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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.

Cold!

May 20th, 2018 at 05:52 am

I just about froze at the two baseball games yesterday, even though I wore a shirt, sweatshirt and heavy jacket. What's going on? I can't figure out why it is so cold in May, and why the baseball field seems to be the coldest spot on earth!

I spent $7 on snacks between games, and also filled my gas tank for $37. It was very low, and the price was $3.05 per gallon.

I also spent $3 on laundry. Variables are at 64%.

It is still cold today, and I'm looking forward to a quiet day indoors.

Wedding Watching

May 19th, 2018 at 06:06 am

I've been watching Harry & Meghan's wedding this morning. I only caught it from the moment Meghan walked down the aisle, but that was enough! How lovely and inspiring, a great way to begin a Saturday morning.

I did a last-minute mystery shop last night -- it was only a $10 payment and I had to drive 10 miles in pretty heavy traffic, so overall it probably wasn't worth it. But I wanted to get back in the groove.

When I was updating my mystery shop spreadsheet, I saw that my payment and reimbursement for the oil change was still outstanding. I went to the site and discovered that my profile was not finished -- I had not accepted terms. So I took care of that and sent a heads-up note to agent who assigned me. I hope I will still get the reimbursement and that I haven't messed myself up.

My shop last night was at a warehouse store, and I was there at dinnertime, so I spent $1.65 on a hot dog and a drink.

It was kind of a crazy day. When I went to pick up GS1, my DIL called me in alarm because she had forgotten about a birthday party he was supposed to attend. It took place at a baseball game at the university, so she knew it was something GS1 would not want to miss. I rushed him home to get his jacket and his mitt and dropped him off at the field -- and it took some doing figuring out where that field was! But I got him there almost on time, and then I rushed back to pick up GS2, who had stayed after school for a Tae Kwan Do class. Once I got him home, and after my DIL arrived home from work, I hopped right back in the car to take care of my mystery shop.

I have two baseball games today, and I also expect to make an appearance at a festival that DIL's company is organizing. It will be another busy day.

Friday

May 18th, 2018 at 06:21 am

Yesterday's spending was $18 at Aldi. I bought oatmeal, cheese, syrup, applesauce, cream cheese, and a pack of bottled water for the car. Variables are up to 58%. Only five days to go.

I looked up my account on the Choice site and I now have upwards of 20,000 points. Unfortunately, that is right in between redeeming it for a $50 gift card and a $100 gift card. I won't be earning any more points for a while, so I want to get full use of them. Maybe I will save them for a free room, though I don't know when I will travel again.

My BOA travel card points -- most of them -- are still pending.

I've been cruising the mystery shopping sites, but not finding anything close enough. I'm also focusing on shops that pay outright, rather than reimburse for purchases.

I will be redeeming $3 from Pine Cone today.

Ordinarily Fridays are free days for me, but DIL is working today. So I'll have a half day to get my chores done, one of which is to make granola. Because I just keep eating it!

Another Day

May 17th, 2018 at 05:58 am

Yesterday I spent another $11 on groceries, this time at Food4Less. They have a small section in produce where they sell bundles of fruit and/or vegetables for only .99. I bought a bag of zucchini, which will serve not only as a side dish and an addition to stirfry dishes, but also as an ingredient in zucchini bread.

Variables are at 55%.

I baked bread, and it was not a success. I'm not sure exactly what went wrong, but I suspect I tried to incorporate too much flour and the dough was too dry to make a smooth loaf. I also wonder if it was a bad thing to use I Can't Believe It's Not Butter instead of real butter or oil. Anyway, I'm going to eat the bread, even though it is wrinkled and rather tough, and not at all pretty.

I should be getting better at this, not worse!

I went to the school to pick up the boys, but they both ended up making plans to go to friends' houses (which DIL okayed via text) so I ended up going home alone. Oh well, at least I was there to facilitate the process!

In my sidebar, I've changed the name of my E-fund to Gap Year Fund. This is what I'll use (sparingly, I hope!) to get through the low-income year that is coming up starting in July. (Low income is due to the end of my early-retirement payout from work. Income will pick up about a year later when I begin taking my full Social Security payment.)

In addition to the fund, I hope to close the gap with income from mystery shops and selling stuff -- and of course I'll be making cuts in spending as well. I'm almost looking forward to it!

Swapping Items, Etc.

May 15th, 2018 at 02:52 pm

The baskets I bought for the pantry didn't fit, so I returned them and bought some metal baskets, which were smaller and cheaper. This time around I had my Walmart gift card, so the total cost was only $7 -- and $29 was refunded to my credit card. That changes my variables to only 54%, with 8 days till pay day.

I got a couple of big jobs done today -- I cleaned the fish tank, and I thawed and cooked three pounds of ground beef. One pound I formed into mini-burgers, one into meatballs, and the third was crumbled for chili at some future date.

I got a $8 cash back from Chase. I'm expecting a big cash back from my BOA Travel card. Several of my hotel stays have not been credited yet, so I'm waiting until all are accounted for before I transfer the cash into my bank account.

I went to the gym today -- and it was bagel day -- but I forgot and didn't even notice whether the bagels were laid out or not! I may have been too early.

Catching Up

May 14th, 2018 at 10:35 am

So I'm catching up on things. I spent $3 on laundry, and $16 on groceries, and $27 on cat food.

And I'm sprucing up. I replaced my kitchen placemats, bought a much-needed pastry mat, and replaced my bathmat and bathtub shelves. (While I was gone, my bathtub shelf pole collapsed and made a mess. The pole was not salvageable.) I also bought some organizer baskets for my pantry. The total cost of these items was $129.

Variables are at 56%, with 10 days to go. Of course, the vacation cost was not counted in variables; that will come from savings.

I had some financial wins, too! A neighbor gave me two large packages of kitty litter because her cat had died. My ex gave me $100 toward the vacation -- I guess he was feeling a little guilty about all his European escapades. I've had a couple of Pine Cone payments, and one of my mystery shop companies paid. On Mother's Day, I got two free meals, and another one the night before.

I'm still tired; still regrouping. Luckily, I don't have to watch the boys today. GS1 had to stay home because he had some teeth extracted, so DIL stayed home, too. I'm on duty again tomorrow!

Back from Vacation

May 13th, 2018 at 05:16 am

I rolled back into town yesterday. Well, I should say I inched back into town, as Lake Shore Drive was backed up the whole way, and once I got to my suburb, it was jam-packed, too!

I had a wonderful 12-day vacation. We visited Concord (Louisa May Alcott's house, Walden Pond, Concord Museum), Boston (trolley tour, Paul Revere's house, North Church), Salem (Salem Witch Museum, trolley tour), Plymouth (Pilgrim Hall Museum, Plimoth Plantation), Provincetown ("Downtown" and Cape Cod National Seashore), Fall River (Lizzie Borden House) and Newport, R.I. (Vanderbilt's Marble House). I'm not sure I captured everything there, but you get the idea.

The total cost for me was $1344, which pleases me, because I was hoping to come in under $1500. The biggest cost was hotels -- not much we could do about that. We stuck to Choice hotels, since I am a member and we saved a little doing that. I earned a lot of points but not enough to get a free night. We ate the free breakfast in the hotel every morning, and ate out for lunch. Supper was usually scavenged from leftovers and vending machines. A good chunk went to the tours, etc. Only once was I able to use my Art Institute membership for free museum entry (reciprocity agreement). Gas was not too bad, as the highly-touted hike in price had not really happened yet. I did indulge in a few souvenirs - a "Beth" doll from the Alcott house, which I will use as a Christmas tree ornament, and a Cape Cod baseball cap. And I found a gift for DIL, a nice stand for one of her globes. I paid my grandson $40 for taking care of my cat and fish.

When it was all over, I spent the last night at BFF's house. In the morning, we went to Goodwill so I could use a $5 off $25 coupon. I spent $26 there, finding some gifts, some tops and workout pants, and some housewares, including a Corning casserole dish that I will resell.

No sooner had I gotten home, my son and DIL called and said there was a cookout planned at his father's house. So I dropped in a got a free supper, thus avoiding a trip to the store! Which I will have to do today.

Today, since it is Mother's Day, I'm going to a breakfast brunch and then the kids will come over in the afternoon for games and takeout.

I'm very weary, but very satisfied. And looking forward to getting back in my routine!

Getting Ready

April 29th, 2018 at 06:37 am

I stocked up on pet supplies yesterday to the tune of $66. I got two bags of grain-free dry cat food, 2 containers of kitty litter, and some fish food.

There were two baseball games yesterday, which I attended and stuck through despite the bitter cold. The second game in particular was an exercise in misery. The wind cut like a knife. And I was wearing four layers, a hat and gloves! This weather is crazy.

In between the games I bought a cheap dinner at McDonalds for $2.

I also gave $1 to Miseracordia.

In the morning, I went to Walmart and spent $5 on a squeeze bottle and a new phone charger for the car.

Variables have jumped up to 17%.

Today I have a violin/piano recital to attend, and I have to go to the library to return materials and check out some audiobooks. I also need to do a bunch of laundry and just basically get ready for vacation. I will head down to BFF's some time on Monday -- whenever I am ready.

This is the part of vacation I don't like -- the getting ready -- as well as totting up the spending at the end!

This and That

April 28th, 2018 at 06:26 am

I spent $17 yesterday on a haircut, pushing my variables to 8%.

On the entertainment front, I attended a play in which my grandson had a small part. Today I have two baseball games to attend -- and it is cold today! I plan to really bundle up, as the baseball field tends to be the coldest spot on earth.Smile

I'm going to go to PetSmart today for dry cat food and kitty litter. And I'll be doing some laundry.

Apparently I strained my leg muscles when I did my strength training a few days ago. I was aware that I overdid one of my leg exercises -- just lost track of time and kept going when I shouldn't have. Boy, am I paying for it. I'm going to the gym today, but will just do some gentle spinning.

I'll be leaving for my New England trip on Monday rather than Tuesday. I'll spend the day at BFF's and we will do some planning. That said, it's going to be a very laid-back trip; we will wander and go where the mood strikes.

I'm going to check out some audiobooks today, just in case we want to listen a while rather than talk.

I also downloaded nine free books from Amazon to my phone.

I called UnitedHealthcare yesterday and reported that I never got my Walmart gift card. They said they would send another.

I created a spreadsheet for my mystery shopping. I think I successfully captured the information for shops already done. Having this sheet will enable me to track what shops are planned, what shops are completed, payment amounts and dates, and will also separate reimbursements from payments, so I can track real income.

Second Place!

April 27th, 2018 at 05:45 am

My grandson won second place in his division in the Invention Convention contest. He and his friend created a manual machine for making slushies. It didn't actually work, but I guess they were rewarded for the thought and effort that went into it.

I was so glad for the happy ending, because the day before he was in tears because parts kept breaking, or getting stuck, and then yesterday, his project disappeared before the contest and was found in the trash! He was very upset. So the win was very validating for him.

I completed a mystery shop at Five Guys, so that was a free dinner and $8 to come.

Today I'm going to get a haircut, and then I'll go see my grandson in a play in the afternoon.

No spending yesterday. I'm continuing to hold off on grocery shopping. As long as I can keep throwing meals together, I will.

I've done two surveys for Pine Cone in the last few days, so that's another $6 coming in.

I still haven't received my $15 Walmart gift card from UnitedHealthcare, so I guess I have to call and complain about that!

This and That

April 26th, 2018 at 08:06 am

Yesterday, in addition to the tollway pass fee, my assessment fee was withdrawn from the bank. No other spending. It's unusual not to grocery shop on pay day, but I just don't really need anything yet -- my freezer is full -- and I have a vacation coming up, so I don't want to stock up on food.

I had a longish day with the boys yesterday. I picked them up at 2:30 and did not take them home till 6:00. From 4 to 6 they were playing in the park with their cousin; some kind of a high-energy dodge ball game. They were having too much fun to cut it short.

Today will be busy. GS2 will be showing an entry in "Invention Convention" -- sometime in the afternoon; he was not clear on times. Then tonight, there is a baseball game for GS1 -- and I have committed to a mystery shop (restaurant) sometime between 4 and 11 pm. To which I cannot take a child.

I made a fresh batch of granola yesterday, using up all my oatmeal. Today I'm going to make chicken barbecue sliders.

Variables remain a nice, low 5%.

Pay Day & April Recap

April 25th, 2018 at 05:54 am

Hooray! Pay Day! I always love it when the day arrives.

I paid my mortgage and my credit card bills (in full, of course).

My tollway pass was replenished, so that is a $40 hit on the new month's variables budget. 5%.

April Recap:

Housing: $713
Utilities: $171
Clothing: $90
Groceries: $85
Gas: $75
Eating Out: $66
Medical/Health: $57
Household Supplies: $53
Phone: $52
Fees/Services: $46
Gifts/Charity: $43
Laundry: $16
Personal: $10
Vet/Pet Supplies: $8
Furnishings/Equipment/Decor: $6
Car Repair/Maintenance: $5

Grand Total: $1504
Variables: 71%

I bought gas yesterday - $19 - so that went on last month's budget.

My lunch with P was a bit of a disaster, at first. The restaurant where we planned to meet was closed. Finding another place open for lunch (besides fast food) was a challenge. But we finally ended up in a brewery near the lake, and it was good. I brought home a doggy bag. A yummy eggplant pasta dish.

No-Spend Day

April 24th, 2018 at 05:06 am

Yesterday was another low-key, no-spend day. I went to the gym in the morning and picked up the boys in the afternoon. The weather was nice, so they played outside until it was time to go home.

Today I'm going to Indiana to meet my friend P for lunch. It will be about a 1 1/2 hour drive, but I'll allow two hours, since I'll be driving through Chicago traffic. Very excited to see him; I haven't seen him since just before Christmas.

I have about a half a tank of gas, and I think I will leave it that way and fill up in Indiana. Indiana always has cheaper gas than Illinois.

Tomorrow is pay day, and I've only spent 68% of my variables. And that includes buying shoes and a swimsuit! It's been a good month.

I made the chicken vegetable soup yesterday, but didn't have any. The pot is sitting in the fridge. I'll have a serving tonight and then freeze the rest -- if I can find room in the freezer! Considering that this is the end of the month for me, I am well-stocked with food.

A Quiet Sunday

April 23rd, 2018 at 06:19 am

I went to the gym yesterday and then to Food4Less, where I spent $8 on frozen vegetables, creamer, sherbet and red onions.

I'm planning to make chicken vegetable soup today. I'm finishing up some leftover mashed potatoes by making potato pancakes for breakfast.

I got paid by another mystery shop company -- $9 in reimbursement and $5 payment. I'm going to have about $40 to add to next month's variables budget.

This month's variables are now at 68%, with only two days till pay day.

I made the most of the free watchathon -- more movies I have watched include Miss Peregrine, Alone in Berlin, Book of Love, The Girl on the Train, and Sylvia. I think it's over today, which is good -- I can do other things!

I did manage to find time to clean the fish tank yesterday. It is getting dirty faster and faster as my pleco keeps growing. He really poops a lot. I have to think seriously about getting a bigger tank, which I really don't particularly want to do, but it's getting to the point that it's either that, or putting the pleco to death, which I don't have the heart to do.

Iggy ate almost all of the Wild Frontier food, so I'll get a big bag of that when the Purina Naturals runs out. Probably just a couple more bowlfuls of that.

Saturday's Report

April 22nd, 2018 at 06:23 am

I haven't gone to the gym two days in a row -- bad me! I must go today.

Yesterday I thought I would go in between the two baseball games, since PF is in the same area. However, I ended up taking GS2 to PetSmart to see the cats who were there for adoption. They were adorable, but we were just looking!

I also picked up a small free bag of Nutro Wild Frontier, a grain-free dry food for cats. (Which also had a $3 coupon attached for the next purchase!) I tested it on Iggy last night, and he has eaten some of it, so it may be a winner.

The first baseball game was held in an indoor arena, but the second was outdoors, and boy, was it cold! I wasn't dressed warmly enough. About 3/4 of the way through, my DIL needed to leave to get ready for work, so I drove her home. I was frozen through, and never really warmed up until I got under the covers around 8:30.

I learned that my nephew's family is moving to Oregon. (Actually my ex's nephew, but I still claim him.) This will be a jolt for my son's family, as they hang out with them a lot, and the kids love playing together. DIL is very upset, especially because she considers the move a bit reckless -- more for change and adventure than need. But I think it's mostly because she will miss them. She is more family-centered than they are. She would like everyone she is related to to live in the same town! And I think it is following too closely to the death of her mother; she doesn't want another loss.

I got a check from one of my mystery shopping companies. It was a reimbursement, so it doesn't affect my budget. I put in into savings.

I keep checking for new shops, but not finding any that are convenient enough to make it worthwhile. And now I am running into dates that run into my vacation, which will take place May 1 - 12. So I think I will be taking a break for a while. I have one scheduled for the 27th, and that's all.

Slow Day

April 21st, 2018 at 06:58 am

Yesterday I stayed in all day. No, I did not even take a walk. Just kind of happened, the day got away from me. I was not feeling great, sleeping is still difficult. I wake up in pain because I've gotten into a bad position. I do think it is time to have my hip x-rayed to see if a replacement is recommended.

But I got the chicken broth made, and the cheeseburger casserole, which I re-christened stroganoff casserole. It was not very good. The main reason was it was too salty. I used too much of the beef soup base, which is very dense and salty. So after eating one serving, I added water to the rest to make soup -- only thing I could think to do to cut the salt -- and I froze it for later. I think it will be edible, but maybe kind of weird.

I watched two movies -- "The American" and "Passengers." "The American" was quite dark and depressing, but it did feature George Clooney. "Passengers" was a sci-fi movie with a lot of improbable events, but I enjoyed the romance between Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt.

The previous day I watched "Day the Earth Stood Still" -- another sci-fi film, pretty engrossing.

Today is baseball day. Opening day for both of my grandson's teams. In between I'm going to try to get to PetSmart, which is having a cat adoption day. No, I don't want to adopt another cat, but part of the celebration is that they will give away free samples of food. I want to test Iggy on a grain-free dry food before I commit to buying a big bag. He is picky. Which is so surprising for a rescue cat, but there you go.

I am planning to meet my friend P for lunch on Tuesday. We will meet at the halfway point between our two homes -- so an hour-and-a-half drive for each of us. We've always met before when I visited my brother in Michigan. It's kind of a step forward in our relationship!

Friday Stuff

April 20th, 2018 at 08:49 am

I'm taking the day off from the gym today, but I plan to take a walk later. I'm planning not to drive anywhere today.

It's finally warm -- in the 50's. I'm going to call that warm, after what we've been through.

I'm doing some catch-up work in the kitchen today. This morning I flash-froze and then bagged the remaining strawberries to use in smoothies. I'm assembling a cheeseburger casserole -- made from leftover fries and burgers. Unfortunately, I don't have cheese for it because I discovered my shredded cheese was a bit moldy. I wasn't quick enough to get that in the freezer, so it went in the trash Frown. So I'm going to experiment with some kind of cream cheese sauce instead. We'll see how it goes.
I'm also going to strip the chicken carcass today -- there's still a LOT of meat on it -- and freeze the meat, stew the bones for broth. I'm just waiting for it to warm up enough to use my hands on it.

I took the boys out for dinner yesterday. As usual, they wanted to go to Steak N Shake. I got $6 off in discounts, but it was still $23 (including tip) for the three of us. But it was a jolly good time; I do enjoy making memories this way. And when I did my tracking, I was kind of surprised to see that this was the first time I ate out this month, not counting mystery shops.

I also did a load of laundry and I'm doing one today as well.

Variables are now at 65%.

Baseball is starting again tomorrow -- two games! One for each grandson. Hoping for warm weather -- sitting in those bleachers can be pretty brisk!

Update

April 19th, 2018 at 11:14 am

I returned to Sam's this morning and exchanged the soup base. I also bought two big bottles of body wash for $10.

I can see that there is going to be a bump in expenditure as I start buying bulk. It should even out as the need to replace items becomes less and less frequent.

Variables are now at 62%, with six days to go, so I am still doing well.

I've found places for all the bulk items I've bought so far. My last chore for today is to strip the chicken carcass, freeze the meat, and make broth. Actually, that might be a tomorrow thing, since I need to pick up the boys in about an hour.

Back to Sam's

April 18th, 2018 at 03:56 pm

After going to the gym this morning, I returned to Sam's to do the shopping I intended to do yesterday.

I had $16 left on my gift card, and I spent $56 above that.

I bought two jars of soup base. I meant to buy one chicken, one beef, but I ended with two beef. So I have to go back tomorrow and exchange one.

My other purchases were a big bag of frozen vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower & carrots), 12 lbs. of flour, 2 lbs. of yeast, 45 rolls of toilet paper, two packages of I Can't Believe It's Not Butter, and 80 pods of Cascade. Whew! Feels so costly. Although I know the unit prices were good. I'm just not used to buying so much of anything.

I had to get two packages of yeast because they were bound together. I understand I can freeze yeast, so one will go in the freezer. And apparently, I can use it straight from the freezer, so maybe both should go in there? I shouldn't have to buy yeast for a long, long time. Though I do intend to keep up on my bread-baking, and maybe even get into rolls.

I watched "The Zookeeper's Wife" on free HBO today. Yesterday I watched "The Book of Henry" and "A United Kingdom." Apparently, the watchathon will go on the whole week, so I'm going to keep looking for movies I wanted to see but missed.

I picked up the boys today, but didn't spend anything. I picked up GS2 first, and we entertained ourselves by looking at the pets at PetSmart until GS2 was done with orchestra. Then I took them both home. Any time I can get them past McDonalds and Steak N Shake without spending anything is a win!

Sam's Treasure Hunt

April 17th, 2018 at 09:50 am

So I went back to Sam's today to shop for the first time. I only needed a few items. But I ended up not getting them, because I had the new member treasure hunt to do, and I could see that was all I could handle right then.

For $4 (which I put on the gift card, so, really, free) I got a rotisserie chicken, 2 lbs of strawberries, two French bread baguettes, a large slice of pizza, a large fountain drink, and a sundae.

I had the pizza and drink for lunch. The sundae is in the freezer. The chicken and strawberries are in the fridge. Later on, I'll cut up the baguettes and freeze them for sandwiches and garlic bread.

This changes my meal plans, and thus my "needs" for the next few days. But I'm really delighted.

Yesterday my only spending was $1.50 for laundry.

I noticed last night that Xfinity was having a watch-a-thon, so I watched two HBO movies, "The Wilde Wedding" and "My Cousin Rachel." Not sure how long it will last, but I'll scope it out more today.

Got $11 in cash back rewards from Discover. And this morning I found a quarter in the dirt! At least, I think it's a quarter. I'll have to clean it up to make sure.

I'm planning to spend the rest of the day reading and watching movies. What a life, huh? My DIL is working shorter hours this week, so I don't have to chauffeur the boys, at least not till Thursday. I love to see them, but it does cut up the day. I love having a uninterrupted day for just goofing around.

Snow on the Ground

April 16th, 2018 at 05:47 am

Ugh. I'm so sick of this.

I didn't go to the gym yesterday, because I decided that one of the special pleasures of retirement is not having to go out if you don't want to. The catch phrase on the news yesterday was"icy grip." Today it is "spring snow."

But I will go out to the gym today. I'll probably have to bus the kids later, anyway, so I might as well go out and get the car brushed off.

I bought a swimsuit yesterday! I got it online from Swimsuits for All; they were having a one-day sale, so I got one for $40. I hope it will fit. I actually ordered a size larger because it always seems like swimsuits are too tight and skimpy.

I already have a decent swimsuit, but I think I will need two this summer. DIL has purchased both a beach pass and a pool pass for my summer care of the boys. I think we will be swimming a lot. And I can't stand to put on a damp suit!

I sprang for the suit because my variables are going well this month. Even with this purchase I am at 49%, and there are only nine days left till payday.

I finished watching Stranger Things on Netflix, and yesterday I started both The Crown and A Series of Unfortunate Events. My BFF has encouraged me to watch Frankie and Grace, too. And my son has encouraged me for a long time to watch Orange is the New Black. My free trial is going to be over soon, but I can see that it will be worth it to subscribe.

Oh, I forgot to say -- I ordered my OTC meds from OTC-Essentials yesterday. I get $50 worth of free supplies four times a year. This time I ordered Tylenol, Zyrtec, baby aspirin, aloe cleansing wipes, Dairy Aid, and a toothbrush. All generic, though. This program (through my Medicare supplement) is a great boost to my budget.

Sam's

April 15th, 2018 at 06:22 am

Yesterday I spent $45 on my Sam's membership. I received a $20 gift card. I cruised through the store, mainly to see what was available, and did not buy anything. I was disappointed to see that the store does not carry my brand of cat litter, nor a grain-free dry cat food. But I think I will find enough other things to make it worthwhile.

I did briefly look at the wine offerings. They had quite a few "highly-rated" brands priced between $10 and $20, probably much better wine than I drink, but I don't perceive the difference, so I'll stick with my cheap brands, which I can get for around $5. I stopped at Walgreen's on my way home and bought a bottle.

I made cheese sauce with the thawed milk yesterday. I forgot that I had no flour to use as a thickening agent, so I substituted corn starch. I learned something! It made much better, smoother cheese sauce than usual. I made two servings of mac & cheese. I still have quite a bit of sauce left over, so I'm going to season it to make Welsh rarebit today.

Very ugly weather this morning and I'm on the fence about whether to go to the gym. I don't want to skip too much and make it a habit. But I don't like hearing news reports that winter has "an icy grip" on Chicago.

I hear that gas prices are going to jump (or have), so I'm glad I have the Sam's option now. I'll also be glad to have it when I take my road trip with BFF in a couple of weeks. I do hope the weather warms up a bit before we do that!

Success!

April 14th, 2018 at 05:31 am

I found a mystery shop assignment willing to pay for an oil change on a Toyota. The main page referenced "domestic vehicles" only, but after drilling down a little I found that the Toyota was acceptable.

I have already had it done. It took a long time -- a little more than two hours -- but it was a clean and comfortable place, and I had a book. And it wasn't too far away.

The cost was a little more than the reimbursement will be, but my $5 fee will cover the overage.

And I have to report that I tried popcorn in a paper bag in the microwave, and it worked great! I can't remember why I stopped doing it that way, but it was probably because I was leaving it in too long and burning it. So, thank you, Another Reader!

Because my oil change took so long, I was hungry and very tempted to go through a drive-through on the way home. But I resisted. It helped that I really had to go to the bathroom, and didn't want to prolong the agony!

So it was a no-spend day, other than the cost of another load of laundry.

Today -- when I venture out in this blustery weather -- I will go to Sam's and sign up for the membership.

Slept In!

April 13th, 2018 at 08:10 am

I had a rocky night, but slept in this morning. It felt weird.

I'm going to skip the gym, since I really prefer to go early in the morning. I don't have grandma duty today, so I have the whole day to tackle some projects. My place needs a good cleaning, for one.

I signed up for two more mystery shop companies yesterday, but still have had no luck finding an oil change offer for a Toyota. I do have a $10 coupon for a local gas station, so I might just get it done there. I'll also look around to see if JiffyLube or Midas is having any deals. It really is time to get this done.

I also got a ValuPak offer to get a $20 gift card for signing for Sam's $45 membership. I think I will do that. I was considering a Sam's membership, anyway. Surely savings on gas and pet supplies alone will make it worthwhile. As I recall, household supplies and medications are good deals, too.

No spending yesterday. It was warm and lovely, and my grandsons played outside -- but unfortunately, the younger one fell on his face and bloodied his mouth. He was terrified that his braces were broken, but they were okay, and the bleeding stopped pretty quickly. I took him (and his brother of course) home for some healing sherbet. Smile And I called his mom, of course, but she didn't think any further intervention was needed.

I thawed some milk to make cream soup the other day (which I didn't do) and I noticed this morning that it's still sitting there in the fridge. So I think I'll make some mac & cheese. Though I think I COULD refreeze milk. Not sure on that one.

My lovely new pans are both looking used already. I burned popcorn in one and rice in the other. I guess I need to relearn how to cook in stainless steel with no protective inner coating. And I think I'm done with regular popcorn. It doesn't pop any more. Does all the fresh popcorn get packaged as microwave popcorn, and the old stuff get put into bags? Anyway, I'm done, I'm not trying it again. If I burn microwave popcorn, at least I can just throw the bag away.

Extra Income

April 12th, 2018 at 05:10 am

I received a payment from one of my mystery shop companies. It was broken down between reimbursements and fees, but not by date or shopping event. So I still don't know if my first shop was ever counted. I should probably start keeping a spreadsheet of my shops, though the last thing I need is another spreadsheet to maintain. Anyway, the total was $44, of which $24 was reimbursements.

I also got $11 cash back from Discover, which I am transferring to my checking account.

I decided not to make chicken fajitas and concentrated instead on using up my food in a way that does not require buying more. I made chicken sandwiches for lunch. Today I'll cut up and cook the green pepper, and I'll use that for chicken & peppers over rice, and for an omelet.

I know eventually I'll have to go to the grocery store, but I figure the longer I can put it off, the better.

My only spending yesterday was $1.50 for laundry.

Mild weather has finally come. It will get up to the 70's today! The temperature will drop tonight, but at least we will have those few hours of spring!

Kitchen Stuff

April 11th, 2018 at 05:35 am

Yesterday I cut up and blanched the celery but decided not to make cream of celery soup. Instead I flash-froze the celery on a cookie sheet and then put the pieces in a freezer bag. I'll use them for soups, stews and casseroles.

My dinner was, instead, the last serving of beans and rice which I had forgotten about.

I realized that I had placed a bag of frozen chicken in the fridge instead of the freezer. The chicken was thawed; still good -- thank goodness! There were only three pieces left and I sauteed them. Since I have a pepper on hand, I'll probably prepare some chicken fajita filling. But I'll have to buy tortillas, salsa and sour cream. And I should probably get an onion, too.

I spent $28 on gas yesterday. Variables are up to 36%.

I noticed on one of my mystery shopping sites that one of my completed shops was not recorded on either the assigned/pending payment list or on the payment list. It is just not there, and I don't know what happened. I don't think they let me know that my report was deficient in any way. I used their "contact us" link to ask about it but I haven't had a reply.

I have been assigned to another shop on the 27th. Casual hamburger place, again.

No luck in finding a free oil change, so I guess I just have to go ahead and get one!

Checking Imbalance

April 10th, 2018 at 06:16 am

This morning I noticed that my check register and my bank statement did not match. It took me a while, but I figured out that I did not record an electricity payment in my check register. Glad I caught it before it caused trouble!

Yesterday was another no-spend day.

Today it's Bagel Day at Planet Fitness. It seems weird to be seeking out another bagel, but, hey it's another free bagel. Another free breakfast.

I'm going to make a tomato casserole for lunch, and then I'll make cream of celery soup for dinner. My big chore for the day is cleaning the fish tank.

My big expenditure for the day will be getting gas.

Still waiting for warm weather! Where is it????


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