Home > Archive: January, 2015

Archive for January, 2015

It's a Little Bit Better

January 30th, 2015 at 05:07 pm

My incentive plan, that is. Not by much, but a little. My total gain will be $23,577, as opposed to the $21,000 loss of income. I will sign the forms and turn it in on Monday (first day they will accept them). I hope I will be accepted, because otherwise I will feel like I'm working the final six months for nothing....

Getting back in the frugal mindset .... I was tempted to get a muffin & coffee at the station but resisted. There is no excuse any more for doing that. I had oatmeal at work, and that's what I had for breakfast.

I did not spend anything yesterday.

My gloves and the bathtub pole have been delivered -- that is the last of my Amazon spending for now.

Tomorrow I will meet some board members at a bank in a neighboring suburb, to get some new names on the account, and debit cards ordered. As the Treasurer I have to oversee all that. The reinstatement project is on hold while I wait for a response from the Secretary of State. We paid $225 in filing fees, and will have to pay another $400 to the IRS once the state reinstates us. This could have all been avoided, but the previous board did not do what they were supposed to do, and we inherited their mess. I will fix this and document the procedures, if it's the last thing I do!

Okay, I may retire early after all!

January 29th, 2015 at 02:13 pm

I went to the presentation about the early retirement offer yesterday. I don't yet have my individualized packet which would detail my payout offer, but here is what I have figured out from what they said:

I would get a cash payout of $10,500. I would get another $12,000 to go toward medical insurance, but it would not be designated in any way. In other words, it would be on me to set up my own plan. They would also put an extra $525 into my retirement fund.

Since my monthly medical expense would only be $108 per month for a Medicare supplement, the $12,000 certainly sweetens the pot for me.

On the loss side, I would have to quit on June 30, therefore losing six months of income. So it's basically a $22,525 gain and a $21,000 loss. Almost a wash. BUT -- I would have the luxury of quitting six months earlier for basically the same benefit.

I think I'm going to go for it, if the packet actually comes up with the same numbers.

My numbers are low, because my length of service here is short. Others will get much bigger payouts.

They are only letting 25 people do this, and 79 are eligible. If more than 25 apply, they will make decisions based on the financial welfare of the College and the needs of the departments. Since my payout is so low, I figure I might be one of the chosen.

Freedom in July???? Mind-boggling!

Woo Hoo!

January 28th, 2015 at 02:54 pm

I got my $400 reward! Well, the notification, anyway. It will not actually appear on my Discover account till the next statement on Feb. 11.

I'm so relieved to have this done. Now it's time to get out of the spending mindset and back into the frugal mindset.

This morning I am going to a presentation on early retirement, which is being offered by the College to people who meet the 70-rule -- age + years of service equivalent to 70. I don't think there will be any incentive for me to retire any earlier than the end of the year, but I'll see what they have to say.

I'm on hold now to the IRS, still trying to get the tax mess straightened out for my nonprofit. I'll have to hang up soon and go to the presentation! Oh, for the good old days, when people actually answered the phone!

Just stuff

January 27th, 2015 at 02:32 pm

I found two cents this morning. I find it amazing that I still find coins in winter. One was outside the Walgreens drive-up window. The other was inside the station.

My SmartWool socks were delivered yesterday, which was a nice surprise, since the site indicated it would take 5-10 business days. The socks are thinner than the ones I am used to, but that will be better for work, actually. They may not be as warm as the thick ones, but should be warmer than regular socks.

I drove yesterday because I thought I might need to go to the bank to get a registered check. But I am not ready yet to send the tax/reinstatement forms for my org. It is such a mess. We may need to get help from a professional.

So I drove home, and stopped at a Goodwill on the way, to drop off my old coffeemaker, and to shop. It is not my regular Goodwill, and it's clear that the donations are not the quality I'm used to. Nevertheless, I found a nice Land's End sweater (in yellow! I've been looking for a yellow sweater for ages!) And I found a couple of shirts for my BIL and some gift bags and tissue paper. I spent $22.

Afterwards I went to Subway and got the sandwich special -- Chicken Teriyaki -- for $3.

I also ordered replacement mittens from Amazon yesterday for $33. I think one final thing I might buy this month is a replacement for the bath tray "tower" (holder of shampoo, etc.) in my tub. I noticed it is starting to rust in places.

So, do you remember my $3 lottery win? Well, I got TWO forms from the state that I have to fill out and return before I can collect my $3! What nonsense. One of the boxes I checked was that I understood that I may be contacted by the media. I'm sure! I should have just taken it to a place that sells tickets, but with my schedule, it's easier to mail things. Well, not this time -- I've learned my lesson.

Weekend Update

January 26th, 2015 at 03:03 pm

Well, I met my fellow board member in Oak Park on Friday night. We made a visit to the bank, but were told that our organization could not open an account until we were reinstated. We have a bank account now, but were hoping to switch banks.

The previous board did not know what to do in terms of filing to the IRS and the Secretary of State, so unfortunately we are officially dissolved, while still taking membership dues and planning professional development programs. I had a wad of papers to go through to get us reinstated, so we went to a Starbucks and went through them the best we could. Most of it, we did not understand. We got a chunk of it done, but today I have to add some financial data and then we'll send it off with crossed fingers. Oh yes, and $220 in fees.

It was a long night; after the paperwork was done, I had to wait at the train station for about 40 minutes for the first train. It's kind of an open-air station, not warm and pleasant. I bought a bagel and cream cheese and the shop owner very nicely gave me a free cup of tea. Once the train came and I got to the downtown station, I had another wait of about the same length. Once you get into the evening hours, the trains really start to get more infrequent.

While I was at the downtown station, I bought my pass for the next month. There was a big fare increase. So glad my train-riding days are numbered.

Once dropped off in my home town, I stopped at Walgreens and bought a birthday card and an Old Navy gift card for my Florida son.

On Saturday, I was feeling woozy in the head and didn't do anything but a couple loads of laundry and lots of TV watching. Starz was having a free preview weekend, so I saw quite a bit, including three Jane Austen-related movies -- Austenland, Becoming Jane, and the Jane Austen Book Club. The third was the best -- sweet and funny. So weird that all these movies were available while I am reading Austen.

On Sunday I did my ten-items shopping at the grocery: toilet paper, creamer, kitty litter, clementines, mushrooms, spinach, oatmeal cookies, pizza, tomato soup, and egg noodles. $34 in all. Then I put another $100 on a gift card I already had. Afterwards, I began to worry that the charge to the gift card might not be counted in the Discover challenge. I know they will not count any cash back, and now I wonder if an addition to a gift card is off limits, too. And that made me wonder if the $50 on the Old Navy card at risk, too. I'm going to try to find the rules.

I tried out the Shark steamer, and liked it very well! It's a little clumsy to use, but I think I just have to change to the other mop-head for some places.

Found a nickel!

No Cable

January 23rd, 2015 at 02:20 pm

Last night I turned on the TV, and every channel had the message that it was momentarily unavailable. This morning, the same. I looked at my Comcast account, and there is no outage reported. Sigh. What a hassle, just trying to figure out what's wrong. Their website is not user-friendly at all, and calling them is a nightmare. I'd switch, if AT&T weren't just as bad.

I checked for my mittens in Lost & Found last night, but none had been turned in. It occurred to me that I might have left them in my home station, but there is never anyone there -- at least not at the hours I am there. I'll try Lost & Found again on Monday -- tonight I will be too late; the office will be closed.

I am meeting the President of our board tonight to switch our association's bank account to a new bank. This was mostly at the urging of our outgoing President, and it is probably unnecessary, but the wheels are in motion and I will carry it out. The new bank will be Chase; maybe we can get a bonus!

We also have to go through a pile of papers to file in order to get our chapter reinstated. It's a mess.

I checked on the PurMist site and distilled water is okay to use, so I stopped and got some at Walgreen's. I picked up a bottle of wine, too. Total cost was about $8.

I bought 7 pairs of SmartWool socks from the Trekt site yesterday. They were 20% off and shipping is free. The total was $94! Yikes! But they should last me a long time. I go through cheap socks in record time. Holes in the toes seem to be my specialty!

This little kitten lost her mittens....

January 22nd, 2015 at 02:17 pm

Shucks! I left them on the train. I wouldn't mind so much, but they are the heavy-duty polar-vortex mittens I invested in last year when it was so cold. I hope that they will be in Lost & Found tonight, but I'm not counting on it.

I think I had a no-spend day yesterday. I TRIED to spend -- I stopped at Walgreen's on the way home to buy demineralized water for my PurMist, but they only had distilled. I believe there is a difference; I thought, anyway, I had better check before buying it.

I put on my only pair of SmartWool socks this morning, and it occurred to me that I should buy more, with all this Discover money to spend.... I'll get on Amazon today. I would replace my mittens, but I still have hopes I will find them tonight.

I could also buy demineralized water on Amazon, but the shipping costs as much as the water -- and I have Amazon Prime! It is one of those items that comes from a vendor that doesn't qualify for free shipping. I just can't do it!

The other night a group of us got Chinese takeout and I took home the unused rice and all the extra packets of soy sauce and sweet and sour sauce. Last night I fried the rice, along with onion, carrot and zucchini, added the flavor packets and two eggs, and had wonderful fried rice! I had enough for dinner and for lunch today. Practically free! Love doing stuff like that.

Austen, and other stuff

January 21st, 2015 at 03:28 pm

I don't know if I've updated about this here, but I have kept in touch via email with the professor I visited at my alma mater last summer. He is teaching a course on Jane Austen now, and I am reading along, hence the Sense and Sensibility on my sidebar. I downloaded the whole set of Austen on my phone for $1! Talk about a bargain! (I've read all of Jane Austen before, but it's been a long time. I'm really enjoying the re-read!)

I will meet with the prof again soon, and I hope we will become friends! We seemed to hit it off!

Yesterday's spending, aside from the big splurge on Austen, was $1.50 for parking and $3.75 for a scone (which I ate for breakfast today). I had to meet a friend at a coffee shop, and that's what it cost to park the car and then to park myself in the shop! It was a good scone, though.

I returned my old modem to Comcast, which was a lot more complicated than I though it would be. I thought I would just drop by the Comcast outlet near work and drop it off. Well, there was a huge line, and people near the front said they had been waiting two hours! What? What is wrong with that company?

So I went to UPS and had it mailed instead (which is free). Finding the UPS was the problem. I asked Google to direct me to the nearest UPS store -- it took me to the airport (and there apparently WAS a UPS inside the Hilton there) but I couldn't park and got caught in the loop around and around. Finally went to the next closest, which was in a very heavily traveled area (at rush hour) but once I got there, the staff at UPS handled it all so quickly and professionally. They even went through with me what documents to hang on to, in case Comcast claims they didn't receive it. Whew! Glad that's done.

Today is meeting-free. Love that!

Happy Monday! Oops, it's Tuesday!

January 20th, 2015 at 04:14 pm

Sure does feel like Monday, though.

I went to BB&B yesterday with my DIL and her mother. I wanted to buy a tablecloth, cookware, a crock-pot, and to look at comforter and duvet covers. I ended up buying a skillet, a tablecloth, and a Shark steam cleaner!

The skillet is one size larger than the free Cuisinart I got from the grocery store. It doesn't match, though -- they didn't have the stainless, just the anodized steel (in stock, that is). Doesn't really matter, my cookware is never matched. I wanted to replace a couple of saucepans that I got at IKEA. I like everything about these pans, except that they are so light and flimsy. I want a heavier version. I found a good replacement in All-Clad, but to buy the single saucepan was $194. And then I would have to get it online, because it's not in stock, so I would pay shipping, too. Uh, no. It's possible I can get through Amazon, haven't investigated that yet.

The tablecloth was easy-peasy; they had a good selection in the long size I needed. I bought it in a gold shade, which I hope won't spot as badly as a white one. My DIL talked me out of buying matching napkins -- she proposed picking up different colors and patterns at garage sales. She is so smart!

As for the steam cleaner, I wasn't even in the market, but that's what my DIL was buying, and it looked like such a good replacement for all the crappy mops and Swiffers I'm dealing with, I bought one myself. I haven't taken it out of the box yet, but I'm very excited to try it out. It has the DIL seal of approval, as she has used one at her friend's house. It will work for all my floors, tile and wood.

Talked myself out of the crock-pot (too big, where would I put it?) and the comforter/duvet (didn't like any of them).

I had three 20% off coupons, so my total spending was $188. Then we went to Red Robin and indulged in a burger/onion ring orgy for $60. My DIL's mom insists she will pay me her share, but I treated DIL.

We went to Dick's Sporting Goods afterwards, where DIL bought some workout clothes for herself and my son. I did a lot of looking, but didn't buy anything.

My PurMist inhaler arrived yesterday and I tried it out. I was expecting to get a cleansing feeling in my sinuses, which didn't happen -- it is a much slower process, but it works. I was breathing comfortably through my nose after I was done. However, I did spill most of the demineralized water that came with it when I knocked the bottle over. Shoot! Now I will have to buy some, earlier than I thought.

I have to spend $370 more on Discover before the month closes. I'm running out of ideas, so I think I'll be buying gift cards. Grocery store, PetSmart, Home Depot, Corner Bakery would all be good options.

Oy! Awful financial day!

January 18th, 2015 at 06:44 pm

Yesterday I charged more than $250 at Target, planning to use my Discover card. When I checked out, I agree to apply for the Target card, but I was firm that I wanted to charge this order on Discover. My card was denied! Turns out Discover had triggered a fraud alert, apparently because it was so out of character for me to spend that much at Target!

I had this happen before in Florida, but never so close to home.

Unfortunately, I didn't realize at the time it was Discover's fault, thinking that Target had messed up somehow because of my Target card application, so I didn't know till I got home and looked at my email that Discover had blocked my card. So $250 that could have gone toward the bonus went to Target instead! I was steamed. I talked to a service rep, but there was nothing they could do.

At least now I know to call Discover immediately, if this happens again.

My purchases at Target, besides groceries, were a set of sheets, a coffeemaker, and a suitcase. The suitcase matches the one I have, only bigger, and it was on my wish list. I was delighted to find it on clearance. So I guess it wasn't a totally bad day, after all!

Paid the Discover bill

January 16th, 2015 at 02:10 pm

I scheduled my Discover bill payment for the 20th -- just to make sure that all the money I'm moving around will be there when the payment hits. My slush fund took the biggest hit -- $1200. I'll work to rebuild that first. I took $600 from the E-fund.

I'm glad to have that behind me.

I bought the PurMist inhaler on Amazon yesterday, but I still need to spend $649 this month on Discover, to complete the challenge. I plan to shop at BB&B this weekend to get some sheets, some cookware, a coffeemaker, and maybe a comforter. I have a comforter I like, but it's old and it has a hole in it. Then I should have everything I could possibly need for the next few years, barring any surprises. If I still have a balance to spend, I will buy gift cards.

For all this, I will get back $400 cash, which seems paltry, but I am confident that I spent the money wisely, and I am glad I've taken care of the big things that had to get done. The coming months will be all about frugality again.

My room-size humidifier worked fine last night, so I'm not going to buy a bigger one. I think the PurMist will give me immediate relief when I'm blocked up, and the humidifier will help make the bedroom comfortable at night on a regular basis.

Even though it's winter, I'm still finding change. I found .02 this morning, and passed up another penny because I would have had to jump in front of other people to get it! I don't do that. I have SOME pride. Smile

Pay Day

January 15th, 2015 at 03:43 pm

It's the first pay day of the New Year, the first one after my 3% raise. I predicted the new amount of my paycheck within $3! I wish I had been surprised by a bigger amount, though!

No sweep into savings this month. I will be scrambling to pay the Discover bill. This morning I deposited a $600 check from my E-fund. They won't credit the full amount till tomorrow, so tomorrow I'll sweep some more money from the slush fund and pay the bill. It will make me sad. But when that's done I can start climbing up again.

I had a crazy eating day yesterday. I was so hungry in the morning, I bought two sausage biscuits at McDonalds (they're so cheap!) Then at noon, I persuaded myself not to buy lunch, but had some fruitcake from the break room and also made myself some oatmeal. On the way home, I was starving again, so I stopped at Culver's and spent $11 on a burger, onion rings and a shake. Turned out I couldn't eat more than half of the burger, but I did scarf down all the onion rings, and the shake. Winter does this to me! Today I am feeling more in control. I bought a muffin at the station, but I carried in some soup, some dates and some granola bars, so I should be ready for the hungries, when they strike again.

Last night I set up the humidifier I had been using in the living room in my bedroom. It didn't seem to do much good in the night. In the morning, I was shocked to see that the water level was about the same, even though it was on, and it was oscillating. I fooled around with the controls and suddenly saw a plume of mist. I guess it wasn't really working in the night. Hoping tonight will be better. I'm still interested in getting a bigger, better one that will be more dependable and will cover a larger space. And I'm still interested in the PurMist handheld appliance, because my sinuses are really suffering.

This and That

January 14th, 2015 at 02:37 pm

The board meeting yesterday was actually very nice and non-confrontational. Nothing is actually resolved, but there will be plenty of time to work out the issues later, in more private conversations.

I not only got a free lunch, but a free dinner, as there was a happy hour afterwards, and I made the wine and appetizers my dinner. But today I forgot to bring any food, so I ended up buying breakfast for $4 and will have to buy lunch as well.

I had a really awful night, with pain in my legs (too much walking?) and exceptional dryness in the air. I got up to check the humidifier and found that it had leaked all over without doing any misting. It was cheap and it's going in the dumpster. But that clarifies what I need to buy. A really good humidifier -- maybe even one that will double as a dehumidifier in the summer. I think I will also buy one of those handheld misters that you place over your nose and mouth when you are especially dry. I also think I might get a "tiger tail" - sort of a mini foam roller -- which would help alleviate my lower body pain. I'll do some online shopping/looking today.

I drove this morning, because it is in the single digits again, and my hair was still damp when it was time to leave. I had to chip a lot of ice off the car and never got the windshield wipers working. After I got to work, and the car was a lot warmer, I chipped off more hunks of ice around the wipers and I think they will be okay. I was lucky I didn't have to use them on the way in.

Anyway, I'll need to get gas again on the way back, as I don't like the tank to be more than half-empty when the temperatures are low.


January 13th, 2015 at 02:20 pm

So my Snowflakes total has jumped in the last few days. I decided to count the interest on the 1099 from the credit union. (I will only do that once a year.) I also added a Pine Cone payment and cash back bonuses from Discover. I always include any found change in Snowflakes, too, though I track the found money separately, too, because I just want to know how much I pick up from the ground!

I think I am going to donate my Snowflakes to my grandchildren's college funds. I had a little over $1100 last year.

I going to get paid in two days, and it's going to be a bad cash flow month. My Discover bill exceeds $4000, so I will have to raid my emergency fund to pay it in full. It was mostly a large car repair bill that threw me off, and that's what the emergency fund is for, so I will try not to pout.

I will have to do some serious saving to rebuild it, though.

This is the last month of the Discover challenge. I still have to spend $900+ to earn the $400 bonus. I need to buy sheets, a comforter, and a coffeemaker. I'm sure there are other updates I need if I put my mind to it. Curious how uninterested I have become in spending! Now that I have bought the big items I needed, I am lacking in enthusiasm.

I'm going downtown for the board meeting today. The high point is that I'll get a free lunch! It is still snowing, but there is no wind today, so it feels relatively warm, even with temperatures in the teens!

Productive Weekend

January 12th, 2015 at 02:19 pm

It was a productive weekend. I did four loads of laundry, made a turkey pot pie and turkey noodle soup and froze them in lunch-size portions, took down my Christmas tree and decorations and hauled all the stuff to basement storage. I brought up my humidifiers from basement storage and got them going. I cleaned the fish tank. I also thoroughly cleaned the closet where the cat box lives, and mopped most of the wood floors. I didn't go out all weekend! The temps weren't too bad, but I didn't feel the greatest, so sticking close to home seemed to be the thing to do. I didn't go grocery shopping, but I have enough to see me through this week.

There was a pretty hefty snowfall last night and this morning most walks were not shoveled, so I did a lot of trekking through snow, even walking in the street sometimes. The hard part of winter is settling in, and I am not in the mood for it. Already wishing for spring! Just knowing it is the last winter I have to work is helping, though. (Except for November-December 2015, but I'm not going to think about that yet!)

I have a board meeting tomorrow downtown. I'm not looking forward to it, because the president is pushing me to adopt an accounting software in my role as treasurer. I don't want to, because I don't think we need all the extra bells and whistles, not to mention the cost, and our Excel spreadsheet is working just fine. And frankly, I don't want to take the time to learn something new. I have my hands full already with my demands at work. I really think she just wants something that's cooler-looking. I would be willing to learn a new system if I saw any actual advantage in it, but I don't. I really hate confrontation, but I think I'm going to face some tomorrow.

Luckily, this president is transitioning off, so I hope that I can ride it out until the new president is in place, and that she has a more reasonable outlook.

My Coronation

January 9th, 2015 at 02:07 pm

Yes! I finally got my crown! I can't even remember when I started this process, but it's been long and drawn-out. My dentist is pleased that this crown fits perfectly, and I feel so much better to be able to chew normally and know that I won't bite down on chunks of ... whatever temporary crowns are made of!

My appointment was at 4:30 and the roads were already getting bad. When I got out at 5:30, the snow was really coming down and traffic was crawling. It took me more than two hours to get home, and it was nerve-racking because the roads were slick and the visibility was poor. But I had no problems, and didn't even see anyone off on the side of the road. I didn't take the highway, though. I know better!

I took the ibuprofen PM last night, and even though I woke up in the middle of the night again, I was able to get back to sleep. I really have to work on not letting my brain get going, though. I have to learn how to dismiss my thoughts at night. Someone recommended that I let them float off like a cloud, and that seemed to work last night.

In addition to the dentist appointment I had two big meetings at work yesterday. Both of them went well, which is a big relief. With all of our office dynamics, meetings can can really go off the rails and lead to even bigger problems. That's why I'm so relieved they went well.

I bought breakfast at the station this morning (yes -- I rode the train for the first time this month!) I figure anything that helps to keep me going at this time of year is all right. I'm really looking forward to some down time this weekend and catching up on the laundry!

Really tired

January 8th, 2015 at 02:35 pm

Oh my, I'm weary. Once again I woke up in the middle of the night and couldn't get back to sleep. But I haven't been taking the Ibuprofen PM, so I guess it's back to the drugs again. I also had a stuffy nose, which didn't help any.

Today the wind chill factor is in the 20 below range. I drove, and the short walk from my car to my office made my face hurt. I hate this.

I have two meetings today, and then a dentist's appointment, when I will finally (I hope) get my permanent crown.

I bought breakfast at Steak N Shake on the way, and it was cheaper and better than McDonalds. $4.

Had a telephone meeting with the board I'm on yesterday. The President wants me to look at QuickBooks for my Treasurer's reports. I looked briefly, but it looks way too complicated for our small non-profit organization. Plus, there's a monthly fee. Is anyone out there familiar with a simple accounting software that is free? I'm also wondering if a budgeting software would be better. We don't need to produce more than a few invoices per year, and most of our accounting is already handled by our membership database and Paypal. I don't see the need myself, but I think she is looking for more transparency, and perhaps, prettier documents. I'm just using an Excel spreadsheet now to track income and expenses.

Free Pan

January 7th, 2015 at 02:24 pm

Yesterday I got my free Cuisinart frying pan from a grocery store promotion -- with the help of our own Deacon's Wife who saved a bunch of stickers for me! I got to meet her for the first time in real life yesterday, and I hope I don't embarrass her to report that she is just as sweet and lovely in real life as she is online!

I stopped at three different stores in order to get my pan -- apparently it was such a popular promotion that many stores ran out. I was glad to find it at store #3, which happened to be my home store. While I was there, I bought my ten items for the week: granola bars, Kraft mac & cheese, cream of chicken soup, butter, spreadable margarine, wine, pantiliners, garlic, onion, and a container of celery and carrot sticks. Generally I don't get the prepared veggies, but I decided to go for convenience this time. I'm planning to use up some of my turkey in a pot pie this weekend.

The pan is a 10-inch open pan with no lid and a tough non-stick surface. If I like it, I'll get the bigger size at Bed, Bath & Beyond. It looks good, but I'll know more when I use it.

I did not plan to drive today, but we are having wind chills of 10 to 20 below zero, and I could not face walking to the station. I figure in weather like this I have to give myself a break. I also bought breakfast on the way - $7 - just to help me get through the morning. I slept very poorly last night so this will be a somewhat challenging day. I woke up at 1am and never really fell into a deep sleep after that.

Whatta drive, and other stuff

January 6th, 2015 at 02:41 pm

I chose to drive this morning, because I had some heavy books to carry. Wow. The roads were really bad. I did not take the highway, but I do travel on major roads, and they were, as they say, "snow-covered and slippery." I slid a few times but very briefly. Everyone was driving really slowly; I appreciated everyone's caution.

The snow has stopped and I expect the roads will be fine tonight.

I bought gas on the way in - $15 for half a tank. I do love these gas prices.

Last night I sauteed the spinach (brought it for lunch today), and following Snafu's suggestion, chopped up the rest of the casserole and added tomato soup. I didn't try it (will do tonight) but it looked pretty good! Whatever I don't eat tonight I will freeze, even though there are potatoes in it.

I had a free breakfast at work this morning, as I remembered I had tucked a bagel in the freezer before Christmas. It was a freebie from one of many holiday carry-ins.

I'm going to have a humongous Discover bill this month, due to the overspending in December (as well as the mattress this month). It will wipe out my slush fund, and I think I will have to transfer some cash from the EF fund, too. C'est la vie. I have accomplished almost everything I intended when I took up the Discover challenge. I've recovered the couch, purchased a dining room set, a mattress set, a Bose stereo, bought two airline tickets, got a crown (will finally finish that up tomorrow!), and replaced my exhaust system and catalytic converter. And, of course, funded Christmas. The big thing I did not get was a washer/dryer, but that was because there was no place to install one. And I got a new TV, too, though I didn't pay for that! I'm so glad all of this is done before my retirement years.

Discover recently sent me a notice that they are changing their policy on Cashback bonuses, and it looks like I will be able to use the $400 bonus as a statement credit, or deposit it in my bank account. Great! I like the Amazon gift credit, but this is even better!

First Monday

January 5th, 2015 at 05:00 pm

Well, the new mattress & box spring arrived, and I slept like a princess last night! By that I mean, it's so much higher than the old one that I feel like I'm sleeping on a throne. I like it, though, and the mattress feels really good. The cats are a bit unhappy that they have to jump higher. They are elderly cats.

I had time for my haircut, too, and I only paid $3 for the tip. I still have one more free haircut to go on the gift card I bought in the fall.

I finally got hold of someone at Comcast and they will mail me the HD cable box I need. The bad news is that my service will increase by $9 a month. I hope the new picture will make me feel like it's worth it.

I pulverized what was left of my temporary crown yesterday while eating a mini chocolate bar. (That'll teach me!) It's only three days till my dentist appointment so I'm just going to hold out. Luckily, it is not painful.

I drove today to avoid the cold, but I had to clean off the car, so I don't know if I saved much in the misery department. I also had a bunch of stuff to tote, so it was just as well I had the car. On the way, I spotted a station with gas below $2! You never see that in Chicago! I still have 3/4 of a tank, but I'm tempted to top it off on the way home.

Going to grocery shop on the way home as well, and will buy some quarters for laundry, which is stacking up.

First day of work feels not so bad, though I did have to deal with a non-functioning computer. I'm using my "old" computer now, which, luckily, they hadn't carted away yet!

I got the mattress!

January 4th, 2015 at 05:42 pm

Even though it was sleety/snowy yesterday, I forced myself out in the nasty weather to go shopping for a mattress. I went to MattressFIRM, because they were advertising big sales. I ended up getting a mattress that was not on sale (the sale items were still too expensive for me). But I did get a $185 discount. It is a Simmons Beautyrest Springhill mattress (and box spring) with a 20-year warranty. I also got a premium mattress pad. The total was $996, which was just within my budget.

Since I was out, I got a few errands done -- a watch battery replaced at the jewelry store ($10), a package mailed ($3), and some late Christmas gifts for co-workers (free, because I used a gift card). Then, because I was at the mall, I checked the movies and saw that "Wild" was just starting, so I ducked in to see that. ($6). I'm so glad I did! It was a very inspiring, yet down-to-earth movie, with a wonderful performance by Reese Witherspoon.

Because I was out of the house so long, I had to stop and get some lunch, but it was only $1 at McDonalds.

The mattress will be delivered today, so this morning I washed the dust ruffle and tried to get the worst of the dust bunnies under the bed. I'm sure more will be revealed when they remove the old box spring!

I would like to get a haircut today, since I know my favorite stylist at Supercuts works on Sundays. I hope the mattress arrives soon enough for me to do that!

I made the turkey-potato casserole yesterday. It's only so-so as far as taste goes, and I don't think I can freeze it, because of the potatoes, so I'll have to eat it in order not to waste it! I had it for supper and then again for breakfast. I packaged a big serving to take to work tomorrow. There is still some left. I can't face it for lunch, but I'll have it for supper again.

I also have a lot of broth and turkey meat to deal with, but I can freeze that. And I still have all that baby spinach, so I'll have a salad today and then cook the rest. That's the nice thing about buying spinach as opposed to other greens -- at least you can cook it!

Tomorrow I go back to work, and I am dreading it. Not just because it's work, but also they are predicting below-zero temperatures tomorrow. I don't want to walk to the train station and stand on the icy platform. I think I may drive!

2015 Goals

January 3rd, 2015 at 02:56 pm

Though I'm not too successful at following through on resolutions, I think it's a good idea to have some general goals to bring some focus into your life.

I've already mentioned that I want to raise my net worth by $10K. I raised it $25K last year, but I gave myself a big jump in my condo value, when a comparable unit sold for $17K more than I paid myself. So the actual rise was more like $8K. I think doing $10K this year is within my reach.

I am not setting any weight-loss goals, other than these two: I will track my calories/exercise daily in MyFitnessPal, and my eventual aim will be to be in a size 12 by the end of the year. I'm a 14 now, but topping the charts, if you know what I mean.

Personally, I want to stop worrying about what others think/feel about me. I can get myself quite depressed when I feel like I am not loved or appreciated enough. I pledge to concentrate instead on being a good person -- someone I like myself -- and let the chips fall where they may.

I think those three areas are enough to keep me busy!

I had a very quiet day at home yesterday. I did not leave the house, so it was a no-spend day.

Today I have to get out and do things. I need to start shopping for the mattress, I need to stop at the jewelers to get a battery replaced, I need to go to the post office, and I also want to see the movie "Wild."

I'm planning to make a turkey casserole today, too. I parboiled a bunch of potatoes for the brunch, but didn't use them all so I'm going to slice them and layer with turkey, top with white sauce, bake, and add cheese topping near the end of the baking cycle. I think it will be good! I also have to use up some baby spinach, so a salad is in my near future!

I've started keeping grocery lists on the "Out of Milk" app on my phone. My plan was to go shop when it got to ten items. But if I do that, I will shop too often! My list is at 13 now, and I just shopped on New Year's eve. So, I will continue to keep the list, but try to keep the shopping trip to once a week, and make some hard decisions about what makes the cut.

I guess that's it for today!

2014 Recap

January 3rd, 2015 at 12:25 am

The first number is the yearly total - the second is the monthly average.

Housing - $8141 - $678
Car Repair/Maintenance - $4268 - $356
Furnishing/Equipment/Decor - $3522 - $294
Gifts/Charity - $2564 - $214
Taxes - $2264 - $189
Vacation/Travel - $2146 - $179
Groceries - $1658 - $138
Fares/Parking - $1414 - $118
Utilities - $1406 - $117
Medical/Health - $906 - $76
Eating Out - $837 - $70
Insurance - $644 - $54
Gas - $640 - $53
Phone - $606 - $51
Clothing $598 - $50
Vet/Pet Supplies - $535 - $45
Fees/Services - $445 - $37
Entertainment - $387 - $32
Home Repair/Maintenance - $359 - $30
Household Supplies - $240 - $20
Laundry - $193 - $16
Personal - $193 - $16
Miscellaneous - $29 - $3

Grand Total - $33,995 - $2,833

My average monthly spending was $486 less than in 2013; $249 less than in 2012; but $218 more than in 2011.

My net worth rose by $25,676. A lot of that was from a rise in the market value of my condo. I likely won't see that kind of rise in my net worth next year.

2014 Recap

January 3rd, 2015 at 12:24 am

The first number is the yearly total - the second is the monthly average.

Housing - $8141 - $678
Car Repair/Maintenance - $4268 - $356
Furnishing/Equipment/D├ęcor - $3522 - $294
Gifts/Charity - $2564 - $214
Taxes - $2264 - $189
Vacation/Travel - $2146 - $179
Groceries - $1658 - $138
Fares/Parking - $1414 - $118
Utilities - $1406 - $117
Medical/Health - $906 - $76
Eating Out - $837 - $70
Insurance - $644 - $54
Gas - $640 - $53
Phone - $606 - $51
Clothing $598 - $50
Vet/Pet Supplies - $535 - $45
Fees/Services - $445 - $37
Entertainment - $387 - $32
Home Repair/Maintenance - $359 - $30
Household Supplies - $240 - $20
Laundry - $193 - $16
Personal - $193 - $16
Miscellaneous - $29 - $3

Grand Total - $33,995 - $2,833

My average monthly spending was $486 less than in 2013; $249 less than in 2012; but $218 more than in 2011.

My net worth rose by $25,676. A lot of that was from a rise in the market value of my condo. I likely won't see that kind of rise in my net worth next year.

December Recap

January 2nd, 2015 at 10:58 pm

Car Repair/Maintenance - $1103 (mostly catalytic converter)
Gifts/Charity - $716
Housing - $677
Furnishings/Equipment/Decor - $674 (Couch recover payment, DVD player, Christmas decor)
Vacation/Travel - $295 (Florida, Girls' Weekend)
Insurance - $265
Fares/Parking - $220 (includes 2 train passes)
Groceries - $206
Utilities - $126
Fees/Services - $99 (Amazon Prime)
Medical/Health - $74 (Dentist payment)
Eating Out - $66
Phone - $50
Gas - $47
Entertainment - $37
Household Supplies - $14
Laundry - $9 (probably too low, but that's what I logged)
Vet/Pet Supplies - $5

Grand Total - $4499 (Not my worst month. That honor goes to October!)

Catching Up

January 2nd, 2015 at 07:31 pm

It's been a few days, and they've been busy days!

Two days ago, my brother, his wife, his daughter and his SIL came to Chicago on a spontaneous day trip. I joined them downtown and spent the day. They were in a holiday mood and insisted on paying for everything. I finally managed to pay their parking fee - $32 - which is all that the whole outing cost me. We went to the planetarium and saw two shows (and had lunch as well), then went to Water Tower Place. All the others shopped, but I wasn't interested in buying anything. I was happy to look around. We had supper at M Burger. MMmmm! We also did a LOT of walking around, so I'm sure I burned off that burger, fries and shake! Smile

Yesterday I hosted the New Year's Day brunch. It was a big success, in that everyone seemed to have a really good time and spent most of the day here. I had a few cooking mishaps. The bacon-wrapped dates and the egg casserole were both overdone. I watched and watched those two dishes (cooking together in the oven) and it seemed like they would never get done -- and then they were overdone! Still edible, but a bit of a disappointment.

The pineapple upside down cake, however, was glorious, both in taste and appearance!

It was a rough morning getting ready, because I blew a circuit three times. The dishwasher and the vacuum cleaner were the culprits, and I wasn't even running them at the same time! Oh well, I was very relieved that the dishwasher wasn't broken, which is what I thought at first!

My ex brought me a gift. We did not attend the same gift-opening this year, so I didn't get him a gift, and was surprised that he brought one. However, I do have some things in my gift stash that I can wrap and run over there if I decide to do so.

He gave me a Barnes & Noble gift card -- the funny part is that there is no indication how much it will buy! I know I can look it up; it just made me chuckle because I'm always careful to provide that kind of information when I give a card.

I cooked off my bargain turkey on New Year's Eve and had the kids over for dinner. Now I have lots of leftovers, and the carcass is simmering on the stove for broth. I have hardly any leftovers from the brunch, however. I hope everyone got enough to eat!

Later today I will do my December recap and my 2014 recap. I know already that December was a pretty wild month for spending.

I'm not setting any rigid resolutions, but I do plan to increase my net worth by $10K this year. However, if I get laid off in March, or if I have to retire before December, that won't be an achievable goal. So we'll see. It may be an interesting year.

I have one more month for the Discover challenge. My tentative plans for this month's spending are: mattress, coffeemaker, pots & pans, sheets/comforter. All are needed updates. I also may invest in some tall boots. The mattress is the only thing I'll get for sure.

I'm glad I've done this Discover challenge to make myself buy things I need for the long haul, but I'll be happy to go back to a frugal life in February!