandson's baseball game, since I got home late and had a headache.

I didn't spend anything yesterday, other than putting $20 on the transit card.

Today I walked to the library, to return the DVD, and went on to the grocery store, where I bought a bottle of creamer and a Jiffy pie crust mix. I was planning on only getting the creamer, but the mix was 1/2 off, and I am planning on making a quiche next week, so I thought I would try it. At only .29, it's a lot cheaper than a pre-made crust!

Then I hit the bonanza! I was walking by a dumpster, and saw what looked like brand-new books lying beside it. They were! I picked up five children's books for my granddaughter, and one book, still in shrink wrap, called 1000 Chairs. It is a guide for antique dealers. I thought I might be able to resell it.

I also found three pennies.

I haven't gotten serious about dieting yet, but I think I will start today. I'm just keeping a list of what I eat, with rough calorie counts. It's what has worked best for me in the past. When I get too involved with counting calories and tracking, I quit. Doing it this way keeps it easy and keeps me mindful of my choices. I don't mind if my weight loss is slow, I just want to be working on it!

My biggest challenge will be limiting ice cream. It is my weakness, especially in summer.

Next week our windows will be washed. We always have the option of having someone wash the inside, too, for a price. I've never done it, but now that I am around to let the window-washers in, I'm really tempted. I can't wash them myself without getting on a ladder (high ceilings, tall windows), and frankly, I always do a really bad job of it. I may call to find out the price per window.

I'm not done with Corner Bakery yet! They sent me an email to sample a free breakfast. I had to make a reservation, which will be next Wednesday. I will go to a nearby shopping mall instead of the station. I figure I'll buy coffee, since I have the card to fill. It will be a cheap breakfast, and a diversion.

Just a quick note

July 15th, 2015 at 07:54 am

I'm leaving in a few minutes to catch the "L" to go to the board meeting. I have to buy liters of soda on the way and charge them to the board treasury, so yes, lunch will be provided!

I got my $12K deposit! I don't know what I was thinking -- of course a lot of it was withheld, so the actual deposit was $8K+. This might quash my plan to get $500 from Chase. We'll see. I have till late August to pull things together.

It was my first glimpse of what the monthly stipend will be, but since the tax was withheld on the full amount, I don't know what the net payment will be yet. I'm estimating $224, which is a bit higher than my earlier estimation.

I adjusted the variables budget accordingly. I am at 46% with the month half-gone, so I'm on target.

On my way!

Another no-spend day

July 14th, 2015 at 11:59 am

That is, if I don't count the laundry, but that's an expense I can't help.

I went to my grandson's playoff game last night (under the lights, woo-hoo!) They ended in a tie, which was actually kind of nice. They took the "championship" photo of the two teams together. Everyone was happy. It was an exciting game, with lots of hits.

He will be playing in another league this summer, so that's not the end of baseball!

I remembered to take some water, and what a difference it made!

This morning I took a walk, hoping to beat the heat. It was a little sticky, but not bad. I checked out my favorite parking meters and found .02. Then I went to the library and checked out a book and a DVD. The DVD is a modern take on Pride & Prejudice, probably silly, but I thought I'd check it out since I'm so immersed in Austen these days. The book is by Kate Atkinson, one of my favorite writers, but the title escapes me right now.

My Discover card closed yesterday, and I added the $6.77 cashback bonus as a snowflake.

Tomorrow is my big pay day! I'm so excited! And it is also the day of my board meeting downtown. I talked to the CTA agent at my station, and she said that my senior card will get me a fare of $1.50 each trip, and I just have to load the money onto the card via one of their machines. So I'll probably put about $20 on it so that it will hold me a while. I have a $15 per month fares budget, but I haven't used it fully, so there is about $37 in the kitty.

It won't be a no-spend day. I might have to buy lunch, too. I didn't get a request to choose a box lunch, so I think lunch may not be provided. I won't expect it, but I will be happy if something generic was ordered!

No-spend day

July 13th, 2015 at 07:27 am

Yesterday was a no-spend day, the first of many, I hope. Today I am doing a load of laundry (cat threw up on my quilt) but I don't expect to spend anything other than the $1.50 it costs to wash and dry a load.

I said I had no obligations yesterday, but my grandson had TWO baseball games. I'm finding it hard to keep track of the schedule now that they are in play-offs. He is in the final play-off game today, which means his team will either be the league champion or runner-up. Awesome! The financial angle here -- I really, really, really wanted to buy a drink and I didn't. The fact that they were $1.25 was a deterrent.

Today I will remember to take a bottle of water.

My house call is taking place today at 11. I will earn a $25 Walmart gift card, which will certainly be helpful in this no-spend period. I figure I will use it for groceries. But I will still count it as a snowflake, to go toward the college funds. (I count any extra income as a snowflake, even if it is a designated gift card.) That will take me near $800. I have $100 coming from BOA for the Travel card bonus, and will earn $500 for the Chase transfer. I'm also going to get around $250 for the unclaimed property. I will have a nice sum to give to each grandchild at Christmas.

No Spending

July 12th, 2015 at 07:55 am

So, I'm starting a no-spending week ... or two. I need to curtail spending on everything except necessities to ensure I will come in under budget this month.

Ironic, since Wednesday will be my biggest payday ever! I'll get a $12K payment -- but it is for savings only.

Today I have no obligations, so I will take it easy. I plan to take a walk (before it storms!) and I want to get started on my writing project for the board, even if it's only sorting papers.

I got an appointment reminder from my dentist for an August appointment. My dentist is in my former work town, so about an hour away. Yet I think I might keep him. Finding a dentist you like and trust is not easy. And he's got my history, and it would give me an excuse to visit friends at work. I'll keep this appointment, anyway, and revisit the idea of switching after another six months go by.

Oh, I almost forgot! I wanted to talk about my recent garage sale experience! Yesterday, on the way to my grandson's baseball game, I stopped at a garage sale. Nothing at all was labeled. I picked up five things I was mildly interested in (a bag, a scarf, and three small toys) and asked about prices. The woman in charge seemed unsure, but said that the toys would be $1 each. Well, that's way too much, in my opinion, but then I asked about the scarf. "What do you think?" she said. I said, how about $5 for all? She rolled her eyes and said "No--o-o-o" very sarcastically, and didn't counter. So I put everything back and left. They may have been worth more, but I wasn't interested in paying any more than that. But the rudeness! What a way to treat your customers! Especially when you didn't even bother to price things! Gave me a bad taste all day.

Birthday Dinner a Smash Hit!

July 11th, 2015 at 03:43 pm

The birthday dinner went great! Thank goodness, since we delayed it so long. I spent most of the day prepping -- food and housework. So I was tired, and the kitchen was WRECKED at the end, but the meal turned out really good, kudos all round. And she loved the gift of the sports bra and sent me a text afterwards to let me know it fit perfectly.

So, I have lots of leftovers. I have a whole head of lettuce I didn't even get into. What do you do with iceberg lettuce? There's really no way to preserve it, is there? I'll be eating salad and pizza for a while. And I have a lot of diced ham and turkey left, but that will be good for omelets and quiches, and is easy to freeze.

I haven't spent any more, aside from $1.50 for laundry, but my AAA fee hit the credit card, so that adds $58 to the variables budget. This puts me at 48% spent -- not a good position when only 35% of the month is gone.

I really think I'll be able to lay low financially for a while, but I do have to go downtown next week for a board meeting, and there may be a transit cost. One of my fellow board members will ride the "L" with me and help me learn the ropes. I know as a senior I get a reduced fee, and I have the ID card to prove it, but I'm not sure how it works. She thought I would have to put money on the card, and I would be charged each ride at a reduced rate. My son thought I would ride free, but I would have to use my card to get a daily ticket. We'll see! (I've read the website over and over, but it's not helpful about the actual procedures.)

On Monday I'm going to get a wellness visit from UnitedHealthcare, which underwrites my Medicare Advantage plan. I will get a $25 Walmart gift card for answering health questions, getting my blood pressure taken, etc. I don't really need a medical visit, as I am pretty good about going to the doctor, but I suppose this is their way of heading off problems that may lead to expensive procedures.

Another snowflake!

Cooking Sausage

July 10th, 2015 at 09:18 am

I'm cooking the Italian sweet sausage for the pizza tonight, and boy, is it smelling great!

I am considering one of those Chase offers again. This one offers $500 for opening a checking account with a direct deposit, and opening a savings account with $15K. It is a good time for me to do both. I can switch my direct deposit from the College and from TIAA-CREF to Chase with little problem, I think. Soon I will get the $12K lump payment from the College, and all I would have to do is add $3K to that to open the savings account. I have $6K in my checking account right now, and that's not counting the slush fund of $2.7K.

I don't have to pull the trigger till August 28, but I think at that time I will do it. I would have to keep the accounts open for 90 days, but I might just end up staying with Chase, anyway. I'm no great lover of BOA, and the Chase branch is much closer to home than the BOA. BOA was convenient to work, but that's not an issue any more.

Anyway, a $500 snowflake toward my grandchildrens' college funds would be awesome!

This and That

July 9th, 2015 at 02:04 pm

Yesterday, while doing laundry, I decided to walk to Walgreen's to buy pantiliners. I like their house brand. I spent $5. Then I decided to check out the branch library nearby. I didn't have my card with me, but it looks like they do a lot with a small space. I'll be able to rent DVD's there, which is what I really wanted to know.

I found .11 on the ground, and then, by a dumpster in an alley, I found a sealed bag of plastic Easter eggs, which I will definitely use next year, and a cute artificial nest with speckled eggs, which would look great in a centerpiece, or on a wreath.

Then I walked by a Subway, where I found an unopened bag of Cheetos on the sidewalk. Clearly it had been recently dropped by a customer. So I picked it up, and with just a little trepidation, I ate them all! No ill effects. Smile

So it was kind of a fun walk! I was quite the scavenger.

This morning I went to Jewel to buy the stuff for the birthday dinner. I spent $75! Admittedly, I bought more than enough of each ingredient -- I hate to come up short -- and I expect I will have lots of leftovers to go toward other meals this month. That said, I've spent all but $10 of my grocery budget. My overall variables spending is 40%.

At noon I met friends for lunch, and one of them treated me in honor of my retirement. How nice is that? So I only had to pay $2 for parking.

I did a load of laundry today, and when I checked on the dryer, my clothes were still wet. I thought someone had interrupted the cycle. I put in another round of quarters, since I was heading off for lunch. When I came back -- still wet. The dryer is tumbling, but not heating. I reported it to management.

The same thing happened yesterday, but I thought it was because I was drying a big comforter. I ended up spreading it on my dining room table, propped up with boxes. The load from today I hung in the bathroom. Hope they fix it soon.

A Trip to Aldi

July 8th, 2015 at 07:04 am

I went grocery shopping yesterday. I was out of a lot of staples, so I went to Aldi, which I haven't done in a long time. And I bought 20 items, but that's okay, since it's been several weeks since I did a regular grocery shop. The total cost was $51, and I was able to get it all up to my condo in two trips with my IKEA bag.

The list:
Sourdough bread
Honey wheat bread
12" pan cookie (in lieu of birthday cake)
Shredded mozzarella
Shredded cheddar
Granola
Paper towels
Cream cheese
Butter
Spreadable margarine
Greek yogurt
Applesauce
Marinara sauce
Chocolate syrup
Honey
Almond milk
Oatmeal
Pancake syrup
Salsa
Strawberry preserves

It seems like a pretty good haul for the price. In general, my 10-item shops are at least $30 at the local Jewel.

In the evening, I went to my grandson's baseball game, which was in a nearby suburb. I got a tank of gas for $36.

I have already spent 30% of the variables budget, but I think it's going to be a pattern that I spend the most at the beginning of the month, and then it evens out. I had a vacation to cash flow, too. And of course there was the indulgence of buying two pairs of shoes. Much needed, though.

Upcoming expenses are: the birthday dinner (now scheduled for Friday) and lunch out with friends tomorrow.

The birthday dinner will be homemade pizza and salad and garlic bread, and the big cookie for dessert. The garlic bread is already made and in the freezer. I still have to buy most of the other ingredients -- pizza crust, pizza sauce, Sweet Italian sausage, lettuce, dressing, ham & turkey (for the salad). I'm going to buy another box of wine, too, since I'm almost out. I love having a box of wine in the fridge, by the way! So much cheaper and more convenient!

My possible meals for this week, not including the pizza, will be:

Chicken piccata
Chicken tacos
Beef stew
Cream cheese/olive/walnut sandwiches
Potato soup
Chicken pot-pie pocket

Many of these are leftovers, now in the freezer.

My cats threw up on my comforter last night. Good reminder -- time to change to my summer bedding!

Good news

July 7th, 2015 at 05:50 am

I got my second property tax bill yesterday and it was good news. My total taxes this year will be $1200 less than last year, thanks to senior citizen exemptions. Plus, my taxes are now frozen because I am a senior citizen, so it should be the same next year! This basically puts $100 back into the monthly variables budget, making it a lot more comfortable. On the new budget, I have not spent more than 86% any given month. Right now I'm at 19% this month.

I bought road food on the way home amounting to $7. Part of that was a children's meal at Wendy's so I could get the Toothless toy, which has been delivered to a very happy grandchild!

Last night I went out for frozen yogurt and spent $3.

I got an email from my museum connection asking for my cell phone number and promising "wonderful news." I haven't heard from her, though. My first reaction was disappointment -- a gut feeling that I didn't want to go back to work! But then I decided that I could throw the money at my mortgage -- or save it for a trip to England, which is something I've wanted to do all my life -- so if there is a job in the future, I will try to be happy about it. I do know it would be imprudent to turn it down.

But I am just reveling in my freedom, and would kind of hate to see it end so soon!

This is all speculation, since I don't even know what her "wonderful news" is, and heaven knows, she has left me hanging before!

Last Day of Vacation

July 6th, 2015 at 03:57 am

Yesterday was another fun day. I swam in the pool with the grandsons, we played card games, and just generally had fun. I didn't even go anywhere, and I didn't spend anything.

Today I am heading home. I will have to stop at Wendy's somewhere along the way. My youngest grandson lost his Toothless toy and I promised I would find it. I think I'm going to have to replace it, and it came from a kid's meal at Wendy's.

So soon I will pack up. I'm looking forward to getting home and starting on my retired life in earnest!

The Fourth (And the Third!)

July 5th, 2015 at 04:07 am

I'm up early in the morning. My brother has gone off to play golf, his well-deserved reward for cooking all day yesterday. We have had wonderful meals since we arrived -- it is so much fun to come here and luxuriate in the good food! As I've said before, he is a retired chef, who (luckily) still likes to cook at home and for company!

I went to garage sales in the morning yesterday, along with my DIL's mom. We found quite a few, though none of them were terrific. I bought a skirt for my granddaughter, a hoodie for myself, a car booster seat, and water toys. I spent $7.

In the afternoon, we went boating and swimming. As the day progressed, more and more nieces and nephews and their offspring arrived. We had a cookout on the patio at dinnertime, played bags and other games, and the culmination of the day was getting to see a spectacular fireworks show over the lake, while sitting on the patio! My grandson fell asleep in my lap, even while the fireworks boomed! I think these will be great childhood memories for them.

But backing up a bit, I also had a good day on the third. I met my former prof for lunch at an Irish pub. After a wonderful conversation, he needed to get going to a meeting (he's working on writing a textbook). But as we parted, I asked if I could give him a hug, and he said "Oh yes! I was hoping!" and we had a warm hug. This is the first real indication to me that he might return my feelings. He is very reserved, and he was suddenly widowed several years ago which was clearly a terrible experience for him. So he has been friendly and polite, but I have been left wondering, does he like me -- in the way I want him to? Now I think he does! Stay tuned.

Oh, and even though he was my prof, he is only eight years older than I am, which at this age, is not a big difference at all!

So far retirement is great!

Here in Michigan

July 3rd, 2015 at 12:26 pm

I drove up yesterday, leaving at about 10 am. My brother called just as I was pulling onto Lake Shore Drive, so I pulled off to talk to him. Turns out his father-in-law just had triple-bypass surgery. However, they decided to go ahead with the reunion plans, since he is doing well, my sister-in-law is sharing hospital duty with her sister, and all the food, etc. was already purchased. But he wanted me to know there was no hurry to get there, as they would be busy all day.

So began a long, slow trip to Michigan. I stopped for lunch, spending $5 on a salad and $1 on an ice cream cone. I stopped at a mall and bought two pairs of sandals. I had been planning on looking for a pair, since my brown sandals were falling apart. I was lucky enough to find great sandals on sale -- comfortable and good looking, so I bought them in brown AND white. $52 for both.

Up the road a bit, I stopped at Panera to get asiago cheese bread ($4) and at another stop got raspberries from a farmer's market ($5). Both of those were bread-and-butter gifts.

I stopped for gas ($32) and once I got to town I got a mani/pedi (so much cheaper than Chicago!) ($44) Finally rolled into my brother's driveway around 6:30 Michigan time. My kids arrived a few hours later. We had a light supper and went to bed.

So yes, it was quite a bit of spending, but nothing I am unhappy about.

I went out to lunch today with my former prof -- he treated.

Now the kids are swimming, kayaking, playing catch -- having a great old time. I'm going to join them!

Whew!

July 1st, 2015 at 06:26 am

I couldn't get on the site this morning and I almost panicked! I can't do retirement without SA!

So, hello. Here I am on the other side! Retired. Hanging out at home this morning!

Yesterday was a very emotional day. Several people wrote me very heartfelt notes, and I got a lot of warm hugs. Many promises to keep in touch.

Our farewell luncheon took place at a lovely restaurant. I ordered crab cakes and salad; no cost to me, of course! It was very, very nice.

After I packed up and left, I stopped at PetSmart on the way home and spent $20 on kitty litter, cat food, and a fish feeder block. Getting ready for four days away from home.

My variables spending for the month of June ended up being 92% of the budget -- exactly the same as the month before, although all the components were different.

My total spending for the month was $2010. Here is how it broke down:

Housing - $677
Medical/Health - $464
Gifts/Charity - $163
Groceries - $108
Eating Out - $134
Utilities - $154
Vet/Pet Supplies - $102
Gas - $59
Phone - $50
Fees/Services - $43
Laundry - $17
Personal - $16
Entertainment- $9
Furnishings/Equipment/D├ęcor - $8
Fares/Parking - $4
Car Repair/Maintenance - $3
Clothing/Accessories - $1

The medical cost includes three months' payment to Medicare Part B. From here on in, it will come out of my Social Security check.

Gifts included two birthdays.

Eating Out was high because of "last" lunches with friends, and a lot of breakfasts on the road because of time demands. It should be better this month. Though, with eating out being my major social outlet, maybe not!

Vet/Pet Supplies included a vet visit this month.

Gas was higher than usual because of more driving to work than usual.

Fees included a beach pass and ordering a copy of my marriage certificate for Social Security.

Personal included a haircut.

If you're curious the $3 car maintenance was a car wash, and the $1 clothing expense was a scarf bought at a garage sale!

Today I'm getting ready for my trip to Michigan. I just tried on four pairs of capris, and two of them went into the "too small" box. (One of my first goals as a retiree is to get small enough again to wear the clothes in the "too small" box.) Other than packing, I have to process some food that will go bad if I leave it, get the animals all ready to be alone for four days (including cleaning the fish tank), and maybe -- maybe -- getting a manicure/pedicure. I might do that once I get there, though. It's certainly cheaper there!