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Archive for January, 2018

Stocking Up and Spending

January 31st, 2018 at 08:08 am

Yesterday I went to Walmart and bought two 28-lb. packages of Slide kitty litter for $35. I looked online and WM seemed to have the lowest unit price. This litter should last through vacation and beyond.

It was quite a struggle to carry upstairs, but I did it in two trips!

I also did a $1.50 load of laundry, and bought dinner for my grandsons at McDonalds -- $17 for the three of us. They had to go to an evening event shortly after school and my son asked me if I would do this for them, so he could finish up some work.

These expenditures pushed variables up to 42%, and I have to get through the full month of February before another pay day.

I was planning to make quiche today, but I don't have any cream or half & half. I was going to pick some up this morning after the gym. However, I slept TERRIBLY and I'm too tired to go to the gym. I'm going to baby myself and I'm not planning to leave home until 4 pm when I pick up my grandson. So I'm going to try combining milk and butter to make a substitute for half & half. I think it will work, since I will be cooking it, anyway, and texture is not important.

Getting Sick Again?

January 30th, 2018 at 03:08 am

Even though I have never really overcome the cold/flu I got after Thanksgiving, I seem to be getting sick again. It's 4:30 am and I've been awake since 3. I finally got up. My throat is sore and I'm stuffy again. I took some cold medicine yesterday and last night, and I guess I'll take more today.

Yesterday was a no-spend day, again.

Today I need to get more kitty litter. I should have done that on Sunday, when I had an online coupon for PetSmart -- but I would have had to spend $80 to save $10 and I just couldn't face it. I'll probably get at least a couple of boxes today, so that there is enough to get my cat sitter through my vacation next week. It would have been easy enough to spend $80 and I don't know why I didn't do it.

My cat sitter will be my GS2 (with the help of his mom.) He wants to establish a cat-sitting business and I am his first customer. I'm going to pay him $5 a day. He'll be feeding and watering the cats, cleaning the cat pan, and feeding the fish. Since he's only 8, Mom will make sure it actually gets done.

Variables are up to 37%. The tax fees caused this jump. I counted them because they aren't an actual tax payment, and I could have chosen not to use the service.


January 29th, 2018 at 03:31 am

I sat down and did my taxes yesterday and I was pleasantly surprised. While I did have to pay $40 to the state, I will be getting a $238 refund from federal. I had to pay $76 in fees, because I ended up using TaxAct's Freelancer product (as well as paying for the state filing). But this will be the last year I have to do that, since I don't expect to do any more contract work. My net gain is $122.

It is filed electronically and now I wait!

I made a stirfry yesterday from leftover chicken and vegetables that I brought home from my restaurant meal on Friday. It made two servings!

I also made a potato/onion casserole, which made about 3-4 servings. So no more cooking for a few days.

Other than the tax stuff, there was no spending yesterday.

Property Tax

January 28th, 2018 at 07:58 am

My property tax bill arrived yesterday. It is 55% of the year's total - $872. I plan to pay it next month. I could put in on a card right now, but they charge a 2.1% fee, and that would be $18 lost. I work hard to scrounge up $18 in snowflakes, so I'm not going to throw it out the window. Next month I'll be able to pay it out of my Chase checking account, where my college payments are deposited, and I won't have to move money around.

I also received my 1099-MISC from the museum, and I downloaded my 1099-R from TIAA. So I'm ready to figure out my taxes, and I may get started today. I'd be more excited if I didn't feel like I will probably have to pay.

No spending yesterday. Today I've dodged several spending bullets already. My BFF was tentatively planning to come up and visit the planetarium with her family, in which case I would have met her there and perhaps even taken my grandchildren. But the plan fell through on their end. Then my grandson asked to go see Ferdinand at the movies, but changed his mind to next Saturday. Plus, I was very close to going through a drive-through for breakfast this morning, but I convinced myself to just go home and have apple crisp. (Yes, I finally made it!)

So it's shaping up to be a quiet day, which is just fine.

Busy Day

January 27th, 2018 at 05:41 am

In the morning, I went to the gym and then got gas ($25). I went back to the treadmill for the first time since last summer. Only 20 minutes (a mile) but I feel it in my knee today, so apparently I'm still not ready for that. Back to the bike.

I came home and did some laundry ($1.50) and then got my hair cut ($18). In no time at all, it was time to pick up GS1 from school. I took him to McDonalds for a McFlurry ($3). Then it was time to pick up GS2 and we all went to the library, where it cost me $1 to park. From there, we went to a local restaurant to meet up with the rest of the family. No spending there, my dinner was paid for.

The rest of the family went to a high school basketball game. I was invited, but I was tired, and really not too interested. I like to watch sports when I know one of the players, but when they're all strangers, it's less interesting to me. It's a good thing I decided not to go, because I had diarrhea on the way home! I think it was the mango chutney I had at noon. Note to self: cooking an under-ripe fruit doesn't really make it digestible.

Variables are now up to 26%.

I talked with my brother yesterday. He is on the fence about whether to go to our cousin's wedding. I have decided to go no matter what. I hope he goes, too, but it's up to him. He hates to pay the fare -- so funny, since he is much wealthier than I am, but he worries more. I think he worries more because he doesn't track his spending, and because his wife is spending a lot establishing her new business -- which may pay off, but who knows? She did well with her last business, but it's never a slam-dunk.

Thursday News

January 26th, 2018 at 05:42 am

I did my grocery shopping yesterday at Jewel; the total was $59. For that I got graham crackers, Annie's mac & cheese, strawberry jelly, 24 cans of cat food, 12 rolls of toilet paper, 2 pie crusts, two packages of Swiss cheese, a box of frozen burgers, a baking potato and a head of lettuce. Oh yes, and a plastic container with a spout for storing dry cat food. I've started buying the huge bags to get best unit price, but they are really unwieldy and hard to store. So I'll fill up this container intermittently to keep in the kitchen. It will make it much handier for cat-sitters, too.

Now I'll try to see how much longer I can go without another grocery trip.

I stopped at Walgreens and picked up four more packages of the panty liners on sale. The day before I paid $7 for two packages, but with additional promotional savings, I paid only $9 for four packages yesterday. Now I have enough for 20 months!

Variables are at 19%.

I took the boys to their music lessons, but afterwards took them to their cousins' house for dinner, so there was no financial burden there.

My old boss at the museum is at another institution (she didn't say where) and asked me if I was interested in contract work. I turned her down, which may seem stupid, but I just feel so done with all that. I want to continue to be really retired, with time for family and time for fun. Also, having worked for her now at two different places, I know all the pitfalls, and I'm not willing to go another round. Much as I like her personally, she is too flighty as a boss.

Also, I feel like the field is moving beyond my skills. It is a fast-moving field, and technology is pushing it into territories I don't even know. And I'm not willing to stress myself out trying to learn. Not any more.

I looked up the schedule for the Oscar movies at my local theaters, and I can actually get them all in before I go to Texas on the 2nd. But here's the rub: I would have to go to four of them at 10 p.m. I would have to see two movies a day for three days and three movies on the 1st -- the day before travel -- the last one finishing up at midnight. $35 is a great deal, but I have to think about whether I really want to do this. I don't like being out so late, especially alone, and the day before travel would be exhausting.

I also did a little poking around for flights to Houston, but realized I would have to coordinate my flight with a hotel room. I texted my cousin for recommendations, and he said they were going to reserve some rooms, so I guess I will just wait to hear more.

Low-Spend Pay Day

January 25th, 2018 at 05:21 am

Yesterday was a pretty low-spend pay day. Aside from paying my mortgage, electric bill, and credit cards, I spent $7 at Walgreens for panty liners and $5 for shakes at Steak N Shake. Oh, and also a $50 copay for the nephrologist. And I did a load of laundry.

Variables are at 9%.

I may go back and get more panty liners today. If I spend $12 more on them, I'll get a $2 coupon for anything at Walgreens, and they are currently priced at 25% off. I don't mind stockpiling them; I use them every day. Oh, and I have a $5 reward to use!

The nephrologist visit was almost a non-event. My kidneys are stable. My Vitamin D level has doubled. She told me not to come back unless my creatinine level increases. My GP will take over the testing. This is good; my GP has only a $5 copay!

Today the boys have music lessons, so I'll be taking care of chauffeuring them there after school. I may also be getting them dinner, if their parents need me to.

I'm going to be grocery shopping today -- ten items only -- probably at Jewel, because some things I need are not available at Aldi.

And of course it's back to the gym today. And it's time for a fill-up.

I made mango chutney yesterday, using up a mango that never ripened properly and some of the caramelized onions. I'll be having that with sauteed chicken tonight, unless I end up eating out with the boys. (Something I learned about mangoes -- don't refrigerate until they're ripe!)

I have yet to make the apple crisp to use up the apples. Oh, my! It might not happen today, either, since it's looking like a busy day.

Black Ice

January 24th, 2018 at 06:16 am

Black ice is keeping me in this morning. This is one of the best parts of retirement. If the weather's iffy, I don't have to go out. I was planning on the gym and a little grocery shopping this morning, but it can wait. This afternoon I have to pick up the boys, but I trust the roads will be better by then.

It's pay day! I paid my mortgage and my BOA card (the one I'm earning a bonus on). I'll wait to pay my Discover card until my SS payment shifts from pending to processed. My electricity payment hit the bank, also. That was a bit of a break, because it did not hit at all during the January pay cycle. It will probably hit twice in February, even though February is a short month. It was $51.

I did my January recap:

Housing: $713
Insurance: $337
Vacation/Travel: $236
Utilities: $129
Groceries: $81
Eating Out: $54
Phone: $52
Furnishings/Equipment/Decor: $48
Gas: $44
Medical/Health: $37
Household Supplies: $35
Vet/Pet Supplies: $25
Laundry: $14
Gifts/Charity: $11
Fares/Parking: $4

Grand Total: $1820

Variables ended up at 82%. I previously thought it was higher because I somehow overcounted the groceries.

I'm happy any time I come in under $2000. To do so when I've had to pay insurance and have bought an airline ticket is great!

February will inevitably be higher. I'll be traveling, I'll have to get a haircut, I have two gifts to buy (son's birthday & cousin's wedding), another airline ticket to buy, -- just to name a few expenses I can think of off the top of my head.

My BFF has bowed out of the Houston road trip due to previous plans with her granddaughter. I'm disappointed, because I'd much rather do that than fly again. But flying will be cheaper.

Our local theater is offering a $35 ticket to watch all nine Oscar-nominated movies. Boy, I would love to do that, but the timing will fall over my Houston trip, so I can't. So, money saved there!

My next pay day will not be until February 28. So, even though it is a short month, it will be a bit long for me.

Colonoscopy - Sort Of

January 23rd, 2018 at 07:42 am

This morning I collected a sample for a colonoscopy. No procedure needed! No prep! I'm sure you've seen the ads on TV. It was pretty simple to do. I don't know what it will cost me, but it is supposed to be covered by Medicare, so I can count on 80% being covered, anyway.

My doctor says that if they don't get the result they want, I will need to do the "real" colonoscopy next year, rather than in ten years.

I can't tell you how much better this was than doing the real one.

Yesterday I got a check from the Indiana BMV. They had overcharged for a number of years, including the years I lived there, and I turned in a claim in the class settlement. The check I got was $4.50! I guess they didn't overcharge by much. Oh well, it's $4.50 I didn't have before.

I picked up the boys after school yesterday, but it was so warm, they wanted to play on the playground for a long time. By the time they were ready to go their dad was home. He had gone in to work to shut things down. Now he's going back today to open things up again! And it's only three more weeks or so that is guaranteed. He is so over being a federal employee.

Anyway, my point is, there was no time to swing by McDonald's or anything like that, and I had another no-spend day.

I did not make the apple crisp yesterday. I hope I will get to it today, but if I pick up the boys again that will take a chunk out of my day.

I made an omelet for breakfast yesterday with the caramelized onions, and it was delicious! I'm thawing some leftover fried rice now, to which I will add some of the onions and another egg. After pay day, when I can buy some more ingredients, I'm going to follow Frugal Foodie's suggestions and make a potato-onion casserole and an onion quiche. And I'm going to have the onions as a side dish per Lucky Robin's suggestion. That should take care of all of it!

I love our community of sharing!

Comcast Bill, Etc.

January 22nd, 2018 at 07:18 am

Just got my Comcast bill and it has crept up more, now $104. I got online and looked the bill over, and it wasn't for a movie rental or anything, it was just a bunch of fees. I did not take the bait a few weeks ago to switch to AT&T because I felt in the long run they wouldn't be any different. But maybe that's the thing to do, just switch back and forth when they roll out their enticements to new customers. A pain, but they certainly don't reward loyal customers.

I didn't spend anything yesterday, and, in fact, I didn't leave the house. Just felt like taking a break from the gym. I've gone quite a few days in a row and I do need a break sometimes. I'm going back today, in the rain.

I had two big onions getting old, so I carmelized them yesterday in the crockpot. They turned out great, though I had to get up in the wee hours of the morning to turn off the pot. I didn't get started early enough! I will be looking at recipes today to figure out how to use them up. French onion soup is obvious, but I don't want that much. I know they are wonderful as topping on hamburgers and on steak.

Today I'm planning to make apple crisp to use up a bunch of apples.

I talked to BFF yesterday, and she may be interested in a road trip to Houston when I go to my cousin's wedding in March. She has a brother there she would like to visit. It would be great to share expenses and also just have fun together on the road. She has to get back to me on her final decision.

Today and tomorrow are the last days before pay day. I'm going to try not to spend anything. If I can do it, my variables will be at only 84%. I'm making a list of things I need to buy on pay day, but so far it isn't very large. Since my airline fare is 40% of the total, I think I have succeeded in being uberfrugal!

More Quiet Days

January 21st, 2018 at 06:36 am

Yesterday I started some laundry before going to the gym. I realized as I was loading that I was out of white vinegar, which I use as a fabric softener/deodorizer. So I decided to stop at Food4Less (right by the gym) to get some. While there, I also bought rolls and tuna. The total cost was $7.

I also found another dime!

Variables are at 84%. My new budget cycle starts on Wednesday. I'm so excited that I will come in under, even with cash-flowing the airline ticket. I don't think I will have to spend anything till then.

And I've already earned $161 in snowflakes, which, this year, will not go to college funds, but to fund my own gap year.

I spent the rest of the day at home, mostly reading. With the house all clean and not much to do there, it was a pleasure.

While cleaning on Friday, I threw a bunch of random papers in a bag, so I am determined to start working through them and getting them to their proper places, or thrown away. Meant to start yesterday, but actually, I was enjoying my book too much. I also watched "Paint Your Wagon" on TV, which I guess I had never seen before, because everything in it was new to me, except for some familiar music.

I anticipate today will be quiet, as well. I am expecting to do quite a bit of after-school care this coming week as DIL's company gets ready for a big event, and she puts in some overtime. Then she will be in New Orleans for that event the following week. DS will be taking the time off to be Mr. Mom, but I am sure my services will be needed. Then I go to Florida as soon as DIL gets back! So, busy times coming; I might as well rest now!

Yesterday's Spending

January 20th, 2018 at 05:25 am

Well, they shut down. For my son's sake, I hope it won't be too long. For my sake, I'm glad that SS checks will still be cut.

I had a lovely dinner with my friend K last night. I intended to be more frugal than I was, but you know how eating with a friend eggs you on. We had wine, salad, entree and dessert. But we were able to order half portions, so my total cost, with tip, was $34. Also $2 to park. Could have been worse.

K had news -- she is moving to Minnesota! I'm not totally surprised. Both her kids are there and now a granddaughter, too. I regret that we have not taken advantage of both of us living in Chicagoland very much. But she is on the south side and I am on the north, so it has not been very easy to get together.

Anyway, I will still see her for our girlfriend weekends, and I will for sure go visit her, too.

In other news, I did buy the airline ticket to Florida, as well as travel guard, for a total of $236. I will have to pay $25 to check a bag when I check in. And I will have to pay for ground transportation in Chicago, which is always expensive. But that will come out of next month's budget.

My morning run to Aldi cost $11 for almond milk, creamer, butter, cheese and tortillas.

Variables have jumped to 83%, but that's still great, considering that the airline ticket is part of it. I only have four days to go now.

Edit: funny story to add --

When I was leaving Aldi, I saw a man struggling with the carts. Ever helpful, I offered mine and put my hand out for his quarter. He gave me the quarter and then turned around and went to the parking lot! I called to him when I realized my mistake but he just waved his hand and left. I guess he thought I was a panhandler!

Later, when I was at the parking meter outside the restaurant, I found a quarter and a dime on the ground. So altogether I raked in .60 in found money yesterday!

Low Spending and Travel Plans

January 19th, 2018 at 06:14 am

Yesterday was a low-spend day; only $1.50 for laundry.

Today I'm going to Aldi after the gym, but I'm only going to buy five items. And tonight I'm going out to dinner with my friend K. So there will be some spending today.

I have a lot of housework to do today before K comes. Her house is always immaculate and that puts the stress on me! (She probably has help.)

Hoping the government shutdown doesn't happen, since my son is a government employee. He always gets paid eventually but it creates a cash flow problem. And his work builds up while he's gone, so his "holiday" is followed by a deluge of work.

I scouted out fares for Florida and found a reasonable flight to Gainesville. I texted my son to see if the dates work for him. He said he needed to check with his wife and I haven't heard back. I'm afraid I'm going to lose that fare, so I'll prod him today. The fare is only $217, which means I could actually cash flow it, since it's such a low-spend month.

I'm not excited about flying again (I've had several turbulent flights recently) but I'm not excited about driving either, and driving would probably be more expensive. On the other hand, driving has the benefit of flexibility.

I'm probably going to fly to Houston in March, too. I haven't received the wedding invitation yet, but I know I'm invited to my cousin's wedding. He has been so good about making the effort to come to family events up here, I want to make the effort for him.

This and That

January 18th, 2018 at 05:47 am

The down coat has been dried and is now hanging in the bathroom until the last bit of dampness is gone. My grandson had a bag of new tennis balls and I borrowed three of them. Worked like a charm.

I had a nice day with my grandson yesterday. We went to lunch ($17) and to the library. At the library, I spent $1 on a book at the continuous book sale. It will be a gift for DIL later in the year. I also spent $2 for parking.

I came very close to falling down the stairs! I lost my footing and I caught myself -- in the process, I wrenched my knee, but that was better than falling. I was wearing boots with a lot of traction and they caught on the stair's carpeting. I'm feeling very grateful I didn't fall, because the last time I did that I broke my ankle. And my ankle has never been the same.

My knee is a little wonky, but not bad.

I got the blood tests results, and it looks to me like everything is within range except for creatinine, which is the indicator of kidney disease. I didn't compare it to last year's, but I am still far away from kidney failure. Of course, I don't really know anything for sure until my doctor interprets the results next Wednesday. I did notice that my Vitamin D level has risen, but is still a bit below normal range.

My friend K is coming to town on Friday, just for the evening, and we are planning to go out to dinner at an Italian restaurant.

My variables rate is only 41%, with less than a week to go.

A Little Spending and Washing Down

January 17th, 2018 at 06:19 am

A little spending yesterday -- after I got my blood drawn, but before I went to the gym, I went through the McDonald's drive-up and got a $3 breakfast. I also mailed a package of books to my sister for $5.

My elder grandson had a cold, so DIL stayed home and I did not have grandma duty. I do have grandma duty today, though. I have to pick up GS1 at 11 a.m. and keep him until about 4:30. I'm planning that we will go out to lunch, and we'll see what else he wants to do.

I spilled a little coffee on my down coat yesterday. I looked up how to wash it, and decided on hand-washing in the kitchen sink. It's now spread out on the kitchen table and it's still pretty wet. I'm not supposed to wring it. When it is almost dry, I will dry it on the delicate cycle, with something else to tumble with it and fluff up the down. Should be tennis balls, but I don't have any. A pair of shoes might do if I have a pair that's clean enough. Anyway, I don't think I can do this until this evening, so I'll be wearing my lighter-weight coat today.

I mention this because it could have cost me some money. I could have taken it to a laundromat to use the front loader (top loaders are not recommended.) I could have taken it to a cleaner who specializes in down. Hand washing was kind of a pain, but it sure was cheap.

Variables are now at 38%, and I'm only one week away from pay day! I'm loving how this month feels!

Snow, Bread, Taxes

January 16th, 2018 at 06:40 am

The snow is coming down in leaps and bounds. I need to go get out in it, because I have to get my labs done. And while I am out, I will go to the gym and mail a package. But it's really coming down, and I'm not looking forward to it.

I had a very calm day yesterday. The pain in my toe went away. I will definitely bring it up to the the nephrologist, though! Because when it's there, it's all I can think about.

I ended up keeping both loaves of bread because my son and DIL have started a keto diet. I don't think the boys would particularly appreciate homemade bread. They are both in the freezer now, one sliced, one not. (The bread loaves, not the boys!)

This batch turned out better than the last. I found a warmer environment for the rising -- the console table above one of my radiators. Of course that will only work when the radiator is on.

I figure two loaves of homemade bread are worth about $10 to me, considering what I paid at the bakery. The cost is negligible -- flour, a little oil, a little milk, yeast ... Of course it's not as GOOD, but I'm working on it!

I am gathering tax materials, and so far I have W-2's from the College, my Social Security statement, and my earnings statement from the credit union. I have yet to receive statements from TIAA and the museum. I am in no hurry. I had to pay last year, because of my museum earnings, and I may have to pay this year, too.

Okay, time to get out in the wild.

Free OTC supplies

January 15th, 2018 at 04:02 am

Yesterday was a no-spend day. I did purchase $50 worth of OTC medications/supplies through my Medicare Advantage plan. No cost to me. This time I ordered a dairy digestive supplement, generic Zyrtec, Biotene, nasal saline spray, and cold multi-symptom caplets. I had a dollar left over so I ordered lip balm, too. I may have goofed up by not ordering low-dose aspirin. I take it daily and it doesn't look like I have enough to last till the next time I can order, which is April 15. Oh well, it's pretty cheap.

I baked the bread, and I think it turned out better this time. At least, it appears to have risen higher this time. I haven't cut it or tasted it yet.

I'm planning to take one of the loaves to my son's house when and if I go to play games with the grandkids today. It turns out I don't have to babysit -- my son is off of work today -- but I may hang out there a little.

I say "may" because I'm not sure how well I'm going to be navigating today. I woke up at midnight last night with severe nerve pain in my toe. It is very sharp and painful. I did not go back to sleep, and finally got up at 5 a.m. to face the day. I hope this eventually goes away; I don't know how I'm going to manage otherwise. I took Tylenol, which doesn't touch it, of course. I used Blue Ice, and massaged it. I have yet to try soaking it. The stabbing pain comes back every few seconds; it is impossible to rest.

I did some reading on the internet, and it sounds like peripheral neuropathy, which is often associated with diabetes. Well, I'm getting labs done tomorrow, so I will know soon. Diabetes runs rampant in my family, and I've always been grateful I've been spared. But my time may be up. On the other hand, it's also associated with kidney disease, which I already know I have.

One of the recommendations I read about was to cut back on alcohol. I only drink a small glass of wine in the evening, for heart health. But if it is causing pain, it's not worth it. I may return that box of wine.

We got a snowstorm this morning that will continue through the day. So far, it doesn't appear we have too much on the ground, but I may not go to the gym today if it continues. The weatherman is cautioning that roads will be snow-covered and hazardous.

Spending & Saving

January 14th, 2018 at 06:42 am

I went to Jewel yesterday before heading to the gym. I spent $26 and bought a box of wine, Dawn, Cascade pods, Grain Berry cereal, a sweet potato pie mix, coffee and canned chilis. My savings was logged as $16.72, or 60%. I used coupons worth $3.50. The Dunkin Donuts coffee was marked down to $2.99 from $8.99 because it is pumpkin spice flavored (which I love). The pie mix was only .99 after being marked down $3.00. The can of chilis was reduced by .24. The box of wine was reduced by 1.50 (which doesn't actually cover the tax on it), and the cereal was free.

This is the first time I am trying dishwasher pods. I know others who love them. They seem expensive to me, but I had a coupon and they were marked down as well. I used the coupon for the smallest container so it would have the biggest punch. This will give me the opportunity to see if I consider them worth the extra expense.

Other than that, I spent $1.50 on laundry.

I mailed in my senior "freeze" exemption for my property taxes, which has to be done annually. Seniors in my area can freeze their taxes, so I don't have to pay more than last year even if rates rise.

I did another Pine Cone survey.

Variables are now at 37%.

Today I'm planning to make bread again. I'm determined to use up the yeast I bought in a BOGO deal, and if I can get to the point that my breadmaking skill matches the bakery's, I will save a ton of money! I do not use a bread machine, by the way, so I also get plenty of exercise in the kneading process.

I'm sleeping better now. I don't sleep straight through the night, but I'm doing better. It seems once I get tired enough, my body finally makes the correction. Just wish I didn't have to experience so much wakefulness to get there.

No-Spend Day

January 13th, 2018 at 06:56 am

No spending yesterday. I didn't pay for parking at the doctor's office, and I didn't buy lunch. There was plenty of time to go home before the program. As for the parking, I parked a couple of blocks away from the medical center. It was very cold and also very windy, and I wasn't dressed warmly enough, so it was a real struggle to make that walk. Quite a lot of effort for saving only a couple of dollars. But I did it.

Also, though I was expecting to pay $5 for my copay, there was no charge. I forgot that it was my free annual checkup covered by my Medicare Advantage plan.

I got a $54 check from the Blue Buffalo settlement. I put that into my slush fund.

I also did a Pine Cone survey last night, so I'll get a $3 payment soon.

Variables are at 33% and I have a week and a half to go. I like the way I'm handling variables this month. Usually I do a chunk of spending at the beginning of the month, but this time I'm just waiting until the need arises. It feels much more comfortable this way.

Today I'm going to go to Jewel. I'll get a free box of cereal from the MyMixx program, and I'm also going to get dishwasher detergent, Dawn, and a box of wine. And I'll get more quarters.

On Monday I'll have a full day babysitting the boys. That will probably be a spendy day, since we may go to a movie or out to lunch, to break up the day.

I trimmed my bangs last night. Ordinarily I would get a haircut about now, but I'm waiting till pay day, and the bangs trim will help keep me looking presentable.

Also on pay day, I have an appointment with the nephrologist. I have to get blood tests beforehand. I'll probably do that next Tuesday.

Another Day

January 12th, 2018 at 07:01 am

Yesterday I spent $16 on gas and $1.50 on laundry.

Today I'm headed to the doctor (which will cost a whopping $5) and then to my second grandson's MLK program. I'll probably grab some fast food in between, as I am fasting for a possible blood draw, but I'll be starving by then.

Last night I attended the performance of the high school orchestra. My elder grandson (11) played in one of the selections. I watched his bow, and he was definitely playing what everyone else was playing! It's so nice that he gets these opportunities to play with a more advanced group. Afterwards he gave me a big hug, and he's usually not demonstrative in public. He was so proud of himself.

I got my Discover cash back payment - $15 - which I added to the snowflakes. It should appear in my bank account in a few days.

I've charged $67 to the new card so far. I have to spend $500 to get the $150 bonus, but I have three months to do it. My trip to Florida in February will take care of a lot of that.

As I was going to bed last night, we lost power. I looked out the front window and it was the whole building. Then I looked out the back window and it was the whole neighborhood! Not sure what happened; we had a big temperature drop last night, but it wasn't windy or stormy or anything.

The power came back on after a few hours. I trust everything in the fridge and freezer is all right. I did have to re-start the aquarium's filter by priming the pump, and for a while it seemed like I wasn't going to be able to do it. I do have an extra pump on hand for the day that it dies.

Another bad night's sleep. Wish I could figure it out. It's not related to caffeine. Is it possible that any kind of stimulation in the evening makes it hard for me to settle down? It does seem worse if I have an evening event.

Lousy Night's Sleep

January 11th, 2018 at 07:00 am

I had an awful night last night and got up late, intending not to go to the gym. But then I remembered that tomorrow I have a doctor's appointment, and it would make more sense to have my skip day tomorrow. So I will go. When I get ready.

I'm really happy the doctor's appointment has rolled around, because I want to talk to him about why I'm still coughing.

No spending yesterday. I went to my grandson's MLK program (2 hours!) He only performed in a small part of it, so I just tried to be patient and take it all in with high attention and good grace.

Tonight I'm going to his orchestra performance with the high school. This will be much easier on the ears!

I'm planning on doing a load of laundry today, and I may fill the gas tank. Not sure if it is down to the halfway level yet. I like to keep the tank half full in winter, even though right now we're having a warming spell. The cold weather will be back.

I heard that our natural gas bill is going to rise due to infrastructure refurbishment and replacement. My gas bill is not high, because it only fuels my gas stove, but I hate to hear of any bill rising right now. My gap year budget is going to be so stringent.

A Low-Spend Day

January 10th, 2018 at 06:25 am

Yesterday I stopped at Aldi after the gym. I spent $9 and bought mushrooms, popcorn seasoning, butter, eggs and blueberries. So far I've spent $56 on groceries. Hoping I can continue to keep it low.

I picked up the boys after school and managed not to spend any money at all. We came to my house, where they helped me get the Christmas tree down to the basement, and I rewarded them each with a cookie. Then we went to their house, where they did their homework, and then we watched TV until DIL came home from work.

This will be a busy week with events for the boys. Tonight there is a MLK performance by the 5th-graders; tomorrow night the fifth-grader is playing with the high school orchestra (a yearly event), and on Friday afternoon, the 2nd-grader will be in his class' MLK performance. Not sure when the sports are starting up again.

My new schedule for babysitting will be Tuesdays and Wednesdays after school -- subject to change, as DIL is having a hard time pinning down her own schedule. Her company (event-planning) has a big conference coming up and sometimes she just has to work extra.

Meals today -- the very last of the pea soup! Yay! For breakfast I'll have blueberry pancakes, and for dinner some borscht and carrots.

Let me explain about the pea soup. I started out with a normal amount, but then I added some fresh peas and some chunks of ham in the interest of using those things up. So I had a lot of soup to eat, and I didn't really want to freeze it, as it had been frozen before. So I just decided to have some every day until it was gone.

I might be facing the same thing with the borscht (which I am thawing now). Except I will not do anything to expand it. Looks like I will have at least three servings out of this container.

Maybe the lesson here is to freeze things in smaller containers!

No-Spend Day

January 9th, 2018 at 06:46 am

Yesterday was a no-spend day.

My only deviation from my regular routine was that I made a batch of oatmeal cookies. I ran out of graham crackers and decided to make cookies rather than adding to my grocery list.

Oh, and I also installed a key holder rack in my kitchen, which I bought at a garage sale a long time ago but never got around to properly hanging. It required quite a bit of searching in my tool box for the right screws, but I managed to do it without a run to the hardware store.

Today, after going to the gym, I will need to make a stop at Aldi to get eggs and butter. Aldi is right on the way, so I could stop there every day if I wanted to!

I am also running low on dishwasher detergent. That I will have to get at Jewel or somewhere else that carries major brands. I have learned that only Cascade Complete with Dawn seems to do the job to my satisfaction. Don't steer me to homemade solutions! I've tried them, and I've been disappointed.

I watched "The Lost City of Z" on Amazon Prime yesterday. I'm afraid I thought it was pretty tedious. Before I got the fire stick hooked up, I watched "Never Go Back" on my computer. It was fair. I had read the book, so I was interested to see how it was adapted for screen. They left out most of the interesting parts, but included, maybe embellished, all of the fight scenes, car chases, etc.

Anyway, it was nice to watch a movie on my TV again.

Would you believe I am still eating split pea soup? Ugh, I'm so sick of it, but I think today will be the last day.

I've been trying to stick to eating only within an 8-hour period each day, and I've been doing pretty well. Between that and regular exercise, I hope to at least tone up a little and feel more comfortable.

Home Improvement

January 8th, 2018 at 06:42 am

Well, it wasn't really so much home improvement as getting home chores done.

My son came over and helped me get the Christmas boxes down to the basement storage unit. Then he hung the curtain rod and the new curtains went up. Then I told him about my problems with the Roku, and he determined that the device itself wasn't working any more. So we went to Target to replace it. I ended up buying an Amazon Fire Stick instead, since it was cheaper than the Roku's in stock - $40. While I was there, I also bought apples, grapefruit, a mango and orange juice for $13.

After he was gone, I realized the Christmas tree itself is still sitting there! Oh well, I think I can take it down myself. I think I will return it to the storage unit, just in case DIL forgets that she offered me her mother's tree. Then I can give it to Goodwill at a time when more people will be interested in it.

The streaming device was an unexpected expense, and I suppose it was one that I could have postponed -- and probably gotten cheaper -- but I wanted to get it done while I had my son at my side and ready to help. I'm very excited that I can watch movies on my TV again!

My new credit card came, so these purchases were the first to go on it.

The new curtains, which I got at a garage sale this summer, look beautiful, and the whole room looks so much cozier! I don't know whether I will even make the coordinating roller shade or not, since it looks so good this way. And I love the way I can just draw the curtains and let light in! I really missed that, while I was dealing with a broken shade that would never go up!

My purchases brought my variables percentage up to 29%. Still doing great.

Meals today:

Breakfast - Ham Biscuit, fruit
Lunch - Split Pea Soup (not a repeat - didn't have it yesterday), bread
Dinner - Sloppy Joe, applesauce

The freezer is still stuffed. I am trying to take one thing out of it per day.

I'm going to the gym soon; no other errands pending today.


January 7th, 2018 at 07:31 am

I'm in kind of a DIY mood. Or maybe it's a MacGiver mood. I'm making do with what I have and a little ingenuity.

I bypassed the whole idea of getting a new lamp. I moved a floor lamp from the dining room (where it really wasn't doing much) to my bedside. It needed a new three-way bulb, so I bought one for $5. My reading light is now MUCH better.

I had to move my nightstand so I moved it to a space vacated by a velveteen box full of frames and pictures. It's going to go the basement storage unit. The nightstand (which is very cute) looks so nice in the new space, with just the little lamp on it. It's much more visible than before.

Then I took down all the Christmas decorations, and surprise, surprise, I had too much stuff for the storage containers. Mainly because I packed the breakables in bubble wrap, which I've not done before, and because I bought stuff during the year which never made it to the storage containers. I was going to buy one more container, but decided to see if there was something in the closet I could use. I found a container filled with paper -- notebooks, etc. I found another place to store that, and put my Christmas overflow in the container.

This morning I realized I was at the bottom of the bottle on my multi-surface cleaner. I was going to put it on the list, but then thought -- it was probably really easy to make. It was. I filled half the bottle with distilled water, the other half with white vinegar, added a dollop of lemon juice and 20 drops of eucalyptus essential oil (which I already had on hand.) Voila! A full bottle of cleaner!

I don't know how I got out of these little frugal habits, but I did, and it feels good to get back in the groove.

Today's goals are to go the gym and get all this storage stuff cleared out of my living space. I'll probably need to get my son's help for the heavy lifting and stair climbing.

Meals today:

Breakfast: oatmeal
Lunch: Split pea soup
Dinner: Cheesy fried rice


January 6th, 2018 at 06:31 am

I got a letter from BOA telling me I was approved for the new credit card, but that my overall credit limit would be adjusted. That is, my other BOA credit card would have its limit decreased by the credit limit of the new credit card. That doesn't matter to me, actually; I never come anywhere near the limit of any card.

But it answers a question I had in my mind -- whether my new reduced income would make a difference in how I am viewed as a customer. I had wondered whether I would even be approved.

I expect I will get the card in the next few days, and I will start charging everything to it in order to earn the $150 bonus.

I also got an offer from AT&T. If I switch to them they will pay a $300 bonus. This would be a bundle of TV, internet and phone -- apparently cell phone. The monthly cost would be $86 before taxes, and of course there would also be fees for setup, etc. It's tempting, since I pay about that amount already just for TV and internet, and the TV I get is basic; very limited. This would give me a fuller spectrum.

It's mainly the phone that worries me. I am not sure of how much data usage I would get, and would I have to change my phone number? I'm happy with Straight Talk. I'm cautious of change in general. At this age, I hate dealing with changes in technology, and it seems like every change is just an invitation for things to get royally screwed up. I need to read all the fine print and let it simmer a little.

I would like that $300.

Yesterday was a no-spend day. I did go to the gym. I did not even get started on taking down the Christmas decorations, so that is on tap for today, as well as another gym visit. And I will pop into Goodwill to see if there is a suitable lamp there.

But I may just rearrange a little. I might be able to use a floor lamp beside the bed, if I can find another place for the little nightstand. I'll have to see if the floor lamp provides the kind of light I want.

I got my first withdrawal for my Medicare Advantage plan this year. It is gone up by one dollar per month.

Variables remain at 20%. I have two and half weeks left in this pay cycle.

Meals today:

Breakfast - scones (the last one!)
Lunch - Split pea soup with ham
Dinner - Fried rice (from freezer)

I am so heartened to know that the temps will get up into the 30's tomorrow! This frigid weather has really been getting to me.

A Simple Day

January 5th, 2018 at 07:23 am

My kids got home last night safe and sound. I'm done with cat duty -- well, not at home, of course!

I did a load of laundry yesterday ($1.50) and that was my only spending.

Today I'm going to go to the gym, but I don't plan to stop to buy anything.

Meals today:

Mac & cheese, peas
Soup & bread (not sure which soup; I'll pick one from the freezer)

I think I'm going to start today on taking down my Christmas stuff. I usually wait till January 6 (Epiphany) but the decorations went up earlier than usual this year and I'm ready to let them go.

I had a higher-than-usual electric bill ($51). I know there has been a rate increase, but it was small. I suppose I have had the lights on more than usual so that I could enjoy the lit-up tree. And I have been at home more than usual.

My insurance payment of $337 was withdrawn from my bank account yesterday.

I've decided I need to buy a new lamp. My bedside lamp is too small to provide good reading light. I need a lamp that is taller, and that can handle a bright bulb. I'm tired of struggling to read. I'm going to start looking around for a deal. (I don't have another lamp to move into its place; I broke a lamp not long ago, so I'm actually a bit short in that area.)

I'm feeling good financially. I have money in the bank, gas in the tank, food in the fridge, nice clothes hanging in my closet. My bills are paid. I have some fun trips coming up that I will pay for with cash. I'm good!

Yesterday and Today

January 4th, 2018 at 07:39 am

I really pushed myself yesterday morning to go to the gym, shop at Walmart, and perform cat duty at my son's house. It was cold and so unpleasant, and I was wearing a pair of boots that rubbed a sore spot, so felt particularly irritable. It felt so good to come home and relax for the day.

At Walmart I bought parchment paper ($3), cat food and kitty litter ($23), a combination lock ($1) and a magnifying glass ($5). The magnifying glass will be one of my cheap gifts for my grandson in the coming year. He is fascinated by mine.

I also did a load of laundry at home. ($1.50)

My son's family is coming home today -- they will probably arrive around 7:30 tonight. So this is my last day to take care of the cats. I'm also going to vacuum a bit and mop the kitchen floor, which I've tracked with snow.

Meals today: scones for breakfast, French onion soup and egg salad sandwich for lunch, sauteed chicken and peas for dinner. I'm going to try to stop eating at 5 -- trying out the intermittent fasting idea.

I'm not going to go to the gym today. No shopping to do. No driving. I'm just going to walk over to my son's.

I hope all of you on the east coast are staying safe and warm today!

Edit: my variables are at 20% -- pretty good!

Groceries and a Wal-Mart Plan

January 3rd, 2018 at 06:01 am

After the gym yesterday I stopped at Aldi and spent $11 on butter, creamer, tilapia fillets, applesauce and hamburger buns.

Today I'm going to go a little farther afield -- to Wal-Mart, which is a bit out of the way for me. I need to get a new lock to use at Planet Fitness. For some reason my current lock now refuses to close. Not much security there! While I am at WM, I'll get cat food and cat litter if they have the right brands. And I'll also look for parchment paper.

Today it's above zero -- not much, though. I don't like hearing about the big storm brewing on the east coast, and I hope my kids will not try to drive through it. They haven't let me know yet when they are coming back, but the boys have to be in school this coming Monday.

I watched an Amazon Prime movie yesterday -- The Circle. It was interesting, but I'm glad I didn't pay for it. I have to watch on my computer. I used to have a Roku hooked up to my TV, but something has gone wrong there -- I need my son's help. I'd rather watch a movie on a bigger screen.

I finished up the chicken stuff yesterday. Today I'm planning on having tilapia and spinach, and cheese quesadillas and salsa with applesauce. Breakfast will be pumpkin scones, from an Aldi mix.

I'm already tired of winter. It's going to be a long season.

Uberfrugal Month Begins

January 2nd, 2018 at 07:13 am

It began for me with a free dinner at Planet Fitness. I was surprised to go there last night and see a very light crowd -- usually it's packed on Pizza Day, but it was very cold, and it was a holiday to boot.

Other than that, I made the chicken/mushroom/noodle dish -- I've got enough for another meal or two. Didn't cook the spinach yet, so must do that today.

Today it is 8 below. That's not even counting the wind chill. It makes me wish I could just stay in, but I have to feed the kids' cats, anyway, so I'll go to the gym, too, and then I'll stop at Aldi for creamer and butter. I'm out of parchment paper, too, but I'm sure Aldi doesn't carry it. Maybe Food4Less does, which is in the same plaza as Planet Fitness. Is parchment paper a need? I hate to be out of it.

I just heard that the deep freeze will continue till the weekend. At least there is no financial hit to me, since I pay for my heat through my assessment fees, which are fixed.

Getting low on dry cat food and kitty litter, but it is not yet a need for today. Maybe within the next couple of days.

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