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Archive for January, 2016

January Recap, and Other Stuff

January 31st, 2016 at 12:45 pm

I will not spend anything today, so I did my January recap. I ended up spending 99% of my variables budget. I went to the grocery store yesterday and spent $21. Two reasons: my grandson called me yesterday and I ended up inviting the whole family over for hamburgers today -- and while I was at the store getting buns and cheese and sherbet, I decided to get dry cat food and kitty litter in preparation for my trip. I also had neglected to log a restaurant meal in my variables budget, so all that pushed the total up to 99%. Still didn't go over!

So here's the recap:

Housing: $677
Care Repair/Maintenance: $612
Insurance: $304
Groceries: $211
Vacation/Travel: $179
Utilities: $143
Vet/Pet Supplies: $81
Gifts/Charity: $59
Eating Out: $48
Medical/Health: $32
Furnishings/Equipment/Décor: $28
Household Supplies: $27
Entertainment: $22
Personal: $22
Laundry: $17
Clothing: $8
Fares/Parking: $2
Grand Total: $2587

Not the great beginning I was hoping for, but there's nothing you can do about a car repair, which is the real wild card. And groceries -- twice my usual! Got to reign in there. Pet supplies should be low next month, as I am pretty stocked up.

I made the order to OTC Essentials yesterday. I "spent" $49 (free to me) on a Colace generic, a Zyrtec generic, mucus relief tablets, and 2 packages of medicated corn removers. I am really delighted that I will have $150 more to spend this year on OTC items. I'm so glad I cleared out my medicine cabinet recently! I really knew exactly what I needed.

On Tuesday I leave for my trip. I am driving to my friend's house in Indiana, and I will fly out of Indianapolis, so that I can use Allegiant Airlines, which flies so cheaply into Florida. But there will be some gas cost. I hope that I can park somewhere free near my friend's house. She will drive me to the airport.

My cousin will be able to pick me up at the airport. Apparently she is driving again, because she is taking her dogs to the groomer, who is near the airport. So I don't have to worry about ground transportation there. My cousin will foot the bill for food. In return, I will do all the shopping and running. We won't do much besides hang out.

I hope my son will be able to come over the weekend. We will celebrate his birthday. He has already asked for money to put toward a tablet, so I'll write him a check. I'm going to put a $50 limit on birthday gifts this year, so I won't be too much help in that regard, but he will understand. And he has lots of rich relatives (not mine!) who will help out.

I had a terrible night's sleep last night, and Iggy didn't help a bit, with his big mouth. I will probably be dragging today when the kids come over, but I'm still looking forward to it!

Today's menu:

Breakfast: Toast
Lunch: Hamburgers, chips, veggies, sherbet
Dinner: Soup?

Check Arrived!

January 30th, 2016 at 02:02 pm

Yay! My check from the museum finally came! I deposited it into my E-fund, but that is just a holding place, as it will be used for my two vacations next year.

I also got a catalog from UnitedHealthcare, which underwrites my supplemental Medicare insurance. Apparently, part of my benefit is the ability to order $50 worth of OTC essentials every quarter. I'm going to take advantage of that! I'm going to go through the catalog today and make an order. I think I will count it as a snowflake, too, since I would be paying for those items otherwise. All the products are generic, which is okay. The only medication I will miss is real Advil, and that is just because the candy coating makes it so easy for me to swallow. I'll report tomorrow on what I decided to buy.

I'm watching the weather forecasts. A storm is moving in on the day I am scheduled to fly to Florida. I am already reconciled that I will cancel the trip if it looks too bad. I am not comfortable flying in bad weather, especially freezing rain.

I am still working on the novel. Yesterday I added material I had written on the fly. It's pretty rough. Today I have to go over that and make it better. I'm really noticing it's harder for me to choose the right word. I know there is a word I'm reaching for, but I can't get to it. So I work around, and hope it comes back to me. The challenges of aging. The main thing is not to give up, because, while I don't think I'll ever publish this book, working on it is an excellent mental exercise.

Today's menu:

Breakfast: Granola, toast
Lunch: Turkey quesadilla
Dinner: Veggie cheese soup

No Repair Bill

January 29th, 2016 at 02:49 pm

Well, the shop couldn't find anything wrong with the car. They ran it through the car wash several times (which I'm glad about -- it needed it!) and could not find a leak. And the lock was working fine. We finally figured out that the wetness on the floor was the residue from the leak last week (which was fixed), and I hadn't noticed it before because it was frozen. When the temperature warmed up, it became wet again. They said it would take several weeks to dry out completely.

So, the good news is, the fix was real, and I don't have to pay anything more.

So yesterday was a no-spend day.

I got my monthly interest payment from my retirement fund today. The interest rate is locked in for a year, but I think we are nearing the time when it is adjusted. I'm thinking that with this market downturn, the payment may go down a little. I'll make it up, but such a balancing act.

Yesterday I got my 1099-MISC from the museum, and it does not count the money I earned in December. Of course, I haven't been paid for it yet, but I was wondering if it would be taxable since I earned it in 2015. Guess not. I was excited to see the envelope, thinking it would be the check.

Today's Menu:

Breakfast: Banana bread, fruit
Lunch: Turkey tacos
Dinner: Sloppy gobblers

The Car Again

January 28th, 2016 at 03:06 pm

Just dropped the car off at the shop. Hoping upon hope that this time the problems will be resolved, and hoping they won't charge me more. They shouldn't, but that doesn't mean that they won't.

My refrigerator is finally looking more cleared out. After the brunch, it was stuffed with food, and I couldn't see anything. I couldn't tell what I needed to use up most. Now I can see everything. People think my fridge looks bare, but really, if you live alone, it shouldn't be stuffed, because then you are wasting food you can't eat before it spoils.

I have spent a lot on food this month, but I'm proud to say I haven't thrown away any of it.

I went to see my 9-year-old grandson at lunch yesterday. Oops! I think a 9-year-old is too old for a surprise visit from Grandma. He was very much into trading Pokémon cards with his friends, and a little embarrassed to have his Grandma there, I think. I thought that might be the case, but I didn't want to ignore him, having visited his brother last week. Now I know. So is 9 the beginning of the teen years now???

I'm feeling like everything is on automatic pilot now. The bills will be paid automatically. I don't need to get groceries before the Florida trip. I don't need to pack yet. Nothing but the car really needs to be taken care of, and I trust that will be done, if not today, in the next few days. My variables spending is at 94%, and I have every expectation that it will stay there. Yesterday I was tempted to get fast food, to top off the tank, and to get a car wash, but I remembered that I am at 94% and all of that can wait. Only a few more days.

Today's Menu:

Breakfast: Toast, yogurt
Lunch: Egg salad sandwich
Dinner: Turkey casserole

Pay Day, and Other Stuff

January 27th, 2016 at 08:54 pm

Today was pay day. I paid my Discover bill and my mortgage, and updated all my spreadsheets.

I am still waiting for the final check from the museum. My boss emailed me yesterday about whether I had received it. I said no, and she said she would follow up. No further word. I do trust it is coming.

I am also waiting for my W-2 from the College. I believe it will be mailed to me at the end of the month, since I can no longer access it online. If I don't get it by the time I am home from Florida, I will give them another call.

I stopped in at the auto shop today because my car is once again taking on water and the lock is acting up. It was only fixed for a few days! I talked to the guy who helped me before, and he recommended that I bring it in early tomorrow morning and drop it off, so they can get to the bottom of it. I don't know why they didn't get to the bottom of it before, especially after charging me $611.

Yesterday I opened up the novel I am writing (but have put aside for quite a while) and made a few minor revisions. Overall I was pleased by how it read, which is unusual -- I usually hate my work! Today I have a bit more to add -- additions I wrote on paper and never got on the computer. Once I get that added and revised I can take it up again seriously.

I see some problems with it -- fixable, though. I have a tendency to introduce characters and then do nothing with them. I have to either tie them in or cut them out. I won't know which until I know exactly how the story plays out. Yes, I have a rough idea of how the story will go, but I know from experience that twists and turns happen while you are writing. Or at least while I am writing.

Anyway, it feels good to have some work to do, while I wait for work at the museum to materialize.

Today's Menu:

Breakfast: Scrambled eggs & spinach
Lunch: Cheese quesadillas & salsa
Dinner: Refrigerator soup & bread

The End of the Month is Nearing

January 26th, 2016 at 04:01 pm

My variables spending is at 94%, now that I've factored in the laundry I've done. I can't imagine I will have to spend more between now and the first, but you never know, do you? Still, I think I have managed to stay under budget this month, despite a shaky beginning.

My trip is only 8 days away. My brother texted me that he might come, too; then he kind of backed out because of an eye appointment. I asked him if he couldn't reschedule, and he said it took him a month to get it. Hmmm. Unless there is a pressing problem, I would take a trip before an eye appointment, but it's his call.

Tomorrow is pay day. I'll pay the mortgage and my Discover bill. Neither counts in my variables. I track my Discover spending when I make the purchase, not when I pay the bill. So pay day is not very exciting! But it's really nice to reflect on how unexciting my finances have become. No desperate wait for the pay check any more, it's just another day. I never stop feeling grateful that I got out of debt and built up an emergency fund.

Today's menu:

Breakfast: Yogurt, apple
Lunch: Spinach salad
Dinner: Spaghetti

Great Weekend

January 24th, 2016 at 09:30 pm

My BFF just left -- early start to avoid wintry mix developing tomorrow.

Our fun weekend together did not break the bank. I am still under budget -- 93% spent. Of course, there is still a week to go in January.

I spent $32 eating out, $6 for a movie (Brooklyn), and shopping was $56. I bought some pajamas, some small gifts, and a baking stone, so I will not burn my cookies any more! We watched a couple of free movies on demand, and, of course, all the conversation was free.

It was a very good time, as it always is.

Now I'm bushed, from a short night's sleep, so I'm going to stretch out and recoup!

I'm feeling very satisfied that I could indulge myself a bit, and still stay under budget. I felt guilty over every penny I spent, but once I did the numbers, I felt fine!

Today's Menu:

Brunch: French toast, bacon, strawberries
Dinner: Egg casserole, spinach salad

Company Coming!

January 22nd, 2016 at 02:40 pm

BFF is coming! I'm looking forward to a fun weekend. Even though the east coast is getting pounded, we will only have flurries today, and a weekend that is relatively warm and clear.

After I picked up the car yesterday, I topped off the tank ($14). In the winter, I like to fill up whenever the tank gets halfway down. I don't know whether that is a good practice or just a weird idea I picked up somewhere, but it keeps me calm.

Then, I drove past PetSmart, and realized I should go in and buy more feeder blocks for the fish, since I have a trip coming up. While there, I saw a sale on cartons of Friskies cat food, so I bought two boxes. The total cost: $28.

Also, the car cost $611, not $580. There was a fee for hazardous waste disposal, as well as tax; not sure what that was.

So now the variables spending is up to 80%, and there are nine days left. And I have company.

My no-spend January didn't materialize at all. A few factors here: 1)Winter makes me crazy as far as stocking up and doing extra things to be safe. 2)I hosted a big party that was expensive, even though I really tried to use what I had on hand as much as possible. 3) I took a weekend road trip. 4) If I see something that I use regularly and it's on sale, I feel compelled to get it.

Maybe I can aim for a low-spend February, although I will have a week's visit in Florida, which will no doubt wreak havoc on my budget.

March, do I hear March? Smile

Anyway, I will be happy if I even come close to meeting the budget.

Today's Menu:

Breakfast: Egg casserole
Lunch: ?? Out ??
Dinner: ?? Hamburgers ??

What I eat today will depend on what BFF wants to do, but I am thawing ground beef for hamburgers to eat sometime this weekend.

Car Repair

January 21st, 2016 at 02:36 pm

I took the car into the shop yesterday. They indicated that the wait might be long, so I accepted a ride home. I was having a really brain-dead day, because, first of all, I gave them my house keys along with my car keys, and they had to track down my car to give them to me before we left. Then, when I got home, I realized I left the phone in the car! Now that was a problem. I don't have a landline, and I live alone. I tried to communicate with the shop through email, but it didn't go anywhere. Finally, I sent a blanket email to all family members in the area, asking for a ride to the shop. My DIL, bless her heart, was online, and she drove me there after she picked the boys up from school.

Well, I got there, and the guy who was helping me said, "Where have you been? I've been calling you!" I explained that the phone was in the car. And he says, "Why didn't you call me?" And I said, the phone was in the car. So who else is brain-dead? Smile So, of course, it was only then that the repair began, because they were waiting for my consent. So they drove me home again, and the car was kept overnight. I will be picking it up this morning. At least I got my phone back.

The problem was that the plugged drain from the sunroof caused pooling in the car which shorted out the system that controls the locks. The damage runs to about $580. Sigh. At least, this time, they will make a repair on the drain instead of just clearing it, so it shouldn't happen again.

The $580 will come from the EF, so my variables spending remains at 74%.

I went to the grocery before going to the auto shop. I wanted to cash in my change, as well as get some quarters, and pick up a few items. I spent $20, half of which came from the coins (pennies, nickels and dimes). I was disappointed that the change machine took a 10% percentage, even though I was getting a grocery store voucher. That is a change in policy since the last time I used it. I should have just taken an Amazon gift card, in order to get full credit, but I wasn't thinking fast enough. I was too focused on getting grocery store credit, which was silly. It's not like I don't have the money for groceries.

My BFF will come and visit tomorrow if the weather holds up. She is a very fearful, cautious driver, and she is listening to weather reports that are meant for the east coast. Even knowing it is not for us, she seems to be affected by it, like if there is bad weather anywhere, she needs to stay off the road! Sometimes I feel impatient with her, but I try to be understanding. I have my quirks, too. I do hope she works through it and she comes. But if she doesn't, I suppose I will save some money.

This is not financial, but I went to have lunch with my grandson at his school yesterday, and it was so much fun! It was so great to surprise him and get a big hug, and I also loved meeting his friends. Next week I will visit his brother as well. The little joys of being retired!

Today's Menu:

Breakfast: Granola w/almond milk
Lunch: Spinach salad
Dinner: Fried Rice

Florida Trip Planned

January 20th, 2016 at 01:45 pm

I bought my airline ticket for Florida yesterday - $167. To get that rate I had to book for Wednesday through Tuesday. I also have to drive to Indianapolis to catch the flight. I hate to be away from home that long, what with my neurotic cat, and the fish to be fed. You can get a 7-day feeder block, but I never believe it lasts that long.

But I want to see my Florida kids, and it is so nice of my cousin to invite me so I can do that.

I will probably have to rent a car, or figure out some kind of ground transportation, as there will be no one available to pick me up. But I'll deal with that later.

I'm doing laundry today - $3 - and later I plan to stop in at the school and have lunch with my grandson. While I'm out, I will go to the grocery store, for just a few things on my list -- I mainly need more quarters, so I won't be stuck unable to do laundry. I will also stop at the Toyota dealer to see if they can take a look at my car. More money out.

The airline ticket pushed my variables spending up to 71%. It will be a challenge to meet the budget this month. The car repair, however, unless it turns out to be cheap, will come from my emergency fund.

Today's menu:

Breakfast: Banana bread French toast, juice
Lunch: Veggie Cream Soup
Dinner: Veggie Burger

Another freezing day

January 19th, 2016 at 01:17 pm

I spent the whole day inside, and I plan to do the same today. I want to remain blissfully unaware of just how cold it is out there.

Of course, staying inside encourages the no-spend day. Although I may get online to find an airline ticket. My cousin has invited me down to Florida. I may go on Super Bowl weekend, since there is a chance my son's family may visit my cousin that weekend. No promises, though.

Other financial things looming: my car needs attention. I think the duct that runs from sunroof is clogged again, and the lock is acting up. The key fob doesn't open the door (even though the battery has been replaced, and the fob is clearly functioning.) And as I drive along, the lock keeps clicking intermittently, like it's trying to unlock. I'm wondering if it's an electrical problem? I don't know much about automatic locks.

And I am still wondering if I should take Iggy to the vet. The cost -- and the trauma for him -- are obstacles, but I just wonder if there is something bothering him that I could fix.

My variables spending is at 50%, with 61% of the month gone. So I'm doing well, but either a car repair or a vet visit will blow that out of the water. Or an airline ticket!

But anyway, today will be a nice, indoor day, while I wait for the weather to normalize.

Today's menu:

Breakfast: Breakfast cookies/clementines
Lunch: Turkey-rice casserole
Dinner: Veggie cream soup

Happy MLK Day!

January 18th, 2016 at 04:30 pm

On Friday, I went to my grandsons' MLK Day performance. (They go to a school named after Dr. King, and they always have a great performance in honor of the day.) Such cuteness. It brought tears to my eyes.

Right afterwards, I hit the road. When I stopped at the museum, to turn in my badge, I got a nice surprise. My boss' boss asked me if I were interested in being placed on retainer. That means I would earn a monthly salary, whether I actually worked or not, and I wouldn't have to keep track of my hours or invoice the museum. I would just do special projects as they cropped up. I said YES! But they have to get it approved in the budget first.

My weekend in Michigan was wonderful. I had a great time with my brother and his wife, and a great time with my man friend. The cost of the whole weekend was only $43, which counted gas, road food, and the cost of a movie, "Joy." I also spent $20 on bakery bread, which I brought home. I just can't get bread like that in my area.

The weather turned arctic on the day I went home, and, in Michigan, there was snow falling and blowing, so visibility in some areas was really poor. But once I got south of Benton Harbor, the snow disappeared, and it was sunny and bright. So I started out feeling kind of nervous and edgy, but had a good drive home.

Today it is so cold, I'm not even going to do laundry, since I have to use the exterior stairway to get to the laundry room. It can wait. This is definitely a day for cocooning.

Today's Menu:

Breakfast: Toast
Lunch: Grilled cheese, veggies
Dinner: Turkey-rice casserole

Just Another Day

January 14th, 2016 at 02:39 pm

Yesterday was a no-spend day, except for a load of laundry.

I tried to find my headshots, and it doesn't seem I have them saved anywhere. I really thought I did that when I retired, but they are not in any logical place. I emailed our secretary to ask if all our pictures where saved anywhere, and she responded that she had only one, and attached it. It was a smiley picture. So I will have to get that passport photo taken. It looks like it will be about $15. Too bad I passed up the opportunity for a $10 headshot at a conference I attended recently.

I didn't even get around to contacting the campaign consultant, or looking for airline tickets. I had a lazy day.

Friday is going to be even busier than expected. I was planning to leave in the morning to drive to Michigan, but my grandson is in an MLK program at 11:30 and I promised to attend. That means I will leave town about 1 at the earliest, and I have two stops to make on the way. Ah well, that gives me more time in the morning to get ready.

Sunday is going to be very, very cold, and that worries me a bit as I'll be driving that day. I'll be fine as long as nothing goes wrong -- my car has a great heater -- but I sure hope I don't have any travel problem that could sideline me. At least there is no precipitation expected.

My variables spending is evening out. I've spent 43% of the budget, but 45% of the month is gone. That makes me feel a little better.

Today's Menu:

Breakfast: English muffin w/cheese
Lunch: Corn chowder, veggies
Dinner: Omelet