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February 23rd, 2018 at 05:05 am

No spending yesterday, except for the Comcast and ComEd bills, which were drawn out of my checking account. They, of course, are not part of my variables. I do keep an eye on them to make sure they do not creep above $150 combined, and they did not.

I found .02 at the gym. Finding money has really gone downhill. I suppose I am just not out as much, nor in places that are highly populated.

Meals -- for breakfast I had my homemade granola. Lunch was a hamburger with Swiss cheese, and
a side of applesauce. Once again, I was not hungry for dinner. I had a snack of toast and and a glass of wine in the evening.

I checked out classactionrebates.com yesterday and found only one I was eligible for, so I sent in a claim. It won't amount to much, as I could claim only one package of Align. I spent $165 on Align at Amazon during the specified period of time. (And more at the grocery store, etc.) It never helped much, mostly because my intestinal discomfort was lactose intolerance. I will probably get about $20, which is better than nothing.

My elderly cat is showing all the signs of being in the dying stage. She doesn't act particularly uncomfortable, but I am thinking of taking her to the vet today. I know that cats hide their pain. I don't want her to suffer. On the other hand, I don't want to prolong her death with intervention, and I don't want to scare or upset her. So I am on the fence.

I talked to my friend K yesterday, who will soon be moving to Minnesota. We arranged to meet next Wednesday at the Art Institute. It will probably be our last get-together before she moves. I am sure, though, I will continue to see her, though not as often. She is one of the girlfriend group which gets together for fun weekends and getaways.

Stocked up on Pet Supplies

February 22nd, 2018 at 06:29 am

It turned out I had no kid duty yesterday, as my DIL had a short day at work.

I did some spending, though. I bought kitty litter, feeder blocks and algae thins at PetSmart for a total of $32. The register peeled out a $5 coupon for my next kitty litter purchase -- I was watching for that. Both the litter and the algae thins were on sale.

I also paid a $5 doctor bill that came in the mail. Must have been a copay I didn't pay at the office. And I did a load of laundry. One of the cats threw up on my bed. Luckily I only had to do the bottom sheet and the pad, since I hadn't made the bed yet.

I did the customer satisfaction surveys on our two receipts from Noodles Inc., so now I can get two appetizers for free.

I made some granola from scratch yesterday. I had almost given up on granola; I had so many batches turn out less than exciting. But this time I followed the Epicurious basic recipe, which is this: 6 parts dry (oats, seeds, coconut, etc.), 1 part wet (oil, honey, syrup, etc.) I added dashes of vanilla, salt, and brown sugar and then -- here is the secret ingredient -- an egg white, which helps it to clump. Bake at 300 for 40-45 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes. I baked it for 45 minutes, and I think next time I will go for 40 minutes, as it's a little brown. But other than that it's great -- tasty, crunchy, not burnt or sticky. Success!

My meals yesterday -- I had oatmeal for breakfast, and for lunch/dinner (about 3:00) I had pan-fried tilapia with a side of sweet-sour purple veggies. Before bed I had some toast.

Variables are at 83% and I have just six days to go.

A Long Day, But With Free Dinner and a Bonus!

February 21st, 2018 at 06:08 am

It was a long day yesterday. I picked up the boys at 2:30. It was pouring down rain, so even though it was warm, there was no outdoor fun to be had. I took them to their home, and badgered them to do their homework and practice their instruments. At five, GS1 was picked up to go to baseball practice and he was returned at 7:30. I made the dinner that DIL had laid out: spaghetti & meatballs. (What a week for spaghetti!) At 8:30 I got them into bed to read. DIL came home around 10.

It seemed long because the boys fought tooth & nail against everything they had to do. I don't know if it was just a bad day for them or if this is the new normal.

Anyway, I didn't spend anything, mainly because DIL had provided dinner. She also brought me a beautiful flower bouquet from the event that she worked.

I made an egg casserole for breakfast yesterday -- eggs, bacon, peppers, bread crumbs, cheese & milk. It was delicious -- and it was actually my brunch, since I woke up late and didn't eat until around 11. Then I had the free spaghetti dinner, so my food stores were little affected yesterday.

Oh, and I found a can of tuna last night that I hadn't counted before. It was hiding!

Today I will need to stop at PetSmart to get some fish food.

I'll pick up the boys again after school today, but DIL should be home around 4.

In good financial news, I redeemed my bonus yesterday from my new BOA credit card. All together, I earned $180. This card has the nice feature of a 10% cash back bonus when you redeem it to your own BOA bank account.

After School

February 20th, 2018 at 06:45 am

Today I'm doing after school care for the grandkids, on until bedtime. Son is traveling, DIL has a work event that will last till 10 pm.

That will mean figuring out a dinner for them. I have a box of mac & cheese, but now that their appetites are growing, that won't be enough. I may just get another box and fill in with applesauce, etc.

Yesterday we all went to Noodles Etc., because GS1 had a gift card. We stayed within the limit, so it was a free meal. I parked in the big city garage, and stayed within the hour limit, so it was free, too!

A no-spend day!

And I found a nickel.

Yesterday's breakfast was the last of the sweet potato pancakes, and for dinner I ate my grandson's leftover spaghetti. So food stores are still in excellent shape.

It's very warm and rainy today. Flood warnings are out, but for some reason, so close to the big lake, our neighborhood never floods, even when everyone else is under water.

Presidents Day

February 19th, 2018 at 05:01 am

I'm going to take care of the grandsons today from nine till two. It's President's Day. I don't know why my son isn't available, but I assume he is traveling or interviewing.

I didn't sleep well, so I hope the day will go well.

It is free museum day, but I fear the museums will be so packed with kids it wouldn't be worth it.

The healthcare nurse came around noon yesterday and gave me a clean bill of health. The $15 gift card will arrive in the mail in a couple of weeks, judging from previous experience.

I did one load of laundry yesterday; no other spending.

I had sweet potato pancakes for breakfast again, and my lunch was cheese quesadillas. I wasn't really hungry for a full dinner, so I had popcorn. The rejuvenated popcorn popped better, so I'm glad I made the effort. Later in the evening I got hungry again so I had cinnamon toast, raisins and walnuts. My food stores are holding up well.

In checking over my variables budget I found some errors. I am at 80% after my corrections. Nine days to go.

One thing I have to do when I get paid again is to buy some shades for the living room. I have the honeycomb type that you just pull down. Of my three windows, two of the shades are broken and are stuck in fixed positions. I don't know how old these shades are, as they were here when I moved in. I do intend to replace them with the same type. I really need shades in the living room as it is my least private room in terms of visibility from other units.

Waiting for the Nurse

February 18th, 2018 at 07:57 am

The nurse, that is, that is doing my health assessment so I can earn a $15 Walmart gift card.

She called yesterday and left a voicemail message to change our window from 2-4 to 11-1. I tried to call back, but she didn't answer and her voicemail mailbox was full. So I texted her that 11-1 was okay. I did not hear back, so, actually, I have no idea when she's coming! It doesn't really matter, since I don't plan to go anywhere today except to the gym, and I'll do that whenever she is done.

I didn't spend anything yesterday, just went to the gym and then stayed home for the day.

We had a lovely snowfall that beautified the landscape but doesn't seem to have snarled up traffic or anything. And it doesn't look like my car is buried, just decorated!

I had some sweet potato soup in the freezer, which I didn't enjoy very much because it was more sweet than savory. I decided to turn it into pancake batter and it was a good decision! The sweet potato pancakes were delicious, and I'm going to get three servings from the batch.

I tried to make popcorn yesterday (in the pan, not microwave) and the stuff just wouldn't pop. I knew it was due to lack of moisture. I looked up proportions, and learned that I should add one teaspoon of water to one cup of corn and store in a jar in the fridge. So I've got three cups in there, moistening up. Hope it works. I bought a big bag of kernels, and I don't want to throw them away.

Free Breakfast and Movie Spending

February 17th, 2018 at 06:11 am

I took my grandson out for breakfast at IHOP yesterday. He had a gift card to use, so my outlay was .04! Actually, .03, since I found a penny in the parking lot.

But I did indulge myself later when I bought the movie pass for the Oscar-nominated movies. It was $37. Now I will have to be vigilant to catch them all and make the expenditure worth while. I put all the times on my calendar, leaving off the showings at 10 pm which I know I won't attend.

I paid my property tax and I see this morning that the payment was registered at the bank.

My variables are at 78%.

I made a list yesterday of all the food I have on hand (not counting condiments, of which I have a full complement):

1 1/2 loaves homemade bread
3 hamburger buns
3 hamburgers
2 cups split pea soup
2 cups purple veggies & beets
1/2 bag frozen onions and peppers
3 tilapia fillets
1/2 lb. Swiss cheese
8 oz. shredded cheddar
13 eggs
2 slices bacon
5 tortillas
1 jar applesauce
1/2 canister old-fashioned oats
1/2 box instant mashed potatoes
1 package Red Lobster roll mix
1 jar salsa
Bag of white rice
1/2 bag egg noodles
3/4 box macaroni
Peanut butter

It seems to me this should be enough food to get to pay day on the 28th. Here are menu ideas:

Soup & bread
Swiss cheese & bacon hamburgers
Tilapia w/sides (applesauce, Red Lobster rolls, mashed potatoes, purple veggies)
Cheese quesadillas w/salsa
Potato Bowl
Mac & cheese

Does anything else jump out at anyone?

My grandkids will be involved today with relatives on the other side of the family, so I will have a quiet day. I plan to do a lot of reading! Also, some housework.

Tomorrow will be my home wellness visit (a benefit of my Medicare supplement plan). They will give me a $15 Walmart gift card just for answering a few questions and giving them a urine sample.

About the contract work "offer" -- it turns out it is actually the same company I was referred to once before, and from which I never got a reply after I offered to meet with them. So I think nothing will come out of this. I'd really rather not work anyway, poor as I am. I am 68. I want to be retired!!!!!

This and That

February 16th, 2018 at 05:19 am

Yesterday I stopped at Aldi after my morning gym routine. I spent $12 on margarine in a tub, creamer, salsa, butter, and eggs.

Today I am babysitting my grandson in the morning. There is no school today. My DIL is home, but she is taking the other grandson to the doctor. It shouldn't take too long.

I need to pay my property tax bill this morning. I was just waiting for my College payment to hit the bank. It was pending yesterday -- I assume it will be there in full force today. This is the first of two installments - $871.

Now that I have cancelled the Houston trip, I realized I am now available for the Oscar movie deal at the local theater. I am going to check to see if the tickets are still available.

Not much else going on!

Just Laundry

February 15th, 2018 at 05:48 am

That was my only spending yesterday, another $1.50.

I was on the verge of buying dinner for my grandson (which would have been a run through a drive-through) but we didn't happen to pass a fast food restaurant, so I just took him home. I had taken him to a sports place where he did some batting and pitching practice.

I did deliver the valentines to the boys with $10 inserted, and they were thrilled. I also got a video text from my Florida DIL of the grandkids there opening up their valentine candy boxes. They are too young to appreciate cash.

I had to let my cousin know that I could not attend his wedding in Houston. I thought getting my tax refund would help me afford the trip, but it wasn't enough. When I looked up flights and hotels, they were just out of my range. I feel so bad about this.

I adjusted my variables budget to add my snowflake income. I changed my snowflake "rules" so that it is only real income, not coupon savings or anything like that. That has put this month's variables spending at 73%. Much better. A big chunk of my snowflakes was my $238 tax refund.

Today it's back to the gym, and then I will stop at Aldi and pick up a few items. I'm not doing any stocking up, just filling in, until I get paid on the 28th.


February 14th, 2018 at 09:33 am

Well, yesterday I headed out to the gym -- I thought. Turned out my car was so buried in snow and plowed in, I couldn't move it away from the curb. I gave up and went back in. Today, after a bit of warmer weather yesterday, I was able to pull it out.

So yesterday, aside from a $1.50 load of laundry, was a no-spend today.

Today, I went to the gym. Then I visited Sam's, which is right next door. I wanted to discuss their membership fees and policies. It sounded confusing so I took a brochure, which I will read. I don't know whether I'll get a membership or not, but my Florida DIL was very sure it would be worthwhile for me.

I stopped at the bank, and got two ten's and a roll of quarters -- the tens will go into valentine cards for the grandsons. Then I went to Jewel to buy the valentines and a wedding card ($11). Yeah, too much, but I'm under the wire. With a coupon I was able to buy an $11 Ty stuffed cat for $8. I got it for my granddaughter's birthday, which isn't until November, but I am trying to work ahead on getting fairly meaningful $10 (or under) gifts for family members during my gap year.

Then I went through a car wash, because my car was piled up with snow. It was $6. My car still has a topknot of snow on the roof, but it will melt eventually.

I started another $1.50 load of laundry.

Now I'm home until I chauffeur the grandsons this afternoon.

I got ANOTHER offer for contract work! This time from the young woman I mentored at my college job. I am mulling it over. I will at least talk to her about it.

I had a brainstorm about my variables budget. Now that I am no longer saving snowflakes for the college funds (until gap year is over), it only makes sense to put my extra funds into variables to ease the pain, and to protect my savings. I will be doing some adjusting in the budget today.

I babysat the boys last night while my son & DIL went out for a romantic dinner. We made valentines with lollipops for their school friends, and it was a good time.

A new challenge -- I replaced a bulb in a ceiling light fixture, and now I can't get the cover back on! Grrrr! I suppose mainly because it is over my head and I can't see what I'm doing, but it also seems like it just doesn't really fit. I guess my poor beleaguered son will have another mom job to do! As soon as I feel like there's room in my budget, I have to replace the shades in my living room, which will be another job for him to do, alas.

Hello Friends!

February 13th, 2018 at 05:55 am

I got back from my Florida trip yesterday afternoon -- exhausted but happy.

I spent too much. Vacation spending, not even counting the airline ticket which went into last month's budget, was $396. That is counting an extra $85 for ground transportation that I should get back, since I cancelled the trip -- but so far I have not gotten any cooperation from the company.

The rest is $50 for baggage fees, $30 for pet sitting, $69 for groceries, $73 for eating out, and $5 for tickets at a kids' game place.

I also spent $45 on my son's birthday gifts and valentines for the kids. My son didn't want anything special, so I filled up his gas tank and paid the dog sitter for the day we went down to the Tampa area to visit my brother.

Even though this is moderate spending, it has pushed my variables to 111%. I was hoping to cash flow this vacation. If I get the refund I deserve, however, I have a chance.

Anyway, I had a great time! We had an awesome day at my brother's vacation rental. My kids got to see cousins they hadn't seen in a long time. We also visited a wildlife sanctuary where we saw alligators and all sorts of birds and reptiles. We had a day at a game place for the kids, where they won all kinds of junk that made them happy. Well, also just playing the games made them happy, for the most part. A few tears from my granddaughter, who couldn't win Grumpy Cat in the claw machine.

As for me, I fell off a hammock and hurt my backside. I am bruised, but okay, just moving slower than ever now! Typical for me to injure myself in something as active as hammock-sitting.

Got the news that my son might move to Charlotte, NC. That's very speculative right now, because it depends on whether his company will expand to that area. But they are very excited about the possibility; they would prefer living in that area and wouldn't feel quite as isolated, since my sister and cousins live in NC. I would like it, too, since Charlotte is so much easier to get to!

Anyway, my mission, now that I am back, is to keep spending to a minimum. I do have to get some valentines for the local grandsons, and I'll put a ten in each one. That will be my big spending, I think!

Still Here!

February 6th, 2018 at 04:32 am

Should be in Florida, but I'm still here. My flight was cancelled yesterday, even though the snow didn't start till around 4, and I don't think it's what they expected it to be.

I rebooked for a 12 noon flight today, which hasn't been cancelled yet.

I also had to cancel and rebook the shuttle ride to the airport. At this point I have both $85 charges pending on my credit card. Supposedly the first will be cancelled and I will only owe a cancellation fee. I'm a little worried, since the driver actually showed up yesterday and didn't know a thing about it.

Talking to anyone yesterday was a nightmare. Long waits on hold.

I spent $5 on food yesterday, since I had nothing to eat at home.

At least I'm pretty much ready to go!

Getting Ready

February 5th, 2018 at 05:51 am

I'm leaving today at 1 p.m. for the airport. I am handling my flying anxiety pretty well, but I am concerned about what the weather will be like today. We're supposed to get a band of snow, and I hope it won't affect my flight.

I haven't literally packed yet, but I have everything pretty much ready to just transfer to the suitcase. I'm taking one bag, and I will have to pay for it. I have one of those basic economy tickets.

The one thing I have to do this morning is get some change to tip the shuttle driver, so I'll make a short run to the bank. Wish I had done this yesterday while I was out!

I did not win anything in the football pool last night. That would have been sweet.

Ground Transportation

February 4th, 2018 at 06:27 am

Just committed $85 to ground transportation to and from O'Hare. So expensive. I'll have to tip the drivers, too. And that was with a promo discount!

But at least that chore is done. I used my BOA travel card, so I'll get some kind of cash back on it.

I spent $17 on gas yesterday.

I haven't started packing yet, but it should be fairly easy. My summery clothes are ready to go.

Winter weather advisory tonight. I hope travel tomorrow will not be impacted.

I earned $4.96 in promotional savings yesterday -- three free MyMixx items at Jewel -- so I added that to snowflakes.

Checking In

February 3rd, 2018 at 05:16 am

I did one load of laundry yesterday ($1.50). That was it for spending.

I must do another today. I'm also going to fill my gas tank. It's only half down, but temperatures are low, and there is snow on the way. Always like to have at least half a tank in weather like this.

My grandson finally found his coat yesterday, which was good news for his family. It's a North Face down jacket. I was so afraid it would never be seen again. Turned out he had left it in the music room, and the instructor set it outside the room on a windowsill. The school doesn't seem to have a centralized lost & found, which is surprising to me.

Variables are at 44%. Three and a half weeks to go -- one of them a week of vacation.

Another NSD

February 2nd, 2018 at 06:19 am

I racked up another one!

No spending yesterday.

Not much to report. I am only three days away from my Florida trip. I'm going to try to not buy any groceries beforehand. I will have to do some laundry, though, which I will do this weekend.

I dread flying, though rationally I know it is quite safe. But I'm looking forward to seeing my son's family. And we will do a meetup with my brother and his family, who are vacationing about an hour and a half away. Good times ahead!

My son's birthday will take place while I am there. I have already told him I will buy him something when I am there, and to think about what he wants.

I got an email saying that I have already earned the $150 bonus on my new credit card. It will not be available, however, till the next statement.

Guess that's it! I have a very cold day to enjoy here, and I sure won't mind leaving it for the sunny south!

It Was a No-Spend Day

February 1st, 2018 at 05:32 am

Nice, easy day. I stuck around home till 4, when I went to pick up my grandson, who gave me a good scare by dawdling a long time after orchestra. I had to have him paged. Turned out, he was looking for his coat (which he didn't find). It's really freezing cold today. He said he has another coat. I hope he really does. And I hope he finds his coat today.

Today I'm going back to the gym, and later in the day, music lessons.

My quiche didn't turn out very well. It looked beautiful, but it was watery. So watery, I had to pour off the liquid after cutting. I guess my substitution didn't work very well and I should have used real cream or half & half. Anyway, I will eat it. It tastes good, even though the texture is a disappointment.

I also made some French onion soup yesterday, and I'm happy to report that all of the caramelized onions are used up.

Now I have a head of lettuce to work on....

I actually bought the lettuce to trap snails in the aquarium. The idea is to put a leaf in the water, and when the snails gather on it, put it in the freezer. I'm having a hard time making myself actually do this. I hate to kill even snails, but they are multiplying too fast and taking over the aquarium.

After having stocked up on kitty litter, I got an email coupon from PetSmart offering a $5 coupon if I buy $10 worth of kitty litter. Auuggghhh! The coupon is good for a month, so I'll use it later. I put the expiration date on my calendar.

Stocking Up and Spending

January 31st, 2018 at 08:08 am

Yesterday I went to Walmart and bought two 28-lb. packages of Slide kitty litter for $35. I looked online and WM seemed to have the lowest unit price. This litter should last through vacation and beyond.

It was quite a struggle to carry upstairs, but I did it in two trips!

I also did a $1.50 load of laundry, and bought dinner for my grandsons at McDonalds -- $17 for the three of us. They had to go to an evening event shortly after school and my son asked me if I would do this for them, so he could finish up some work.

These expenditures pushed variables up to 42%, and I have to get through the full month of February before another pay day.

I was planning to make quiche today, but I don't have any cream or half & half. I was going to pick some up this morning after the gym. However, I slept TERRIBLY and I'm too tired to go to the gym. I'm going to baby myself and I'm not planning to leave home until 4 pm when I pick up my grandson. So I'm going to try combining milk and butter to make a substitute for half & half. I think it will work, since I will be cooking it, anyway, and texture is not important.

Getting Sick Again?

January 30th, 2018 at 03:08 am

Even though I have never really overcome the cold/flu I got after Thanksgiving, I seem to be getting sick again. It's 4:30 am and I've been awake since 3. I finally got up. My throat is sore and I'm stuffy again. I took some cold medicine yesterday and last night, and I guess I'll take more today.

Yesterday was a no-spend day, again.

Today I need to get more kitty litter. I should have done that on Sunday, when I had an online coupon for PetSmart -- but I would have had to spend $80 to save $10 and I just couldn't face it. I'll probably get at least a couple of boxes today, so that there is enough to get my cat sitter through my vacation next week. It would have been easy enough to spend $80 and I don't know why I didn't do it.

My cat sitter will be my GS2 (with the help of his mom.) He wants to establish a cat-sitting business and I am his first customer. I'm going to pay him $5 a day. He'll be feeding and watering the cats, cleaning the cat pan, and feeding the fish. Since he's only 8, Mom will make sure it actually gets done.

Variables are up to 37%. The tax fees caused this jump. I counted them because they aren't an actual tax payment, and I could have chosen not to use the service.


January 29th, 2018 at 03:31 am

I sat down and did my taxes yesterday and I was pleasantly surprised. While I did have to pay $40 to the state, I will be getting a $238 refund from federal. I had to pay $76 in fees, because I ended up using TaxAct's Freelancer product (as well as paying for the state filing). But this will be the last year I have to do that, since I don't expect to do any more contract work. My net gain is $122.

It is filed electronically and now I wait!

I made a stirfry yesterday from leftover chicken and vegetables that I brought home from my restaurant meal on Friday. It made two servings!

I also made a potato/onion casserole, which made about 3-4 servings. So no more cooking for a few days.

Other than the tax stuff, there was no spending yesterday.

Property Tax

January 28th, 2018 at 07:58 am

My property tax bill arrived yesterday. It is 55% of the year's total - $872. I plan to pay it next month. I could put in on a card right now, but they charge a 2.1% fee, and that would be $18 lost. I work hard to scrounge up $18 in snowflakes, so I'm not going to throw it out the window. Next month I'll be able to pay it out of my Chase checking account, where my college payments are deposited, and I won't have to move money around.

I also received my 1099-MISC from the museum, and I downloaded my 1099-R from TIAA. So I'm ready to figure out my taxes, and I may get started today. I'd be more excited if I didn't feel like I will probably have to pay.

No spending yesterday. Today I've dodged several spending bullets already. My BFF was tentatively planning to come up and visit the planetarium with her family, in which case I would have met her there and perhaps even taken my grandchildren. But the plan fell through on their end. Then my grandson asked to go see Ferdinand at the movies, but changed his mind to next Saturday. Plus, I was very close to going through a drive-through for breakfast this morning, but I convinced myself to just go home and have apple crisp. (Yes, I finally made it!)

So it's shaping up to be a quiet day, which is just fine.

Busy Day

January 27th, 2018 at 05:41 am

In the morning, I went to the gym and then got gas ($25). I went back to the treadmill for the first time since last summer. Only 20 minutes (a mile) but I feel it in my knee today, so apparently I'm still not ready for that. Back to the bike.

I came home and did some laundry ($1.50) and then got my hair cut ($18). In no time at all, it was time to pick up GS1 from school. I took him to McDonalds for a McFlurry ($3). Then it was time to pick up GS2 and we all went to the library, where it cost me $1 to park. From there, we went to a local restaurant to meet up with the rest of the family. No spending there, my dinner was paid for.

The rest of the family went to a high school basketball game. I was invited, but I was tired, and really not too interested. I like to watch sports when I know one of the players, but when they're all strangers, it's less interesting to me. It's a good thing I decided not to go, because I had diarrhea on the way home! I think it was the mango chutney I had at noon. Note to self: cooking an under-ripe fruit doesn't really make it digestible.

Variables are now up to 26%.

I talked with my brother yesterday. He is on the fence about whether to go to our cousin's wedding. I have decided to go no matter what. I hope he goes, too, but it's up to him. He hates to pay the fare -- so funny, since he is much wealthier than I am, but he worries more. I think he worries more because he doesn't track his spending, and because his wife is spending a lot establishing her new business -- which may pay off, but who knows? She did well with her last business, but it's never a slam-dunk.

Thursday News

January 26th, 2018 at 05:42 am

I did my grocery shopping yesterday at Jewel; the total was $59. For that I got graham crackers, Annie's mac & cheese, strawberry jelly, 24 cans of cat food, 12 rolls of toilet paper, 2 pie crusts, two packages of Swiss cheese, a box of frozen burgers, a baking potato and a head of lettuce. Oh yes, and a plastic container with a spout for storing dry cat food. I've started buying the huge bags to get best unit price, but they are really unwieldy and hard to store. So I'll fill up this container intermittently to keep in the kitchen. It will make it much handier for cat-sitters, too.

Now I'll try to see how much longer I can go without another grocery trip.

I stopped at Walgreens and picked up four more packages of the panty liners on sale. The day before I paid $7 for two packages, but with additional promotional savings, I paid only $9 for four packages yesterday. Now I have enough for 20 months!

Variables are at 19%.

I took the boys to their music lessons, but afterwards took them to their cousins' house for dinner, so there was no financial burden there.

My old boss at the museum is at another institution (she didn't say where) and asked me if I was interested in contract work. I turned her down, which may seem stupid, but I just feel so done with all that. I want to continue to be really retired, with time for family and time for fun. Also, having worked for her now at two different places, I know all the pitfalls, and I'm not willing to go another round. Much as I like her personally, she is too flighty as a boss.

Also, I feel like the field is moving beyond my skills. It is a fast-moving field, and technology is pushing it into territories I don't even know. And I'm not willing to stress myself out trying to learn. Not any more.

I looked up the schedule for the Oscar movies at my local theaters, and I can actually get them all in before I go to Texas on the 2nd. But here's the rub: I would have to go to four of them at 10 p.m. I would have to see two movies a day for three days and three movies on the 1st -- the day before travel -- the last one finishing up at midnight. $35 is a great deal, but I have to think about whether I really want to do this. I don't like being out so late, especially alone, and the day before travel would be exhausting.

I also did a little poking around for flights to Houston, but realized I would have to coordinate my flight with a hotel room. I texted my cousin for recommendations, and he said they were going to reserve some rooms, so I guess I will just wait to hear more.

Low-Spend Pay Day

January 25th, 2018 at 05:21 am

Yesterday was a pretty low-spend pay day. Aside from paying my mortgage, electric bill, and credit cards, I spent $7 at Walgreens for panty liners and $5 for shakes at Steak N Shake. Oh, and also a $50 copay for the nephrologist. And I did a load of laundry.

Variables are at 9%.

I may go back and get more panty liners today. If I spend $12 more on them, I'll get a $2 coupon for anything at Walgreens, and they are currently priced at 25% off. I don't mind stockpiling them; I use them every day. Oh, and I have a $5 reward to use!

The nephrologist visit was almost a non-event. My kidneys are stable. My Vitamin D level has doubled. She told me not to come back unless my creatinine level increases. My GP will take over the testing. This is good; my GP has only a $5 copay!

Today the boys have music lessons, so I'll be taking care of chauffeuring them there after school. I may also be getting them dinner, if their parents need me to.

I'm going to be grocery shopping today -- ten items only -- probably at Jewel, because some things I need are not available at Aldi.

And of course it's back to the gym today. And it's time for a fill-up.

I made mango chutney yesterday, using up a mango that never ripened properly and some of the caramelized onions. I'll be having that with sauteed chicken tonight, unless I end up eating out with the boys. (Something I learned about mangoes -- don't refrigerate until they're ripe!)

I have yet to make the apple crisp to use up the apples. Oh, my! It might not happen today, either, since it's looking like a busy day.

Black Ice

January 24th, 2018 at 06:16 am

Black ice is keeping me in this morning. This is one of the best parts of retirement. If the weather's iffy, I don't have to go out. I was planning on the gym and a little grocery shopping this morning, but it can wait. This afternoon I have to pick up the boys, but I trust the roads will be better by then.

It's pay day! I paid my mortgage and my BOA card (the one I'm earning a bonus on). I'll wait to pay my Discover card until my SS payment shifts from pending to processed. My electricity payment hit the bank, also. That was a bit of a break, because it did not hit at all during the January pay cycle. It will probably hit twice in February, even though February is a short month. It was $51.

I did my January recap:

Housing: $713
Insurance: $337
Vacation/Travel: $236
Utilities: $129
Groceries: $81
Eating Out: $54
Phone: $52
Furnishings/Equipment/Decor: $48
Gas: $44
Medical/Health: $37
Household Supplies: $35
Vet/Pet Supplies: $25
Laundry: $14
Gifts/Charity: $11
Fares/Parking: $4

Grand Total: $1820

Variables ended up at 82%. I previously thought it was higher because I somehow overcounted the groceries.

I'm happy any time I come in under $2000. To do so when I've had to pay insurance and have bought an airline ticket is great!

February will inevitably be higher. I'll be traveling, I'll have to get a haircut, I have two gifts to buy (son's birthday & cousin's wedding), another airline ticket to buy, -- just to name a few expenses I can think of off the top of my head.

My BFF has bowed out of the Houston road trip due to previous plans with her granddaughter. I'm disappointed, because I'd much rather do that than fly again. But flying will be cheaper.

Our local theater is offering a $35 ticket to watch all nine Oscar-nominated movies. Boy, I would love to do that, but the timing will fall over my Houston trip, so I can't. So, money saved there!

My next pay day will not be until February 28. So, even though it is a short month, it will be a bit long for me.

Colonoscopy - Sort Of

January 23rd, 2018 at 07:42 am

This morning I collected a sample for a colonoscopy. No procedure needed! No prep! I'm sure you've seen the ads on TV. It was pretty simple to do. I don't know what it will cost me, but it is supposed to be covered by Medicare, so I can count on 80% being covered, anyway.

My doctor says that if they don't get the result they want, I will need to do the "real" colonoscopy next year, rather than in ten years.

I can't tell you how much better this was than doing the real one.

Yesterday I got a check from the Indiana BMV. They had overcharged for a number of years, including the years I lived there, and I turned in a claim in the class settlement. The check I got was $4.50! I guess they didn't overcharge by much. Oh well, it's $4.50 I didn't have before.

I picked up the boys after school yesterday, but it was so warm, they wanted to play on the playground for a long time. By the time they were ready to go their dad was home. He had gone in to work to shut things down. Now he's going back today to open things up again! And it's only three more weeks or so that is guaranteed. He is so over being a federal employee.

Anyway, my point is, there was no time to swing by McDonald's or anything like that, and I had another no-spend day.

I did not make the apple crisp yesterday. I hope I will get to it today, but if I pick up the boys again that will take a chunk out of my day.

I made an omelet for breakfast yesterday with the caramelized onions, and it was delicious! I'm thawing some leftover fried rice now, to which I will add some of the onions and another egg. After pay day, when I can buy some more ingredients, I'm going to follow Frugal Foodie's suggestions and make a potato-onion casserole and an onion quiche. And I'm going to have the onions as a side dish per Lucky Robin's suggestion. That should take care of all of it!

I love our community of sharing!

Comcast Bill, Etc.

January 22nd, 2018 at 07:18 am

Just got my Comcast bill and it has crept up more, now $104. I got online and looked the bill over, and it wasn't for a movie rental or anything, it was just a bunch of fees. I did not take the bait a few weeks ago to switch to AT&T because I felt in the long run they wouldn't be any different. But maybe that's the thing to do, just switch back and forth when they roll out their enticements to new customers. A pain, but they certainly don't reward loyal customers.

I didn't spend anything yesterday, and, in fact, I didn't leave the house. Just felt like taking a break from the gym. I've gone quite a few days in a row and I do need a break sometimes. I'm going back today, in the rain.

I had two big onions getting old, so I carmelized them yesterday in the crockpot. They turned out great, though I had to get up in the wee hours of the morning to turn off the pot. I didn't get started early enough! I will be looking at recipes today to figure out how to use them up. French onion soup is obvious, but I don't want that much. I know they are wonderful as topping on hamburgers and on steak.

Today I'm planning to make apple crisp to use up a bunch of apples.

I talked to BFF yesterday, and she may be interested in a road trip to Houston when I go to my cousin's wedding in March. She has a brother there she would like to visit. It would be great to share expenses and also just have fun together on the road. She has to get back to me on her final decision.

Today and tomorrow are the last days before pay day. I'm going to try not to spend anything. If I can do it, my variables will be at only 84%. I'm making a list of things I need to buy on pay day, but so far it isn't very large. Since my airline fare is 40% of the total, I think I have succeeded in being uberfrugal!

More Quiet Days

January 21st, 2018 at 06:36 am

Yesterday I started some laundry before going to the gym. I realized as I was loading that I was out of white vinegar, which I use as a fabric softener/deodorizer. So I decided to stop at Food4Less (right by the gym) to get some. While there, I also bought rolls and tuna. The total cost was $7.

I also found another dime!

Variables are at 84%. My new budget cycle starts on Wednesday. I'm so excited that I will come in under, even with cash-flowing the airline ticket. I don't think I will have to spend anything till then.

And I've already earned $161 in snowflakes, which, this year, will not go to college funds, but to fund my own gap year.

I spent the rest of the day at home, mostly reading. With the house all clean and not much to do there, it was a pleasure.

While cleaning on Friday, I threw a bunch of random papers in a bag, so I am determined to start working through them and getting them to their proper places, or thrown away. Meant to start yesterday, but actually, I was enjoying my book too much. I also watched "Paint Your Wagon" on TV, which I guess I had never seen before, because everything in it was new to me, except for some familiar music.

I anticipate today will be quiet, as well. I am expecting to do quite a bit of after-school care this coming week as DIL's company gets ready for a big event, and she puts in some overtime. Then she will be in New Orleans for that event the following week. DS will be taking the time off to be Mr. Mom, but I am sure my services will be needed. Then I go to Florida as soon as DIL gets back! So, busy times coming; I might as well rest now!

Yesterday's Spending

January 20th, 2018 at 05:25 am

Well, they shut down. For my son's sake, I hope it won't be too long. For my sake, I'm glad that SS checks will still be cut.

I had a lovely dinner with my friend K last night. I intended to be more frugal than I was, but you know how eating with a friend eggs you on. We had wine, salad, entree and dessert. But we were able to order half portions, so my total cost, with tip, was $34. Also $2 to park. Could have been worse.

K had news -- she is moving to Minnesota! I'm not totally surprised. Both her kids are there and now a granddaughter, too. I regret that we have not taken advantage of both of us living in Chicagoland very much. But she is on the south side and I am on the north, so it has not been very easy to get together.

Anyway, I will still see her for our girlfriend weekends, and I will for sure go visit her, too.

In other news, I did buy the airline ticket to Florida, as well as travel guard, for a total of $236. I will have to pay $25 to check a bag when I check in. And I will have to pay for ground transportation in Chicago, which is always expensive. But that will come out of next month's budget.

My morning run to Aldi cost $11 for almond milk, creamer, butter, cheese and tortillas.

Variables have jumped to 83%, but that's still great, considering that the airline ticket is part of it. I only have four days to go now.

Edit: funny story to add --

When I was leaving Aldi, I saw a man struggling with the carts. Ever helpful, I offered mine and put my hand out for his quarter. He gave me the quarter and then turned around and went to the parking lot! I called to him when I realized my mistake but he just waved his hand and left. I guess he thought I was a panhandler!

Later, when I was at the parking meter outside the restaurant, I found a quarter and a dime on the ground. So altogether I raked in .60 in found money yesterday!

Low Spending and Travel Plans

January 19th, 2018 at 06:14 am

Yesterday was a low-spend day; only $1.50 for laundry.

Today I'm going to Aldi after the gym, but I'm only going to buy five items. And tonight I'm going out to dinner with my friend K. So there will be some spending today.

I have a lot of housework to do today before K comes. Her house is always immaculate and that puts the stress on me! (She probably has help.)

Hoping the government shutdown doesn't happen, since my son is a government employee. He always gets paid eventually but it creates a cash flow problem. And his work builds up while he's gone, so his "holiday" is followed by a deluge of work.

I scouted out fares for Florida and found a reasonable flight to Gainesville. I texted my son to see if the dates work for him. He said he needed to check with his wife and I haven't heard back. I'm afraid I'm going to lose that fare, so I'll prod him today. The fare is only $217, which means I could actually cash flow it, since it's such a low-spend month.

I'm not excited about flying again (I've had several turbulent flights recently) but I'm not excited about driving either, and driving would probably be more expensive. On the other hand, driving has the benefit of flexibility.

I'm probably going to fly to Houston in March, too. I haven't received the wedding invitation yet, but I know I'm invited to my cousin's wedding. He has been so good about making the effort to come to family events up here, I want to make the effort for him.

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