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Archive for July, 2016

Day One Hundred Sixty

July 31st, 2016 at 06:28 am

Calories: 1381

No more spending to report.

I just got back from the gym, one-half hour on the recumbent bike plus abs. I plan to go tomorrow morning, too, although I will be leaving for three days in Michigan. Tomorrow is strength training and I don't want to skip it. Since I have the cheap membership, I can't go to a Planet Fitness in Michigan.

Tomorrow is free pizza day, too, and I will miss that! But of course I will be getting free food for the next three days. Smile

I have the makings for a Mexican turkey meatloaf, so I'm going to either make it today, or freeze the ingredients to make it when I come home. We'll see how the day goes. It's not steamy hot, so using the oven is a possibility. I should make granola at the same time; make the oven do double-duty.

I found a home for all that copy paper. I cleared out the bottom drawer of my file cabinet and stacked it there. It's easily accessible, and it will stabilize the file cabinet (not that it's unstable, but now it's really rock-solid!)

Day One Hundred Fifty-Nine

July 30th, 2016 at 09:32 am

Calories: 1673

Believe it or not, the thing that tipped the scale yesterday was a salad! I just piled too many yummy things on it.

Yesterday I spent $9 at Target on Command hooks. I know I probably have some somewhere, but I couldn't face looking for them. I had to buy a set of 12, so I probably have 11 pairs tucked away somewhere!

I bought the hooks because the large high school graduation photo of my son fell off the wall (scaring me to death) in the middle of the night. The sticky stuff has dried out. Trying to re-use the hooks that were on it did not work.

When I get to the "stuff" segment of KonMari that will take care of the awful closet where the Command hooks are probably hiding. But I'm not there yet. I'm still on paper.

I also did a $1.50 load of laundry.

This morning after the gym I mailed three packages for $19, then stopped at the grocery and spent $41 on ten items: peanuts, dishwasher detergent, coffee, sliced cheese (American and Swiss), biscuits, ground turkey, blueberries, red pepper, and wine. I've now bought 30 items for the month. I anticipate I will buy a couple loaves of bread when I'm in Michigan (the day after tomorrow), and I'll buy a bottle of wine to take to my brother's house, but that should hold me on grocery shopping.

Variables spending is now up to 50%, only a few days into this pay cycle. Still, I think I'll be okay; I've gotten a number of expenses out of the way and I can start to do some coasting.

Day One Hundred Fifty-Eight

July 29th, 2016 at 06:37 am

Calories: 1028

I just have the feeling I've forgotten to count something I ate yesterday, but I can't think what it is. I did end up skipping breakfast -- not intentionally -- so maybe the count is true.

I stopped at Aldi's after the gym yesterday. Bought my ten items: eggs, salad, bacon bits, spreadable margarine, vinegar, creamer, flax seed, Greek yogurt, shredded cheese, ice cream. $19. You just can't beat Aldi for prices.

In the afternoon I went to Office Depot and bought copy paper and hanging files. I had a coupon for a box of copy paper for $27.99 (original price $55.99). Wow. I think I have enough paper to last till the end of my life. It's so heavy I have to carry it up from the car one or two packages at a time. So far I've managed to get four of them upstairs. I still have at least six packages in the car.

The cost of the hanging folders was $14. I needed those to continue my organizing project.

That brought my variables spending to 41%. I'm not panicking yet. Especially since I came in 15% under last month.

The Office Depot receipt offers $10 off a $50 purchase if I complete a survey. I'll do it, just in case I need more office supplies. (Certainly not paper!) I also got a $5 off coupon from DSW. It does not specify a spending requirement, so I'll try to find something very close to $5 -- socks, or a stocking stuffer.

Today I'm going to do some laundry, box up some books and shirts for my sister and her husband, and clean the fish tank. Whoa, busy day, I should rest Smile Actually, I'm off to the gym for strength training.

Day One Hundred Fifty-Seven

July 28th, 2016 at 06:40 am

Calories: 1514

I did my July recap yesterday, and here is the breakdown:

Property Tax: $823
Housing: $677
Insurance: $335
Utilities: $176
Vet/Pet Supplies: $153
Eating Out: $121
Fees/Services: $98
Gifts/Charity: $93
Phone: $52
Vacation/Travel: $47
Gas: $47
Person: $46
Medical/Health: $44
Groceries: $29
Laundry: $15
Household Supplies: $7
Car Repair/Maintenance: $7
Fares/Parking: $2
Entertainment: $1
Grand Total: $2814
Variables: 86%

So the grand total is less than I thought it would be. Overall, not a bad month, considering that I had to pay taxes and insurance, both semi-annual expenses, as well as two annual fees (AAA and I-Pass). Get a load of those groceries, huh? But the pet supply expense and the eating out expense more than makes up for that.

It's a new month! I paid my credit card bills in full, as well as my mortgage. After my gym session, I stopped in at Marshall's and bought some headphones (mainly to use at the gym) for $14. Then I went to a new (to me) grocery called Food4Less. Spent $32 for ten items: crackers, cookies, walnuts, mac & cheese, breakfast bars, raisins, popcorn, cooking spray, croutons, and frozen hamburger patties. I used a coupon that wasn't credited, so I'll have to wrestle with them today about that.

I'm going to stop at Aldi's today and buy another ten items.

Then I stopped and filled up the tank for $27, much needed; I was almost on empty.

My variables spending is already at 33%! That's mainly because I called the window company yesterday and charged the $200 fee.

It is so wonderful to have air conditioning again. I can hardly describe how good it feels, how renewing and refreshing it is. Ironically, the hot weather is breaking; we're supposed to get a cold front! But it isn't even August yet; there will be more hot weather.

Now I'm going to the gym to work out on the recumbent bike and try out my new headphones!

Day One Hundred Fifty-Six

July 27th, 2016 at 05:29 am

Calories: 1757

I almost came in very low yesterday, but late in the evening I ate some trail mix. I was up late, unable to sleep, and it had been a long time since I had eaten.

My leg pain and restlessness was very bad last night. I don't know why. I was very tired, and that seems to set it off. But how do you avoid getting tired? All I wanted to do was sleep, and there was no way I could do it. I woke up feeling fine.

The windows are finished and the AC is installed. What a luxury it will be to just turn the units on when I get warm!

Yesterday was the first day I skipped the gym. I had to babysit my grandson for half of the day, and between that, finishing up with the window washers, and having my son install the AC, there was never a good time to slip away. It's not bad to skip a day every once in a while, I'm just taking note that it's the first time, and I've been really good about taking advantage of my membership so far.

I haven't paid for the window washing yet (have to wait for the office to open so I can phone in my credit card information). So the payment is officially in the August budget, which starts today! I will try to cash-flow it. It is definitely a want, not a need, and I don't want to tap savings for it. But that will mean being careful this coming month.

I haven't done my July reckoning yet, but it appears that my variables spending ended at 86%, and my total spending topped $3,000. I'll get to it later today and post tomorrow.

Day One Hundred Fifty-Five

July 26th, 2016 at 05:44 am

Calories: 1177

Great day calorie-wise. I'm sure the heat was a factor.

My windows are washed on the inside, but not yet on the outside. The cleaners decided the best plan was to do all the internal washing, including removing and washing the storms and screens, and then put the storms and screens back after all the out-facing panes are washed (which will be done today). This will insure that every pane is clean on both sides.

But, wow, I am so hot. I can't open the windows, because the cats could jump out; there is nothing to block them.

The cost is more than it was last year -- $200. It was $160 last year.

I think next year I will either skip the inside cleaning, or do it myself. I will just have to figure out how to remove and put back the storms/screens when the professional cleaning gets done. (Otherwise, the dirty out-facing pane is trapped behind the storm/screen, and it doesn't get done.)

I know that I can't do it as well, and it will be pain using a stepladder, but this is seeming like a lot of trouble and a lot of money.

Anyway, the AC units will go up tonight, and I am dealing with my last few hours of the heat dome.

After the cleaners went home, I went to the gym yesterday and did the strength training. Getting a little more comfortable with the routine. Today I'll walk on the treadmill.

I also posted a bunch of snail-mail letters for my granddaughter to receive on "mail day" at her preschool.

Today's mission(s): Once the windows are done, I will wash and put back the window shelves and knickknacks. I will do a couple loads of laundry, and drag out the air conditioners. I'll probably need my son's help to actually get them in the windows, and he is not available till the evening.

It's almost over....

Day One Hundred Fifty-Four

July 25th, 2016 at 06:12 am

Calories: 1457

It's WINDOW-WASHING day! At least I hope so. I haven't heard from the company yet. The washers are not yet on site.

I'm on my last nerve dealing with the heat, but today is a bit cooler. And I have the hope that I can install the AC tonight after the windows are all clean, inside and out.

I went to the library yesterday to cool off. Unfortunately, they do not have comfortable chairs, and my back started hurting. (I think as a result of the strength-training exercises.) So I did not stay as long as I thought I might.

While there, I read a bit in a book called "The Joy of Half a Cookie." It's about using mindfulness to lose weight -- in a nutshell, eating what you like but being very mindful of how much you are enjoying it, and whether you feel sated or not. The idea is that you will naturally eat less if you learn to listen to what your body is telling you. I didn't check the book out. I will try to be more mindful of my eating, but I'm not going to stop counting calories. My experience has been that when I change horses in midstream, that's when the diet fails. Or I fail.

While there, I went to the book sale section (they have a continuous book sale of donated items). I found five books at a total cost of $2.50. The reason I am buying books rather than checking them out is that I can share them with friends and family after I read them, and there is no time limit. It's worth it to me for the small cost.

On the other hand, if there is a specific book that I really want to read, I will always check it out at the library. I don't ever pay the retail price for a book.

My variables spending so far this month is at 85%. That would be a cause for celebration, so late in the pay cycle, but it doesn't include the upcoming fee for window-washing, my property taxes, or insurance premium. Overall, it's been a costly month, which will require draws from savings. (And the savings are there for that purpose, I just hate to do it!)

Day One Hundred Fifty-Three

July 24th, 2016 at 06:33 am

Calories: 1397

We had slow-moving thunderstorms last night, which caused a lot of trouble with flooding, stranded traffic and damage, but also cooled things off. At least temporarily. It's supposed to get up in the 90's again today. But It was cool sleeping last night, and there is a cool breeze coming in the windows. Giving the fans a little rest.

I was going to skip the gym today, but realized that I may not be able to go tomorrow because of the window-washing. So I'll go. Today will just be a treadmill day.

I did my first routine on the strength-training machines yesterday. I was on my own, so I had to frequently consult my cheat sheet, and I had a little trouble getting the machines set right. But I got it all done. I am supposed to do the ST 2-3 times per week, but my trainer said I can do the abs every day if I like. And I may. My middle has never recovered from my hysterectomy, when I was cut across the belly.

So, I guess I should talk about finance, huh?

I'm on hold now, waiting for payday on Wednesday. No spending yesterday. I was all set to go to the movies to cool off, but there was nothing I really wanted to see, so it would have been a waste.

I will probably go to the library today because the parking is free on Sunday. I will sit and read, and maybe find some DVD's to check out.

Day One Hundred Fifty-Two

July 23rd, 2016 at 07:00 am

Calories: 1309

The big story here continues to be the heat dome. I usually feel a little respite in the morning, but this morning it is already hot and humid. I have the fans going.

Since I live on the second floor (really the third, because there is a ground level) I can't escape the heat-rising effect. The big, thick walls protect me to some extent, but it seems like once it gets hot, the heat just takes up residence. Really can't wait for a break in the weather. We might have storms today, but according to the weatherman, they will only cool for a short while.

I am planning another trip to Michigan. My son and one of my grandsons weren't able to go last time because of a baseball tournament, so they want to get their fair share of swimming, boating and good eating. We have settled on the first through third of August. I contacted man friend, but he will be away at that time (and I do know it's legitimate.) I'm going to send him the retirement book, but otherwise let things rest between us.

I am also planning a short trip to Wisconsin in September, right after Labor Day. My SIL wants to come and drive up the lake shore to visit lighthouses. Not my thing, but it will be a couple of pleasant days, trusting the weather cooperates.

I'm also trying to get a road trip to North Carolina on the books. Probably in October. This involves pinning down BFF, who is notorious for changing plans. But I think it would be fun if we can actually schedule it and stick to it. And it would be a chance to see my sister and my cousin.

The session with the personal trainer was great. He pinpointed five or six machines to work on, showed me how to use them, and gave me weight levels and repetition levels to begin with. When I told him about the challenge I have with my broken-but-fixed ankle, he recommended some stretching exercises and then gave me his own stretching strap. I didn't go through the routine, because I had already done cardio on the recumbent bike. I am not yet sure if I will go today. I do have to go out to get a free MyMixx item (yogurt) so I might as well go to the gym. It will be cool.

Day One Hundred Fifty-One

July 22nd, 2016 at 05:54 am

Calories: 1489

The first super-hot day out of four went pretty well. I went to the gym, then came home and made a delicious meal on top of the stove. "Beach chicken," which I've always made in the oven. (If you're curious, it is boneless chicken breasts topped with layers of onion slices and lemon slices, then dabbled with ketchup and brown sugar. I've done it with pork chops, too. When it bakes in the oven, the toppings cook down to make a barbecue-like sauce.)

This time, I sauteed the chicken breasts in a frying pan, and chopped up the onions and lemons and sauteed them in the ketchup-brown sugar (and a little water) in a separate pan. When both were done, I put them together. So good. And even though it sounds high-calorie, if you go light on the ketchup and brown sugar, it is not bad at all.

There were two chicken breasts left over, so I cubed them and stirred them into the leftover sauce and then put in the fridge. I'll serve it over rice to make a couple more meals. It may even stretch to three.

Late afternoon I went to Tae Kwan Do. My grandson earned two stripes on his belt, which was a cause for great celebration! We went out to dinner to celebrate that, and also the end of GS1's baseball season. I behaved myself and ordered a salad with chicken. I set aside all the chicken strips to take home; I'll make chicken salad out of those. I contributed $20 to the bill.

My variables spending is now 85% with only five days to go. But that doesn't count what the window-washing will cost, which I'll take out of next month's budget.

Today I'm meeting with the personal trainer; then I'll spend the rest of the day relaxing and trying to stay cool!

Day One Hundred Fifty

July 21st, 2016 at 06:51 am

Calories: 1645

I had a shake yesterday, which took me to a rather high total, but it filled me up for the rest of the day.

I just cleared the cache on my phone apps, so I'm hoping that will help with the storage problem. And that it won't cause new problems!

This is the first of four hot-hot days. So far I am okay, but it's not yet 9 AM. I have the fans going. I've changed plans for a dish I was planning to make. Instead of baking the chicken breasts, I will saute them on top of the stove, and make the sauce/topping in a saucepan. Ordinarily it all bakes together. I would use the crockpot, but I don't think this recipe would adapt well, as it contains fresh lemons, and it's awfully wet -- needs to cook down.

Getting ready to go to the gym -- it's air-conditioned! And this afternoon I'll go to GS2's Tae Kwan Do class, which is also air-conditioned. If I'm just miserable in between, I'll go to the library to cool off.

I think I may have fibromyalgia. Which is not something I ever thought of, even considered it kind of a made-up disease. But last night I Googled "why do I have knots in my thighs?" and I got a whole host of fibromyalgia information. The list of symptoms -- which is long -- are almost all things I suffer from. Admittedly, a lot of them are pretty universal, like insomnia, headaches, fatigue, etc. But the leg problem is pretty specific. And restless legs is another symptom, which is also something that bothers me terribly. I am interested enough that I am going to start reading up on it, and I'll mention it to my doctor when I go in September.

It looks like the bad news is that it is incurable, but there are things I can do to alleviate the symptoms. Exercise is one, so off I go to the gym!

Day One Hundred Forty-Nine

July 20th, 2016 at 07:15 am

Calories: 1545

They say the hot days are starting tomorrow, but it's hot now. I don't know how I'm going to survive it! I think I'll spend some time at the library and the mall.

I really wanted to eat more yesterday and I went to bed hungry, but I managed not to cave in. I reminded myself how bad I felt the last time I did that.

After I finish up here, I'm going to Planet Fitness for the sixth day in a row! Today I'm going to try out the elliptical. On Friday I have an appointment with a personal trainer to work out a strength-training plan. I feel I'm really getting my $10 worth. And I totally plan to be there on free bagels day and free pizza day! A frugalista's dream!

I did two loads of laundry yesterday for $3. It feels good to have that done before the intense heat sets in.

My phone -- a Moto G -- is not letting me download many updates any more due to insufficient storage. It says to delete apps, but I am pretty pared down already. Does this mean I have to get a new phone? That the updates take up so much more space that the phone is becoming obsolete? Is there a way to ADD storage to a phone? What are the ramifications of NOT updating? I'm relying on the techies out there for a little enlightenment! I don't really want to get a new phone. It's 2 1/2 years old, BTW.



Day One Hundred Forty-Eight

July 19th, 2016 at 06:39 am

Calories: 1406

There was a snag to my budget yesterday. The $40 charge to my I-Pass hit my credit card. This is a charge that refreshes every time my credit on the I-Pass gets low. (I-Pass is a transponder that automatically pays tolls on Illinois tollways.)

This means I've spent 82% of my variables budget. And it also means there is not enough left to pay for the window washing next Monday.

Well, I'm still going to get my windows washed. This is not a matter of not having the cash, I'm just not hitting my low-spending goal. I'll have to decide whether I'll take the cost from the slush fund, or roll it over to next month's budget, since it's so close to payday, when the budget resets.

Since I've already had to pay property taxes and the insurance premium this month, I hate to take any more out of savings, so I might just roll it over.

Needless to say, I'm going to make this as close to a no-spend week as possible.

Day One Hundred Forty-Seven

July 18th, 2016 at 07:33 am

Calories: 1340 (Yay!)

Finally came in low again.

I've been to Planet Fitness three days in a row and I'm planning to go again today. So far it's been treadmill and recumbent bicycle, but today I'm going to make an appointment with a trainer to get a strength-training plan.

I stayed home all day yesterday, so there was no spending, not even any laundry.

I'm down to nine days left in this budget period. I've used 77% of the variables budget. But since the window-washing next Monday will take me to 97%, I don't have any wiggle room, if I want to cash-flow the expense. According to my own rules, I can take any expense over $100 from the slush fund, but I'd rather cash-flow it if I can.

I was pretty lazy yesterday, and I'm guessing it will be a lazy week, since it's going to heat up again after a couple of temperate days. I'll be so glad to put my AC on after the window-washing is done.

Day One Hundred Forty-Six

July 17th, 2016 at 06:25 am

Calories: 1760

Yesterday was a crazy day, eating-wise. Went to an out-of-town ballgame and ended up eating at one of those high-fat roadside places where there was nothing healthy. I was in a group so just went along with the crowd. I paid for it in calories. Oh, and also paid $7.

I bought some almond milk on the way home - $3.

Before the game I got in another exercise session at Planet Fitness, this time on the recumbent bike. But it sure didn't make up for what I ate!

Day One Hundred Forty-Five

July 16th, 2016 at 10:05 am

Calories: 1657

I was doing great, coming in low, but in the evening my hunger was too great to ignore, so I crashed myself with crackers. Still, I have to get above 1800 to feel bad about myself.

I've been to Planet Fitness twice now, and I really like it! It's clean, the personnel is nice, there are tons of machines, and the clients are real people, all ages, shapes and sizes. Wearing T-shirts and sweats, not designer workout wear. Plus, they have free bagels and free pizza once a month! And I got a free T-shirt. What's not to like?

Clearly, I'm not a gym rat. All I want is a place to get some exercise away from the blistering heat (and in winter, the killing frost!).

Next week I will make an appointment with a personal trainer to create a routine on the resistance machines.

As for spending, I did a couple of garage sales this morning. I spent $9 and got an old red delft tile (very cool!), a white plate -- both for me -- and a globe and some nice toys, gifts for the grandchildren.

Getting ready now for an out-of-town baseball game. It's the last game before the playoffs. I don't know if we'll have any more games, as our team has only won one game! But I think we will at least be in the first matchup.

My grandson was hit in the chin by a ball in the last game. It stunned him for a minute, but he was okay. But it was scary for a moment.

I got a text from the power company, reporting on my credit earned so far on the peak savings program. $1.20. Well, better than nothing. Since I haven't been using air conditioning, my normal readings haven't been high, so the only way to save is to turn off the lights and fans for the designated hours. I mistakenly left one fan on, so I guess there is room for improvement!

Day One Hundred Forty-Four

July 15th, 2016 at 07:31 am

Calories: 1362

I am seeing a difference in my body. My silhouette is slimmer. My pants slide on easily. I feel better, too.

But I haven't been getting exercise. It's too hot to walk, my preferred form of exercise, and the corn on my toe pad makes it even harder.

So I joined Planet Fitness. Yesterday was the last day of a signup deal -- $1 startup fee and $10 a month, no commitment. (But there is a $39 annual fee that kicks in in October). I haven't belonged to a gym in 10-15 years, but I think maybe now is the time. This is a lot cheaper than joining the Y or the senior center. I'm going there today to check out the equipment.

Yesterday involved more spending. My date with my grandson at IHOP cost $17, and then I went to PetSmart again to use coupons and to get my replacement lid. I spent another $17 there. My pet supplies category is bursting! But I feel I should use the Muse coupons whenever I get them -- soon enough they will stop the promotion, and I'll be paying full price. I have to say I am very well stocked, and next month's cost should be very low.

My variables spending is now at 75%. I have twelve more days until the budget resents. But I think I have now gotten past the bulk of my expenses this month. Except for the window washing on the 25th, which still won't take me over.

Today is payday from the College. That check is automatically deposited into the Chase account, that I opened in order to get a bonus. I just leave that account alone. It will help me get through the gap year -- the year after the College payment stops but before my Social Security bumps up.

Day One Hundred Forty-Three

July 14th, 2016 at 06:08 am

Calories: 1681

I had dinner at a waterfront cafe last night, and I chose a Jamaican jerk chicken wrap. No way to figure out accurately what it cost me in calories, but I found two counts for similar sandwiches online, and I went with the higher one. (It was really yummy.)

The good news, and surprising, was that I didn't have to pay for it. Only three people showed up for our discussion group, so the leader treated.

A storm broke just as we were leaving. I got to the El without getting wet, but I got pretty wet on the walk home from the station. But the good news here -- again, no cost. I used my prepaid transit card, so I had a nice evening out with no cost to me at all.

Today will be very busy. I'm taking GS2 to IHOP for our "date," and then there is a Tae Kwan Do class in the late afternoon and a baseball game in the evening. Once again, the baseball game is about an hour away. It sure is nice my grandchildren are keeping me busy in my retirement.

I guess I'm still not done going to PetSmart. I printed off two more Muse coupons yesterday, and PetSmart is the only place that carries it here. While I'm there, I'll try to exchange the can cover that split on me after ONE DAY. It really doesn't fit, but I forced it (as I was advised by a PetSmart associate). I have another one, which I learned will fit fine if I use it upside down. But I would just as soon trade the split one in for a new one, since I really didn't get much value out of it. I think they'll let me, since I have the receipt.

No spending yesterday, except for $1.50 for laundry.

Day One Hundred Forty-Two

July 13th, 2016 at 07:01 am

Calories: 1395

My lunch yesterday was relatively high in calories, but I skipped dinner. My grandson and I ended up going to Red Lobster, because the cajun seafood place he wanted to go to didn't open till 4 pm. He ordered snow crab from the children's menu. I had a Caesar salad with shrimp, and crab cakes. We both ate two cheddar bay biscuits, and he had chocolate cake (and I had a few bites). It was a good time! But more expensive than I anticipated - $52 after tip. My date with with my other grandson -- at IHOP -- will be much cheaper. That has been rescheduled for tomorrow, due to his busy social schedule. Smile

Today I'm registered to go to a dinner/discussion group in the city. Since parking will be out-of-this-world expensive, I'm going to figure out how to get there on the El. Unfortunately, it's still hot and steamy, so I hope there isn't a lot of walking involved.

I finally got word that window-washing will occur on July 25-26. Yay! After that I can finally install the air conditioners! There will be a cost for the interior washing -- last year it was $160. Unfortunately, that cost will fall within this month's budget, just barely. So I will probably not meet my monthly variables goal. I'm at 70% already. Nevertheless, I will get my windows washed. It will make me happier all year long.

There was another baseball game last night -- an hour away, and it didn't start till 7:30. So it was 10:30 by the time I got home. I filled up the gas tank because gas is always cheaper in the outlying suburbs. $21.

Yesterday I finished filing my papers. But I'm not done. I have several file boxes in my closet; papers I have not looked at since I moved back to the Midwest 7 years ago. I am assuming I will be able to throw away/shred most of them. So working on those will be today's chore. Also, I have to read a couple of articles for tonight's discussion.

My son bought a "new" car yesterday -- a 2011 Toyota Prius. I told him to take good care of it -- I may buy it off of him in a few years if he is hankering to trade in again!

Editing to add a couple of things. Yesterday was my first opportunity to reduce my electrical usage during peak hours, thus earning a credit on my bill. I turned off everything and took a nap. Unfortunately, I realized later that I had turned one fan to low, rather than turning it off; I don't know how much effect that will have.

The other thing -- I just found a dime in the laundry room!

Day One Hundred Forty-One

July 12th, 2016 at 05:50 am

Calories: 1661

Sometimes the heat makes me less hungry, but sometimes it makes me crave ice cream! Yesterday was an ice cream day.

My Discover cycle closed today, bringing me $9.12 in cashback rewards. I applied them to my statement, and added the amount to my snowflakes.

No spending yesterday.

Today I'm going to take my oldest grandson to lunch at a seafood restaurant of his choice. My son has warned me he will want crab, but there is a kind of "crab in a bag" option that is reasonable. It's too bad I didn't arrange to take my younger grandson to IHOP today instead of Friday, since you can get short stacks for .58 today -- however, I decided it would be crowded, anyway, and not an enjoyable atmosphere for a "date."

I made some spaghetti sauce from scratch yesterday -- well, almost from scratch. I started with a can of stewed tomatoes. I cooked it down, seasoned it, and added mushrooms. I think it will be great for dinner. I'm going to serve it on ravioli.

For tomorrow, I have Spanish rice defrosting in the fridge. It is my aim to work through the food in the freezer for the rest of the month and to buy as few groceries as possible.

Day One Hundred Forty

July 11th, 2016 at 06:46 am

Calories: 1495

No spending yesterday, other than the $29 for kitty litter which I already reported. When I went to pick it up, I also stopped at Jewel and got free ice cream, a MyMixx deal. The $10 savings on the kitty litter and the $5.79 savings on the ice cream went into snowflakes. Even if I didn't earn any more snowflakes, each grandchild will get $439 for their college funds at Christmas.

The kitty litter was really heavy -- two 40-lb. bags. I used my little dolly to bring them up one bag at a time, but I still strained my back a little. I learned not to use the dolly on the back steps. There is a lip at the top of each step that catches the wheel.

After two beautiful cool days, it's going to heat up again today. I already have the fans going.

No plans today, other than getting back to my paper filing and reading the retirement book.

Day One Hundred Thirty-Nine

July 10th, 2016 at 08:02 am

Calories: 1488

I spent $88 at PetSmart yesterday for cat food, fish food, and aquarium filters. Unfortunately, I did not see Laura's comment about the $10-off promotion before I did this. But I checked the website this morning, and I ordered 80 lbs. of kitty litter for a grand total of $29, which I think is pretty good. Hate to spend even more --- but, kitty litter is a need in this household, and I need to get it whenever I can get a deal.

My grandson's baseball game yesterday was the best yet! They won for the first time this season, and my grandson made the winning run! It was so exciting! There were also some really good plays that brought the crowd to their feet. Afterwards we all went out for frozen yogurt. My share was $7.

This morning I woke up to a house without power. It was eerily quiet -- no bubbling sound in the aquarium, no hum of air conditioners in the background. When I realized there would be no coffee for me unless I went out, I showered and drove to Steak N Shake, where I had a nice breakfast for $7. When I got home, the power was on. Whew! I would hate to lose what I have stockpiled in the freezer.

My variables spending is now at 61%. I have 17 days till payday, and I'm committed to three meals out! I'll just have to cut back on whatever else I can. Luckily, I'm pretty well-fixed for groceries.

Iggy is supposed to get his shots this month, but I'm going to wait. He is an indoor cat; there is no hurry. My vet/pet supplies budget is already seriously overloaded this month.

Today is just going to be a quiet day, puttering and reading. I'm reading a book on retirement called "Taking Retirement." It's a diary of a college professor who retired; just his thoughts and feelings as he went through the process. Some things really hit home for me, some not. When I'm done, I'll send it to my man friend; I think it will resonate more with his experience. He is teaching his last year and will retire in May.

Day One Hundred Thirty-Eight

July 9th, 2016 at 07:55 am

Calories: 1544

I was really hungry yesterday, so it was tough to keep it down to 1544. Could have easily caved and gone way over.

This morning I got up and baked banana nut muffins. 327 calories apiece. I had one for breakfast and the rest will go into the freezer for when I feel like I need a treat.

Yesterday was a no-spend day, other than $1.50 for a load of laundry.

Went to a ball game in the evening. It was cool and breezy and I really enjoyed the break from the heat. My grandson's team lost, but not as badly as usual. They are getting better. There's another game today.

I'm going to go to PetSmart later on and get more Muse cat food. I have three coupons which will get me six free cans if I buy 18. My cats really like this a lot better than Friskies, though they still leave a bit in the dish, which drives me wild. Anyway, this will be more expensive, but better for them, and less wasteful.

Looking forward to a busy week next week. I'll be taking my grandsons on individual "dates" -- one to a seafood restaurant, the other to IHOP. And I will also attend a "salon" downtown -- a discussion group sponsored by my professional association. It will be held at a riverside cafe, which will be fun. So I'll have a big eating out bill this month.

I ordered -- and already got -- my free OTC meds which are provided by my Medicare Advantage plan each quarter. This time I ordered generic Zyrtec, generic Pepcid AC, Dr. Scholl's medicated corn removers, petroleum jelly, low-dose aspirin, and PhytoPlex Hydraguard. $50 value.

Also in yesterday's mail was a check from a class action lawsuit - $17. This was for the DRAM settlement, specific to Illinois.

And, I got an invitation to the all-campus opening breakfast at the college I retired from. It will be late next month. I just might go!

Day One Hundred Thirty-Seven

July 8th, 2016 at 06:08 am

Calories: 1673

I'm having trouble getting my calories down post-vacation. I think the heat is a factor. I don't want to cook, so I'm grazing....

Yesterday I said I would spend the day at home, but then I remembered that I had a $5 Goodwill coupon that I needed to use before it expired. So I went to Goodwill and spent quite a bit of time there. Which was nice, because it was air-conditioned!

I spent $68. Only $3 was for me -- three small Pyrex bowls. The rest was gifts -- mostly books and clothing, which will go to my grandchildren, my sister and my BIL.

One item was $10 and I didn't notice; it was a shirt that was brand-new with tags. I assumed it was $5 like the other shirts, but they marked it higher. I probably wouldn't have bought it had I noted the price, but it was still a good deal. The original tag was marked $50.

The $5 coupon did not quite compensate for the tax!

I did not expect to spend this much, but having gifts stockpiled will really help at birthdays and Christmas.

I have been earning points on the AARP site. Since I am a member, I get double points on quizzes and other activities. It's more interesting than doing surveys. The points are only good for discounts on gift cards, so you can't get one free, which is a disappointment, but every little bit helps.

Day One Hundred Thirty-Six

July 7th, 2016 at 05:46 am

Calories: 1986

I didn't think I was doing too bad calorie-wise yesterday, but summing it up at the end showed otherwise. I spent a chunk of the day away from home, so I ate granola bars that were tucked into my bag, a hot dog at the ball game, and I drank a Gatorade while tooling around. Didn't realize the whole bottle was 200 calories!

So, spending-wise, here's how the day went:

Laundry: $1.50
Groceries: $21
Pet Food: $5
Eating Out: $3

At the grocery store I bought 11 items: Bananas, Dawn, pantiliners, mushrooms, salad, box of mac & cheese, a baking potato, cheese, eggs, hamburger buns, and salsa.

At PetSmart, I bought a small bag of Muse dry food and three cans of Muse wet food, using coupons that saved almost $6. I also "bought" three more coupons that were attached to the cans. I'm going to switch my cats over to Muse. It's more expensive, but they love it and they don't waste it.

I also spent $1 on a Mega Millions ticket, and gave $3 to a panhandler. He was wheeling around on a wheelchair in the middle of the street, oh my goodness! And it was so blippin'-hot. He was working very hard for his money. Smile

I took my laptop to Office Depot for a free tune-up. It's working much better, though the loss of cookies is very obvious.

Today I'll be home most of the day. I will go to GS2's Tae Kwan Do class, but that should be it. Cooking at home will help the diet.

Day One Hundred Thirty-Five

July 6th, 2016 at 05:28 am

Calories: 1623

I'm back on track after vacation. (Sort of. Just edited to add 200 calories worth of popcorn I forgot to count!)

I got my property tax bill in the mail - $822. This is the second installment. About $50 more than I was expecting, but no big deal.

This morning my car insurance premium was withdrawn from my bank account - $335. This will be an expensive month, but these big bills will come out of savings, not the variables budget.

Variables stand at 33%. That's high for this early in the cycle, but I always even out as time goes on.

Still waiting on any word about the window washing. I posted a question to the association board, since the property management company isn't responding. It's going to be hot (again) today, and I really should have the AC units installed and going!

Day Hundred Thirty through Thirty-Four

July 5th, 2016 at 09:46 am

I don't have calorie counts or even estimates for my vacation days. It was a long weekend of cheating, but it was all delicious and I enjoyed it very much!

I had a great time with family members, and got to see a spectacular fireworks show just sitting on my brother's deck.

We had a little scare when my grandson went tubing and the rope broke. I was napping and missed the whole thing, but the little guy was a champion and handled the whole situation like a pro. His mama was pretty freaked out though. Smile

Man friend was distant and distracted at lunch, so I am even less inclined to think this is heading anywhere. I am curious about what's going on with him, but if he won't share, that's the end of the story.

Now, for the spending.

Road food: $11
Gas: $26
Groceries: $22
Car Wash: $7

Pretty cheap trip. I also spent $6 at a Goodwill I stopped at along the way. $3 of it was for a gift, and the rest items for me.

I need to get some groceries and do laundry, but I'm going to wait till tomorrow and rest up today. It was fun, but exhausting.