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Archive for January, 2019

It's Pay Day

January 23rd, 2019 at 05:51 am

This is the first deposit that reflects my "raise" -- which was swallowed up by the raise in my assessment fees, but, oh well, it's something.

I paid the credit cards and my mortgage. I have $131 extra to add to variables from mystery shopping and cash back rewards.

Here is last month's recap:

Housing: $733
Insurance: $643
Medical/Health: $237
Utilities: $182
Phone: $52
Vet/Pet Supplies: $47
Clothing: $46
Eating Out: $33
Furnishings/Equipment/Decor: $32
Groceries: $32
Household Supplies: $30
Gifts/Charity: $21
Gas: $20
Personal: $16
Entertainment: $15
Laundry: $15
Fees/Parking: $4

Grand Total: $2158

I intended to spend nothing yesterday, but I realized that two of the pairs of pants I had bought at Goodwill just didn't fit right, and I had a limited time to return them. So I returned them yesterday, before I picked up my grandson, and while I was there I found four more pairs. Because of the store credit I received, I spent only $13. So now I have five pairs, if the new ones fit. I didn't try them on, but I measured the rise and inseam.

I will probably take a trip to Aldi today. Grocery spending was really low last month, due to my focus on using up food in the freezer and pantry, but now it's time to get something new in the mix.

Surpassed $100!

January 22nd, 2019 at 05:57 am

I found a dime yesterday, which brought my coin-pick-up total above $100. It's now $100.04. I've been keeping track since 2011. I wonder if it will take another 8 years to get to $200?

I've been dealing with health issues the last couple days. One night I was bothered by pain from what I think is a gallstone moving around. This happens every once in a while. I've gone to the ER twice about it, but the pain always stops before I can get tested. They tell me to come when the pain is active, but it doesn't last that long. I get a lot of tests, a big bill, and no diagnosis. So now I just stick it out.

And yesterday was devoted to diarrhea, which is common with kidney disease, but annoying nonetheless.

Today I hope to have a pretty normal day.

I did a chore I've been ignoring for years -- I painted a footstool which I use in the bathroom. It is now a cheery red, which looks good with the green and white decor. I do need to put another coat on today.

Today I go back to after-school care. Tomorrow is pay day. Woo-hoo!

Oh, and I got a $17 payment and $26 reimbursement from one of my mystery shop companies.

Another winter storm warning. Yuck.

And Now, For my Regular Update

January 21st, 2019 at 09:25 am

I picked up my car from the city garage today, and it was indeed free to park there from Friday till this morning.

I took the train to the garage, which was a bit of a challenge on several levels. First, it was a four-block walk in single-digit temperatures. Second, I missed the first train by mere seconds! Third, the train I caught had mechanical issues and we sat in the cold with open doors for a while. But I finally made it there.

After getting my car, I made my gym visit even though I really didn't want to. And I feel good after getting it done.

Two days till pay day and I am trying to avoid spending anything till then.

Top Money Saving Tips

January 21st, 2019 at 09:19 am

Everyone has contributed so many good ones. I'll try to stick to tips that have been personally successful for me.

1. Don't throw food away, unless it is too old to be safe. If you don't know what to do with it, put it in your freezer, well-wrapped. And don't let it get old in the first place! Take action before the bacteria sets in!

2. Periodically go through your freezer and pantry and form a plan to use up everything that's there. Then execute that plan. Don't throw it away, that's cheating!

3. Don't buy new clothing unless you really have to. Goodwill and garage sales offer great clothing in every size, new and almost new. I buy everything used except underwear, swimsuits, coats and shoes. (And I will buy coats and shoes if I find them, but I never do.)

4. If you have a Sam's (or Costco) membership, use it! I find it's worth the fee for the gas savings alone. I buy most non-perishables at Sam's in bulk. Usually way cheaper, but check first, of course!

5. Use the library. Don't buy books! They are available free, every day, and you get to return them and avoid buying bookcases! Even buying books at Goodwill adds up -- I know!

6. If you live in a city where parking is an issue, know where the free parking is, and be willing to do some walking. I also use mass transit whenever it makes sense, because it's free to me as a senior.

7. Buy gifts all year long when you find them at the right price. But be judicious, and only buy what you really know you will wrap up and give away.

8. Develop hobbies that are free. Reading, walking, and cooking/baking are all great leisure-time activities. Usher at plays. Go to ball games. Attend the concert in the park. You know what's free in your neighborhood -- go do it!

9. Don't let yourself get disorganized. When you know where things are you don't buy it twice. When bill-paying is a system, you don't miss a payment. No need to spend a lot to "containerize" everything, just be neat and keep on top of things.

10. Take advantage of freebies. I am not too proud to get my free pizza and bagels at Planet Fitness. I get my free car washes at my dealer. When I visit my brother, I take advantage of the free car vacuums that are offered in his town. When downsizing friends offer me stuff, I take it! Sometimes I pass it on, but I always accept freebies because better stuff may be coming next.

These are the habits that have allowed me to live a pretty good life on a very limited budget.

Whew!

January 20th, 2019 at 12:04 pm

Glad we're back to normal!

I have spent another uneventful day at home. The snowstorm was not as bad as expected -- I would say we got about 4-5 inches, and the lake-effect snow that was predicted is hitting the other side of the lake, not ours. I am leaving my car in the city garage, anyway, because they will be plowing the streets today and tomorrow. I do have to get it before noon tomorrow, when the free period ends. That means a short walk and a train ride, and then I have wheels again.

The boys have no school on Monday, but I think DIL is staying home as well. DS for sure.

I have been reading, watching TV, working puzzles, and doing little things around the house. It is very cold outside, but I am very snug at home. I haven't done the baking I thought I might do, but there's still time!

I'm very excited that variables are only at 62% and pay day is Wednesday. That means I've saved more than $300 this month on a very small income. If I manage not to spend anything till then.

Is This the End of SA Blogs?

January 20th, 2019 at 06:07 am

0000

Winter Wonderland

January 19th, 2019 at 06:00 am

Well, they weren't kidding. We got snow. It looks like about 4-5 inches out there, and it's still snowing.

Blowing and drifting will come later, along with lake effect snow.

I'm so glad my car is in the city garage. If I really need something during this brief spell (the car has to come out on Monday) I can walk to Walgreens, which is four blocks away. It's one of those big Walgreens which has a food section.

Now I hope that we will not lose power. The snow on the wires looks heavy.

I'm thinking it will be a good day to bake bread, and maybe make cookies, too. We'll see how energetic I feel! It might just be a good lazy day, too!

Friday

January 18th, 2019 at 10:12 am

I got up early this morning and went to the gym before my 9:15 doctor's appointment. It was just the Medicare wellness appointment, which is free through my supplement. It did give me the opportunity to talk with my GP about my upcoming surgery.

After the doctor I went to Panera for my free bagel. I bought coffee this time and ate in the restaurant. Since I had a little money left on a gift card, the coffee was only .47! Then I stopped at the library and got two more books. I'm sure that with the storm coming, I'll be doing a lot of reading.

I spent $2 on parking.

Yesterday I went to Goodwill and bought three pairs of pants -- two pairs of jeans and one pair of classic black pants. Total cost was $16. I wanted to get through this gap year without buying clothes, but my pants are really wearing out. These three pairs should hold me.

I transferred my shampoo, conditioner, body wash etc. into the bottles I ordered and set them in the bathtub caddy. But I jostled it too much and it fell off the wall! I can't get it to stick again. I'm going to live without one for a while because all the bottles fit nicely standing in one corner of the tub. I need to evaluate the best kind of caddy for my situation because I've struck out with the pole (ceiling too high) and with the suction cups (won't stick to a textured wall). I'm looking at one that hangs from the shower curtain rod. But I might just do without. I just need to find a place for the poof and the razor.

I got a $24 payment from mystery shopping, half of which is a reimbursement. Variables are at 61%, with five days to go.

Thursday

January 17th, 2019 at 06:34 am

I just put in a load of laundry, and later today I'm going to do a mystery shop at a restaurant, then pick up the boys.

The big snowstorm that is predicted will hit us hard on Saturday. I am toying with the idea of parking in a garage, which costs $11 per day. I'm not even sure that overnight parking is permitted, though, so I have to investigate more.

My afternoon with the boys yesterday was cheap. We went to the library, and I paid $2 to park. I could have moved the car after the first hour and got by scot-free, but I decided not to. I didn't want to leave the boys alone and I didn't want to pull them away from what they were doing.

I made them lunch at their home (their decision) which meant fish stick sandwiches. They didn't care for them so much, but it was the easiest thing I could find in their freezer. I much prefer cooking at home.

My package from Amazon arrived yesterday, so today I'm going to fill the bottles and rearrange storage in the bathroom.

Variables are at 58%, with only six days to go! I'm going to stick with using up food in the freezer and pantry, even though I might have some weird meals. I would like to put off buying groceries and gas, and have a really low-spend month! But the snowstorm might mess up that plan, especially if I decide I should park under a roof!

Sleeplessness

January 16th, 2019 at 06:58 am

I couldn't sleep last night, so I got up and read my email. I found out that I owed $14 to the doctor, so I went ahead and paid that online. Then I saw a notice that some people were getting money back on overpaid taxes. I looked up my record, and I am not one of those people. But I did learn that my first property tax payment will only be $572, compared to $800+ last year. It isn't due till March 1, so payment on that will wait.

I also learned that my tax statement from TIAA won't be available till January 31.

Today I'm taking care of the boys for the whole afternoon. Not sure yet what we will do, but a movie is a possibility. So is going to the library. I'll be feeding them lunch, so I've got some beef stroganoff casserole thawing. As well as some Hawaiian rolls, which they love.

DIL will take them to music lessons after work, so that will save me another trip.

My cat threw up a hairball on my bed yesterday, so there was more laundry to do. Luckily he didn't get ALL the layers.

I ordered 120 Dairy Aid caplets, 90 allergy tablets, and two packages of 48 aloe wipes from OTC-Essentials. All free.

Cheap Lunch

January 15th, 2019 at 06:29 am

I performed a mystery shop yesterday, evaluating valet service at a hospital. I was required to hang out in the hospital for at least a half hour before getting my car back and going home. At first I went to the Senior Center, where I was told they had a TV and coffee. Well, the TV was blaring Fox News, and the coffee was gone. So I kept going till I found the cafeteria. I ended up buying a large slice of veggie pizza. It was only $2.79 and it was delicious.

Other than that there was no spending yesterday. I earned $2.55 in a cash back award from Discover, so the pizza was almost paid for!

No plans to spend today, but I will be ordering some OTC meds from OTC-Essential, which is free.

Cabin Fever

January 14th, 2019 at 06:06 am

Yesterday was one of those days when I didn't go out at all. I will admit I felt a bit of cabin fever. Today I'll be going out to do a mystery shop, so that will get my juices flowing.

I spent $23 on Amazon for some household things and fish food. I ordered two sets of plastic bottles for shampoo, etc. The larger 6" size. I don't intend to use them for travel, but in my shower. Since I've been shopping at Sam's, I have HUGE containers of shampoo, conditioner, and body wash. They are too heavy to store on the wire rack in my shower, so I'm going to transfer smaller amounts to the bottles instead. It will require a little more labor, but I'll be glad to get those big bottles out of my shower space. The storage rack threatened to come loose the other day -- I don't want it to fall.

Variables are 57%. One week and two days to go.


Easy checkup

January 12th, 2019 at 12:49 pm

I had an easy checkup at the dentist -- no problems found, and I was even complimented on how well I care for my teeth. But it was x-ray time, so the visit cost $184. I'm going to cash-flow it rather than take it from savings, so my variables are 54%. That includes $7 I spent for groceries at Sam's this morning.

I didn't make it to the gym yesterday, but went today. Then it was a stop at Sam's, and another trip to the library -- I am just burning through books! Returned two and got two more. The library is near Panera, so I went there and got a free bagel. I almost forgot I am eligible for one every day for a couple of weeks. I've probably missed a week's worth. That's okay, it's not convenient to run there every day, and I am still trying to work my way through freezer food.

Then I came home to find my Social Security benefit statement for 2018, and my W-2 from the College. The other day I said I would not get a tax statement from the College this year. That was wrong -- I got my last payout in June, and of course it will count as income for my 2018 taxes. Don't know what I was thinking.

So, anyway, I have two documents. Now I need the one from TIAA and my interest statement from the credit union, and I can get started on taxes.

I found a quarter today, so, folks, I only need to find .18 more and I will have hit the $100 mark! Woo-hoo!

It is snowing like crazy today and everything looks like a picture postcard. But we are only supposed to get a couple of inches, so I assume it will taper off soon. Anyway, I'm in the for the day.

Dentist

January 11th, 2019 at 06:50 am

I have a dentist's appointment today -- just the semiannual checkup. It's also a gym day, but I'm going to do that in the afternoon rather than the morning.

I spent $13 on two decks of cards yesterday. I had promised my grandsons I would get them two more decks so they could play a game which requires six decks. Well, I let them come into the store with me, and little did I know that Bicycle now sells special decks which are of course more costly. They picked out a "Stargazer" deck and an "Archangel" deck, and they seemed genuinely happy. They offered to pay the difference with their own money, which was nice, but I decided it was not necessary.

In the evening I went to the annual concert in which GS1's orchestra plays along with the high school orchestra. It was beautiful; a pleasure to listen to.

I'm doing a load of laundry today. No other spending expected. Variables are 31%, with less than two weeks to go.

Homestead Exemption

January 10th, 2019 at 06:47 am

I checked it out, and I do not have to re-apply for the homestead exemption. With that and the senior exemption combined, I should save $750 on my property taxes.

No spending yesterday. Also, I did not have to take the boys to music lessons, so I saved on gas. It would be great if I could make this tank last till payday.

I'm looking forward to doing taxes this year. It should be so simple. There is no extra income to report, which complicated things in the past, when I was getting a payout from the College and was working on contract at the museum. Of course, there is mystery shopping etc. this year, but I don't think I've made enough to have to report it. I think I will get a respectable refund.

I did get the fish tank cleaned yesterday, but in the process created a big puddle on the floor, when I failed to realize the tube was not connected to the bucket. Yuck. Because I've been rearranging storage, it took me a minute to find my junk towels. But I got it cleaned up, and nothing looks worse for wear. I will make it a priority, when my income goes up, to get my carpets professionally cleaned. (Not much went onto the carpet, but still ...)

No plans for today, other than picking up the boys and washing my hair (not at the same time). Smile Should be a day to get a lot of reading done. I'm reading the latest Barbara Kingsolver novel, "Unsheltered," and I love it.

This and That

January 9th, 2019 at 05:28 am

I did a load of laundry yesterday, and that was my only spending. Variables are 29%.

I am gradually working my way through the freezer food. Yesterday I finished up the green bean casserole. Today I'm working on pumpkin pie and chicken penne casserole.

I set up another restaurant mystery shop for the 17th.

There isn't too much on my plate today. I do need to clean the fish tank, and it would be a good day to catch up on some housework.

We are supposed to experience a big temperature drop today. I could feel it already when I got up -- I turned on the radiators, and soon it will be toasty.

I have an ailing Christmas cactus that used to sit on a console table above one of the radiators. I decided the off-and-on heat might be contributing to its ill health, so I moved it to the center of the dining room table. It is farther from the window now, so I am compensating for the light by leaving the ceiling light on more. All this to say, it might affect my electricity a bit, but I would like to save this cactus. I've had it a long time and it has sentimental value. It used to bloom profusely, but it has not in the last few years.

My annual application for the senior property tax exemption came yesterday. I filled it out immediately and dropped it in a mailbox. It's one of the most important things for me to do, financially. I also need to apply for the homestead exemption. I can't remember if that comes in the mail, so I will explore the county treasurer's website.

I just heard the weatherman say "wind chill factor in the single digits." I'm so glad I no longer have to go out on mornings like this if I don't want to!

Monday Stuff

January 8th, 2019 at 06:37 am

It was back to chauffeuring the boys yesterday, and I'll be doing it again today. Happy work!

I'm also going to go to the gym, not just to work out, but to get my free bagel breakfast.

I did a mystery shop at a children's shop yesterday and spent $12.90, $10 of which will be reimbursed. I bought a shirt for one of my grandsons, which I will save until his birthday comes up. That was my only spending. The payment for this shop was only $4 (which of course I won't see for a month) but the proofreader of my report gave me a score of only 9 out of 10, for "grammatical errors." Second time this has happened! I haven't made copies of my reports in the past, but I will now, because I would really like to know what they consider to be errors. I have already reverted to a simple "Dick and Jane" style of writing for them -- not the conversational style I use here -- and now I really wonder what the heck they're talking about. I was an English major, and I wrote extensively in my career. I do know grammar! (Yes, I know I use incomplete sentences here -- the aforementioned conversational style -- but I don't do that on the reports.) My suspicion is that the proofreader doesn't really understand punctuation rules, so I will drop the use of semi-colons, too. Sheesh!

I went to the library and got two more books. I'm so happy to be back in the swing of using the library -- I find so much great reading so easily! For a while I was buying books at Goodwill, because I wanted to pass them along to my sister. Goodwill raised their book prices, though, and actually finding something good became harder and harder. And I don't feel like I need to pass along books to my sister any more, since she has inherited some money, and she is richer than I am. (Until she spends it all, but that's another story. A sad and frustrating one.)