Home > Archive: June, 2014

Archive for June, 2014

Oh Boy!

June 30th, 2014 at 03:55 pm

It was a fun weekend -- with some challenges. And I spent a lot of money.

My BFF arrived Friday evening, and, since I had no groceries, we ate out all but one meal. That was actually part of our plan -- we do enjoy eating at fun places when we get together. We also went downtown and visited the Art Institute, where we saw the new Magritte exhibit, as well as the miniature rooms, the paperweights, the folk art section and the impressionists. We did a lot of walking, with some of it in the rain! We caught the movie "Chef." Overall, the weekend fun cost $102, with $46 for food, $29 for parking, $20 for the Art Institute, and $7 for the movie.

With the weather topping 90 degrees, it was time to bite the bullet on the air conditioners. On Sunday evening, I snagged my son's help and I bought three small window units at Home Depot for $390. One turned out to be dysfunctional, so it will have to be exchanged. The others my son installed, but not without a lot of grief. I had to reset the circuit breaker four times before we figured out where to plug the things in and what else had to be turned off. Sheesh, old buildings! One outlet, that I had been using for lamps, is now not working at all. I have to call an electrician.

Clearly, I will have to restrict their use! I thought getting new units would make things better than the situation with the old ones, but not so much! I have to hope that we won't have a lot of very hot weather.

Anyway, between all the excitement, the exercise, the hot weather and multiptle trips to the basement, I went to bed with aching legs that no pill could touch, and whatever sleep I got was not restful. Here's to a good night's sleep tonight!

Massage Envy

June 27th, 2014 at 02:08 pm

For Christmas last year I got a Massage Envy gift card. I never used it. I don't really like massages; I suppose I associate them with physical therapy. I thought about selling it on Plastic Jungle but never got around to it.

But it's going to come in handy. Our little office unit is going to give it to my boss, who is leaving, as a small parting gift. Someone just gave me $10 toward it; I expect a couple of others will chip in, too.

We are also going to bring in lunch from a local restaurant. (Laura knows it -- Portillo's). I'm not sure whether we are going to pay for that, or if the office budget will pick it up. My boss chose not to have a farewell party -- but this is just the immediate group that worked for her, and we HAVE to do something! It would feel too sad to send her off with no acknowledgment!

My BFF is coming this afternoon. She plans to arrive at my place at 3:30. I am very doubtful that she will make it by that time, considering the traffic she is going to meet up with, but I'm planning to leave early just in case. For that reason, I drove today. I bought a McDonald's breakfast on the way - $5. I'll probably buy gas on the way home.

I noticed that it's time for an oil change, so that's something else to work into the budget.

BFF and I will probably do eating out, shopping, and movies. It won't be lean -- either in calories or money! Oh well, we need these times, too!

Doctor bill

June 26th, 2014 at 04:21 pm

Just paid $114 to the doctor -- followup visit for surgery done what -- two years ago? Seems like such a waste -- followups used to be included in the package, but times have changed. At least it came out of my flexible spending account, so it doesn't seem like real money. Smile

Doing that made me think about scheduling a mammogram, so I got that ball rolling (I think). I tried to do it through the website, but it appears I will have to wait to be contacted by a real person. Sigh. If you wanted me to talk to a real person, give me that option in the first place.

I don't think I spent anything yesterday. And I found another penny.

I noticed I have a tomato starting to go a little soft. I'm going to dice it up tonight and make a tomato casserole -- cracker crumb bottom, diced tomatoes mixed with salsa, and an upper layer of mayo, cheese and green onion, browned in the oven. A little caloric but yummy.

I have a lot of leftover sour cream and not many ideas yet on how to use it up. Maybe beef stroganoff or Swedish meatballs? -- both of which sound pretty wintery!

The enchiladas provided two more meals for me and the remains have been frozen for future lunches.

So, except for the sour cream, leftovers have been handled!

Birthday Dinner

June 25th, 2014 at 03:55 pm

My DIL's birthday dinner was a success. She loved the enchiladas, she loved her gifts -- she even loved the candles on the cupcakes! (Black & white dots and stripes) I rescued them before they burned too much, and I'll use them again!

After dinner we played games around the table. I still have a sink full of dishes soaking, but feel a nice glow.

I also have a lot of leftover food! Not just the enchiladas, but a lot of the ingredients. It will be fun figuring out how to use them up.

My niece's wedding gift already arrived from Amazon. Nice to know it's here and I don't have to worry about someone taking the package!

Today I bought my train ticket ($135). The candles I bought yesterday were $3. My monthly assessment fees were withdrawn from bank yesterday ($356).

My BFF is coming to visit this weekend. Only plans so far are to visit her favorite restaurant for Eggs Benedict. I'm really looking forward to a good time.

Bad Beginning to the Day

June 24th, 2014 at 04:22 pm

Today is street-sweeping day, and I decided to drive, not only to get the car off the street, but I had books and dry cleaning to tote, and I was hoping to get back home a bit early to get DIL's birthday dinner going.

I had everything gathered to take to the car (including a big bag of garbage to throw in the dumpster). What did I leave on the desk? My keys. I couldn't get in the car, couldn't get back in the building. My extra keys, which I always carry in my bag, mysteriously were not there. I had to go to my son's house and wake up DIL and her mother to get the spare set of keys. They were obviously driven out of bed, and I feel awful.

I cooked most of the enchilada dinner yesterday -- just need to assemble the filling and tortillas and bake. I made cupcakes, but they need to be iced. The only side dish will be watermelon, since the enchiladas are full of veggies. I will need to make some simple cheese quesadillas for the boys, too, as they are very picky eaters.

At noon I need to go to the post office (still mailing books for my organization), drop off the dry cleaning, and get more keys cut. I refuse to have this happen again! And I guess I'll pick up birthday candles, since I LOSE the box every single time I buy one!

So far, no spending, but I've found .12 in the past few days!


June 23rd, 2014 at 03:30 pm

I couldn't sleep last night, then woke up this morning with a brutal headache and overall body aches. So I am staying home today. I am feeling better now, but I expect my lack of sleep will catch up with me later.

So, to catch up on financial things. On Friday evening, as I walked home from the train station, I bought an issue of StreetWise from a street vendor ($2). Then I bought a lemonade from a young neighbor ($.50). I was feeling expansive! Such different kinds of charity, a block apart. A man trying to lift himself up, and a well-heeled child trying to make a few bucks for a toy, or something. Of course, I support his entrepreneurship, so that's why I bought the lemonade (which sure wasn't very good!) Probably organic, my son said. Smile

The StreetWise magazine had a really interesting article, which was about a day in the life of one of the vendors. So enlightening to learn how others live, all around us, but we don't really see them. I'm going to keep buying StreetWise -- it seems to provide a beacon of hope to its sellers.

On Saturday I went to Home Depot and bought batteries ($9), and then picked up nachos for lunch ($7). The nacho order was so large, I had three meals out of it! Warmed-up nachos aren't quite the same, but they are edible!

Yesterday I grocery-shopped. It was a larger-than-usual order, because I was buying ingredients for my DIL's birthday meal. She wants enchiladas. I already had the chicken, but needed to buy most of the other materials, and I also bought a card, some wine, and -- impulse item -- a set of bowl covers, for me! That's something I've missed having around, so I thought I'd better grab them when I saw them. Anyway, the total bill was $68.

There was no garage sale shopping this weekend.

I was going through my mail yesterday (I tend to only do it on weekends) and found a $5 Starbucks card. Yep, I need to keep opening my mail, no matter how junky it looks!

I ordered a wedding gift for my niece, using my Discover cash back points on Amazon, so it was free. She had it on her Wal-Mart gift registry, where it retailed for close to $100. On Amazon, it was only $78, but for me it was free. I texted her mother to see if she could somehow get it off the Wal-Mart registry, so she doesn't get two. She doesn't need two theater-style popcorn poppers! Unless they plan to have really big parties!

Anyway, a free gift has made me feel a little better about the expensive hotel rooms!

My plans today are to do some cleaning, bake a birthday cake, and assemble the enchiladas. The birthday dinner is tomorrow evening, but I won't have time to cook, since I don't get home till 6! But there was no other day that worked, without getting ridiculously late.

Hope everyone has a great Monday.

How Do People Afford Hotel Rooms?

June 20th, 2014 at 03:01 pm

I tried to pin down my brother on where to stay for my niece's upcoming wedding. The family has always made accommodations before -- sometimes on couches and aerobeds, but I've rarely had to get a hotel room. Well, this time, he hemmed and hawed, and I finally figured out that he didn't want to say "no" but he was saying no. I think he is overwhelmed with wedding stuff and he's planning a family dinner after the wedding, so the thought of guests in the house was too much. I wish he had come right out and said so. I don't mind, I just want to KNOW.

So, I reserved two rooms at a nearby hotel for two days. My kids and I will figure out how we will manage with two rooms -- obviously I'm going to have to crash one of them! But I am paying the bill. The total bill is $815, and even half of this is way too much for either of them. I don't want them to decide not to come to the wedding after all!

I am shocked at how high hotel costs have risen. I have stayed in the same hotel in the recent past for $60-70 a night. It's a decent hotel, but trust me, it ain't luxurious!

I think part of the problem is that I'm running into in-season rates. This is a beach town.

I got an offer from Amazon yesterday to buy a gift card for $50 and get a $10 credit. Since I needed another gift for DIL, I went for it. She will be happy to be able to pick something out herself. She's very particular!

Yesterday someone left an apple in the break room. (There is a spot where everyone leaves stuff they are giving away -- it wasn't part of anyone's lunch!) I sliced it this morning and nuked it with butter and brown sugar to make stewed apple for breakfast. Yummy!

I didn't pack a lunch because I just had so much to carry today. I'm going to use my $15 coupon for the cafeteria. I'll finally find out if I have to use it all at once! If I do, I guess I'll stock up on snack food!

I got some extra exercise yesterday. A late train forced me to take a train that didn't stop at my station. It added about 20 minutes to my walk home. At least the weather was nice. I thought I might find some extra coins, with all that added sidewalk to navigate, but I only found one penny!

Found Nine Cents!

June 19th, 2014 at 02:49 pm

It was all in pennies, in three different places.

Now if only I would start finding bigger coins again!

I almost didn't make the train today. I couldn't get up, couldn't face washing my hair, didn't want to carry packing material (I have to mail some packages today). It was all wah, wah, wah, poor me. I wanted to drive, then I wanted to buy breakfast. I'm happy to report that I caught the train on time, washed my hair (though I still have to touch it up with the flat iron), and I ate oatmeal at work. The packing material wasn't that bulky and I carried it fine. Everything that seemed so hard, wasn't. So I saved money on gas and saved money on breakfast.

Last night I made another homemade salad dressing, using the ends of some chipotle and ranchero sauce, along with mayonnaise, oil and vinegar. It's a little thin, so I may add some Greek yogurt tonight. Then I scratched salad dressing off my grocery list!

I'm attending a virtual business meeting today for my professional organization. I wasn't going to, but then I saw that all attendees will have a chance to win a scholarship to next year's national conference in New Orleans. Well, that made it worthwhile! What a good ploy to get people to take part!

What Am I Going to Say?

June 18th, 2014 at 03:36 pm

Sometimes I don't even know what I'm going to say when I start a new entry. Today is one of those days.

I have made a commitment to myself to blog daily on weekdays. It keeps me thinking about finance, even if I have nothing profound to say. And it serves as a kind of diary. Several times I have checked back to see what I was doing on a certain date years ago! It also reminds me of the progress I have made, what "clean living" (financially) has done.

So, today. I woke up very early, but since I also went to bed early, it shouldn't be a problem. The up side of getting up early is that I have plenty of time to get all the morning stuff done. It's a good feeling to make my bed, get my makeup on, clean the cat pan, and really think about what I want to pack for the day. Another chore to add to the list -- check where the cats are! Unfortunately, I closed one of my cats in a closet all day yesterday. For some reason, this cat never lets out a peep when she is closed up, but she did bump on the door to finally let me know. She must have been miserable in there all day. It doesn't seem that she relieved herself, either! When she got out, she went straight to the water dish.

I may have awakened early because of the heat. I have been dealing with 90+ heat in a second-floor unit, with no air conditioning, but, truthfully, it hasn't been too bad! I have to close up the windows during the day because storms are always threatening, but when I get home I open all the windows. When I go to bed, I turn on the big ceiling fan. It keeps me comfortable all night. I WILL buy air conditioners, but it's interesting to me that I am doing fine without them. I wonder if it's just because it's so early in the season, and this old brick building hasn't really absorbed the heat yet!

I bypassed all the temptations in the station this morning, and was rewarded with yet another free breakfast. (Very unhealthy, donuts. But I'll make it up later.)

I brought my own bag of coffee this morning and made a half-pot. Really would like to get away from the Keurig madness.

I've got a Smart One in the freezer for lunch, which I bought on sale and with coupon, so it was about 80c.

Last night I sauteed three chicken breasts. I ate the small one, with a salad, for dinner, and with the other two I will make chicken strips (to top a salad), chicken salad, and chicken fajitas. I'll start on assembling those meals tonight. There were two more chicken breasts that went into the freezer uncooked.

My DIL's birthday is coming and for the past two years I've made her a taco dinner. I just texted her to ask if that was what she wanted this year. If so, that may be what I'm doing this weekend. But she will be awfully busy till the end of this month helping her mother move to a new place, so I may just offer to take her out instead.

I still need to get another gift for her, too. At least it will be the last birthday till Fall, when I have four more -- all the grandchildren, and my son.

Got the Chase card

June 17th, 2014 at 03:21 pm

Finally, the Chase Freedom card arrived in my mailbox. I verified it this morning, and I'll use it later today to pay my insurance premium.

I haven't received the reward yet from my Quicksilver card, but I've more than reached the $500 goal. I assume it will come in the next billing cycle.

Yesterday was a no-spend day. And I didn't use very much of my own food stores, either. With all the free muffins and fruit available, I made them my breakfast and lunch (supplemented by the yogurt I brought from home). For dinner I made a couple of cheese quesadillas and finished up a head of lettuce in a salad.

This morning there were still muffins left, so it was my breakfast again. I'm sure the fruit is in the fridge -- I didn't investigate yet -- but I will later.

I have two packages of chicken breasts to process when I get home tonight. I think I'll cook some chicken strips to put in salad and freeze the rest.

I'm out of Keurig cups, so I think tomorrow I'll just bring a bag of coffee. The drip coffeemaker is still set up in the break room. If I make a pot, someone else might take a cup -- but I think it would still be cheaper! And I actually like the drip coffee better.

Today it's muggy and windy -- storms are forecast, but may be hit or miss. I managed to stay dry this morning -- this evening's walk may be something different!

Weekend Spending

June 16th, 2014 at 04:07 pm

I started my weekend as I usually do in summer -- going to garage sales. This time I went with my son and grandson as well as my DIL's mother. Poor grandson didn't find what he wanted -- Legos -- but he was good and we were able to keep at it for several hours.

My haul: two refrigerator magnets from places I've previously lived, two bone china mugs, an Emeril grill pan (very heavy), a set of brand new cheese spreaders (gift item), a sunhat for my granddaughter and a toy hippo for my grandson. Total spending $8.05. My son was very happy to find bicycle pedals.

After the garage sales I took my son out for Father's Day - $22 for lunch at a sports bar.

Later in the day I went to the grocery store. I spent $28 and bought: dried cranberries, croutons, bag of salad, mustard, rice, chicken breasts, blueberries, granola, chicken broth base, and crackers. And I paid $3 at the door for a candy bar to help out a baseball team.

I stopped in at a nearby shop and bought a necklace and ring for my DIL's upcoming birthday. (Yes, both of my DIL's have a birthday in the same month.) $26. Still need to get a little something more. But at least I don't have to mail it!

On Sunday I went to PetSmart and used a $5 coupon to purchase 28-lb. container of kitty litter. It was also $1.50 off, so I paid $5.44 out of pocket, less than half-price. And I also went to Home Depot for light bulbs - $5.

I also met friends at the pie shop, but only spent $2 on a cup of coffee.

Laundry was $3.

And I paid my $321 mortgage today, and transferred $1400 to savings.

This morning I was treated to a free breakfast again. We are kicking off a two-week fundraising challenge and our boss brought in muffins and fruit to get us going.

I have not yet done anything about the air conditioners, and it's warm today, so I'm expecting a lot of heat at home tonight. But I did want to wait for my Chase Freedom card to arrive before I start making big purchases. If it doesn't come today, I may call them....

It's Pay Day -- Almost!

June 13th, 2014 at 04:03 pm

I say almost because my pay deposit is pending in my account.

I went ahead and paid my credit card bills anyway, just changing the posting date to Monday. I'll pay the mortgage on Monday, and transfer money to savings. It will be $1400.

Yesterday I had free pizza for lunch, in recognition of a colleague who is leaving. After work I went to her farewell party at a wine house. I only bought one glass of wine, but also paid for a colleague who had previously picked up a tab for me. So it was $23. Whew! No one was getting appetizers, and I was starved, so after the party I went to McDonalds and got a burger for $2.

This morning I had a rough awakening, so I decided I would take the edges off by getting a muffin and coffee at the station ($4). Well, that was a bad decision, because when I came to work our office was invited to finish up a breakfast buffet that had been set up for a trustee meeting. I certainly could have forgone the muffin!

I still have two green peppers to use up, as well as some lettuce and cherry tomatoes. So I'm thawing the rest of the sloppy joe filling and will turn it into stuffed peppers. And I'll make a salad on the side.

I'm all for fresh fruits and vegetables, but it sure can be a challenge to use them up in a household of one!

Here Comes the Sun!

June 12th, 2014 at 03:32 pm

After several gloomy, cold and rainy days, it's nice to see the sun peeking out again!

I found a penny this morning -- coin finding has been pretty good this spring; I find something almost every day. I'm getting close to $40 now!

I bought some Father's Day cards at the station for my two sons yesterday. No bargain -- $11 for two cards. But I don't buy them gifts for Father's Day, so a nice card is in order. And I liked what the cards said.

I took off two hours early yesterday because I had worked so long the day before. I didn't get much of anything done at home, however. I was tired and sleepy. I lay down to read and drifted off -- then woke up off and on all night. I think I got plenty of sleep, just a lot of interruption.

It was one of those hungry days yesterday. I started out well with oatmeal for breakfast, then ate an early lunch, a sloppy joe and cherry tomatoes. Starving an hour later, I bought a piece of German chocolate cake at the cafeteria. ($2) When I got home mid-afternoon I was STILL hungry, so I had a hot dog and a big bowl of buttered popcorn. Then I slept through suppertime. Weird day.

This morning I donated $10 to a fund for one of our custodians. He lost a son in a traffic accident and we are collecting for funeral expenses. So sad.

Tonight I'm going to a good-bye party at a local wine bar for one of my co-workers. She is leaving to start her own business with her mother. Pretty gutsy move, but she is bright and talented, and I wish the best for her. We will certainly miss her talents here!

Golf Outing

June 11th, 2014 at 02:07 pm

Yesterday I worked at the College's golf outing/dinner. Easy work, but it comes at the end of the day, so basically I worked from 7AM to 8:25PM yesterday.

I got a free meal, which included pulled pork, baked chicken, ribs -- oh yes, there was stuff that wasn't meat, too! I took a salad and fruit for side dishes. I was going to pass on dessert, but a colleague brought me a brownie. I also got two drink coupons so I used them for glasses of wine.

I spent $5 on raffle tickets, but didn't win anything.

At noon I mailed my DIL's birthday package -- it was $10.

I really, really wanted to go get a muffin at the station this morning, but I resisted. Part of that was that I was already carrying an umbrella as well as my train bag and I knew it would be hard to handle anything extra. I'm going to have oatmeal (which I keep in my desk) instead.

I just realized I will have an early payday this month -- the 15th is on a Sunday, so we will get paid on the 13th instead. Yikes, it's Friday the 13th! So glad I'm not superstitious!

Scrambling for a gift

June 10th, 2014 at 02:57 pm

Yesterday I realized that my Florida DIL's birthday was way sooner than I expected -- like in four days! I always think it's later in the month.

So I scrambled to get together a nice (mailable) present without breaking the bank. I looked at her Amazon list, and, happily, I had a copy of one of the books she wants, and it's in like-new condition. So that was wrapped and went into the box. I also had a darling gold helicopter pin that I picked up a a garage sale. I put it in a pretty box, wrapped it, and it went into the box. I had a Kohl's $10 gift card, so I went and found a pretty infinity scarf in her favorite colors marked down from $28 -- I only paid $6 out of pocket. Put it in a velvet bag and put that into the box. My big spending was on the nail polish she wanted. I went to Ulta and picked up two bottles of Opi -- no deal on that - $17. Carefully wrapped each in tissue paper and wrapped them up in a nice little box. So she has four things to open, including the velvet bag. And two of them are from her wish list.

And I hope to heck she doesn't read my blog! (I don't think so. I've really tried to keep it secret from my family.)

I will mail the box today.

Yesterday, as I mentioned, I had two boxes to mail -- one a box of books for my sister and the other some clothes, books and puzzles for my granddaughter. The two packages were $19.

I didn't pack breakfast this morning so I stopped at McDonald's and got an Egg McMuffin and coffee for $4.

But I packed lunch, and I will get a free dinner tonight -- working at a golf outing, selling raffle tickets and helping with the auction. There is always a nice buffet dinner there.

I learned yesterday that my boss DID get the job at the museum. Now it remains to be seen if I can actually follow her there!

Quick edit: I just applied for a Chase Freedom card, since my Quicksilver is getting near the $500 mark. Already approved! I actually applied a few days ago, too, but I must have skipped something in the app, as nothing happened.