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Archive for May, 2015

No-spend Weekend -- Shot Already?

May 29th, 2015 at 06:07 am

Well, I hope it will be a no-spend weekend. Last night it seemed that my cat Mystery was not feeling well. I hope it is a passing thing, and that a vet visit won't be required. She has a sore place on her nose, her third eyelid is showing a little, and she seems warm, like she might have a fever. When I left her this morning she was cuddled up in the closet. I hope she can fight this off.

Just in case, I'm going to look around for a vet who takes appointments on Saturday morning. I haven't' used one since I've moved to this suburb; the cats have been healthy, and they're indoor pets, so there hasn't been a need.

I dread having to give her medicine. She is the worst; it's almost impossible to get anything into her.

In other news, I still haven't received my new BOA card, so I guess I'll call this morning. I really wanted it to be here by now, so I could use it for my train ticket. And I'd like to put any vet bills on it, too. Maybe it will be in the mailbox today.

One of my co-workers is taking medical leave for six weeks, so a lot of her work is going to fall on me for my last few weeks of employment. I certainly don't begrudge her; she is truly ill and should have taken time off before now. In fact, our office is planning to take turns taking meals to her place. She is fighting cancer AND recovering from two mini-strokes. She is very strong, but now it is time for her to back off and rest.

Topped $60

May 28th, 2015 at 06:46 am

Yesterday I found a dime on the train, and two pennies in the station. That neatly raised me well above the $60 mark I was hoping for!

Since I am committed to no more spending this month (with the exception of the train ticket, which I must buy before the 1st) I am facing a weekend of no laundry and no grocery shopping! Actually, I think I can do it, though it will make for a busy week next week.

My variables spending stands at 96% of the budget, and I want to keep it that way.

Next week I am going out to dinner with friends. There is also an evening party in my honor (for retirement). So that is two nights I won't be eating at home. I'm also going on the Frank Lloyd Wright studio tour with a friend, lunch following, a week from Saturday. Busy, busy!

I don't anticipate any particular financial challenges in June, but I'll have a semi-annual insurance payment to make. That won't figure into my variables budget. Post-retirement, I'll be setting aside $255 every month to cover taxes and insurance so that will be outside of the spending budget.


May 27th, 2015 at 06:50 am

That's my found money total right now. I picked up a penny this morning. I need just one more!

I was approved for a BOA Travel credit card that pays $100 (10,000 points) after spending $500 in 90 days. I figure that will be easy, even on a tight budget like mine. I got all the supporting materials in the mail yesterday, but not the card. I'll let another day pass before I worry.

My clothes seem to know I'm retiring. They're giving out. I've thrown away two pairs of black socks this week, and today I'm wearing a pair of khakis that are making their farewell performance. I noticed that there are tiny little holes developing all over -- the kind that indicate the material is wearing out. I have another pair, and if I would just lose some weight, I have two more pairs. I have a pretty nice wardrobe in a smaller size, if only I could get there. That will be a retirement project.

I did have a no-spend day yesterday, and I expect I will be able to finish out the month with no more spending.

Weekend Roundup

May 26th, 2015 at 10:59 am

Came to work this morning; updated all my spreadsheets, and then BOOM! The power went out. All the power. Generators came on giving us emergency lights. So we sat in dimness for a couple of hours until the the power surged back on -- only in some buildings, but mine was one of them. All my spreadsheets were okay; they had been autosaved.

Now it's pouring down rain (not unexpected). I don't think the power loss was related to storms, but we are going to get some.

Now for the catching up.

On Friday I applied for Social Security online. I hope and pray I did it right. I got a couple of emails saying they got my application, and they will be in touch if there are questions.

In the process I realized I was figuring my Medicare Part B payment wrong. I was assuming the cost of the supplement would be my total cost, but it is ON TOP of the basic Part B payment of $105. Adjustment was made to the spreadsheet. What this means is that my budget is a bit leaner, but my practice spending is still within boundaries. I'll just be running a tighter ship than I thought. At this time, I've spent 95% of the "new" budget for this month.

On Saturday, I went downtown to see the "free" play. It was very good, but I'm glad I didn't have to pay $48 for the ticket! Even with a validated ticket, the cost of parking was $15. I probably should have taken the El, like I had planned, but on the other hand, there are safety issues when taking the El after dark. I feel safer on the Metra, my usual rail transportation. But it didn't go where I needed to go.

I was very, very thirsty when I got there, so I shelled out $3 for a bottle of water. But that and the parking were my only expenses because dinner afterwards was picked up by the board treasury. The board president and I DID do a lot of discussing of board issues. (And I took home a doggy bag, so the board also paid for lunch today. Smile)

I had a lazy day on Sunday, mostly just lay around fighting my allergies. (Zyrtec finally took hold and made me feel better today).

On Monday I went to a family cookout. I had promised pasta salad, but on Monday morning I realized I was short on some ingredients. I stole some pasta from a box of Kraft mac & cheese, blended some dressings, and made do with broccoli, carrots, onion and garlic on the veggie side. It actually turned out quite good and I got compliments on it. So there you go. You can't really mess up pasta salad. And I didn't have to run to the store.

During the weekend I did my laundry ($3) and my grocery shopping ($41). My ten items were: toilet paper, popcorn, Greek yogurt, eggs, sherbet, frozen mixed veggies, chicken, fresh broccoli, wine and Zyrtec.

I actually bought a box of wine. It promises to be good for 6 weeks and I like chilled wine anyway. (Also cheap wine!) It is much cheaper than buying bottles. I'll see how I like this plan.

I bought a whole chicken and baked it. I had the legs for dinner one night. The rest of the carcass is in the fridge now. I'll cut some meat off for sandwiches and so forth and then I'll make broth when the carcass is mostly stripped.

I also made gravy (yielded about a cup and half) and fed the boiled giblets to the cats.

Possible dinners this week:

Chicken & pasta salad
Chicken sandwiches
Chicken Manhattan w/couscous
Carrot soup
Broccoli cheese soup

And then there are the old standby's: omelets, grilled cheese, pbj, and peanut soup.

When I made the pasta salad, I also chopped up the broccoli stems and made broccoli slaw to have at home.

No answer from the museum lady. Utterly typical!

I did manage to extend my no-spend days through Friday, and I'm working on another one today.

Found .27! Two pennies and quarter. I am within two cents of surpassing the $60 mark! Not bad for just picking up what's on the ground!

The Museum Job

May 22nd, 2015 at 06:04 am

My former boss, who is now at the museum, visited our office yesterday. I had only a few private minutes with her, but she said she wanted me to be a consultant on contract, and I could choose my hours; part-time would be fine. Holy cow! We didn't have a chance to really talk about it; there were so many other people popping in and gathering around to see her.

As much as I crave the freedom of retirement, and I really do, I know this is an opportunity I can't pass up. Not only would it give me a financial boost, but just having this on my record would ensure that I could consult just about anywhere in the future, if I chose to. This is mind-boggling!

As if the universe was saying "Do it," I went outside and found a quarter and four pennies!

(Or the universe was saying, Don't worry, I'll supply change; you don't have to work! Hard to tell what the universe is saying sometimes. Smile)

So today I have to send her an email spelling out my terms. Basically, I would want to work about 20 hours, ideally on Tuesday through Thursday. The commute would be no improvement. I would have to either drive through the city (it's on the south side, and I live due north). Or, if I took the El, I would have to transfer to a bus, and it would be just as long as the commute I have now, and less comfortable. For these reasons, I would like to limit it to as few days a week as possible.

I also have to see how it would affect Social Security, but if I'm remembering right, as long as I wait to draw SS until my full retirement age (which will be in August) I can continue to work with no penalty.

I might have to get a new car (which I wouldn't have done if I retired). And I might have to buy some new clothes (more corporate atmosphere). But I'm counting chickens before they hatch!

I'll keep you posted!

Did it Again!

May 21st, 2015 at 06:24 am

Another no-spend day. Three in a row. My goal is to keep going until Saturday.

In fact, I can report income today, because I found a penny! For some reason, I always like it better when it's a shiny one!

I got a call from Social Security yesterday asking when to start the Part B for Medicare. I said to start it on June 1. I don't know if that means I'll have to pay a little extra, but I'd rather have overlap than risk not being covered. After I get the Part B I'm going to apply for Medicare Advantage, which will cover both doctor visits and drugs.

I haven't applied for Social Security yet. I am within the 3-month window now, but I'm dithering about doing it online or going to the office. I want to be sure I will get the spousal benefit rather than my own, which I will switch to at age 70.

Talked to my friend yesterday, and she reminded me that if I drive to the play, my parking ticket will be validated by the theater. So I think I will drive rather than take the El. It will be safer, especially since we are staying in the city for dinner after the matinee.

I've been invited to a Memorial Day cookout, so I need to figure out what to bring, and how that will fit into my ten-items shopping. I'm leaning toward pasta salad, since it's cheap, and I have plenty of time to make it. And I already have most of the ingredients!

Second No-Spend Day

May 20th, 2015 at 06:59 am

I did it again! No spending yesterday!

I'm determined to get through this month within budget, even though I've had a car repair, a license fee, and an unexpected clothing purchase. I think I can get through the next eleven days with minimal purchases at the grocery store. I can get by without buying gas. I think I have enough pet supplies. The unknown is how much going to the play/dinner on Saturday is going to cost. As I've said before, the ticket is free, but the parking/transit is not, and I've promised to have dinner afterward with my friend.

With all this in mind, I put off another dinner invitation from a different friend. She wanted to schedule sometime next week. I said it was a bad week (and that is true, in the financial sense!) and asked if we could do it after the first of the month.

I'm proud of myself for doing this, because, after all, I do have the money. I just don't have the room in my budget! Smile (Reminder: I am living on my post retirement budget right now and saving the extra for a budget shortfall in July. So I'm not hurting, just being disciplined.)

No-Spend Days Are Fun!

May 19th, 2015 at 06:31 am

Well, no, they aren't. That's the trouble. No-spend days are boring; at least they are boring to talk about.

But every one is a brick in my financial empire! Yay!

Went to the students' Phonathon party yesterday and they insisted I take a slice of pizza. Yay! Free lunch!

And this morning I found a slice of quiche that was hidden and forgotten in my freezer. That almost feels like getting a free lunch, too!

Today's goal is to continue my no-spend "streak." It's been an expensive month so far, so it's time to hold back.

The Weekend

May 18th, 2015 at 07:33 am

This weekend was grandson-centered. I went to GS1's little league game on Saturday, then picked up GS2 from a birthday party and we all went out for ice cream. My treat, so it was $21. For myself, I just got some mango sorbet topped with fruit, but the boys piled on the toppings, hence the cost! Ah well, it's not like we do it every day.

On Sunday we went to see the new Avengers movie. My son paid for his sons' costs, so the cost to me was $6.50 for the movie, and $3 for treats.

I did my grocery shopping - $36. The ten items were: ketchup, mayonnaise, sweet relish, croutons, cheese slices, pantiliners, butter, carrots, K-cups and wine. No meat this week, but I have two hamburgers left over from last week. Six of the items were on sale, so my savings came to $12.49, or 27%.

Also spent $3 on laundry.

This week's menu possibilities:

Carrot Cake Pancakes
Peanut Soup
Homemade Mac & Cheese
Grilled Cheese

I have spent 74% of my variables budget. No regrets, though. When I have the opportunity to have fun time with my grandchildren, I grab it!

Forgot to add my funny story! On the way to the movie, I found a quarter. Then, once inside the theater, I found numerous coins at my feet. They seemed to be dropping from somewhere. I looked above -- nothing! Then I realized they were dropping out of my coin purse, which I hadn't zipped shut. LOL. I think I recovered them all.

Pay Day

May 15th, 2015 at 07:19 am

It's pay day. It's my second last pay day, at least from here.

I paid my mortgage payment and Discover. I have a $3K surplus in checking now. With another frugal month, I should be close to $5K which will get me through my lean month between retirement and the start-up of social security. (Not that it's really a worry -- more of a game. I will have $30K in my e-fund when I retire. But I would rather cash-flow the month!)

I have to sign up for Part B Medicare in order to get the Medicare Advantage plan. (I already have Part A.) So I'll do that today, and then it will be time to visit the Social Security office and get set up there for my monthly payments.

Yesterday I finished up a big project as Treasurer of my board. I filed papers to reinstate our chapter with the IRS. It required an amazing amount of paperwork, as well as $850 from our treasury. I am hoping and praying that it was all done correctly, and that the next thing we hear from the IRS is that we are reinstated. Our board President (who is the person going to the play with me next weekend) wants us to have a nice dinner afterwards to celebrate. I'm not sure if she means it will be on us or on the board! But I guess a nice dinner is in the cards. We are also paying the accountant who helped us in gift cards -- that will definitely come from the board's treasury.

Last night when I went to catch my train home, it wasn't there! So I took the one that stops at the station beyond mine. It meant a nice long walk home, which was overall pretty pleasant -- but it did make my ankle swell. So frustrating! It's so hard to get the proper exercise when old injuries get in the way!

Don't want to supersize my lashes

May 14th, 2015 at 09:03 am

I'm with Laura. I'll be glad when that creepy-crawly Cover Girl ad at the bottom of the page is gone. It has certainly inspired me NOT to ever buy Cover Girl.

I picked up my car yesterday. I was figuring it would be $120 plus tax, but it was $120 even, so my variable spending percentage is a little better than I thought. Only 65%! It was actually good that I couldn't pick up the car for a few days, because it gave them a chance to open it up and air it out in the sun. I couldn't have done that at home. Too risky.

After I got home I ran a load of laundry ($1.50).

Tomorrow is pay day. I will have $1570 to sweep into savings; however, I'm going to leave it in checking this time. Might as well prepare for my month of no income. (July)

I learned yesterday that there will be another retirement party -- well, two, actually. The whole department will have an after-hours party at my boss' home, and then, on my very last day, our unit will go out to lunch together. It's nice to get this recognition. And then my family will celebrate my retirement on the July 4 weekend -- and my BFF says, "Let's take a celebration road trip!" I don't know if that will happen. Probably not until August, anyway!

Gosh, aren't I retired now?

May 13th, 2015 at 07:54 am

Yesterday was my retirement reception, along with the rest of the "class" of retirees. I was the baby of the group, with only six years of service. Some had more than 40 years! Many people were sad and teary, but I am not as involved, so for me it was just a nice party with pretty good cake!

At lunchtime I bought a top, sweater and jewelry from Kohl's to dress up my appearance. They were $55. I'm actually not sorry for the purchases; they are all items I will use again and again. My colleagues thought the whole story was hilarious and kept telling me how "very nice" I looked. I felt comfortable, especially since we had a "class picture" and I spent quite a bit of time standing in front of the room.

According to the Kohl's receipt, I saved $41. And the clerk said I could bring in the receipt along with my 30% discount postcard and get a little more back. I'll do that this weekend.

Because of the reception, I didn't pick up the car yesterday. I'll do that at the end of today.

I had another unexpected expense, which really shouldn't have been unexpected. My license plate renewal came due. I went ahead and paid online, $103. I could have waited till next month, but what's the point? Better to get it done.

That pushed my variables budget to 66% spent (which also includes the estimated car repair). To meet my goal, I will have to be very careful. The biggest challenge will be the play on the 23rd. The ticket is free, but there will be the transportation/parking, and my friend wants to have dinner afterwards. I'll push for something cheap!

The Car, and my Slobby Self

May 12th, 2015 at 07:35 am

So I took the car to the shop yesterday, and it turns out they charge $120 just to examine the sunroof. The good news is, the problem was just cleaning the drain from the sunroof (who knew I had one? -- a drain, that is!) So it will only cost the $120. I left the car there overnight so they could air it out. I'll pick it up today after work.

So, today's problem -- it is the day of my retirement reception (not just mine, but all thirty-some people who are retiring). What am I wearing? Khakis and a jeans jacket! Other people are dressed up. (Like in pearls and heels!) I wouldn't mind if I didn't have to go up front to receive my gift package from the President. But I don't want to go like this. I don't often dress this casually for work, but this morning I figured, what does it matter now? Oops. It matters today. Needless to say, I totally forgot this was the day of the reception.

So I'm going to go to Kohl's at noon and try to find a blazer or sweater that will look more professional. Kind of a bummer, but I'll be able to use it in the future even if I am not working. I'll call it my "going away" outfit. Smile

Good thing I didn't buy that muffin this morning! And good thing I found a quarter! Smile Despite all this, I still think I can stay within budget this month.

Mother's Day, and Car Troubles

May 11th, 2015 at 07:06 am

I had a nice Mother's Day. My son made lunch for me (along with mimosas!) and bought me flowers; my grandsons picked out funny cards. My other son called me and promised a card on the way -- I also had a long chat with my granddaughter, though I didn't understand a word of it.

Yesterday I noticed that there was a pool of water on the floor of the car. Last week, I found maps under the seat which were waterlogged; I don't know why it didn't get me concerned; I guess I've just had too much to think about. Anyway, I have a leak somewhere, and of course it is raining, raining, raining, and I have no roof to park under. I drove to work today and I'm taking the car to the dealer today to get it checked out and fixed. I need to make this car last four more years! Just from the sound of it, the mechanic thought it might be a problem with the sunroof.

My Saturday ten-item shopping was a little more expensive than usual: $48. I bought buns, oatmeal, cooking spray, almond milk, dried cranberries, walnuts, romaine hearts, a Vidalia onion, vanilla and salsa. My entrees for the week:

Brisket sandwich
Pulled pork sandwich
Tuna salad sandwich
Spanish rice
Sloppy joes

The brisket and pulled pork are left over from my Mother's Day lunch, so didn't even come out of my budget.

I went to PetSmart for the pet supplies: cat food and kitty litter. ($15) I hope I have enough to get me through the month. This morning I found a mostly-full jug of fresh kitty litter next to the dumpster. I know some may hesitate to take something like this, but it was clear to me that someone had tried it and didn't like the texture or something, and put it out for someone else to use. It is a brand I've used before, and I'm fine with it. It will be great to mix with what I already have.

I also bought Papyrus Mother's Day cards for my DIL's; the two cards were $12 (with a discount!)

I've spent about 29% of my variables budget. The car repair will probably throw that out of whack.

Going Smoothly

May 8th, 2015 at 06:08 am

Things are going smoothly, so there is not much to report. No spending since my entry yesterday. I found a penny. I had a "free" lunch yesterday because of the graduation celebration at work; however, since my contribution topped $26 in cost, it wasn't really free! I have 36 more days to work, and I'm getting more excited all the time about the free time I will have.

My museum friend emailed me a question yesterday, and also said "I owe you a conversation -- it's coming!" So I guess it is about the job, which may or may not exist, and may or may not be filled. Whatever. Thank goodness I never pinned any real hopes on that.

Tomorrow I'm going through my wardrobe and taking out everything that is bordering on too small. I'll box them up but keep them. I do plan to drop a size after I retire, so I want to keep them close. I just want to alleviate the crammed closet right now.


May 7th, 2015 at 06:29 am

Let's see....

I found a nickel.

I spent $3 on laundry.

I spent $26 on treats for work. Bad me, for not baking, but I was too tired after the laundry. This had to be done; we have a loyal student worker graduating. I also contributed $5 toward her gift card.

My phone meeting with the accountant went well. I think we have made progress in getting reinstated and filing our taxes. The accountant is a friend of our board president and is not charging us for the work, but I think we ought to do something nice for him. He's really leading us through a thicket of paperwork.

With only about a week to go before pay day, I can predict that I'll be able to put $1600 into savings again. Ordinarily, I would put it into the E-fund, since the slush fund is above $2K. However, I think I will put it into the slush fund because I will have one month this summer when I will have no income from work or Social Security. (I will retire June 30, but am not eligible for SS until August 11). So I will have to spend savings, and I'll want it easy to get to. That said, I will also get a $12K lump sum payment upon retirement (plus the value of my unused vacation days and sick days), but that I will put straight into the E-fund.

Minor Updates

May 6th, 2015 at 06:21 am

I bought gas yesterday for $24, and my variables spending for the month is now at 16%.

I got a coupon for a free muffin at Corner Bakery and I used it this morning.

Went to my grandson's orchestra concert last night, so a night of free "entertainment." Ear-bending, some of it. Unfortunately, that meant I missed watching "Chicago Fire," which I wanted to see because it was filmed in my work town. However, it's not like I would see someone I know -- they just used the local quarry for a scene.

Getting the check from Truvia yesterday inspired me to seek out more settlement claims. I filed one for Straight Talk, which may yield $45, and one for Kettle Chips. However, I realized afterward that my Kettle Chips claim fell outside the time limit, so I won't get anything from that. There wasn't anything else I could honestly lay claim to.

I have a phone meeting today with the accountant for our professional organization. We are in arrears with the IRS, for having failed to file taxes for three years. This is the work of a former board. This accountant is helping us untangle the mess. Wish me luck!

Happy Tuesday!

May 5th, 2015 at 06:59 am

Got a check in the mail yesterday for the Truvia settlement - $7.80. Thanks to Ceejay, for alerting me to that! I deposited it electronically into my E-fund.

My trip to the post office yesterday was $18 to mail two packages and to buy a book of stamps. I also went to Batteries Plus and spent $15 -- on, you guessed it! Batteries!

I intended to take the train this morning but it was POURING and I couldn't bear to make that six-block walk, even with an umbrella. So I drove. I bought breakfast on the way ($5) but I have a good lunch packed.

I found out yesterday that the ticket to the Jane Austen musical will be free, thanks to a colleague who works at the theater! So awesome! Those tickets START at $48!

So far this month I have spent 13% of my variables budget, with 16% of the month gone, so I am tracking well so far.

April Recap ... And More!

May 4th, 2015 at 07:34 am

April was still a pretty good month, despite some unexpected expenses.

Housing - $677
Entertainment - $216
Utilities - $138
Fares/Parking - $126
Groceries - $114
Eating Out - $67
Gas - $63
Fees/Services - $59
Phone - $50
Gifts/Charity - $38
Vacation/Travel - $36
Medical/Health - $32
Personal - $17
Household Supplies - $16
Vet/Pet Supplies - $15
Laundry - $14

Grand Total - $1678

I spent 88% of my post-retirement variables budget. That includes a renewal of Ancestry.com subscription, a parking ticket, a late fee, a weekend trip to Michigan, and a weekend guest. So yay me!

The workshop on Friday was fantastic -- too bad I'm retiring so I can't use all that wonderful knowledge! In financial terms, I had a free breakfast and lunch, and, essentially, a free dinner, since I was so full I didn't eat that night. I did not have to pay for parking after all; the board covered it.

We went out for a happy hour afterwards, and I did spend $14. (On one drink!) A good time, though.

On Saturday I did two loads of laundry ($3) and spent $37 on groceries. (Bread, tuna, tortillas, eggs, cheese, frozen veggies, frozen yogurt, wine, ground beef, sourdough loaf) The tuna was free because of a coupon I won. My overall savings was $6.01, or 14%.

After I went to my grandson's little league game, I stopped at PetSmart and bought fish food and kitty litter for $14.

My menu for the week:

Beef tacos (probably twice)
Cheese quesadillas
Tuna/egg salad sandwich (probably twice)
Grilled cheese sandwich

I got a $7 refund for transit cost and an email saying they are holding $192 for future reimbursements. I think that means I will only get $100 more returned to me, since I will have only two more paydays, and they only put $50 a month into the account. Oh well. I didn't put enough in the account, but at least I know there won't be money unspent. (This is flexible spending money.)

I drove today, in order to do some post office business. I'm mailing two packages. I'm also mailing some dog tags I found on the street to the owner. (Well, not to the dog!) They had their phone number on the tags, so I called them and they gave me their address. I would just take them over if they lived in my neighborhood, but they live in the city.

Lots of entertainment plans in the works -- not only do I have the Ravinia tickets, but a friend wants me to go to a musical based on Jane Austen's Sense & Sensibility (with the promise of reduced tickets) and there is a free museum day in my work town in the middle of the month. The grandkids might like it, since it also involves a trolley ride!

And I have to brag a little on my productivity in the kitchen this weekend. I bought 3 lbs. of ground beef and made one pound into taco meat, cooked one pound and froze it, and froze the other pound as patties. Next week I'll have hamburgers and sloppy joes on the menu! Then I made Ranch dressing and poppyseed dressing from scratch, a batch of granola, and two loaves of applesauce cinnamon bread! I froze one whole, and froze the other as individual slices.

Boy did I generate a lot of dishes! Filled the dishwasher three times, which is unusual.