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Archive for March, 2011

Author, author!

March 31st, 2011 at 05:50 am

Last night I went with three of my co-workers to a Mexican cafe in a neighboring suburb and then to a book signing at Border's. We all had a wonderful time. The food was fantastic (I blew my diet, but I'm back in the saddle today) and the reading/talk by the author was very inspiring. We had good seats and got great pictures. She signed a book which I will give to my DIL (after I read it -- she won't mind!)

Cost of the dinner, with tip: $40.11. Cost of the book: $16.41.

We had shocking news at work yesterday. Our VP (my boss' boss' boss) was let go. This will be a huge change for our department as we go under interim leadership and then new leadership. I feel very bad for her. The only reason for her dismissal is that she and the President do not get along very well -- it's not like she wasn't doing her job, or anything. She is a 55-year-old single woman with no one to fall back on, so I hope she is able to find something else quickly.

In better news, my BFF is coming to visit this weekend! We are going to see yet another author (believe me, this is just a coincidence, it's not something I do every day). We also might go to IKEA, as she's never been, and is curious to see it. Or we might to downtown to dine at my son's restaurant. Or we might just hang out. It will be good to see her.

What should I do?

March 29th, 2011 at 10:07 am

Back when I was still trying to get out of debt, I accepted a lot of new credit cards so I could continually transfer my balances to very low rates. I'm out of debt now, but I have all these credit cards I don't use. Some have cancelled on me (which is fine) but sometimes I'll get a new card with the sticker to activate.

Should I just not activate? I've heard it's bad for your credit rating to cancel cards -- but also bad if you have too many. And I have too many.

It dawned on me I have all these experts at my fingertips! What should I do?

Some weekend shopping

March 27th, 2011 at 03:36 pm

Just got back from a walk that was shorter than intended. It was so sunny I thought it would be nice and that I would warm up as got going. Wrong. It's very cold, and the wind is biting.

I went to Walgreen's yesterday to use my rewards. I had $11 and I added another $1.18 and got a bag of clementines and candy and toys for the grandkids' Easter buckets.

Today I made my Target trip. I had a $5 gift card, but I spent $39.78 above that. I needed AA batteries (I couldn't find any in the house, though I have a sinking feeling there's a whole lot of them SOMEWHERE!) Both my mouse and a clock were dead without the batteries. I bought an 18-pack for $7.21, as it was the best deal, but since I don't go through a lot of batteries I don't know if that was too smart. Oh well, I can use them in my camera if nothing else. I also bought a watering can to take to work (2.99) and a pencil sharpener for my eyeliner pencil for $1.37 (it was down to the jagged edge) and I splurged on a food scale. I've been dieting and so often I am guessing at the weight of a food item -- now I'll know. The scales ranged from $4.99 to $49.99. I got the mid-range -- $29.99. I want something that will do the job and hold up for a while. The little ones couldn't handle much weight and looked flimsy -- my guess is they would be unreliable, too. The fancy one -- well, I'm sure it's very nice, but I'm happy with what I got. It has a digital scale and a glass tray and is very sleek in appearance. I'll keep it sitting out on my countertop, it's that cute.

I also filled up my gas tank -- $34.51. It was the cheapest gas around, $3.59.

No grocery shopping this week. I am stocked up well enough, so I will resume 15 items next Saturday.

I babysat on Saturday and in the process got a free lunch. I was very tempted to stop at Steak N Shake on the way home, but made myself drive past it. It would have thrown my calorie count way off, anyway!

So tired

March 25th, 2011 at 06:19 am

Yesterday I was so tired I couldn't stay up for the Office proposal episode. I'll watch it on Hulu. Don't tell me anything!

And I could hardly get up this morning. I was dreaming that Sandra Bullock was styling my hair. She also gave me a bouquet with long-stemmed flowers. I broke one of the stems and she said, "Well, now you've done it, you'll have to settle for a short bouquet." Then we all had to hurry into a tunnel that led to Mexico because we were evading some disaster. I have the weirdest dreams.

I've had several no-spend days -- nothing going out except the water bill, which comes out automatically. Netflix is going to give me a bit of a discount because their streaming service wasn't working on Wednesday. And I got notice from Offermatic that a $5 credit is going to my Discover card for my McDonald's purchase.

Tomorrow I hit Walgreens and Target. At Walgreens I will try to stay right at $11 (RR) and at Target, $5 (gift card). I also need gas, but other than that, I will try not to spend much of anything.

On Wednesday I was planning to see "Gone With the Wind" at the local theater for $5. I thought it would be a treat to see it on the big screen again. Turned out I was too tired to do that. I'm really fatigued. I think it's because I'm still recovering from the bad flu/cold I had. I'll be glad when I feel normal again.

No dog sitting after all

March 23rd, 2011 at 06:34 am

I was supposed to dog sit the rest of this week, but the owners canceled their trip. I'm relieved. All told, I'd really rather be home, even if their house is much nicer! I will lose some income, but still, I'm not sorry. I'm such a homebody.

It got cold again yesterday and I turned on the heated mattress pad again. I'm so happy I got that. I'm also happy I got the flat iron -- now I never worry about what my hair will look like in the morning because I can always straighten it out. Sometimes material things DO make you happy!

It's Spring Break, and even though I have to work, it's kind of relaxing to work with the students gone. And it is certainly nice to find a parking place with no trouble. I do wish the weather were more springlike. Though I suppose RAIN is springlike, isn't it?

I've been closely tracking my diet on myfitnesspal.com, along with my kids and niece and nephew. I have recently started to enter my whole day's plan at the beginning at the day. Then I feel obligated to follow it. I save the results at the end of the day, making any adjustments where I didn't follow through as planned. I have found it's so much easier to track BEFORE I eat -- sometimes doing it after the fact is difficult because you didn't pay attention to the amount, or the type of measurement (i.e. cups vs. ounces). It also helps me to think about what I need to use up, rather than make impulsive decisions. And I can make better decisions about balancing my diet. It's kind of like paying yourself first!

Yesterday's spending and a few tidbits

March 21st, 2011 at 10:28 am

Yesterday I went to Walgreen's and picked up a few items that were recommended on the Grocery Store Guide. While I didn't MAKE money, as the post suggested, I did spend only $3.42 for a package of TENA pads and two boxes of Thera-flu. That presupposes that I will remember to use the $10 and $1 "coupons" for my next trip to Walgreens. And I will. I've decided that next week's grocery trip will be at Walgreens and Target, where I will use a $5 gift card. I am quite stocked up, and $16 should easily take care of me.

The one big money-maker -- the pain reliever -- I couldn't do because I couldnt' get the coupon needed from Diabetes & You (free handout at Walgreens). The store already had the Spring issue and the Winter issue was gone. However, I did take the Spring issue as it had several coupons that looked interesting.

Then I went to Goodwill. I spent $47 there. I bought myself a pair of black pants (Lee Riders, like new) and three tops -- one brand new, the other two might as well have been. They are all long-sleeved T's and will serve well for spring. I also bought a pillow sham, which I really needed. (Now I won't have to make a pillow sham out of the king-size sheet I bought a few weeks ago!) Now to figure out what to do with the sheet....

The rest was spent on potential gifts. I was very happy to find two "Cars" buckets that will serve as Easter baskets -- my grandson is a maniac about the "Cars" movie.

I forgot to mention that I found a QUARTER the other day! Bright and shiny, too, not run-over like most of the coins I find.

And I also forgot to mention that when I worked at the scholarship dinner on Saturday night, one of the richest men in the area (jokingly) asked me to be his guest at the table. I couldn't -- seating arrangements are already decided way in advance -- but it kind of tickled me. Oh, by the way, he's married, so no chance he will solve all my financial problems! Smile

Busy Saturday

March 20th, 2011 at 08:13 am

It's been a busy weekend so far. I babysat overnight on Friday (and got NO sleep because the 4-year-old slept with me -- very sweet, but he's a tosser and turner). Then on Saturday I had to get ready for the big dinner I worked last night, and do my grocery shopping since there were key items on their last day on sale.

When I got home Saturday morning, I took a nap right after breakfast. When I woke up, I showered and went to get my hair cut and styled at Hair Cuttery. Hair Cuttery is now my compromise between the pricey salon and Great Clips. I have had the same stylist twice now, and I like her work. I paid $25 ($5 was for a tip). It would have been $15 had I not had it styled, but since I had the fancy dinner to go to I thought I should spring for it. It turned out a little poufy so maybe that wasn't the best choice, though when it settled down it looked nice, and the cut is great.

Then I got my 15 items:

Bag of salad greens - on sale
Half gallon milk
3 birthday cards ($2 off coupon)
Cat chow (on sale and $1 off coupon)
6 oz. container of raspberries (on sale)
Crest Professional Whitestrips ($10 off coupon)
Zyrtec (on sale and $4 off coupon)
1 lb. of asparagus (on sale)
3-pack of Kleenex (on sale and $1 off coupon)
Crystal Light On-the-Go (on sale)
Chicken breasts (on sale)
Cat litter (on sale and $1 off coupon)
18-ct. eggs (on sale)

Total: $101.29
Store savings: $9.70
Coupon savings: $19.00

The big splurge was the whitestrips. The $10 coupon made me consider it -- the box says it is equal in effect to a $500 treatment at the dentist's office. Well, I take that with a grain of salt, but I really do need to whiten. I'm a coffee drinker and also, I have white hair, and if my teeth aren't as white as my hair, it looks funny. And since I was getting all gussied up for the dinner, I thought I'd try it. I was quite pleased with the results in just one day, so I think I will be really pleased with the final result.

My other splurge was the Zyrtec. With spring coming I will soon be battling my allergies again, so with the store sale and the coupon, I went for it.

I didn't need cat chow yet, but my favorite brand was on sale and I had a coupon, so it made my list. Likewise for the cat litter.

The birthday cards were only $.99 each and I got $2 off, so that made them only $.66.

So while it was a bigger than usual total, it was a good trip.

I came home, unpacked, got all dressed up in my mother-of-the-groom outfit, and went to "work." I worked at the registration table for three hours; then, since I wasn't needed as a seat-filler at the dinner, I filled up a plate from the hors d'oeuvre table (that was being dismantled as I worked my way through it!) So I still got a very nice free dinner and got to go home early.

Today I'm going to rest, but I'm also going to make a trip to Walgreen's and get some of the deals that Jeffrey shared. Maybe hit Goodwill, too, as it's my guilty pleasure!


Donated points

March 17th, 2011 at 01:11 pm

Today I got on the stick and donated my points/rewards from both Discover and Capitol One to Japanese tsunami relief. I was able to give $120 without any impact to my budget.

I was just reading today about how the elderly especially were impacted. So sad. Unthinkable, really.

The President's office here at the College had leftovers from a lunch meeting which they put in the break room. I wrapped up a pastrami & Swiss on pumpernickel to take home for dinner (having already had my lunch.) Whoopee! Love free food.

The weather was so nice and warm today that I got out and walked for 50 minutes at lunchtime. That will help work off the pastrami!

Vitamins & Brita

March 16th, 2011 at 10:55 am

I got another Offermatic offer to use on The Natural Store. I needed vitamins, so I ordered a 90-day supply, and I also got some Brita filters. Still hadn't gotten up to $50 so I also ordered two Brita water bottles which I will probably use as gifts. The total, including the $20 paid to Offermatic, was $32.95.

I also contributed $2 to a student fundraiser -- they were selling baked goods, which I can't eat right now because I'm dieting, so I just gave them a little cash.

And my monthly order from Amazon for Align hit the credit card, so that's $18.

Easy to spend without stepping foot in a store!

It's payday!

March 15th, 2011 at 04:04 am

Oops! I published before I added any text! I'm changing that now.

Payday these days means making two online payments -- rent and Discover, and making a transfer into savings. Today I will transfer $350. Hope I can improve on that next month.

Went back to work yesterday and had my shoulder to the wheel all day. I had two profiles to write -- I finished one, but the other will have to be finished up today. Very hard to do these quickly as there is lots of reading to do -- files, online contact reports, stuff on the internet -- before I can start writing. No one at work understands this; I don't know how they think I get the information. Very frustrating.

No spending yesterday, and I expect I can keep it up all week. I have lots of lunches stockpiled in the freezer and the gas tank is reasonably full, so I think I'm good!

Fifteen items

March 13th, 2011 at 10:24 am

Did my grocery shopping. Sure was nice to get out on a sunny day after being cooped up!

1 roll Sparkle paper towels (on sale)
Croutons (on sale)
Keebler oatmeal raisin cookies (on sale)
2 Edy's slow-churned frozen yogurt blends (BOGO)
2 4-packs Activia yogurt (on sale, $1.50 off coupon)
Bag of Snickers treats (on sale)
Bottle of wine (on sale)
2 bags frozen vegetables (on sale)
2 bags cat chow (on sale, $1.00 off coupon)
Iced tea mix (house brand)
Wheat crackers (house brand)

Total price: $53.52
Savings: $10.64
Coupon Savings: $2.50

I didn't need any basics this week, so the list is mostly supplemental items. I neglected to get fresh fruit -- I couldn't decide between cantaloupe and strawberries, and then I forgot to go back. I should be fine, though, I still have clementines and grapes to be eaten.

I made sure that my coupons got scanned AND I got into my apartment without dropping the wine, so I consider it a successful trip!

Finally!

March 13th, 2011 at 06:21 am

Yesterday afternoon I took a nap on the couch and woke up feeling something was missing. It was. My massive headache was gone!

What a difference that makes. I still have an achiness in my head (if that's possible) but that awful pressure is gone. I've turned a corner.

I'm still coughing deeply and I will be for quite a while, I think, but I'm pretty sure I'll be able to go to work tomorrow. I'm planning on grocery shopping today, but nothing more than that.

Being sick is money-saving. I haven't spent anything, nor used any gas. The main thing I've been doing is making good use of my Netflix subscription. I watched all 8 episodes of Bleak House (great!), a movie called Red Road (Scottish dialogue, couldn't understand half of it), and several other things I can't even remember now. And I finished one book (Ten Year Nap -- so-so) and am into another (Someone Else's Daughter -- promising). I've managed to do some laundry, and I even got my new heated mattress pad on the bed, which has been a great comfort.

I did a bit of cooking and I'm slowly getting back to normal. Man, I hate being sick!

Still sick

March 12th, 2011 at 06:14 am

Day three of my illness and I don't feel any better. Actually, it's day four, because I worked the first day I was coming down with it.

If this is a cold, it's not like any cold I've ever had. My head feels like it's going to pop -- all the time. I'm dizzy and woozy and I have violent sneezing and coughing fits. I'm really tired of it, and it's SATURDAY! I don't want to waste a weekend being sick! If I'm not any better by Monday I'm going to have to drag myself to the doctor to prove I'm sick. I'm also thinking about the work that's not getting done. I know I promised a profile on Tuesday, but I hadn't started it when this hit. Even if I get back on Monday that's one day to do it.

But in the light of all the awful things happening -- the earthquake and tsunami, the bus accident, I know that my complaints are petty.

Sick day

March 11th, 2011 at 05:41 am

I'm home with a bad head cold for the second day now. I hate being sick; I feel so powerless.

Yesterday I was supposed to drive into the city for a seminar, so by being sick, at least I saved the gas money -- and I probably would have had to buy a lunch, too.

I also had to turn down a get-together at my son's house up in Skokie. You know I'm sick when I don't go see my kids.

I'm hoping that today I will at least feel good enough to do some cooking. I've got some vegetables that have to be used up; I sure don't want them to go to waste.

Got my statement from the antique booth -- I owed $91 this month -- ouch! Can't wait to do something about that siutation, but it won't be until the end of June.

Looks like I will be able to move $350 into savings on payday. This is on top of $125 that is saved automatically. I'm pleased any time I can inch it up over $300.

Some entertainment spending

March 9th, 2011 at 09:21 am

I usually don't spend a lot on entertainment, but today it all hit at once. My Netflix subscription hit my credit card ($9.99) as well as my year-long subscription to Ancestry.com ($154.40). Yes, I decided not to cancel after the free trial. Several reasons -- there are so many lines in my family to follow, and I am not nearly done yet -- and I want to do this for my grandchildren. Maybe even write up a history and give it as a Christmas gift to my kids' families. Secondly, it is something I can use at work when I'm trying to figure out family legacies and relationships in our alumni base. Of course, the College won't help me pay for it -- I guess you could say that in a way it is my gift to the College.

Anyway, I'm not done yet. I also bought tickets to the upcoming lecture/book talk by Alexander McCall Smith. He is one of my favorites and will be speaking right here where I work. Tickets are $10 and I bought two, one for me and one for my BFF. (She will undoubtedly pay me back).

So, lots of entertainment, coming up!

Free breakfast

March 8th, 2011 at 05:43 am

This is probably my last one. I used a coupon to get free fruit & maple oatmeal at McDonalds. My Dunkin Donuts card is used up, and Starbucks has only .99 left on it -- don't think I can get anything at Starbucks for .99!

I found the money on Sharebuilder that was in my King Pharmaceuticals stock (which was sold to Pfizer). It was sitting in my money market account. Silly me. So I reinvested it, this time buying Bank of America stock. It is only $14.31 a share, a recommended buy, and it is my bank. I know there are some folks here who are not big fans of B of A, but my experience with them has been good.

I checked yesterday to see if I got my rebates on Discover from Offermatic, and they still weren't there. I wonder what their schedule is.

Update: I just got an email saying my Target rebate is ready, so I'll stop worrying.

Still going on the free breakfast

March 7th, 2011 at 05:59 am

Plenty of room left on my Starbucks gift card, so I got an Artisan bacon, egg & gouda sandwich this morning. Only 350 calories and delicious!