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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.


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.


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.


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.

Busy Day Shaping Up

March 16th, 2018 at 07:20 am

Yesterday I went to the gym, and that was my only outing. I spent the rest of the day puttering around the house and reading.

I signed up with two more mystery shop companies. Now I hope I can keep them all straight!

I also signed up for a free trial of Netflix. My plan is to catch up on Stranger Things. I've seen the first four episodes at my kids' and now I'm hooked. I've also heard The Crown is worth watching.

I had a lot of red onions on hand (because I couldn't buy just one at Aldi), so yesterday I roasted three of them (cut in wedges) with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. They were pretty good. I have quite a bit left, and I will keep on eating them till they're gone.

Rignt now I'm baking a breakfast casserole with eggs, peppers, onions, cheese, bacon bits and milk.

Soon I will get my hair cut, and then in the late afternoon I will start making my way to the western suburbs to meet J and go to the CSO concert. Very excited about that -- and wondering how to dress. I think I've decided on black pants and a dressy top. I don't want to go overboard.

Scary Day

March 15th, 2018 at 05:09 am

Yesterday I was at school with the boys, waiting for them to get tired of playing outside, when I got a call from DIL. She said a shooter was on the Northwestern University campus, and I should come straight home with the boys. Well, NU is definitely not far from where we live, and I was rattled. The boys came with no argument, and we went home in a way that did not go anywhere near the campus.

Turned out it was all a hoax. Someone who wasn't even in the Chicago area called the police with a story about shooting his girlfriend and identifying a location in a NU dorm. The police responded fully with a SWAT team, but no shooter, girlfriend, or gun was ever found. The dorm room was unoccupied.

I'm glad that's the way it turned out. A real shooting incident would have been terrible. But what a waste of resources. The police, in full force, were tied up with this thing for more than an hour, and the students in the dorm were in lockdown. Not funny.

I tried to snag a mystery shop assignment for today, but someone else got there first. I'm going to follow Laura's suggestion from an earlier post, and sign up with a couple more companies.

Today should be a pretty uneventful day!

Oh, and there was no spending yesterday.

Loved the Tarts!

March 14th, 2018 at 06:28 am

I made the mushroom tarts yesterday, and they were delicious! But actually, I do like mushrooms, so that probably wasn't much of a test.

The recipe made four, so I still have three to eat the next few days. I also have leftover cheese, which will make some awesome grilled cheese sandwiches, and, of course, plenty of spring mix. So I won't be cooking a new recipe until I get through this food. The next recipe on the list is "Thai Curry Vegetable & Tofu Soup." Lots of ingredients I don't have on hand.

Yesterday the boys and I went to Starbucks after school for hot chocolate, which was $10. Yikes! It did hit the spot, though. It was cold and snowy. The snow really came down, but thank goodness it didn't stick. I'll pick them up again today, and that should be it for the week.

I learned that the reception prior to the concert will provide appetizers, so J and I will not have dinner beforehand. I'm really looking forward to it! I will have to fill the gas tank (it's a 37-mile drive) but I will at least be able to fill up out west in an area where gas is cheaper.

Looks like I have done all the mystery shops available in my area. There are many in outlying suburbs, but the compensation is so low, I don't think it's worth the driving. I'll keep checking. I could also add some new mystery shop companies to my list as well.

Trying to Like Vegetables

March 13th, 2018 at 06:58 am

I know they're good for me. I have no argument with that. I just don't like vegetables. I never want to eat them. I force myself -- and not often enough.

So, in an effort to like them better, I Googled something like "delicious vegetarian recipes" and found an article on RealSimple that listed 31 delicious recipes. I'm going to try them out.

Yesterday I got the ingredients for the first on the list, flaky mushroom and Gruyere tarts. I made some substitutions -- I bought regular button mushrooms (which were on special at Aldi) rather than shitake or something fancier, and bought red onions rather than shallots. I bought sharp white cheddar rather than Gruyere. Still, an expensive dish.

I spent $10 for white wine, mushrooms, red onions, Dijon mustard, and spring mix at Aldi. I had to go to Jewel to get white wine vinegar, frozen pastry puff, and the white cheddar for $14.

(An explanation here -- some of these ingredients are for a side salad with homemade dressing.)

I will make the tarts today.

Yesterday I had a free burger, fries and drink at my mystery shop, and in the evening I had the very last of that split pea soup that has lasted forever.

I had a really awful night last night. Couldn't sleep because 1) my legs hurt 2) I was too hot 3) I was thirsty 4) maybe it was that cup of tea???? Anyway, just a dreadful night. I do have to take care of the boys after school today, so I'm going to take it real easy this morning.

I had scheduled myself for a haircut yesterday, but it was a busy day and I didn't even try to get in. Now I'm thinking I may wait till the end of the week. My hair looks fine, though my bangs are little mangled from a self-cut. At least they are not in my eyes.

On Friday I'm going to a Chicago Symphony Orchestra concert with my friend J, who lives in a western suburb. The concert is also in (another) western suburb; it is a benefit for a community foundation. J is giving me the free ticket, and there is a reception preceding. J is checking on whether there are appetizers at the reception -- if not, we'll meet a little earlier and have dinner together.

I'm really excited; it's been a long time since I've been to a good concert, and, actually, it's been quite a while since I've since J.

I looked ahead in my budget and it looks like in April I will not have to pay assessment fees, because my pay day will come before they are withdrawn. That really eases things; otherwise it would have been a pretty tight month.

No Spend Day

March 12th, 2018 at 06:08 am

No spending yesterday. I didn't go anywhere, either, but DS and GS2 came over for a bit. DS fixed my ceiling light, but he didn't have time to hang my new shades.

So today I'm going to the gym, stopping at Aldi, doing my mystery shop (lunch) and going to the library to return a book. All this before school is out in case I am needed to pick up the boys.

My Discover account closed today, and I earned $4.27 this month. I'm transferring the money to my bank and adding to my snowflakes. I also have a $3 Pine Cone payment sitting in PayPal -- need to remember to transfer that.

Variables are at 64% and I have 16 days to go.

Ah, Leisure!

March 11th, 2018 at 08:42 am

I'm enjoying a very leisurely morning. One nice thing about being retired is that the daylight savings change makes no real difference at all. Just changing the clocks!

Tomorrow I'm going to do another mystery shop for the same chain restaurant, different location. I figure I'm already prepped for it, I might as well do it again! I'll get a free lunch this time. So far my mystery shopping earnings -- if they are approved -- are $28. That's not counting the value of the meals. I won't see the actual money till next month, however.

Yesterday I spent $2 on sponges at Jewel; also got a free stick of Toffifay candy and a free bottle or organic coconut juice. And I found a penny!

I also went to DSW to try on shoes. I was indeed awarded with a 500-point bonus (in the form of a card). I didn't even have to ask; a clerk came up and handed it to me as I was trying on the shoes. I will tell you I was very tempted to buy the shoes, but I knew it wasn't within my budget, so I put them back. I hope they are still there when I go back after pay day. However, there are lots of other options available if they are not. The particular pair I was trying on was 40% off -- but they were quite expensive in the first place. Nice shoes, though! I've always wanted Tretorns!

Back to my leisurely day....

This and That

March 10th, 2018 at 04:58 am

No spending yesterday, other than the spending I did at the mystery shop restaurant, and I will be reimbursed for that. The shop went well; it was easy work, as everything there was as it should be -- clean, efficient, friendly, etc.

I went to the gym after the 4 pm shop.

I had to wash the sheets again yesterday -- hairball in the bed. If only Iggy didn't hang out on the bed so much. If only he didn't throw up hairballs. Oh well, at least I have the luxury of clean sheets often.

I did a Pine Cone survey yesterday. So far this year I've earned $9, or one survey a month.

I'll be going to Jewel for two free MyMixx items today -- coconut water and candy. Neither one exactly a need, but free!

Free Dinner Tonight!

March 9th, 2018 at 05:52 am

No spending yesterday. I signed up for another mystery shop this evening, this time at a chain restaurant. I'll get an $8 payment and the cost of my meal will be reimbursed. It's not in my town, but it is in an adjoining suburb.

My new shades were delivered yesterday. Now I just need to get my son to put them up, hopefully this weekend.

Variables are at 64% with 19 days to go.

Tomorrow I'm going to DSW's "Sneaker Remix Party." Not to buy, but if I try on a pair of sneakers I'll get 500 bonus points (which I think translates to $5 off a future purchase). Might as well, since I do want to buy sneakers next month. Also, if I'm one of the first to attend, I'll get a free gift, a bluetooth speaker. Only 25 of those, so I doubt that I will get one. I'm not going to stand in line for an hour.

BFF is coming to visit at the end of the month! I am so ready to have some fun.

Yesterday's Fun

March 8th, 2018 at 05:09 am

Yesterday's spending was $14 at Aldi for eggs, butter, creamer, sugar and almond milk, $18 at Noodles & Company for lunch, and $2 for parking.

We missed the one-hour mark by one minute -- otherwise the parking would have been free!

At Noodles & Company I had coupons for two free appetizers, but the boys ordered full-size meals and drinks. They had leftovers, which I boxed up and sent home with them. I would have taken them myself, but I watched them eat. Yuck!

Next time I won't allow them to order the larger meals.

After lunch, I took the boys to the library. They checked out three books and I checked out two.

I had a brief conversation with DIL about summer plans. Both boys are going to various camps, but there will also be a lot of time when DIL works and I need to be on duty. We are discussing whether to get a beach pass or a pool pass or both. Guess I'll be getting a tan this summer!

A Spending Boost

March 7th, 2018 at 04:51 am

Yesterday my subscription to Ancestry.com hit my credit card. It was $189. I also ordered my window shades, and they were $87.

I picked up the boys after school and bought them BOGO shakes at Steak N Shake for $3.

This combined spending brought my variables spending up to 59%, with three weeks to go. Clearly, I am not going to be able to buy the shoes I was hoping to buy, but it's not an emergency. My Saucony's are starting to separate at the sole, but they will hold up for another month, anyway.

Today I pick the boys up at 11, but DIL should get off work around 2. I will get them lunch, but I have some coupons for Noodles & Company, and it shouldn't be too expensive.

The weather has turned cold again -- temperatures in the teens -- but we had only a dusting of snow yesterday and we have been spared the misery that the east coast is experiencing. I'm getting to that point where I'm really tired of winter, even though this one has not been too bad. It's just giving me the blahs.

Getting ready to go to the gym and to Aldi, to get the items I didn't get yesterday ....

Mystery Shop Accomplished

March 6th, 2018 at 06:52 am

My mystery shop yesterday went well. My mission was to pretend I was buying a TV from a big box store, and I had to be on the alert for certain kinds of technical information. I'll have to see if I answered the survey questions adequately. I made a couple of mistakes -- I didn't get the name of the first associate who spoke to me, and I didn't really notice what the associates were wearing. I also had to upload a receipt (I bought a frappuccino for $2.65). That was a challenge for me; I never do that kind of stuff.

The compensation is only $12, and between the shop and all the followup stuff I spent at least a couple of hours on it. Not to mention I won't be compensated for what I spent. But I assume I will get better. This was my maiden voyage.

After the shop I went to the gym. It was Pizza Day, so I got a free dinner. I was very pleased that they offered a veggie pizza this time.

Did another load of laundry for $1.50.

Today I'm going to do after school care, and tomorrow I'll have the boys for a half day. I have survey receipts for two free appetizers at Noodles & Co., so I plan to use those tomorrow.

I also need to go back to Aldi and pick up a few more things I'm running out of. I really like doing my shopping a little at a time. I don't buy more than I can use, and it's easy to carry it up the steps. And since it's near the gym, it's not out of my way.

Early Morning After a Late Night

March 5th, 2018 at 06:55 am

I was up late watching the Oscars last night. I almost forgot to tune in -- after seeing all nine Best Picture nominees! Then it seemed to take me a long time to go to sleep, but I woke up at 6:30 like usual.

I'm not going to the gym today. I'm going to take it easy this morning. This afternoon I have to do my mystery shop assignment, and I'm surprisingly nervous about it! There's so much to remember, and a certain amount of acting required. I'll have to see if I think this is something really worthwhile for the compensation.

No spending yesterday after my grocery shopping in the morning. There was an automatic payment to my Medicare supplement, which does not affect variables.

I made more granola yesterday, and it turned out the best yet. I think I finally have it figured out how much time to toast it in the oven.

My sister is considering moving back to the Midwest. More about that later, if anything comes of it. Considering her financial situation, I think it's unlikely she could make any kind of move. (Underwater in the house, hoarding situation, too many dogs, no financial responsibility, chaotic life. Oy.) I do love her, but she is a train wreck.

My Simple Life

March 4th, 2018 at 09:36 am

I went to Aldi after the gym this morning, and spent $20 on wine, maple syrup, bacon bits, poppyseed dressing and a bag of frozen chicken breasts.

Yesterday, Iggy (now I know it's him!) barfed on my bed. This time, the mattress pad was spared, but he got the comforter. It's a pain to wash. I washed the sheets yesterday and saved the comforter to wash today; I slept under my quilt, but I was pretty cold. The comforter is in the dryer now (where it will only halfway dry; it's too big. I'll hang it to dry in my bathroom.) That's $3 worth of laundry.

I've spent 23% of my variables.

I need to buy some honeycomb shades for the living room, and a new pair of athletic shoes. The shoes can probably wait longer than the shades can. I'll probably order the shades online, just haven't gotten around to taking the measurements and placing the order.

That will be my "fun" spending this month....

The weather is nice today, so I'll probably try to fit in a walk later.

Mystery Shop

March 3rd, 2018 at 08:03 am

I signed up for my first mystery shop. I signed on to the service months ago, but never accepted an assignment because I got sick, and C was dying, and I was caring for the boys after school, and there was just too much going on.

But now I think I can handle it. I have an assignment on Monday which will pay $12. There seems to be a lot of detail to it, but I suppose I will get used to it.

Yesterday I spent $13 at Aldi on peanut butter, California Medley veggies, cheese puffs (to have on hand for the boys), frozen pizza and crackers.

I also spent $5 on Girl Scout Cookies.

This morning I spent $34 on gas.

I am baking bread today. It's in the oven now and it smells great.

I did manage to clean the fish tank yesterday and it looks better, though not perfectly clear yet.

I have my last movie to see today: "Call Me By Your Name." It's been fun, but I'm also a little relieved. That's a lot of movies in one week!

I'm sending a $100 check to my cousin for his wedding, which is going to take place in one hour, in fact!

Believe it or not, my son is pursuing a job at the museum where I did contract work last year! I was able to provide him with a contact name, and I am hoping his conversation with her went well.

Light Spending

March 2nd, 2018 at 06:38 am

Light spending yesterday. I spent $12 at Aldi for flour, salad, cheese dip, croutons, and walnuts. The walnuts were half the cost! But I always like to have walnuts on hand, and I use them in salads quite a bit. In the late afternoon/evening I had two movies to see (3 Billboards, Phantom Thread) and I got a snack at McDonald's in between for $2. I also did a $1.50 load of laundry.

I really need to make bread, but I was tired yesterday and I didn't get it done. I hope to do that today, after gym and another small shopping trip. I also need to clean the fish tank. I noticed the filter had slowed to a trickle the other day and the water was cloudy. I installed the new filter I had on hand. The flow is much better, but the water still hasn't cleared up. I know it is probably bacterial bloom rather than dirt, but cleaning can only help.

And I have more laundry to do.

Funny how all these little things fill up your day when you're retired.

Two more movies today, starting at 4 pm: Lady Bird and Dunkirk.

Great Day

March 1st, 2018 at 05:32 am

I had a great day with my friend K yesterday, but it was more expensive than I expected it would be. Lunch was $27, I spent $2 on coffee, and I gave $20 to a panhandler! Oy! Not quite sure how that happened but it seemed like the right thing to do at the time. At least I didn't pay anything for transportation or parking -- I took the El. And of course admission to the museum was free because of my membership. And K got in free as my guest.

K gave me a hoodie with my alma mater's logo on it, which delighted me! She got it free herself, from a friend who was getting rid of a lot of clothing.

In the evening, I went to see Darkest Hour -- my fourth movie in the Oscar series, and I loved it! The others I have seen so far are Shape of Water, Get Out, and The Post. I have really enjoyed them all.

I've been parking in a garage near the theater which honors validated tickets. But last night, even though I had validated my ticket, the reader wanted to charge me $3. Well, that ticked me off. A parking attendant came (since I wasn't proceeding through the line) and after seeing my validated pass and my movie stubs, let me through without paying. Well, it was only right.

Two more movies today -- Three Billboards and Phantom Thread.

I really have to do some grocery shopping now, but I'm going to try to do it a little at a time. One bag is all I can comfortably carry upstairs. Going back to the store often isn't a problem since all the stores I shop at are on the way to the gym.

I got a free packet of cat chow in the mail yesterday, which was nice. I had ordered it online, but had forgotten about it.

So, I'm off to the gym!