Home > Archive: November, 2014

Archive for November, 2014

Small Business Saturday

November 29th, 2014 at 11:20 pm

My sister, SIL and I went to an upscale women's resale shop for Small Business Saturday. I was armed with my Amex card to get the $10 rebates. At first I didn't find anything, but my SIL became my personal shopper, and found some great things. I ended up buying a sweater, two vests, a jacket and a pair of pants. Everything was 40% off, and I will get $20 off from Amex, as well, because I bought them in two transactions. The third transaction was on my sister's finds; she will pay me back. Right now I'm not sure what my personal total was, but I think it was somewhere in the neighborhood of $20-25.

Afterwards we went to Kohl's. I bought a pair of pajama pants; I think they were around $12. I don't have my receipts near to hand, but I'll figure it all out later.

This has been a really nice holiday. Tomorrow I head home. My sister will stay with me one more day and then fly home on Tuesday. Then on December 8 I'll fly to North Carolina to drive my cousin to Florida. A lot of traveling in a short amount of time!

Discover Challenge

November 29th, 2014 at 01:15 pm

I checked Discover this morning and it said I had reached 100% of my $2000 spending requirement and that I am on track for the bonus. However, there are two reimbursements pending, which are counterbalanced by two pending purchases (movie tickets and CVS). I have really, truly spent $2000 within the time period but I never really trust a big company -- just hope the timing doesn't mess me up.

I was wondering what the return would bring, since I used a lot of cashbucks to make the purchase. I was reimbursed with credit, and the cashbucks are used up. Seems like kind of a loophole, but I'm not complaining.

My family went to see the new Disney movie -- the title escapes me, but it's about superheroes. Good fun for the boys. One of these days, I'd like to take in a grown-up movie again! I bought the tickets for my crew, and my brother bought popcorn.

Today my sister and my SIL will go to a resale shop to make some Small Business Saturdays purchases on Amex. Might make a bakery stop, as well, though we are loaded with leftovers, and that might not be wise.

I sure am enjoying the view here! The lakeside is beautiful, even with bare trees and snow on the ground. There was a gorgeous pink sunrise this morning. Wish I could stay forever!

A Lovely Day

November 28th, 2014 at 02:16 pm

Thanksgiving was a lovely day, with good food, lots of family, games and laughter. It snowed all day, but we were cozy inside. There were 24 people for dinner, and different family groups came and went all day.

I picked up my sister at the airport on Tuesday night. Parking only cost $2, which was a big win, though I almost couldn't find the car again!

We headed up north on Wednesday morning, missing the bad traffic, and we stopped for a pancake breakfast along the way, which was about $18 for the two of us. At one point, while talking about what we packed, my sister realized she didn't pack enough underwear, and I didn't pack enough socks, so we stopped at a CVS to remedy that. I think I spent about $8 for a pack of socks.

I checked my Discover bill and have spent 99% of the $2000 required for November. Actually, not everything was counted yet, so I know I am over the top. The only spending I will do from now on is to go to a movie today (family tradition) and Small Business Saturday shopping with my Amex card.

At Home Today

November 25th, 2014 at 02:22 pm

I don't know what I did, but I hurt my knee yesterday. This would be the other knee, not the one that gave me so much trouble before. I can barely move around this morning, so I am going to work from home.

This is actually good in a way, because I will be home (I hope) when the Bose is delivered. They left an attempt-to-deliver message yesterday and they will try again today. I say "I hope" because I have to go to the airport to pick up my sister today. I hope they will not deliver while I am gone. Her plane arrives at 4 something, so it's not the best timing.

I did go to the dentist yesterday and now have a new temporary crown. It sure feels a lot better. There was no charge.

It's cold again in my condo. Clearly, whenever it is cold outside, it will be cold inside. (We had a notice from the homeowners' association that the furnace has been worked on but will work on a sensor system, meaning it will cycle on and off. It doesn't seem to cycle on very often.) I have my radiators full on; that's all I can do. I am wearing layers today; I will adjust.

Today I need to pack and make my cranberry salad. I'm contemplating taking a bag of laundry to my brother's house. I'm also contemplating getting a hotel room tonight. Since I have no couch, I will have to give my bed to my sister (she has a bad back), and sleep with her (yeah, right, I can't sleep even when I sleep alone! And she really snores) or sleep on the floor. If I spring for a hotel room, we could leave tonight, get a jump on the trip, and miss most of the bad traffic, as well as be a lot more comfortable, in separate beds. It's a thought.

I got my $100 check from Citi yesterday and put it in checking. It will help me to cashflow this month's Discover bill.

Seems like nothing is really going right now, but I AM looking forward to the holiday and the family gathering! Thanksgiving is really my favorite holiday!

One of those weekends

November 24th, 2014 at 05:02 pm

This weekend was spendier than I anticipated. It began on Friday, when I got lunch at the cafeteria -- empanadas and plantains for $7. You would think something nice and soft like that would not break my temporary crown, right? Wrong. The crown is busted. I called the dentist's office, but my dentist was out, and not available till today. Since it wasn't completely broken and was not painful, I went with that.

So on the way home, I stopped at Walgreen's and got some kind of goop to patch it, as well as milk and frosting for my son's birthday party, spending $10. I ended up not using the goop, since the crown is still holding, so I might return it.

On Saturday morning, I spent $4.50 on laundry. Then I went to the doctor to have him look at the mole on my back again. That was $15 more. (He froze it again, but it's still there as of today.)

I went to the grocery to finish up shopping for my son's birthday party and spent $32. I bought a cake, since I lost a lot of time at the doctor's, and I also bought some prepared fruit salad.

The party went great, but my gift was a scream. When I ordered from his Amazon gift list, I did not realize that they showed me "bestsellers" first rather than his real picks. I bought 3 CDs and a movie he didn't want! (I thought they were kind of odd choices for him!) Well, his wife and kids want to keep two of the CDs -- one CD and the movie are going back. I had him order a game for himself in place of the returns. Bah! Since they were bought mostly with cashback rewards, I'm not sure what I'll be refunded, and the rewards are gone, so I think I lost some money on that deal.

On Sunday I went back to the grocery because my brother called and asked me to bring cranberry relish to Thanksgiving dinner. I spent $40 -- most of that going to a bottle of Grand Marnier. I guess I could have left it out of the relish, but I do hate to be cheap when my brother is providing so very much....

I still had two stops to make. At PetSmart I bought more kitty litter and three-day fish pellets, and I also got a supersize litter pan. All that was $32. Then I went to Kohl's to use my Kohl's cash. I ended up buying a Christmas wreath for my door, $11 after using the Kohl's cash and getting the wreath half off. It will look a lot better than my morning glory wreath, which is very summery! I couldn't find anything gifty or anything else I really needed.

So, it will be back to the dentist this afternoon -- probably another charge. I may not get that Target gift card on Black Friday -- I may have already met the $2000 by then!

My Bose is supposed to be delivered today. I wish I could have stayed home to accept it, but the broken crown made that impossible. I hope they will be smart and leave an attempt-to-deliver notice!

New Earrings

November 21st, 2014 at 02:15 pm

This morning, when I got to the downtown station, I realized I wasn't wearing earrings. Now, ordinarily, I would not let that bother me, but today we are having a very important meeting with the new interim president. I dressed very carefully today and I didn't want to spoil it with bald earlobes!

So I went to Hudson News, where they had a 2 pair for $20 sale. I picked out two, since I could really use new earrings anyway -- or the second pair may be a gift; I haven't decided. Anyway, when the price rang up, the 2 for $20 price was not in the cash register. I pointed out the sign to the cashier, and she gave me the employee discount. So they were only $18! So at least I can feel good about getting a deal.

I will have to buy lunch today, too. I did have some cranberry bread in the freezer to bring for breakfast, but there was nothing ready for lunch. I would say I'm slipping, but I can tell you exactly what happened -- my unit is so cold, I am going to bed almost as soon as I get home, just so I can get under the covers. (A comforter and two quilts!) I am going to call maintenance today. This is ridiculous. The trouble is, I know the radiators are working. I think they have set the thermostat low to save money. But I will call and see what I find out. At least the temperature will climb this weekend, so I may have a few days of comfort. But what's going to happen when the polar vortex hits?

Anyway, I am getting nothing at all done in the evenings because I am too cold to function. I can't even read in bed because my hands are too cold outside of the covers!

So, back to the meeting today. Our new interim president is scheduling meetings with all the various departments, but the boss of each department is not invited, so that everyone can be open about their thoughts on the college, the workplace, the future, etc. A smart move, I think, but it's not going to work for our department, because our boss WILL STILL BE THERE! Not the VP, who is the figurehead, but the exec director who actually runs the place, and runs the VP. I have referred to her in earlier posts as "mean girl." Yep, she's planning to be there, so everyone will be zip-lipped as usual. A shame.

All this will be easier to bear knowing that I only have to put in one more year. Then I'm done with office politics forever! Hurray!

Ordered the Bose

November 20th, 2014 at 02:21 pm

Yesterday I ordered the Bose wave system. It was approximately $600, for the version that hooks up to a computer/phone. It also plays CDs and AM/FM radio. Has an alarm, too, though I won't use it for that! I got a $50 discount and free shipping.

I didn't have a chance to give shipping instructions in the process of ordering, so I emailed the company afterwards to stipulate that I do not want it left in the vestibule! The box it comes in is clearly marked, which makes it a theft target. I would hope the carrier's policy is not to leave such an item without placing it into the recipient's hands, but you never know. I will gladly go to a UPS site and get it a few days later rather than risk having someone take it.

That worry aside, I'm very excited! I can hardly wait to start playing my music again!

Before I ordered the Bose, I called the upholsterer to find out when the couch will be ready. It will be done in December, so I knew that expense could be shifted to the December challenge. For November, I have already spent $1719. I will spend $300 on a Target gift card on Black Friday. So I am pretty much done with November. I will have gas expense for Thanksgiving, but otherwise will try to tow the line on spending. (Except for my "free" spending on Amex on Small Business Saturday.)

So it looks like December expenses will be -- upholster, Florida trip, Christmas, dentist. In January -- the last month of the challenge -- I will have to get my mattress and box spring. And I may be able to fit a new TV into either December or January, depending on how expenses go.

I will have made all my big purchases, and will be more than ready to be frugal again!

I've Decided

November 19th, 2014 at 02:43 pm

I'm going to retire at the end of 2015. I will started drawing Social Security in August, when I reach full retirement age. But working those few extra months will give me a nice boost. Plus, I will get the full benefit of my employer's medical coverage and will be able to finish my board term (it is a professional association and board members are supposed to be fully employed in the field).

So, a little more than one year to go. The countdown is on!

I do not think the museum job will materialize. I've had a misunderstanding with the former boss who is at the museum. It is not really my fault or hers, but an awkward situation I won't go into. Anyway, I think that will be enough to count that opportunity out -- and I never thought it was a strong possibility anyway.

Nope, I'm just going to get ready for retirement. That said, I do hope to find some freelance work in my field after I retire. It is a good field for that.

Last night I mailed my sister's package ($14), bought gas (forgot to grab receipt, probably about $25 -- it will post on Discover later), and bought dinner ($6).

This and That

November 18th, 2014 at 02:00 pm

I drove to work this morning in order to avoid the street-sweeping parking dilemma, and so I could bring a package to mail (way too big and heavy for the train). The package is books (that I've already read) for my sister and shirts (which I find at Goodwill) for her husband. This is a regular thing I do for them. They need all the help they can get, but it is so hard to help them because they are so childish and wasteful. This is something I'm comfortable with.

I believe this is the last round of street-sweeping this year. Now we move to the snow schedule, which will mean moving the car for plowing whenever we get 4 inches of snow. I do get text messages from the city about when to move the car -- I would never keep up otherwise!

Yesterday I spent about $40 on CDs and a DVD for my son's birthday. I signed up for a free trial of Amazon Prime so I can get free 2-day shipping. So now I have everything I need for his birthday except the cake!

I found a dime in the station yesterday -- my first find in a while.

I forgot to say -- it was $40 for $65 worth of stuff -- I had Discover cashback rewards to help pay!

Weekend Recap

November 17th, 2014 at 04:03 pm

It was a nice weekend. On Saturday, we had my grandsons' eighth birthday party. Just family -- he already had his "friend" party. Since I had already given the Medieval Times outing as a birthday present to both boys, I just gave him a couple of "doodle" books (finish-the-picture), a key chain, a card game and an ornament. The other gifts were not as showy as I thought they might be. We had chili and a simple lemon cake. A good day!

Before the party, I did three loads of laundry ($4.50) and grocery-shopped ($72). I also bought a Street Wise magazine from a vendor ($2). My good deed.

On Sunday, I stayed in all day, except for one trip to the dumpster! I made homemade beefaroni and cranberry bread, as well as an indulgent bacon-and-egg breakfast for myself. My son and the boys came over in the afternoon to watch the Bears game. The boys tried the beefaroni but it was too spicy for them (I flavored it for myself, not expecting it would be shared). My son liked it, though! We all had popcorn during the game, and the boys wheedled me out of granola bars, their favorite treat at Grandma's. I wish I could give them cookies and treats like a real old-fashioned Grandma, but my son's family is very strict about the boys' eating habits. Even the granola bars are frowned upon.

When I grocery-shopped, I bought a 12-lb frozen turkey for $6.14! Not sure when I will cook it, but I expect the meat to last for quite a few weeks once I do!

Next weekend we will celebrate my son's birthday. He always wants chipped beef on toast, so that's nice and economical! I have a game for him in my game stash, but otherwise I am not ready gift-wise. I'll check out his Amazon list today. I may have to give him a gift-is-on-the-way coupon. His real birthday is on Thanksgiving weekend, which is why we are celebrating early, and why I am caught short.

Got a cute birthday picture of my granddaughter in her new pajamas, playing with her toy food in her play kitchen. So nice of my DIL to make that special effort to thank me!

I got my Amex card registered for Small Business Saturday. I've got a list of places to shop -- I'm ready to go!

Pay Day

November 14th, 2014 at 02:53 pm

Well, it's pay day, and I made my mortgage payment and paid off my Discover bill. I am trying to pay off the Citi bill, but their website is not working, so I'll do that later. In order to pay off these two big bills, I withdrew $500 from the slush fund. Hoping I can cash flow next month's Discover bill.

I got my $100 bonus from Citi -- that is, I got it rolling -- I don't have the check yet. I had problems ordering it because of my problematical address. I have a 1/2 in my address, which many software programs convert to "5" or to "12" and then my mail is mis-delivered. So aggravating. While I was ordering the check from Citi, the system refused to process it because of the "invalid address" -- which their software had created -- no duh! There is no 5365, I agree. Please put in the address I gave you and there would be no problem! Geesh. I really can't stand it. I did finally talk to a representative but it took an hour of waiting. I'm still not sure the problem was solved, but the rep says so.

So my snowflakes have now increased by $100!

In other good news, we got a memo from the President yesterday that there will be an across-the-board 3% raise in January. I think that may have been announced, or alluded to, before, but anyway, it's good to know I'll have a LITTLE extra coming in.

We will also have the capability to set aside pre-tax dollars for mass transit expense, starting in January. That should help a bit, too.

I've decided I'm going to get the $300 Target gift card on Black Friday (with the 10% discount). That will help with the Discover challenge, and then will help after the challenge, too, when I'll be going back to frugal living.

And I think I will get the Bose. That, the $300 Target card, the crown, the balance on my couch re-cover, and my regular living expenses should total a bit over $2000. The Bose will be my Christmas present to me this year. (I always like my gifts to myself the best!) Smile

In December, I'll have another dentist payment, trip expenses, and Christmas gifts to meet the $2000. In January, the last month of the challenge, I will get the mattress & box spring. I'll squeeze in a new TV and DVD player if there's room, financially. That's my plan.

Then it's back to austerity, but with an extra $400 to sweeten the deal.

Snowflakes surpass $1000!

November 13th, 2014 at 02:08 pm

After adding in this month's Discover Cashback Bonus, I exceeded $1000 in snowflakes! Woo hoo! Last year I logged about $800, and the year before, $500, so I am working my way up every year! I haven't checked to see if my Citi bonus is there -- that will bump it up!

I mailed my granddaughter's birthday gift yesterday - $16 postage. I had a new shrink-wrapped package of play food I bought at a garage sale, and to that I added a pair of pj's (also new, also from garage sale), a skirt and top (truly new, a Kohl's deal), and three pairs of tights (new, from Goodwill). I think it made a nice assortment for not a lot of money.

My grandson's birthday party is this weekend. My big gift was the Medieval Times trip, but I have little gifts to open, too. Some "doodle" books, a card game, a key chain and a special Christmas ornament. I'm going to suppress the urge to get something else. I know that others will give him "big" gifts, which will make mine look puny, but as I said, my big gift was already given.

I bought breakfast today at the station - $4.

I am thinking of getting a Bose system. I have been without any musical player/radio for a long time now. I see that Bose has a player that also attaches to a smartphone, which seems like a smart option to me. I have really missed my music and would like to play my CD's again. And I like the idea of something very small but with good sound. Still thinking...

I'm also turning over the idea of getting a new TV. My current one is a tube TV (perhaps the last one in the universe?). It still works. But I don't know how long it will last, and I've been thinking I should probably upgrade to a flat screen while I have the money. It won't be an option after retirement. And I do love my movies.

Both of these things have come to mind after I let go of the idea of a washer/dryer. But I'm not ready to pull the trigger yet!

Whatta Day!

November 12th, 2014 at 03:54 pm

I took the day off yesterday. Since I was getting my temporary crown, which I knew would be a long appointment, I decided I might as well take the day and get other things done. I began the morning getting my blood drawn at the doctor's office. They are checking for cholesterol levels and thyroid function. I tried to get my shingles shot, too, but I have to make an appointment for that. I'll try to get it along with my follow-up appointment for the lab results.

Since it was a fasting test, I was starving afterwards, so I went around the corner to Le Peep. I had a coupon for 50% off an entree. Final bill for a skillet breakfast and hot apple cider was $8, but I left a $2.50 tip, based on the original price. Never stiff the poor waiter when you're getting a deal!

I had three Kohl's coupons -- $10 off, $5 off, and 30% off. I combined them and bought two bras, two pairs of socks, and a top and skirt for my granddaughter's birthday for $61. Still seemed rather high to me, given the discounts, but whatever. I'm happy with the purchases.

Then I went to the luggage repair place and picked up my Samsonite suitcase. It was there getting new wheels. It cost $60, but the bag is in great shape and is a quality piece, so worth a good repair. I could buy a new bag for $60 but it would not be such a good bag.

I had some lag time before the dentist's appointment, so I went to Goodwill. Found three shirts for my BIL, some classy ornaments to use as gifts, and a toy dragon for the toy box - $17 in all.

Then I went to the dentist, where I spent a grueling afternoon and paid $353 for it! Which is probably only half the cost it will be in the end. The tooth which needed the crown was a big problem -- mostly filling with a thin wall of enamel, and the filling went under the gum line. I was lucky not to need a root canal. I also had a cracked filling replaced in the adjoining tooth while I was under the Novocaine. Even with just the temporary crown in place, that side of my mouth looks so much better! I will pay the balance of my payment when I get the permanent crown on December 2; the total will depend on how much insurance pays, but I expect I've only paid about half.

After the dentist, I bought a big milk shake for dinner. I'm going to to be very careful with this temporary crown, because I don't want to keep going back to get it replaced -- that's happened to me before!

I was exhausted when I got home from all the dental stress! I went to bed early, feeling pleased that I got a lot done!

New Dining Room Set

November 10th, 2014 at 02:03 pm

It's here! It's here! My "new" dining room set is in my dining room! It looks wonderful and I am thrilled. I will post pictures after I get my couch back so you can all get a sense of my charming little condo!

My brother brought it down from Michigan and drove back the same day. Right away, in fact. He wanted to get home to spend time with his wife before she left for the week (she commutes to Houston, no kidding).

He allowed me to treat him for lunch, but would not take money. He says we will "settle" later, because he feels he should contribute to my sister's airfare for Thanksgiving. However, I can tell it bothers him that she does not pay her own airfare. He understands her less than I do, and I don't blame him, she's hard to understand! But paying for her to come for Thanksgiving was my gift, and if he doesn't really want to contribute I am fine with paying for his gas, etc. It really was an incredibly nice gesture.

We had lunch at the local pie shop and it amounted to about $20.

My new set seats six comfortably, and I also have a new hutch, which I've already decorated with my crock collection and some teapots. There are several drawers in the hutch which I have yet to fill. More storage space! Mind boggling!

My son and nephew did most of the work of hauling the old set out and the new set in. They also took two of my air conditioners to the basement. They forgot the one I had already taken out of the window -- I think maybe I can handle that one myself.

I did three loads of laundry - $4.50 - and on Saturday I bought lunch at McDonalds - $4. I did not grocery shop, but tonight I'll be picking up a few items at Walgreens. I may shop for veggies in the station, too, if I have time between trains.

Tomorrow I'm scheduled to get the crown, and I think I will take the whole day off and get my blood work done in the morning. I am going to be tested for cholesterol levels and thyroid function.

Dinner in the City

November 7th, 2014 at 02:21 pm

I had dinner in the city last night with three friends, one of whom is the person who encouraged my university job application. It was a lovely time, but I learned a few things that are making me feel a little down today.

First, I learned that the job hasn't been filled yet, even though they dinged me! That hurts. I wish they had waited until the final decision was made. This makes me feel like I was an easy elimination. My friend, who has taken herself out of the selection process, was clearly surprised that I had gotten a ding.

Secondly, I found out that the husband of a friend of mine has lost his job. She has not been communicating with me and I sensed something was wrong. This is SO not good, because they have always lived high, and I will bet anything they have massive debt. I will try to reach out to her today.

Dinner itself was wonderful. It only cost $31 with tip included -- that's rare in the city! I had a half-order of both cannelloni and lasagna and a glass of wine. Salad and bread, too! It was very delicious.

I took the train, so there was no transit cost.

My brother will be arriving Sunday morning to deliver the dining room set! I'm so excited!

Found a Quarter!

November 6th, 2014 at 02:12 pm

I found a quarter in the station this morning! I always like to add in the big coins!

The plumber did not come yesterday. It turned out he had to go to the emergency room, so of course I am not at all disgruntled. I will just have to reschedule.

I did do a little investigation on my own, though. The hall closet that I had hopes for does NOT back up to the kitchen, as I thought, but to the exterior stairwell. That's not good. The only hope for that closet is if there are pipes in the side wall which service the condo on the other side. Not sure exactly where the two condos touch -- I need a building map! I would also need to have an electrical outlet installed in the closet.

The bedroom closet, which backs up to the bathroom and was another possibility, is too small. I think a washer/dryer may be impossible in my unit.

I COULD have one in the kitchen if I sacrificed the dishwasher, but a dishwasher is more important to me than a washer/dryer.

My knee is much improved, so it is not so hard to get to the basement any more, but eventually the stairs WILL be a problem as I age. I guess at that point I will have to think about new housing. Didn't think it would be an issue so soon.

Oh well, I think maybe I just saved more than $1400!