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Archive for March, 2018

Shoe Happiness

March 31st, 2018 at 06:02 am

I got my shoes yesterday. The Tretorns I wanted were gone -- only available in larger sizes. But I found a pair of Van's which were the right color and comfort level. With my coupons, they were only $50. (Sometimes it still floors me that $50 is relatively cheap for shoes.)

When I came in, I was given a coupon for $20 off my next purchase if I spent $75. I did look, but there was nothing I really needed that would make it worth the extra spending.

I also got my free bagel, this time not getting cream cheese. Then I stopped at PetSmart and used a $5 coupon to get a discounted box of kitty litter -- ended up paying only $8 for a 19 lb. box. Next stop was Aldi, where I spent $19 on wine, rolls, honey, spinach, and dishwasher detergent. I was happy to see that Aldi carries the brand-name pods I like.

The gas payment showed up on Discover today. It was $29.

Variables are at 20%.

Today's plans: Another bagel. Another small shop at Aldi. Clean-up at my son's house, where I'm babysitting the cats. They will probably be home late tonight. I need to clean up the scattered litter and the vomit spots. Their cats throw up as much as mine does!

I also still need to make some bread, and my granola is getting really low, too.

And, of course, I will go to the gym.

I haven't been approved for the grocery store mystery shop yet. But I did get assigned by a different company to a restaurant mystery shop next Wednesday. I'll get $35 toward the meal -- the catch is that I must take another adult, and we must both order coffee and pie, as well as dinner entrees. No fee beyond the reimbursement.

I hope I can convince either my son or DIL to go. It would have been a perfect evening to share with C.

Yesterday's Spending

March 30th, 2018 at 05:33 am

I went to DSW yesterday, but they had a sign posted on their door that their system was down and transactions might be affected. I know that would mean I wouldn't get the deals I'm counting on, so I left. I'll try again today.

I got my free bagel from Panera, but paid $1.33 for cream cheese. Won't do that today.

I filled up my gas tank, but I forgot to get my receipt and didn't note how much I paid. The reason -- a man was flirting with me BIG TIME and I was flustered. I'm flattered, though. We seniors don't get much of that!

I put in on my Discover card, which so far is only showing $1 pending. I'll get the total amount later.

I sent an Easter card to my Florida grandchildren with two tens enclosed. I also have a card and cash for my local grandsons, who won't be back from Spring Break until Saturday. The cards were free; I used a gift card.

I requested a mystery shop yesterday. It will only pay $5 but will also reimburse $9 worth of groceries. I'll have to check today to see if it is assigned to me. The actual shop won't take place until next weekend.

It's time to make bread again, and I think I can squeeze it in today.

Updates

March 29th, 2018 at 07:02 am

Just a couple of notes.

I got a raise! My interest payout from TIAA went up by $22 a month. Every little bit helps.

I went to Panera with BFF yesterday and after I swiped my card, the clerk told me I was entitled to a free bagel per day for the next two weeks. I'm on it! I probably got an email to that effect, but I'm buried in junk email right now.

I had enough in my checking account to transfer $400 to savings and bring my slush fund back up above $1000, where I like it to be.

I'm going to go to DSW today and look for those shoes.

Post-Visit Summary

March 28th, 2018 at 01:34 pm

BFF has left on her journey home. I am doing laundry, catching up on finance tracking, and just generally getting things back in order.

I went over on spending just a little bit, so I ended March with 102% expenditure on variables. Since I spent only 52% in January, and 99% in February, I am not worried about how the year is going. And I wouldn't have overspent had I not had company just before pay day.

We did a little shopping ($83). The bulk of this was the purchase of two saucepans from IKEA. I had always promised myself I would buy these high-quality pans when I got back to IKEA, and I did it. Can't wait to throw out the old ones! I also got a new pair of jeans and a bra at Goodwill.

Our eating out cost me $30. That was for one breakfast, one lunch and one dinner. The other meals we ate at home, with the exception of lunch today, which goes on the April budget.

We also went to see the movie "The Leisure Seeker," which was $9.

I should be paying bills today, as it's pay day, but I'm pretty tired and I think I'll let that chore wait until tomorrow when I'm fresher.

I did do the monthly recap, however:

Housing: $321 (mortgage only; assessment fee hasn't been withdrawn yet)

Entertainment: $198 (includes renewal of Ancestry.com subscription)

Eating out: $163 (HIGH!)

Furnishings/Equipment/Decor: $155 (mostly for new window shades, as well as the pans)

Groceries: $143

Utilities: $142

Gifts/Charity: $122 (includes $100 wedding gift)

Gas: $56

Medical/Health: $37

Personal: $17

Laundry: $15

Clothing: $13

Household Supplies: $8

Fares/Parking: $4

Grand Total: $1447

A very good total, helped along by not having to pay the assessment fee in March's budget cycle. Also, I didn't shell out anything for pet care/supplies, which is unusual. I was stocked up.

We didn't sleep much, so I'm off to do some catching up!

BFF Coming ... and New Tires?

March 26th, 2018 at 06:41 am

BFF is on her way. I have about two more hours to get the house ready. I put off vacuuming and dusting till this morning, but the place is small.

No spending yesterday.

I'm very low on food right now. BFF and I will be eating out. I will have to choose carefully, because I have $128 to play with until pay day on Wednesday. She will still be here, so maybe we can have a nice lunch that day.

I had an awful thought yesterday. It's kind of been in the back of my mind that I wouldn't need to replace my tires because the car is so close to retirement. But when I looked it up, it's actually been six years since I bought new tires. I don't want to have a surprise blowout, and I don't want to replace my car yet. I would like to get through my gap year without buying a new car. So I think I just have to bit the bullet and get new tires. They are not cheap; my car is a RAV4 and it takes pretty big tires. I guess it's time to start looking for sales.

It will have to come out of savings, which I hate to tap right now, but I want to be safe, too.

The Saturday Report

March 25th, 2018 at 07:37 am

Went to Jewel yesterday and bought peanuts, raisins and chocolate chips for $14. I also got a free 16-oz. bottle of Sunny D.

I went to feed the cats at my son's house later in the day and picked up some fruit and leftover pizza that they weren't able to use up before they left.

On the way, I found a nice plastic bowl and a straw purse in the alley by the dumpsters. People often do that around here -- set things that are too nice to throw away beside the dumpsters rather than in them. I can use both of those items. If not, they will go into a garage sale this summer.

When I have the garage sale, I'm going to take my stuff to BFF's house in Indiana. She is in a better location. Garage sales are a lot of work, but worth it if you have a lot of things to get rid of. I will be doing some selling on eBay, too, but only the nicer items.

I got paid by one of the mystery shop companies yesterday! It was the one that owed me less, but encourages me that the other payment is coming. So far this month I haven't earned much extra income -- $4.27 in cash back payments, $12 in mystery shopping, $3 in surveys, and .06 in loose change. That is not very much to add to next month's variables budget.

This month's variables are at 86%. Pay day on Wednesday.

Another No-Spender

March 24th, 2018 at 06:43 am

Yesterday was another no-spend day. As I expected, when push came to shove, the kids didn't want to go out for dinner; they just wanted to get on the road. I ate peanut butter and crackers for dinner, and was happy to save the money.

I'm expecting to have a very quiet weekend. I'll do some housecleaning to get ready for my BFF's visit.

I do need to buy a few groceries to have on hand. If it were just me, I wouldn't bother, but there are things I like to have available when BFF comes. Should be under $10.

Meanwhile, the cable, internet, electricity and assessment fees have all been subtracted from my account in the last few days. It's nice not to have to worry about them, just note the transactions.

Culver's

March 23rd, 2018 at 06:17 am

I took the boys to music lessons yesterday. They were hungry for dinner afterwards, and I knew DIL was busy packing for their vacation, so I offered to take them to McDonalds. We got into heavy traffic, and then I noticed we could get off the main road and stop at a Culver's instead. Culver's is, of course, much better than McDonalds, but more expensive, too. The bill for the three of us was $19. Oh well, my son and DIL do so many things for me, I can't whine about it.

We are tentatively planning to meet for supper somewhere tonight, before they leave town, but with a snow warning, I wouldn't be surprised if they decide to get on the road earlier.

I washed the sheets and mattress cover again yesterday. Iggy threw up again. I'm wondering if I should cut out the dry food (because I see it in the vomit), though I'm sure he would drive me crazy begging for it all the time. He eats very little wet food. If I put out more than a spoonful it just dries up in the bowl. But maybe if there was no dry food available, he would eat it. I am almost at the bottom of a bag of dry food, so I may just try it out when the bag empties.

Variables are at 86%, with five days to go.

Expensive Day

March 22nd, 2018 at 06:26 am

GS2 got his braces on yesterday, and I took him out for frozen yogurt to celebrate. Yogurt for the two of us was $9! (Mine was dairy-free, though, so that was great!)

GS1 was in orchestra when we went out, so afterwards I got him a shake ($2) to even the score.

Then I went out to the librarians' dinner. I spent $33, more than I intended. But I did have a great time. It was a fun group.

I had taken the El to the restaurant to save money, but when it was time to go home I was reluctant to take it after dark. Several others were walking home, close to my neighborhood, so I walked with them. I ended up walking three miles. My legs aren't used to that and they were throbbing when I got home. Still, I felt a sense of accomplishment, and my Fitbet was very pleased.

Today I'm taking the boys to music lessons. Tomorrow I'm going to have dinner with the family before they take off for spring break, so there will be more spending.

Right now my variables are at 83%.

BFF is coming on Monday for a couple of days. I will have to be very careful to keep my spending down if I want to come in under. Pay day is on Wednesday -- when she will be leaving.

Free Dinner

March 21st, 2018 at 06:14 am

Got a free dinner last night when I sat with the boys. Papa John's, yummy!

GS1 has chosen to go to a different school next year. It is bigger and closer, so he can walk there. He's currently at a magnet school; the new one is a traditional middle school. It has a better orchestra and better sports. I hope this is the right decision; he won't be with any of his friends, and I think it might be more of a jolt than he expects.

They are all going away for spring break starting on Friday evening, so I'm going to be on cat duty for the following week.

After I voted yesterday, I walked to Walgreen's and bought a bottle of fine wine for $5. Smile Unfortunately, my candidate for governor did not win the primary, but I didn't expect that he would.

I'm having dinner tonight with the librarians group at a Mexican restaurant. It is a local place that is fast-casual and has very good food. I'm really looking forward to it.

Other than the dinner out, I'm not expecting to spend anything today. Hoping I will get around to making the granola, which I haven't done yet. I did, however, make some really good refrigerator soup yesterday. It was the balsamic onions that made it so good. I'll have another serving of that today. I also made carrot-cake pancakes for breakfast, and there was enough batter left to have more today. Yum!

Election Day

March 20th, 2018 at 09:06 am

We have state primaries today. My polling place is a short walk away and I'll make that soon. I'm so glad Election Day has arrived because I'm so sick of the unrelenting negative ads.

I spent nothing yesterday.

I made two loaves of bread. Since I also had after school care, I had to interrupt the rising process by putting the loaves in the fridge. When I was free again, I put them back in a warm place. They rose just fine. (In fact, they rose a bit in the fridge, too). Actually, I think they are the best I've made yet! I'm going to give one loaf to my son's family. I'm babysitting tonight while they go out for their anniversary. I'll get a free pizza dinner! I hope they order from Jet's!

I RSVP'd to eat with the librarians tomorrow.

My BFF is coming up to visit next week. We had a long talk on the phone last night. She has been in a mode of giving money to her DIL, and she has always been somewhat defensive about it. Apparently, her gut finally told her to stop, and she said no to a request to fund a weekend trip. Just for the DIL, not even for the family! Her DIL said, "I'll never ask you for money again!" (If only!) I'm afraid BFF is going to have to deal with some hard feelings, but it's very good she has finally cut this off. Her DIL doesn't really care for her, she is only using her as a bank. The DIL has a gambling problem and a credit problem; really a sad situation.

No-Spend Day

March 19th, 2018 at 06:56 am

No spending yesterday, other than laundry.

After eating another serving of soup and a veggie plate dinner, I froze the soup and the snow peas. There is just too much to deal with right now.

I also have a lot of carrots, but they will keep longer and I can plug away at eating them.

I'm planning to make mac & cheese today -- the kind you bake in the oven. I also need to make some more bread and more granola. Not sure how much I'll accomplish today, since I usually have after school care on Monday.

The kids didn't call me this weekend about seeing Wrinkle in Time, so I have a little extra money which I can use toward eating out with the librarians on Wednesday. I'll RSVP today. We're going to a taco place; it shouldn't be too expensive.

I keep checking my mystery shopping sites, but everything offered is just too far away to be viable. Speaking of mystery shopping, I haven't received any of my compensation yet. I know it takes some time, but at this point I want to make sure I'm actually going to get paid before I commit to very much more.

Another problem is that they send me offers for sites in Chicago. That's problematic, because parking in Chicago would cost about what the compensation would be. Plus, I would just rather not go to unknown parts of the city. So many areas are not safe.

Well, time to get to the gym!

Thai Soup

March 18th, 2018 at 06:57 am

Well, I tried out the next vegetarian recipe yesterday -- Thai Curry Vegetable & Tofu Soup. I don't think I will make this one again. It was expensive to make, and I wasn't crazy about the result. But I have about three more servings to eat. I also have quite a few leftover vegetables to use up before I move on to the next recipe.

I grocery shopped in the morning, not at Aldi but Jewel, where I was more assured of finding all the ingredients. I spent $42. That included the soup ingredients: veggie stock, tofu, green beans, shiitake mushrooms, carrots, snow peas, and coconut milk. I also bought toilet paper, coffee, oatmeal, shredded cheddar and a Honeycrisp apple. And I supposedly got two free items, sparkling water and coconut water. However, I see I only got half off on the coconut water. I probably should have questioned that, but I assume I picked up the wrong size.

I used all the mushrooms and tofu in the soup, but I have green beans, carrots and snow peas left over. I'll have a veggie plate for dinner. And I'll have another serving of the soup for lunch.

No plans today except to go to the gym, but I may go with the kids to see "A Wrinkle in Time," if their schedule permits. I need to make bread again, but I may wait till tomorrow, when I know I'll have uninterrupted time.

Variables are at 77%, with ten days to go. So from now on I will only buy things I need. I think that may include laundry detergent and dishwasher detergent.

My friend S has invited me to dine out with a group of her associates -- professional librarians -- this Wednesday. I would like to do it, but I'll have to crunch the numbers to make sure I can do it within budget.

Manifique!

March 17th, 2018 at 06:32 am

The concert last night was unbelievable! It's been a long time since I've listened to a very good professional orchestra. Every note was perfectly executed. Just amazing. We were treated to two symphonies -- one by Haydn, one by Mozart, and a concerto by Mozart, which was about as long as the symphonies. I wish my grandson the violinist could have heard it, although I know he would have been squirming before the night was over.

The reception beforehand offered a pretty good spread. I had chicken on a stick, brie on crackers, an egg salad mini-sandwich, carrots and broccoli. Also a little cheesecake parfait for dessert.

After the concert was over, I was still a little hungry, so I went through a McDonalds drive-through on the way home and spent $5 on an Egg McMuffin and a drink.

I also spent $22 filling up the tank, and earlier in the day, I spent $17 on a haircut.

Variables are now up to 72%. And I will be grocery-shopping today.