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Archive for July, 2014

July Recap

July 31st, 2014 at 12:02 pm

I will not be spending any more today, so I'm wrapping up July. Here's how it all broke down:

Car Repair/Maintenance: $1038
Housing: $677
Taxes: $317
Furnishings/Equipment/Decor: $277
Fares/Parking: $135
Home Repair/Maintenance: $125
Utilities: $115
Vacation/Travel: $110
Groceries: $110
Fees/Services: $97
Gas: $86
Household Supplies: $70
Phone: $51
Gifts/Charity: $49
Eating Out: $35
Personal: $26
Medical/Health: $23
Entertainment: $12
Laundry: $12
Vet/Pet Supplies: $7
Clothing: $5
Grand Total: $3377

There were a lot of extra's this month -- new brakes and spark plugs, property taxes, my niece's wedding, renewal of AAA and I-Pass, a haircut, electrician's fee, shades for the dining room. The basic things were in line, or low. I'm satisfied!

Also Applied and Approved

July 31st, 2014 at 06:23 am

Like CCF, I got approved for a Citi Thank You card which will earn me 20,000 points after $1,500 in purchases. That's easily done!

On the way home last night, I stopped at Culver's for dinner. $7. I could have powered through and eaten at home, but I knew that as soon as I got home I would have to get to work on taking out the screens. Our building is getting the windows washed today.

My leg continues to hurt, so I was on the internet looking for remedies/diagnoses yesterday. Someone recommended drinking a couple of tablespoons of apple cider vinegar in a glass of water. I did, and I didn't take painkillers last night! However, it's hurting again this morning. Frown

I read about many other alleged health benefits of drinking vinegar, so I might keep going just for the heck of it.

There was also a recommendation to stop eating sugar. Well, I don't know if I can cut it out, but I can cut it down.

Weight loss, of course, is a given as far as helping out your knees.

I had a good talk with my son last night. He has applied for a job in fundraising (my field), specifically in planned giving. Planned giving is donating through one's estate. The position he's applying for would handle the marketing, reporting, donor acquisition and data analysis for a big university. He has experience in data analysis, but everything else would be new to him. I hate to encourage him, really. He would be giving up a secure job with the government to be in a field that is well-known for being volatile. But he really wants a change. He has done the same job since college and there is really no upward mobility.

Today the College is having a big staff barbecue on the mall. Free lunch, woo hoo! But first I have to meet with the auditors, so I guess that is my penance!

Missed the Train Again

July 30th, 2014 at 06:34 am

So it's another day of wasted gas. I woke up with the alarm this morning, but closed my eyes for a minute ... by the time that "minute" was over, it was only one-half hour till the train was scheduled to leave the station. I did my best, but did not make it. So I drove again. Taking a later train is not a good option; it makes me two hours late because of lag time at the downtown station.

I had a long, wakeful period in the middle of the night. For some reason I was re-hashing my life and all the bad choices I made and all the grievances I've had. I don't know why I get into jags like that. Today, in the cold light of day, I am fine with the past and just glad I made the best of things. My screen saver has the saying, "Life is not a matter of holding good cards, but of playing a poor hand well." That's my mantra! I'm determined to play this hand well, no matter what I was dealt.

But it seems it does bother me in the midnight hours.

This probably all stems from having made plans to visit an old professor of mine next month. I wish I had better things to tell him! Suddenly, I am so aware of all my failures -- all the disappointments and setbacks since college days. I thought I had the world by the tail back then!

But I can't deny that I have learned so many life lessons, and I am probably a better person because of my trials than I would have been with an easier life. So I just need to let it go, and take pride in who I've become.

Sorry, very philosophical this morning! More coffee is needed....

Found a Dime

July 29th, 2014 at 06:07 am

Woo-hoo! Found a dime, which puts me REALLY close to the $40 mark in Found Money! Any day now! And I'm also close to the $1000 mark on Snowflakes, so I have two countdowns in progress!

I spent $2 yesterday on a gift for a co-worker -- a beautiful teacup and saucer at Goodwill. I also bought a top for my granddaughter for $2.

And then I stopped at Home Depot and bought 5 LED bulbs. I got $40 off for the contractor discount (no, I'm not a contractor, but they didn't seem to mind). So they were only $27.

I'll be paying my condo insurance today - $160.

Everything else is on autopilot.

Monday Morning

July 28th, 2014 at 08:15 am

My kids were out of town, so it was a quiet weekend for me. I'd like to say I got a lot done, but I had a lot of pain in my knee, so I really DIDN'T get a lot done. (It feels better today.)

Most importantly, I got my mammogram out of the way. Just the routine test; hoping to get the "all clear" in the next few days.

I did the grocery shopping -- 11 items this time, for a total of $46. I bought toothpicks, buns, laundry detergent, coffee, toilet paper, eggs, wine, chicken breasts, baby spinach, raspberries, and an eggplant. I had a $10% off coupon and a coupon to get the chicken for $1.49 a lb. Pretty much everything else was on sale -- my overall savings came up as 32%.

I made eggplant parmesan and chicken with eggplant in garlic sauce. I tried not to make too much, but I still had a lot of leftovers, which I will freeze.

I had to take my laptop to the Geek Squad because the screen was blank. Luckily, they got it working again for nothing, just removed the battery and put it back in again. Then they cleaned off temp files, etc. and let it go through its updates. It's still slow, but if I find it too slow I can get the diagnostic testing done. Unfortunately, I let my service agreement slide, so it would cost $70 to do that. But I think I can still remove a lot of files on my own and make a difference.

I did three loads of laundry for $4.50.

I also went to Home Depot to buy some LED lights for my living room sconces. The nice man there advised me to come back during the week in order to get contractor rates. It will save me $5 a bulb! So I'll do that tonight.

I guess I did get quite a bit done after all!

I drove to work this morning, for no other reason than getting up too late to catch the train. I hate to do that -- when I've already paid for the train ticket, I hate to waste the gas! But what's done is done. I heard the alarm; I just couldn't make myself move!

I got my electricity bill. It was $27, quite modest for the summer. Of course, my cranky wiring has made it difficult to run the air conditioners!

Looking at a quiet week, both bosses on vacation, no big projects at hand. Woo-hoo!

Found Three Cents

July 25th, 2014 at 07:01 am

The total is rising ... I am so close to that $40!

Looks like my suitcase will be delivered today. I am a little nervous; I hope the package thieves have moved on....

After saying that I hardly ever qualify for surveys on MyPoints, I qualified yesterday for a survey that awarded 200 points! It pays to keep trying!

I am close to a $5 Amazon reward on Swagbucks; I will probably get the final points this weekend.

I probably won't do any garage saling this weekend -- my DIL will be out of town, and I have to get a mammogram on Saturday morning.

I prepared and cooked the rest of my fresh green beans last night, but then I got on the phone and forgot the beans were simmering on the stove. The water boiled away and the beans were scorched. Not too terribly, though. I will eat them! The food value is still there.

Weighed in today, and the good news is, I haven't gained.

A penny, and plans

July 24th, 2014 at 06:50 am

I found another penny, and that may be my only financial news! Everything else is on autopilot, which is a good thing, as Martha would say.

I am planning another trip up to Michigan with my son's family on my birthday weekend in August. We had such a good time at my brother's house, we are going to do it again, this time without the distraction of a wedding! Smile I am toying with the idea of staying an extra day to visit my old college -- I would like to talk to the development staff there and compare notes, and I would like to visit with an old professor. We'll see if I can work it out.

After a few weeks of being pretty lenient with myself I'm back on the diet. Once more dealing with those pesky hunger pangs/cravings -- I just have to remind myself that hunger is a sign that it's working and to welcome the minor discomfort!

I am planning a trip to Europe for some undetermined time in the future. I don't know if I'll ever be able to do it, financially, but I am enjoying the planning anyway. I'm in an "if you build it, they will come" mentality. I've centered on London (with side trips to Canterbury and Oxford), as well as Paris and Amsterdam. Right now I'm making a list of the English sites I want to see and peeking at hotels, eateries, etc. So if there is anything I MUST see in London, Paris or Amsterdam, let me know!

MyPoints

July 23rd, 2014 at 06:26 am

My Snowflakes are up to $905 now that I added $25 from MyPoints. I got the Amazon gift card credit. I used to wait for $50 rewards from MyPoints, but now it takes so long to get the points. There aren't nearly as many click-through's as there used to be. I am not one to sign up and register for "special offers" since my mailbox is cluttered enough as it is.

I do always try to qualify for surveys, so I can get the 10 points. I'm almost never accepted for the full survey.

Anyway, my Snowflakes are the highest they've ever been! Getting near $1000 is awesome!

I'm also getting near the $40 mark in found money. The other day my DIL teased me for picking up a penny, and I told her, "Hey, I'm almost up to $40 now." That gave her pause.

Other than purchasing the train pass, which I reported yesterday, I spent no more money. On the way home I was really craving caramel/nut corn from Garrett's and even briefly got in line, but then I thought, "What is this helping? My budget, my diet? No, just my cravings." I got out of line.

Last night I turned on the air conditioner in my bedroom. The ceiling fan was on, too, and I had a lamp on. Nothing else in the condo was on. Poof! Everything went black. Maybe it was the ceiling fan that did it. All I know is, I'm about ready to give up on the air conditioner. I used only the ceiling fan last night, as a storm and cooldown was predicted (and came!) I suppose I can turn on the air when EVERYTHING is off, but that's pretty limiting. I like to read in bed.

I'm starting to get a little tired of vintage charm.

Last night I noticed the cat food bowl was getting low, and this morning I left without refilling it. I feel so bad! I know the cats will be all right today, but they'll be hungry. It seems like I just can't get out the door without forgetting something!

No-Spend Day

July 22nd, 2014 at 07:16 am

Yesterday was a no-spend day. A rarity in a high-spend month!

But this morning I bought my train pass, so that's the end of my "streak." Smile I had to stand in a long line, and I almost missed the train. Kind of foolish, since I have another whole week in which to buy it, but my experience is that the lines just get longer and longer.

Last night I made tuna melts on crescent rolls. Two servings went into the freezer. I'm very well fixed for lunches now. I've been methodically freezing portions of virtually every meal I've made recently. It certainly makes the mornings easier, when I just grab something from the freezer and stick it in my lunch bag.

I went to bed really early last night. I wish I could say I slept the night through, but I had some wakeful times. I did not have the air conditioner on, but used the ceiling fan. It keeps the room comfortable, but it does make my hair tickle my face, which is kind of distracting! I also have a bit of a headache, and I wonder if the fan is responsible for that.

Today is supposed to be the hottest day yet this year, so I guess I'll have the air on tonight!



Happy Monday!

July 21st, 2014 at 07:45 am

It was a good weekend. On Saturday I went to a huge church rummage sale with my DIL and her mom. I can't even describe what an event this was. Parking was almost impossible -- we had to stand in line to get in -- we had to stand in line to check out. They were very well-organized, but the attendance was enormous.

I bought a sugar bowl & creamer in my Old Britain Castles pattern, as well as two bread & butter plates. I also got four matching Pyrex bowls, two colored bottles, a book, a puzzle, and some reading glasses. I spent $30. The OBC items were not especially cheap, but cheaper than I have seen them on eBay.

After the sale, we all went to a local restaurant for lunch. I spent $16 on a steak sandwich, which served as my lunch AND dinner.

In the afternoon I did two loads of laundry for $3, and on Sunday I grocery-shopped -- only $20. My eleven items were spaghetti sauce, applesauce, crescent rolls, frozen peas, fresh green beans, a Vidalia onion, butter, two boxes of potato flakes, and two prepared meatloaves. The meatloaves were BOGO, plus $1.00 off each, so I thought they were worth it. In addition, I got 10% off overall. I had my fried chicken coupon with me, but I went too early in the day -- the chicken hadn't been made yet. So I substituted the meatloaves. They are in the freezer to use another day. Everything else was on sale, except for the butter and onion.

I had a BIG can of tuna in my pantry, and on Sunday I made tuna salad, tuna patties and the makings for tuna melts (in crescent rolls). I think I'll be eating tuna all week!

Also on Sunday, I got a haircut ($17).

I found .09 over the weekend -- a nickel and four pennies, all in different places.

I met a friend at the pie shop (yeah, it's my place). She treated me, because she was trying to get me interested in selling vitamins for a company called USANA. It seemed like a typical multi-level marketing company to me, and I passed. It was a bit uncomfortable. I don't like the concept of friends selling to friends. But I really like this person, so I heard her out. She brought her mom, however, who was a BIG salesperson -- not pushy, but determined! I had to disappoint them.

Once again, I had an awful night's sleep -- my knee hurts the WORST when I'm lying down for some reason. But I'll sleep tonight, once I get through this day!



This is Why I Go to Goodwill!

July 18th, 2014 at 07:58 am

Last night I went to Goodwill and scored two wonderful finds! I found a Baccarat frog paperweight for $3. Perfect condition. This little item retailed for $500 when it was produced and is selling on eBay now for $150 or so. I'll enjoy it for a while but it's eventually going on the selling block.

The other find was a perfect yellow Fiesta teapot. Also $3. That will be a Christmas gift for my DIL. It's worth about $50.

I also found some clothes for the grandkids, some wrap, some decorative file boxes, and two scarves for myself. Altogether I spent $20.

I filled up the gas tank ($37) and went to Wal-Mart for household & pet supplies ($50).

I got home pretty late, and I was tempted the whole way to stop for fast food. I didn't. I was too tired to cook at home, but I had cereal, which was fine. Tonight I'll make the broccoli cheese soup I planned for last night.

And I found .02!

Bought a Suitcase

July 17th, 2014 at 07:07 am

I didn't mention that while I was on my trip, the wheel fell off my rolling duffle bag. It can't be replaced -- the plastic piece that attaches to the bag cracked and broke in half. Not too long ago, the wheel fell off my little Samsonite bag, too. I'm definitely losing my wheels! So yesterday, when I got an email from Groupon that they would chip in $10, I looked for a wheeled bag. I ended up getting a Swiss rolling bag for $77 (after the $10 off). Supposedly the original price is $200. I would never pay that, but $77 is okay. Should be a nice bag! I'm considering it an early birthday present for myself.

I went back to the Amex site and found the $20 Amazon offer. So this morning I ordered a game for my son's birthday, as well as more K-cups and a wooden spoon so I could get free shipping. After the $20 is deducted, I will pay $10 for the lot. I'm kind of excited about the wooden spoon -- it has a squared-off corner so it can be used in straight-sided bowls.

Now I'm going to stop shopping deals for a while!

I drove today so I could pick up x-rays at the hospital, so I will get gas this afternoon. I'm also going to make a stop at the jeweler's -- I brought a diamond necklace whose chain has a knot in it, and the clasp is so small I can't ever get it on and off. I'm going to see if they can replace the chain, or fix it. It's one of those chores I've meant to get done for a while.

I believe I will also stop at Wal-Mart on the way home. My grocery list is getting full of non-food items. It would make more sense to get them at Wal-Mart.

For my weekend grocery shopping, I have a 10% off coupon for my regular grocery store, as well as a coupon for 8 pieces of fried chicken from the deli for $4. I think I will get the chicken. It would make good lunches, something different. I love fried chicken once in a while, but I don't like making it!

Amazon, epiphany, and dolphins!

July 16th, 2014 at 08:04 am

Yesterday I got an email from Amazon with a code for $10 to use by 7/31. It was a reward for buying a $50 gift card (which I gave to my DIL). I had decided I wasn't going to get the reward, because in fact I didn't pay any cash for the gift card -- I had plenty of credit to redeem. But it came! I got online right away and ordered a pack of 72 K-cups. They were free (using a little more Amazon credit). I figure I'm stuck with using K-cups; I might as well get them free.

I had an epiphany this morning when I realized I could take my laundry downstairs on the way out. I just locked it up in my storage unit. Tonight I'll stop in and start a load before going upstairs. I'm trying to limit my stair-climbing, as my leg is really bothering me again. Too much standing at the zoo didn't help any.

But about the zoo -- I had a starring role! My name was chosen out of a lottery to help out in the dolphin show. All I had to do was give some hand signals to the dolphin who was performing -- no getting in the water required! It was fun, especially to have that personal interaction with the dolphin and to see her face so close up.

SOOOoooo, I can cross that off my bucket list. Perform in dolphin show! Okay, it wasn't on my list, but it was still a neat thing to do.

Tired and Happy

July 15th, 2014 at 07:32 am

What a wonderful weekend! My niece's wedding went off without a hitch, my brother's new house is fabulous, and we had lots of fun boating, tubing, swimming, playing games, and EATING, EATING, EATING! (Got to be good now!)

The spending wasn't awful. I spent $50 eating out, $87 on gas, and $21 for pictures. I truly meant to get a housewarming gift for my brother, but since my son had my car, I didn't have much opportunity to get out and get something. So I'll have to send something.

This morning I caught up on all my financial stuff, since it is payday. The highlights are: $300 in rewards were logged in from Cap One and Chase. (No longer working on a credit card reward.) I paid my mortgage and the credit cards, as well as my property taxes. My I-Pass payment ($40) was taken out of my Discover account.

After I got home I did laundry ($3) and went grocery shopping ($28). My ten grocery items were paper towels, dryer sheets, K-cups, tuna, bread, margarine, yogurt, cheese slices, almond milk and broccoli.

Today I'm going to the zoo with my office (one of those bonding things). It means a free lunch! My legs are really hurting again from all the weekend activity, so I hope it won't be excruciating walking around the zoo.

The Damage

July 10th, 2014 at 06:20 am

The car repair came to $1038. I can't believe how much better the ride is, and how unaware I was of how bad it was getting.

I charged it to my Chase Freedom card just at the right time -- it will not appear on this month's statement, but next. That's good because I may be able to pay for it out of my cash flow rather than having to dip into savings.

I did a little pre-packing last night, and some texting with my kids. I decided that sleeping in one of the kids' rooms was not going to work for me -- two rowdy boys in one, a night-owl toddler in the other. I'm sleep-challenged enough already! I tried to get another room, but the hotel is full. (Though I do have an alert in place, if a room opens up.) But my SIL graciously encouraged me to stay at their house. I'll have a couch one night, and a bed after the wedding is over. I think I'll take them a nice bottle of wine!

She also told me to see about getting life-jackets for the kids, since we may be going out on their boat. My guess is that one grandson, at least, will be terrified, but we'll give it a go!

I forgot to mention that I found a penny the other day, and it was a special one! It was a 1903 Indian head penny. It was in pretty good condition, too. I gave it to my grandson for his treasure box. I believe the value is something around a dollar or two, but, who knows, it may grow in value over his lifetime!

The Word on the Car

July 9th, 2014 at 07:57 am

I got the call from the shop as I was walking to the train yesterday, so I couldn't capture all the details -- but the gist of it is, the cost to repair the brakes and replace the muffler/exhaust system -- and all the little things like lights, hoses, wiper blades, etc. -- was $2,500. I opted to go only for the brakes and the necessary items to keep the car safe. I think that will bring the cost down to around $1,000. While that is daunting, I have done pretty well on repairs over the life of the car. In 2011, it averaged $86 a month; in 2012 it was $183 a month, in 2013 it was $100 a month, and this year ... it's been $0 so far. We're talking about a 12-year-old car. And the above figures include routine maintenance.

I didn't go with the new exhaust system because the car is only worth $5,000 and I only want to keep it for one more year. The mechanic did not think it was unsafe to drive with the exhaust system in the shape it's in. And it's not noisy, at least not to me.

I'm glad I have a nice emergency fund. I remember when a quote like that used to tear up my gut. Now it's, "Oh well, that's what the EF is for!"

I just heard from a colleague who sits on the same board that I do. Her position at work has been eliminated due to reorganization. She has been with this organization for almost 12 years and it's quite a shock. She's single, so no second income to fall back on. I feel so bad for her. I can't even imagine how she must feel. I don't know anything about her financial situation, but I hope she has a cushion.

It seems like no one is safe these days!