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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.


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.)

Quiet Day

January 7th, 2019 at 06:58 am

I spent a quiet day at home yesterday. I decided to not even go to the library, as I got so far along in my book, I might as well wait until I finish it and then go and get fresh reading. I will do that some time today.

I signed up to do a mystery shop today. It will only pay a $4 fee, but I will get a $10 reimbursement on an item in the store. It is a children's store, so it will be a gift for the gift stash.

Today is pizza day at the gym, so I may try to stop there at the appropriate time. I'm not sure whether I will be on grandma duty today. Usually DIL does not work on Monday, but since she has just come back from a vacation, she might feel the need to go in.

I watched the heartbreaker Bears game yesterday evening, and then the Golden Globes. I was pleased that Green Book got the recognition it did. And now I want to see Bohemian Rhapsody. I'm hoping my local theater will do an Oscar movie week this year, though it's looking like I've already seen some of the contenders this year (which is unusual!)

My Medicare supplement premium was withdrawn yesterday; that's the only financial news. Looks like they are back to withdrawing $26 after bumping it up to $27 last year. Woo-hoo! Savings!

All Set

January 6th, 2019 at 07:36 am

It turned out my TV box was okay; it just had to be reset by unplugging. I did that, but apparently I pulled the wrong plug. Now I know. The technician was really nice about it, saying people like me keep him in business. (He said it in a nice way, even though it sounds kind of snarky in print.)

I spent $6 on groceries, and that was my only spending for the day. Variables are 29%, with two weeks and three days to go.

Today I'm doing two loads of laundry, which will be $3.

I'm getting about halfway through my second book, so I'm going to go back to the library today and get more books. Should have gotten more before, but I didn't realize how fast I would go through them. I happened to pick two books that are very easy and compelling to read.

Since this is not a gym day, I have to be sure to take a walk, too. Too bad it's colder today; yesterday was unbelievably lovely.

I'm going to be eating from the freezer today, so no real cooking is in store. My plan is to work my way through the freezer this month. (My freezer is just the top-of-the-fridge type; not large.)

TV Box Fried

January 5th, 2019 at 06:25 am

At least I think it is. A Comcast technician is coming this afternoon to verify. We had a brief power outage -- I think it was a surge, really, because everything flickered several times -- and the TV picture did not recover. The box is permanently on -- I can't turn it off -- but it does nothing. I went through all the hoops, by myself, and once again with the person at customer service. Finally, an appointment was set up, and I expect I will get a new box this afternoon.

I spent my evening reading, which was nice. This morning it felt weird to not be able to turn on the news, but I'm coping.

My kids got home safely from Florida last night.

I got a haircut yesterday afternoon. I had a $4 coupon, so it was $16, with tip. Variables are now 28%.

Today I'm going to the gym, and afterwards I'm going to stop at Food4Less to pick up a few groceries. I'm going to try to really keep down the grocery costs this month, but I will replace staples I run out of.

In lieu of TV, I read my AARP magazine this morning. Did you know radio host Delilah is a frugalista? Her grandma saved and reused aluminum wrap, and she does, too! Also, I learned a few tips. One good one was to use Priceline or Hotwire to find discounted hotel rates at an approximate location, and then use Better Bidding or BiddingForTravel to find what past customers posted about hotel names and winning bids in that area. Worth a try, though I don't know when I'll travel again.

No-Spend Day

January 4th, 2019 at 04:40 am

Yesterday was a no-spend day.

I made a batch of granola, and I finished putting away all the Christmas stuff, at the same time reorganizing the big closet that contains it.

I went to the library and checked out two new books to read, both "most wanted" so I only have a week -- no renewals. But I already read almost half of one of them -- the new Reacher book, "Past Tense." The other is Kate Atkinson's "Transcription."

I also watched the thriller "Bird Box" on Netflix, which put me in a jangly mood. Not too long afterwards, I watched the news and saw coverage of a horrific accident on I-75 near Gainesville. Since I have one son living there, and the other heading home on that highway, I immediately started texting to make sure everyone was okay. Everyone was. That put me in an attitude of gratitude. When our loved ones are safe, we really have it all.

The insurance payment hit. I had enough of a cushion in checking that I didn't even need to transfer anything from savings.

My son & family are due home sometime today, so this is my last day of caring for their cat, who is missing them terribly, and lets me know every time I go over there to feed him.

Today should be a quiet day, with no particular chore to do and nowhere I have to go. Yep, this is retirement at its finest!

I'm looking forward to a warming trend this weekend, and also the Bears game! It's been so long since we've been in the playoffs -- the city is really excited!


January 3rd, 2019 at 06:44 am

Yesterday I spent $40 at Sam's for dishwasher pods, fabric softener sheets, bread and fruit bars. Then I went to PetSmart, where I spent $43 on cat food and fish food. On to Aldi, where I spent $5 on snacks to keep in the car. This is my new strategy with the boys -- a bag of assorted snacks in the car, to keep them from bugging me to go to McDonalds or Steak N Shake. They're still in Florida, and won't go back to school till Monday, but I'll be ready for them!

Variables are at 26%.

Today I plan to make a library trip; no other outing.

I got the lights off the tree and packed up; now it's just a matter of taking the tree apart and putting it away. However, the box for the tree is at the back of a deep well-packed closet, so I will have to move everything out and back in. Oh well, extra exercise.

I plan to make some granola today. No other cooking, as I have lots of casserole left and plenty of food in the freezer.

I've joined the Frugalwoods' challenge, but I am basically just reading along. My frugal habits are well-entrenched. I do expect that this will be a low grocery month. My biggest expense will be the semi-annual auto insurance, which is due to hit today. Next month I will have another big expense, when the property tax is due. I save for these expenses all year, so it is not a big deal.


January 2nd, 2019 at 07:21 am

Wow, it's so cold in my house this morning! I've been keeping my radiators turned off, because it's been so warm, but the temperature must have dropped outside. All the radiators are on again.

Yesterday was a no-spend day. My major work of the day was taking down Christmas decorations. I got everything done except for taking the lights off the tree and dismantling the tree. This morning I am enjoying one last morning with the lights shining.

I also made an awesome beef stroganoff casserole from leftovers.

Today it is back to the gym, and then I will stop at Sam's for Cascade pods and Bounce, and then at PetSmart for fish food and cat food. So today will NOT be a no-spend day.

Happy 2019!

January 1st, 2019 at 07:28 am

It has not been an auspicious beginning for me. I was unable to fall asleep last night -- probably did not drop off until after 2 a.m. But I got to see (and hear) the new year come in! Lots of noise -- I hope they weren't guns!

In the morning, I was putting away a baking pan and brought down a bunch of tins on my head. I have a lump on my head. I shouldn't have tried to do that without getting on a footstool.

I always love New Year's Day, though, because it is a day of reflection and regeneration. I do honestly think about the behaviors I want to eliminate, and the ones I want to embellish and improve.

Yesterday I posted the things I want to get done around the house. Here is what I want to do on a larger scale.

Travel. Once I get a decent income again, I want to visit my son in Florida, maybe going to Disney World this time. That is my first priority, but other possibilities for travel are a trip to Oregon & Washington, and a trip to Cooperstown, NY, for my grandson's travel team playoffs. I also want to visit a friend in Minnesota.

Social Life. Make new friends and attend more events. This is not easy for me, as I am not a chatty person -- really pretty awkward socially. But I am sincere and kind, and should it really be that hard to make friends with actual good qualities rather than superficial ones? I don't know. This year I am going to try, without putting on a persona that feels false.

Nutrition. I am not a vegetable lover, but I will incorporate more vegetables into my meals. And I will do better on the two main things I need to do as a kidney patient -- limit protein and drink lots of water.

Exercise. I need to walk more. Whether it's on the treadmill at the gym, or around the neighborhood, I need to hoof it more.

Personal enrichment. Playing my recorder, reading, drawing, seeing movies I really want to see -- I want to give myself permission to enjoy myself.

Gratitude. I need to remind myself more what a good life I have and appreciate all the wonders that are right at my fingertips.

I don't really have any financial resolutions, as I am living them daily. I may need to revisit financial habits when my income goes up again.

The Short Version

December 31st, 2018 at 11:07 am

Oh lordy, I wrote a long entry and then lost it.

Here's the short version:

My BFF has come and gone. We had a good time, and I spent a total of $67, which included gas, a new hat, kitchen items, gifts for the gift stash, one lunch out, and one movie.

I have been making lists of what I would like to do around the house next year, and here is what I came up with:

Sort old pictures.
Repair and paint a chair, paint a footstool and a shelf.
Organize papers.
Get dining room table repaired and refinished; replace or cover chair cushions.
Get carpets cleaned.
Update coverings on kitchen benches.
Reframe an old sampler.
Get an exhaust fan installed in the bathroom.

I will probably buy a computer, as this one is doing funny things and I always have my fingers crossed.

Another thing I would like to do is start practicing regularly on my recorder and get somewhat good at it. I think it would be fun to join a madrigal group down the line.

That's it! The short version!

Dinner with Friends

December 29th, 2018 at 05:45 am

Dinner last night cost me $21, just a little bit more than I wanted to spend. That brings my variables to 7%. It was a cajun-style restaurant, and I had gumbo and a small plate of shrimp and grits. Delicious.

I got home at about 11:30, because I stayed a while to talk with one of my friends. (The restaurant was so loud, talking was pretty much shouting and straining to hear.) I came home really tired, acknowledging to myself I can't keep those kinds of hours any more.

Snow was coming down on the trip home -- beautiful, but it made the roads slick. I swerved coming around a corner, but didn't lose control.

BFF said yesterday she would come today. At this point I just don't know. We talked a while yesterday, and it turned out that rather than being sick, she was in a funk, worrying and stressing herself about things she can't do anything about. She felt better after our talk, but I am trying not to pressure her to get on the road. I want her to come because she wants to come, and I don't know if she's at that point. And slick roads will certainly not encourage her.

I used my Instant Pot yesterday for the first time. I turned the leftover prime rib into Italian beef for sandwiches. The process was pretty easy, and the meat was delicious. I can see I will use this a lot, but I have to figure out a place I can store it. I have a galley kitchen with almost no counter space -- just one area the width of a dishwasher, where I already have a stand mixer and a knife block, and another about 12" wide, where I have my coffee maker. The cabinets are full. Very challenging! I may be able to fit it under the seat in the breakfast nook.

A neighbor of mine left me a package of cupcakes and cookies, beautifully wrapped. I don't know her very well and was quite touched. I will take her a jar of jam today. I'm glad I have something homemade on hand!

Food, Food, Food!

December 28th, 2018 at 05:33 am

As I suspected, BFF begged off yesterday. She was not feeling well. She may come today, but I'm not counting my chickens.

I spent $29 on the prescription yesterday, and $1.50 on laundry. Variables are at 4%.

I went over to DS' house and cleared their fridge of food that would go bad if left until their return on January 7. This was a request from DIL. I spent the whole morning processing the food. Here is what I did:

Added their eggnog to my eggnog.
Made pineapple smoothie and froze it.
Made stirfry from veggies and beef. Ate half and froze half.
Froze two avocados in chunks.
Baked and froze ready-to-bake French rolls.
Froze green bean casserole.
Froze cinnamon rolls.
Ate spinach salad.

Today I'm going to make sandwiches from the leftover beef, and eat the riced cauliflower.

There was a whole pumpkin pie I was directed to take. I ate one piece yesterday. I'll have another today and then freeze the rest. If BFF comes, I'll save a piece for her.

There is still a half jug of milk and a bowl of clementines over there. I'll probably bring them home today.

What a gold mine! So grateful to DIL that she thought to suggest this and didn't let all the food go bad.

Tonight I'm going to meet friends for dinner. They have chosen a New Orleans-style restaurant. I've looked at the menu, and I will probably have gumbo or a po' boy. Hoping to get by under $20, but it looks like that might be hard.

2018 Financial Wins and Fails

December 28th, 2018 at 05:12 am

Financial Wins

Bought a car with cash, first time ever!

Took a road trip to New England and stayed under budget.

Groceries averaged $88 per month, lowest average in six years (and maybe more!)

Property taxes were greatly reduced (52%) by Senior Freeze and Homestead Exemption.

Gifts/Charity was 79% lower than year before.

Spent 70% less on clothing than year before.

Brought in about twice as much extra income as the year before. ($2,250)

Dramatic drop in car repair costs – down by 98%.

Spent nothing on home repair or maintenance.

Financial Setbacks (I don't think they are really fails)

Fees/Services about 10 times the total of last year. Mostly due to warranty purchased for "new" car.

Utilities continually crept higher.

Insurance is about 34% higher due to newer car on auto insurance.

Gas expenditure was 23% higher despite several months of lower gas prices. This is explained by lots of chauffeuring of the grandsons.

Car purchase decreased my overall net worth by 7%.

BFF Watch

December 27th, 2018 at 06:35 am

I am hoping my BFF will come today. She was planning to come, but she texted me last night that she had a headache. She often cancels plans. I hope this isn't one of those times, but I have a feeling.

The kids are leaving today for Florida and they'll be gone for a week or more. I'll be feeding their cat and cleaning his litter box. The good thing is that DIL told me to PLEASE take the perishable food out of the refrigerator and use it, and I will!

Tomorrow I'm going out to dinner with some old work friends. The restaurant is about an hour drive away, but it's worth the effort to keep these connections going. One of them is visiting from her new home in Ohio.

Yesterday I transferred my prescription to Osco, which will save me $16 over what Walgreens was going to charge me. That was certainly worth it! I will pick it up today.

While I was out, I picked up a few groceries for $5, and did a load of laundry. Variables - 1%!

I'm thinking about my goals for 2019. I haven't developed them yet, but here are the things I'm thinking about:

A housework schedule
Better self-care
Cooking & baking from scratch more regularly
Adding (forcing) more vegetables to my diet
Practicing on the recorder
Early attention to homemade gifts
More cardio exercise
Better handling of mail and paper

AARP is bugging me to renew, but I think I will let it go. AAA also covers the the benefits I'm interested in -- mainly hotel discounts. The renewal fee is cheap, but I need to be even more careful. Because of course my main goal is get through this gap year! Eight months to go!

Christmas & Year-End Accounting

December 26th, 2018 at 04:40 am

I rose early yesterday morning and good thing! Because my grandson texted me to come over right away, and gift opening proceeded. The boys got lots and lots of stuff; it was crazy. My DIL comes from a background of lavish spending which is only enhanced at Christmas. And my DS is influenced by his father, who spends to impress. It makes for a Christmas which is uncomfortable for me, but it is their lives. I continue to hope they understand my need to be more modest in my giving. I felt particularly bad this year because I could not afford to give the college money, which I usually do.

They gave me an Instant Pot. It is not something I have longed for, but I will learn how to use it and make it work for my lifestyle. DIL also gave me an Instant Pot cookbook, to get me started.

I got great gifts from my Florida DS as well -- an assortment of little things rather than a big thing. It was altogether a very nice day for me.

The surprise was a pretty generous cash gift from my XH. I'm not sure what this is about, given our history, but the divorce, which was all his idea, pretty much devastated me financially for years, and I will take anything he gives me now from a sense of guilt, or whatever.

Today is pay day, and I paid my bills this morning. I also did my monthly recap and year-end recap -- since my payday signifies the end of the month for, even though it isn't the real end of the month.

Housing - $321
Gifts/Charity - $174
Utilities - $170
Fees/Services - $159
Groceries - $145
Car Repair/Maintenance - $132
Medical/Health - $86
Vet/Pet Supplies - $84
Gas - $38
Eating Out - $37
Household Supplies - $24
Vacation/Travel - $19
Furnishings/Equipment/Decor - $17
Entertainment - $15
Laundry - $11
Misc. - $8
Fares/Parking - $4

Grand Total - $1444

As for the yearly totals --

Furnishings/Equipment/Decor - $9660
Housing - $8556
Fees/Services - $2756
Vacation/Travel - $2402
Utilities - $2059
Insurance - $1232
Medical/Health - $1087
Taxes - $1079
Groceries - $1054
Vet/Pet Supplies - $699
Eating Out - $692
Gifts/Charity - $679
Gas - $643
Phone - $624
Entertainment - $460
Household Supplies - $276
Personal - $251
Laundry - $169
Car Repair/Maintenance - $160
Clothing - $152
Fares/Parking - $39
Misc - $25

Grand Total - $34,754

That big expenditure in the equipment category was my new-to-me car, and the fees were pushed up by my purchase of a warranty.

My net worth this year dropped to $201K from $215K last year. That is accounted for by the car purchase, too, as well as the current dip in the stock market.

2019 will be a rebuilding year, and I feel good about being able to do it.

Back in the Groove

December 24th, 2018 at 05:32 am

I did a load of laundry yesterday, but otherwise, no spending.

I unpacked quickly and went to bed early. I slept a long time.

My Celecoxib prescription needs to be refilled. I responded to a refill email from Walgreen's when I saw that they will charge the same GoodRx price I got last time. But that got me curious, and I looked at GoodRx and saw prices at Kroger, Meijer, Jewel, and Walmart that were cheaper. I'm on the fence as to whether to switch when I've already requested a refill. Seems rude. Anyway, I won't actually go get it until I get paid on the 26th.

My only Christmas-related task today is to figure out some clever way to give each grandson a $20 bill. I may just wrap them each in a big box, since I have plenty around!

I am still eating leftovers from the brunch, and I think I can put off any shopping till pay day.

Back, Home, Dragging a Little

December 23rd, 2018 at 10:47 am

Got home today around noon. It was a good trip, nice connections and conversations with both my brother and P. Had fun playing games with my niece and her husband, and wonderful meals, as usual.

The whole cost of the trip was $17 for gas and $3 for food on the way.

I decided, while there, to vacuum my car. I haven't done it since I bought it this summer, and the grandsons have done a number on it. Me, too, tracking in leaves and debris! I found a place to do it, but I was puzzled that I couldn't find a way to pay for it. I asked someone beside me, and guess what? It was free. Even if you didn't buy a car wash. I took my time and really swept up a lot of crap.

Not only that, but I found .11 on the ground where I was working! When I find .48 more I will hit $100!

The only down side of the trip is that I did not sleep well either night, even though I was on a nice bed in a private room. So I'm very tired today, and hoping I can catch up on sleep in my own bed.

Getting ready to Leave

December 21st, 2018 at 07:26 am

I'm going to leave for Michigan in a few minutes. My brother and I do not exchange gifts, but we will have a nice meal together. He spends Christmas with his kids and his wife's family -- I spend mine with my kids and grandkids.

Tomorrow I will have lunch with my friend P, who is the nearest thing I have to a boyfriend. He was my professor once, a long time ago, and we reconnected several years ago. He is now a good friend, but not a romantic friend. I really look forward to our lunches, as he is fun to talk to, and he is a really good person who gives me faith in humanity. I am bringing him two small gifts, a scarf and a jar of homemade jam. He always pays for lunch, and I want to do a little something for him.

I will probably head home after lunch. Even though I am pretty much ready for Christmas, I want to be around for any last-minute surprises.

Yesterday was a no-spend day. Variables are at 118%. And I'll probably have to get gas on this trip. The overage does not worry me. I have lots of extra income to add in next month, and I should be able to come in well under.

Easy Come, Easy Go

December 20th, 2018 at 06:26 am

Well, I added a $25 gift card to Amazon yesterday and I've already used most of it. When I got back from taking the boys to music lessons, I found a package for me in the vestibule. It was from a friend of mine, who apparently really wants to exchange gifts every year. We used to do it when we met for a pre-Christmas lunch or dinner, but she has moved far away. I thought the tradition would die out, but she mailed me a gift last year. I thought my thank-you-but-no-reciprocal-gift would end it, but she sent me a gift again. And it's a nice one. I guess this is really important to her. So I got online and ordered a gift from Amazon, which will arrive at her home on Christmas Eve. It was no money out of pocket for me, since I had just added the gift card to my account.

Hope I am not sounding like a Scrooge, but I don't even exchange gifts with my siblings, so it just feels a little over the top. Especially since we are both retired and struggling with budgets. Oh well.

Yesterday was a no-spend day. Just now I started a $1.50 load of wash. I will be buying a bow for a present today, and that will be it for Christmas, except that on the day I will give each grandson a $20 bill. That is in addition to $30 gifts from their Amazon wish lists. I have managed this with gift cards I earned and extra cash from mystery shopping.

Tomorrow I'm heading up to Michigan, to spend the night with my brother and then have lunch with my friend P on Saturday. Looks like I may be dealing with rain, but not with the ugly storm that will disrupt the east coast.

Bit of Spending

December 19th, 2018 at 07:45 am

I bought a $40 gift card for DS & DIL's favorite Chinese restaurant. I spent $3 at McDonald's for a snack for GS2 after school and before cooking class. (Should have remembered to bring a snack, but I didn't.) I spent $11 at Goodwill. $7 of it was for a set of 7 new placemats. They coordinate with my tablecloth and they are in a gingko pattern, which is a favorite of mine. I was going to give them to DIL, but I'm on the fence -- not sure if they are her taste, and I love them! The other $4 was for small gifts and gift wrap.

My unexpected spending was $37 for a new light bar for the aquarium. Here's what happened. I was drying my hair and a fuse blew. I went down to the basement to reset the fuse, and when I came up, I saw that the aquarium filter had stopped. I had to prime the pump to get it going. In the process, I knocked the light tube off, and it fell to pieces. Luckily, nothing went into the tank. I ordered the light bar online at PetSmart, and had to drive about 1/2 hour away to pick it up, as the nearer stores did not have it in stock.

All is well. It does look a lot better.

I ordered a $25 gift card for Amazon from MyPoints this morning. I think I'm done with Christmas Amazon orders, but there will be birthdays coming up in February.

Variables are at 117%.

This and That

December 18th, 2018 at 05:01 am

No more spending yesterday after the doctor visit, other than $1.50 for a load of laundry.

I got payment from one of the mystery shop companies, and two more should be coming in shortly.

I'll be picking up GS2 after school and taking him to his cooking class. His class is near Goodwill, so I usually look through GW while he is in class. It isn't my favorite GW -- it's poorly managed (messy) and overpriced -- but every once in a while I still find a treasure.

My leftovers are relieving me from a lot of kitchen duty -- no cooking for a while! I just have to keep figuring out the best way to use them up.

Ortho Doctor

December 17th, 2018 at 11:59 am

I went to the orthopedic doctor this morning. The appointment was at 9:30 and I didn't get out again until 12. Most of the time was spent waiting, of course. They took more x-rays, and I scheduled my hip replacement surgery officially for April 2.

They gave me a ton of stuff to read.

Afterwards, I went to the gym and then got gas for $19. Cheapest fill-up I've had in a LONG time!

The copay at the doctor's was $50.

That took variables to 101%, and I have a week and two days to go till pay day. But that's December for you.

Christmas Brunch

December 16th, 2018 at 04:52 pm

Whew! The party's over. I think it went well, though there were some imperfections -- for instance, the biscuits I made were too brown on the bottom (even though I used parchment paper). I've had that problem before and I think it may be time to look for new and better baking sheets. But that was minor. Everyone seemed to enjoy the meal, and we had a good time afterward playing games and just talking.

I was very, very tired afterward, but I resisted the urge to take a nap, which would spoil my night's sleep.

Before the party, I spent $67 on groceries and $24 on household supplies. More than I wished to, but at a certain point you just want to get it all done and not worry about what it costs. Variables are now at 89%. I think I have just enough to buy gas for my trip to Michigan this weekend.

I have lots of leftovers. Most of them have gone into the freezer.

This is the official kickoff of Christmas for me and it was a nice beginning.

Cleaning Mode

December 15th, 2018 at 06:04 am

I worked hard yesterday and most of my efforts were in the kitchen. I cleaned the stove, oven, and refrigerator. I soaked the burners overnight in ammonia and used a baking soda paste overnight in the oven. Success on both scores! I also dusted all over the house, and I cleaned some glass shelves in the kitchen window and all the colorful glass vases that they hold. I still need to pay attention to the floors -- but that can come later in the day. I have to do that, plus grocery shop and do some prep with the food.

But first I have a recital to attend at 10, so I'm going to clean myself up and do that, then grocery shop, and take it from there. I have heard rumors of a second recital later in the day (because my grandson is playing in a duet with another boy, and they are performing for both teachers' recitals). However, I don't see it on my calendar, so I'm hoping it has been moved to another day.

I hardly slept at all last night. I don't know if it was anxiety about getting everything done or not. That's likely, but there didn't seem to be anything I could do about it.

Anyway, I'm going to grab a little relaxation before I get ready for the recital. It may be a long day.

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