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New Shoes

October 3rd, 2022 at 02:14 pm

I went to DSW yesterday with a $30 coupon. It had to be used on a purchase of at least $49. That's a pretty good coupon! I didn't find shoes for $49 but found the Van's sneakers I wanted (in the kids' section -- but the shoes fit). My receipt doesn't show the price before the coupon was applied, but my end cost was $22. I do pretty well getting shoes at DSW; I don't know how they make any money!

So the month is off to a great start. 

Today I'm going to make Football Soup -- I assume the name comes from being a popular thing to serve at Superbowl parties. I seem to be attracted to recipes with funny names.

September Recap

October 1st, 2022 at 10:12 pm

Housing - $746

Vacation/Travel - $276 (mini-trip to Michigan)

Insurance - $234 (condo, annual)

Utilities - $197

Gifts/Charity - $141 (two birthdays, early Christmas shopping)

Groceries - $100

Personal - $82 (pads, face cream, a comb)

Entertainment - $51 (streaming, football pool)

Gas - $38

Medical/Health - $36 (premium, Beano)

Phone - $32

Clothing/Accessories - $21 (earrings, winter hat)

Laundry - $16

Household Supplies - $11 (bleach, glue, peroxide)

Furnishings/Equipment/Decor - $11 (plates)

Grand Total - $1995

Variables - 94%

I swept $246 to savings. This is on top of what I already set aside for insurance, property taxes, and the average cost of big ticket items.

It was a good month. I hit my goal right on the nose for groceries. I didn't eat out at all -- well, I did some but that was counted under "vacation." My spending was under $2000 and I never felt pinched. Maybe I'm just getting used to it!


Last Grocery Trip of September

September 29th, 2022 at 05:20 pm

I did my final grocery shopping of the month this morning. I had to come in under $19 to meet my goal, and I did -- $18.58. Here's what I bought at Aldi: bacon bits, jalapeno peppers, butter, cheddar cheese, bouillon cubes, eggs, salsa, refrigerated pie crusts, Ritz-type crackers.

Meals that I have planned for this coming week include barbecued chicken, chicken fajitas, spinach quiche, and football soup (a cheese soup with bacon bits, beer, and jalapeno). Other ideas will emerge as I go through the week.

I am learning so much from this exercise. I was buying too much! The amount I am buying now is much more manageable. Shopping is easier, because I have a strict list and it goes fast, and carrying the food home is much easier. I find I am not buying much junk. I am making substitutions -- for instance, this morning I bought regular butter rather than my beloved Irish butter. It will still taste good. I am putting things off -- granola was on my list, but it didn't make the cut. I'll eat oatmeal this week. I'm also finding that I do not waste anything. I scrape every bowl and pan clean! Even small amounts of leftovers get reused in some way. I work too hard to buy the food to waste anything!

In other news, I got a $20 check from the state treasurer today. It was an unclaimed fund from Google -- I have no idea what it was that I didn't claim, but I'm glad to have it now. That went to the emergency fund. I think I will be able to sweep $300 into that fund from checking this month. Would be higher, but I have to pay my annual condo insurance this month.

I was planning to buy shoes at DSW today, but decided to wait and put that purchase on October's budget.

Supposedly the weather will warm up a little starting today! Though I know it won't last -- the season is changing, after all.

I have relatives in Florida who were affected by the hurricane. They all checked in that they are safe, some dealing with minor damage. I'm so glad that I don't have to deal with that kind of weather -- just tornados and blizzards here!

Property Tax Rebate

September 27th, 2022 at 04:46 pm

I said earlier I wasn't getting our state's property tax rebate because I hadn't claimed property tax on my tax form (I took the standard deduction and did not itemize). However, I learned that there is a rebate form for those who did not file taxes -- they don't specifically say that filers like me can use it (it seems to be aimed at people who didn't file at all), but I thought it was worth a try. I did pay property taxes after all. I am entitled to the rebate as much as anyone. All told, it will only be $46, but I'm not sniffing at that. I do a lot of work to save $46!

It is very cold today, for the time of year, and our boiler doesn't get turned on till later in the season, so I slept under a pile of quilts last night. I'm wearing a velour jacket, and I'm trying to keep moving. I hate these early cold spurts. So inconvenient for those of us who have radiator heat.

Anyway, since my oven is pretty dirty anyway, I turned on the auto-clean, which is making my kitchen, at least, quite toasty.

After lunch, I'm going to go the library and the gym and to Best Buy to have them look at my computer. Webroot keeps telling me I have too many temporary files, but for the life of me I can't find them or figure out how to delete them. I have a maintenance plan, so I might as well use it.

Birthday Party

September 26th, 2022 at 02:42 pm

My grandson's birthday party was great! Food was ordered in, from a local restaurant, and of course there was cake and ice cream. We played cards all afternoon and there was lots of laughter.

The restaurant, for some reason, threw in a lot of extra packets of ketchup. Enough to fill a sandwich baggie. They were about to be thrown away (horrors!) and I claimed them, sealing my reputation as a cheapskate. I don't care. Throwing away ketchup during a tomato shortage is just ridiculous! I think I'll make barbecue sauce.

I'm waiting for the 29th to arrive so I can use a coupon for DSW. It's a good one, $30 off a $49 purchase, and I need a new pair of sneakers. Of course, they will be more than $49, unless I can find them on the clearance aisle, but I have my heart set on Van's, so it's doubtful I will find them marked down.

It's very chilly today, so it's a good day to do some cooking.

Thursday's Shopping

September 23rd, 2022 at 08:25 pm

I completed my fourth $20 grocery shop (out of five this month) at Aldi yesterday. I spent $18.  If I can stay under $19 next week I will have accomplished my $100-or-under goal.

This week I bought half & half, bread, graham crackers, cream cheese, spinach, carrots, Swiss cheese, creamer, and stuffed tortellini. The half & half was a concession -- the recipe (for roasted red pepper pasta) called for heavy whipping cream, but it just cost too much. The recipe turned out fine with the substitution. The half & half not used will serve as extra coffee creamer. But I bought creamer anyway, because I don't want to risk running out.

I also bought nighttime facial cream at Sam's ($52 for a two-pack), and Poise pads at Walgreens ($25 for a jumbo pack). A lot of money spent, but the unit prices were good. (These things do not come out of the grocery budget.)

This morning I went to the bank and withdrew $50 for my grandson's birthday, and $20 in quarters. I was not short on quarters, but I get them whenever I go to the bank, just in case!

Tomorrow I'll have lunch at my son's house, in honor of my grandson's birthday. That will help with stretching out food this week, though I have plenty, and I'm not worried.

Onions, onions, onions!

September 21st, 2022 at 03:35 pm

Yesterday I chopped and froze all but two of the onions in the bag I bought the day before. Lots of tears rolling down my face! The other two are baking in the oven this morning and I'll use them for French onion soup.

Today is my payday -- one of them, anyway. I have my Social Security payday and then my RMD payday. This is the SS day. I paid off my Discover and Chase cards, as usual. Everything else is automatic.

I may have mentioned this before -- I have been slightly overpaying my assessment fees because I entered the wrong amount on the payment site when the rates went up. It took me a while to catch it because the statements are so confusing. The only way to get that money back is to make a one-time adjustment on the site, thus making a lower payment, and then change it back to the correct amount. I'd rather have the $5 than give it to them, so I'm going to take care of this as soon as the current payment clears. It makes me nervous because I'm afraid I'll screw it up again. Maybe worse!


September 20th, 2022 at 06:16 pm

I went to Food4Less after my gym visit and spent $3 on produce and $6 on bleach. I had intended to get the bleach at Sam's, but they were selling it in packages of three big bottles -- honestly, I don't have the space and don't use it that much. So I got one bottle at Food4Less. Shocked at the price, though. When did bleach get so expensive?

The produce I bought -- from F4L's produce clearance shelf -- was 6 red peppers, 5 kiwis, and 3 pounds of yellow onions. Pretty pleased with that. I have chopped and frozen 4 of the peppers and roasted the other two -- I'll make roasted red pepper pasta tomorrow. Later I'll go through the onions to make sure they are all fresh. I think French onion soup is in my future. The kiwis I'll just eat once a day. I've already had one.

Today it's supposed to be hot -- though it hasn't gotten there yet. Then a cold front will pass through. I took an early morning walk to avoid both. We'll see what tomorrow brings. I'm ready for Fall.

Tax Relief

September 19th, 2022 at 05:58 pm

Our state is issuing $50 payments to anyone who filed taxes this year. I'll take it! It was in my bank account yesterday. The state is also making payments to anyone who claimed property taxes on their state form. I do have property taxes, but I did not itemize (for me, it's always better to take the exemption), so I don't think I'll be getting that.

I was planning to go to DSW today to use a $30 coupon on a $49 purchase. I checked to make sure it hadn't expired, and suprise, surprise, it's not even in effect until the 29th! So I'm waiting on that.

Otherwise, I'm going to the gym today, and since it is close to Sam's and Food4Less, I'll buy some bleach at Sam's and check out the produce clearance at F4L. Whatever I may buy at F4L I'll subtract from my upcoming $20 grocery shop on Thursday.

My electric bill was less than I expected it to be! I feel very lucky that we have had so many days when opening the windows is all I need for air conditioning.

Speaking of electric bill -- I submitted a claim in the class action suit against Spark Energy -- I was a customer for a couple of years after deregulation but went back to ComEd when it didn't seem like such a good deal. It wasn't. They are being sued for charging high prices that didn't align with market values. I succumbed to a very aggressive salesperson and I was glad to get rid of it. Now I'm glad I'll get a little recompense, whatever that turns out to be.

Omicron Booster

September 17th, 2022 at 02:44 pm

I got my Omicron booster yesterday. (I know that's not the real name, but it's the one that targets Omicron.) I became nauseous and achy in the late afternoon and went to bed feeling pretty bad. It took me a long time to fall asleep, because I was so uncomfortable. But this morning I seem to be fine. That's the first time I've had a noticeable reaction to a COVID shot.

While I was at the drugstore that administered my shot, I bought peroxide and superglue for $4.

On Thursday, I did my much-anticipated $20 shop at Aldi. I spent $20.46, because I keep a running total in my head and it's not exact.

Here's what I got:

Brown Sugar


Irish Butter

Lactose Free Milk

Maple Syrup

Peanut Butter

I decided upon getting the maple syrup at Aldi because it was the same unit price as the special deal at CVS, but at Aldi I was buying only 12 oz. instead of 16. As I expected, the maple syrup was almost half of the total.

Seems like a weird list, but I assure you I do have real food on hand. 

I also did two loads of laundry. All this brought my variables to 69%.

I made carrot cake muffins for breakfast this morning. I had wanted to buy cream cheese to make frosting (and then they would be cupcakes!) but I couldn't swing it. They are actually pretty good without frosting, and better for me.

Later today I'm going to a baseball game. I'm planning to take an apple and a thermos of water. Maybe a peanut butter sandwich, too, because it will be my usual supper time.


Thought it Was Payday!

September 14th, 2022 at 02:22 pm

I don't know where I got the idea that today was the third Wednesday. It's only the second. I was SO looking forward to paying my bills!  Payday is next Wednesday. It is no problem, just a timing error on my part.

I sent $34 to my Oregon son last night -- my dues for the family football pool. I never win. It's just a fun way to keep in touch with family members. Variables are now at 66%.

Looking forward to grocery shopping tomorrow. Today I'm having frugal meals of tomato rice soup and cheese quesadillas.


Enjoying Lower Gas Prices

September 13th, 2022 at 03:56 pm

I filled the gas tank yesterday at Sam's to the tune of $38. The price was below $4, first time in a long time at that station. I did get gas below $4 on my recent travels in Indiana and Michigan.

I made a few corrections in my log, and variables are now at 62%, a bit high for not-quite-yet-midmonth, but that is often my pattern.  It will even out.

I pulled out some frozen avocado yesterday and let it thaw in the fridge. This morning I made avocado toast. I was promptly sick. Don't know if it was that or something else, really. It seemed like an awfully fast reaction. At any rate, I'm throwing out what's left. I have frozen avocado before, but maybe I didn't do it properly this time. Maybe it was not fresh enough when I did it.

I'm finishing the bag of salad today, and I'm trusting it wasn't what made me sick. I had some for lunch yesterday -- I think it would have worked on me faster than that if it were bad. I'm also wondering about the bleu cheese dressing.

I'm looking forward to grocery shopping on Thursday. As Frugal Foodie has pointed out, if I buy maple syrup, it will take up a big chunk of my weekly budget, but I really want to get some. During the pandemic I bought artifical maple syrup, and I didn't enjoy it at all. Even though that's what I ate most of my life! I have gotten accustomed to the superior taste of real maple syrup. I hope I can fit it in. I don't have too many necessities on my list. We'll see.


September 10th, 2022 at 12:49 pm

I did my $20 weekly grocery shop yesterday. I spent $20.02 at Aldi and here's what I got: 

A block of cheddar

A bag of coffee

A bag of spring mix salad

A can of jumbo biscuits

A bag of flour

A bag of walnuts

Here are the adjustments I had to make:

I planned to get croutons and dried cranberries for the salad. Instead, I made my own croutons, and I used raisins in place of the cranberries.

I planned to get milk and granola, but that will have to wait another week.

I planned to get Swiss cheese and feta for recipes, but had to pass.

I had salsa on my list, but I will not make any Mexican dishes this week.

I was hoping to get maple syrup for pancakes and French toast, but it was obviously way out of my reach.

I wanted to get brown sugar for my oatmeal; again, that will have to wait.

I had peanut butter on my list, but I am still scraping the sides of my jar, and that will have to do.

I bought caramel-flavored coffee which was on sale, rather than the "donut shop" coffee I first put in my cart.

The biscuits were not on my list but they were cheap and adaptable for many things.

Now, bear in mind, I have plenty of food in my freezer. This is a personal challenge; I just want to see if I can do it. And if I can sustain it, that would be great!


Edit: I also spent $47 on a birthday gift for one of my grandsons.


September 9th, 2022 at 02:16 pm

What a nice little mini-vacation I just had! After totaling up the costs, I see it wasn't too expensive. The actual vacation costs -- room, food, gas -- came to $270. I also did some Christmas shopping - $32 - and bought myself some earrings and a winter hat -- $22 -- as well as a couple of plates for my set -- $11.  I also had to pay $6 for a comb, which I forgot to pack, and I bought some pebbles for the aquarium, which was a great deal at $3. That's it!

I came home very tired, but satisfied. Today I'm getting ready to do my second $20 grocery shop of the month.

Variables are at 45%, but spending should settle down from here.

Travel Plans & Labor Day

September 5th, 2022 at 04:02 pm

My short trip to northern Indiana and Michigan is starting tomorrow. BFF will be my travel buddy. I'm going to visit an old friend who is in assisted living, visit my SIL's antique store, as well as spend a couple of nights in a hotel. It will be a bit costly, but this is not a good time to stay at my brother's for various reasons, and I'll have BFF along, anyway.

Besides the $20 grocery shop, I haven't spent much at all. I got my flu shot the other day, and not only was it free, but I got a $10 credit for it at Walgreens. I turned around and bought a bottle of Beano, which was only $10 after the credit.

I went to a Labor Day cookout at my ex's house yesterday. As usual, he bought way too much, and he sent us home with leftovers. I brought home enough hot dogs and buns for three meals, along with some cole slaw, bagels, and even lactose-free ice cream! (He had bought it for me for a previous gathering some time ago, but we never got around to the ice cream.) It may have some freezer burn, but if so, it will still be all right as a creamer substitute.

But the big haul was hoodies! He has recently retired as a school superintendant, and he had numerous jackets and hoodies that he was apparently given?  All with the high school logo. Some had never had the tags removed. He wanted to get rid of them. I selected four for myself, and my son took a bunch for his family. I didn't try them on, and I don't know yet if they will fit, but if not, I'll give them back so he can give them to someone else. If they fit, they'll be great to wear to baseball games! And also to wear to the gym when it gets cooler.

First $20 Grocery Shop of September

September 1st, 2022 at 05:41 pm

So, there are five Thursdays in this month, so I will shop five times, $20 a pop. (Or less, if I can do it!)

Today I went to Aldi, and I spent just under $20. I bought eggs, apples, creamer, raisins, bread, butter, and cookies. I also bought toilet bowl cleaner for $2, but that doesn't come out of the grocery budget. For household supplies, I buy them when I need them; it's not a category in which I ever overindulge.

Next Thursday I may be out of town -- I'm planning a short trip to Michigan, which may or may not come together. If I'm on the road next Thursday, I'll hold off on the shopping until I get home, probably Friday.

I made quesadillas for lunch today, out of leftover chili and cheese. There is enough left to do the same thing tomorrow.

I'm feeling pretty optimistic about keeping my grocery spending at or under $100.

August Recap

August 31st, 2022 at 05:56 pm

Finally, it's the last day of August! I won't spend anything today, so I did my recap:


Housing - $4,246

Car Repair/Maintenance - $223

Utilities - $198

Groceries - $109

Fees/Services - $45

Clothing - $37

Household Supplies - $36

Medical/Health - $35

Phone - $32

Gas - $29

Entertainment - $17

Laundry - $16

Personal - $11

Vet/Pet Supplies - $7

Eating Out/Takeout - $3

Gifts/Charity - $1

Grand Total - $5,046


So, overall my spending was about the same this month as last. It's been two tough months, as the spending really exceeds my income. But September should be better. I hope.

The high housing cost was due, of course, to having to pay a special assessment for a new roof.

The car repair was an oil change and new filters, as well as a steering wheel lock.

The fee was the wheel tax, in other communities known as a resident sticker.

The clothing was the pair of UGGS I got so cheap for my birthday!

Nothing else is out of the ordinary -- except for the very low eating out category! That was just a drink and an ice cream cone, different days.


I have a plan for next month's grocery shopping -- which will begin tomorrow.  Since I want to stick to $100 a month, I'm going to do a weekly shop of $20 or $25 a week, depending on how many Thursdays are in the month. I think it will be doable. Also, easy to carry!  Tomorrow I'll report on what I was able to buy.


Toner and Ice Cream

August 29th, 2022 at 04:16 pm

My printer ran low on toner, so I bought a new cartridge from Amazon for $22. It looks intimidating. I haven't tried to install it yet. Till  now, I've been using the sample toner that came with the printer when I bought it at least a year ago. That sample served me well.

I bought an ice cream cone at McDonalds yesterday -- an impulse purchase, and I enjoyed every lick. I am still holding firm on grocery shopping, but this came out of Eating Out/Takeout, which I hadn't tapped at all this month.

I made chicken fried rice this week, which gave me two large servings. Today I made pancakes for breakfast and I'm going to have a hamburger for lunch. Dinner -- always light -- may be cheese and crackers with carrot strips. Or I may break out one of the Lean Cuisines. 

Two more days after this and I can shop again.

Personal and Health Spending

August 24th, 2022 at 05:04 pm

I went to the gym yesterday, and afterwards walked over to Sam's Club. I didn't find what I was looking for -- folate supplements -- but I bought a twin-pack of body wash for $11. Then I drove to Walgreens and bought the folate -- a BOGO offer -- for $9. Variables are now at 63%.

I continue to avoid the grocery store. Yesterday I made stuffed peppers, and today I made vegetable rice soup. I am drinking my coffee black. I'm out of fresh fruit, but I do have prunes. I'm out of sweets, too, but I guess that really isn't a bad thing. Plenty of possible entrees and plenty of vegetables on hand.

FYI, the items mentioned above do not come out of my grocery budget. My grocery budget is strictly for food.

My Day Trip, Etc.

August 21st, 2022 at 03:36 pm

My day trip to see my BFF was great, but would you believe, I had another memory snafu! Last time I realized I didn't have one of my wallets (but found it at home later). This time, as I was getting ready to drive home, I realized I didn't have my phone. In a panic, I went back to the last place we'd been, and was SO lucky to find it sitting there on the bench untouched.  I'm starting to worry about myself!

Since this was a late celebration of my birthday, BFF paid for my lunch, including dessert and a specialty coffee. So it was a very low-spend trip. I paid $29 for gas, because the price was so low -- under $4! And, even though we shopped, I spent only $1 on a light bulb!

Yesterday I stopped at Sam's after going to the gym. I spent $12 on a large bottle of Dawn dishwashing liquid. I shouldn't have to do that again in a while!

Today should be nice and quiet. Since my grocery spending has exceeded my goal, by a bit, I'm on a food-shopping moratorium. I didn't have creamer with my coffee this morning, and it was missed, but hey, I still had my Joe. I had an English muffin for breakfast and I'm going to make chicken fajitas for lunch. There's lefover potato soup for dinner. I have plenty of food for the next ten days, just might have to do without a few favorites.

Pay Day

August 17th, 2022 at 02:16 pm

It's pay day! This is the day I finally pay that electrician's bill via paying off my Discover card.  There were other things on it as well -- I put everything I can on the card, but I always pay in full. Anyway, the payment exceeds $2800.  That led to a nice cashback bonus of $31.  I still have about $750 in checking, above what I will need to pay for utility bills later in the month. If it's not been used by the end of the month, I'll keep it there anyway, since I like to have about $1000 in checking as a buffer. The emergency fund stands at $1756 right now -- I want to get it back up to $5000. When I do that, I'll start diverting money into the bathroom fund, which is at $2257.

Making this Discover payment makes me feel like I'm over the hump.

I also got $41 from Allstate for participating in Drivewise.

My city is taking applications for a pilot Guaranteed Income program. The plan is to pay recipients (not sure how many) $500 per month for a year.  I read up on it, and I realized that my income is low enough (just barely) to qualify. And I'm also old enough. So I started filling out the application. There were numerous questions on the application about my assets, my health and insurance, my job status, my net worth, home ownership, ability to pay bills, etc.  I realized that despite my low income I'm doing pretty well, and the money would be better spent on people who are in worse shape. I'm sure there are many of them. I would be ashamed to take up a slot and deny someone who is unemployed, with dependents, no property, no insurance. So I closed the application and decided to just keep going as I am. They would probably take one look and throw out my application, anyway!

Today I'm taking it easy, but tomorrow I'm driving to the midway city to meet BFF for lunch and a late birthday celebration. Life is good!

Errand Day #2

August 16th, 2022 at 02:33 pm

Since I didn't get everything done on Saturday, I had another errand day yesterday. I got my oil changed ($150, due to some filter replacements), paid my wheel tax ($40), and went to the bank to deposit my gift funds and buy some quarters. 

While at Midas I had a discussion with one of the mechanics about my worries of thefts in our area. I have a Kia, and the TikTok challenge has taught our local criminals how to get in, start, and steal Kias and Hyundais.  They say theft of our vehicles is skyrocketing, and I feel particularly vulnerable since I park on the street, and I am very close to a rather sketchy area of Chicago (though my neighborhood is quite safe). That means that Chicago criminals can take a very short field trip to steal vehicles in our "ritzy" neighborhood.  He recommended a steering wheel lock. I had to go to two different places to find one, and I got the last one at the second. It was $69 -- more than I wanted to pay, and I see I could have gotten it cheaper via Amazon. But that didn't even occur to me at the time, and the truth is, I needed some on-hand instruction because I really didn't know how to use one or even what they looked like.

We also discussed the prevalent catalytic converter thefts. He recommended a cable covering that costs $480 as the only shield on the market that would fit my car.  I passed on that. I feel reasonably safe on that one, since my car's converter is reportedly difficult to remove, and the low carriage makes it uncomfortable. If it is stolen, insurance will cover it, though that is a bother, of course.  I'm more concerned that my whole car is not stolen!

Variables are now at 51%, which is about on target.

In other news, my new routine of creatively using up leftovers has led me to make a breakfast casserole this morning. Oh, there's the timer! It's ready!

Errand Day

August 14th, 2022 at 04:10 pm

Yesterday was my errand day. I hate to do on a Saturday, but it was really time to get groceries. I went to three different stores and spent $57. I think I did pretty good. I got a cataloupe, English muffins, popcorn, 3 Lean Cuisines, pudding, prunes, sausage, chicken breasts, biscuits, bread, carrots, peppers, crackers, tuna and granola. My total grocery bill, halfway through the month, has exceeded $100, which is where I want to stop. I think I'll be able to get through the month with no more grocery spending. I may have to drink coffee without creamer at the end of the month.

I also bought myself a birthday present! (I do this every year.) This time I found a pair of UGG's on clearance at DSW. With the deep discount and my birthday coupon, the cost was only $38. They retail for $200! These are the short booties, not the tall ones, but they have that wonderful warm lining, and I think my feet will be happy this winter.

I intended to pay my wheel tax, but the senior center doesn't offer that service on weekends, so I'll have to do it later. One of many reasons never to make Saturday your errand day!

Yesterday Was My Birthday

August 12th, 2022 at 02:05 pm

It was a good day, overall. I got flowers, cards and electronic good wishes. In the evening, I went to DS' new home and we had Chinese takeout and played games late into the night. Well, late for me. It was about ten!

I was very tired and disoriented by the darkness -- and, not used to the new neighborhood, I set off in the wrong direction when it was time to head home. I couldn't see my usual landmarks, nor any street names, so I kept proceeding the wrong way. (I wasn't using navigation, because I thought I knew my way!) Well, I ended up in Chicago and heading south, when I live to the north. I finally recognized a landmark and realized I needed to turn around (which wasn't easy!) Along the way I kept seeing groups of people who looked like they were up to no good -- it felt scary, though I'm sure I was in no danger. I was just hoping my car wouldn't break down, because it was the wrong hour and the wrong place!  Got home, finally, and I got a text from my son about whether I'd gotten home all right. I wonder if he was tracking me on his phone. (I have told him that would be okay -- I would like someone who loves me to know where I am, in case I get into trouble.)

My ex was at the party and he gave me a generous cash gift. I'm appreciative, but it also feels a little awkward.  But as I've said before, it's a drop in the barrel compared to what I lost when he took off on his little midlife crisis. So I take it. I'll deposit it in my savings account today.

I got a notice from the county assessor yesterday that my property has been reassessed. The estimated market value is somewhat less than what the bank estimated when I refinanced. But I changed it in my records, anyway. An estimate from the assessor seems more official. 

The Check and Food Prep

August 8th, 2022 at 04:41 pm

I've written the check for the special assessment, but it's still sitting here waiting to be mailed. My knee hasn't permitted me to use the stairs.

However, today it really does seem to be better.  When the rain lets up (if it does!) I will take a walk to the mailbox.

I seem to be on a new routine with cooking and food prep. I don't make a meal plan! I'm finding it works much better to use up leftovers immediately without starting something else. Sometimes that means I make something unexpected -- more creative -- something I hadn't thought of before.  Or hadn't planned on, anyway. Today I'm having leftover spaghetti for lunch, with cauliflower and carrots on the side. Those came from a California medley package, which I cooked yesterday, but it yielded too much to eat in one day. I picked out the broccoli and I will use that to make broccoli cheese soup tonight. Or tomorrow. Often I don't make a meal at night; I tend to eat a light snack that requires no cooking.

That will take care of the current crop of leftovers, so I'll start over tomorrow, taking something from the freezer.  I'm always watching the perishables in the fridge, too. I've got my eye on using up cheese and apples before they get too old.

I think this simple change in my routine will bring about savings.

I have a running grocery list, but so far it has not exceeded ten items, which is about how much I can comfortably carry.  If I wait a few days, I can charge it to the new month. This month has been challenging, to say the least. I don't want to add anything to it.

Special Assessment

August 6th, 2022 at 03:24 pm

Got the official word on the special assessment.  It is $3498. I'm going to pay it in full, although financing was offered. I'll write a check once the transfer goes through from savings to checking.  I had been hoping to charge it, in order to get the cash back reward, but I don't think that's an option.

I transferred $3900 instead of $3500, getting my numbers mixed up off the top of my head!  Well, checking is low, anyway, because of the electricians' bill, so I'm going to let it stay there. It will eventually get swept back when I start building back my EF. Right now I'm just in survival mode.

My knee is worse again, after one day of moderate activity. So it's back to rest and inactivity.

Grocery Shopping

August 4th, 2022 at 12:59 am

I went to Aldi today, spending $46.  That's not bad, considering I was out of just about everything. I concentrated on the basics -- coffee & filters, granola, bread, eggs, veggies, milk, cheese, butter, baking powder, and, because I have hamburger buns in the freezer, frozen beef patties. Oh, and I bought some oatmeal cookies for my sweet tooth.

I also needed to do a load of laundry, so I started it on the way to the store, and finished it when I came home. That way I minimized the stair-climbing. My knee is better today, but every once in a while I get a sharp pain that tells me it's not over yet. I have figured out it is bursitis, which I've had before and I should have recognized the symptoms. I probably did this to myself when I got on my knees to look under the bed. I have to remember I should always use a kneepad.

BFF still wants me to come visit, but she was exposed to someone with COVID this morning. She's pretty blase about it, and she says she will test herself tomorrow morning, but I really don't want to visit if there is a chance of infection. I've gone all this time without getting it; I don't care to start now! Anyway, I think walking around fairgrounds is just what my knee doesn't need, so that's another reason not to go. But I promised to talk with her tomorrow. I really do want to see her, but not under these conditions.

July Recap

August 1st, 2022 at 12:15 pm

Home Repair/Maintenance (Electrical) - $2462

Auto Insurance -$814

Housing - $746

Utilities - $208

Fees/Services - $138

Eating Out/Takeout - $107

Vacation/Travel - $100

Furnishings/Equipment/Decor - $98

Medical/Health - $63

Gifts/Charity- $58

Vet/Pet Supplies - $58

Groceries - $55

Gas - $53

Phone - $32

Personal - $28

Entertainment - $17

Laundry - $12

Grand Total - $5049

Variables - 91%


Fees/Services were my AAA renewal and replenishment of my Illinois Tollway pass.

Eating Out - mostly related to baseball games

Vacation/Travel - food for the train, and meals bought in Oregon

Furn/Equip/Decor - flower pot, makeup mirror, umbrella, organizer bags, picture frame, ceiling light

Medical - premium and two OTC products

Gifts - birthday flowers for friend

Vet/Pet Supplies - aquatic plants and filter for aquarium

Groceries - really low! Lots of eating from the freezer

Personal - deoderant and sunscreen

Entertainment - streaming services


It was really an expensive month for me, but mostly things I couldn't help. I spent about twice my income, which is concerning. I do have savings to cover the overage. But my EF will be ailing once I make the transfers.

In other news, I somehow strained my knee and I am hobbling around. I don't know if I'll be able to get out of the house today. I have enough food for today, and probably for tomorrow, too, but I do need groceries soon. I may need to have groceries delivered if my knee does not improve.

My BFF has invited me down to her place to attend the state fair on Friday. I don't know if I'll be able to do that, but I will if my knee gets better.  Here's hoping.



More Expenses

July 31st, 2022 at 01:41 pm

I'm wrapping up this month with more expenses -- I sent birthday flowers to a friend ($54 for a small bouquet!) and bought a few groceries for $3. Then my tollway pass replenished for $40. These things pushed my variables up to 91%.  Tomorrow I'll do my recap, and it won't be pretty.

Aquatic Plants

July 30th, 2022 at 02:49 pm

My big splurge yesterday was $41 spent on aquatic plants for my aquarium. I did this for two reasons -- I am tired of fighting algae -- and my DIL's aquarium, which was filled with plants, was so lovely. It inspired me.

I had some trouble getting one plant to stay down -- it wanted to float on top. But I finally got it anchored with some pebbles. I just hope the fish don't disrupt it. The aquarium looks so much better with some greenery in it, and I hope the algae will fail to thrive.

Variables are at 78%, and we're almost done with the month. However, big-ticket spending has wreaked havoc. $2462 for electrical work, and $814 for auto insurance. It definitely hasn't been a low-spend month. I charged the electrical work, so I won't have to actually pay for it until next month, and then it will come out of my EF. But I always track by point of purchase, not the actual moment the money comes out of my account.

The auto insurance, as usual, was withdrawn automatically. I save regularly for that, as well as property taxes and condo insurance.

Still no official word on the special assessment.  If I can put off paying it until after the next payday, that would be a good thing. However, the next payday is August 17. I have a feeling that the word will come this week, so it all depends on how much time they will give me to pay.  My neighbor said there will be an option to pay on time with 5% interest, but I don't want to do that. I want to get it done.

Edit - Oops! Forgot that I also spent $4 on groceries yesterday, so variables are actually 79%.

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