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Archive for August, 2015

Hot & Humid Coming Back

August 31st, 2015 at 06:44 am

I'm going to get out for my walk as soon as possible! I'm going to walk to the grocery and buy cat food. My cat has informed me that she doesn't want to eat the dregs that are left in her bowl. I also need to "buy" quarters for laundry.

Yesterday I had some free entertainment. I went to my grandson's first soccer game. What fun! He was a little rocket, and I'll bet he slept well last night!

No spending yesterday, except for a $1.50 load of laundry.

I invited the family to dinner on Wednesday so I have to come up with some ideas before I shop tomorrow. I'm pretty much out of everything.

So tomorrow begins another challenging month. I won't get my SS check until the 23rd. That is actually early enough to cover a lot of my bills. I just need to be careful with spending, so as not to raid my savings any more than necessary.

I am going to go to my BFF's on Saturday (picking up her SIL on the way) to help her out after her hip surgery. There will be some cost with that, though I am sure my BFF will insist on paying for some things. I also owe $34 for the family football pool (wouldn't it be nice if I won this year?) I haven't done anything about the window or the car. The check engine light has been off for quite a while, so I'm not worried about that any more. And I can wait on the window until October. The other big thing is painting the car before winter. That will have to come from savings, I'm afraid. Maybe I can find a shop that will charge less than the $2756 that is in the slush fund.

I am not going to pay the annual fee to use the senior fitness center until I have normal cash flow. Exercise is free, after all! I just have to remember to do it. I have a book on Yoga, that I have yet to dig into. Walking is free. I can do it.

Today's menu:

Breakfast: Oatmeal w/walnuts & cranberries
Lunch: Pizza bread & mixed veggies
Dinner: Grilled cheese sandwich & tomato soup

Quiet Day

August 30th, 2015 at 05:24 am

I spent a quiet day at home yesterday, only spending $1.50 on laundry. More laundry is on tap today. I also need to take a trip to PetSmart to get cat food. I think that will be the last bit of money dribbling out this month -- a month I will be very happy to see the end of, financially speaking.

It was misty and rainy yesterday, but I took a walk anyway, between the drops. No "finds." I probably didn't walk as long as I should have, but I find it more difficult to keep going when the walk is aimless, and I have no purpose other than getting the exercise. I prefer to have a concrete goal.

The good news is that all the discomfort in my legs that bothered me so much on Friday is totally gone. Now I wonder if it was just fatigue.

Today's menu:

Breakfast: Toast & peanut butter
Lunch: Chicken rice soup
Dinner: Spaghetti




Way Over Budget

August 29th, 2015 at 06:31 am

Yesterday was a really fun day, but I spent a lot of money. The most expensive thing was the dentist. My flex benefit card was rejected so I had to pay -- $235 for a cleaning and x-rays. I was told that I could use my remaining flex benefits till the end of the year despite being retired, so I will have to follow up and manually send in the papers, in hopes that I will get reimbursed. I did get a complementary toothbrush and floss, though!

I also bought breakfast and lunch out - $18 for both. I got a free dinner at the alumni dinner to offset that. Also got a free handful of candy, and a tomato! (Hey, I count everything!)

My watchband broke, so I bought a $10 replacement. I actually may return it, because I am not thrilled with the fit.

And I also stopped at Goodwill, and bought a puzzle and some minion dolls for my grandsons' birthdays, which are coming up this fall. $3

And I topped off my tank for $26.

I had a good day visiting old friends, and even meeting new ones. It was a long day, though. I got home around 9. My legs were aching terribly, even though I did not walk around much, so I need to figure out what's going on. It took me a long time to fall asleep. At one point I got up and looked up leg pain on the internet, which led me to scary articles about Deep Vein Thrombosis. I hope it isn't that! But it did remind me that I should hydrate and exercise and stretch every day, especially when I have a long drive.

I got some "free" groceries on Thursday's long walk. A woman panhandler who I sometimes see in front of the grocery store was in her usual spot, but she had a box of food she was giving away. It had been given to her by a friend, but it was the kind of stuff she couldn't use (I think she is in a halfway-house sort of thing). So she was handing it out. It was all sealed and in-date, so I took two boxes of broth, some Karo syrup and a can of Eagle Brand. And I gave her $5, so I didn't come out ahead. I assume others were giving her cash for groceries, too, so her friend's donation was helping her in a roundabout way.

I cringe to even say this, but my variables spending is 154%! Oy. Well, I didn't expect the vet bill or the dentist bill, and it is very difficult to cash flow those large amounts on a small budget. On the good side, I still have $378 in reserve from previous underspending, so I'm really doing all right, though it feels bad!

Really have to do something about getting the car painted. It looks bad, and I'm going to start getting real damage if I don't do something. I guess I'll start researching shops today.

Today's Menu:

Breakfast: Potato Bowl
Lunch: Tomato Casserole
Dinner: Barbecued Chicken, Veggies

Potato bowl is leftover mashed potatoes formed around the sides of a bowl and filled with leftover veggies, meat, cheese, etc. Tomato casserole is a fresh tomato sliced and baked with a cracker crumb crust and cheese/mayo topping.

The Daily Report

August 27th, 2015 at 06:41 am

Went to the meeting last night and spent $4 on a latte. I noticed a few others didn't buy anything at all, but I feel it is rude to take up space at an eatery and not buy anything. I found a two-hour free parking space, so that was a win!

This morning I am going to walk to the doctor's office to get my labs done. It is a thirty-five minute walk each way, so a bit of a stretch. It is a fasting test, so I can't eat breakfast till it's done. This will be a challenge.

I watched 50/50 yesterday, and it was a great movie! Funny and serious -- heartwarming, too. You wouldn't think a movie about cancer would be enjoyable, but it was so genuine, not at all corny like some sad movies are.

After watching, I walked to the library and checked out "Love is Strange" and "The Imitation Game." Eventually, I'm going to get through their collection, but I'm enjoying catching up on movies I have missed.

I didn't have my planned dinner last night. I didn't have time before the meeting, and once I got home, I wasn't really all that hungry. So here is today's menu:

Breakfast: Eggs, toast
Lunch: Salad
Dinner: Barbecued chicken, twice-baked potatoes, mixed veggies

No word from the museum yet.

Variables spending is at 118%.

Still Waiting

August 26th, 2015 at 05:38 am

It turns out I have been approved to work at the museum, but they are asking for a certificate of insurance. My boss is trying to get that waived. I'm not even sure what that means, except that they are viewing me as a business rather than a person!

I took a walk yesterday to the post office, and I found $5.25 on the way! Pretty amazing! My post office purchase was for the board and not out of my finances.

I have a board social event tonight -- thought it was yesterday, but I was mistaken. It's at Panera. I'm resolved to only buy a beverage.

Something I ate didn't agree with me yesterday and I had terrible diarrhea in the night. I suspect my fried chicken was undercooked. I'm going to have chicken again today, this time oven-baked, and I'll make sure it is thoroughly done!

I watched "Midnight in Paris" yesterday -- wonderful! Today I will watch "50/50" and then will return the DVDs to the library. Maybe I'll watch it in the morning and make the trip to the library an afternoon walk. I do love this cool walking weather.

Variables spending is at 117%. If I were getting paid this month, this would be my payday, as it is the fourth Wednesday of the month. So I suppose I am technically starting the new month now. But I am still going to hold the line.

My BFF is having hip surgery this weekend. I'm not really able to help, what with my employment status in limbo. But yesterday she asked if I could help get her SIL to her house from Chicago. That would be September 5. I said I was glad to do it. At this point I'm not sure whether I am driving her or just getting her on the train (she's coming from the west coast). It's a three-hour drive, but an easy one. I'm in favor of driving her, but she is saying, oh no, I can't impose..... I imagine that is what will happen once we wear down her politeness!

Today's menu:

Breakfast: Potato pancakes & applesauce
Lunch: Chicken rice soup & sourdough bread
Dinner: Oven-baked barbecue chicken & salad

First Day on the Job?

August 25th, 2015 at 05:53 am

Well, this was supposed to be my first day on the job, but I'm still in limbo about whether the papers are in order and I'm "official." My boss was checking on it yesterday -- didn't get back to me -- so I'm at home. I'm not making that trip for nothing.

I will probably go to the grocery today, though I hate to spend the money. Everything is conspiring against me! I have to go to a board event tonight (Dutch treat) -- I will only get coffee. I've been invited to an Armenian fest this weekend. I 've been invited out for lunch on Friday, on the day I go to the dentist and to the Alumni Dinner. I owe my cousin $34 for the annual football pool. I don't want to drop out of the social calendar, but I hate having to shell out the money right now. On the other hand, if I just tell everyone "no", will they ever ask me again? Smile The unfortunate thing about being single is that almost all socializing has a price.

I updated to Windows 10 yesterday, and a few days ago I migrated to Microsoft 365 Outlook. I was terrified I wouldn't be able to make anything work (it's happened before) but so far everything seems fine, and in fact, stuff is working better. I guess that was the whole point, huh? I never did adjust to Windows 8, just concentrated on the one window that made sense.

I spent a big portion of my day cleaning my stovetop yesterday. With only limited success. I have a black enamel stovetop with gas burners. There is burnt-on grease that I just can't get off, especially the burners. I used baking soda and vinegar first (fail) and then Easy-Off, which worked better, especially on the stove itself, but the burners are still yucky. I'm wondering now if soaking them in straight ammonia would help. If so, I'll have to buy some! And figure out what receptacle to soak them in! Does anyone have a magic solution? I'm really tired of scrubbing.

I didn't get a walk done yesterday, even though it was lovely, perfect walking weather. I'll have to do it today for sure!

Forgot my menu plans again!

Breakfast: Blueberry pancakes
Lunch: Veggie fried rice in tortillas
Dinner: Fried chicken drumsticks, mashed potatoes, salad, mixed veggies

I am not having the fried rice again; I didn't eat it yesterday because I got filled up on popcorn and didn't eat dinner.

Just got back from the grocery -- $39 for croutons, eggs, almond milk, creamer, wine, chicken drumsticks, salad in a bag, blueberries, onion, sourdough bread.

Back from Vacation

August 24th, 2015 at 06:52 am

I'm home from my weekend in Michigan, which was lovely, as usual. Especially fun times with the grandsons, who enjoyed their last bit of summer in the pool, and kayaking. I had a nice lunch with my guy (who perhaps doesn't realize he's my guy Smile) and the lunch yielded enough leftovers that I had food for my trip home.

I paid $35 for gas and food. I also stopped at CVS and picked up some pantiliners for $1, saving $3 with a birthday credit.

I thought I might start my new job tomorrow, but as of this morning, my boss has not indicated that the paperwork has been processed. Hoping she will get back to me today.

It was nice getting my laundry done so easily -- and free.

I need to go to the grocery store, but I'm thinking I might make it through today, anyway, without having to go. The longer I can procrastinate, the better!

Today's meals:

Breakfast: Toast w/peanut butter and jelly
Lunch: Scrambled eggs w/ peppers
Dinner: Veggie fried rice in flour wrap

Just heard the stock market took another severe dip upon opening. That makes me a little nervous. The last time I "retired" we went into that bad recession. I'm better off now, but still....

Variables spending is at 112%. If I can hold it down these last few days of August, I can easily make that up in September.

Getting Ready

August 21st, 2015 at 05:16 am

Today I get on the road, but I'm not in a hurry. My SIL doesn't get home till this evening, so there's little reason to rush. I will take my walk today, do some errands, and make a leisurely exit.

I'm a little worried about leaving my cat again. She still seems unhappy without her companion; I know it must be hard when I leave, too. But on the other hand, I can't be tied down so much that I never leave home!

I watched "Theory of Everything" yesterday. What an amazing performance! But it made me a little sad. I wish the first marriage could have worked out. But who can imagine the stresses and strains in any other life, much less one with so many challenges!

I did not spend anything yesterday, and nothing is being withdrawn from my account. My variables spending remains at 108%. I can hardly wait till this month is done; I feel so constrained, even though the limitation is entirely of my own making.

I found a penny on yesterday's walk.

Menu today:

Breakfast - crescent rolls
Lunch - quesadillas or grilled cheese
Dinner - road food - Chipotle if I can find one; I have a gift card to use.

Good Morning!

August 20th, 2015 at 06:40 am

It is so cool today, it's like a fresh, fall day! I'm actually wearing jeans and a long-sleeved tee, and I'm planning a nice, long walk.

I took a 50-minute walk yesterday, but despite the temperature drop, it was still a bit muggy. I can tell that today will be delightful walking weather. I'm going to walk to the library and return "Boyhood," and maybe walk down by the lake.

I thought "Boyhood" was a good movie, and, of course, I love the concept of filming it over real years. It resonated with me in many ways, as I was a single mom. I didn't marry two alcoholics, but I did have an alcoholic father, so that resonated with me, too. It was a little uncomfortable to watch sometimes, but a good lesson on how time heals, and the importance of continuing to try to do your best in the face of adversity.

Tomorrow I travel, so today I pack. However, since I'm taking my laundry, I'm going to pack light. I'm packing the outfit I want to wear on my lunch date, but otherwise, there will be plenty to choose from in the laundry!

I found a penny on my walk yesterday, but overall coin-finding has dwindled.

Finances are on automatic. Since I have exceeded my budget this month, my next goal is to come in under next month -- enough to offset the overage. When I get my first SS check in September, I will feel relieved. I hate to be spending my savings.

I got a $3 coupon from CVS (birthday gift), so I'm going to go find something I need for $3. I'm mad at myself because Corner Bakery sent me a coupon for a free muffin, and I let it expire!

Today's menu:

Breakfast: Oatmeal with walnuts and cranberries
Lunch: Fried rice (leftover)
Dinner: Peanut soup and crescent rolls

Blessed Coolth!

August 19th, 2015 at 05:26 am

It won't get into the 80's today, and that is the first time in 33 days. What a relief! I will take a long walk today.

My doctor's visit yesterday went fine. I got a clean bill of health, as well as a pneumonia shot. I may have to pay for the shot; not sure about the insurance coverage for that. After I got home, I called UnitedHealth and ordered my reward for getting the annual exam, a $15 Amazon gift card.

I had to pay $2 for parking. I found a free spot in 2-hour parking, but I was afraid to bargain on it. If I was caught going over 2 hours, it would be a ticket, probably at least $50. And at the doctor's office, you never know how long you will be. As it was, I would have JUST made it. Anyway, being cautious, I parked in the adjoining garage, which charges $2 if you exceed one hour.

My variables spending is at 108%. But I still have to pay for a tank of gas for my trip, and groceries when I get home from Michigan. Thank goodness I have a bottle of wine on hand to take as a bread & butter gift.

I have a meeting coming up on the 26th, which is set at Panera. I will eat beforehand and just get some coffee.

On the 28th, I am going to the dentist. I don't think I'll have to pay on that day (I'm going to put it on my flex card). But there may be more gas cost. On the same day, I will stop in to visit my old colleagues at the College, and will attend the Alumni and New Students barbecue, which will be a free meal for me. But I may have to eat lunch out that day.

Over all, I'm going to spend more, but I think I can stay well under the $754 surplus in the budget.

Thinking ahead to this weekend, I think I will take my laundry up there. My SIL doesn't mind if I use her machines, and it would save me a little cash.

Almost forgot! Today's meals:

Breakfast: French toast
Lunch: Veggie Fried Rice
Dinner: Cheese Quesadillas

Slept Late

August 18th, 2015 at 07:16 am

Until 8:00! Amazing! Though I did wake up several times and went back to sleep.

I have a committee meeting (via phone) today, followed by a doctor's appointment. I will probably have to bow out of the meeting early. It feels like a big day! Two things to do!

We had storms last night, but it doesn't feel much cooler, even though it supposedly is. That said, I haven't turned on the air for three days. It's liveable, just not optimal. Looks like tomorrow and Thursday are going to be cooler. And on Friday I will be heading north.

Today's meals:
Breakfast: granola with almond milk
Lunch: cannelloni
Dinner: grilled cheese, veggies, applesauce

The pantry/fridge/freezer are getting barer, but I am going to try to hold out on shopping until after my Michigan trip this weekend.

Yesterday I watched Dallas Buyer's Club. My, gritty! But I understand why both Matthew McConaghey and Jared Leto won Oscars. I also watched Junebug on This TV, I believe. In spite of the interruptions, I enjoyed it. Very real story of family relationships, good and bad.

Financial news: didn't spend, didn't use gas, didn't turn on air, didn't pay a bill. A day of didn't.

I've been Roosevelted

August 17th, 2015 at 07:42 am

I spent the WHOLE day yesterday watching "The Roosevelts." But it was time well spent. It was not only informative, but inspirational. I'm glad I saw it, and I'm even glad I saw it in one fell swoop, though it was quite a commitment in time.

During the breaks I got a little bit done, but today I am still faced with having to steam-clean the floors. And it's still hot. Despite the heat, I managed without AC yesterday. I didn't really feel the heat until late in the afternoon. My big fan is very helpful.

Yesterday I posted my meal plan for the day, and I realized it really helped me to focus, and not just eat stuff willy-nilly. So I'm going to try to do it daily.

Today's plan:
Breakfast -- toast with peanut butter & jelly
Lunch -- tuna melt
Dinner -- cannelloni

I'm really falling down on exercise. It's too hot to walk. But one of the things I saved back from the bag of donations to the library is a DVD by Cathe Friedrich called Total Muscle Sculpting. I thought I would at least try it out. That's one of my to-do's today.

I'm also going to watch one of the DVD's from the library, as I have to get them all back by Friday.

My Medicare Advantage plan will pay me with a $15 Amazon gift card, if I will take advantage of a free annual doctor's exam. So I guess I will. I hope it will really be free. I'll make the appointment today.


Air Show

August 16th, 2015 at 05:41 am

The air show continues today, although yesterday it was postponed because two parachuters were critically injured after colliding in the air. Didn't I say it? I hate the riskiness of it all. I didn't go to it but heard the planes. I hear them now -- practicing, maybe?

I did go to the library and donated the bag of stuff. I parked a couple of blocks away to avoid paying for parking, and it was a hot walk with a heavy bag. Sometimes I really shake my head at what I will do to save a quarter.

I checked out three more DVD's: The Theory of Everything, Dallas Buyer's Cub, and Boyhood. I'm looking forward to all of them. I did end up watching Sex in the City 2 yesterday before taking the bag to the library. It was pretty silly, and I just can't relate to that obsession with fashion and large-scale living.

Today, however, I will be entertained by PBS' marathon of The Roosevelts. I've seen a couple of episodes, but not the whole production.

Food plans for today are: migas for breakfast, spaghetti for lunch, and tuna salad sandwich for dinner. So far I'm still doing fine without a grocery trip, though I am missing my coffee creamer!

I didn't do all the cleaning I was planning on yesterday. Today I still have to steam the floors and clean the fish tank. Somehow, steaming the floors in 90 degree weather doesn't sound good! I'll do it fast!

No Spend Day

August 15th, 2015 at 05:12 am

Yesterday was a no-spend day for me. I have to rack up a lot of them! With no sizeable income until the end of September, these are challenging times for me.

I do have a trip to Michigan coming up next weekend. Aside from the cost of the gas, I should not have to spend anything. My brother is unfailingly generous. I'm also going to lunch with my potential BF (the real reason I keep visiting my brother!) But he will pay. He is generous also.

I will have to get groceries at some point, but so far I am stretching them easily. I continue to be amazed at how much easier it is to manage food when I'm home all day! The day before yesterday I made French bread pizzas and yesterday I made olive-nut spread for sandwiches. I still have plenty of both. Today I think I will use up the rest of the cream cheese to make alfredo pasta.

I did not go to the library yesterday -- I suffered a headache mid-day which kind of cut the day in half. But today I will take the bag of donated books/media. The DVD I watched was "Mr. & Mrs. Smith" which didn't entertain me very much, but hey, it was free, and after watching movies on TV, I appreciate anything that is whole and uninterrupted. Another DVD in the bag is "Sex in the City 2." I think I've seen it, but I thought I would start it to see if I really have. I might have just seen the first movie.

Other plans for today are to do some cleaning. I mopped yesterday, but today the wood floors and carpets need some attention. I'm going to change linens, clean the fish tank, dust, and just generally get the place tidy. Cleaning is basically free, and offers the reward of a pleasurable environment. Of course, I hate it, but I'm trying to work on my attitude. Smile

It's going to be hot today, so I will turn the air on when it gets too uncomfortable. I've managed fine with fans while temps were in the 80's, but when we get into the 90's, it's just too hot.

Today is the Air & Water Show, which is free, and a big deal. All I have to do to see some of the action is walk to the beach (two blocks). Our little beach is not the center of the action, but it's close enough. But I don't know if I really want to do it, though. I don't really like watching death-defying acts! I don't even like the circus. I think I will go if my kids invite me to come along with them; otherwise, I will probably pass, and hope that all the pilots are safe.

Today is also "Clear the Shelters" day. The shelters are waiving adoption fees. I am tempted to find a companion for my grieving cat, but I know it is the wrong decision at this time. I need to keep focused on no spending, not taking on new financial responsibilities. I need to enjoy buying less food, less kitty litter and cleaning the pan less often. My kitty is sad, but I know she will adjust. And she has me around much more than she ever has before!

I have earned 11,000+ points on my BOA travel card. But if I redeem them for cash, I will only get $66+. They encourage customers to use them for travel to get the full value. I have to admit, at this advanced age, I have never redeemed points for flights. I so rarely need to fly. Is it difficult or tricky? I may fly to Florida when my grandson is born, but I will need to choose very specific flights/times.

Real Numbers

August 14th, 2015 at 07:04 am

Okay, finally I know the real income numbers I'm going to be working with. I got my stipend from the college today. It was $20 lower than I estimated, a little disappointing, but that's okay, it will be a smaller tax bite in April.

Income:

Social Security: $1089
Stipend: $204
TIAA-CREF Interest Payment: $307
Total: $1600

Outgo:

Fixed expenses: $788
Variable expenses: $822

Fixed expenses are my assessment fees, utilities, savings for insurance and taxes, and medical premiums. Variable expenses are food, clothing, gas, gifts, entertainment, travel, etc.

I realize that many people do not consider utilities, for instance, as fixed. But mine are so regular, I can do it, being mindful, of course, when I have to make adjustments.

I also have a mortgage payment of $321. I am transferring it monthly from my E-Fund/Mortgage Fund, which is held at the same institution. It is easy to do. There is enough money there to get through the next four years even if I don't add to it, but I will add to it as I can. My part-time earnings, as well as any budget surplus, will go there to give me a cushion.

Reminder: this is a deliberate bare-bones plan for the next four years. When I am 70, I will claim my own SS benefit (currently drawing on my ex's). At that time I will get a "raise" of about $850, which will make for a more comfortable budget. So I'm making sacrifices now for more comfort later.

Another caveat: the $127K in my retirement fund is always available for withdrawals in case of dire emergency. Right now I am only collecting the interest earned. I don't plan to ever touch it in any other way, but it's there if I really need it.

I am estimating that I will earn about $1000 a month at my part-time job.

Also, I currently have $12K in my checking account. I have been holding it there because I was going to open a Chase account to earn a bonus. I have until September 27 to do that and I still may, if I can see my way to tying up the money for 90 days. However, since my SS won't start till the end of September, it's what I'm living on now.

I realize most people would find this budget unrealistic, but I have simple needs and wants, and a lot of determination, and I've been testing it successfully since March. It is only this month that I have ever gone over budget, and that was because of unexpected vet bills, which were too big to cash flow.

Expensive Packages

August 13th, 2015 at 12:23 pm

I mailed two packages this morning -- one to my son and one to my BIL. Both contained clothing and each were weighed at 4.3 lbs. The one to my BIL was one shirt -- so I know it wasn't 4 lbs. The total cost to mail them was $23.92. This seems to be a lot more than I am used to paying, but then, I usually mail books by media mail. I'm going to rethink whether I really want to ship things any more. They are just used items, bought cheaply. I don't want to spend a fortune to mail them.

I walked to the post office to get exercise, and toted the packages in my little cart. I also went to the library, but the branch is closed on Thursdays. Outside the building was a bag of donated books and DVD's. I decided to put the bag in my cart and take them to the library tomorrow when it's open. Once home, I went through the bag. One of the items is a DVD I will watch today, and I decided to keep a few of the books to read and donate later. Do you think this is unethical? They will all get to the library eventually -- and they might not have, had I not rescued the bag.

If they were just left by the garbage, I wouldn't think a thing about it, but since they were obviously intended as a donation, I do feel a bit guilty.

My variables spending is at 105% this month, but there is still $874 surplus from previous underspending.

Hanging in there

August 12th, 2015 at 11:43 am

I had a nice birthday celebration at my son's house. They made meatball subs and a zucchini chocolate cake. I took home leftovers! And they gave me a Ticket to Ride game, which we played with the grandsons. I also got many good wishes from friends, including you guys! So thanks!

This morning I went into the city for a meeting. Luckily, I didn't have to pay for parking. I resisted the temptation to pick up food on the way.

I earned $13 in Discover cash back rewards, which I transferred to my bank account. Unfortunately, my Discover bill is pretty high, with the vet bills and the window washing, as well as my regular groceries, gas, etc. I will pay it on the 15th, which is my "pay day." I put that in quotes, because now I will only get the little stipend from the College. My real pay day will now be the 3rd Wednesday of the month (starting in September), when I'll get my Social Security check. Can't wait for that, so I can stop draining savings!

I'm committed to stretching my food for the rest of the month. And tomorrow I'll enjoy some free entertainment when I go to see "Big Hero Six" outdoors in the park. I've seen it already, but it was very cute, worth seeing again with the grandsons.

Just puttering

August 11th, 2015 at 08:00 am

Just stepped out for a few groceries - $11.30 for dishwasher detergent, bread and coffee. The coffee I didn't need, but it was on clearance for half price and sounded yummy. Kahlua's French Vanilla. And I just started laundry. I expect I will do 3 or 4 loads today. If not all of them today, I will finish up tomorrow. Total cost will be $6.

I found a nickel at the grocery store, and a penny this weekend.

I've avoided turning on my air for about a week. Some of those days I was away, but when I'm home, I use the fans, and I'm doing okay. I'm being careful about the lights, too.

I am 2% over budget.

These are the meals I can make out of what I have on hand:

French bread pizza
French onion soup
Tuna salad sandwiches
Grilled cheese sandwiches
Olive-nut tea sandwiches
Peanut butter sandwiches
Omelets
Migas
Veggie quiche

Yep, many of these are repeats, but not because I'm eating them again. Because I didn't get around to them in the first place.

Lasagna is also a possibility, but I don't think I want to turn on the oven for that long.

I made plans to go to Michigan on August 22. Kept the August 28 dentist appointment, because it will come out of the September budget anyway.

Window company never got back to me, and I'm in no hurry anyway, so window replacement is on hold.

Everyone who looks at my car agrees it needs paint, so I'll just have to figure out how to get that done. I suspect that's where my first museum earnings will go.

Home Again

August 10th, 2015 at 11:01 am

I'm back from my weekend in Indiana. I had a great time with my BFF. We did our usual -- Goodwill, Red Lobster, movie! We also went to her granddaughter's birthday party.

The movie was "Ricki and the Flash," and I really enjoyed it. Kind of hilarious that so much of it was set in Indianapolis.

I spent $27 on gas, $8 on the movie, and I spent $37 at Goodwill. $8 of that was a blazer and a dress. Good finds, because dressy items are what my wardrobe really lacks. I also bought a big round platter for $3. The rest of the spending was on gifts, mostly clothing for the new baby. I got a LOT of little boy onesies in pristine condition. Also among the gifts was a brand-new Ravensburger puzzle for my friend's granddaughter, and an outfit for my DIL's mother. I always pick up items for her when I see what seems perfect, and sometimes I let her pay me for them!

My friend treated me to dinner for my birthday, and she also gave me a cow pitcher, which reminds me of one from my childhood.

Needless to say, I've spent 100% of the variables budget. However, there is still $915 in reserve from previous savings. I will do my best to keep spending down, but I do want to go to my brother's house this weekend. My birthday is tomorrow, and I usually celebrate at his house, at least some time near the day! And there are other friends to see as well, so I will bite the bullet and overspend my budget.

Life Goes On

August 7th, 2015 at 05:25 am

Everything pretty much stopped for me yesterday, but today I am back in the swing of things.

With the huge vet bills, I have spent 90% of my variables budget! Obviously, I am not going to be able to come in under budget this month; I'll just have to do the best I can. Actually, with the money I've saved coming in under budget in the last five months, I can spend an extra $1000 this month and still not be off-track.

My kids invited me over for pizza and games last night, which cheered me up a lot. My grandsons were so sweet, with hugs and so much compassion.

Today we are all going to the zoo. It is a free zoo, but parking is expensive. We'll have to take two cars, too.

And tomorrow I am probably going to drive down to see my BFF. We'll just make it a low-spend weekend.

He's gone

August 6th, 2015 at 12:51 pm

My "baby" Captain peacefully went to sleep in the vet's office while I lovingly stroked his head. It is the one great gift we can give our pets, to have such a peaceful exit.

I made the decision after a terrible night. He was closed up in the bathroom with food, water and litter, per the vet's orders. I woke up at four to hear him wailing. He had knocked over all of them and was covered with wet, gummy kitty litter. Apparently he had stumbled and rolled around trying to do his business, and managed to upset everything.

I cleaned him up best I could. He still could not stand or walk. I only got him to drink by holding him above the water dish. So I made the decision to let him go -- not without a lot of tears.

I will miss him so much. I don't even mind the money I've spent, because this hurts more.

My Turn

August 5th, 2015 at 12:50 pm

It's my turn now to deal with big vet bills. Last night my 14-year-old cat jumped down from his chair and his legs collapsed. All night he could not walk or stand. I hardly slept at all. I was certain that it was his last day on earth.

I took him to the vet this morning, and $412 later, I know that they found bad arthritis in his hip. He still can't walk, but they are hoping that pain medication will get him on his feet again. He is now closed up in the bathroom with food, water, and kitty litter in easy reach.

I'm really depressed about the money spent and don't have a lot of confidence that he will get better. But I am incapable of saying, "Maybe it's best to put him down." It's something I can't do. I've learned it time and time again.

I also learned today that my first Social Security payment will not come until the last week of September! (I also got a letter from Social Security telling me to consider my options before applying!)

This takes the wind out of my idea to put $15K in Chase to earn a bonus. I'm glad I waited. I'll be living off of savings until the end of September!

It just seems like somewhere in the process, they could have told me earlier.

Well, all the ideas I had for spending this month are off. No car repair or painting, no fitness fee, no window replacement. I will also change my dentist appointment to a later date.

Since I haven't started my part-time job yet, I probably won't see a paycheck from that till the end of September either.

Feeling gloomy.

IHOP

August 4th, 2015 at 11:41 am

This morning I took the grandsons to IHOP for breakfast. Since I had a coupon for 1 free Rooty-Tooty stack of pancakes, my total bill was only $14. I gave the waitress $4, which was 20% of what the total would have been.

Afterwards, we went to Walmart so I could get another car seat, and at least be legal on the way home. (Actually I think they're old enough to legal without a car seat -- they're just not big enough!) I had my $25 gift card, so the seat was essentially free. I spent $6 on cereal I will keep at my house for the boys, and gave $5 toward a fundraiser for a family whose child was an inadvertent victim of gun violence.

After the boys were picked up by DIL, I started a load of laundry ($1.50).

My variables spending is at 19%, with 12% of the month gone. Need to slow down a bit.

I took a look at the car today and I see that painting the front is even more necessary than I thought. It will start to rust if I don't do something.

Property manager replied that I am responsible for window damage (no surprise!) He gave me the name of their vendor, so I will call later today.

Check engine light is still off, so I think I will defer repair until it comes on again.

Going into the city tomorrow for Treasurer's meeting, and to take my forms to museum supervisor. May have a parking fee to pay.

I may go to visit BFF on Thursday, but it depends on how her doctor's visit goes today. She may be a candidate for a hip replacement.

But right now I think I'll take a nap!

Storms

August 3rd, 2015 at 09:29 am

We had two strong storms roll through yesterday. It knocked out my internet, and my dining room window was cracked by hail. I think I will be held responsible for replacing the pane, but I just sent a message to my property manager, just in case they cover it. I hope it won't be a big expense. It's just a starburst crack, but it will only get worse when winter comes.

I went to Jewel yesterday and spent $12 more on groceries. I got popcorn (real popcorn, not the microwave type), salad-in-a-bag, and Charmin wipes. Those were the things on my list not available at Aldi. I also took advantage of a 2 for 1 coupon for Greek yogurt.

This morning I had my mammogram done. It cost me $3.50 to park! I guess that's not awful since it's once a year, but I should have left early and tried to find a free place on the street. That's a lot to pay for just an hour -- maybe less.

Got about 1/4 into The Last Coyote and realized I've read it before! It's not a book I really want to read twice, so I'll pick something else out of my stack.

The check engine light went out. Makes me wonder if it's just a bad connection on the air/fuel sensor. I feel less urgency to get it fixed. However, it's time for a 140K checkup (not that I've ever been good about doing those). Learning that the average age of cars on the road is 11.5 years makes me more resolved to keep this car going. It is 15 years old, but has always worked well. Thing is, it should be repainted before winter to protect the body, but I think having that done by a reputable company would be around $3K! Maybe I could just do the front, because the paint on the back was refreshed after some body work several years ago.

Certainly cheaper than a new car, and if I'm going to work in the city once a week, I'm going to need a car.

First Day of the Month

August 1st, 2015 at 05:28 pm

Of course I was ready to spend! And I did, a little.

I went to a bunch of garage sales with my DIL. I spent $34 and got a large pedestal fan in great condition, a strainer, a cheese grater, a game for my grandson's birthday, three games for my toybox (which is getting sadly outdated for the growing boys), an artificial plant for the aquarium, a toy for my granddaughter, and an eight ball that answers questions. My grandmother had one of those eight balls, and I always loved to play with it. My grandsons love it, too!

I'm pleased with the aquarium plant, too. It was .50. I was looking at similar things at PetSmart for $12 and up.

The pedestal fan was $10, and they retail for at least $35. I was going to buy one anyway, so I'm glad I bought one this way! It will save me from turning on the AC so often.

After the garage sales I went out to lunch with the family, spending $13.

Then I went to Aldi. I bought 17 items, but spent only $36. My purchases were: French baguette, blueberries, raspberries, tortillas, bath tissue, vinegar, crackers, granola bars, peanut butter, sourdough bread, coffee, sliced cheddar, frozen yogurt, eggs, fresh mushrooms, almond milk and a can of tuna.

Of course, it took two trips to carry it in!

Meals on tap:

French bread pizza
Olive-nut tea sandwiches
Grilled cheese sandwiches
Chicken medallions
Omelets
Tuna salad sandwiches

I'm going to go to Jewel tomorrow and get a few more things I couldn't get at Aldi. Then I think I'll be set for two weeks. The only thing I might run out of is cat food, but that involves a trip to PetSmart, not the grocery store.

I looked at my bank account today and was surprised to see a credit from Social Security for $104. At first I was dismayed, thinking there was an error in my payment. But according to the website, I won't get paid until the third Wednesday of the month. So I think it must have something to do with Medicare; they must have overcharged me on my Part B payment.

I took a nice walk last night in the cool of the evening, but today my exercise was getting in and out of cars, and shopping. Too beat to walk; I just want to put my feet up.