So I did my spending totals, with the expectation that I will not spend any money today.
I spent $3400 this month, and this is how it breaks down.
Medical/Health: $1127. The big factor here was paying the out-of-pocket cost for my surgery and the subsequent ER visit.
Housing: $989. Double payment on mortgage, assessment fee -- and still less than my former rent!
Clothing: $331. Bought a winter coat and two pairs of short boots, as well as a few Goodwill bargains.
Groceries: $140. I can do better. Just need to get my act together.
Gifts: $114. Not bad for the month before Christmas.
Furniture/Equipment: $112. Folding chairs and sweater dryers.
Fares: $105. Monthly train pass. I get a $30 discount from my employer.
Utilities: $96. Yay! This even counts cable & internet!
Eating Out: $96. Boo! Too high.
Vacation/Travel: $61. Cheap Thanksgiving trip.
Phone: $55. Prepaid. Every time it runs low, I get charged $55. My monthly average is around $35.
Household Supplies: $42.
Entertainment: $30 (2 movies & Netflix)
Personal: $18 (mostly for haircut)
Laundry: $15 (did a couple of loads for free over Thanksgiving)
So... Spending overall was a little high, but mostly driven by those high medical bills. I would really like to keep it below $2500, however.
Archive for November, 2012
So I did my spending totals, with the expectation that I will not spend any money today.
Yesterday I gave $2 toward the Powerball pool at work -- looks like we won $1 to split among 10 people!
I met a friend for dinner, and I treated, since she had treated last time. We both got hamburger plates, but it was a fairly upscale place, so the bill was $25. She paid the tip. I will say it was a huge hamburger with lots of homemade fries, so I left feeling quite full for my money.
I got home around 8, and I was so tired I went to bed pretty shortly afterward -- not before checking the vestibule to find that one of my Amazon orders arrived. This is something I like about my new place -- packages are left in the vestibule and I don't have to run down someone in a central office to get my packages. I suppose there is some risk, but I enjoy the convenience.
So I went to bed, woke up this morning after what seemed like a few minutes to walk to the station again. My life is all walk, train, work, train, walk, sleep. Not complaining! This is what I have to do for two more years and then I can take it easy.
I noticed today I was using as a bookmark a $10-off- $30-purchase coupon at Kohl's. That's a pretty good savings, especially if I find something on sale, so I will try to shop there this weekend for a Christmas gift. I also have a coupon for Carter's, and I need to take my Bed, Bath & Beyond coupon in for a refund. I believe I can do it all in the same shopping center -- and pick up groceries, too.
Once again, I made it past Corner Bakery this morning without buying anything. I had a trail mix bar in my bag and I ate it on the train. Later on I will make some oatmeal, and then I have my Hot Pocket for lunch. It would be so easy to spend more eating out, but I am trying to save my money for special times with friends. To my mind, that is when eating out really counts, even if you spend a little more!
Yesterday I bought lunch at the cafeteria -- I had string cheese and raw vegetables to eat, but I just didn't want them. I ordered a meal that was posted as $3.99, and I thought that two sides came with the entree. But at checkout I was charged $5.99. I'll have to look more closely. The meal was a strange one -- baked pasta, chipotle potatoes and grilled vegetables. Huge portions. I ate the pasta and took the sides home, where I used them in an egg casserole. I didn't have milk or cream or cheese for the casserole, so I substituted blue cheese dressing, and it was pretty good! And it puffed up and browned so prettily. I will get two more meals from the casserole, by wrapping the leftovers in tortillas.
In order to combat my cravings for hot food at lunchtime, I stopped at Walgreen's on the way home and bought two boxes of Hot Pockets($5)which I brought to work today. Also earned 1,000 points -- not sure what I can use them for, but I'll find out. Anybody use Walgreen's points?
Once home, I did a load of laundry ($1.50). I spent a chunk of the evening pulverizing my homemade dishwashing powder, which had solidified into a solid mass. I decided that storing it in a jar would be better than in the plastic tub, but first I had to make it powdery again. That took some work with a hammer and a rolling pin. Luckily, I don't think I lost too much down the sink!
This morning I wanted to stop at Corner Bakery in the station so bad, but I resisted. When I got to work, there was apple strudel in the break room, so my discipline was rewarded!
Tonight I'm going out to dinner with a friend at a mid-priced restaurant. Not sure what I'm going to have but I'm thinking soup and grilled cheese would hit the spot and might not be too expensive.
My Verizon bill hit - $54. (prepaid phone) Lately it's been averaging $35 a month, which is good.
Today is my son's birthday, but we will celebrate on Sunday with a dinner at my house. He has yet to turn in his menu request.
Oh, and I did some Christmas shopping on Amazon -- mostly toys for the grandchildren -- and have not yet spent a cent, thanks to MyPoints and Discover rewards. I think I am getting close to using them up, however.
One of my tasks this weekend is to pull out all my stashed gifts and make a plan for who gets what, and what I still need to buy. I can't believe how suddenly Christmas has come upon us! Like it does every year!
Yesterday was a no-spend day, as was Sunday. I sent a $10 check today to someone who is buying a gift for the outgoing President of a board upon which I serve. I also promised to donate $50 to the local hospital which is trying to pay off its construction costs. Long story, but the hospital, which is a non-profit, started an ambitious building campaign before the recession and got caught. I'm glad to help out in a small way; it is a great hospital, and I've been treated very well there.
I noticed yesterday that my mortgage check was not credited, so I called the credit union. It turned out that I had written different amounts on the check -- in one place I wrote $650, but on the line where you write it out, I wrote "Six hundred and 50/100." Oops. So I had them transfer the mortgage from my savings account rather than write a new check. I think I may continue to do that, and just write one check every month to go into the savings account. (I do not have a checking account at the CU -- the idea was to have inaccessible savings -- but I may rethink that, now that my mortgage is there).
I am continuing to leave about $3000 in checking because I will soon be paying the annual property tax.
I have to decide soon whether I will continue to keep my parking space at home. It is in an alley and quite near my back door, which is convenient. However, I am enjoying the benefit of free parking right now because the previous owner paid through the year. In January, I will have to start paying $60 a month. If I park on the street, I will have to buy a $100 parking pass, but it will be good for the year. There is usually parking on my block, and I am not using the car a lot, so it seems that giving up the parking space is the thing to do. The only thing I dread is that I will have to keep moving the car during snowplowing season. But heck, for $60 a month I can do that, can't I?
At least I don't have to pay to park at work any more, though I am paying $105 a month for the commute on the train! Which is so much more reasonable than gas -- I am not complaining.
I did a Pine Cone survey for $3 and found .03 today. A nice symmetry!
I love Thanksgiving break. It is always a real change in my routine -- I drive to Michigan, see family I haven't seen in a year, get well fed, play lots of games and laugh, laugh, laugh. I've decided that Thanksgiving is my real New Year's because I always come back home recharged and refreshed and ready to make improvements in my life.
It was especially poignant this year. Just before I left, I ranted a little about my sister cutting herself off and not joining us this year. Well, guess what? My sister-in-law reached out and gave my sister her credit card miles so she could come -- they kept it as a surprise, so it was quite amazing to walk into my brother's house and see my sister at the table! It made me realize that despite our differences, having my sister there makes the holiday.
I spent most of my time at my nephew's house, because he had the space. He lives in the country in a big lovely house on a dirt road with few neighbors. His daughter raises chickens in the back yard. They used to have a pony and a goat, but they were sold to other families this year (too much trouble, I imagine). But they just added a Great Pyrenees puppy to their family. Anyway, it was very, very rural and quiet. It was weird to be told I didn't have to lock my car. Even weirder that the guest house I slept in was unlocked and that I might expect neighbors to come into the lower level to buy organic meat from the freezer below -- where they simply left money for their purchase with a note of what they had taken.
Today it's back to city life, where I wouldn't dream of not locking the door. Memories of the windswept fields kept whirling in my head as I walked to the station this morning between the high rises, stepping over beer cans and cigarette butts. Don't get me wrong, I love city life. It's just so different; it's like two different worlds.
But on to financial things ... I had a pretty low-spend vacation. $4 on road food, $18 for a movie and treats which I shared (the movie was Rise of the Guardians), $39 for gas. I also visited their Goodwill and bought 3 pairs of pants for myself and 3 sweaters for my sister for $22.
Oh, and before I left, I DID get my intercom fixed -- the bill is yet to come.
I stopped at Walgreen's last night and transferred my one prescription, thus earning a $25 Walgreen's gift card. I will use it for Christmas somehow, whether as a straight gift, or to buy gifts with it. I have some family members who would welcome very practical things.
Spent my usual $5 on the prescription,thus emptying my flexible spending account.
This morning I bought my train pass for December -- $105. Later, when my business office opens, I'll go get my $30 voucher for next month.
The repairman who was coming to fix my intercom was running late yesterday, and had not yet come at 10:30 when my niece had to leave. So I rescheduled him for Wednesday morning, when I will be home, getting ready for my trip. I hope it will not take a long time, as I want to get on the road. On the other hand, I have lots to do -- packing, baking a pie, laundry -- so I won't get on the road TOO early in any event.
I have been trying to reach my sister about Thanksgiving, even though it is pretty clear she is not joining us. Her internet access is gone (this happens regularly) so I called and left a message on her cell phone. She never listens to her cell phone messages -- doesn't know what her password is. Are you starting to see the problem here? Oh, and she rarely answers her cell phone either. (And she often loses that account, too). So she is pretty much impossible to reach, when she doesn't want to be reached, and she usually doesn't. Well, this morning, while I was on the train, I get a call, and it's from her! I answered, but the train was noisy and I couldn't hear. Then it went dead. When I got to the station, I called back. It rang three times and then it stopped, like she had turned off the phone. I think the first call was probably an accident. C'est la vie. She has cut herself off before, and I've learned I can't do anything about it. It usually means grave money trouble, and I can't do anything about that either.
At least I will see my brother this Thanksgiving, and quite a few of my nieces and nephews. One of my sons and his family is coming, too, if some health issues are resolved. So it will be a happy Thanksgiving, if also a little bittersweet.
I had a really busy weekend, starting with my grandson's birthday dinner on Friday night at Bonefish Grill. I chipped in $20 for that.
On Saturday morning I spent $2 on laundry, then went to Bed, Bath & Beyond and bought two folding chairs and three sweater dryers. Now I can seat 6 at my table. The chairs were $40 apiece but sturdy and good-looking, not the card-table variety. The sweater dryers were $10 apiece. I bought three because I had three sweaters laid out on my kitchen table. These dryers stack so I can dry 3 sweaters at once with air flow underneath.
I also spent $15 on a bag of pistachios to take to my brother's for the Thanksgiving card games. (I will also take a pie for the dinner, provided it turns out well).
At the grocery store I spent $34 on food for myself, and $20 on frozen pizzas for my son, the new papa. I also bought a bag of cat food for $5, and a box of pantiliners for $3. This is something of an milestone -- I can wear very light pantiliners after my surgery -- no more pads. Freedom!
Then I stopped at Carter's and bought a dress and a sleeper for my new granddaughter -- $25 for both.
And you might have figured out that I spent the evening at my son's house, holding the baby.
On Sunday I was invited to both a brunch and an afternoon open house. The open house was an hour away, but close to my old hairdresser's, so I stopped and got a cut for $15. On the way home, I also stopped at my old Goodwill, where I bought three Christmas figurines -- one for my own Santa collection, and the other two to use as gifts. I also found a shirt for my brother-in-law and a top for me. Spent $12 all together.
This morning I'm having my intercom fixed -- I am not able to buzz people in the front door. They already fixed the front door part, but apparently my intercom is also faulty. My niece offered to let the repairman in, so I could go to work. I'm really enjoying the benefit of having family close by! I don't know how much that will cost -- I just hope it's fixable, as it's quite annoying to have to go downstairs to let people in!
I tried to transfer a prescription to Walgreen's online today, but it didn't work. I will have to do it personally. I hope I still get the $25 gift card! The Walgreen's is right on the way home, so it will be more convenient anyway.
Can't believe Thanksgiving is almost here! I'm ready for a break! I'm taking Wednesday off, since the drive out of Chicago is a nightmare on Wednesday night. The earlier I can get on the road the better! Safe travels to all of you who are also on the road this week!
Oops -- forget to say that I also bought gas for $3.49 a gallon -- very cheap for this area -- $19 in total.
Last night I went to visit my new granddaughter and to help out if I could. I did some dishes and prepared a vegetable tray, but there was not much that needed to be done otherwise. I got to hold her for a while and give her her bottle. About 8:30 I left to give them their private time.
When I got home, I wrapped presents for my grandson. His birthday was on the 14th, and I was in on the tail end of the "kid" party and cake & candles, but tonight is the official family gathering, so it is tonight I am giving my presents. It took me a while to find and wrap them, but I got to bed fairly early. Only to lie awake for hours. I finally took a painkiller, which helped, but I don't think I got much sleep at all before the alarm went off at 5. I would have skipped work today, except that I have an important meeting. I'm sure not going to be in tip-top shape for it.
I bought breakfast at the train station this morning - $6 for a caramel latte and a pumpkin muffin. I felt that this was going to be such a hard day, I needed a boost. I have to say they were delicious and made my morning feel much better.
Tonight I will be eating out again, as the birthday party is at a restaurant. I will bear in mind that I've already had my treat, and order accordingly. And try not to fall asleep at the table.
All I can say is TGIF!!
I just added $10,000 to my emergency fund. It was money originally intended for the down payment, but it's been sitting in checking, since I made a smaller down payment than planned. I may yet move it to my mortgage, but I'm undecided. I like having a healthy emergency fund, and I may soon need to buy a car. My 2001 Toyota is doing great, but it has 126,000 miles on it, and it won't last forever. I would like to pay cash and not have a car payment hanging over me in retirement. (Managing the insurance will be bad enough!) At least in the savings account it will draw a little interest.
I made a double mortgage payment today (it's payday) and paid off my credit cards.
I also paid a hospital bill of $822. I hope that will be the biggest chunk and no more big bills will trickle in.
Planning to see my granddaughter again tonight! I offered to bring dinner -- just waiting for my son to text me about what they want. Last night was my grandson's birthday, so I had to devote my few evening hours to him. Funny, the two cousins have a birthday one day apart!
Maybe at noon today I can sneak out and buy a little dress! Buying little dresses is going to be a real treat, since I raised two boys myself.
It seems that another girls' weekend in Chicago is shaping up. One of my friends recently moved to Hyde Park, and she wants us to bunk there. Then we will go downtown and have tea at the Drake and, maybe, dinner at Joe's Seafood. (No, not Joe's Crab Shack -- a whole different experience!) So I need to be saving my money for that. Then of course there is Christmas, and soon after, property taxes to pay and income tax. So I'm glad I have a nice cushion!
My first granddaughter and third grandchild arrived safely yesterday evening. She is beautiful, and all is well. She was named after my aunt, who recently passed away, so that was a nice surprise.
I was able to be there for the delivery (not in the room, of course) and got a chance to hold her. I tell you, holding these precious little beings in your arms makes all your so-called problems and annoyances drop away. You can only feel grateful and humbled for such a gift.
Since I had a doctor's appointment yesterday, I drove to work. And since I was in the area where gas is cheaper, I filled up. $20. I also did a load of laundry last night - $1.50.
It's turned cold and bitter all of a sudden. There was light snow on the ground this morning! It was a cold walk to the station, and it reminded me that I need to find some warm mittens. The gloves I have are fine for cool weather, but not for COLD weather.
I opened my bedroom and bathroom radiators last night before I went to bed, but they didn't produce heat in the night. I know they are working, because they have blasted out heat before, so for some reason the boiler didn't kick on. Anyone have experience with radiator heat? This is all new to me. I huddled under my quilt and blanket all night, and even my cat got under the blankets. This morning, the radiators felt warm, but not hot. I suppose when it gets really, consistently, cold outside the boiler will run all the time and I won't have this problem.
Otherwise things are just toolin' along! Still expecting that grandbaby to make an appearance!
I served my first dinner in my dining room this weekend. I had my son, his wife, their two children, and my DIL's mother over for beef stew. It was really nice to use the room, and the stew turned out great! I even lit the candles.
The old dresser is now set up as a sideboard in the dining room, and I had the kids move a bookcase to a better position. Baby step by baby step, I'm getting the place in order.
I had two adventures this weekend: shopping at Whole Foods and making dishwashing detergent.
I had a $5 coupon for Whole Foods if I spent $25. I spent $33 after the coupon was subtracted. I didn't find it very easy to find things I wanted. I ended up getting stew beef, a chocolate bar, pumpkin butter, raspberries, Rice Dream Egg Nog, almond milk, hormone-free ice cream, organic salad greens, and soy creamer. The prices were intimidating, but the people were wonderfully friendly. It was the most friendly experience I've had in my new town!
To make the dishwashing detergent, I had to buy washing soda, borax, kosher salt, and Lemishine. I already had citric acid, which I ordered online. Finding the washing soda was a problem -- I went to three different places before I found it at Ace Hardware. My DIL put it together for me, and now I've got enough dishwashing detergent to last several years, I think. Does a really good job, though! The ingredients cost about $40.
I also went to see Cloud Atlas with my other son ($10), did some laundry ($3), bought groceries at Target ($11, after coupons) and bought some generic Glucosimine Chondroitin. ($18) My joints have been killing me, and the science community seems to agree that G-C, when taken in combination, helps some people. I have taken it before, but stopped when I broke my ankle. The powerful painkillers I took after the surgery made it redundant! But the pain has come back. I think it is partly because I am walking and climbing stairs so much more. My joints are complaining, but I think in the long run the extra exercise will develop muscles that will help my joints -- and maybe even help to get some weight off, which would be the best thing I could do for my aching hips and knees.
I went for my first followup to the pelvic surgery this morning. All is good. My next appointment is in four weeks. I paid $5 for parking.
It's turned chilly! Winter is breathing down my neck!
I love my train bag. I bought it at Goodwill for $7, and I think it was brand new. It is black, sleek but roomy, and stylish. Now that I've carried it around for a few weeks, it's evolved into a pretty consistent warehouse of handy items! What's in my train bag?
Book & bookmark
Hat, gloves & scarf
Sometimes an umbrella
My primary key set and my train pass are always in my coat pocket.
I have a vintage Coach purse (also purchased at Goodwill) that I hardly use any more because the train bag is so handy. I may sell it on eBay, or, I may just keep it for the occasions when I don't want to carry a big bag.
But right now, I'm really into the big bag.
In other news, my DIL posted that she is 2cm dilated. It won't be long before I have another grandchild to cuddle!
Did some laundry last night - $1.50. I paid a $64 medical bill yesterday and will be paying $196 today. Will also pay my gas bill, but first have to check out why they didn't get last month's payment -- or if they really didn't. I'm pretty sure I set it up with Checkfree.
I woke up at 4 again. And here I was so looking forward to an extra hour of sleep! My body refuses to acknowledge that the time has changed. So after lying around for a while I got up and got ready in a leisurely way. I do like it when I have time to make the bed in the morning and clean the cat pan. Just seems to make the whole day go better.
My intercom has not worked right since I moved in -- my visitors cannot hear my voice, and they say the door doesn't unlock when I try to buzz them in. I'm not sure what's wrong, but I called the property manager and they are sending someone to look at the box in the vestibule. If there is no problem with that, then I will have to pay to get my intercom repaired. That's okay. That's what I have the E fund for.
I got a $5 off welcome coupon from Whole Foods. I'm tempted to use it, even though the extra cost of the food there will wipe out any gain from using the coupon. But it's fun to go there. I'll look for something I can't get at other places.
They tell me a Trader Joe's is scheduled to open in the same area. I can't really tell where it is going to be -- not a lot of progress has been made, I guess. But I'm looking forward to it.
There is an Aldi not far away, also. I need to check that out.
Found another penny on my walk in! Weird how happy that makes me!
I made it to the polls last night about a half-hour before they closed, and all my records were in order. Those of us there were die-hard voters, because it was dark, rainy, and the building was tiny -- hardly any room to get to the machines.
I believe I spent nothing at all yesterday. It's been a while since that happened! But today I will be paying a medical bill, and tonight I have to do a load of laundry.
I went to a health fair at work yesterday, where they served mini ham sandwiches for lunch, along with fruit and chips. So that was my free lunch. Then, since Human Resources, the department that sponsored the fair, is right down the hall, the leftover sandwiches appeared in our break room in the late afternoon. I took one for dinner. Lo and behold, this morning there were more in the break room fridge! So I had two for breakfast. I think now I'm officially tired of them, but seriously, if they are still there at lunch time, I'm going for it. I love free food!
I did some shopping on Amazon yesterday for Christmas -- bought a game, a book, and also some citric acid for my dishwasher detergent recipe. But it was still a no-spend day because it was all free, paid for with Discover rewards. Gotta love that!
For three adults and two children the bill was only $32. And I, for one, had too much to eat, and it included a big dessert cookie that the boys split.
My grandson was puzzled that he was getting another birthday so soon (I missed his real birthday in September when I went to his aunt's funeral. With my move and my surgery, the celebration kept getting pushed back). When he finally realized that, YES, he was getting another birthday, he really got into it. He liked the little dinosaur sippy cup and the sticky ropes as much as he liked the Toy Story garbage truck. He was not impressed with the pullover hoodie, but hopefully, Mommy was glad to see it.
I woke up at 4 this morning (body clock said it was 5!) It was kind of nice to enjoy coffee and watch the news before I left. On my way to work I found another penny.
Tonight I will stop and vote on the way home. I walked by my polling place this morning, but it didn't open till 6 and I had to catch the 6:13 bus. It will be open till 7, and I usually get home at 6, so I should have time to vote. IF -- they have my correct information. I received a letter in the mail saying that I had accessed the website but hadn't sent in the application. But all the information on the sheet was for another person with my last name. So we'll see if the polling place has it right. If I don't get to vote, I'm not too worried -- as a Democrat in a Democrat district all my choices are already decided!
I moved an old dresser with mirror up here, but it got scratched in the move, and then a drawer was stuck open. I was going to get rid of it, but last night I fixed the drawer. I'm going to use it in the dining room as a sideboard, and I will paint it (again) -- it's been painted before. I would like to put a matte paint over the current glossy paint -- is that a no-no?
Anyway, I will use it to store tablecloths, napkins, and whatnots that don't fit anywhere else. I will not use the fixed drawer at all! I don't dare touch it again! Eventually I will replace it with something nicer, but with the new couch on the way, this is not the time to buy MORE furniture.
On Friday I went downtown for a one-day conference. I went very early, as I was doing registration, so I bought breakfast in the adjoi