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Archive for March, 2015

No-Spend Day

March 31st, 2015 at 06:26 am

I always know I've had a no-spend day when I open my wallet and no receipts fall out!

I was very hungry on the way home yesterday, so it was indeed an achievement to pass up all the fast food in the station.

My two angelfish with the fungus are still alive and swimming around, but the neon tetra is ailing badly. He was lying on the gravel this morning, but still alive. I never know what to do. I hate to see their suffering. Though many insist that fish do not suffer!

I'm meeting a friend for dinner tonight, so I drove. I will have plenty of time between work and dinner, so I'll try to get some things done. I'll get gas and a car wash, and I may peek in at Goodwill.

I forgot to charge my phone last night. This morning I plugged it into the car charger, but was shocked to see that nothing had happened by the time I got to work. Turns out the apparatus was not pushed in all the way. I was really bummed, since I'll be navigating to a new (to me) restaurant tonight, but I asked a co-worker if she had a charger, and, lo and behold, she did and it fit my phone! I'm so glad. I wouldn't want to buy yet another charger. Chargers are my nemesis!

Getting Things Done

March 30th, 2015 at 07:56 am

Friday was a productive day. I took the car in for emissions testing, and it passed. (With a new exhaust system AND catalytic converter, it BETTER have passed!) I mailed a package to my sister. ($13) I got my oil changed ($35 -- using an $8 coupon). The oil change place vacuumed my car, which was a nice surprise. It was a pit!

On Saturday I did laundry ($4.50) and grocery-shopped ($39). My ten items were: Salsa, oatmeal, kitty litter, creamer, cheese, eggs, sherbet, wine, polish sausage and sourdough bread. A nice combination of wants and needs!

The salsa has a pineapple base. It was a discontinued item, and deeply discounted. But I think it will be good with cheese quesadillas.

My meal possibilities this week:

Cheese quesadillas
Spanish rice (having it for lunch today)
Veggie fried rice
French onion soup
Polish sausage & kraut
Scrambled eggs

I expect I'll have enough sausage to have some on rolls next week.

I made pancakes for breakfast on Saturday and froze the leftovers. I also made some applesauce oatmeal bread, and froze individual slices. My breakfasts for the week are set!

I drained the last bits of applesauce, spaghetti sauce and tomato salsa from their jars and combined them with beef broth. I think it will make a tasty base for vegetable soup next week. The applesauce is a little out there, but the broth tastes quite good!

I have now spent more than half of my variables budget, but the month is really almost over. I WILL have the expense of dinner out tomorrow. I'm meeting the friend who canceled earlier in the month.

On Saturday night, I went to a birthday dinner for a friend and took a bunch of daisies from the supermarket ($5). They are her favorite flower, and I think they were appreciated.

Sunday was a day of just being lazy. I did a lot of reading. I was going to get a haircut, but I didn't even want to leave the house. It was cold and rainy. Today it's sunny and getting warmer. Yay!

Speaking of Snowflakes....

March 27th, 2015 at 06:04 am

We have more of them -- yes -- the real ones! So sick of this.

I drove this morning, because I just plain didn't want to walk to the station. It's record cold, it's snowing, I've had it, I'm done! I'm hoping to make the best use of my drive by going to the emissions inspection place at noon and getting an oil change on the way out of town. I also brought a package to mail and will stop at the bank.

The roads were slick and I saw the aftermath of an accident on the way. Had I been a few minutes earlier, I might have been involved, but the employees at Steak N Shake were so slow this morning, they probably saved me from being at the wrong place at the wrong time! My Steak N Shake breakfast was $3. I did bring my lunch.

Dinner tonight will be either French onion soup or veggie fried rice. Neither one will be quick, so I'm planning to save a snack to eat just before I get on the road.

Weatherman promises warmer temperatures in the near future, so I'm not giving up all hope!

Dinner in the City

March 26th, 2015 at 06:47 am

Sounds classy, doesn't it, but it was just Panera. Which I love -- don't get me wrong! I spent $10 on dinner -- half-sandwich, soup and apple -- and later on spent $2 at the station for a drink, because I was parched.

I saved the apple to have for lunch today. I'm also having mixed vegetables and rye toast. This morning I almost went to Corner Bakery, but remembered I had oatmeal in my desk -- and I wasn't even hungry yet, anyway!

For dinner I'm going to make peanut soup with onion. Snacks today will be granola bars and popcorn.

I've been invited to a birthday dinner on Saturday evening. That's great, but I'll have to come up with a token gift (doesn't have to be much, but I don't want to be empty-handed).

This weekend I'll also have to get my hair cut, and I should take the car in for an oil change. It's really overdue, though they say you don't have to do it as often as recommended. I also have to take the car in for emissions testing. I'll be glad when I'm retired and I can just do this stuff during the week!

Ruminations on Spending

March 25th, 2015 at 06:49 am

Yesterday was my second no-spend day in a row. Today will not be one, however. I'm going downtown after work to attend a board event. This one is Dutch treat, so I'll be buying my dinner (at Panera) and there might be some taxi cost, too. The restaurant is not very close to the station.

We had a lot of rain last night that swept away a lot of the snow. However, it's supposed to get cold again tomorrow. I know March doesn't mean that winter is over, but I had such high expectations!

I'm really getting down to a system on my grocery list. As soon as I run out of something, or run low, I enter it on my Out of Milk app on my phone. Then, before I shop, I go through the list and pick out the must-have items. If that's below ten, then I decide what else makes the cut by what's on sale, what coupons I have, etc. I'm having fun with this! And it really is amazing how well a single person can get by with only ten purchases a week. I am even counting toiletries and pet food/litter! (However, I don't count anything I get at PetSmart -- like aquarium supplies -- that is another trip).

I am keeping track of my variables spending this month -- making sure I can stay under my post-retirement allowance for variables. With the month coming to a close, I am under half my allowance. That's great, because I know there will be months I am over! What I count as variables are: food, vet/pet supplies, medical expenses, parking, clothing, car repair/maintenance, furnishings, grooming, entertainment, household supplies, laundry, gas, fees/services, vacation/travel and home repair/maintenance. Whatever I don't spend will go into the slush fund. I can draw from the slush fund when there is an overage, but never more than the slush fund holds! That's the idea.

Spring Break -- Really?

March 24th, 2015 at 06:40 am

Well, what a miserable day it was yesterday! The walk home from the train station was cold and WET! My feet were soaked, even though I was wearing boots.

I managed not to buy anything, even though I had no food with me. A co-worker gave me cheese and pepperoni; I had crackers in my desk. I also had oatmeal to make for breakfast. So I was fine. In the evening, I resisted temptation and went straight home to have yogurt and popcorn for dinner. (I know, not great -- but FAST was the ticket!) Tonight I'll have spaghetti with veggie/marinara sauce. I already boiled the pasta, so it won't take so long. I'll just have to steam the veggies and warm it all up.

One of the professors here is a friend of mine. He is a fellow train-rider. Yesterday he told me he was driving today, and offered to pick me up. So I got a ride this morning, and he even bought me coffee on the way! The funny part was that he took such a convoluted, roundabout route, I arrived about 25 minutes later than usual. Don't ever tell me men are more logical than women! That was the most illogical route I ever experienced, but of course I didn't correct him, as he was just being nice.

Did I mention that it's Spring Break and it's almost empty here? When I came to work, it didn't matter that I was late, because I was the ONLY one on my floor. Folks are trickling in a bit, but not much. I think it's going to be very laid-back this week, which suits my mood just fine!

The Reimbursement, and My Weekend

March 23rd, 2015 at 10:49 am

Well, I spoke too soon about getting reimbursed for the subscription I didn't want. A rep called, and in the end I accepted a 35% discount. He is correct that I did not follow up about the free trial -- I should not have assumed that the trial was not in force just because I was having trouble with the website. In their eyes, I violated the agreement by not canceling within 14 days. Another live and learn lesson. It seems like I keep saying this, but I don't learn!

My dispute through Discover is still open, though, pending the actual 35% reimbursement on my card -- it hasn't happened yet.

I had a great weekend, though. On Saturday, I went out with my son's family for pizza following my grandson's violin competition. None of us got to hear him, but the judge's remarks were very complementary. My contribution to the pizza lunch was $20.

On Sunday, I finally made the St. Patrick's dinner. The reuben sandwiches turned out wonderful, and I made homemade French fries that were great! I decided against the potato farls; didn't want to try something new after all. Then we had shamrock shakes for dessert. Okay, I know, not very Irish at all, but fun! I did put Celtic music on the Bose!

My grocery shopping this week cost $32 and my ten items were: cat food, rye bread, toilet paper, Dawn, sauerkraut, Swiss cheese, pantiliners, mint chocolate chip ice cream, corned beef and a big bag of frozen broccoli/carrots/cauliflower. I had one $1 off coupon and six of the items were on sale.

My laundry cost $3.

My pantry and freezer are getting more bare, as I stick to the ten-items plan. Or, I should say, they are getting more roomy. I actually like having a pantry where I can see everything. Meal possibilities this week are: Vegetarian spaghetti, peanut soup, French onion soup, egg salad, pancakes and veggie fried rice.

This morning I overslept (forgot to set the alarm). I missed the first train, got the second (after walking through snow, ugh!). Driving was not a possibility as my son needed my car today. The worst part, though -- I left my lunch bag on the train. It held a boiled egg, cheese, a quarter loaf of sourdough bread and granola bars. It's sad to lose the food, but I've also lost the lunch bag! I'll never get it back. I'll just hope that the food ended up with someone who was hungry and not in the trash!

NSD -- and a refund

March 20th, 2015 at 06:27 am

Yesterday was a no-spend day -- and I got that $119 reimbursed on my Discover card! Whoopee! I wasn't counting on that.

I also got a $50 reimbursement for my transit ticket.

Last night I went home, put on my pajamas and made myself some quesadillas. No sooner had I eaten than I got a text from my son to come over for corned beef and cabbage! Well, I went over and had a very small serving -- in my pajamas! Then I invited them for Reuben sandwiches on Sunday.

My grandson is competing in a musical competition tomorrow and we may celebrate afterwards with pizza. It is not a performance -- he is judged behind closed doors -- so we can't witness it. But we can still celebrate! He is an awesome violinist for an eight-year-old!

Will also have to find time this weekend for laundry, grocery shopping and errands!

Goodwill trip

March 19th, 2015 at 10:26 am

Yesterday I drove, because I was meeting a friend for dinner. It turned out her husband had to go to the ER, and she cancelled. (She hasn't given me an update, but my understanding was that it was not serious.)

Anyway, I decided to use the time instead to stop at Goodwill. I spent $10, for which I got 2 shirts for BIL, a sweater for myself, a creamer for my white pottery collection, and -- drumroll -- a Swaroski crystal Christmas ornament for 2012 (in the box). They are selling on eBay for about $90-100. I paid less than a dollar! I may give it as a gift, but if not, I will definitely sell it!

I also stopped at Steak n Shake and got dinner for $5.

Had a late morning today, as I had to wait for a rep from the gas company to come and do a safety inspection. That meant I had to drive again, because the timing was wrong for the train. I've driven a lot this month! Thank goodness, the gas prices are still pretty low (relatively speaking!)

People at work are congratulating me right and left, telling me they are envious, will miss me, etc. The word has really gotten around. It is a nice feeling to hear words of appreciation, especially after some of the negative stuff I've had to go through. Oh well, water under the bridge -- I'm well on my way to a new phase in my life!

It's REAL!

March 18th, 2015 at 06:18 am

I got the official notice yesterday that my early retirement application was accepted. I sign the papers today. My last day will be June 30. Woot woot!

Basically, my compensation will be a little more than what I would have earned had I continued working through December. Since there are involuntary layoffs coming, I think I did the right thing.

I'm getting very excited now, thinking of all the things I will do. I'm definitely going to devote more time to getting fit, to cooking from scratch (and eating at home!), to writing, to organizing, to selling stuff, to grandchildren's activities, and to keeping the house cleaner. That's a lot!

And there's always the possibility of employment, too, though my museum contact has dropped off the map again. Really don't know how viable that is. But a part-time job in my neck of the woods might be a good thing, not only financially, but to get me out in the community.

I'm meeting a friend for dinner tonight -- someone I used to work with. It will be nice to share my happy news!

Late Morning

March 17th, 2015 at 06:09 am

I couldn't get ready in time to catch the train this morning, so I drove. And because I drove I bought breakfast at McDonald's. It's a domino effect. At least it was only $2.

We had a staff meeting yesterday where it was indicated that decisions about early retirement and layoffs would be announced by Friday. Fingers crossed! Evidently there will be some involuntary layoffs. I feel for those people, whoever they are. But I am so excited about my own early retirement! Surely, if there will be involuntary layoffs, that means that all the applicants for early retirement will be accepted!

I am wondering now about the money I put into flexible spending for medical. I haven't used very much at all, and I'm afraid I will lose it. I don't imagine I will have access to it after I leave. I'm thinking about going to the eye doctor and getting some glasses. I only need reading glasses, and I get by with drugstore glasses, but maybe a pair that's custom-made would be better for my eyes, anyway.

I'm meeting friends for dinner tomorrow in a neighboring suburb. I'm really looking forward to the meal, and to seeing my friends. But it's always a hassle getting there. I guess I will take the train. I just have to be mindful to leave in time to catch the train downtown. Once they switch to the hourly schedule in the evening, it can mean a lot of waiting.

This Weekend

March 16th, 2015 at 06:02 am

First of all, my spending. I spent $31 at the grocery store and bought: tortillas, flour, peanut butter, walnuts, sugar, vanilla extract, canola oil, butter, onions and bread. I spent $3 on laundry. I also spent $23 on aquarium equipment -- a bulb and a gravel cleaner.

Two of my angelfish are now infected with a fungus. I am treating the tank again, but I'm afraid I'm going to lose them all.

On Saturday night I worked at the scholarship dinner. I started getting ready to go at 2:30 and didn't leave the dinner till 11:30, which meant getting home at 12:30. I drove, of course. I would never take the train at that time of night. I wore an old outfit of satin pants and a Chinese jacket, and it was fine, though many women were in cocktail dresses. I got my dinner provided, though I didn't get the filet mignon and salmon that the paying guests got. Spaghetti, salad, and bread sticks were fine with me. I did manage to get some of the fancy hors d'oeuvres, and a piece of amazing chocolate cheesecake.

On Sunday my son came over and fixed a few things for me -- specifically a doorknob that had to be replaced and shades that had to be installed. He was as tired as I was, having spent the night at a sleepover at the Y. Evidently, only the kids slept! So I promised a pizza in payment, but on another day, when we weren't all so tired.

I found .12 over the the weekend and this morning.

I avoided Corner Bakery this morning and had toast and peanut butter at work. I packed a tuna patty, cherry tomatoes, popcorn and granola bars for lunch and snacks today. I'm on it!

$119 down the drain?

March 13th, 2015 at 06:13 am

One day at work, I really needed to get access to an obituary of an alumnus that I could only see through one of those paid online services. In this case, it was MyHeritage.com. I should have just let it go, but I decided to get their free trial so I could look at this obituary. I put in all the info, including my personal credit card info (big mistake!) Nothing seemed to be working, though -- I never saw the obituary -- and I assumed that the trial did not go through. Ha ha. Of course it did. I have a charge on Discover now for $119 for my subscription! I canceled the service, deleted my account and wrote them an email asking them to remove the charge. We'll see if they do anything. If they don't, I'll try to refuse the charge through Discover. What a hassle. Lesson learned. No free trials. They're never free.

I may just have to suck it up and make up the $119 in other ways. I started this morning by not getting breakfast in the station.

Today was payday, and I put $1100 in my slush fund. That felt good.

Refund is in the bank

March 12th, 2015 at 06:02 am

My state refund posted - $153. I am on track to transfer $1100 to my slush fund on pay day -- which is tomorrow! Two days early, since the 15th falls on Sunday. It will feel good to have the slush fund nice and plump again.

I would like to get the E-fund back above $20K, but since I'll be putting in $12K at the end of June (if I get the early retirement package) I'm not too worried about that.

I found three pennies this morning, all in different places.

I finally got a good night's sleep last night, so I think the world will look a lot better today!

I finished up the last of the soup yesterday. Tonight I'll make some tuna salad and/or tuna patties (bought the BIG can). On Friday night I'll make the spaghetti, and on Saturday I'll shop again, though I will have to use up most of my list on staples. So it will be another week of creative cooking.

My St. Pat's dinner will be deferred to the following weekend, due to our schedules.

On Saturday night I'll get a free meal for working at the scholarship dinner. I won't get the fancy dinner the participants get -- but I'll probably be able to snag some impressive hors d'oeuvres -- and there will be a buffet in a side room for the "help."

Yesterday I mistakenly said I had to go downtown today for a board event. I had the dates wrong -- I don't actually have to do that until the 25th, which is a relief!

I'll be meeting friends for dinner on the 18th. Lots going on this month!

Tired Again

March 11th, 2015 at 06:29 am

Whew. Another night of poor sleep. This is really going to catch up with me. But I'm back at work today. Opened up my email to see I got hit with a last-minute assignment. Another reason I'm glad my job is coming to an end!

I bought a muffin and coffee at the station this morning for $4. I did another load of laundry last night for $1.50.

I'm supposed to go downtown tomorrow evening for a "salon" -- kind of a professional book club event. I haven't done the reading, and I'm not really excited about another evening downtown. It's always such a logistical challenge, and I'll have to spend money getting there and buying something to eat. With my bleary head today, it's even more unappealing. But as part of the board, I do have, if not an obligation, at least a responsibility.

Had a free lunch yesterday, as a co-worker brought in meatballs for her birthday treat. Today I'll eat the potato soup I brought in yesterday.

This weekend I probably have to work at the scholarship dinner (though assignments haven't been made yet). This will be my last one! I'll need to figure out something fancy to wear.

Time Change

March 10th, 2015 at 05:47 am

The time change has wreaked havoc on my sleep. I can't fall asleep at night; I can't wake up in the morning. This morning I was so lethargic I got up late and missed the train.

On my drive in, I bought a $2 breakfast at McDonald's.

Last night, I spent $5 on caramel corn at the station. What a waste of money and calories. Why do I do that? I guess because I was hungry and tired.

I did a load of laundry last night, and I will probably do another tonight.

The light on my aquarium went out. I assume the bulb burned out. I'll have to figure out how to get a new one. Just hope the right size is still available, as I think it is a pretty old tank. It's a 15-gallon tank, which is not common any more. It seems that most are 10-gallon or 20-gallon. I'm really hoping I don't have to buy a new tank just because of the light.