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Christmas Shopping

December 2nd, 2022 at 03:49 pm

I've bought a few little gifts in the past few months, but my real Christmas shopping started yesterday. I ordered gifts from Amazon and spent $330. These were gifts for my local family. I will order the Oregon gifts later, after my Discover card re-ups, but the local family gathering is early, on the 11th.

Three gifts have already arrived! I'll be wrapping them today. I will be buying some smaller gifts for the local family -- the "something to open" gifts -- as I do my normal shopping and errands. The Oregon family will get just one big gift each, from Amazon, because mailing is just not worth it. 

I just got a flex card from UnitedHealthcare, my Medicare Advantage provider. It is loaded with $250. Unfortunately, it looks like it can only be used for dental, vision and hearing costs beyond what is already covered. Well, that might buy a pair of glasses. I'm also interested in OTC hearing aids, but I'll have to check and see if they are covered, being so new.

A new library branch opened last year, and I have not visited it. I have continued to use the main library. But I have realized that it is on the way to the gym, and that the facility it's in also has an indoor walking track, which would be appealing in winter, so I think it's time to check it out. The main library is way out of my way and the parking situation there is terrible.

And to cap off the positive news, in the last few days I found a quarter and a dime!

First Grocery Shop of December

December 1st, 2022 at 04:58 pm

There are five Thursdays in December. (Yes, I switched back to Thursday, since I didn't shop yesterday.) That means only $20 per trip. I spent $21 today. It was the leanest trip ever, I think. I bought two sweet potatoes, a canister of raisins, a pound of butter, creamer, eggs, yellow mustard, granola, and a package of cookies. I know. I just really miss cookies when there are none.

In ten days I'm going to be hosting a brunch for my family, so I'm going to make two shopping trips before then -- one for non-perishables and one for perishables, the day before. I'm not counting either one in my grocery budget. It will be tracked under Gifts/Charity, which I am going to rename Gifts/Charity/Hosting. It's the right place for it, I think. I will probably have leftovers from this event, which will help with the grocery budget.

I have never seen the shelves at Aldi so empty. If that train strike does happen, I can't imagine what it will be like.

November Recap

November 30th, 2022 at 09:51 pm

Bah! November! Too much spending, especially for the month before Christmas, with very few dollars actually going toward Christmas gifts.

Housing - $746

Home Repair/Maintenance - $509

Gifts/Charity - $225

Fees/Services - $195

Utilities - $192

Vacation/Travel - $126

Medical/Health - $116

Groceries - $85

Gas - $63

Vet/Pet Supplies - $61

Eating Out/Takeout - $55

Furnishings/Equipment/Decor - $53

Household Supplies - $49

Personal - $46

Phone - $32

Entertainment - $25

Laundry - $14

Fares/Parking - $1

Grand Total - $2593

Variables - 129%

A last-minute charge from Amazon for Prime subscription changed my variables. Plus, there were some adjustments, for a few things I hadn't logged.

Anyway, the home repair was the plumbing bill. Gifts were mostly birthday gifts in a month packed with birthdays. Fees/services included the above-mentioned Prime membership, plus my tollway pass and AARP. Vacation/Travel - Thanksgiving trip. Most other stuff is self-explantory, but the Groceries deserves a mention. $15 below my $100 goal. Yay! Of course, traveling and eating out helped with that.

Tomorrow I will start seriously Christmas shopping. 

I have learned that assessment fees for next year will increase by 5%. I'm not at all surprised. I'm looking forward to that raise in Social Security. At least it will make things a little more manageable, I hope.

 

Thanksgiving Trip

November 27th, 2022 at 09:48 pm

I got home from my Thanksgiving trip yesterday. It was an exhausting trip, mainly because I didn't sleep well for three days, but there was also some drama with family health issues. I don't believe my sister will ever try to make the trip again due to her issues and some cognitive decline. My brother wasn't well either, and the friend I always visit seemed very much diminished by Parkinson's. It was kind of a sad time.

And it was pretty expensive. In addition to the hotel cost, which I had already paid last month, I spent $60 on gas. The restaurant buffet meal was $48, and other eating out was $18. My tollway pass autoreplenished for $40 -- though I don't count that as vacation cost, it goes in the fees/services category. But it was a bad time for it to hit.

The hotel where I stayed charged $100 to my credit card, with the understanding that it would be reimbursed if there was no damage or evidence of smoking in my room. Of course I am a *model* customer, but I am distrustful of corporations and I hope I will really get that money back. And I hope it will come back before I have to pay the credit card.

For these few days of the end of the month, I am trying to spend nothing, though I did laundry this morning. Variables are overextended at 118%. That is my STOP sign. But as soon as the month turns, I'm going to have to get busy on Christmas shopping.

What Emergency Funds Are For

November 23rd, 2022 at 09:02 pm

Yesterday I was glad I had an emergency fund. My bathroom sink was clogged and I called a plumber. I had him look at the bathtub drain, too, which was slowing down. The fix was not cheap. $509 later, my drains are running freely. This is exactly what emergency funds are for.

However, my EF had not yet been built up to the level I would like it to be. This will make achieving that goal harder. The actual hit to the EF will not come, though, until I have to pay the credit card next month. Such a shame this happened right before the holidays.

Speaking of the holidays, I bought some snacks this morning to take to my brother's house tomorrow - $30. I also bought gas for $32, and I refilled a prescription for $30. 

I adjusted the Big Ticket spreadsheet, because of the plumbing cost, which adversely affects my variables. But I am still under -- 94%. Probably won't manage to stay under 100% for the month, though.

I'm planning to get up early tomorrow and get on the road. I have high hopes that an early start will help me avoid the worst of the traffic. It would have been awful if I had tried to make the trip today.

A Visit from BFF

November 21st, 2022 at 04:48 pm

As usual, I had a fun visit with BFF, and, as usual, spent some money. $71 on eating out (some of that was treating BFF for her birthday), $8 on a movie (first time since before the pandemic!), and $40 on Christmas gifts found while shopping small boutiques. Add to that, I ordered a birthday gift for DS ($62), bought a vitamin supplement ($53), bought a couple of home decor items at Goodwill ($10), and bought a set of hair rollers at Walgreens ($19). A new attempt not to fry my hair every day.

My gift purchases have exceeded $200, so I moved them out of "Variables" and into "Big Ticket." Big ticket items come out of savings, but I do track them carefully and make monthly additions to savings based on the big ticket average. Next month, gifts will be another big ticket item. This puts variables at a comfortable 74%.

However, I had to call a plumber this morning. He's coming tomorrow to unclog my bathroom drains, and it will be $79 minimum for the service call. And then, Thanksgiving is coming up. I will be paying $35 for my meal at a restaurant, and there will be additional vacation costs, I'm sure. Gas, for certain.

It's that time of year. I always look forward to January, when I can be frugal again.

 

I Guess Wednesday is Now Grocery Day

November 16th, 2022 at 08:03 pm

Once again I needed to shop on Wednesday, so I guess I'm going to make it my permanent grocery day. I think it's a better day than Thursday anyway -- more bargains, I understand.

I overspent this time and I only have $16 left for next week's shopping. However, I will be going to Michigan for Thanksgiving so I won't really need much in the way of groceries. I will be buying snacks to take to my brother's, but that will come out of my vacation budget.

The reason I overspent is that BFF is coming tomorrow, and I wanted to have a few things she likes on hand.

Here's what I got for $33: celery, canola oil, cheddar cheese, chocolate chips, lactose-free milk, ice cream, cream of mushroom soup, canned fried onions, tuna, apples, bread, biscuits and peanuts.

I also ended up ordering a new shower curtain liner for $14. I have given up on cleaning the old one.

Variables are now at 82%. Mercy me.

 

November Birthdays

November 14th, 2022 at 05:03 pm

I think I mentioned before that I have three birthdays in November. That is not true. There are actually five birthdays in November. The big ones are: DS, GS1, GD. But there is also XH (who I have to recognize because he has been giving me generous birthday gifts the last few years -- as well as paying for some home repairs.) And there is BFF, who is coming up tomorrow, I hope. She may bow out. She doesn't like to drive to the Chicago area, and besides that, it's going to snow. She hasn't been here since before the pandemic, and I really hope she will come, but I won't insist -- I'd hate to have it on me if indeed something went wrong!

Anyway, I realized that while I had a gift ready for her, I did not have a card. And she always gives me a card, a nice one. And I did not have a bag for XH's gift. So it was back to Walgreens where I spent $8 on those two items.

I almost set out to get a new shower curtain liner this morning, because my current one is developing that dreaded pinkish mold on the bottom. Instead, I am soaking the bottom of the liner in a bucket of vinegar. I'll soak it all day and rinse it when I shower tomorrow. If that doesn't kill it, I'll get a new liner. With the way things are going this month, I'm rethinking every purchase.

Everyday Things

November 12th, 2022 at 10:07 pm

I'm doing well on my grocery challenge, but other expenses are rocking my boat. I just updated my spreadsheets, and variables are at 69%, and we're not even halfway through the month. Today's spending was at PetSmart. I have had to dump all the live plants in my aquarium -- they all died but one, and it was turning black. Instead of the plants killing the algae, the algae was killing the plants. I bought some plastic plants, and I also stocked up on feeder blocks and filter pads. Altogether it was $61, yikes! I also ordered a set of scissors and a package of 24 washcloths from Amazon, and that was $29. So not even anything fun or exciting.

Second Grocery Trip

November 10th, 2022 at 02:44 pm

I did my second grocery trip of the month a day early. I was at the gym and decided to peek in on Food4Less to see if they had any clearance deals. I found good things, so I decided to spend my weekly allowance there. I spent $21 and I got: cereal, coffee, two cans green beans, spiced almonds, five tomatoes, and two large bottles of ketchup. Everything but the coffee was deeply discounted. The coffee (Kroger brand) was the same price I pay for coffee at Aldi. The cereal was Halloween Fruity Pebbles, which, it turns out, isn't very good, but oh well. It was cheap.

Today I'm making an omelet and a tomato casserole. I'm also going to add chopped tomatoes to the leftover bean/franks casserole which I'm taking out of the freezer. That should make it more of a soup.

I somehow forgot to log last week's Aldi shopping trip, so, my variables have taken a jump to 45%.

More Spending

November 9th, 2022 at 03:37 pm

November 7 was a busy day for spending.  I ordered a birthday present for my granddaughter ($60), bought candy and cough drops at Walgreens ($18), paid my annual AARP membership fee ($16), and ordered rubber shelf liner from Amazon ($17).

The candy was to put in a mug for a birthday gift, but about half of the bag is left over, so I'll have to count half as a grocery expense rather than a gift expense. That means my limit tomorrow when I grocery shop is $19.

The rubber shelf liner is to be used to make my throw rugs less slippery. I think I got that tip on Dollar Stretcher.

I am doing well on my food supply. I haven't even used any of the frozen chicken I bought last week. Today I'm going to make cheese quesadillas for lunch, garnished with the very last of my homemade meat-filled spaghetti sauce. For breakfast I had toast with peanut butter and honey. Supper -- I don't know yet! It may be granola with raisins and walnuts. I am rarely very hungry at suppertime.

Variables are at 37%.

November Spending

November 7th, 2022 at 03:47 pm

Yesterday I bought two packages of Poise pads in a BOGO offer for $27.  I was so happy to get a fresh supply because the last time I bought them I mistakenly bought the wrong size. So glad to be right-sized again!

I went to the dentist two days ago, but there was no charge, because checkups, cleaning, and x-rays are covered on my Medicare Advantage plan. I used to pay a lot more for the dentist, even the few years when I had dental insurance. The dentist told me there were no problems with my teeth or gums, which was good news.

On Friday I drove my son to the airport. It was a dreary day and the trip was not much fun, but I'm glad to do it, since he does so much for me. I'll be picking him up again tomorrow.

The roofers have gotten started on our building's roof. It's been noisy, but I think the demo part is done now and things should quiet down. I keep hearing a helicopter and I wonder if it is delivering supplies to the roof. It makes sense. I don't know how else they would get them up there.

I just put in a load of laundry. Variables are now 14%. However, I have three birthdays this month (I'd better get ordering!)

Grocery Shopping

November 4th, 2022 at 03:40 pm

My first grocery trip of the month was actually two -- I bought raspberries at Sam's for $6, and then I spent $19 at Aldi for 3 lbs of frozen chicken breasts, crackers, bread, a block of cheddar, and granola. There were many things on my list I couldn't get, but I'll get by. I still have plenty of leftovers in the freezer. Today I'm planning to make hot pockets using crescent rolls and leftover sausage gravy mixed with cheese.

While at Sam's, I bought gas ($31) and toilet paper ($24).

My shopping took longer than expected and I got hungry, so I bought a pizza slice and drink at a local pizza place ($7). 

Variables are at 9%.

October Recap

November 1st, 2022 at 02:00 pm

Housing - $746

Vacation/Travel - $217

Utilities - $192

Clothing - $182 (Coat, shoes, jeans)

Groceries - $98

Personal - $75

Gifts/Charity - $72

Medical/Health - $38

Phone - $32

Gas - $31

Eating Out/Takeout - $30

Furnishings/Equipment/Decor - $23 (kitchen stuff)

Entertainment - $17

Laundry - $16

Household Supplies - $13

Grand Total - $1782

Variables - 111%

It was a pretty frugal month, except for the splurge on clothing. The coat and shoes, however, have long been on my list for replacement, and I got good prices. The jeans came from Goodwill.

The vacation cost is for a hotel room over Thanksgiving, already paid for.

Halloween!

October 31st, 2022 at 09:16 pm

Happy Halloween, everyone! It's very dreary here, but warm enough for trick-or-treaters to enjoy their evening!

I gave each grandchild $10, so that's $40, and I also bought some more candy, which was $8.

Tomorrow I'll do the October recap, but I can tell you now, I did not keep my variables in check -- I spent 111% of my budget. Not TOO bad, I guess, except that that doesn't even count the $217 I spent for the Thanksgiving weekend hotel room. And with Christmas spending coming up, it will just be harder.

Last Grocery Trip of the Month

October 28th, 2022 at 03:31 pm

My friend decided that she was going to drive herself to the infusion center, so I did not drive down there to be her chauffeur. She's an adult, so I respect her decision. I have already heard that she made it there and back safely.

So that left me free to perform my final grocery shopping trip of the month. I spent $23, bringing my total for the month to $99. I went to Mariano's, because I wanted to buy popcorn. While I was there, I bought other things I cannot buy at Aldi. 

Here is the SHORT list of what I got:

Popcorn (bag of kernels, not microwave)

Butter

Creamer

Bay's English muffins

Kozy Shak pudding

That's it!

I will say the creamer came in a large bottle -- 2 quarts! It was the best unit price. It should get me through next month easily.

I bought the butter, even though I still have a couple of sticks in reserve, because it was on sale, and I expect that butter prices will just get worse.

I bought some non-food items as well. I spent $13 on Halloween cards and candy (counted as a gift). I spent $19 on face serum -- probably not the best place to buy that. I should have waited till I got to Walgreens.

What I did get at Walgreens -- a fresh bottle of B12, which cost $12.

I have plenty of food in the freezer and pantry to make meals this week, so don't worry about my weird sounding list. Smile

 

Surprise!

October 25th, 2022 at 04:46 pm

I booked my hotel room today for Thanksgiving, using the Amtrak booking service to earn points for future train trips. Surprise, surprise, the full amount is already being processed on my credit card. I thought it would not be processed until I check in. Well, it's no big problem, I have the money. Just didn't expect to be spending it now. Two nights were $217. Not sure if fees will be added later. 

This amount would have taken my variables over 100%, so the cost will be taken out of savings. My variables are now at 76%.  But only a few days left in the month.

HOWEVER, I'm leaving on a short trip tomorrow to help a friend who needs transportation to get an infusion. So there will be some cost in that.

Since I will be away from home on Thursday, I won't be doing my final October grocery shop then. I may do it when I get home on Friday, or I may just try to guts it out till the end of the month. It would be awesome to spend only $76 on groceries this month!

Today's Grocery Shopping

October 20th, 2022 at 05:46 pm

It's my grocery shopping day -- third out of four this month. I spent $29, unintentionally going over my $27 limit. I'll make that up next week. I'll have to count more carefully -- not in my head!

Here's what I got at Aldi for $29:

5 lbs. of potatoes

Flour tortillas

Worcestershire sauce

Hot sauce

Canned crushed pineapple

12 oz. hot dogs

Hot dog buns

Crescent rolls

Honey

1 lb. hot Italian pork sausage

1 lb. butter

1 dozen eggs

I didn't intend to get hot sausage! Totally picked up the wrong package. I hope it is not TOO hot.

I bought crescent rolls because the can I had on hand popped in the fridge and turned to cement. What a waste! I'm going to have to check this one every day; can't let that happen again. I like to use up leftovers in homemade "hot pockets" made out of crescent rolls.

I also bought paper plates for $7. That is tracked in a different category.

Possible meals on tap this week:

Hamburger Stroganoff

Mac & Cheese

Cottage Cheese & Pineapple

Sausage Gravy & Biscuits

Spaghetti

Hot Dogs

Barbecue Beans & Sausage

Loaded Potatoes

Omelet

I also have four servings of cannelloni in the freezer. So there's going to be more than enough to eat. Next week I'm going to have to get chicken and ground beef, so that might be the whole order. Oh, and I will have to get creamer next week, too. Can't do without that!

 

Pay Day

October 19th, 2022 at 03:53 pm

It's Pay Day! Which, anymore, just means I pay off my two credit cards and update my spreadsheets. Everything else is automatic. The big news is that today I was able to transfer $1500 to savings. I still haven't hit my $5K emergency fund goal, but another month like this would do it. I also have a little more than $2K in a different account for the bathroom remodel. I am rethinking that, as I clearly have to replace some tiles in the tub area now. I can't wait to have the money for a complete overhaul. They are white subway tiles, so I don't think they will be difficult to match. I just hope the wall behind them is okay. 

Whew!

October 18th, 2022 at 01:11 pm

I noticed this morning that I had two email reminders that my condo assessment fee will be paid by autopay in a few days. I saw this before, but it occurred to me this morning that there shouldn't be TWO messages. I opened them up. One was for the smaller payment that I entered earlier this month, in order to take advantage of the credit I have for slightly overpaying. The other was the regular payment. Yikes! They would have taken two payments out of the bank! So I got online and deleted the regular autopay. I will have to go back in and set it up again once the smaller payment is made. Sheesh. Autopay is not always easy.

Free Food

October 17th, 2022 at 04:30 pm

No more spending to report, but I did get some free food. On Saturday, after my grandson's last baseball game of the season, my son bought pizza to celebrate. Then on Sunday, we all met up at my ex's house and ended up staying the day. Not only was I fed all day but I was sent home with bagels and salad. The salad was the kind that was very heavy on toppings. I ate one serving last night, and then fished out any remaining lettuce and drained it of dressing. I'm going to make an omelet with what's left -- lots of tomato, cheese, bacon, olives. I'm expecting it will be very good. The bagels went into the freezer for another day.

I had made cannelloni on Friday, which didn't turn out great, since the sauce broke. But I had a serving, and this morning I divided and froze the rest. I have more sauce and cheese to add when it is thawed and heated.

I had been thawing a chicken breast, and this morning I sauteed it. I've not decided what to do with it yet.

All this is to say I'm really ahead of the game on food this week; I don't know if I'll be buying much on Thursday.

Grocery Shopping

October 13th, 2022 at 08:49 pm

I went to Aldi today, expecting to spend $15. I spent $13, because there was nothing else on my list that was $2 or less! Here's what I got: lactose-free milk, dried cranberries, cottage cheese, mozzarella, sour cream, and cream cheese.  I know, lots of dairy! And me, lactose-intolerant! I'm planning on making cannelloni, and I for sure will take my lastase pills when I have a serving.

I had a good day with my son and grandson yesterday which started out with bad luck for them -- a flat tire. I picked them up and took them to the DVM, which was their intended destination. GS got his learner's permit. The traffic was terrible and the place was packed, so it took quite a while, but it was good to have the time together. Afterwards, we went to a casual dining restaurant, where I was treated to a late lunch.

It's turning cold today. Makes me think about how heating oil prices are rising, which I'm sure will result in a rise of assessment fees. It happened last year, and I think it's going to happen again. Frown

New Coat

October 12th, 2022 at 04:54 pm

I have a lightweight winter coat (I guess you could call it a fall coat, though I wore it often in winter). I bought it 11 years ago, I think, at Macy's. It has held up well all these years, but now the lining is wearing out, and not all the snaps are working. I intended to replace it last spring, when coats were on clearance, but I waited till too late, when nothing much was available. So I decided I would replace it for sure this fall, before the Christmas shopping season started.

So I went to Macy's! And I was pleased to find that many coats were 30% off and there was a great selection. I picked a Ralph Lauren, which retailed for $255, but I ended up getting it for $157, because I agreed to open a Macy's credit card, getting another 20% off.

My grandson, who says I've been wearing that original coat as long he's known me (and he's fifteen!) will be glad to see I have a new coat. Maybe. He might not notice at all, knowing kids!

In recent months I've bought a new winter hat and boots (and I deliberately picked the coat to coordinate), so I will be all decked out when the cold weather comes.

I haven't reported lately on my variables. I am up to 57%, and I'm not yet even halfway through the month. Of course, the coat really threw it off. But it is a reminder to be careful now.

Tomorrow is grocery shopping day, and I'm going to try to do it for $15. Might be a bit of a challenge!

Panera & Goodwill

October 9th, 2022 at 04:38 pm

I went to my grandson's baseball game yesterday, and afterwards went to Panera for lunch.  It was $12 (and delicious!) Panera is quite near Goodwill, so I decided to stop in before I went home. I'm so glad I did! I found a pair of jeans, Dockers, which fit perfectly and seem brand new. I suspect they have never been worn. They were tagged at $6.99, but they were having a half-price sale on pink tickets, so I got them for $3.49! I also bought a few Christmas/birthday gifts. My total spending was $14.  I was bummed when I got home and looked at the receipt and saw that they had charged me for a reusable bag. There was a stack of them at checkout, but I did not take one. Then, as I went through the list, I realized that they did NOT charge me for two Christmas stockings. So it evened out. In fact, a little better than evened out.

Today I'm cooking. I'm baking carrot-cake muffins from batter that was in the freezer. I'm boiling carrots, most of which will go into the freezer. I'm making cinnamon applesauce. And I'm cooking chicken to use later in fajitas. I SWEAR I'm going to make them this time! Some of the chicken will be saved for chicken pot pie.

I'm using the timer on my phone! Since I have multiple things going, I'm just setting it in 10-minute intervals and I check everything. Hopefully, no alarms will go off today.

Food4Less

October 8th, 2022 at 04:02 pm

I went to the gym yesterday, which is close to Food4Less. I popped over there to pick up scrub pads (I nearly ruined a pan, get to that later). While I was there I checked out the produce clearance and I picked up six Gala apples and 5 navel oranges. Then I spotted another clearance section of regular items. Usually I don't find much I want in those, but this time I found lasagna noodles, a Cracker Barrel mac & cheese kit, Reese's cereal, a brownie mix, a bag of dry lima beans, and a small pack of mini donuts. The total for all of these items was $12. (Not counting the non-food scrub pads, which were $3.) Some are not so great nutritional choices, for sure, but they were so cheap! And I have been sorely missing having treats on hand since I started this challenge.

I was under by $2 on Thursday shopping, so this will set me back by $10 on my upcoming trip. I don't think that will be a problem, as my list, so far, is not large.

So, the pan. I had a plastic jar of honey, in which about a half-inch had crystallized in the bottom. Bright idea -- I would set the jar in a pan of water on the stove and let it warm up to its original state. Well, I completely forgot it. Until the smoke alarm went off when I was in the shower. I didn't burn the building down, but I sure made a mess of the pan. It is a stainless steel pan, so it can take a lot of abuse, and I did manage to clean it up, though it took a lot of soaking and a lot of elbow grease. That was a relief. I was all set to go to IKEA and get a replacement -- I like that pan so much. But it's fine.

I guess I need to make a rule that I can't leave the kitchen when anything is on a burner.

Aldi

October 6th, 2022 at 05:28 pm

I just came home from my first weekly shop of the month. There will be four this month, so the amount to stay at or under is $25. I spent $23. I bought bread, biscuits, coffee, creamer, powdered sugar, parmesan cheese, canned tomatoes, canned tomato paste, canned mushrooms, granola, and sandwich cookies.

I'm planning on making chicken pot pie, spaghetti, and chicken fajitas (an idea left over from last week). Other meals will materialize, I'm sure. Last week I unexpectedly found I had the ingredients for jalapeno poppers, so that made two meals. I still have leftover soup and quiche. Plenty of eggs.

I did make a couple of purchases from the "hall of shame." Household items, so not from the grocery budget. One was a set of three small stainless steel meal prep canisters with plastic lids. The other was a knock-off of Command hangers. The total for those was $13.

I also went out to breakfast this morning at a sweet little cafe -- divine French toast for $13, including tip. I'm trying to avoid the dreaded fast-food drive-throughs, but I am permitting myself to have an occasional meal out in a restaurant.

New Shoes

October 3rd, 2022 at 03:14 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 11:12 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 06:20 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 05:46 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.


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