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Archive for July, 2012

End of month reckoning

July 31st, 2012 at 12:58 pm

Since I'm not going to spend anything today -- God willin' and the creek don't rise -- I did my monthly recap already.

Rent - 1182
Insurance - 379
Vacation/Travel - 201
Utilities - 168
Groceries - 153
Fees/Services - 57
Gas - 52
Medical/Health - 47
Gifts/Charity - 45
Vet/Pet Supplies - 20
Household Supplies - 19
Personal Care - 14
Entertainment - 8
Eating out - 4
Total - 2350

First of all, HOW 'BOUT THAT EATING OUT! That was one trip to McDonalds.

My rent went up this month, and I had to pay my semi-annual insurance payment. I also renewed my AAA, bought a plane ticket for the wedding trip coming up, and had one big grocery shopping trip to stock on on low-carb food. I paid my water bill twice (missed last month's). My only entertainment was Netflix.

I kept to my $300 challenge, and here is how that part breaks down:

Groceries: 153
Gas: 52
Medical/Health: 26
Vet/Pet: 20
Household Supplies: 19
Gifts: 15
Personal: 14
Eating Out: 4

That comes out to $303, but I did add in two Pine Cone payments of $3. Only the spontaneous gifts counted in this, and the medical is not doctor's fees, but vitamins/supplements and parking.

My challenges for August:

I am planning to eat out with friends at a downtown restaurant. It will be expensive. I also may eat out with a former boss -- we talked about getting together in August, but it hasn't been set yet.

I have a three-day conference starting tomorrow, but I will not count those expenses in my $300 challenge. Nor will I count the wedding trip at the end of the month. However, those are still real expenses, and I will have to keep those costs down to protect my bottom line.

Oh, and I still have to get my oil changed.

Day 29 for me

July 30th, 2012 at 05:12 pm

Like Miss Angel, I am close to the line, but I haven't gone over -- yet.

I actually have $5 left, but $3 of it is a Pine Cone payment. I do include little bits of income into my $300. I figure that inspires me to do those surveys, etc.!

I walked to Dollar General on Sunday and bought dishwasher detergent, dryer sheets and feminine pads. The pads were necessary, and the other two -- I was tired of the frugal solutions. $8.30.

Then, today, I paid my stupid tax. I had an appointment at a hospital outpatient facility. I got turned around in the lot, and drove into a parking garage where I didn't want to be. What happened is this. The drive went ONLY to the garage, when I was just trying to find a place to turn around. Someone was right behind me. So I panicked and pulled up to the entrance, not knowing I had driven past the ticket dispenser. The arm didn't go up, of course, and the person behind me was right on my tail, impatiently waiting. I was waiting for her to pull the heck back, so I could, and I motioned her with a "What can I do?" shrug. She huffily got out of her car and pulled out the ticket (first time I saw it) and she KEPT IT! So I was stuck in the garage without a ticket. I drove around to the exit and tried to explain to the attendant, who barely spoke English. There was no explanation that would pass muster with him. His only answer, "Five dollars." Well, I should have backed up and parked, and walked to my appointment, but THERE WAS SOMEONE BEHIND ME AGAIN! So I paid the $5. Then I had to pay ANOTHER $5 to park in the lot by the outpatient clinic.

That's a way you really hate to spend $5 when you've got practically nothing left.

I was flustered, because I was dreading the appointment. I won't describe the procedure, but my doctor was a uro-gynecologist, so what does that tell you? This was a preliminary test, the actual surgery is now set for September 18. (Which should be easier than the test, since I will be out cold.) Smile

Anyway, just today and tomorrow to get through with $5. I think I can do it. I decided not to go to Culver's on Tuesday night. It would be spending ahead of time, and I'm going to stick to my guns. No spending till I head out for the conference on Wednesday morning.

It was free!

July 27th, 2012 at 02:36 pm

The glass of wine, that is. The boss paid for the first round, and I had one round. Which was quite enough. I walked to the bar and back, and on the walk back I had a little buzz -- on one glass of wine! Not much of a drinker.

So I still have $20.

I should really get an oil change before I travel to Minneapolis, and it would make the most sense to do it on Saturday. But that would mess up my challenge. I could do it Wednesday morning just before I leave, but you never know how much time it will take. Maybe I should make an early Wednesday morning appointment. The drive is only 6-7 hours; I could still get there at a reasonable time.

I looked into parking up there yesterday. Looks like it's $23 for valet parking and $13 to park at a nearby lot. I'm assuming that's per day. Naturally, I'm going to go with the lot, assuming I can find it.

Just did another Pine Cone survey, so I can look forward to another $3. Does anyone ever hear of a winner of the $500 drawing? The statement about it is always there when I finish, but I never hear about a winner.

I finally got my $83 deposit back from the antique dealer. That will go into savings.

I also got a small bill - $21 - for my physical therapy. I don't count doctor bills in my challenge, and I'm going to call that a doctor bill!

Down to $20

July 26th, 2012 at 02:23 pm

Last night I stopped at 7-Eleven and bought 5 lottery tickets. No, I haven't gone bonkers. They are a gift for a co-worker who loves to play the scratch-off games. Another co-worker bought her five as well, so this morning she has ten tickets to savor. She hasn't scratched off any yet -- sweetening the anticipation! It would be so cool if she actually won something!

That puts me down to $20.

I had a hamburger for breakfast. I will probably be having some strange meals this last week as I run out of certain items. But it was good! A hamburger makes a good breakfast! When I got to work, I also had a birthday cupcake and cookie. Just couldn't pass them up. And it made my co-workers who baked them happy.

My aunt and uncle celebrated their 71st wedding anniversary yesterday! My aunt's health is a little rocky, but my uncle is doing great. I posted my congratulations on my uncle's Facebook page -- yes, my 94-year-old uncle has a Facebook page.

Today is "moving day" in the office. There has been a general reorganization, which hasn't affected me, but has affected office space. A couple of offices have been added. I am quite amazed. They look like they have always been there. And it was done so fast! Many people will be relocating today, so we were all instructed to dress casual and be ready to carry boxes. I am not moving, so I guess I will lend a hand where needed, but otherwise put in a normal day. After work will we congregate at the local bar, I guess to celebrate our new beginning. With $20 left and only 5 days to go I'm not too worried, but I do plan to just get a coke. I hope I am not too hungry. But I have a whole chicken breast to eat for lunch, so that should hold me.

Up to $25!

July 25th, 2012 at 01:34 pm

I got my payment from A whopping .78 of profit. But it brought my challenge money up to $25.

More plans for that last bit of money -- I promised to donate $5 toward a birthday gift for a colleague. This is something I want to do.

At tomorrow night's "bar meeting" I'll just get a soft drink, as Laura suggested. Funny I didn't even think about that option!

I still have plenty of food on hand, but my grocery list is growing. I'm particularly challenged by having no eggs. I was going to make salmon patties, but because I had no eggs, the salmon went into the freezer for next month.

I was looking ahead to my trip to Minneapolis, and it looks like a lot of people recommend a stop in Osseo, Wisconsin, at a place called Norske Nook. Apparently the best pie in the world? I don't think I can pass that up, low-carb diet or no! Ceejay, English Castle, have you been there?

Also recommended was breakfast at the Stockholm Inn in Rockford, because of the Swedish pancakes. Can you tell I'm planning to CHEAT! This is my vacation, after all, as well as a work event. I'll try to cheat in moderation. Smile

Still $24 left

July 24th, 2012 at 05:36 pm

I'm honing in my last week, and I have $24 to get me through. On Thursday I have to spend some of that at a bar. (Woe is me!) Seriously, our office is having an unofficial meeting at a bar, and I have to be in attendance. I'll probably get a glass of house wine and the cheapest appetizer and call it dinner. Hopefully it will be well under $24.

On the evening of the 31st, I'm going to treat myself to Culver's. I have a coupon, and that is the last date I can use it. It's a treat I'm really looking forward to. It's my favorite fast food in the world. If I don't have any money left in my challenge, I will take it out of August's.

On August 1 I leave for a 3-day conference. I'll be driving to Minneapolis. Mapquest says I will pay $100 in fuel. I'll see if I can beat that. I've tentatively set a budget for $100 in food. I will get fed for some meals, but I'm also planning to have dinner with my fellow board members one night, and a former boss another night. And I will see friends there, and friends usually want to eat and drink! I'll see how much I can curtail the celebrating. None of this will come out of my $300 challenge, but I still want to keep costs down all round.

Oh, did I say I'm paying my own travel and food expenses? Otherwise I wouldn't even worry.

Metal, anyone?

July 22nd, 2012 at 03:24 pm

This is shaping up to be another lazy day. I'm going to do some laundry, some ironing, and I really have to vacuum, but other than that, I'm fancy free.

There are a lot of people around the city who collect metal for cash. I see their trucks all the time, usually pick-up trucks with built-up sides, carrying a precarious load of old washers, etc. The other day I pulled up behind one and thought I saw an animal among the old appliances. We came to a stop light and I got a closer look. It was a teddy bear, strapped in just like the appliances were. I wonder if he found it on his route, or if it's his good luck charm? It looked like an older Steiff-type bear, so maybe he thought it would be worth something. Anyway, very funny to see the bear staring back through all that metal. Wish I'd had a camera!

I read an article somewhere -- maybe on the Dollar Stretcher -- about a woman who buys cheap metal things at garage sales and cashes them in at the metal recycling center. The idea intrigues me, though I'm not about to start driving one of those trucks! I used to get a little cash for aluminum cans, but I haven't done that for a long time. I used to have a garage to store them in, but I don't have that any more!

Lazy day

July 21st, 2012 at 09:23 pm

The dinner at the Trustee's house was just right. Pulled pork on pretzel rolls, cheese and crackers, salami tray, salad, and mushroom/onion brushcetta. I also had some red wine, and then champagne which was served for a toast in celebration of meeting our fundraising goal. (If only that were really true. We met our PARTICIPATION goal but the money total was sadly low. Oh, well, I digress.)

I had planned to stay for a short time but ended up staying until 8:30 and was part of the last group leaving. Had some good conversations! Some of it touched on the frugal and not-so-frugal. My new boss mentioned how her mother scolded her for having a section of her closet with brand-new clothing, tags still on. Really? She said her sisters regularly update their couches and their cars, so I guess it is in the blood. Or in the upbringing! I'm always struck when I'm in a social group that NOBODY is like me, even if they complain about being poor. How can it be so odd to live within your means? And be happy about it?

Today I have not been out of the house once -- though I will take a walk later if it cools down enough. I cooked some salmon for lunch. I am now sure. I do not like salmon. I keep trying it, and I keep not liking it. I'm going to make patties out of what is left over and season them enough so that I don't taste the salmon.

I also stripped the rotisserie chicken to make salad and I'm simmering the carcass in a pan of water to make broth.

I ran the dishwasher and I'm still not out of the liquid. I think I can run it one more time after this. THEN I'll be hand-washing. When I did laundry I used the last dryer sheet, so I'll have to use liquid fabric softener for the rest of the month -- which is fine, I like it, but I usually don't catch the cycle in time. I'll have to set a timer. Maybe if I can force myself into a routine I won't have to use dryer sheets.

On Thursday night I returned my DVD's to the library and got two more -- Gran Torino and the Love Guru. How's that for opposites? I also checked out another book by the Icelandic mystery writer Arnaldur Indridason (yes I had to go look at the book). I like his work. Interesting characters, interesting mysteries, and a nice, gloomy Nordic atmosphere. I need to be reading it in winter in front of a roaring fire, but we can't have everything!

Spent 50c

July 20th, 2012 at 07:33 pm

At noon today I decided to get out and walk since the weather is pretty nice for a change, and I haven't been getting the exercise I should. On my walk I ran into a garage sale. I looked everything over pretty carefully but the only thing worth buying was a very nice cake spatula with a wooden handle for 50c. A spatula has actually been on my mental list of things to buy, so I am very happy with this purchase.

This evening after work our whole office is going to an open house at the home of one of our Trustees. Actually, it is the Trustee for whom I've done some dog-sitting. I know it will be a nice spread, and I'm planning on making that my supper, even though it won't be all low-carb. I'll just be sure to get SOME protein and won't go overboard on the carbs.

I paid my water bill this morning, online, via my landlord's website. Because I was late on last month's, that will be two water bills this month. But bills don't come out of my $300, so that's okay. I was wondering how it was going to work, paying my landlord directly, but it was easy -- the bill came to my email and I logged on to the site where I usually pay my rent -- the bill was there. So now I don't have to worry about missing it again.

Down to $25

July 19th, 2012 at 06:36 pm

I spent $20 on gas and $8 on lunch today. My gas gauge was showing almost empty when I drove to work, so I decided to go take care of it at noon. The $20 only took it up a little over half-full, but that should serve for the rest of the month.

I didn't pack a lunch today because I had nothing cooked and ready at home. I took out sausage and chicken to thaw last night, but I can't really cook raw food at work. I was going to just pick up some drumsticks at the grocery, but decided the whole rotisserie chicken would be a better deal. I ate the legs and wings and some of the breast. There is still plenty of meat to use in other dishes.

But it's a little daunting to be down to $25. And I still have 12 days left. That's about $2 a day!

I spotted another good condo online, so I may have to make another trip up to Evanston. My realtor is seeing whether I can get in tomorrow. He's going on vacation next week, so I just have to stop looking and tempting myself for a while!

Oh, and I forgot to say that saved myself $182 today! I cancelled my room reservations for the Florida wedding trip, because I found I could stay with my son's family at a condo they are borrowing from a friend for the weekend. I hate to invade their privacy, but $182 is $182!

The lease

July 18th, 2012 at 03:25 pm

Since I am now not even close to getting into a condo, I had to close the deal on my lease. I went to the office and paid my new rent. In the end, I decided not to go month-to-month, as I don't know when I'll find a place and the extra rent would add up quickly. I'll have to pay a penalty to break the lease, but who knows? I might not even find a place till next summer, when it's time to sign the lease again. (Though I hope it will not be that long. I'm ready to make the move.)

Still haven't spent any money, so I am still at $52!

Last Night's Condo

July 17th, 2012 at 05:37 pm

I had such high hopes for the condo I looked at last night. Good neighborhood, first floor, updated kitchen and bath ... One closet. Make that one weird closet that didn't even seem to be designed for clothing. Small, shallow, short and full of odd drawers that were too shallow to store anything. Uh, no. Also the kitchen was tiny and the bathroom didn't have much water pressure. I will keep looking, but I'm getting discouraged. Nevertheless, I have plenty of time.

After the showing, I went out for pizza with my son's family. Since I had no cash at all on me, they picked up the tab. At least it was 1/2 price pizza.

It was a bad day for low-carb eating, which is to say, low-carb eating didn't happen. I had a cupcake, a brownie, and half a bagel besides the pizza. I'm back on the wagon today. This is a journey, not a sprint. Or whatever that saying is!

I promised to give a co-worker $20 for a raffle ticket -- it's a cause I have supported in years past and I didn't want to say no. She said she doesn't need the money till August, so that's when she will get it. It will come out of my next $300.

Who knows, maybe I will win? All the prizes are cash.

I met with my new boss today and suddenly I have a buttload of work to do. Isn't that how it always goes?

Down to $52

July 16th, 2012 at 01:20 pm

After the haircut, I'm down to $52.

I'm making a trip up to Evanston this evening to look at a condo, so a gas purchase is fast approaching. Maybe not tonight, but soon.

I'm leaving right after work, so food might be a problem too. I do have some in the fridge here at work, so if I just remember to eat something before I leave, I'll probably be okay.

Yesterday was another relaxing day. I made some spaghetti sauce -- lots of meat and a little tomato! For my big meal of the day I had whole-grain capellini with the sauce, a cup of cheese soup and a side of creamed spinach. My brunch was Eggs Florentine -- eggs cook on top of spinach and sprinkled with cheese. Both meals were delicious.

My dinner revealed the dark side of low-carb eating, however. Two hot dogs without the bun, and low-carb ice cream!

This morning my co-worker brought in brownies. I had a small one, with a side of strawberries and a stick of cheese. Oh well. Maybe these little cheats will keep me on it for the long term.

Haircut -- check!

July 14th, 2012 at 06:38 pm

Got my $2.99 haircut today (though with tip it was $5.99 -- I would not short the stylist!)

Great Clips distributed a coupon for a $2.99 haircut, but for new customers only. My plan was to present the coupon, and if I was challenged, practice my acting skills by saying, "Oh really -- I didn't see that! I think I'll wait till payday, then!"

Turned out, they were giving $2.99 haircuts to everyone. Must have got some flak from regular customers.

After my cut I went to the library and checked out a book and two DVDs (no Flambards!) Then I came home and made some cheese soup to use up the last of frozen milk.

I just went through my inbox and did a couple of MyPoints non-surveys (I always HOPE not to be selected -- I'd rather get 10 points for a little time than 50 points for a lot of time!) I answered a letter from a friends, and signed up for Saving Star -- a coupon program where the coupons are loaded onto your customer card. Since my regular grocer was a participant I decided to give it a try. There were only two coupons I wanted, so it might take a while to get the rewards!

This day has made me muse about my simple life and how much I like it that way. When I was younger I wanted more, more, more! Not just stuff, but excitement, experiences and fun. Now I just like to putz around. Getting a cheap haircut, finding free entertainment, and making a meal out of a leftover is all the excitement I want!

I plan to stretch out on the couch now and start reading! Happy Saturday, everyone!

Water bill

July 13th, 2012 at 02:52 pm

I mentioned in a previous post that the water company did not withdraw my water bill from my account last month. I meant to follow up, but forgot. Yesterday, I had a note on my door from the property agents. Apparently, I am supposed to pay them for water directly now, though I don't remember ever getting notice of it. But I get so much junk mail, who knows?

I made my "late payment" online this morning -- $28.

When I finally buy a condo, I won't be paying for water any more. That will be nice. It's unusual to have to do it in an apartment, but I think it's because all the units have washers.

Speaking of condos, I prodded my realtor this morning about getting in to see the newest prospect. He said the listing agent had not responded. I hope that doesn't mean it's off the market.

I am still at $58 for the month. (I added in the $3 payment from Pine Cone). I have a couple of Jewel coupons for cheese and bagged salad that will expire this month. I'm deliberating on whether to use them. I think I could actually get through the rest of the month without buying more food; the freezer is still quite full. On the other hand, I know I will have to buy more gas, and I need to get that haircut before I go the conference at the end of month.

I sold another book on I only made .39 on the last one because it was a heavy book, and the postage was more than the allowance. This one is big, too. I think maybe I'm going to stop listing books unless they are selling for higher prices.

The wedding trip and Groupon

July 12th, 2012 at 01:15 pm

Yesterday I started making plans for the wedding I will attend in Florida on September 1. I had a $500 figure in my mind for the trip; however, I think I'm going to have to raise that figure.

I booked a room at a hotel for two nights -- $182.30. This was after finding one with a special going; it could have been much more.

I found a flight for $201.20. It is Delta, so I will also be charged for bags, unless I figure out how to pack tightly enough for a carry-on bag. I will be arriving at an airport about an hour south of the location. I also have to fly out of Midway, which is less convenient for me -- but fares out of O'Hare for this particular trip were higher.

The car rental will be $81.92.

Altogether I've already spent $465.42, and I still have to figure in the cost of getting to the airport, and food. So I think setting a goal of under $600 is more feasible.

I haven't bought the wedding gift yet, but I will do that on Amazon with my gift credits.

I already have the outfit to wear -- same one I wore to my nephew's wedding, but this is mostly a different crowd. Anyway, I don't think anyone will be watching me. Smile

I sold another book on I also updated my extra income spreadsheet, but it's at home and I'm at work, so I'll have to update the sidebar later.

I got an email notice about the Groupon class action suit. I have two expired groupons for the period in question, so I am going to send in my claim. Anybody else doing this? In both cases I didn't use the Groupon because I got sick. I don't know how much I'll get back, if anything, but it's worth a try.

Money coming in, not out

July 11th, 2012 at 12:48 pm

Yesterday I cashed in Swagbucks for a $5 Amazon credit, did a Pinecone survey which will soon bring $3 and sold a book on (Only .75, but I always make a little money on the postage allowance.) So basically it was a little money in, no money out.

I also sent a reminder and a SASE to the antiques business asking for my deposit back. I closed down at the end of May -- way more than enough time to cut the check. I'm glad I'm not dealing with them any more.

I didn't get to see the condo last night -- my realtor was stuck in a closing -- but he is working on a time when I can get in. This is in the same building as the one I saw last weekend, but it's on the first floor. Looks like it's had a lot of updates, including a granite counter top and new kitchen appliances! And still cheaper than the other! The real test for me is what the bathroom looks like.

I got a coupon in the mail for a $2.99 haircut at Great Clips. The catch is, it's the one I frequent, and the coupon says "for new customers." Dang! I might just try it anyway.

Quick update

July 10th, 2012 at 02:26 pm

I'm going to a meeting, so this will be a quick update.

I spent $9 on cat food yesterday so I'm down to $55.

My DS1and DIL finally came over for her birthday dinner last night. I made an impromptu meal without going to the grocery: sauteed chicken breasts, mashed potatoes with sour cream and garlic, green beans and bacon bits, squash/carrot soup, celery and dip, coconut brownies. Everything turned out well. I gave her her gifts: two photo albums to fill, a picture frame, a book by one of her favorite authors, a ceramic planter, and a Santa with sleigh and reindeer for her Christmas village. Then I gave her three small bags of very gently used baby clothes - actually I think most of them were new -- one for a boy, one for a girl, and one for either. Though we decided that most of the boy clothes would be fine for a girl. The girl clothes -- way too pink and frilly for a boy! She seemed really pleased.

Then we played a couple of rounds of cards and they headed home.

In other news, the seller of the first condo, the one who has given me so much trouble, has accepted another offer. I'm relieved to be totally off the hook, and I'm very excited about the two new possibilities! I may get in to see one tonight.

Gott go!

My Sunday

July 9th, 2012 at 01:45 pm

I went up to see the kids and grandkids on Sunday. We went to an ice cream shop and Barnes & Noble. At the ice cream shop I got a free sundae. It was a promotional deal that my DIL had on her iPhone. I was the only one who could use it, however, because I was the only one who wanted a sundae with only one topping -- strawberries! It was a child-size sundae, but just right for me. Yes, it was a cheat on my low-carb diet, but a delicious one!

At Barnes & Noble I spent $30 on birthday gifts, a book and a game. I've learned not to pass up good gifts when I see them -- getting stuck at the last minute is a definite budget-buster. I am not taking these out of my $300 challenge because birthday gifts are planned, not incidental.

So I still have $64.

I did waste a lot of gas -- my son and I did some driving around looking for open houses and a comic book store for him. Then I made TWO wrong turns coming home. You'd think I'd know the way by now! The truth is, there are so many different routes, and I'm always looking for a better one, but it usually backfires.

I looked at a really nice condo yesterday. It is priced higher than I should pay, but I will ask my realtor if he thinks it is worth it to put in a low offer. It's in a vintage building in a lovely neighborhood, has an updated bathroom (whoo-hoo!) and ample closets, great wood floors, nice layout. The kitchen is fine, the bedroom small but fine, and once again a very nice dining room. Obviously the dining room was a very important room back in the 20's when all these vintage buildings were built! I like it. I've always lamented the disappearance of the dining room in newer housing.

I know things are slow....

July 7th, 2012 at 02:14 pm

when I am one of the most active bloggers!

Where is everybody? On vacation? I hope we haven't lost people.

With my available funds so low this month, I started a list of necessities that will probably come up. I have two things on the list so far: cat food and dishwasher detergent. Then I thought, no, dishwasher detergent isn't a necessity. I have plenty of dishwashing liquid and could easily wash dishes by hand when I run out of detergent. I'm actually doing this quite a bit already because I'm using pots and pans so much more with this low-carb eating plan. My pots and pans do not clean up well in the dishwasher.

There is no way around the cat food. I can make it last longer, though, by mixing it with the cheap food I had on hand for the feral cats. All the the cats I used to feed have disappeared. I'm not going to dwell on what happened to them, but I'm not putting food out any more and I have more than half of a big bag left. I can't use it exclusively for my cats, because one has a sensitive stomach and he throws up cheap food. I think he'll be okay with a mixture, though.

A haircut is a maybe. It's time, but I think I can trim my bangs and squeak out a few more weeks.

I am close to 450 on Swagbucks, but I won't count the Amazon $5 as income. I'll be using Amazon bucks for gifts this year. I not only have the usual birthdays and Christmas, but a wedding as well this year.

I will probably have to fill the tank again this month, too, but I'll try to limit my driving. When this heat wave breaks (if it ever does) I can start walking to work again.

I've had a special challenge at work. I am a veteran brown-bagger; I've brought my lunch almost every day for years. But they are remodeling the break room, so, while there is access to the refrigerator, there is no access to the microwave or toaster oven. Also, until Friday afternoon, the fridge was full of food that had to be thrown out due to the power outage. So it was not really usable yet. I went home for lunch two days this week. Low-carbing it makes bag lunches a little more challenging, even more so when the food can't be refrigerated or warmed up.

Now that I think about it, I CAN use the microwave on the main floor, so that is probably what I'll do next week.

See, that's what's so good about posting here! Just talking about it makes me think of solutions!

The $300 challenge

July 6th, 2012 at 03:44 pm

Today three automatic payments hit -- Nicor (gas) - $17, AAA - $57, and Netflix $8.

None of these come out of my $300 challenge.

A few days ago my semi-annual insurance payment was withdrawn -- $379.

I also gave $10 to a fund for a bereaved co-worker. I am on the fence as to whether this "counts." In the past couple months I've included small gifts in the $300 challenge, but I wouldn't count, say, a $100 wedding present. I suppose that is inconsistent. But my logic is, a large gift would be a planned-for expense while the small gifts are incidental.

So, counting the $10, I have $64 for the rest of the month. Yikes!

It does look like one of my planned dinners out won't materialize until August. That will help.

I also think my groceries will last pretty well for the month. After a week, the freezer is still packed. So, while success looks bleak at this point, I MIGHT just make it!

Back to Work

July 5th, 2012 at 03:03 pm

Finally, things are up and running around here, though an unlucky 1,500 homes are still without power in the Western suburbs. I'm back at work, but kind of at loose ends because I have to wait for others to catch up on their jobs before I can do mine.

So I did my June recap:

Rent: 1132
Medical/Health: 321
Vacation/Travel: 303
Fees/Services: 144
Groceries: 117
Utilities: 100
Eating Out: 41
Gas: 39
Clothing: 20
Gifts/Charity: 14
Vet/Pet Supplies: 13
Entertainment: 8
Personal: 3

Grand Total: 2268

Medical was two doctor's appointments and some vitamins/supplements.

Travel was mostly my trip to the workshop. May be reimbursed.

Utilities were low because I didn't pay a water bill. It is an automatic payment so I don't know what's up with that.

The fees included vacuum repair, workshop fees and an I-Pass.

The clothing expense was actually the cost of alterations.

Everything else is self-explanatory.

Not Much to Report

July 4th, 2012 at 04:07 pm

I'm off work again, of course, because it's July 4. The family has nothing planned -- or nothing I know about, anyway. It's really too hot for a picnic, or anything outdoorsy. I really wish that more communities were cancelling their fireworks. It is way too dry. It's dangerous.

I went out twice yesterday -- once to go to physical therapy, only to find out I wasn't scheduled, and then at 2:00 for the appointment I made.

No spending.

I got an email from my realtor, but it's still a case of nothing happening. I won't withdraw my offer, but I'm going to start looking in earnest again once the heat wave breaks and everybody has power again.

Day Two Off Work

July 3rd, 2012 at 02:27 pm

Still no power at work, so I'm off today again. The funny thing is, there is so much to do at work I wish I were there! We closed the fiscal year last week, but still have many gifts to process and get on the books. Many gifts came in via the website, and those are just sitting. It's frustrating.

But I will enjoy my leisure time.

I had a great low-carb breakfast this morning. Scrambled eggs and mushrooms, bacon, strawberries with cream and coffee. I miss the flour and sugar a little, but I feel so much better, it's worth the sacrifice.

Yesterday I filled a precription. Though it came from my flexible spending account, I will still count it in the $300 challenge. That put me down to $71. I earned $3 from Pinecone, so I think I'll add that to my total; so I have $74.

I'm supposed to go out with my supper group this month, and I'm also supposed to meet my old boss for dinner. I should also get a haircut, though I can probably trim my bangs myself and otherwise be a little shaggy.

And I still haven't scheduled my DIL's birthday dinner.

Condo update: my realtor said the seller is out of the hospital, but medicated. No action there.

Power outage

July 2nd, 2012 at 05:05 pm

In my last post, I expressed gratitude that I hadn't lost power. About an hour later, I did! A fast-moving thunderstorm swept through the area and tore down trees and power lines.

It was really annoying since I had just packed the freezer and fridge with much more expensive food that I usually buy, and I was afraid I was going to lose it all.

I did not touch the fridge or freezer, knowing any opening of the door would hasten the loss of refrigeration. At about 4:30, I went to McDonalds, which seemed to be an oasis of power (do they have a generator?). I ordered two double cheeseburgers and threw away one bun and sat in the coolness for a while. I went back home and read and did puzzles till the light failed, when I went to bed.

At about 8:00 pm the power came back on. I think I am okay with the food. I am sure the freezer food is okay. I may be pressing my luck with the fridge food, but today I ate strawberries, salad, ham, cheese and dressing that were in the fridge, and I am feeling no ill effects. I think the fact that I didn't open the door and that the fridge wasn't overfilled helped.

I went to work and the power was still out there. After about two hours they sent us home, since there is nothing much we can do without computers. Most people I talked to are still without power, so I was one of the lucky ones. If they don't get the power going tomorrow, we are off work tomorrow, too. And, of course, we are off the fourth.

Only $80 left for the month. Daunting. The funny thing is, when the money gets low, I get just as nervous as if I really don't have the money! I guess I have really got myself into the mindset.

Whoa! Low-carb is expensive!

July 1st, 2012 at 03:40 pm

As a matter of discipline, I did not shop until this morning, when it is actually the first of the month. My $300 has already been sorely compromised by my plan to go low-carb. (In a previous post, I talked about the book "Why We Get Fat," and my decision to go low-carb.) I spent $185 at the grocery. Now some of that is household goods and pet supplies -- I haven't split it out yet -- but even so that's a lot more than I've spent on food in a long time.

I was stocking up, and I grabbed everything that was meat and on sale. I also bought some low-carb ice cream, whole grain pasta and fresh low-carb veggies. I know I will have to do some filling in this month, but this should be the bulk of my shopping. It will have to be.

I'm going to have to learn how to do this more cheaply.

I also filled up the tank. Gas is only $3.49 a gallon, that will help the bottom line. I paid $35.

Yesterday I stayed home except for a short time I spent at a visitation. One of my co-workers lost her adult son -- so sad; it was just heartbreaking.

Otherwise, I spent the day cooking. I made two low-carb casseroles and carrot soup, which is not low-carb, but I had to use up the carrots. I'll eat it in small amounts. I watched a number of episodes of Grey's Anatomy on Netflix, read, and worked crossword puzzles. It was a scorching day, so no temptation to go outside.

No word on the condo; I'm just not thinking about it. This weather is making me uninterested in moving, anyway. Actually, I feel pretty lucky that I'm in air-conditioned comfort, with so much of the country out of power. I hope all of you are safe and cool today!