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Archive for July, 2018

A Day at Home

July 21st, 2018 at 05:49 am

I spent the whole day at home yesterday. I did go out for a walk in the morning, hitting the alleys once more. I found a great box from Hello Fresh. When I got home, I discovered it still contained a card offering $45 off your first order of wine, if you join the Hello Fresh wine club. I'll have to read up on it to see if I could cancel after the first order. I don't drink wine any more, but it makes good gifts.

I also found some paper plates and plastic cups still in their wraps -- just set out, not in the dumpster, so I felt okay about taking them. There was other disposable tableware, but I passed them up. They were not wrapped.

Also found three Thanksgiving place mats, which will go in the sale.

And I found .11 as well.

I did a load of laundry, and continued pulling out things for the garage sale. I had a huge stash of fabric that I know I'm never going to use, so it's going on the block. I did save the material for a quilt I was was working on and forgot about. That would be a nice activity this winter.

I've gone through the whole house now, except for the kitchen and the storage unit.

I'm beginning to wonder how I'm going to get this all to Indiana. It will take several trips, for sure.

I also did some kitchen stuff yesterday. I made some chicken fajita filling, and I pulled out some hot dog buns from the freezer to dry and turn into breadcrumbs. They were too dry to use as buns.

Mostly I read and relaxed. It was a good day.

Grocery Shopping

July 20th, 2018 at 07:14 am

I went to Food4Less and Aldi yesterday, which pushed my grocery spending above $100 for the month. I don't like to ever break $100, but it happens once in a while. At Aldi, in particular, I did some stocking up -- for instance, meat to keep in the freezer. I think this food should last for a while.

I had a bit of a scare at Aldi. I pulled up to the store and there was a huge construction fence and the store itself was stripped of any recognizable feature. I thought they were demolishing it! But no, it was a remodel, and I was able to follow a path to get in, where everything was intact.

I also went to the gym, and, of course, babysat in the afternoon. The boys take their lunches to morning sports camp, and I have been going through the remains they bring home. Yesterday one of them brought back a whole sandwich. Knowing it would be thrown out otherwise, I ate it for my dinner. A free meal!

Next week will be a change of pace. Monday will be normal, Tuesday the boys are going to Six Flags, so I'll be off, and on Wednesday I'm going to take them to the kids' movie (Paddington 2), grab lunch, and then drive to Michigan. We'll stay at my brother's until Saturday morning. This will be the first time it's been just me and boys at my brother's house, and I hope it goes well.

The trip to Michigan will begin on pay day, so all of the cost of it will go on next month's budget.

Right now, variables are at 55%. Only five days till pay day.

Found Money!

July 19th, 2018 at 06:13 am

I found a $5 bill yesterday! It was just lying in the street, folded up. I'm getting so close now to picking up $100!

I took a walk in the alleys yesterday. I found about six boxes, but nothing new to put in the garage sale.

I went to the last baseball game of the season. Our team lost pretty bad, and GS1 had a bad game, striking out twice and missing an important catch. But they all went out to Portillo's afterwards in good spirits. I drove separately, so I passed on the meal out. Not only do I not want to spend the money -- I don't want to eat that late in the day.

Today I slept kind of late, but I need to get to the gym and shop a little before I go take care of the boys.

GS2 is very sad that his cousin, who is almost the same age, has moved out of town, all the way to Oregon. We are all trying to think of ways to let them see each other. I am toying with idea of BFF and I taking the train to Portland with our grandchildren. She has a brother there. I haven't even introduced this idea to her, and it won't happen for a while, even if she likes the idea. It would be hard for me to do during Gap Year. But it is something to think about and aim for. BFF and I were planning to take another trip together, anyway. Maybe next summer?

Tuesday Doings

July 18th, 2018 at 07:41 am

My mystery shop went well, and I've entered my report. I have not received payment from this particular company for more than a month, so I'm not going to accept any more from them until they do. Unlike some of the others, there is nothing on their site showing what has been paid and what is pending, so it's a little nerve-wracking.

After the shop, I went straight to GS1's playoff game. It was a VERY LONG game. It was stalled many times because of issues with the ump and the coaches. In the end, we finally won, in an exciting comeback, but it was three and a half hours!

I found a Trader Joe's before the game and bought some snacks, spending $7. Most of them I ended up bringing home. Those snacks were my supper. I was planning on going out with the kids after the game, but since the game ran so long, I begged off. Saved me some money.

Variables are now at 51%, with only one week to go.


Another No-Spend Day

July 17th, 2018 at 06:09 am

It was another no-spend day for me, other than $1.50 for laundry, which I don't really count as spending. I took the boys to the library after their sports camp. They had eaten lunch at the camp, so there was no decision about what to do about feeding them. We were there a short while and then GS1 had to go to baseball practice.

In the evening, I went to GS2's championship game. We lost, but it was an exciting game, and GS2 got his first trophy. And I found a nickel in the bleachers!

I ordered my free OTC drugs -- $50 worth. This time I got low-dose aspirin, dairy pills, generic Zyrtec, famotide, acetominophen, and a small box of pantyliners.

This morning I took a walk around the neighborhood. I headed home by way of the alleys, where I found a nice cardboard box. I also found a plastic wastebasket, a small tire and a 12" baking pan, all in good condition. I'll put the wastebasket and tire in the garage sale, but I'll keep the baking pan. I also found a set of paper lanterns still in plastic wrap -- but they had been damaged by rain, so I left them.

These are all things that were set out by the dumpsters, not in them. I don't actually go dumpster diving!

It seems many of the millennials I live among declutter by taking things to the dumpster and do not donate to Goodwill. So wasteful! But I'm sure there are others like me who come along and snatch them up!

Today I have a mystery shop to do, which may interfere, time-wise, with GS1's away game tonight. I have to do the mystery shop, once I'm signed up, so it will get priority.

My cash back from Discover hit the bank, almost $8.

Did It!

July 16th, 2018 at 05:40 am

I cleaned that tank, I hung those pictures, and I squeezed in a visit to the gym in between the baseball games. I also managed to put aside more stuff for the garage sale. I've worked my way about halfway through my house.

My only spending yesterday was .50 for lemonade at the ball park.

It was a good day, especially for GS2, whose team won all three games and will now play in the championship game tonight.

This week the boys are going to a morning sports camp, so I don't go on duty until 1:30. With DIL coming home around 3-4, it will be a light week. (My body appreciates that!) Next week I'm taking them up to Michigan. Not nailed down yet, but probably Wednesday through Friday.

I need to do some more laundry today, but first I need to go get quarters. I think I'll take a walk to the bank before it gets too steamy and hot.

Procrastination

July 15th, 2018 at 05:33 am

There are things I don't like to do. One of them is cleaning the fish tank, which actually has to be done pretty often. I was supposed to do it yesterday, but I didn't. I was also supposed to hang some pictures, and I didn't do that either. I can only credit it to procrastination. Probably added and abetted by the heat. I didn't turn on the air yesterday, trying to be frugal.

But the good news is that it was a no-spend day, other than the $3 I spent on doing laundry.

Today I have three games to attend, so I only have freedom until noon. I will put it out here that I intend to get those two neglected chores done this morning. I am also supposed to do strength training at the gym, according to my own schedule.

I slept poorly and don't feel good, at least not yet. So this is going to be a challenge.

No-Spend Day

July 14th, 2018 at 05:53 am

Yesterday was a pretty calm day. GS1 left early to go to the batting cages with his friends, so GS1 and I played a board game. He "taught" me how to play. His instructions were hilarious. He's 8.

No spending at all. For lunch we had leftover pizza.

Today I'm off duty. I'm going to do some laundry and some general housework. I found a couple more boxes so I'm going to continue boxing up things for the garage sale.

Tomorrow there are three baseball games. It's raining this morning, so I hope that means there will be a cool-off.

I got a coupon for a free full stack at IHOP, which I will have to use by the end of the month.

Variables are at 45%, with 11 days to go.

Summer Spending

July 13th, 2018 at 04:27 am

I had a restaurant mystery shop yesterday which I did with the boys. My portion of the bill will be reimbursed, but what they ordered cost $22. Then, after the evening ball game, the team went out to Fuddrucker's. I ordered a veggie burger and water, and it was $8. I am spending more on eating out than I want to, but it just seems to be a casualty of summer, with its hectic schedule and child care demands.

DIL had a bad day yesterday. Her grieving for her mother is hitting her hard now. It so often happens that way -- the grief really hits later than you think it would. For that reason, I'm not even going to bother her about the extra expense I had yesterday. I'm sure she assumed that the mystery shopping would cover the boys' portion, too.

I'll be caring for the boys today, as she has to put in an extra day at work. I was hoping to go visit BFF this weekend, but that will be postponed. Just as well -- there is so much I need to do at home.

Yesterday's spending included getting gas - $28 (another big summer expense). I also stopped and got my free car wash.

I signed up for another comic store shop this coming week, even though the last one didn't go so well. This is a different location, though, and I should have a better idea on what to do.

Found a nickel yesterday! My found money is inching toward $100!

MM II Etc.

July 12th, 2018 at 05:20 am

Well, Mamma Mia II was really fun -- and quite touching, too! I liked it better than the first one, but probably because I knew what to expect and I just went along with the campier, cornier aspects of it. I sat next to a very nice woman who caught me up on what happened in MM I (it's been a while!) and that really kept me from getting lost and confused.

My spending yesterday was $6 for nachos at the water park -- which made me sick later in the day. Not because there was anything wrong with them, but because I didn't have my dairy pills with me. I don't know what got into me, ordering them in the first place. They just looked good.

I also spent $6 at McDonald's on the boys and $17 for guest passes to the water park, but I am assuming I'll get reimbursed for those.

I got a $51 payment from a mystery shop company.

Variables are at 37%, and so far, Gap Year is going well!

Swim Days

July 11th, 2018 at 04:57 am

Yesterday I took GS1 and a friend of his to a pool in an adjoining suburb. GS1 had a pass, but the friend and I were charged $15 as guests, since we were out-of-town. There is no public pool in our suburb.

DIL reimbursed me, and also reimbursed me for the IHOP meal yesterday.

Today GS2 (who had a playdate with a friend yesterday) will be going to Six Flags with another family. So it will be just me and GS1 again. He may want to do another swim day with his friend, but we may do the beach instead. Certainly a lot cheaper.

I spent $7 on ice cream.

In the evening, after a great baseball game, I went to PetSmart, which is very close to the ball park, and spent $42 on dry cat food. This enabled a $10 coupon which I can use on my next bag.

Variables are at 37%.

Tonight I'm going to see a complementary showing of Mamma Mia II. I got the invitation as a subscriber to the Cinemark loyalty club (which is free). I wasn't crazy about MM I, but, hey, it's free entertainment and it will be nice to have a night out. Wish I had a movie buddy, but since C's death, I haven't had that kind of friend here in town.

I signed up for another mystery shop at the hamburger place. This one will happen on July 29. That's in addition to the one I'll do tomorrow. I really like these shops because I get a fee in addition to a free meal.

Back on Four Wheels

July 10th, 2018 at 05:38 am

I got my tire yesterday, but I had to pay the full price in order to take my car. The tire place had not heard from the warranty company (after the initial authorization) so they advised me to pay and get reimbursed rather than wait days for payment to come directly to them. I guess they go through this a lot.

So I paid $351, and later in the day I faxed the invoice to the warranty company. They have authorized $334 in payment. I hope they are quick in cutting me a check. Since I don't have a land line, the fax cost me $2 to send at Office Depot.

My hair dryer pooped out yesterday, so I picked up a new one at Walgreens. It was $18, on sale for 20% off. I do hope it lasts longer than the last one.

My other spending was $21 at IHOP, where I hung out with boys while I waited for the tire to be delivered to the tire shop. I'll give the receipt for that to DIL today. I'm not sure whether she will reimburse me, since it's not our regular Thursday Eat-Out Day -- but this Thursday I'll be doing a mystery shop for lunch, so it should be pretty cheap for the boys.

We also went to the library, where I picked up three new books.

Variables are now at 33%. The bulk of the tire cost is not counted in this, but I did count the difference between my payment and what the warranty company has authorized.

Two weeks and a day left till pay day, so I'm doing pretty well, despite some surprises.

Free Dinner

July 8th, 2018 at 06:18 am

Yesterday I rode with my son to an out-of-town baseball game, which we lost, but it was a good game. Afterwards my ex (who had also come to the game) took all of us out for dinner, which was nice. It was a free meal for me, but one that I didn't really need, since I had already eaten about as much as I should have for the day. But I couldn't turn it down, as I had no separate transportation.

Came home and had a long telephone conversation with my other son, whom I hadn't heard from in a while. He is feeling the pinch for dental work -- his daughter and his wife. But he was in good spirits, and lifted mine, which were rather low.

Today, since I am still using the temporary tire, I'm going to try to just stay home. I'll have to drive a lot tomorrow getting the boys to music lessons and then to the tire store, so I'm just staying off the wheels today.

Mystery Shopping, Again

July 7th, 2018 at 07:57 am

The flat tire kind of took front page news yesterday, so I didn't even talk about my experience with the pizza delivery mystery shop.

It happened on the day I was not feeling well, but I had to follow through. Because I was a little woozy, I did not comprehend the instructions as thoroughly as I should have. I knew I was supposed to take at least three pictures of the pizza at a 90 degree angle. What I didn't get was that I was supposed to put notes beside the pizza showing my ID number and the store number. I took the pictures, and then I ate a piece. And then I saw the deal about the notes. Well, I couldn't add the notes and take a picture of a pizza with a piece missing -- even moving the pieces was a no-no.

So I emailed the agent and explained why I was not filing a report. I assumed I was going to have to absorb the cost of the pizza.

Next day, in the midst of all my flat tire drama, I saw an email from the agent telling me that they needed a report or my assignment would be cancelled. I returned a rather snippy reply that I had already sent her an email to explain, and she should check her inbox.

Well, it turns out she had sent me an earlier message that they could still use the report (which I had missed because I was driving) and I should go ahead and file it. So I had to apologize, hat in hand, and I promised to file the report by 4 pm. That meant I had to retrieve the labels from the box, which was in the trash, but, thank goodness, not in the dumpster. I got the report done and sent it in.

I'm not sure, at this point, whether it will reimbursed or not, so I counted the expense as "eating out" and I will remove it if I do get a reimbursement.

No one was around to eat the pizza, so after I ate the one slice, I put the rest in the freezer.

So, back to the car. I got a call yesterday from the tire dealer saying that there was a possibility the tire will come in today. I am hoping so, because I have to take the boys to music lessons at 9 on Monday, and I'd like to have the car all fixed by then.

This morning I took the short trip to the gym and then to Food4Less, which is in the same plaza. I spent $35. I am hoping this will be enough food to last the month, with only emergency fill-ins. I WILL have to buy some pet supplies, but I don't count those in groceries.

Between yesterday and today, I've spent $4.50 on laundry.

Variables are now at 25%.

I signed up for another mystery shop at lunchtime on Thursday. This time I'll take the boys with me. I've done this particular shop so many times now I don't think they'll be a distraction.

Michigan Trip Cancelled

July 6th, 2018 at 11:56 am

Why, you say?

Because I hit a pothole, hard, on Lake Shore Drive (during rush hour), got a flat and bent the wheel, and I can't get a new tire & wheel till Monday.

I guess it just wasn't meant to be.

I should have been scared, going flat on a busy road like that, but it happened so fast I didn't have time to. I just got over (four lanes) and took the first exit, as there was no shoulder. I had to drive a bit to find any place I could park the car. That's how I bent the wheel. AAA came and put on the baby spare. I had to go all the way back home and beyond to find a tire store that would fit me in. (Every place was overbooked because of the holiday.) And even then, there was no tire like mine in stock. So I'm grounded. No Michigan this weekend.

My warranty will cover all but $20. I don't know why it isn't completely covered, but $20 is not going to break me.

Meanwhile, I'll go back to reading my book and attending baseball games!

The Fourth, and the Night After

July 5th, 2018 at 08:28 am

On the Fourth, I went with my kids to my ex's house for a cookout. Well, really a cook-in. After dinner my kids and I went to the beach to watch the fireworks. The beach is an easy walk from our condos, but I had to find a parking place, since I had driven to ex's. It took me ages! And I ended up parking too close to a fire hydrant, but I didn't get ticketed, so it all worked out.

Then last night, I woke up feeling a little unsettled. Soon that feeling turned to -- well, a terrible night in the bathroom. I admit I did eat a cheeseburger without a dairy pill, but I don't usually get much of a reaction from cheese. Something must have been a little off.

I felt so bad and lost so much sleep that I begged off taking care of the boys today. I still feel like I'm in recovery mode.

Today I have to order a pizza for a mystery shop. Of course, I don't feel like eating one, but you have to follow through if you've asked for an assignment. I can do it any time today, so I'll order later in the day. I've offered to share with the kids; we'll have to see if their schedule permits.

I'm leaving for my Michigan trip tomorrow. I have to get there by 1 to meet my friend P. That means leaving at 9 at the latest. I'm taking my laundry, so I don't have to pack! Except toiletries, of course. Really looking forward to it, but I hope I'm feeling better.

I don't believe I spent anything yesterday. I did figure out that I have enough padding in my checking account to cover the property tax bill and the other automatic payments that are coming out. I always round up on withdrawals, and round down on deposits, so that I build up a bit of a cushion. Sometimes it comes in useful!

Lower Property Tax

July 4th, 2018 at 06:03 am

I got my property tax bill -- second installment -- in the mail yesterday. I was very surprised that it was only $169. That is the lowest I ever paid. I'm not sure why it is so low, but I'm pleased. I already paid it out of my checking account. Now the account is just a little in the red (because of future withdrawals scheduled). But I think I can make up the difference without touching savings, if some mystery shop payments come in.

I did a mystery shop along with the boys yesterday in a garden shop. I had to buy something to prove I was there, so I let the boys each pick out a small thing for themselves. One chose an air plant, and one chose a pack of catnip seeds. The bill came to $8, and $5 will be reimbursed.

Afterwards I stopped at the grocery and spent $24.

Variables are at 16%.

In the evening we had an exciting baseball game to watch. We were tied in the seventh, and went into extra innings to finally make the win. Our boys haven't won much this year, so it was especially sweet. The game lasted three and a half hours!

I am not planning much today. It would be a gym day, but I think it is closed. I will probably walk over to the beach tonight to see the fireworks.

A bit of a cool-off has allowed me to turn off the air conditioners, but it seems like today might heat up again.

Just Where is That Baseball Diamond?

July 3rd, 2018 at 05:09 am

Yesterday was tiring. We had a baseball game at 6pm at a location an hour away. Well, with rush hour traffic it was an hour and a half. Plus, Google Maps TWICE directed me to the wrong location. I can't figure out what went wrong, but had I not been able to text my son and get better directions, I never would have made it there. I was almost ready to just turn around and go home.

The game lasted a couple of hours, and I didn't get to bed until around midnight.

Before the game, I went to Sam's and bought paper towels and Command strips. I spent $29. I shouldn't have to buy paper towels again for quite a while. As for the Command strips -- I have quite a few wall hangings, and some of them keep coming down. I'm going to double up on the problem children. I don't dare use the traditional nail in the wall, as I have old plaster walls.

I was going to order the Command strips from Amazon, but got a pop-up saying that Sam's had a better deal. I hadn't even thought of them.

Today I have a mystery shop in another suburb -- a garden store. I have yet to read through the guidelines, but I know I have to pretend I'm going to make a walk, or build a fence, or something like that. The boys will be with me; I hope they won't blow my cover. I'm going to put them in charge of buying the $5 item for which I'll be reimbursed.

Tomorrow I get the day off -- a day of rest, whee! And on Thursday I will get to order a free pizza via mystery shopping.

Almost forgot -- I also spent $28 on gas at Sam's. Variables are now at 12%.

It's Monday!

July 2nd, 2018 at 05:32 am

Yesterday was a good catch-up day. I set aside a lot of things to sell, some for the garage sale, and some for eBay. My dining room table is full of boxes now. I'm going to start taking the full boxes down one at a time as I come and go.

I have to take the boys to music lessons at 9 this morning, which pretty much jump-starts my day. I don't know what the plans are beyond that. We might go swimming, but that will depend on DIL giving me the passes. I've already made their lunch, peanut soup. They loved it in Williamsburg; I hope they'll love it here.

The weather has cooled off a bit, so I turned off the air and opened the windows this morning. It feels good and I wish it would stay that way.

Yesterday I ran across some old journals I kept back in the 80's and 90's. I never kept them very long at a time, but it's still a good window into my past. I was really worried about money then. I was in debt, living hand to mouth, didn't see any way out. I was also very busy, and I refer to a lot of events and people I don't even remember. Makes me appreciate the security and sense of peace I have now.

I'm going to Michigan this weekend to visit my brother, and I'm going to have lunch with my friend P, too. Looking forward to the fun and relaxation, but not the drive!

DIL's Party

July 1st, 2018 at 06:21 am

DIL had a great 40th birthday party. It was held at a local brewery, in the big backroom area where all the kettles and barrels are kept. They provided trays of antipasto and bread, and of course there was birthday cake. I tried not to indulge too much.

A lot of her friends came, but also some of her relatives from Indiana, whom I hadn't seen for a while, so I spent most of the evening catching up with them. It was a fun night, and unusually late for me!

Before the party, I attended GS2's last baseball game. It was ridiculously hot, but I brought a folding chair and found a spot in the shade. I spent $1 on a lemonade, sold by a boy who said he was collecting for the homeless. GS2 got a trophy at the end of the day for being the fastest and hardest-working. They all got a trophy, of course!

Today, I am going to chill, literally. I'm staying home. Even though there are things I could do, I think I am better off staying in the coolness and resting. I'll be running around soon enough, and it looks like this heat is not going away soon.

I have two mystery shops next week -- one at a garden center, and the other a pizza delivery.

I got a $55 check from one of my companies yesterday. About half of that was a reimbursement.