It's pay day. Hooray! The deposit is still pending, so I'll wait before I transfer money.
My February recap:
I spent 99% of my variables budget. But it was an expensive month.
Housing: $1105 (because of double assessment fee)
Taxes: $911 (combination of property tax and state income tax)
Vacation $395 (includes double payment of $85 ground transportation to O'Hare)
Utilities: $251 (double electric and gas)
Vet/Pet Supplies: $234 (includes $150 for euthanasia and cremation costs
Medical/Health: $95 (includes $50 copay to kidney doctor)
Gifts/Charity: $85 (includes son's birthday)
Fees/Services: $76 (tax prep fees)
Personal: $43 (includes haircut)
Entertainment: $37 (Oscar movie week)
Groceries: $35 (How about that!)
Eating Out: $30 (And how about that!)
Household Supplies: $7
Car Maintenance: $16
Grand Total: $3432
Such a short month, but so many expenses. I'm ready for a March reboot.
Today I'm going downtown to spend the day at the Art Institute with my friend K. It may be our last get-together before she moves to Minnesota. I'm sure we will go out to lunch, and it may be a nice one.
I also need to get on the stick and mail a wedding gift ($100 check) to my cousin. I don't know what to get him; I assume cash will be appreciated.
It's weird to have a morning without Mystery. I'm not sure whether Iggy has noticed her absence yet; so far he seems just like usual. I'm not planning to adopt a companion for him unless I think he is feeling anxiety. He may just be happy to be the only cat, king of all he surveys!
Archive for February, 2018
It's pay day. Hooray! The deposit is still pending, so I'll wait before I transfer money.
I took my dear Mystery to the vet this morning. She agreed that it was probably time, and I held her in my arms while she went to sleep for the last time.
As you might expect, I'm unbelievably sad. She was a part of my life for so long! My son found her on the streets when he was a college student. She was pregnant, and we let her have her litter and found homes for all the kittens. My son still has one of her sons.
We used to kid that she was really a dog, because she was so outgoing and friendly -- and loving -- to everyone. The sweetest cat you could possibly imagine.
My son just texted me that she had the best life a cat could have.
As you all know, I am not tech-y at all, but I'll try to post a picture.
My second assessment fee this month was withdrawn from the bank yesterday. It just happens that way sometimes. The withdrawal is usually around the 25th of the month, and my SS payment is the 4th Friday of the month, so the payment can fall on either side of the budget line. I was prepared for it, so it was no surprise. On an annual basis the fee is paid 12 times a year; it's just that some budget months it comes twice, and some months not at all.
I only went to the gym yesterday, and I did no variables spending. Variables spending stands at 84%.
I realized I should probably update about my cat. Last Friday, I thought perhaps I should take her to the vet, because she is clearly declining. But she seemed perkier, so I decided to give it the weekend. Over the weekend she has seemed pretty normal, though she obviously isn't eating much and weighs nothing. This morning I have the decision to make again.
She is getting around, doesn't seem to be eliminating outside of the box, and she can still jump on the bed. She has lost a lot of weight and doesn't seem interested in food. She is quite old; she has been in our family for 18 years, and she was an adult when she adopted us.
Her coat is getting raggedy, and she doesn't smell good.
She is very frightened and stressed by going to the vet, so I hesitate to take her there unless I am sure they can help her.
She still purrs when I stroke her, and she doesn't act like she is in pain (though I know cats hide it).
So I guess I am still on the fence.
And I suppose I am frightened that she will have to be put down immediately and I am having trouble facing it.
I guess the right thing to do is to take her in for an assessment. Clearly I need some help in making this decision.
Meals yesterday: Yogurt for breakfast, Spanish rice in a tortilla for lunch, popcorn for dinner. I continue to have little appetite for dinner. When I start buying groceries again, I am going to plan to have salads for dinner and make lunch the main meal.
Today my movie week starts. At 7 pm I'll see The Shape of Water, and Get Out shows at 10 pm. I don't know if I'll make it for that! But the only other showing of Get Out is also at 10 pm, so if I want to see it, it will mean a late night.
My nine-day movie week is coming up, and I jumpstarted it by seeing "Black Panther" yesterday. I was invited to go with my son and the boys. It was really good, and I usually don't like comic book movies! Since it was a Saturday movie, and not at the earlybird time, it cost me $8.
I also picked up a free yogurt and a free container of flan at Jewel -- MyMixx deals.
Meals yesterday: Breakfast was French toast, lunch was cubes of Swiss cheese, walnuts, and dried cranberries, and dinner was Spanish rice, which I made by combining the leftover rice and burrito filling with a little more salsa.
Has anyone seen the program House Poor on Z Living? I am enjoying it. I like to see a show that actually encourages frugality and living within your means. That said, everyone on the show, that I've seen so far, is in pretty good shape and the frugality "assignments" are pretty easy.
Yesterday was another no-spend day. I went to the gym, went home, did chores, read a lot, and babysat the boys in the evening so the parents could go out. I did do a load of laundry, but I don't really count that as spending; it just needs to be done when it needs to be done, and I always have the stash of quarters on hand so it doesn't really feel like spending either.
Yesterday's meals: I had scrambled eggs and toast for breakfast, a beef burrito for lunch, and for dinner I had granola and fruit. (The fruit was not from my own food stores; it was what the grandsons didn't eat.)
I have enough of the burrito filling to have another today, and about a cup of cooked rice to use up. I may make a veggie stirfry, but it will be only peppers and onions; that's all I have left. (Except for the sweet-sour purple veggies, which would not taste good in a stirfry!)
Anyway, my food is lasting just fine. It's amazing when you put your mind to it. I have only four days till payday now, and plenty of food on hand.
I was up pretty late last night, and I slept in this morning. I'm giving myself a skip day at the gym.
Unfortunately, GS2 had a bad cold and was running a fever when I put him to bed last night. I so hope I don't get sick again, but I certainly was exposed! Poor little guy, I hope he feels better today.
No spending yesterday, except for the Comcast and ComEd bills, which were drawn out of my checking account. They, of course, are not part of my variables. I do keep an eye on them to make sure they do not creep above $150 combined, and they did not.
I found .02 at the gym. Finding money has really gone downhill. I suppose I am just not out as much, nor in places that are highly populated.
Meals -- for breakfast I had my homemade granola. Lunch was a hamburger with Swiss cheese, and
a side of applesauce. Once again, I was not hungry for dinner. I had a snack of toast and and a glass of wine in the evening.
I checked out classactionrebates.com yesterday and found only one I was eligible for, so I sent in a claim. It won't amount to much, as I could claim only one package of Align. I spent $165 on Align at Amazon during the specified period of time. (And more at the grocery store, etc.) It never helped much, mostly because my intestinal discomfort was lactose intolerance. I will probably get about $20, which is better than nothing.
My elderly cat is showing all the signs of being in the dying stage. She doesn't act particularly uncomfortable, but I am thinking of taking her to the vet today. I know that cats hide their pain. I don't want her to suffer. On the other hand, I don't want to prolong her death with intervention, and I don't want to scare or upset her. So I am on the fence.
I talked to my friend K yesterday, who will soon be moving to Minnesota. We arranged to meet next Wednesday at the Art Institute. It will probably be our last get-together before she moves. I am sure, though, I will continue to see her, though not as often. She is one of the girlfriend group which gets together for fun weekends and getaways.
It turned out I had no kid duty yesterday, as my DIL had a short day at work.
I did some spending, though. I bought kitty litter, feeder blocks and algae thins at PetSmart for a total of $32. The register peeled out a $5 coupon for my next kitty litter purchase -- I was watching for that. Both the litter and the algae thins were on sale.
I also paid a $5 doctor bill that came in the mail. Must have been a copay I didn't pay at the office. And I did a load of laundry. One of the cats threw up on my bed. Luckily I only had to do the bottom sheet and the pad, since I hadn't made the bed yet.
I did the customer satisfaction surveys on our two receipts from Noodles Inc., so now I can get two appetizers for free.
I made some granola from scratch yesterday. I had almost given up on granola; I had so many batches turn out less than exciting. But this time I followed the Epicurious basic recipe, which is this: 6 parts dry (oats, seeds, coconut, etc.), 1 part wet (oil, honey, syrup, etc.) I added dashes of vanilla, salt, and brown sugar and then -- here is the secret ingredient -- an egg white, which helps it to clump. Bake at 300 for 40-45 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes. I baked it for 45 minutes, and I think next time I will go for 40 minutes, as it's a little brown. But other than that it's great -- tasty, crunchy, not burnt or sticky. Success!
My meals yesterday -- I had oatmeal for breakfast, and for lunch/dinner (about 3:00) I had pan-fried tilapia with a side of sweet-sour purple veggies. Before bed I had some toast.
Variables are at 83% and I have just six days to go.
It was a long day yesterday. I picked up the boys at 2:30. It was pouring down rain, so even though it was warm, there was no outdoor fun to be had. I took them to their home, and badgered them to do their homework and practice their instruments. At five, GS1 was picked up to go to baseball practice and he was returned at 7:30. I made the dinner that DIL had laid out: spaghetti & meatballs. (What a week for spaghetti!) At 8:30 I got them into bed to read. DIL came home around 10.
It seemed long because the boys fought tooth & nail against everything they had to do. I don't know if it was just a bad day for them or if this is the new normal.
Anyway, I didn't spend anything, mainly because DIL had provided dinner. She also brought me a beautiful flower bouquet from the event that she worked.
I made an egg casserole for breakfast yesterday -- eggs, bacon, peppers, bread crumbs, cheese & milk. It was delicious -- and it was actually my brunch, since I woke up late and didn't eat until around 11. Then I had the free spaghetti dinner, so my food stores were little affected yesterday.
Oh, and I found a can of tuna last night that I hadn't counted before. It was hiding!
Today I will need to stop at PetSmart to get some fish food.
I'll pick up the boys again after school today, but DIL should be home around 4.
In good financial news, I redeemed my bonus yesterday from my new BOA credit card. All together, I earned $180. This card has the nice feature of a 10% cash back bonus when you redeem it to your own BOA bank account.
Today I'm doing after school care for the grandkids, on until bedtime. Son is traveling, DIL has a work event that will last till 10 pm.
That will mean figuring out a dinner for them. I have a box of mac & cheese, but now that their appetites are growing, that won't be enough. I may just get another box and fill in with applesauce, etc.
Yesterday we all went to Noodles Etc., because GS1 had a gift card. We stayed within the limit, so it was a free meal. I parked in the big city garage, and stayed within the hour limit, so it was free, too!
A no-spend day!
And I found a nickel.
Yesterday's breakfast was the last of the sweet potato pancakes, and for dinner I ate my grandson's leftover spaghetti. So food stores are still in excellent shape.
It's very warm and rainy today. Flood warnings are out, but for some reason, so close to the big lake, our neighborhood never floods, even when everyone else is under water.
I'm going to take care of the grandsons today from nine till two. It's President's Day. I don't know why my son isn't available, but I assume he is traveling or interviewing.
I didn't sleep well, so I hope the day will go well.
It is free museum day, but I fear the museums will be so packed with kids it wouldn't be worth it.
The healthcare nurse came around noon yesterday and gave me a clean bill of health. The $15 gift card will arrive in the mail in a couple of weeks, judging from previous experience.
I did one load of laundry yesterday; no other spending.
I had sweet potato pancakes for breakfast again, and my lunch was cheese quesadillas. I wasn't really hungry for a full dinner, so I had popcorn. The rejuvenated popcorn popped better, so I'm glad I made the effort. Later in the evening I got hungry again so I had cinnamon toast, raisins and walnuts. My food stores are holding up well.
In checking over my variables budget I found some errors. I am at 80% after my corrections. Nine days to go.
One thing I have to do when I get paid again is to buy some shades for the living room. I have the honeycomb type that you just pull down. Of my three windows, two of the shades are broken and are stuck in fixed positions. I don't know how old these shades are, as they were here when I moved in. I do intend to replace them with the same type. I really need shades in the living room as it is my least private room in terms of visibility from other units.
The nurse, that is, that is doing my health assessment so I can earn a $15 Walmart gift card.
She called yesterday and left a voicemail message to change our window from 2-4 to 11-1. I tried to call back, but she didn't answer and her voicemail mailbox was full. So I texted her that 11-1 was okay. I did not hear back, so, actually, I have no idea when she's coming! It doesn't really matter, since I don't plan to go anywhere today except to the gym, and I'll do that whenever she is done.
I didn't spend anything yesterday, just went to the gym and then stayed home for the day.
We had a lovely snowfall that beautified the landscape but doesn't seem to have snarled up traffic or anything. And it doesn't look like my car is buried, just decorated!
I had some sweet potato soup in the freezer, which I didn't enjoy very much because it was more sweet than savory. I decided to turn it into pancake batter and it was a good decision! The sweet potato pancakes were delicious, and I'm going to get three servings from the batch.
I tried to make popcorn yesterday (in the pan, not microwave) and the stuff just wouldn't pop. I knew it was due to lack of moisture. I looked up proportions, and learned that I should add one teaspoon of water to one cup of corn and store in a jar in the fridge. So I've got three cups in there, moistening up. Hope it works. I bought a big bag of kernels, and I don't want to throw them away.
I took my grandson out for breakfast at IHOP yesterday. He had a gift card to use, so my outlay was .04! Actually, .03, since I found a penny in the parking lot.
But I did indulge myself later when I bought the movie pass for the Oscar-nominated movies. It was $37. Now I will have to be vigilant to catch them all and make the expenditure worth while. I put all the times on my calendar, leaving off the showings at 10 pm which I know I won't attend.
I paid my property tax and I see this morning that the payment was registered at the bank.
My variables are at 78%.
I made a list yesterday of all the food I have on hand (not counting condiments, of which I have a full complement):
1 1/2 loaves homemade bread
3 hamburger buns
2 cups split pea soup
2 cups purple veggies & beets
1/2 bag frozen onions and peppers
3 tilapia fillets
1/2 lb. Swiss cheese
8 oz. shredded cheddar
2 slices bacon
1 jar applesauce
1/2 canister old-fashioned oats
1/2 box instant mashed potatoes
1 package Red Lobster roll mix
1 jar salsa
Bag of white rice
1/2 bag egg noodles
3/4 box macaroni
It seems to me this should be enough food to get to pay day on the 28th. Here are menu ideas:
Soup & bread
Swiss cheese & bacon hamburgers
Tilapia w/sides (applesauce, Red Lobster rolls, mashed potatoes, purple veggies)
Cheese quesadillas w/salsa
Mac & cheese
Does anything else jump out at anyone?
My grandkids will be involved today with relatives on the other side of the family, so I will have a quiet day. I plan to do a lot of reading! Also, some housework.
Tomorrow will be my home wellness visit (a benefit of my Medicare supplement plan). They will give me a $15 Walmart gift card just for answering a few questions and giving them a urine sample.
About the contract work "offer" -- it turns out it is actually the same company I was referred to once before, and from which I never got a reply after I offered to meet with them. So I think nothing will come out of this. I'd really rather not work anyway, poor as I am. I am 68. I want to be retired!!!!!
Yesterday I stopped at Aldi after my morning gym routine. I spent $12 on margarine in a tub, creamer, salsa, butter, and eggs.
Today I am babysitting my grandson in the morning. There is no school today. My DIL is home, but she is taking the other grandson to the doctor. It shouldn't take too long.
I need to pay my property tax bill this morning. I was just waiting for my College payment to hit the bank. It was pending yesterday -- I assume it will be there in full force today. This is the first of two installments - $871.
Now that I have cancelled the Houston trip, I realized I am now available for the Oscar movie deal at the local theater. I am going to check to see if the tickets are still available.
Not much else going on!
That was my only spending yesterday, another $1.50.
I was on the verge of buying dinner for my grandson (which would have been a run through a drive-through) but we didn't happen to pass a fast food restaurant, so I just took him home. I had taken him to a sports place where he did some batting and pitching practice.
I did deliver the valentines to the boys with $10 inserted, and they were thrilled. I also got a video text from my Florida DIL of the grandkids there opening up their valentine candy boxes. They are too young to appreciate cash.
I had to let my cousin know that I could not attend his wedding in Houston. I thought getting my tax refund would help me afford the trip, but it wasn't enough. When I looked up flights and hotels, they were just out of my range. I feel so bad about this.
I adjusted my variables budget to add my snowflake income. I changed my snowflake "rules" so that it is only real income, not coupon savings or anything like that. That has put this month's variables spending at 73%. Much better. A big chunk of my snowflakes was my $238 tax refund.
Today it's back to the gym, and then I will stop at Aldi and pick up a few items. I'm not doing any stocking up, just filling in, until I get paid on the 28th.
Well, yesterday I headed out to the gym -- I thought. Turned out my car was so buried in snow and plowed in, I couldn't move it away from the curb. I gave up and went back in. Today, after a bit of warmer weather yesterday, I was able to pull it out.
So yesterday, aside from a $1.50 load of laundry, was a no-spend today.
Today, I went to the gym. Then I visited Sam's, which is right next door. I wanted to discuss their membership fees and policies. It sounded confusing so I took a brochure, which I will read. I don't know whether I'll get a membership or not, but my Florida DIL was very sure it would be worthwhile for me.
I stopped at the bank, and got two ten's and a roll of quarters -- the tens will go into valentine cards for the grandsons. Then I went to Jewel to buy the valentines and a wedding card ($11). Yeah, too much, but I'm under the wire. With a coupon I was able to buy an $11 Ty stuffed cat for $8. I got it for my granddaughter's birthday, which isn't until November, but I am trying to work ahead on getting fairly meaningful $10 (or under) gifts for family members during my gap year.
Then I went through a car wash, because my car was piled up with snow. It was $6. My car still has a topknot of snow on the roof, but it will melt eventually.
I started another $1.50 load of laundry.
Now I'm home until I chauffeur the grandsons this afternoon.
I got ANOTHER offer for contract work! This time from the young woman I mentored at my college job. I am mulling it over. I will at least talk to her about it.
I had a brainstorm about my variables budget. Now that I am no longer saving snowflakes for the college funds (until gap year is over), it only makes sense to put my extra funds into variables to ease the pain, and to protect my savings. I will be doing some adjusting in the budget today.
I babysat the boys last night while my son & DIL went out for a romantic dinner. We made valentines with lollipops for their school friends, and it was a good time.
A new challenge -- I replaced a bulb in a ceiling light fixture, and now I can't get the cover back on! Grrrr! I suppose mainly because it is over my head and I can't see what I'm doing, but it also seems like it just doesn't really fit. I guess my poor beleaguered son will have another mom job to do! As soon as I feel like there's room in my budget, I have to replace the shades in my living room, which will be another job for him to do, alas.
I got back from my Florida trip yesterday afternoon -- exhausted but happy.
I spent too much. Vacation spending, not even counting the airline ticket which went into last month's budget, was $396. That is counting an extra $85 for ground transportation that I should get back, since I cancelled the trip -- but so far I have not gotten any cooperation from the company.
The rest is $50 for baggage fees, $30 for pet sitting, $69 for groceries, $73 for eating out, and $5 for tickets at a kids' game place.
I also spent $45 on my son's birthday gifts and valentines for the kids. My son didn't want anything special, so I filled up his gas tank and paid the dog sitter for the day we went down to the Tampa area to visit my brother.
Even though this is moderate spending, it has pushed my variables to 111%. I was hoping to cash flow this vacation. If I get the refund I deserve, however, I have a chance.
Anyway, I had a great time! We had an awesome day at my brother's vacation rental. My kids got to see cousins they hadn't seen in a long time. We also visited a wildlife sanctuary where we saw alligators and all sorts of birds and reptiles. We had a day at a game place for the kids, where they won all kinds of junk that made them happy. Well, also just playing the games made them happy, for the most part. A few tears from my granddaughter, who couldn't win Grumpy Cat in the claw machine.
As for me, I fell off a hammock and hurt my backside. I am bruised, but okay, just moving slower than ever now! Typical for me to injure myself in something as active as hammock-sitting.
Got the news that my son might move to Charlotte, NC. That's very speculative right now, because it depends on whether his company will expand to that area. But they are very excited about the possibility; they would prefer living in that area and wouldn't feel quite as isolated, since my sister and cousins live in NC. I would like it, too, since Charlotte is so much easier to get to!
Anyway, my mission, now that I am back, is to keep spending to a minimum. I do have to get some valentines for the local grandsons, and I'll put a ten in each one. That will be my big spending, I think!
Should be in Florida, but I'm still here. My flight was cancelled yesterday, even though the snow didn't start till around 4, and I don't think it's what they expected it to be.
I rebooked for a 12 noon flight today, which hasn't been cancelled yet.
I also had to cancel and rebook the shuttle ride to the airport. At this point I have both $85 charges pending on my credit card. Supposedly the first will be cancelled and I will only owe a cancellation fee. I'm a little worried, since the driver actually showed up yesterday and didn't know a thing about it.
Talking to anyone yesterday was a nightmare. Long waits on hold.
I spent $5 on food yesterday, since I had nothing to eat at home.
At least I'm pretty much ready to go!
I'm leaving today at 1 p.m. for the airport. I am handling my flying anxiety pretty well, but I am concerned about what the weather will be like today. We're supposed to get a band of snow, and I hope it won't affect my flight.
I haven't literally packed yet, but I have everything pretty much ready to just transfer to the suitcase. I'm taking one bag, and I will have to pay for it. I have one of those basic economy tickets.
The one thing I have to do this morning is get some change to tip the shuttle driver, so I'll make a short run to the bank. Wish I had done this yesterday while I was out!
I did not win anything in the football pool last night. That would have been sweet.
Just committed $85 to ground transportation to and from O'Hare. So expensive. I'll have to tip the drivers, too. And that was with a promo discount!
But at least that chore is done. I used my BOA travel card, so I'll get some kind of cash back on it.
I spent $17 on gas yesterday.
I haven't started packing yet, but it should be fairly easy. My summery clothes are ready to go.
Winter weather advisory tonight. I hope travel tomorrow will not be impacted.
I earned $4.96 in promotional savings yesterday -- three free MyMixx items at Jewel -- so I added that to snowflakes.
I did one load of laundry yesterday ($1.50). That was it for spending.
I must do another today. I'm also going to fill my gas tank. It's only half down, but temperatures are low, and there is snow on the way. Always like to have at least half a tank in weather like this.
My grandson finally found his coat yesterday, which was good news for his family. It's a North Face down jacket. I was so afraid it would never be seen again. Turned out he had left it in the music room, and the instructor set it outside the room on a windowsill. The school doesn't seem to have a centralized lost & found, which is surprising to me.
Variables are at 44%. Three and a half weeks to go -- one of them a week of vacation.
I racked up another one!
No spending yesterday.
Not much to report. I am only three days away from my Florida trip. I'm going to try to not buy any groceries beforehand. I will have to do some laundry, though, which I will do this weekend.
I dread flying, though rationally I know it is quite safe. But I'm looking forward to seeing my son's family. And we will do a meetup with my brother and his family, who are vacationing about an hour and a half away. Good times ahead!
My son's birthday will take place while I am there. I have already told him I will buy him something when I am there, and to think about what he wants.
I got an email saying that I have already earned the $150 bonus on my new credit card. It will not be available, however, till the next statement.
Guess that's it! I have a very cold day to enjoy here, and I sure won't mind leaving it for the sunny south!
Nice, easy day. I stuck around home till 4, when I went to pick up my grandson, who gave me a good scare by dawdling a long time after orchestra. I had to have him paged. Turned out, he was looking for his coat (which he didn't find). It's really freezing cold today. He said he has another coat. I hope he really does. And I hope he finds his coat today.
Today I'm going back to the gym, and later in the day, music lessons.
My quiche didn't turn out very well. It looked beautiful, but it was watery. So watery, I had to pour off the liquid after cutting. I guess my substitution didn't work very well and I should have used real cream or half & half. Anyway, I will eat it. It tastes good, even though the texture is a disappointment.
I also made some French onion soup yesterday, and I'm happy to report that all of the caramelized onions are used up.
Now I have a head of lettuce to work on....
I actually bought the lettuce to trap snails in the aquarium. The idea is to put a leaf in the water, and when the snails gather on it, put it in the freezer. I'm having a hard time making myself actually do this. I hate to kill even snails, but they are multiplying too fast and taking over the aquarium.
After having stocked up on kitty litter, I got an email coupon from PetSmart offering a $5 coupon if I buy $10 worth of kitty litter. Auuggghhh! The coupon is good for a month, so I'll use it later. I put the expiration date on my calendar.