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Steady Rain

June 21st, 2018 at 04:16 pm

It rained all day long, and my grandsons' games were cancelled (thank goodness!) I can't imagine what their uniforms would look like after they played on a soaking wet field.

My DIL asked if I would take the boys to see Incredibles 2 today, since they couldn't play outside. I did, and it was $32 for all three of us. It was a DX theater, which I didn't realize when buying the tickets. I also took them out for lunch, since it was Eat Out Day. That was $23 for the three of us.

At the end of the day DIL texted me to ask the cost of the movie and candy. I told her how much the movie cost for the two of them, and the cost of the candy. I think she forgot about Eat Out Day, especially since we had an unexpected one on Beach Day. So I didn't remind her, and I'll absorb the extra cost, unless she asks about it. I kind of follow her lead on the financial part....

I decided to take the dentist visit out of variables -- when something costs more than $100 I try to cash flow it if I can, but this month I can't. So variables are now 93%, with a few more days to get through. I will probably have to park in the city tomorrow, if I cannot hitch a ride to graduation, and that will be expensive.

My deposit to BOA now complete, I changed the funds in my sidebar. Slush Fund has been absorbed into Gap Year Fund. That will be my source to tap when costs exceed income. The Mortgage Fund is held in my credit union, to which I pay the mortgage, and I will just transfer the payment each month. I'll have to add more to that fund to get through the year.

Eye Doctor

June 20th, 2018 at 04:24 pm

I just got back from the eye doctor. My eyes are dilated and I'm kind of bumbling around in sunglasses. But the good news is, my eye looks healthy, and he didn't see any tears or weak spots. He did advise me to ask my primary physician to set me up with a reference to a retina specialist, just in case. And if I start to see a shadow, or a shade coming down, I am to go to the ER.

The cost was $35.

I bought gas this morning for $30. Variables have now topped out at 101%. And I have six days to go.

I made penne with homemade Alfredo sauce and sauteed mushrooms for my grandsons today, and GS1 said it was the best meal he ever had! They both helped me put it together, and I think their contribution definitely influenced their evaluation!

Tomorrow is Music Lessons Day and Eat Out Day. They will choose the restaurant. My DIL will reimburse me.

I guess the haircut will have to be put off again, until after pay day. It doesn't really look too bad, it's just not holding its shape. I can weather another week with it. I've got enough food and everything else, so I think I can make it without adding to the variables total.

Moving Money

June 19th, 2018 at 04:43 pm

This morning I closed my Chase bank accounts, and I will be moving the funds to BOA and to my credit union. Chase began charging me a $25 monthly fee because my savings balance went too low. They caught me once, but I will not be caught again. I'll update my sidebar when I make the deposits.

I also did a load of laundry, which was my only spending of the day.

Variables are now at 94%, with about a week to go. And I have to get gas tomorrow.

I had a hard day today because of sleep deprivation. I am hoping my aching hip will let me sleep tonight. Meanwhile, a new ailment -- my right eye has suddenly developed floaters and I've had some strange peripheral flashes that may signal retina detachment. So I made an eye appointment for tomorrow. I don't dare let it go.

I still have not managed to get that haircut. Now I have to wait till Friday for my stylist to be back on duty. On Friday afternoon, I'm traveling into the city to watch my son in graduation exercises. He earned his degree in December, but there was no ceremony. He is walking now, mostly to make an impression on his sons, I think. So -- it'll be a good day to have my hair looking nice. I'm even going to wear a dress, which is a rare occasion!

Major Heat

June 18th, 2018 at 03:21 pm

I heard it was 98 degrees today. I certainly felt it. I was at the beach with the boys. Even though I stayed in the shade, it was grueling. I got into the water once, but it was icy-cold and the rocks on the bottom hurt my feet. Oh yes, and the sand was so hot I almost scorched my feet before I put my sandals on.

And the flies were biting!

Complain, complain, complain. The boys, on the other hand, spent a lot of time in the water and had a great time.

My spending today was $1.25 for ice cream cones for the boys, and $3 for deodorant, which I bought at Walgreens before I went to the beach.

I also charged my insurance payment to my new Wells Fargo card. It was $687, because it was retroactive to the day I bought the car, and also covers July-December. According to my records that should push my total charged to Wells Fargo above the $1000 requirement needed for the $200 bonus.

There is supposed to be a baseball game tonight, but I'm waiting to hear that it is cancelled. The heat is excessive, and severe storms are predicted. For either reason, the game should be cancelled.

Weekend with BFF

June 17th, 2018 at 12:58 pm

BFF arrived on Friday, and left a few hours ago. We had a good time together.

I spent no money on eating out. We did a mystery shop lunch, which provided a meal for both of us, and for the rest of the weekend, I served food at home.

BFF was on a shopping kick. She needed summer clothes. With Carson Pirie Scott going out of business, the time was right for her to stock up on things. I accompanied her to the store three different times, but I spent nothing there myself.

We also went to two Goodwill's together and that's where I spent just a little. The total for the two trips was $15. I found a new purse (yay!) and I bought some gift wrap, as well as a pitcher, a plate and a bud vase. I also got a top for my granddaughter to complete an outfit I am putting together for her next birthday.

My favorite find was the bud vase. It was only $1 and is hand-painted multicolor Delft, in perfect condition. I may resell it someday, but I want to enjoy it first. It's probably worth about $40.

That was it! Our main entertainment was the time we spent with each other.

I got a $15 check from mystery shopping this weekend, too, so I guess the weekend was covered!


June 14th, 2018 at 05:05 pm

More spending today. I got a reminder that it was my Florida DIL's birthday. I hadn't forgotten that it was coming up soon, but I lost track of the day. Quel surprise! I sent her a card with a $50 Panera gift card enclosed and texted her my apology for being late.

I also bought a cute desktop organizer for my local DIL's birthday, which is next week. $12. I have another gift in reserve, a globe stand, for which I paid $27, so I need to find another small gift for her.

Next month I'll begin giving token gifts of $10 or less, as gap year goes into full swing. I didn't want to do it this month, as I will still be in gap year mode next June, and the girls would get shortchanged two years in a row.

I took GS1 out to lunch at Noodles & Co., but DIL will reimburse me.

I donated $4 to a fundraiser for a family whose son died in a random act of violence.

Variables are at 72%.

BFF arrives tomorrow, but before she arrives I'll go to the dentist. I'm also planning to close my Chase account, but only if my last payment from the College is processed. And if I have time, I'll get the haircut I've been putting off.


June 13th, 2018 at 01:54 pm

Today's spending was .65 for an ice cream cone at McDonalds, and $22 for a pair of beach sandals. I ordered the sandals from DSW, using a $10 coupon, and I'll pick them up at the store tomorrow. I hope they'll feel okay, but really, they're just for walking on the sand. I didn't own any footwear that wouldn't be ruined by sand and water.

I can't wear ordinary flip-flops -- they cause me pain -- but these are slides with a wide upper band, so I think they will work.

I received a $3 Pine Cone payment. So far this month I've only collected $13 in extra income; it's been slow. But I'm owed $65 in mystery shop wages; I hope some of that comes in soon.

Variables are at 64%. Two weeks until payday.


June 12th, 2018 at 05:47 pm

Kind of a lousy day. I didn't feel good, and the weather is still crummy.

GS1 had an argument with his mom this morning and came over all out of sorts.

I have been wrestling all day with two mystery shop assignments that I can't seem to complete to the satisfaction of the agents. I am beginning to feel like I'm not cut out for it. The assignments are so demanding and sometimes require behavior that I feel is rude or deceptive. And the pay for the time spent is ridiculous.

I know I need the money, but.......

In financial news, I spent only $1.50 today on a load of laundry. And I ordered a $25 Panera gift card using the points earned on my BOA travel card.


June 11th, 2018 at 02:47 pm

I didn't spend anything today. It's cool and rainy, and GS1 didn't pressure me to go anywhere. We played a game of Monopoly in the morning, made lunch together, and went to the (wet) park in the afternoon to shoot hoops.

There is an away game tonight, and I will ride there with my son.

I will have a shorter day with GS1 tomorrow, and afterwards, a mystery shop at the comic book store.

Things are falling apart on me! My purse started flaking so bad I had to throw it away. The handle on my microwave suddenly started dropping chips. I've thrown out a bunch of underwear and socks that gave up the ghost. It's like my stuff knows that Gap Year is here and it's all coming to pieces!

I resurrected an old purse, but it has handle problems and I don't know how long it will hold up. I'm really not in the mood to buy new stuff, I just want to lay low and be super-frugal, just for the coming year. Sigh.

Clothes Shopping

June 10th, 2018 at 04:38 pm

I did a last-minute mystery shop today, which involved checking out a clothing store, trying something on, buying it and then returning it. The top I tried on was $66! So shocking to look at retail prices, when I'm used to buying used clothing.

I would never pay $66 for a top.

I will net $20, which really isn't much for all the time I put into it, but I guess I wasn't doing anything else, anyway.

After GS2 took off on the bus for camp, I went to a local bakery with the rest of the family. Someone picked up my tab for a donut and coffee. Sweet! I thought that once I got home I would just go back to bed, because I had a really rough night, but I'm still going. I hope tonight will be better. I do usually get a good night's sleep after a bad one.

I just got my auto policy declarations for Jane Honda. Quite a jump in price! Not unexpected. But the actual bill has not come yet, though I think it's coming soon. I will put it on my new Wells Fargo card, to go toward earning that $200.

My Quiet Saturday

June 9th, 2018 at 05:05 pm

I went to the gym this morning and then stopped at Aldi, where I spent $9 on a few groceries. I also stopped at Sam's and bought gas for $29.

I did a $1.50 load of laundry this afternoon.

Variables are now at 62%. 18 days till payday.

I have a dentist appointment coming up next week which will probably ruin my nicely-laid plans for coming in under budget. Not that I'm having anything special done; it's just a checkup. But without dental insurance, even checkups are expensive.

On the same day, BFF will arrive for her visit. I'm planning on making this one pretty cheap. She knows about my gap year and about my new car, so she's not going to be expecting a lot of frolicking.

Tomorrow I'm seeing GS2 off to camp, and it will be just GS1 and me for the rest of the week. Hope I can keep him entertained!

Poor Iggy!

June 8th, 2018 at 03:22 pm

Well, I didn't do anything I had planned today, because I got panicked about Iggy and took him to the vet. He had a perfectly round bald spot on his belly, and I got on the internet and decided it was ringworm. Which wouldn't have been good, because it's contagious to humans and requires a lot of care, including sequestering the cat and washing everything in hot water.

I took him in for a walk-in appointment (luckily, it wasn't busy.) And I learned I was looking at -- his nipple! Geez. Well, at least it gave me the opportunity to have his ears checked again -- he is prone to earmites -- and I got his nails clipped. The vet also basically did an annual checkup. It cost me $80. But at least I know everything is okay.

I decided my haircut could be put off for another week. And since it was pouring down rain, I didn't feel like going anywhere, especially not to the credit union which is some distance away.

So I had a "kitchen day." I made a chicken pot pie and a strawberry smoothie. I made a new batch of granola. I made apple pinwheels out of puff pastry, chopped apple, mayo and honey. I've run the dishwasher once and it's almost full again!

Otherwise I've spent the day reading, as well as watching a John Cusack/Morgan Freeman movie I had never seen, "The Contract."

Iggy is curled up on the bed, licking his wounds after his morning ordeal. Poor guy. He hates the vet and he gets so wrought up. It was a shame I had to put him through it for no reason, but it's good I got the annual done, anyway.

Pizza Picnic and Financial Finagling

June 7th, 2018 at 02:46 pm

The boys and I had a pizza picnic today. DIL reimbursed me for that, and for the haircut a few days ago. We set up Zelle to make it easier.

I signed up for another mystery shop next week. Ironically, it's at the same comic book shop where I spent so much time on Tuesday, waiting for the boys to decide on how to spend their gift certificate. I feel like I already know the employees!

I made plans with BFF for a weekend visit (here) next weekend.

Tomorrow I'm planning on getting a haircut.

I may go visit my credit union to see if I can get a lower mortgage payment. My balance is low enough to switch to an equity line of credit -- which I was planning to do when the ARM ran out. It runs out next summer, but if I could get a lower payment by switching now, I'll do it.

My Cap One deposit of $407 appeared in my checking account today. One consolidation done. I'm also planning to close my Chase account as soon as the last College payment is deposited on the 15th. It has served its purpose -- to pocket the College money and to fund my new car. I'll move the remains to my BOA account and my credit union.

I'll be glad to get past next month, when all the remaining car expenses will hit the credit cards. After that, it should be smooth sailing, barring any new big expenses!

Second Day of Day Care

June 6th, 2018 at 02:37 pm

The second day of day care went great -- and no spending! I did spend $10 of DIL's money for the boys to work out in the batting cages at a local sports center. Then we made lunch together -- chicken sliders and sauteed spinach and mushrooms. Well, they only ate the sliders, but they loved them! In the afternoon they practiced their instruments and played with Legos.

I have promised them Jet's Pizza tomorrow. I've told them we can eat out once a week, but we will make our own lunch the rest of the week.

GS1 has a baseball game tonight at 7:45 -- at a location 40 minutes away! I may bum a ride with my son. Even though I'll have to be there early, since my grandson has to be there early, it will be better than driving home alone. And trying to find a parking place when I return at 11 or so.

Before going over this morning, I went to the gym and then did a load of laundry. I'm trying to keep up on my regular things even though I am "working" now.

In financial news, I received $10 from mystery shopping. Every little bit helps.

First Day of Summer Day Care

June 5th, 2018 at 02:01 pm

Just finished my first full day with the boys -- actually, it was only from 9:30 to 3:30, so not even a full day. We went to the library in the morning and then went shopping at a comic book store in the afternoon-- they had a gift certificate. GS1 made lunch -- Kraft mac & cheese. The only down side of the day is that I had to pay $4 in parking. I tried to get under the one-hour mark in the parking garages (which is free) but once the hour passes you owe $2. I guess I'll go back to parking meters.

Yesterday I spent $14 at Food4Less.

Variables are at 50%. There were several items I forgot to record in variables, including my license plates and my wheel tax, so it took a jump. This number makes more sense. I was doing so well, it couldn't be right!

Next month I have big credit card bills coming due, mostly related to the purchase of the new car. To help pay them, I closed my Cap One Sharebuilder account, which will net me around $400. I opened that account years ago when they were running a deal where they would match a $75 deposit. I mostly just watched it for fun; I haven't done anything with it. Now I can use the cash.

Just got my Wells Fargo Visa card and set up the account. But when I tried to use it at the parking garage it didn't work. Hope I will not continue to have a problem with it.

Burger, Books, and Bread

June 4th, 2018 at 04:53 am

Yesterday my big outing was a mystery shop at a burger place, so I had a good dinner -- more than I usually eat, really. On the way home from that, I stopped at Jewel to get the MyMixx freebies -- since I was so late this weekend there was only one left, a squeezable tube of cream cheese. Too bad, I was really looking forward to the pint of ice cream!

Earlier in the day I went to the library and checked out two books.

I also baked two loaves of bread. For a brief moment, I thought -- this is the best batch ever! But it turned out they actually rose a little too much, and they collapsed a little in oven -- so the tops are concave rather than convex. They were hard to slice! But they will taste good.

Today is the last day of school. Tomorrow I'll be on child care duty while DIL works. I'm going to develop a summer "bucket list" with the boys to give us some direction as far as activities go.

Things Are Changing

June 3rd, 2018 at 04:04 am

Monday is the last day of school, so I will be spending more time on child care soon. And the 15th of this month will see my last payout from the College. Thus, Gap Year will officially begin. Another change -- my nephew and his family are moving out west, much sooner than they thought because their condo sold so quickly. They will be missed.

There were two baseball games yesterday. I bought a hot dog between the two, for $3.

My Planet Fitness annual fee hit my credit card to the tune of $29. I'm glad I'm getting such things out of my way before Gap Year officially begins.

Variables are at 16%.

I found .13 yesterday! Ball parks are really good places for finding stray change!

I did a Pine Cone survey so that will be another $3 coming in. And I have $46 outstanding in mystery shops, not counting reimbursements.

Today I'm going to make a trip to the library to stock up on some reading material, and in the evening I have a mystery shop (restaurant) in a nearby suburb. Stuff to do at home includes making bread, making corn pone pie, and cleaning the fish tank.

GS2 has already requested a trip to the roller rink this summer. Oy! I'll be sitting on the sideline, for sure.

Saturday Musings

June 2nd, 2018 at 08:36 am

Yesterday I completed a mystery shop at a phone/internet/cable carrier -- not mine. Well, I'm considering switching, because the plan they presented to me would save me $25 a month. But that doesn't count those dreaded added fees, which might easily eat up the bulk of the savings. The downside is that I would probably have to change my phone number, and of course, there is an activation fee and new stuff to learn. But I would get more channels and a new phone (which I don't need).

I'm not naming the carrier because of the terms of the mystery shop.

I'm probably not going to do it. But I might.

Other than that, I had my free lunch at Panera, and on the way home, I got a free donut from Dunkin Donuts -- I did have to buy a cup of coffee there for $1.19. Can't drink coffee that late in the day, but I put it in the fridge and had it this morning cold with creamer.

Then it was off to a baseball game in the evening, but it was so bitterly cold and windy, I ended up taking my younger grandson home before the 4th inning, and I don't even know yet who won.

During the day, I did a $1.50 load of laundry.

It is time to make bread again, but since there's a baseball game today, I probably won't do it today. Tomorrow is pretty free, except for an evening mystery shop at a restaurant.

I applied for a free transit pass for seniors. For the first time, my income is low enough to qualify. It's not approved yet, because they have to check the numbers, but since I took them straight from my most recent tax filing, I don't think there will be any problem. Free transit will be great -- I can use the trains and buses, and that should save me on gas and parking.

Just went to Sam's and spent $7 on a bundle of 8 packages of penne. I think that's going to become my all-purpose pasta! I'm already planning to cook it with marinara, ground beef and zucchini, and then again in an Alfredo sauce with chicken and mushrooms.

Variables are now at 13%.

A little spending; a little earning, and a freebie

June 1st, 2018 at 04:54 am

I bought my younger grandson a kid-size, half-price shake yesterday ($1.65) while his brother played at graduation.

I also went to Aldi and spent $10.

Variables are at 12%.

I filed a class action claim for Bertolli olive oil, but I'm not sure how much I will get, or when.

I got an invitation from Chase to apply for another credit card -- $150 bonus for $500 in three months spending. That's a better deal than the one I already applied for, but I can't handle two bonus cards in the same period. I also got an offer from Citi for a $100 bonus after $500 spending.

I suppose I could just ignore the Wells Fargo card and take up one of the better deals instead, but I hate to mess with my credit rating. Taking out new credit cards to earn bonuses is an easy way to make money, but it also makes me nervous.

Today I have a mystery shop at a phone store. Then I'll get a free lunch at Panera, and at 4, I'll be taking care of the boys. That will involve taking them to baseball practice at 5:30. There will be a game at 7:45.

Not sure why I'm getting a free lunch from Panera, but they sent me an offer for a free "pick 2" lunch this week.

Looking forward to cooler weather today!

Yesterday and Today

May 31st, 2018 at 05:14 am

My grandson's haircut cost $20, but my DIL will probably remember to reimburse me for it. He brought along a picture of how he wanted to look, and I was told to try and get a "young, hip" stylist. (Our regular wasn't available.) We ended up with a young guy with a beard and a man bun. He gave my grandson a great cut!

I also spent $1 on parking.

The day was cool, so I made a pot of chili and a batch of granola.

Today my other grandson is playing in a quartet for the 8th grade graduation. I don't get to go, because tickets are limited to family of the 8th graders. But how I wish I could.

Yesterday he gave me a private recital, not of the piece he is going to play, but my request -- "Ashoken Farewell." Just lovely. I never imagined when I watched The Civil War and fell in love with that song, that someday my grandson would play it for me, and so beautifully.

I have two mystery shops coming up -- one tomorrow and one on Sunday. And two baseball games this weekend, but not both on the same day. Busy, busy.

This and That

May 30th, 2018 at 05:37 am

After yesterday's gym session, I went to Food4Less and spent $2 on mangoes, zucchini and an apple. Then I stopped at PetSmart and spent $11 on aquarium filters.

Variables are at 10%.

I applied for a new Wells Fargo credit card, which will pay $200 after spending $1000 in the first 3 months. I figure that will be easily done, especially since I can put my "new, improved" car insurance payment on it in June, if the new card arrives in time.

Today I'm going to go to DIL's to let the cleaning crew in, and I'll take GS2 for a haircut after school -- that is, if our favorite stylist at Supercuts is working today. Unfortunately, I can't check on that until the place opens at 9.

I'm going to start going to the gym every other day to see if my leg/hip pain improves. It will save on gas, too.

I got my first free car wash yesterday. Did I say? One of the perks for buying a car at the place I did is that I get free car washes for the life of the car. It's kind of awkward because you have to drive into the service area, and then they take it away and wash it while you wait in the lounge. So if they are busy, they won't necessarily get to it right away. But it is a service they offer and I am going to use it.

Quiet Day

May 29th, 2018 at 03:57 am

I had my quiet day at home yesterday. I did some reading, watched several episodes of "The Crown" and just generally enjoyed the calm.

I made two good meals -- an "eggless omelet" made from leftover French fries, chopped up and combined with peppers and onions -- and some cheeseburger sliders -- my own version of a Memorial Day cookout. I am getting so I only want two meals a day, though I admit I do some snacking, too.

My son did not come to install my AC; I assume the family went to Great America. They were talking about that possibility. More power to them; I would be miserable there in such steamy weather -- unless I could just ride the flume ride over and over!

It remained cool enough for comfort in my condo all day, and now a bit of a cooldown is expected, so I may be okay for the coming week.

I spent $1.50 on laundry, and that was it. Variables are at 9%.

My hips and knees -- all four of them -- are hurting, and I didn't do any exercise yesterday. I need to make a doctor's appointment, but I'm putting it off because I don't want surgery, and I'm afraid that might be the next step. I'm putting my head in the sand -- but something will need to be done sooner or later. Sigh.

Mystery Shops

May 28th, 2018 at 06:13 am

So, I had two mystery shops to do yesterday, but I actually had to do three. I went to the wrong store on the first one! I didn't even realize it till I started to fill out the report. So I had to get back in the car and drive to a different store and do the same thing all over again. Lesson learned -- look closely at the address!

I spent $27 at the first store for a phone mount for the car. At the second store I bought a bag of peanuts for $1.50. You have to prove your presence by purchasing something and uploading a receipt. In the first case, I decided to get something I needed anyway. In the second case, I just found the cheapest thing I could.

After I finally got the correct report filed, I then went out for my free dinner (which also earned me $6). I have leftovers from the dinner which I will eat for lunch today.

I also drove to Culver's and got my free scoop of frozen custard. You get a coupon for it with each kid's meal. I wasn't hungry for it the day before, so I saved the coupon for later. "Later" turned out to be the next day!

I'm just going to try to use up my food supplies and buy as little as possible at the grocery. I've had to buy too many snacks at the ball park (forgot that was part of summer's challenge!)

Today I hope to do just about nothing. My son has promised to install my AC. Even though it's hot, I haven't been too uncomfortable with the windows open. Living near the lake, I usually have a breeze coming in.

It looks like I do have a load of laundry to do. So there's my big job of the day!

No one is planning a cookout, or anything like that. It's too hot.

Memorial Day Weekend

May 27th, 2018 at 07:08 am

It's a HOT Memorial Day weekend here in Chicagoland!

My grandson's games yesterday were very uncomfortable, and to make things worse, his team lost badly in both games. They were very discouraged.

The team went out to Culver's in between the games, where I spent $6 for a kid's meal. I still have the coupon for a free scoop of ice cream, which I'll get later.

I filled up the gas tank for the first time in Jane Honda. Even though I went to Sam's, it was still pretty high, $3.16 per gallon. The total cost was $31.

I picked up two freebies at Jewel -- some bottled water and a box of Fruit Loops.

Today I have scheduled two mystery shops, one at a big box electronics store, and one at a casual restaurant.

I've already done today's gym session. My air conditioners are not installed yet, so I'll be chillin' any way I can!

Baseball Season in Full Swing

May 26th, 2018 at 05:05 am

Two baseball games today -- both are at the same location, about 40 minutes away -- but they are five hours apart. I'll have to decide what to do about the time in between.

Yesterday I paid my wheel tax, but I got my city senior pass first, so it was only half of what it would have been otherwise - $37.50. I hope the senior pass will come in handy for other things.

I updated my tollway pass info and reattached my transponder. This was no cost.

I went to Aldi in the morning and spent $18.

My splurge spending yesterday was $4 for shakes. It was a hot day, and the boys and I were celebrating my new car.

My budget is okay this month, but next month will involve another hit to savings when about $3500 in credit card spending comes due. I don't think I mentioned it, but I put $2K of my car payment on a credit card in order to earn cash back. $2K is the limit the dealer would allow. The other $1500 -- a big chunk of it -- is vacation spending. All of my normal spending goes on credit cards, too. I always pay in full, but next month it will have to come out of savings.

As far as variables go, I've only spent 4% in the early days of this pay cycle.

Meet Jane Honda

May 25th, 2018 at 05:09 am

I did it! I bought a 2010 Honda Civic. What sold me on this car was mileage of only 56K and a clean Carfax report. And I wanted to get either a Toyota or Honda because of those cars' legendary reliability. It has tires that are almost new, and the front brakes were just replaced.

I stayed under $10K as far the sale price goes, but I did shell out another $2000 for various fees, new license plates and a 3-year warranty. The only thing yet to pay is the wheel tax, which I will have to initiate on my own.

So, my gap year fund has taken quite a hit, but it was inevitable that my car would have to be replaced soon. I will just have to double up my efforts and frugalize even more.

Meanwhile, I will enjoy my new ride. She is a bit of a plain Jane -- charcoal gray exterior, black interior -- I told my friend I would name her Jane and she said "Jane Honda!" So Jane Honda it is.

A New Car?

May 24th, 2018 at 05:26 am

I've settled on one car that I want to see today. I'm going to check it out this morning, hoping that it is still available. It's at a dealer about a half hour away. I will give you more details if I buy.

I decided I probably don't need to wait for my son's help -- I've figured out the process of searching out a car; I can do the rest of it, too.

Yesterday I picked up the boys at 2:30 and I had them until about 6:30. A big chunk of that time was baseball practice. I ended up spending about $9 at the ball park and vending machines, as we were all hungry. Plus, I bought a $3 breakfast at McDonald's! Oh well, I did eat a nice economical bowl of soup for lunch.

I've gotten over mourning the demise of my old car and the hit to my budget -- I'm excited to get a new car!

Pay Day & May Recap

May 23rd, 2018 at 05:55 am

Pay Day! How I love it.

It was an expensive month, because of my vacation. Here is how it went:

Vacation/Travel - $1344
Housing - $713
Utilities - $169
Furnishings/Equipment/Decor - $117
Vet/Pet Supplies - $93
Medical/Health - $66
Personal - $57
Phone - $52
Groceries - $45
Fees/Services - $40
Gifts/Charities - $38
Gas - $37
Eating Out - $19
Clothing/Accessories - $15
Laundry - $14
Entertainment - $8
Grand Total - $2827

I am happy that I kept a lot of the normal costs down, like groceries and eating out -- unusually low!

Yesterday my lunch was an Epic Burger for .10! It was their birthday celebration. I managed to arrive at a good time -- when the line was only about 20 deep. I got free parking, too, because it took less than an hour.

My variables ended up at 69% because of a few things I neglected to record. But that's still very good.

I have not yet had to dip into savings because the bulk of the vacations costs, which I put on credit cards, will not show up till next month.

No movement yet on the car. I'm still looking around, but waiting for my son's return to make a choice.

Car Trouble

May 22nd, 2018 at 05:18 am

Well, I wanted my car to last through my gap year. But I knew I was tempting fate. The car is 17 years old. I've already thrown more money at it than I should. Now it is going back to an old problem -- a leak in the sunroof area that has been fixed at least twice. The passenger side interior was covered with water yesterday after a rainy day. The water on the floor always messes with the electrical system, and it always turns into an expensive fix. Add that to the need for new tires -- which are expensive on an SUV -- well, I'm done.

So I'm shopping for a "new" car. My hope is to find a newer, practical sedan with low mileage for about $10K. There are many options out there, and it's kind of overwhelming. I'll probably make my move when my son comes home from traveling this weekend. I value his opinion.

The recently-christened gap year fund was always an emergency fund, and I will have to dip into it to pay for the car. This is not ideal, but I will feel more secure, in a way, to have a newer, safer car, and to not be worrying about a blowout or breakdown on every trip.

I do believe a gap year fund of about $10K will suffice. Again, not ideal, but I can do it. (Flexing muscles) Thank goodness I have this much money saved.

In other news, tomorrow is pay day, and my variables are at only 67%! And I got paid yesterday by the mystery shop company which I was a little worried about. Now there is only one outstanding payment owed, and that is for the one I just recently completed.

I'll probably just stay home today so I can maintain that lovely 67%.

A Sam's trip, and news from my sister

May 21st, 2018 at 06:17 am

Yesterday, after the gym, I went to Sam's and bought Kleenex and shampoo. The total was $24.

They were promoting their app by offering a free watermelon and a box of bakery cookies if you downloaded it. So of course I did! Actually, it's a pretty cool app -- you can scan your purchases as you put them in the cart and then bypass the checkout line -- just show the app to the associate at the door on the way out.

The watermelon was heavy, so it's still sitting in the car. It's cold out, so I'm sure no harm done. The cookies I divided up into three's and put in the freezer.

I woke up with a headache yesterday and it stayed with me all day. This morning I am finally free of it. I didn't accomplish much yesterday because the headache was bad enough to keep me down -- and Tylenol did not help.

I had a good talk with my sister yesterday. She has lived her life in financial turmoil, but it seems she is finally coming to terms with what she has to do. She is selling her house, her husband is moving into assisted living, and she is moving into subsidized housing. She has even worked out a budget! They are on waiting lists for the housing, so the move won't happen immediately. She is a hoarder and has a lot of junk to get rid of -- she also has to find homes for all but one of her dogs -- I am not sure how many dogs she has now, and I wouldn't even want to tell you if I did! She will have to put down some of the older ones who can't be re-homed. This is the bitter pill she has to swallow for some very irresponsible behavior in the past.

She and her husband are not divorcing, they are just going to live separately because he needs the care, and I think only he is eligible for it. They will still get together and see each other every day.

I am relieved, because I was imagining that they would eventually be evicted and put out on the street, or that someday I would hear that they were dead inside their house. I'm not kidding!

In case you are wondering, I have tried to help her all my life, but she has been impenetrable and has refused to change. I have finally learned to not to waste my breath. Now it sounds like she has finally reached a solution on her own. At least it sounds like something she can manage, and I will hope for the best.

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