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Archive for April, 2014

Bonus! And April Recap

April 30th, 2014 at 10:52 am

Just got my bonus reward from my BankAmericard. With the 10% added bonus for putting the reward into my savings account it is $125. My snowflake total has risen to $510.61.

My April spending totals are as follows:

Housing - $677
Furniture/Equipment/Decor - $253
Home Repair/Maintenance - $212
Gas - $180
Fares/Parking - $156
Groceries - $145
Utilities - $140
Gifts/Charity - $100
Household Supplies - $81
Taxes - $66
Medical/Health - $58
Eating Out - $51
Phone - $50
Vet/Pet Supplies - $46
Fees/Services - $38
Clothing - $21
Laundry - $20
Entertainment - $8

Total - $2302

Not the worst month ever, but not the best. I ended up paying for the train ticket AND for the gas to drive in the same month, although the train ticket will cover next month's commute. Utilities were higher because the electricity bill came twice this month -- at the beginning and at the end. Groceries were higher than usual because I did more stocking up. I had state tax to pay, and medical co-pays. I had the plumbing expense, and the splurge at Bed, Bath & Beyond.

I think I can still handle $1500 savings out of my next paycheck if nothing goes awry!


Back on the train tomorrow

April 30th, 2014 at 08:35 am

Today was my last day of driving to work for a while. My parking pass expires today. I bought a train ticket for next month ($135) and also filled up the gas tank ($50).

Yesterday I bought a beach pass ($26). Doesn't seem anything like beach weather yet, but if want to even walk along the shore I have to have a pass. And since the beach is so close to my home, I do intend to use it a lot.

I also wasted .50 on parking only to find out that the train station was closed. (I bought my ticket at a different station.)

Later today I'll do my April recap, since I do not intend to spend anything else today.

Remember the other day I mentioned using a $7 coupon to buy cat food? Well, someone left the same coupon in the break room -- so I'll do it again! Anything I can do to save money on the pets! The cost of pet food has gone up dramatically in the past few years, and I have added the extra expense of taking care of an aquarium -- and buying the more expensive crystal cat litter. However, I've been lucky that the cats haven't needed veterinarian care in the past few years. They are getting older, though -- that won't last forever!

Working from home

April 29th, 2014 at 11:02 am

I'm working from home today. I had a scheduled appointment with the exterminator, and decided I should call the plumber and get that done, too. But going in to work for half a day is ridiculous when I spend 2-3 hours on the road, so my boss very kindly let me work from home today.

So, the financial damage. The plumber was $276. Plumbers are expensive, but especially so when you have vintage plumbing. My bathtub was not draining, but the pipes are too old and small and brittle to be snaked in the normal way. Luckily, we have a company here that caters to older buildings since there are so many in the area. He took care of the plug (lotta hair, he said). He recommended an enzyme treatment to keep the drains clear. Buying a bottle of that was part of the cost -- however, I have to go get it. He offered to deliver but I said I was going out anyway. Now I wish I'd kept my mouth shut -- there are strong storms rolling through and I would rather NOT go out! Oh well.

The exterminator only cost $11.50. I don't have much of a problem but I do catch sight of bugs every so often -- and I'd like to keep it not much of a problem. I got a special price because the property manager worked out a deal with him.

I thought, when I went out, I would get a train ticket for next month. Now I wonder if the Evanston station can sell me a ticket that will also go to Elmhurst (different zone). We'll see. I usually get the tickets downtown, but I don't want to have to pay to get downtown.

I guess that's all! It's one o'clock, so back to work!

Oh! I forgot to say! I went to Bed, Bath & Beyond last night with my expired coupons and got $49 back! Sweet! They couldn't have been nicer, either.

A Little Indulgence

April 28th, 2014 at 08:16 am

Well, it was a fairly spendy weekend. The biggest reason was my trip to Bed, Bath & Beyond. My intention was to buy over-the-door shoe organizers, which I did. Three of them. And I even bought the more expensive ones with a classy striped pattern. I'm not unhappy that I did that -- the bags will be part of the room decor when I close my doors, so they might as well look nice. And the reason I bought three -- I have two doors to my bedroom as well as a closet door. I thought I would spring for ample storage space, not only for my shoes, but for boots, belts, small purses etc. They are not fully filled yet, but in winter I will use them for scarves, hats and mittens, too.

But I didn't stop with shoes organizers. I kept finding things I wanted. I bought a long bath mat for the hall closet, so that I had a washable floor cover under the cat pan. I bought a rug pad for my hall runner. Both of those were actually sort of needed.

Then I found cute little squeeze containers for dressing. I thought they would make toting salads to work easier. And then I found a liquid soap dispenser that would look neat in the bathroom. And then I saw K-cups on sale. And then I saw "the most comfortable pillows in the world." And I bought two.
And I did need pillows; mine were about flat. And yes, they are very comfortable.

I just didn't expect that I would spend $279 at BB&B! I had one $5 coupon that someone left in a cart. The clerk told me I could bring in my receipt with more coupons if I had more at home. I found five coupons, but they are all expired. I've heard they honor expired coupons; guess I'll be testing it out tonight!

While I was in that shopping plaza, I went to PetSmart and bought an aquarium filter to have as a backup ($20). Last weekend I lost power for a while and it made me realize that if the present filter died (and it's kind of old) I would have to scramble to replace it quickly. Now I'm set.

Then I went to Carter's -- still trying to match a top to a bottom for my granddaughter. I bought a pink tank top which looked fine in the store (I had the pants with me) but in a different light -- still the wrong shade! I'm giving up. I'll just send all the clothes and hopefully DIL will have a nice white T or something to go with those pesky pants! While I was there I picked up a 3-pack of socks, which my granddaughter always needs. My Carter's purchase cost $16.

I made a side trip to Pet Supplies Plus, where I actually got a true bargain -- a $13 bag of cat food (Hill's Science Diet) for $4. I had a $7 coupon and the food was also discounted.

I did my usual grocery shopping for ten items, but I also bought ten "Smarts Ones" entrees, because they were on sale, and I had a coupon for $2 off on ten. And frozen entrees make lunch-packing easy. Thus, groceries were $47.

I did three loads of laundry over the weekend. ($4.50) And I found a quarter.

This morning I had an early doctor's visit which cost me $15 co-pay, but I got a break on parking -- the gates were up, so no $5 charge.

I didn't pack a lunch today, since I didn't have anything that would weather an hour commute and another hour at the doctor's. I'll probably go to the cafeteria and get a salad, which is a pretty good bargain.

And my gas tank is low; probably shouldn't try to make another round trip without filling up.

So, wow. It feels like a lot of spending. However, coming up on the end of the month, my total is not out of line -- still well below $2K, which is my limit. I guess a little indulgence every once in a while is not a bad thing.

Thinner

April 25th, 2014 at 08:38 am

Oh dear, lost my entry. I haven't done that in a long time.

Well, I'll make it quick. I lost two pounds! Just happy to see the scale move after three weeks! That said, I'm not crash-dieting, I'm just trying to settle on an eating plan for life.

I spent nothing yesterday.

Weekend plans include going to my grandson's baseball game, plus the usual errands.

Happy Friday everyone!

Long Ride Home

April 24th, 2014 at 05:52 am

On my ride home last night, one of the main routes was closed. I had to take a detour, which put me into a very slow-moving line of traffic. My ride was much longer than usual. I got very hungry and stopped at Steak N Shake for a $4 guacamole burger. I had been planning on making fried rice at home, but I ran out of patience. When I finally got home, I had to do a load of laundry so I'd have a pair of pants to wear today! I've put away, or given away, my wintery pants, but I haven't broken out the capris yet, so while we're in this transitional phase my options are a little limited.

I signed up for pest control in my unit - $12, one time only. They'll come next Tuesday. I've seen a few bugs and I figure there are more that I can't see. It's an old building so it is prone to infestations.

Guess that's all that's going on in my world!

Red Light Donation

April 23rd, 2014 at 08:07 am

My only spending yesterday was $1 to one of those guys who approach cars stopped at a red light. He said he was a pastor and that the money will go to a program for women and children who are abused. Who knows? Maybe, maybe not. I usually don't give anything in that situation, but he had a kind face.

There was so much leftover pizza from the meeting that we were all urged to take some home. I took eight pieces and divided them into four packages to freeze. Even though it sounds like I took a lot, it was a drop in the bucket. There is still almost a whole pizza in the fridge this morning.

If I stay on track, it looks like I can move $1500 into savings next payday. However, the weekend trip to Tulip Time may cut into that.

Only one more week of driving, and then I'm back on the train again. So far I've spent $129 on gas. I still have 3/4 of a tank, so that might get me to the end of the month. Might. My average expenditure on gas each month is $39. So if I subtract that, and if I am able go without another fill-up, then I can say that driving to work is cheaper, especially now that I no longer get the $30 discount.

However, I won't have free parking next month. And that isn't counting wear and tear on the car, etc. And there is no doubt that riding the train is safer.

When I turn 65 in August, I'll be eligible for a half-price ticket, and that will make a big difference.

Of course, if I end up working remotely, my commuting expense will drop down to one trip a week! But my gut instinct is that that won't happen.



Yesterday's spending, and the big meeting

April 22nd, 2014 at 06:45 am

Spent $42 on gas. I got a good price - $3.79 a gallon. Don't laugh, that's good around here!

I took my decluttered stuff to Goodwill and popped in to shop. I spent $3 and got a toy for the toy box, an ornament for a friend, and an ornament for me! Though I may decide to use it as a gift, since it's in a nice box.

I retrieved my goody bag from my son's fridge and had the other half of the HUGE burrito I bought on Sunday for dinner last night.

At yesterday's BIG MEETING, I got a free lunch, as pizza, salad, cookies and pop were provided to soften the blow.

And what was the blow? Nothing that affects me. There will be a lot of reorganization, but our unit will actually get more help in form of a new "generalist" position -- someone who will take up the slack for all the members of our team. Many of the others will have new lines of reporting. In fact, just about everyone was affected except me -- I'm not sure what that means. No one was let go, but that was not surprising, since there has been a lot of attrition. Just reassignments, more mid-level bosses. I may "lose" my office, but what that would mean is that I would be permitted to work remotely, and that would be a plus! We'll see. The office allocation is the part that is not decided yet.

I'm just glad that at the age of 64 I still have a job, frustrating though it may be at times.

'Twas a Happy Easter

April 21st, 2014 at 08:53 am

Such a nice day. I shared egg-hunting and basket-opening with the grandsons, went out to my favorite Mexican restaurant for lunch, and had a great traditional Easter meal prepared by my DIL.

My weekend spending: $1.50 for laundry, $6 at a garage sale (muffin tin and candles), $16 for kitty litter, $10 for Easter stuff, $25 for groceries, $6 for fish food, $20 for lunch. I also paid my phone bill - $50 - and my Comcast bill - $74.

Decluttering/Organizing: I moved my shoes from the hall closet to my bedroom closet (still need to get an organizer that will fit). I started working my spring/summer clothes back into the closet from storage. I think I will do that a little at a time rather than all at once, as the weather is still iffy. I got rid of some wine glasses. I moved my wooden spoons into a French jelly jar to sit on the countertop. (Working on decluttering a utensil drawer that's a challenge.) That's all I did on top of the errands and the holiday doings. Oh, and hosting dinner on Saturday evening -- Hawaiian chicken on rice, nothing left but rice!

Going into a meeting soon where the "big changes" at work will be revealed at last.

I was planning to stop at a laundromat tonight to wash my oversize comforter, but I forgot the quarters -- and I need to go to son's house tonight to pick up the doggy bag I left in their fridge, anyway. So I will do that tomorrow, as well as drop off the Goodwill items. Oh, and I will get gas. My third fill-up this month, I believe.

My DIL graciously gave me the hambone and plentiful ham scraps from the Easter dinner, which I will use to make split pea soup. Probably not till the weekend, but I'm already excited. An easy dinner and I love it!

We are planning a trip to Tulip Time in Holland, Michigan, in a few weeks. We will stay with my brother, so it shouldn't be too expensive. Hoping the boys will enjoy tulips and Dutch dancers!

Lazy Friday

April 19th, 2014 at 06:14 am

Well, I had a pretty lazy Friday at home. I relaxed more than I worked, but I did get a few things done -- a load of laundry, replaced some bulbs in kitchen ceiling (which required a ladder, so I'd been putting it off), loaded and unloaded dishwasher, made French onion soup, cleaned the aquarium, and took out the trash.

Today I'm going to grocery shop and run a few other errands. I need to go to PetSmart, and I need to find something to use as Easter baskets for the grandsons. I thought I had some stashed away, but apparently I used them last year! I also need to wash my comforter, which is too bulky for the washers downstairs, so I need to find a decent Laundromat.

On Thursday night I stopped at Kohl's to use the rest of my Kohl's cash. I bought a skirt and a pair of pants for my granddaughter. They go with the two tops I bought last week. So it was $20 in full for both outfits. Not bad. When my sons were young, I tried to limit myself to $10 per outfit, and prices have soared since then.

My next-door neighbors have listed their condo for $165,000. This is VERY comparable to my condo -- not only the same layout, but the same level of upgrading. The only thing they have that I don't is a washer/dryer unit. I don't think they will get full price, but it will be interesting to see what it does sell for. Right now I'm still figuring the value of my condo as $111,000, which is what I paid, but I'll change it to whatever their place brings, and, hopefully, my net worth will rise!

Board Meeting

April 17th, 2014 at 06:48 am

We had a very productive board meeting last night. And the box lunch was awesome! From Corner Bakery -- my favorite place as some of you know! I ordered a roasted veggie sandwich, which I ate last night. I put aside the side items -- chips, fruit cup and cookie, and I will eat them today. It's all logged in myfitnesspal and I'm under my calorie limit.

However, the two free dinners I've had this week have been offset by the cost of parking. $15 for just a few hours last night. Parking in the city is a nightmare.

I signed up to be in a focus group next month, sampling food in the cafeteria. I'll get a free breakfast, and also a $15 gift card to use in the cafeteria. So there's my $15 back!

Before the meeting, since I was early, I went to a nearby Macy's and bought 5 pairs of socks for $21. My receipt says I saved $28. Still a lot for socks, I think, but they are a nice quality and I hope they will last a while. I go through socks quickly with all the walking I do (when my knee is working!)

And it will be back to walking next month. My knee is much better, so I'll get a train ticket again next month and make that daily walk to and from the station. Even if the cost of driving and training turn out to be the same (I'm testing the theory this month), it is much more relaxing and safer to take the train. And there are no spending temptations en route!

Just got the invitation to my niece's July wedding. I think I've figured out my outfit. I'll wear a dressy black skirt (I have a short one and a long one) and an off-white top that has a lacy texture. I just need to figure out a scarf or jewelry or something to finish it off. I even have suitable shoes already. So I think the only expenditure will be the accessories and perhaps some lacy hose.

Now to figure out the gift, and the accommodations!



Free Dinners

April 16th, 2014 at 08:30 am

Yesterday I went to a workshop at a nearby university, and then went to the Happy Hour following, since free appetizers were promised. It turned out my whole dinner was paid for since it was $1 hamburger night! (However, if you want toppings on your burger ... you pay more per item).

Tonight I'm going into the city for a board meeting and the president just emailed me asking for my box lunch order. So a free dinner tonight as well! My food is really stretching this week. On Monday night I made chicken fajitas and I had enough left over for lunches yesterday and today.

It's a short week for me, since we have Good Friday off. That's good for the gas tank.

No decluttering yesterday, since I didn't get home from Happy Hour till 8:00. Tonight will be even later, since the board meeting starts at 6:00, so nothing will get done today, either.

I have $2.81 left on my Kohl's cash and two days to use it, so I have to remember to pop in and buy a pair of socks, or something.

Went over my limit on the diet yesterday, so it's back on the wagon today!

Tax Day AND Pay Day

April 15th, 2014 at 08:06 am

Taxes are done, so I concentrated on pay day tasks. I had balances on three credit cards -- my original Discover, which is still the default for some automatic payments, the new Discover It card, which I got for the reward (already earned but there is still a balance), and my BankAmericard Cash Rewards card, on which I'm currently working toward the reward. Altogether it only amounted to $470. I only had $200 on the BankAmericard, but I've got two more months to spend $300 more. Then, I believe, I'll get a $100 reward.

I transferred $500 into my slush fund and $500 into my EF. (For the latter I used mobile banking for the first time, so we'll see if I did it right!)

I paid my mortgage.

I finally gave up my paper check register and I'm now keeping an excel version that I created. Then I keep the balance in my smartphone, so I know how much there is when I'm out and about. I could probably put the spreadsheet in my phone, too, if I knew how to do it! Does Evernote handle spreadsheets, does anyone know?

I did three-fourths of the planned errands yesterday -- I mailed the gift ($6), exchanged the ink cartridge ($1), and picked up the prescription ($6). I did not go to Goodwill, but that's okay, I may have another box to add.

Today I am going to a professional workshop. I've already paid the $10 fee. There is a planned happy hour afterwards, so if I decide to stay for it, there will be a little spending there, as well as figuring out how it will fit into my diet. I'm catching a ride, so I guess I will do whatever the driver wants to do.

The dreaded meetings yesterday went well. I have a lot more work to do, but a clearer direction. Despite all the drama of a few weeks ago, nothing has happened in terms of staff members leaving, though I think they are all still working on it!

We have snow on the ground today! I had to clean off my car! It's actually quite lovely -- one of those snows that turns all the trees and bushes into lace. But still not very welcome in the middle of April!

State Taxes Done

April 14th, 2014 at 06:25 am

I e-filed my state tax this weekend. Yeah, Illinois, for providing free e-filing! It was pretty painless, too, except for two things: I owed more than I thought, and I had to submit numerous times only to eventually figure out that the problem was simply too many characters in one field. (My retirement fund has a very long name).

So I thought I owed $1, judging from the information that came up while doing my federal taxes on TaxAct. But it is actually $66. That's okay, just means less to put in savings tomorrow, but taxes must be paid!

I did a bit more decluttering and cleaning. I went through my bras and took out the small ones, to save for my EVENTUAL weight loss, and the shabby ones, to save for emergency oh-heck-no-clean-bra days. I completely stripped my bed and washed the mattress pad and dust ruffle. I put some more clothes in the Goodwill box, and got the box down to my car (needed son's help for that!) Digging a little deeper in the hall closet, I found some Christmas ornaments and decorations that needed to go to the basement with the others. I also found the drill bits to go with the drill that I gave to my son. I'm taking baby steps, but I'm getting things done.

I went to Kohl's and used my Kohl's cash to buy two tops and a swimsuit for my granddaughter. The swimsuit will go in an Easter package. The two tops will wait for later -- I'll try to find bottoms to go with them.

I spent $38 at the grocery, keeping to ten items: popcorn, granola, toilet paper, body wash, wine, chicken breasts, deli roast beef, strawberries, mini peppers, and baby spinach. I turned in my "winning" Monopoly pieces to get more -- ended up with quite a bunch, but all duplicates of what I already have.

I forgot to pick up my prescription, so will have to do that tonight. I also need to exchange a printer cartridge, mail my granddaughter's Easter package, and take the box to Goodwill. I'm already tired from a poor night's sleep, so I hate thinking about doing all this stuff after work!

I caught up on "Call the Midwife" on Netflix. I thought I had missed a lot, but actually had seen most of the episodes. Next I have a whole season of "Mad Men" to watch.

I have two meetings today -- just one of those days to get through. It's also cold and rainy, with snow in the forecast. Really? Too depressing.

Krispy Kreme Donuts

April 12th, 2014 at 05:00 am

So I took a box of donuts to work yesterday for our farewell event. At the end of the day, the box was still half-full. Had I left it there, they would have sat for the weekend and been thrown out Monday morning. So I took it home.

This morning I had one for breakfast, and then froze the rest in individual bags. I figure I'll eat them a little at a time, as a treat now and then. Not sure how good they'll be after being frozen. We'll see!

I read an article on making donut chips, much like bagel chips, and I might do that for the grandsons.

Errands, laundry and housework are on tap for today, as well as the warmest weather of the year! Enjoy, everyone!