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Archive for December, 2017

New Year's Eve Reminiscing

December 31st, 2017 at 08:28 am

I like the yearly recaps some have been posting, and I thought I would summarize my year, too:

Good stuff:

Financial - Despite a challenging budget, I managed to end the year with my net worth not only intact, but a little higher than last year.

Vacations - I went on my first-ever cruise (using my first-ever passport) from New Orleans to Mexico. I had a total blast with my kids and grandkids and my dear friend C. Then a few months later I had a beautiful long weekend getaway with my girlfriends in Madison, Indiana, where we stayed in an adorable historic home, ate some great food and went antiquing. I went to Florida twice (in quick succession), once to visit my son's family, and again to help out my DIL, who was on crutches. I went to visit my brother in Michigan often, including family get-togethers on July 4 and Thanksgiving. And I also went to visit BFF and she came to see me, and we never failed to have a great time. I had lunch with my man friend P whenever I went to Michigan, and I hope to keep seeing him in the new year.

Work - I really retired! My work at the museum ended rather abruptly in February (no fault of mine), and though I miss the extra income, I do not miss the commute, nor the stress.

Medical - I went to a nephrologist for the first time and got good news about my chronic kidney disease -- it is progressing very slowly and I learned I did not have to follow a special diet. I also learned from my GP that I did not have to take a statin any more.

Family Triumphs - My son completed his Master's in Predictive Analytics. My grandson made first violin in his middle school orchestra and is therefore concert master -- the youngest ever! My other grandson earned his yellow belt in Tae Kwan Do.

Family History - I started transcribing my mother's diaries (and got side-tracked, but that's another story!) I researched C's lineage and updated the family tree, and I got my DNA tested! I'm very British!

Bad Stuff:

Personal - I lost my good friend C to cancer. She lived approximately a year after the original diagnosis. I was privileged to be one of her carers at the end. She had an amazing last year and I was so happy to be part of it.

Car Repair - I had to replace the master switch assembly in January, and brakes in June, along with a lot of other little things. Car repairs cost me $1889, but that was a lot better than the previous year, which figured above $7K!

Medical - I had to pay $325 out of pocket for physical therapy, and I was troubled by knee pain for about half of the year (it still isn't completely gone!)

Overall, despite the tragedy of losing C, it has been a good year.



Wow, It's Cold!

December 30th, 2017 at 06:16 am

I'm not going to the gym today, or running any errands. I do need to walk over to my son's house to feed the cats, and I'll also go downstairs to do another load of laundry. But those will be my only ventures into the great outdoors.

I paid my big Discover bill this morning, which covers a lot of my Christmas spending. In a few days, my auto insurance premium will be withdrawn.

Meals today will be the rest of the fried rice, and spinach salad. I have some leftover chicken and mushrooms and evaporated milk, so I'm planning to make a cream sauce to blend with both and serve over noodles. But I won't do that until tomorrow since I already have plenty of food to eat up today.

I got a renewal notice for AARP. It is only $16, and I do use it for hotels and Walgreens discounts -- and restaurants, when I remember. But since I have dallied about renewing, they are now offering a luggage organizer set as a bonus. Looks like the set is comprised of four zippered containers in graduated sizes. I think it might make a good gift in my upcoming gap year, so I think I'm going to go for the renewal.

I intended to get more Christmas lights yesterday, but Walgreens was out of the clear ones. I even checked a second Walgreens, and they were out altogether. Oh well, at least one strand is a start.

Feeling pretty content. I love to just snuggle up in winter!

This and That

December 29th, 2017 at 05:44 am

On the way home from the gym yesterday, I stopped at Walgreens. I needed scotch tape and Command hooks. While there I looked at the discounted Christmas items, and I ended up buying a string of fairy lights. The reason being: DIL is going to give me C's Christmas tree, which is much nicer than mine, but is not pre-lit. The string of lights I bought (for only $2.50) includes 100 bulbs and is 21 feet long. Is that enough for a 7-ft. tree? It's been so long since I had to buy lights. I wonder if I should buy another set. They will be double the price if I wait till next Christmas.

I spent $21 altogether.

I also spent $1.50 on a load of laundry.

I applied for a BOA credit card which will award me $150 for spending $500 in the first ninety days. That is easily done.

I made fried rice yesterday using up sloppy joe filling, along with celery, onion, spinach, Brussels sprouts and mushrooms. Seasoned with teriyaki sauce. It was delicious! It made enough for two meals.

I was going to make sauteed chicken breast with a side of roasted Brussels sprouts for dinner, but my Fitbit told me I had already eaten enough, so I skipped dinner. It wasn't hard, because I actually wasn't too hungry. I'll make the chicken and sprouts today.

I got my check from the credit union, so I'll be depositing that today, then tomorrow, when it clears, I'll pay the big Christmas Discover bill.

I hung some pictures and replaced some ceiling bulbs yesterday. While I had the ladder out, I decided to tackle hanging a drapery rod. After looking over the hardware and the instructions, I decided I do indeed have to wait for my son to do it.

Once I get those curtains hung, I also want to replace the shade in that window. Right now I have an accordian shade that doesn't go up very far. I want to make a rolling shade out of fabric. Has anyone here done that? I wonder how difficult it is. I'm not very crafty. Maybe a Roman shade would be better? I already have the fabric, which beautifully coordinates with the curtains I bought this summer at a garage sale. I think the window will be stunning, if I can ever get it done.

Happy New Year!

December 28th, 2017 at 04:49 am

So, my new year (financially) has begun! My first spending in my January budget was $23 at Aldi and $28 at the gas station.

My ten items at Aldi were: tea, coffee, graham crackers, granola, club crackers, flour, spinach, frozen pizza, frozen chicken breasts, and white vinegar.

In keeping with the pantry challenge, I'll try to make that my last grocery shop in this budget cycle.

The gas was $2.40 per gallon, about as good as I can get in this area. I get a .03 per gallon discount for using my Food4Less card.

That puts me at 7% on my variables, which have been reworked for 2018. I am working with about $10 less per month. Assessment fees went up, and utilities went up a little, but taxes/insurance were less than the year before, so I made that adjustment, and came out with only the $10 reduction.

Today I'm going to use up some leftover sloppy joe filling, as well as chopped celery, onion and Brussels sprouts, in fried rice. I got free shaved Brussels sprouts from my DIL before they left town. I had some in a salad yesterday, but I need to figure out how to use it up faster. May just steam and eat as a side dish.

It's VERY cold here, and I would just stay inside, but I have to go out to feed my son's cats, so I might as well go to the gym, too. I will wait till it's light, though!

It's Pay Day!

December 27th, 2017 at 06:51 am

I'm getting ready to head out to the gym, but I'm reveling in PAY DAY! Weird, pay day is more exciting than Christmas.

I paid my mortgage and a Chase bill. I'm holding off on the Discover bill until my check arrives from my credit union. (End of year expenses required some moving about of funds.)

I saw that I had forgotten to add my insurance premium to expected expenses, just an oversight, but glad I caught it.

After the gym I'll stop at Aldi and get a few items.

So, I've been thinking about how to cut expenses in my gap year (which doesn't actually begin till July.)

At first I was going to do a gift moratorium, but I decided that would feel too bad, so I'm going to give token gifts of $10. Of course, I will explain to all the circumstances.

I will not contribute to college funds in 2018.

I will observe a clothing moratorium. Will not buy anything unless it is an actual, incontrovertible need.

I will not eat out unless there is a social benefit. On those occasions, I will order cheap.

I will work harder to stretch food at home. I will make more from scratch.

I will be more mindful to run full loads of laundry.

I will stretch out haircuts by doing a bangs trim myself.

I will drive less and walk more. I will also use the train more.

I will continue Goodwill shopping, but will not buy books (use library instead.) I will only buy items to resell. If I find "wants" I will ask BFF to buy it and give it to me as a gift later. (We already do that a lot.)

On the income side, I'm going to start selling things on eBay. Any little income I can generate will be helpful.

Nothing big, but all of these things combined, along with "gazelle-instense" mindfulness should get me through.

The Day After

December 26th, 2017 at 05:43 am

Whew! What a day it was! I got up at 6 to go over to my son's house. The kids opened a mountain of gifts. There were a few meltdowns, especially when GS1's "fitbit" (not the real thing) wouldn't work properly. He was mainly overexcited and overwhelmed. They would do well to downsize Christmas, I think, but they are very influenced by other relatives and they are caught in a keeping up with the Joneses kind of thing.

After the gift opening we had homemade cinnamon rolls for breakfast. Then I took some time to shower and clean up, and we went to my nephew's house for Christmas dinner. We spent the rest of the day there.

For my part, I got a real fitbit from my kids, some other fitness-related gifts like a water bottle and a foam roller, some pictures, ornaments, and more hand cream! (Guess I've complained about rough hands.) I never asked for the fitbit, but I'm delighted. It will really help me tackle my creeping weight gain, which I hope to eliminate this year.

I always enjoy Christmas, and I always enjoy seeing it come to an end and getting back to normal!

Planning to go to the gym this morning, but the car is covered with snow and the temperature is really low. It might be really hard to clean off the car. But I guess I have to do it sometime.

I'm looking forward to pay day tomorrow and a fresh start for the new year.

Because I won't be spending anything today, I did my December recap, and here it is:

Gifts/Charity: $1669 (this includes $1080 for college funds, earned in snowflakes)
Housing: $695
Medical/Health: $345
Utilities: $262 (Comcast bill came twice)
Fees/Services: $214 (wheel tax, I-Pass, Amazon Prime)
Vacation/Travel: $190
Groceries: $132
Entertainment: $107 (includes $95 for Art Institute membership)
Phone: $52
Eating Out: $44
Vet/Pet Supplies: $42
Gas: $25
Personal: $18
Car Repair/Maintenance: $14
Furnishings/Equipment/Decor: $11
Laundry: $9
Household Supplies: $6
Fares/Parking: $1

Grand Total: $3847

Now -- December begone!

Christmas Eve Plans

December 24th, 2017 at 10:05 am

More baking today. My grandson is coming over in an hour and we will make a Christmas cake together. This is a cake he has imagined -- green cake, white icing, red decorations. I've just checked to make sure I have enough flour and butter. I don't have much in the way of cake decorations; I hope he will be satisfied with the marzipan fruit and plastic holly. And sprinkles, of course. If not, we'll take the cake to his mom's and see what we can find there.

The snow is coming down outside. I don't want to drive anywhere -- actually not until Christmas is over! I will walk over to my son's house this evening and then again tomorrow morning for the gift opening. After that, tomorrow's plans are in the air. I believe DIL will make a Christmas dinner, but I'm not sure. She also mentioned going out in the evening with my nephew's wife, so I'm unclear whether both things will happen.

The bread I made yesterday is rather coarse and dense. I always seem to have this problem -- the bread doesn't rise enough. And believe me, I gave it PLENTY of time. It must be that inside the cool oven is not warm enough. Bread is so tricky. But I will eat it! I'm just not going to offer the second loaf as a gift.

Wishing everyone here the best Christmas ever! And I hope Hanukkah was the greatest ever, too. Peace on earth to all!

Yeast

December 23rd, 2017 at 12:14 pm

Ah, I couldn't make it a no spender, because I had to buy some yeast. It was $2 for six packets.

I made bread from scratch this morning, but it did not rise. I was worried that the yeast was too old, and I was right. So I read that you could work fresh yeast into a failed loaf and I decided to try it.

I still don't know if the dough will rise, but the new yeast was definitely a lot perkier when I dissolved it. Here's hoping. I love homemade bread, and the extra loaf would make a good addition to Christmas dinner.

I finally got my bill for the assessment fees. It was $1 cheaper than I thought it would be, so woo-hoo! $392. I adjusted my variables budget for next year. From January to June, I'll have $690 to spend, and from June to December (and thereafter until August 2019), only $515. This year the monthly spending amount has been $710.

Later on I'll do a post on how I intend to make cuts and get through those lean months.

When I went shopping for the yeast, I found a nice man's ring in the parking lot. I turned it in at customer service. I hope the guy who lost it will realize he lost it at the store, and come back for it.

Variables

December 22nd, 2017 at 10:09 am

My variables are up to 105%, and that's with the removal of Christmas spending, and a combination of fees (wheel tax, I-Pass & Amazon Prime) that totaled more than $200. I have five days to go till pay day.

My gas level is hovering just below one quarter tank. Ordinarily, I would fill it up, but I am wavering. I really don't want to add more to variables. Can I make it on the gas I have? I don't really HAVE to drive, though I should go to the gym daily. I would hate to miss five days in a row.

So I think I will go on Sunday and Tuesday, and I think I should be okay, gas-wise. I don't have to do any grocery shopping, and the boys will be out of school, so I won't have any pick-up duty. (Though it's possible I could be called upon today.)

I can actually spend $13 and still be even for the year, so if the needle drops to rock-bottom, I can put $13 in the tank. It would just be nice to come in under for the year.

This may seem ridiculous, when I actually have plenty of money available, but it's very important to me to meet my goals on variables spending. This is how I know my money will last, and that I will have the cash in savings when I need it.

I'm still waiting to hear what my new assessment fee will be in 2018. This will decrease my variables budget a bit more, which is clearly already a challenge!

And then there's the gap year coming up in July. So my main new year's resolution this year will be to focus on new ways to cut expenses.

Freebies

December 21st, 2017 at 12:01 pm

It's been a no-spend day, and I even got some freebies. DSW gave me a gift box for being a special customer. I guess I did buy quite a few pairs of shoes this year!

The gift box included a mug, a portable charger, a fleece blanket, some chalk, some drinking straws, and some earbuds. Most of those will be regifted. I wanted to give my son a few little things in addition to his big gift, and the charger and earbuds will be just the ticket! My grandkids will get the straws and the chalk. I would give away the mug and the blanket, but they're clearly branded "DSW."

I shifted around some money in my accounts yesterday so I could pay the grandkids' college funds. The check to the Florida grandkids was mailed this morning. As soon as I finish this, I'll take care of the local grandkids. For them, I give directly to an education savings account and it's a little more complicated.

It wasn't strictly a no-spend day since I did a load of laundry in the morning.

I am really ready for an uberfrugal month! December wears me out with all its financial demands.

Back in Town

December 20th, 2017 at 04:54 am

I'm back from my brief trip. I spent $28 on gas, $4 on food and $7 on a car wash. (Sloppy road!)

I had a lovely lunch with P in a new restaurant that was excellent. He appreciated his little gift, especially the wrapping paper! Just like a kid.

My cough got worse and I didn't get much sleep on Monday night, but I got through the day and now that I'm home I feel much better.

I have one more gift to wrap, cookies to bake (not yet, though!), and I need to distribute the college money for the grandkids. Not bad, with Christmas still five days away, and having been sick for a while!

Today I'm going to be watching for an email from my property management company. Assessment fees are going up, and I have to change the amount that will be automatically withdrawn from my bank account. But I don't know the exact amount yet. Supposedly today we will get an e-bill. I expect it will be somewhere around $393.

Wrapping Things Up

December 18th, 2017 at 08:17 am

Well, I'm heading up to Michigan today, staying at brother's tonight, having lunch with P tomorrow and then heading home again.

My cough is still hanging on and I almost canceled yesterday, but I think I am good enough to soldier through.

I am giving P a little gift, a paperweight with the name of our college on it. He always buys lunch, so I just wanted to do a little something at this seasonal time of year. I was going to make something, too, like cookies or fruit bread, but that just didn't happen. I think this will be okay.

I am taking my laundry to my brother's -- it's just so much easier than all those stairs! I'll be getting gas when I get out of Chicago and into the land of cheap(er) gas.

I'm still a little concerned about my elderly cat, but I don't think she is sick, just old. She is eating, drinking, using the litter pan. I'm sure she'll be okay for one night.

I'm going to listen to Christmas music on the way up, relax and enjoy myself. I think I will also get lunch on the road -- I just filled and started the dishwasher, and I don't want to leave dirty dishes in the sink!

I ordered one more little gift for my son -- I had a credit on my Amazon card, so it didn't cost me anything. It was something from his list and it seems like kind of an odd choice, so I hope it isn't a mistake! But I have to trust the list.

After this little trip is done, I just have Christmas Day to manage! I'm going to make cookies for the boys, but other than that I'm done. Then I'll have a week of peace and quiet, as everybody will be out of town after Christmas Day. I will enjoy that. I'm planning to catch some movies I want to see.

Then comes my favorite holiday -- New Year's Day! Because I love to reflect on the past year and make plans for the new one. I'm a great believer in the fresh start!

Ho, Ho, Ho!

December 17th, 2017 at 05:27 am

Yesterday was such a busy day. In the morning, I made the sugar cookies which I gave as gifts. The recipe actually yielded 17 large cookies, so I was overly pessimistic about how much the dough would produce. As soon as they were done, I cooked the veggies for the Christmas dinner. Then I packed up everything and went to my grandsons' recital in the city.

It was held in a beautiful seniors residence. The boys both did well. This recital had more of a Christmas bent, and it was fun to listen to.

The home had a valet service. I let them take my car, not knowing where else I could park. I noticed the rates were like $23 for an hour! Luckily, we were validated and the final cost was $5 per vehicle. My son & DIL paid for me because they felt bad that I had to pay to park for an event for their sons.

As soon as the recital was done, we headed to my ex's house to begin dinner. My ex and his wife were attending a play downtown, so DIL and I got the ham started and made the potatoes.

In a few hours, everyone else showed up, and the dinner turned out great. Then we had the big gift opening -- almost a non-event for me, since I only exchange with my ex and my nephew's family at this gathering. I gave my ex & his wife a Paris-themed picture frame and ornament. (They have vacationed several times in Paris.) I gave my nephew's family a $25 gift card for Bonefish Grill. Everyone got cookies in Harry London tins. What I got in return was two tubes of Crabtree & Evelyn hand cream, a box of marzipan and a $25 gift card for Barnes & Noble.

I'm used to it, but it's still shocking to me how much the others spend on Christmas gifts. They must have spent hundreds on each person.

It was a late night for me. I was certainly ready to go home earlier, but everyone was having a good time, and I didn't want to be a party pooper.

Now today will be a day of rest, and then I will go to Michigan on Monday to visit my brother and to have lunch with my friend P. I need to get a little gift for him, too. I'm thinking I might make more cookies, maybe krakelingen this time.

I got my auto insurance bill (not to be withdrawn until January 1). It is $337. I was certain it had gone up yet again, but it is the same. Just seems like a lot for an old car without collision coverage. Life in the big city.

Crummy Day

December 15th, 2017 at 12:52 pm

So far this has been a pretty awful day. First of all, I slept very poorly (darn that Mucinex -- I thought I took it early enough!) When I got up I realized that one of my cats had thrown up in the bed. I had to wash the sheets and mattress pad. With my other whites I had two loads. I washed them and then put both in two dryers. THEN NEGLECTED TO START ONE! The one with the mattress pad was the forgotten one, so I had to wait a long time to make my bed.

While I was making my bed, my elbow hit the lamp, which fell and broke.

Then I discovered that one of the cats had either peed or thrown up on one of the gifts under the tree. Luckily, the gift was undamaged, though it had to be rewrapped. Everything else appears to be okay, but I'm not totally sure.

My cookie making went fine, until I realized I did not have powdered sugar for the rolling-out process. I'm going to pick that up in a little while, when I go out to pick up my grandson. Meanwhile the dough is chilling in the fridge. The recipe did not make much, even though it said it would produce 3 dozen 2-inch cookies. I think not. I am making large cookies. I think I will only be able to manage 6-8 cookies, if I'm lucky. Whatever it makes, that's what I'm going with. At least I have nice tins to put them in.

I am really, really tired, as a sleepless night will do to you. But I have promised to go to a flag football game tonight, and I missed the last two, so I'm kind of beholden. At least they're short -- unlike the baseball games!

Who ever said retired life is easy? Smile

A Little More Spending

December 14th, 2017 at 05:00 pm

Today was a bit of a spending day. I spent $22 on pet supplies at PetSmart - kitty litter, cat food, and feeder blocks for the fish. Then I stepped over to Aldi and spent $51. That was more than I expected to spend, but I bought some impulse items, like scone mix, apple cider, port wine cheese spread, and ice cream. I also bought cookie icing and sprinkles. If I'm up to it, I'm going to make sugar cookies tomorrow to give as gifts on Friday. I hope they turn out, but I guess if they don't, I'll eat them!

On the way home, I got a message from Walgreens that my prescription refill was ready, so I stopped and got it - $13.

I've been under the weather all day. Not sick, but tired and phlegm-y. I took some Mucinex and I hope that helps. Even though my cold or flu or whatever it was is done, I am still feeling the after-effects. I was glad that my grandson decided not to go to Tae Kwan Do tonight, so I can get in my jammies and go to bed early.

I got a $3 Pine Cone payment today. I've made $78 from Pine Cone so far this year! That's a lot of surveys!

All my gifts ordered from Amazon have arrived and I've wrapped them all. I have yet to get something for my nephew's family. I usually get a gift card and candy. I suppose this year it will be a gift card and cookies.

Amazon Prime

December 13th, 2017 at 04:16 pm

I was checking my Chase account this morning and realized that my Amazon Prime subscription was automatically renewed on a Chase card I rarely use. I guess that's okay -- I do use the service -- I'm just glad I realized the charge was there before it became overdue. I should put a note on my calendar to cancel the subscription next year before it comes due.

Other than that, I didn't do any spending today.

I picked up a free can of cat food with a coupon at PetSmart, thus adding .69 to my snowflakes. I have two more coupons, but one was rejected (the system said I used it already -- not true!) And the other was for a brand I couldn't find on the shelf. I also have some $5 coupons for dry food, but I don't need it yet. The coupons came from my son in Florida, who adopted a dog recently and got a handful of coupons.

I slept until 8:30 this morning! Most unusual. I've been tired all day, so the extra sleep didn't really do anything.

Bracing!

December 12th, 2017 at 11:36 am

It's really cold today. I wore my ski jacket; first time this year. I'm not quite ready to pull out the down coat yet!

I stopped at Food4Less after going to the gym, and spent $21 on two bags of groceries: carrots, sausage, cheese sauce, crescent rolls, mushrooms, Hawaiian rolls, tortillas, peas, peanut butter, and peppers. Outside the store I gave $2 to the Salvation Army bucket.

I came home and did a load of laundry. Even though I did two loads at BFF's, I still needed to wash my sheets and towels.

I also got online and paid $5 to my doctor's office. Apparently they undercharged me on my last bill.

I'm sticking close to home for the rest of the day. A number of packages are scheduled to be delivered today from Amazon. I have received one already, which needs to be wrapped. It's large -- I hope I have the paper for it!

I got $9.35 cash back from Discover.

I'm taking a short trip up to Michigan next week. I'm going to have lunch with my friend P and probably stay the night with my brother.

Variables are now at 83%. Two weeks and one day till pay day.

C's Memorial

December 11th, 2017 at 11:47 am

I just got back this morning from my trip to Indiana. C's memorial was just lovely. It was held in an old Carnegie library turned art center. It was beautifully decorated for Christmas. It was the most ornate Carnegie library I've ever seen -- it even had a stained glass dome ceiling, really exquisite.

There was a lunch buffet set up and a room filled with round tables where the guests gathered. There were probably 100 people who came in and out during the day. My DIL had made a series of posters with pictures telling the story of C's life. Everyone mingled and hugged and laughed and cried, and it was just the perfect celebration. C would have loved it.

There was a lot of food left over, and I came home with some boxes of coffee and a sheet cake that we will serve at our Christmas gathering this Saturday.

Before and after, I stayed at BFF's house, and we did a little eating out and some Goodwill shopping. I spent about $27 on food and $16 on shopping. Gas cost me $25. My shopping yielded me a new hoodie, an AirBake cake pan, two more wine glasses and a soup tureen. The tureen doesn't match my dinnerware but it is in a white ribbed style that will go with it beautifully. I do have a tureen but it's going in the trash, as it's badly chipped. I've been keeping it for display with the broken side hidden against the wall, but it is unusable.

I did laundry at BFF's, and she sent me home with a bag of books, some T-shirts she couldn't wear, and a red plaid table runner that will be perfect for this time of year.

I came home really, really tired, but satisfied. I need to go to the grocery store, but I have enough to get by today, and I'm going to save that trip for tomorrow.

Expenses and Planning

December 8th, 2017 at 08:58 am

My gas level was just getting too low for comfort, so I filled up this morning for $28.

Last night I paid $1 for parking at Tae Kwan Do.

This morning I snagged free parking while I went to the library and checked out Sue Grafton's latest book and an audiobook for my trip tomorrow.

Had cereal and toast for breakfast this morning. Lunch will be fried rice, and dinner will be ants on a log and yogurt.

After I come home from my trip to Indiana, I'll have to stock up a bit on groceries, but not till then.

I took gifts and the dentist visit out of my variables, and now the percentage used is only 64%. Would like to keep that very low, as the hit to savings is more than $500.

I'm going to be doing some traveling before my gap year hits -- planning a February trip to Florida to see my son, a road trip to New England with BFF and a girlfriend trip -- destination unknown. Both of the latter sometime in the spring. I'll be doing an uber frugal January to get ready. Good practice for my uber frugal year beginning in July.

Chili's

December 7th, 2017 at 07:03 am

Yesterday I had the boys for the afternoon. We had lunch at Chili's -- only $16 thanks to a coupon. $2 of that was for the entertainment device on the table. I managed to bring home some leftover hamburger and Mandarin oranges, which I will work into my menu today.

In the evening, my younger grandson had his promotion test and earned his yellow belt in Tae Kwan Do.

I slept late this morning -- until 8 am! Very unusual for me. I think I am in a catching up mode.

On Saturday morning I am leaving for Indiana. I'll spend the night with BFF, and the following morning we'll drive for another two hours to go to C's memorial. I am taking my laundry and don't intend to pack anything but an outfit for the memorial and underwear. (And toiletries, of course.)

I am a little worried about leaving my cat. I think I will have my DIL's neighbor check in on her, but I'll have to bring back a nice present.

It doesn't seem like a vet visit is in order -- she is just aging and fragile.

My gas tank is at 25%. I'm trying to hold out on a fill up until my Indiana trip, so I can fill up there at a cheaper price. Every little bit matters.

Spending

December 6th, 2017 at 05:05 am

Yesterday was a big spending day. The dentist cost $282. They could not use the x-rays from my former dentist, as they were sent in a format they couldn't open. They were more than a year old, anyway. The good news is that my teeth are in great shape -- no issues, nothing to watch. I like my new dentist, too.

Then I spent $286 on Amazon gifts. My goal was to stay under $300 and to make equitable selections for the four people on my list. They should all be delivered on December 13. I made a note to stay home that day and watch for delivery -- I'm not giving them up to a porch pirate!

I also got a haircut for $17.

I still have a bit of shopping to do for the gathering on December 16. Gifts can be modest. I'm planning to make cookies. I'm also thinking of making jam, since I have some cute little jars. I haven't done it in a long time. I'm think about marmalade, actually -- PS's comment about looking for marmalade with real rinds in it got me thinking. Has anyone made marmalade? I never have, but it is surely no more difficult than other jams, right?

Dentist Visit Today

December 5th, 2017 at 06:26 am

I'm going to the dentist today. It's been more than a year, due to to numerous reschedulings. I haven't been great about flossing, so I'm really afraid of what they'll find.

This is a new dentist, just a couple of blocks away. I used to travel back to the suburb where I formerly lived, because I liked the dentist so much. But it is time to change. It is too far to go.

I'm watching my cat Mystery. She's getting old -- I think she's around 18 -- and she's showing it. Last night she seemed to be lying in a funny position and she seemed kind of out of it. She seemed to be favoring one of her legs. I may take her to the vet tomorrow. Today's dentist appointment falls right in the middle of the walk-in period at the vet, and I don't think I can make it.

I went to the gym last night for the first time since Thanksgiving. It happened to be Pizza Day! So I got a free light dinner. I've had a lot of free pizza lately.

I forgot to report that I gave my son $100 as a graduation gift. I took "gifts" out of the variables budget, since they are going to have to come out of savings. It is a December thing. I'll never be able to cash flow gifts in December. My savings have remained stable throughout the year, despite occasional withdrawals.

So that puts the variables at 58%.

We'll see whether I can cash flow the dentist visit. I did have my x-rays sent, so I hope they don't want any more.

It has turned really cold and the radiators haven't caught up yet. Time to break out the sweaters!

Coming Back to Life

December 4th, 2017 at 08:12 am

I did go to the recital yesterday. I stood in the back, away from everyone. I did have one coughing episode but got it under control. There was plenty of disruption, anyway, at the recital. It was held in a seniors facility, and half of the audience were residents. They were coming and going in their wheelchairs and such, and a couple of them brought their dogs! I didn't know there would be seniors there and that might have encouraged me to stay home, but I took every precaution not to spread my germs.

Both boys performed very well. The older one, who plays the violin, was approached by someone who told him he was AMAZING, and how old was he, anyway? He looks younger than his age, and his skill level is way up there, so he does seem pretty amazing.

Afterwards my ex took us all out for pizza. I probably should have bowed out, as I started fading out pretty fast and felt pretty rough by the time I got home. But I had a good night's sleep, and today, I think, I've finally knocked that headache, and my coughing is minimal.

My local kids finally decided on their Christmas plans. They are going to be here on Christmas Day and then drive down to Florida the following day. I think they are staying here for my sake, but also, I suspect, because the boys would like to have Christmas in their own home, like they always have. So I won't be alone after all, not that I was really bothered by it!

We're also going to have a pre-Christmas gathering with the ex and my nephew's family, a ham dinner and a gift exchange, on the 16th. My part in the exchange will just be small gifts for my ex and his wife and for the nephew's family. I'm also going to bring a vegetable dish and a Christmas cake that my grandson has asked for.

So Christmas is really ramping up now! And I have yet to buy gifts for my local son's family. I'm so sorry I wasn't up to speed on the Target gift card deal yesterday, because I think maybe picking out their own gifts is becoming the best solution for the boys.

Right now variables are at 84%, but so far I am including Christmas gifts in the total. But I won't be able to cash-flow all of them, so that category will eventually come out of savings, and the variables will go down. If that makes sense.

In other financial news, I learned yesterday that my assessment fee for the condo will go up 5% next year. That will raise mine from $374 to $393. It could have been worse. This will make the upcoming tough year even tougher, but I do have plenty of savings and I'm not worried yet.

Still Struggling

December 3rd, 2017 at 06:26 am

I am supposed to go to my grandsons' recital today, but I don't know if I should. My cough is bad, and it could be disruptive to others. I could take a Mucinex D before I go. I took one yesterday evening and it really cleared me up. Unfortunately, it also pretty much kept me up all night! I forgot that it had that side effect.

I did a little spending yesterday. I mailed the Christmas package to Florida; it cost $21. Then I stopped at Walgreens and bought a bottle of Advil for $9. I'm not supposed to have Advil, but I've been told by my nephrologist that I can take it for short periods if I'm really suffering. I'm really suffering. It is handling the headache, which seems to be the worst aspect of this flu.

I ran out of Kleenex yesterday and started using a roll of toilet paper for my sniffles. I left it out on the ottoman last night and this morning I found it destroyed -- also a lot of cat vomit. I forgot that Iggy is a pica cat, but he didn't forget. I very carefully keep my toilet paper out of his reach, so it was really a slip on my part to just leave it out like that.

My little outing yesterday wore me out. A reminder that it takes a while to regain your strength.

I heard on TV that it is a particularly bad flu season, and that the flu shot is not very effective this year (I can attest to that!) Try not to get this, everyone. Wash your hands and get your sleep!

The Coughing Stage

December 2nd, 2017 at 04:50 am

I have moved into the coughing stage. While it isn't enjoyable, it means I am moving through the cycle and this bug will eventually be gone. I got some sleep last night -- six or seven hours -- which hasn't been happening before. The congestion is breaking up.

I felt good enough this morning to start some laundry, take out the garbage & recycling, clean the litter box, and load the dishwasher. I am going to put clean sheets on the bed today. All these things will make me feel better.

I had to turn down a visit from an out-of-town friend. I haven't seen her since April. She is going to be in town for a few hours today, but I had to tell her I was too sick to do it. Even though I am feeling somewhat better, I don't want her coming to a sick house, and I'm sure I wouldn't be good company. We will have to make an effort to reschedule.

I want to mail my big package to Florida today. It's full of little things I have found for the kids through the year. All are wrapped and the box is ready to label and send. But it will mean going out and perhaps standing in a line. I hope I can do it. I'm going to rest before and after.

The $2K has been removed from my mortgage. What a relief.

Not Much Better

December 1st, 2017 at 03:17 am

In fact, yesterday was a worse day than the day before, and last night was awful. I am too congested to sleep and the constant headache is driving me bats. I have been a good girl and have only taken Tylenol. If there were ibuprofen in the house, I would have taken it, but it's not good for my kidneys. I don't think the Tylenol is doing much.

At least there is no spending on days like this. I don't even feel good enough to shop online!

I had a dentist appointment today, but I rescheduled for next Tuesday. At this point, I don't even know if that will be a healthy day or not! I am supposed to go to a flag football game tonight, but I think that is unlikely. I do sincerely hope I will be well enough by Sunday to attend my grandsons' recital.

I have so much to do, but none of it will get done until I am back to normal.