Home > Archive: October, 2014

Archive for October, 2014

It's Snowing!

October 31st, 2014 at 01:17 pm

Big flakes, too! They said that it might happen. Poor kids -- snow on Halloween! At least our little neighbor who is dressing up as Olaf the Snowman will be warm. My grandsons are going as the Kratt brothers, so I guess they'll have to layer up under their safari jackets.

No real financial news. I am planning to buy my train ticket this evening in the station, hoping that it will post later so it can go toward my November Discover bill. Tomorrow I'm going with my son's family to Medieval Times, but I'm also going to try to get a haircut, get some laundry done, and check out washer/dryers.

I have more laundry than usual because I found two sweaters my cats had peed on. Last winter I discovered (belatedly) that if I put my sweater drying racks on the floor, they would pee on them. I thought I caught them all, but when I pulled these two sweaters out, they had that distinctive smell. Ugh. Hope I can get it out, after they set all summer. I now use the drying racks on the dining room table, and I tilt them against chair backs, so the cats can't get on them.

I brought in a breakfast sandwich today, but quickly put it in the freezer when I realized there was free breakfast in the break room. Big, soft oatmeal raisin cookies, which I call breakfast cookies! Okay, not the greatest breakfast, but no worse than muffins.

Last night I went to bed early because a pain in my foot was driving me crazy. It is a neuroma, which is a swelling in the nerve or inflammation around the nerve at the base of a toe. It comes and goes. When it's inactive, my foot is fine, but when it's active the pain is excruciating. I took three Advil and tried to read in bed to distract myself. I finally fell asleep and this morning my foot is fine.

It is the same leg in which I suffered the broken ankle -- don't know if there is a relationship, but at any rate, there is no treatment other than pain management.

The social security talk I attended yesterday was very informative. Most of it I knew already, but some things were clarified for me. I learned that if my ex were to die, I would receive somewhere between 75% and 100% of his survivors benefit -- EVEN IF I MARRIED AGAIN! And I wouldn't have to wait till age 66 to collect. Of course, he is healthy as horse, and I don't wish him ill!

I learned that I have three months after retirement to secure my Part B Medicare supplement. (I already have Part A). He advised that I talk to my doctor to see what plans he accepts. I looked on the website, and it looks like Blue Cross/Blue Shield Medicare Advantage would be a good choice.

I learned that I can continue to work after receiving benefits, but my benefits would be reduced if I earned more than $15,480 annually.

All very interesting!

A New Pay Schedule?

October 30th, 2014 at 12:56 pm

No spending yesterday or this morning.

Our payroll office is proposing that salaried employees switch from our current once-a-month pay schedule to twice a month. Not bi-weekly, but two fixed pay days each month. I'm not sure what the advantage is for the College, but they are pushing the idea that it will make it easier for employees to manage their money.

I, for one, find it much easier to manage on a once-a-month schedule. All my bills are once a month. I pay for everything I can on a credit card, so my basic expenses are pretty much once a month, too. I think the people who want two paychecks a month are the ones that don't pay attention and don't manage well -- and two paychecks aren't going to help.

But I'm a short-term employee now, so I will go with the flow.

Today I'm going to a informational session on social security. I went to basically the same thing last year; this year I'm just going to make sure there haven't been any updates that I need to know about.

The director at the university where I interviewed indicated that they might reach a decision tomorrow. I hope so. I will be glad to have it settled, and not remain in limbo.

They haven't asked for references -- which I think is not a very good sign! Of course, they have my former boss right there as a reference and advocate.

Yesterday I made a big goof in my role as treasurer for my professional organization. I got an email invoice from a photographer who provided services at our latest conference. She requested that it be handled through PayPal, if possible. Somehow, I translated that as having to set up an invoice in PayPal, which meant I was billing her! I immediately realized my error (but not before the invoice went out) and sent her an apology. She was very nice about it and said she had days like that, too. Geesh! I hate it when I do things that are so "senior!"

Interview Over

October 29th, 2014 at 02:54 pm

Well, it's done. It was a good day, overall. I talked to six different people and took a research/writing test and an editing test. I feel that I presented myself well and that people liked me and enjoyed talking to me. I learned that I was one of four finalists. That said, I still don't think I'll get the job. But I'm glad I had the experience. But I guess I feel like it's more of a possibility than I did before. It was great to get the inside view of a big fundraising operation that works well.

After the 3-hour interview, I drove to a far western suburb to pick up tickets for Medieval Times. I'd bought them at a special price through our suburban newspaper publisher and had to go to their main office to get the actual tickets. But it was a pretty day for a drive.

When I got home, I couldn't park because of street sweeping, so I went to the grocery. I wasn't going to shop this week, but since I had to go somewhere, I thought I might as well. I spent $58. In addition to some fresh fruits and vegetables, and the few pantry items I needed, I stocked up on coffee, both Keurig and in the bag. They were on clearance. The bag coffee was Dunkin' Donuts, Apple Pie flavor and Eggnog flavor. I'm looking forward to trying them.

Other spending was $12 for parking (at the interview site) and $6 for breakfast at Starbucks, because I got there early.

So it's back to reality today.

Oh, and by the way, the wool suit worked out great and I was so pleased that I didn't have to shell out for a new one. I did notice, though, that my scarf had a $10 price tag on it! It was a small sticker on the underside of a tag, so I don't think anyone would have noticed it. Hey, at least it wasn't .50, like most of my scarves!

The Suit

October 27th, 2014 at 01:16 pm

I'm going to wear the suit I already have for the interview. I tried it on, and it fits, though it's a bit tight. I moved the buttons on the jacket and the button on the pants. It will do, especially after it loosens up a bit after wearing (it's wool).

Being wool, it may be too warm for the day, since we're having unseasonably warm weather. But tomorrow is supposed to be colder. Anyway, I don't think anyone will register what kind of fabric I'm wearing.

It's plain charcoal gray, and I'll wear a black shell and a black and white scarf.

My backup outfit is a pair of cream-colored pants and a black jacket with white pinstripes. I'll wear that if it turns out to be really summery weather.

I just couldn't see investing so much money in an item of clothing I won't wear much, for the sake of a job I probably won't get anyway.

It wasn't a spend-free weekend, however. I wrote a check to the upholsterer for $450. Unfortunately this expense came too late to help with the Citi bonus and too early for the Discover bonus. Phooey. So I wrote a check, which was the upholsterer's preference.

I also spent $31 on kitty litter and cat food. No groceries this weekend. I'm going to live on what I have in my pantry and freezer.

Also spend $1.50 on a load of laundry.

I'll be glad when tomorrow's over. Even when there's not a lot at stake, an interview is a stressful experience!

It's Friday!

October 24th, 2014 at 01:20 pm

Gee, the weeks go so fast now. My retirement will be here before I know it.

Unless, by some miracle, I DO get the university job. It's kind of strange preparing for the interview on Tuesday. I feel pretty relaxed, since I'm just going through the motions. I'm going to be myself and enjoy the experience. Learn what I can. Try to connect with the people. I don't feel any pressure to come up with a "script" with all the right buzzwords. I'm past that kind of stuff. My experience speaks for itself. Anyway, the only reason they would take me above the "powerhouse" candidates I'm competing with is because they like me better! So I'm better off being genuine. It's my strength, actually.

That said, I do want to look good! I'll get a manicure this weekend. My hair is fine, doesn't need a cut yet. I'll figure out the clothes this weekend, whether it's wearing something from my closet or buying something new. I'm glad I already have nice footwear.

The weather is supposed to be really nice this weekend, so I'm going to be sure and get outside! Maybe a walk along the beach, while I can still do it!


October 23rd, 2014 at 04:57 pm

Train troubles. Missed the early train, missed the NEXT one, and got to work after 9! AUUuuugggghhh!

I would have driven after the first miss, but I didn't want to take the car into the city tonight. But guess what, my dinner in the city was cancelled. AAuuuugggghhhh!

I had to go straight to a meeting after I got to work, and now the day is half gone and I've done basically nothing.

No money news, except I threw away $2.20 on a cup of coffee this morning while I killed time in the station.

And I guess it's good money news that my dinner was cancelled, because now the cost can go on next month's Discover bill!

This and That

October 22nd, 2014 at 12:59 pm

I'm wearing another of my $1 Goodwill purchases -- this one an argyle sweater. Totally pleased with the way it looks and feels!

I did laundry last night ($1.50). I'm gradually switching from doing all my laundry on weekends to doing laundry when I have a full load. I think it will save overall.

I did not try on the suit that I'm hoping to wear for the interview. I don't know whether it truly slipped my mind, or if I am avoiding the issue. I do have a feeling I'll be shopping for a suit this weekend.

I bought caramel corn in the station last night ($4). This is truly my new vice. At least I get the kind with the nuts so it has some nutrition.

I cooked two pounds of sausage links in the oven, so I will have those for mobile breakfasts. If I combine them with Grands biscuits they will make a good breakfast sandwich.

Last week I bought a couple of boxes of Keurig cups that were on the clearance shelves. I had a nice surprise this morning when I tried one -- it is actually more of a cappuccino than coffee, and very tasty! I've never had a Keurig before that includes the creamer.

Soon it will be time to buy my train pass. However, I think I will wait till the last day. I would prefer for it to post in November. That will probably mean waiting in a line, as there are many who wait till the last day! Probably not because they are managing their credit card bonuses, either!

The Car Seat, the Interview Suit, and CC Bonuses

October 21st, 2014 at 01:06 pm

Well, it turned out to be a rather spendy day yesterday. It cost $89 to send the car seat to my son. The first quote was $135, so the folks at the UPS store really worked with me to get the cost down. They essentially created a smaller box so I wouldn't have to pay for the larger standard size. I'm going to send them a thank you note today, because they were so helpful.

Yes, I know sending them money to buy a new one would be more logical, but the fact is, they really want this particular car seat because their daughter was so comfortable in it.

I also bought gas for $32.

I got a call from the university to set up an interview time. I am going through the process. I asked them to set me up for next Tuesday. Now I have to figure out something to wear. My last "interview" suit I gave away after losing weight. I do have a suit that I bought at a resale shop, but I think it is probably too small now. I could wear contrasting pants and jacket, but that is not optimal for an interview. Or I could buy a new suit. Money issues aside, that is not an easy solution, as I usually need to have the pants shortened. I know, I know, I should have been thinking about this before. I think I was afraid that buying a suit would jinx me.

Since I'm reasonably sure I'm not going to get the job, I'm not pumped up to get a new suit. On the other hand, I don't want to come looking rag-tag. I'll think about this. (Maybe the suit I have will fit, after all! I'll try it on tonight.)

I believe I have now spent enough on my Citi card to get the bonus. I have to find the terms to make sure, but I believe it was $1500 in spending within three months. That's about where I am. The bonus will be either $100 or $150 -- not sure about that, either! I'll get it all figured out for sure today.

If I have met the terms, then I will spend only cash for the last 10 days of this month. I would try to go no-spending, but I am committed to going out to dinner on Thursday. Come November 1, it's back to putting purchases on the Discover card.

A Quiet Weekend

October 20th, 2014 at 01:16 pm

It was a quiet weekend. I was supposed to work on Saturday for Homecoming, but one of my co-workers insisted on taking my shift, since she was going to be stuck there anyway. It was very nice of her.

On Saturday morning, my couch was picked up by the upholstery team. The owner was supposed to call with an estimate, but she hasn't done so yet. I'll call her today if she doesn't make the call herself.

I grocery-shopped on Sunday, spending $54, so I could use my $5 off $50 coupon. I bought some pricey vinegars and oils. I've been making my own salad dressing and I wanted to branch out into new recipes. The toasted sesame oil alone was $7.99, so I hope it is worth it in the end.

I made a big pot of chili, ate two servings and froze the rest. I also made muffins and boiled eggs for breakfasts-on-the-go. I had plans to make a chicken stir-fry dinner, but that didn't get done. I'll make it tonight.

I made some popcorn on the stovetop, which pretty much didn't pop. I Googled for possible reasons, and read that I should soak it in water, then store in the fridge. I'm giving it a try. Apparently popcorn should not get too dehydrated.

I did just one load of laundry. None of the other bins were full, and I don't like to run small loads, since I'm paying a set price.

Someone must have opened the door of my dryer, because when I went down to get my load, I found a dryer full of wet clothes. Who would do that, and not start it up again? I couldn't start it up again without another trip up and down the stairs to get more change.

I was so ticked off I just took all the wet clothes to my condo and hung them up. They turned out fine, though it was a bit of a hassle, and it meant my shower was unusable for a day.

Today I drove in so that I can take the car seat to a pack 'n' ship place. I'll get gas, too.

On Wednesday I'm meeting my former boss for dinner, along with another co-worker. It will be downtown, so not cheap, but I'll take the train and not attempt parking downtown again!

The Soft Letdown

October 17th, 2014 at 01:24 pm

My former boss, who recommended me for the university job, called me yesterday to give me what I call the "soft letdown." She said she was withdrawing from the selection process, and leaving it up to the director of the department. She said there were a lot of impressive resumes rolling in, including people who had been turned down for the director position when it was filled a few months ago.

This is no more than what I expected. I knew that the competition would be fierce.

She encouraged me to continue to go through the process, whatever that means. I don't know if I'll even get an interview. If I do, I'll go through the routine, but I am not holding out much hope.

The other position, the museum job, has not materialized. My other former boss has received a promotion, so I am not sure she even has jurisdiction over the same department any more. At any rate, she has not given me any updates on whether the position was ever created.

I am curiously untouched by this. Even though continuing to work would be financially advisable (and I'll do it, if I can), I am excited by the prospect of free time, lazy mornings, and unstructured hours. I am not afraid of stringency. I've already had so much of it in my life, I don't look at it as something that is frightening. I will have enough -- just enough. And after I'm 70, when I'm drawing my full Social Security, I'll have a little more.

My plan is to intensively journal about my experience and try to produce a book. I'll probably do a lot of my journaling here, so you'll all get a preview! I'll be doing this mostly for myself; I realize that such a book won't be a hot seller, or perhaps not even publishable! But nowadays there's always self-publishing on the internet, right?

In other news, I continue to find coins almost every day, and my "found money" is growing. So are my snowflakes. I added $3 from Pine Cone today.

Following on the heels of our college president's resignation, we are now hearing that our Vice President for Financial Affairs is leaving. I'm now wondering if there is a financial scandal to be uncovered. Or if the higher administration is just seeing the college as a sinking ship. I'm glad my time is so short, and that my retirement funds are secure in TIAA-CREF.

Thanksgiving Fare

October 16th, 2014 at 01:45 pm

When you feel good after spending on something, it was probably money well spent!

This morning I bought an airline ticket for my sister to come for Thanksgiving. It was a good fare, $286. It went on my Citi card, so now only $183 is left to spend before reaching the bonus level. That should be easily done in regular spending.

This is not only a gift for her, but for the whole family, because Thanksgiving is just not Thanksgiving if my sister isn't there!

I had an awful day yesterday. Without going into detail, I basically got blamed (publicly) for not doing something I did not know I was supposed to do. It is very possible I forgot, but I have no memory of being told. Today the issue is all resolved, and no one is unhappy except the original blamer, and I think she had an agenda of her own. Anyway, it made for an awful day. I'm glad it all came out okay. And it makes me wonder if I really want to go on working even if I am offered a new position. I don't mind work, but office politics is something else!

At least I got a free lunch yesterday, because pizza was brought in for a good-bye party, and there is enough left over for lunch today!

AND, I didn't find any coins this morning, but I found two "Super Saver" stamps in the station, which I'm saving for a Cuisinart pan at the grocery! My cheap Bialetti frying pans have already lost their non-stick quality and the white interior is looking grungy. So I guess that experiment was a predictable failure!

Pay Day

October 15th, 2014 at 01:54 pm

Whew! My pay day tasks are done. When I logged into Discover this morning, I realized that the $1908 for the car repair did NOT get included in this month's bill, so the transfer from my slush fund was unnecessary. I transferred back, with a little extra. I had a small Citi bill to pay, and I almost freaked out when I couldn't find my account on the site. Then I realized that I have two accounts with different id's and passwords. So that is paid. I transferred my mortgage payment from the e-fund (both held by the same credit union). I have started doing this for the sake of convenience; it is much easier than writing and mailing a check. The e-fund gets replenished regularly, anyway. Every paper check I receive goes there, as well as the "sweep" at the end of the pay period.

I updated the sidebar. Even with the stock market drop, my net worth has stayed pretty steady. The only part of my portfolio that is affected by the market is a small portion of my retirement fund, and the Cap One Sharebuilder account. That, by the way, is just fun money -- I got $75 for opening the account, then another $75 because there was some confusion about getting credited for it, so I got the bonus again. So it's mostly just free money. It's fun to watch it grow. I would have added to the account, but I've been focused on buying the condo, growing my e-fund, and my retirement fund.

So it will be NEXT month, when the big bills come in, and the slush fund really gets hit.

I have to spend about $500 more this month to get my Citi bonus. Looking at mattresses yesterday, I realized a good set will cost more than that, so I think I'll wait until later. I will probably spend another couple hundred this month on regular stuff. I have several ideas kicking around for the other $300, but nothing decided yet. If worse comes to worse, I'll get myself gift cards for groceries, Home Depot and PetSmart, to use later.

Tuesday Ramblings

October 14th, 2014 at 02:00 pm

The tire repair was $212, including the mount and balance. I don't think I got any bargain, but I do have BIG tires, so I knew it wouldn't be cheap.

I got to talking about grocery shopping with the auto shop dealer, and he sent me a link to something called Instashop. It's a grocery delivery service like Peapod, but with only a $3 delivery charge, and it's local. He also sent me a link to get $10 off my first order. I actually like to go to the grocery store, but I might check it out in order to get the $10 off.

This morning I bought breakfast at Corner Bakery ($4). I didn't really have anything to pop in my bag, though I did pack lunch.

My financial tasks today are to send my check for the dining room furniture to my brother's MIL, and to buy quarters at the bank. I'm clean out, and the laundry is still piled up.

Tomorrow is payday. I will have to take money from the slush fund to pay my Discover bill. I was hoping the big car repair bill would cycle over to next month. I suppose it doesn't matter. Money spent is money spent.

Speaking of money, I'll be mattress shopping this weekend. I'm investigating whether I can get a Holder mattress, which is an Indiana company. My Holder was the best mattress I ever had. But if I have to haul it myself from Kokomo (the nearest factory) it would be too expensive. I don't think they sell in any stores except their own, but we'll see. I have sent an email to their customer service department.

Uh-oh, another car expense

October 13th, 2014 at 02:05 pm

I was pulling away from the curb Saturday morning and immediately knew something was very wrong. I pulled over and saw that I had a flat tire. Very flat. There was an auto shop very close by so I limped there on the rim. I guess I shouldn't have done that, because the dealer said that driving on it, even a short distance, made the tire unrepairable. They could not find a suitable replacement tire on the weekend, so the car is still there. The mechanic said the tires overall were in great shape, so only the one replacement is needed.

I have no idea what might have caused this. Last time I drove, Thursday evening, it was fine.

So I'm thinking -- no problem, this will help me meet the $750 I need to spend on my Citi card! This must be what it's like to be rich. To feel that spending is no problem.

Later that day I took my son and grandsons to see "The Boxtrolls" ($24) and I spent $71 at the grocery store. I also spent $6 on a prescription, earning a $25 gift card since it was a new prescription, and I had a coupon.

I also found .40 in change in various places! As you can see on my sidebar, I'm getting close to $1000 in snowflakes! (That was helped along by a Discover cash back bonus of $18.)

I also did two loads of laundry for $3.

Sunday was a wasted day. I got a few things done in the morning, but at noon my son's family picked me up to go to my ex's house for a cookout. I was happy to be invited, but we ended up staying till 7 pm, way past my tolerance level, and I had no getaway car. Oh well, at least it was extra time with the grandkids.

I'll be happy to have my car back tonight, assuming it will be ready today!

Discover Bonus/Citi Bonus

October 10th, 2014 at 01:59 pm

My work toward the Discover bonus is already done this month. When I dropped off the car yesterday morning, I asked them to investigate the sticking lock on the driver's door, and to fix if they could. They did, and it added another $300 to the bill. All together, with taxes added on, the car repairs cost $1908.

So, December spending quota -- done! And my car is in tip-top shape now.

I realized the other day that I still have the Citi card bonus to work on, and that I need to spend $790 in this last month to get the $100 bonus for that. (Duh!) So I'm switching to Citi for normal expenses, and I may use it to buy a new mattress/box spring. I also need to ship a carseat to my son in Florida (long story) and that will probably be a bit pricey.

My couch will be picked up (to get recovered) on the 18th, but I'm not sure if I will need to pay at that time. Probably not until it is finished, which will be in early November.

I will also have some costs for transporting my new dining room set. I will be using brother express, but I will be paying his gas and any related expenses that come up.

Also in November, I'm getting a crown on one of my molars. That will be about $400 after dental insurance kicks in. November will bring Christmas expenses, Thanksgiving travel, and Black Friday (I'm going to try to snag a TV this year, but only if I find a great deal.)

Before the Discover challenge ends, I want to get a washer/dryer installed. That might be a December or January project.

It will be both weird and a relief to go back to frugality in February. Right now that seems a long way off, but it will go quickly.

In other news, my cousin sent me a check for $431, paying for the airline travel associated with getting her to Florida. I thought she would only pay a portion, so this was a nice surprise.

This and That

October 9th, 2014 at 01:56 pm

Dropped my car off this morning for exhaust replacement. I also asked them to look at the lock on the driver's side which is getting stuck. That added another $70 to the bill just for the diagnosis.

Since I arrived too early, I stopped and had breakfast at Panera. Their breakfast sandwich is definitely a cut above fast food! It was delicious and HOT! $7 for the sandwich and coffee.

I spent another $1.50 on laundry last night. Still have several loads to do before I get caught up.

I'm planning chicken fajitas for dinner tonight. I brought in lobster mac & cheese and mashed sweet potatoes for lunch (the last of my leftovers from the expensive restaurant dinner).

Brought in my last box of Keurig cups, so I must make a new order.

I'm wearing one of my "new" $1 blouses from Goodwill today. It's one of those happy buys where the blouse fits perfectly and looks good. It looks more professional than what I usually wear, and that's a good thing!