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Archive for January, 2014

A Little Recap

January 31st, 2014 at 10:27 am

I'm going to be bold and say that spending is over for this month. Here are January's totals:

Housing: $694
Vacation/Travel: $323
Groceries: $110
Fares/Parking: $110
Utilities: $102
Gas: $54
Phone: $50
Medical/Health: $42
Home Repair/Maintenance: $22
Gifts/Charity: $21
Laundry: $14
Vet/Pet Supplies: $11
Eating Out: $10
Furnishings/Equipment/Decor: $9
Entertainment: $8
Clothing: $5
Household Supplies: $2
Grand Total: $1,587

It was a very low-spend month! Get a load of the eating out category!

I did not count the loan to my son, as it will be repaid.

Freebies for the month of January: I got a scone, an apple, some breakfast breads, cookies, and a bagel from the break room at work. A co-worker gave me a 1/2 pound of cheese. I picked up three books, two from the station and one from a co-worker. I got a box lunch at a board meeting, and an exercise band from the physical therapist. I'll start the list over in February.

Oh, I should add the snowflakes, as well:

$5 from Swagbucks
$50 from MyPoints
$68.19 from Discover
$30 Jewel gift card & coupon
$5 from credit union (for going paperless)
$3 from Pine Cone
.28 found money

Update! Just found a quarter!

I did it!

January 31st, 2014 at 06:15 am

I rode the train this morning! And I boarded and de-boarded without hurting my knee!

Last night at PT I told my therapist what I wanted to do, and we practiced with tall steps. As long as I lead up with my left leg, down with my right, and don't try to go foot over foot, I can do it!

So I bought my ticket between trains this morning and I'm all set.

It's pretty warm -- almost 20! But snow is expected, maybe even six inches. Blah. It never ends.

I parked in free parking last night, making the extra two-block walk, so I am still at $299. Don't expect to spend anything today. (Train ticket doesn't count in challenge.)

I'm feeling so good today I even put on makeup. Smile

I Always Forget Something

January 30th, 2014 at 06:22 am

Yesterday I forgot my phone. Today I forgot my breakfast. So I stopped at McDonalds on the way and spent $5 on a sausage sandwich and orange juice.
My monthly discretionary spending now stands at $299. So I'm still under $300; just can't spend anything today or tomorrow!

My knee is somewhat better, and I think I may try to take the train tomorrow. I think I will be okay if I lead with my left leg to step up into the car and pull myself up with my arms.

Tomorrow is the last day to get the monthly pass -- well, not really the last day, but if I don't get it tomorrow I will end up having to pay an extra fare to get downtown to the ticket office, whenever I ride it next.

So I think I will try it. I can't drive forever. I figure I would have to fill my tank at least five times at $30-40 a pop just to get through one month.

I talked to my Florida son last night. He was expecting my brother to arrive soon. My brother was flying to New Orleans and the flight was diverted to Tampa because of the storm in the South. Lucky he has a nephew there! We also discussed my upcoming trip. Looks like I will taxi to his house from the airport -- he has some conflicts and cannot chauffeur.

January is almost over. One more month of hard winter. I can do it.

Property bill arrived

January 29th, 2014 at 08:35 am

No sooner did I mention it than it popped up in the mailbox. It is $1882. The first of two payments; the next will arrive in summer.

If my tax refund arrives before the due date, March 4, I'll be able to pay it without disrupting my savings.

I'm back at work today. Drove again, as the giant step up onto the train is still impossible. I practiced with small steps at PT last night and it was clear I have little control over my knee. I'm starting to wonder if it will ever improve. I suppose healing is slower as you age. (Another nifty perk of getting older -- NOT).

At least the sun is shining, and the temperatures are supposed to rise this afternoon.

I paid $1 for parking last night, and $9 came out of my account today for the World Wildlife Fund. (Because I DO want to save the polar bears.) Still under $300 and only two days to go.

I didn't get around to making the chicken teriyaki last night, so I'll do that tonight. Perhaps do a load of laundry if I'm feeling really perky.

This weather is making me gloomy, and I am fighting it, but boy, will I be glad to see spring.

Tax Refund

January 28th, 2014 at 07:56 am

I spent the day at home working remotely, but when the clock got past quitting time, I switched to doing my taxes. I am getting a $1040 refund! I was so pleased to think of it until I realized that property taxes are due soon, so the windfall will go toward that instead of into savings!

I used the free federal service on TaxActFree, and declined the state filing, which was not free. I can do that on paper. I see that I will have to pay $8 to the state -- can't see paying $$$ just to pay up $8.

The college is closed today, so I am at home, and don't have to work. Whoopee!

I've got the faucets dripping and a pot of water at a low boil on the stove. I can tell it's really cold outside, because it's cool inside, despite the radiators being on full blast. Just have to bundle up a bit more.

I have to go to PT tonight, and it looks like I'll have to clean off the car to do it. Nuts. Wish they would cancel, too.

Planning to make the filling for sweet onion teriyaki chicken sandwiches later today. Maybe I'll bake some cookies, too. I had French toast for breakfast. Obviously, I'm into comfort food today!

$300 Challenge Update

January 27th, 2014 at 09:02 am

I've spent $278 in my $300 challenge. With only four days left in the month, I think I've made it!

I even counted the second fill-up of gas, although it was work-related. I figure that in retirement there will always be the potential for some unexpected expense sneaking up on you.

I'm working at home again. Wind chill factors are 20 below. Even though it is bright and sunny, I don't feel safe commuting in weather like this. Maybe tomorrow I'll venture out. I hope I'm not ticking off my employers -- frankly, I don't see why the college isn't closed, considering every school in the area is closed.

But it seems that the cold will stay long-term, so I have to come out of my cocoon eventually. I guess I will try it tomorrow. It's just that with "advanced" years, a bad knee, and a long, long commute, throwing in bad weather seems to tip the balance.

I will be so glad to see the end of winter; also to begin retirement, now matter how financially challenging it may be.

I spent the afternoon at my son's house yesterday. We played Carcasonne with the boys -- it's a great game for adults to play with children, enjoyable for all. The seven-year-old won!

My niece is getting married in July, so that is something new to save for. I think I may have to give up my Las Vegas vacation, which was scheduled in July to coincide with a conference. Well, I won't be sent to the conference, so it would be on me to pay for the travel, hotel, and food. If I fund it myself, I won't actually attend the conference, just be there at the same time so I can visit with old friends who are attending. But now a July wedding will complicate things. A wedding means a gift, hotel and travel. And perhaps a dress, since everyone has seen my "wedding" dress about four times now! And it's really not the right weight for July.

I'm not feeling like I can do both. And a family wedding comes first.

Just three more weeks and I'll be in sunny Florida! What a relief that will be!

A Quiet Sunday

January 26th, 2014 at 12:09 pm

Not a lot going on today. Getting updates about my BIL and friend. Looks like my BIL will go into a rehab facility next week, and my friend, who winters in Florida, will go home to Indiana for more evaluation from her surgeon. She may be able to have brain surgery yet.

I did another load of laundry this morning so that I won't have to go out tomorrow and Tuesday. Unless it turns out that I DO have to go to work. Hope that I can work from home; I can't see the point of a dangerous commute when I can be just as productive at home.

I'm eating up that chicken casserole that didn't turn out. I've had two servings. The rest has gone into the freezer, divided into portions which I'll take for lunches. It actually tasted better today than it did yesterday, but I'll never make it again.

I've got a pot of water simmering on the stovetop, just to get a little moisture in the air.

My knee seems to be better, but I'm still far away from normal. I've discovered that my couch throw is great substitute for a yoga strap.

Speaking of yoga, I think I might investigate taking classes after I get back to normal. Flexibility is clearly a problem of mine, so a yoga class might be just the thing to get me limber in my declining years.

Watched really good old movie today, "Anatomy of a Murder." I've never seen it before, though I've seen bits of it. Great writing and acting!

Sobering Day

January 25th, 2014 at 05:26 pm

Well, it's been a sobering day. My knee has taken a back seat -- my brother-in-law is in the hospital and may have to do some long-term rehab (physical, not drug-related), and a friend has learned that radiation is not shrinking her brain tumor.

This morning, while at the grocery, an ambulance came and took away an elderly man on a stretcher.

Reminders all round that pain and suffering are all around, and a little knee pain isn't much to complain about.

I managed to do two loads of laundry this morning, and then bought my groceries. $3 for the laundry, and $52 for the groceries.

Yesterday I spent $30 on gas and $3 for a chicken sandwich on the way home. (It was a long drive -- Fridays are always the worst.)

I took a duffle bag with wheels to the grocery to sub as a utility cart. It was okay -- better than trying to carry the bags -- but it was heavy and not so easy to wheel up the steps. However, I bought 21 items, twice as many as usual, and I think it will work pretty well for smaller loads.

One of the things I bought at the grocery was a long-handled scrub brush to clean the bathtub, since I can't get on my knees to scrub it. I'm really learning how to adapt!

We are supposed to have another deep freeze, perhaps even worse than the one before, on Monday and Tuesday. I am already planning to work from home. I hope my boss will agree.

This has been a rugged winter -- I can't remember anything like this since the 70's. I am just very thankful I don't have to do any shoveling, and I know I will be really appreciative when spring arrives!

Passed Up Free Parking

January 24th, 2014 at 08:21 am

Went to PT last night and paid $1 to park at a meter right outside of the building. There was free parking in a parking garage two blocks away, but last night it just wasn't worth the walk in the bitter cold.

Not much progress yet on my knee, but I got a good massage on it.

Back at work today. I drove, and I'll have to get gas before I head home.

Yesterday I baked two loaves of cinnamon bread (wonderful!) then assembled a chicken casserole substituting Greek yogurt for sour cream. I haven't put it in the oven yet, but it's already curdled from the heat of the ingredients. Oh well, live and learn. I hope it's edible. I will eat it if it's just ugly!

I also substituted fresh spinach for fresh asparagus, so that may backfire on me, too.

Thinking about buying a utility cart to pull my groceries (and other things) up the stairs. Stair climbing while carrying heavy loads is probably what blew out my knee in the first place. I have to keep reminding myself that I'm not young any more!

Another day at home

January 23rd, 2014 at 07:27 am

Late in the afternoon yesterday my boss texted me that it would be okay with her if I worked from home again today because the forecast was for bitter cold temperatures and wind chills below zero. I was very grateful. Not just because of the cold, but because that gives me another day to rest my knee.

Working from home is working pretty well, except that the remote access to my work computer is a little wonky. It freezes up and I have to reconnect often. But I'm not complaining, it's better than making the commute!

I talked to my property manager yesterday to inquire how I would be reimbursed for the bogus late fee I paid. They said they would mail me a check, which is fine. I would rather not fool around with the automatic payment now that it's correctly set to the new fee structure. So that means the amount I have left for discretionary spending is up to $105. I can make that $50 grocery trip to Jewel and use that $5 coupon. Hate to ever pass up a $5 coupon! I'm working on a list now.

The cold outside is making my kitchen cold as well. There is no radiator in the kitchen, and it faces an exterior wall. So I'm going to do some baking. I'm going to make some kind of sweet bread, and some kind of chicken casserole. Just need to do a little research on what to make with the ingredients I have on hand.

My knee feels better today, but I know I'm not out of the woods yet. I go back to PT tonight -- hoping I will learn more about the best way to heal.

If my knee is still a problem at month's end, I MAY not buy a train pass. I have a vacation in February anyway. It may be wisest to commute by car until March, with the hope that by then I will be able to walk and do steps without straining my knee.

The Ongoing Saga ...

January 22nd, 2014 at 08:56 am

... of the knee.

It's worse today. Last night while descending the stairs, I felt a sharp pain in the back of my knee, buckled, and fell on my butt. No harm done to my butt, but my knee is definitely getting worse instead of better.

I did keep my appointment with PT but I seem to be getting nowhere. They can't do anything until the pain calms down. The therapist gave me a knee massage and checked my form on the exercises. But the simple stretching exercises seem to be making it worse. I'm discouraged. The therapist mentioned the possibility of surgery (in the future), which is the last thing I want.

I'm at home today, working remotely. What worries me is, I don't know when I'll be really mobile again. I don't know what I'll do tomorrow. I am sure I cannot make the big step onto the train in this condition. Nor could I climb the stairs to the platform. But driving takes a lot of gas, and it's hazardous in this weather.

Remote access to my work computer is not working very well. I keep getting kicked out.

Frustration, frustration.

Anybody else see a Jewel Osco ad on this site? It's a coupon to save $5 on a $50 order. I snagged it, since that is my main store. However, it expires on the 29th. I really don't want to spend $50 before the end of the month -- that's about all I have left in my $300 challenge. And chances are I will have to fill the tank again, at least once, to get to work.

Frustration, frustration.

Went to Work

January 21st, 2014 at 07:16 am

Against all reason and logic, I drove to work this morning. I should have stayed home. There was a snow dump last night and the roads were horrible, as well as the temperature. But I had no incidents, just a very careful, slow ride.

I went to work because I thought I had to approve the students' time cards, and I didn't want them to lose out on their pay. Turns out I was on the wrong week anyway! Oh well, good intentions.

I'm going to leave early so I don't end up driving in the dark. I have a physical therapy appointment at six anyway.

Had my son's family over for dinner last night. DIL has offered to do laundry tonight, and I will take her up on it.

My everyday spending this month is at $245, so I have $55 left for the month to meet the challenge.

Ouch, ouch, ouch

January 20th, 2014 at 08:50 am

Yes, this is real pain, not financial pain.

I must have overdone my stretching exercises. My knee is worse. I was warned about this so it is my own fault. Guess I didn't know just how gentle the stretch was supposed to be. I seem to have riled up a new pain on the side of my knee. Aleve didn't help yesterday and sleeping was difficult. I think it's a little better today. I did my stretches this morning but really dialed back.

I forgot to mention that when I went to the physical therapist, I walked past an alcove with a door that was unmarked -- hence, not a business, that I could see. The curious thing was that there appeared to be a bag of coins in a blue plastic bag sitting outside the door, but tucked inside the alcove. Because the plastic was blue, I couldn't be sure it was coins, but it sure looked that way. Well, despite the fact that I will stoop to pick up a penny, I walked by. It somehow seemed like stealing -- surely it was there for some purpose? It was very curious. The bag was the size of a large cantaloupe -- I think there was a lot of money in there, as I don't think it was all pennies!

I actually did navigate the stairs yesterday and did a load of laundry. I did the old-lady double-step and never put my whole weight on the bad knee. I have another load to do, but I'm hoping I can talk my son's family into coming over for a meal today and schlepping the laundry for me. Stairs seem to be the worst thing of all.

I am considering working from home tomorrow. Officially we are not supposed to work from home, according to HR, but a lot of people do it -- for lesser reasons than this. However, I think there is a meeting tomorrow that I should attend. Since I DO have to keep this job for another year and seven months, I suppose I should make the effort. I will have to drive, for not only is the walk to the station not a good idea, the steps to the platform and the BIG step onto the train would be suicide. Suicide for my knee, not me!

But driving is expensive, especially when I have already paid for the train pass. Oh well, I have learned that health comes first, even before frugality!