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Archive for March, 2016

March Recap

March 31st, 2016 at 04:42 pm

Housing - $677
Taxes - $472
Medical/Health - $246
Entertainment - $201
Gifts/Charity - $167
Utilities - $161
Groceries - $128
Vet/Pet Supplies - $103
Fees/Services - $67
Furnishings/Equipment/Decor - $67
Phone - $52
Vacation/Travel - $47
Clothing - $43
Personal - $32
Eating Out - $31
Household Supplies - $28
Gas - $23
Fares/Parking - $16
Laundry - $14
Grand Total - $2575

It was an expensive month -- dentist, ancestry.com subscription, haircut, state taxes, vet, even new boots! I spent 105% of my variables budget (still fine for the year, though).

Even though it's not crazy out of line, I hope that April will be more moderate.

Day Thirty-Nine

March 31st, 2016 at 06:34 am

Calories: 1529

I had to estimate the calories I ate at the restaurant last night, but I think I am pretty close. I had skewered chicken and vegetables on rice. I ate all the chicken and some of the vegetables, some of the rice. I brought the remaining veggies and rice home to make fried rice later.

It was a cheap night -- $17 for museum entrance, dinner and parking. And it was a good time, despite having to walk through quite a bit of rain. At least I got my walk in!

Today's weather is supposed to be stormy, so I will stay in.

Today's project is to find someone to replace my windowpane. It was cracked last fall in a hailstorm. I called the company recommended by our property manager at that time, and they never got back to me or followed up. Then I sort of forgot about it. (It's behind a blind, so I never see it). So today I will see if I can find someone who is willing to come and look at it. I'd like to use the replacement cost toward my bonus.

Next week, when my kids are back from vacation, I'll go get my car repaired. No big problem, but last time I took it in there were some recommendations that I need to follow up on.

Later today I'll do my March recap, as I doubt I will do any spending today.

Day Thirty-Eight

March 30th, 2016 at 06:23 am

Calories: 1567

A glass of wine tipped me into the 1500's, but it was a deliberate decision. I don't want to stop drinking my red wine -- I really enjoy it, and it's good for my heart! But it's 89 calories a glass....

I mailed my three packages yesterday for a total of $28. I scored free parking when I pulled into a space with a meter still running! I had 12 minutes to go in and out of the post office, and I made it!

Then I went to the bank and deposited a $3 check from Franzia. I think it was a rebate.

Today I'm going to the south side of the city to visit the Oriental Institute with a bunch of friends. Afterwards, we are going to a nearby restaurant. I've already checked out the menu, and decided I will get the skewered chicken & vegetables.

Before I go, I need to get a few tasks done -- a load of laundry, clean the fish tank and VACUUM -- desperately needed -- why do I put it off so? It's not like it's really hard!

The jeans I wore yesterday were kind of settling lower on my hips than they used to. I am feeling better in general. I feel trimmer, even if it isn't real obvious. I hope by the time real spring weather comes I'll be able to get rid of some clothing that is too large.

The other day I picked up a coupon someone had dropped, and I think I will use it -- $10 off the purchase of two bottles of Layer Cake wine (which I like) and any meat item. The wine would be good to take to my brother's next time I go.

I saw a good movie yesterday on xfinity on demand -- the Sundance channel -- it was called City of Your Final Destination. It's a Merchant/Ivory film that didn't get good reviews, but I enjoyed it! Maybe my standards have slipped, now that I'm always seeking out free movies. It was about a young doctoral student seeking permission to write a biography of a famous writer, but it was a character study and and love story, too.

I still have the two movies from the library to watch and they are due on Saturday, I'd better get to it!

I noticed this morning when I opened my Greek yogurt that its use-by date is today. I know I can still use it till a week from today, so I guess I'm going to be eating a lot of yogurt this week. I looked it up, and apparently I can freeze it, too, though it will change the texture. Not sure how I would like that, but I can always mix it with fruit or preserves. Has anyone here ever frozen Greek yogurt? Mine is plain, by the way.

Iggy update -- he yowled again last night, so the ears weren't the problem. I suspect he is just mouthy.

Day Thirty-Seven

March 29th, 2016 at 05:14 am

Calories: 1611

Too much snacking yesterday, but it was kind of a stressful day.

I found another vet for Iggy and got an appointment right away. They are almost as close as the other vet and free parking is available, which is a big plus around here! I really liked the vet who treated Iggy, so I think this was a very good move.

Iggy has earmites. His ear was also full of scabs because of his scratching. I don't understand why it took me so long to notice! The vet removed a lot of crud from his ear, then treated both ears with a topical medicine, and gave him an injection to help with pain and to ward off infection. We will have a followup next week. I feel he is in good hands, and I'm very relieved. He didn't yowl at all last night. Of course, he hated the whole experience, but now I think he is finally feeling relief.

The cost was $70. My variables are at 95%.

Tomorrow I'm going on a museum visit with friends, with dinner afterwards. I think the museum is free, but of course dinner is not, and there may be a parking cost, too.

My task today -- which I meant to do yesterday until I decided that Iggy MUST go to the vet -- is to mail some packages. And if the weather warms as nicely as they are saying, I will go for a walk!

Day Thirty-Six

March 28th, 2016 at 08:15 am

Calories: 1411

Did well on my calories yesterday. I didn't do much of anything else, but it was a pleasant day.

Today I'm trying to get an appointment to take Iggy to the vet. I just had a botched conversation with someone at the vet's office about whether I'm a new client or not. I've been to this vet before, but not with Iggy, so I said yes, Iggy is a new client. But I told them I had been there with another cat (Captain) who was put down this summer. He said, well, this doesn't make sense, you aren't a new client, then. Apparently they have different rules for new clients and he thought I was trying to work the system, or something. All I want is an appointment for a new cat -- whenever! Is that so hard?

He just called me back and said they had never seen Captain and that they are not taking new clients. WHATEVER!! Their records are messed up; I didn't really like them, anyway. I'm finding a new vet.

Day Thirty-Five

March 27th, 2016 at 06:11 am

Calories: 1421

Yay! Back on track! For supper last night I had a bowl of roasted carrots. It was like taking medicine, but it did fill me up.

Yesterday I did another load of laundry, went to the bank, went to the grocery and library, and picked up my dry cleaning ($32).

I didn't spend anything at the grocery, just picked up a free box of crackers with a virtual coupon.

I checked my new Chase account yesterday and my $300 bonus for opening the checking account has been deposited. So I updated the snowflakes on my sidebar. I also added the value of my coupon, and $6 from Pine Cone. The $200 bonus for the new savings account will be deposited at the end of three months.

I am already halfway to the point where I was last year in December. I was able to give $300 to each grandchild's college fund last year; maybe this year I can top that.

At the library I picked up two DVD's: Selma and Wolf of Wall Street. Haven't watched either of them yet.

This morning I boxed up a package of shirts for my BIL, books for my sister, and clothes for my Florida grandchildren. I'll mail those three packages tomorrow.

Looking forward to a day of quiet contemplation. Happy Easter, everyone!

Day Thirty-Four

March 25th, 2016 at 04:12 pm

Calories: 1644

I used a calculator to find that a woman of my age, at my level of activity, should consume 1493 calories per day to lose weight. That's about what I thought, very close to my personal goal of 1400. But since I'm so hungry, and therefore cheating, maybe I'll take up FF's suggestion and up my allowance a little.

No financial activity today except $1.50 for a load of laundry.

Oh, and I saw on my online bank account that I was charged twice for the birth certificate -- or at least two charges are pending. I had to go through the process twice because THEY said it didn't go through. Not happy. I sent them an email, but I probably won't get a real answer for a few days.

Other than doing the laundry, I didn't leave my condo today. I didn't do all of the cooking I planned on, but made steps -- i.e. I didn't make the quiche but I fried the bacon -- I didn't make the soup but boiled the carrots. I will get those things done tomorrow. I need to make granola, too.

Variables spending is 81% and less than a week to go. I have plenty of food and gas -- but I do need to pick up some dry cleaning tomorrow, so I'm not home free.

This year I have no plans for Easter. I usually do the Easter bunny/egg hunt thing with the grandkids, but they are on their way to Florida. I haven't pushed myself to join in on someone else's holiday -- so I've decided to make Sunday kind of a spiritual retreat day -- a day to pause and reflect. I'll let you know if I come up with anything earthshaking!

Day Thirty-Three

March 25th, 2016 at 05:14 am

Calories: 1673

Struggling a bit. Suddenly 1400 seems so low. Got to stay focused on the big picture.

Yesterday I grocery-shopped early in the morning. My grandson had promised to take pepperoni to school for "mystery sandwich" day, but didn't tell anyone till it was almost too late. I volunteered to get it and I bought a few items for myself: paper towels, detergent, cat food, kitty litter, canola oil, half & half, poppy seeds, toothpaste, bacon, turkey sausage, and salad mix. $51. Then I delivered the pepperoni to my grandson as he was climbing in the car to go to school. Tragedy averted.

Later in the day I completed the application to get a new birth certificate. $18.

I paid my bills, which included my mortgage and three credit cards, Discover, Visa and Kohl's. And I sent $20 in Easter cards to my Florida grandchildren.

While reading Dollar Stretcher, I was prompted to try missingmoney.com, and, lo and behold, I found a payment from Indiana Gas (to me) being held in North Carolina. All I know is it is less than $50, but I ordered a check. Maybe it will be enough to pay for the birth certificate!

Today's plans are to do laundry and finish listening to the audiobook I checked out for my trip. Plus, I have some cooking to do -- I want to make curried carrot soup, crustless quiche, and cook off a chicken breast I took out of the freezer. It's cold again, so a good day to stay inside and get things done.

Day Thirty-Two

March 24th, 2016 at 04:04 am

Calories: 2320

Oops. I should have planned better. I knew I had a birthday party in the evening, for my DIL's mom, but I racked up too many calories during the day. I was in a using-up mode, and I had French toast sticks for breakfast and a Reuben sandwich for lunch. At the party, I ate two tacos with guac and strawberry shortcake.

Oh well, back on the wagon today.

Yesterday was payday, but the deposit showed as "processing." So I'll pay the bills today, just to make sure everything is covered. I have the mortgage and two credit card bills to pay.

I am working on a bonus on one of the cards. So far I've only spent about $700. I have to spend $2500 in my first three billing cycles, so I basically have two more months to spend $1800. Need to get going. I have car repairs to do, a window to replace, a passport to buy, and a vet visit to make. I'm sure I can come up with more.

Speaking of the passport, I have to take my birth certificate along with my application. I thought I knew just where it was, but it isn't there. I have to get a replacement. That is not as distressing as the thought of where the birth certificate might be. It's possible it was stolen. I remember I carried it in my work notebook for a while because I needed ID for something. Terrible idea I know. Is it possible someone lifted it, and I didn't notice? I haven't had any problems with identity theft, but if someone took it, they would be using my maiden name.

I hope it is just lost somewhere in my house.

Day 28 through 31

March 22nd, 2016 at 03:26 pm

Day 28: 1210
Day 29: 1333
Day 30: 1479
Day 31 (Today): 1410

I spent a long weekend with my BFF in Indiana. As you can see above I stuck to my diet, even with dinners at Applebee's and Olive Garden, movie treats, and a hot dog at Dog & Suds!

The mini-vacation cost me $29 in food and $17 in gas. My BFF had a lot of gift cards she wanted to use up and was very generous in sharing with me. We even went to a movie (Zootopia) that cost me nothing because she had a gift card.

We both really like to treasure-hunt at Goodwill, so that was one of our stops. I spent $6 on clothing, $22 on gifts, and $14 on stuff for the house. Best find was a dressy red jacket and a black satin skirt for $2! I'll have to lose more weight to get into them, but for $2, it was worth the gamble. Another good find was two Wilton cake pans -- like new -- but they were $6.

I did some re-thinking about my variables budget, and decided it was silly and even counterproductive to try to to work large semi-annual and annual expenses into it, even things like the dentist and annual subscriptions. They just throw it all off. I have the slush fund in place for unusual expenses, and that is what I should use. With that adjustment, my variables spending is now at a more reasonable 69%. To make this work, of course, I will have to be vigilant about consistently rebuilding the slush fund whenever I come in under budget. I don't anticipate this will be a problem, but I will certainly be mindful of it.

I came home very tired this morning, but it was a good time.

Day Twenty-Seven

March 18th, 2016 at 04:04 pm

Calories: 829

Grilled Swiss on Rye
Brussels Sprouts w/ Parmesan
Apple
Yogurt
1 square dark chocolate
Wine

Yes, calories are really low today, but I suspect they were really high yesterday.

I went to Walgreens today, just taking a walk, but of course I made the mistake of going in. I just wanted to see if they had the eyebrow pencil I had seen advertised.

Well, they had them, and they were offering a second one for half-price. So I bought two, one for home and one for my travel kit.

Then I looked at the reading glasses, and I saw there was a BOGO deal on Foster Grants. So yes, I got two pairs of reading glasses. I have lost two pairs this year. I keep reading glasses in my living room, bedroom, bathroom, kitchen, work area, and purse. I really need them all these places and I am NOT going to wear them on a chain around my neck. In the past, I have picked them up supercheap at garage sales and such, but this time, I got nice ones at the right strength for me -- and they are attractive, too. I think they will help with my headaches. I can really tell the difference, and I'm kind of embarrassed I never got the correct strength before.

Anyway, I spent $48 at Walgreens. (But I saved $39!!) That pushed my variables spending to 109%. And it's only the 18th. And I still have a weekend trip ahead of me. Ah well. Last month was low-spend, and I think April had better be low-spend as well!

Day Twenty-Six

March 18th, 2016 at 08:25 am

Day Twenty-Six was a planned cheat day. I don't know how many calories I consumed, but it was well over the limit. I figure I will do this for special occasions, but I will have to be careful about how many "special occasions" I have. I'm thinking I should limit cheat days to once a month, and only for a good reason, so, say if April goes by without a special occasion, I don't just create a cheat day for the fun of it. Make sense?

The dinner was a success; everyone enjoyed the food and had a good time. I made quite a mess in the kitchen but I've got it down to one sinkful of dishes waiting to go into the dishwasher.

Today I'm getting ready to go to Indiana for three days to visit my BFF. We are trying to visit once a month, alternating between her home and mine. Since we are both retired, it should be doable. I wish she lived in my area, but this is the next best thing. With her blessing, I am taking my laundry there, which will save me both in quarters and stair-climbing.

Before yesterday's dinner I went to Target, intending to buy placemats and maybe some flowers. Well, Target doesn't sell flowers (at least my Target doesn't). And the placemats were not what I had in mind, so I passed on them. But I did find three plain white platters, half-price, on one of the clearance end caps. I snatched them up; they are exactly what I need, an excellent find. I also bought a water bottle and a little gift (recipe book) for my DIL. I spent $33.

I also spent $5 for lunch at McDonalds. I didn't want to worry about making lunch while I was cleaning and prepping for the dinner. I bought myself a Happy Meal, because the portions are small, and I had them add an extra toy, so I would have something for both boys when they came over. And they were delighted with their Hot Wheels!

So I'm at 98% in variables, and it is unlikely I will come in under budget. But last month was only 66%, so I can afford to go over a bit. Just as long as I don't make it a habit!

I will report tonight on my calorie intake today, and then I'll do a catch-up post on Tuesday, when I come home again. I WILL be counting calories, even though I am, so to speak, on vacation!

Day Twenty-Five

March 16th, 2016 at 02:57 pm

Calories: 1448

Toast & Marmalade
Cheese & Olive Quesadilla
Applesauce
Baby Brussell Sprouts & Parmesan
4 Gingersnaps

I went grocery shopping this morning and spent $52. I won't list my items, because I bought 22, not 10! I am getting ready for my St. Pat's dinner tomorrow, which will be a very high-calorie menu -- Grilled Reuben sandwiches, homemade French fries and Shamrock Shakes. I figure each sandwich is 650-700 calories. Add the fries and shake, and it will be a big cheat. But it is a planned cheat, and I will be back on the wagon the next day. This meal has become an annual tradition, and I like to have a few traditions.

Yesterday I wore a pair of jeans that were starting to feel quite loose, and I thought, "It's working!" This morning I pulled on a different pair of pants -- they were still tight. It's going to be a slow process, but at least it's a plan I can stick to, and I don't feel deprived or angry. The big plus is just knowing that I'm working on it has made me much more tolerant about my body. I know I will make a difference in the long run.

Day Twenty-Four

March 15th, 2016 at 03:14 pm

Calories: 1321

Everything Bagel w/Olive-Nut Spread
Chicken Biscuit
Popcorn, No Butter
1 Square Dark Chocolate
Tea w/Sugar
Veggie Plate

I haven't actually eaten the veggie plate yet, but I have counted it, and I will eat it later.

Today after voting in the Illinois primary I walked to the hairdresser's and got a haircut ($15). I had been letting it grow out a little, but yesterday I happened upon an old picture of my shorter style and realized I just liked it a lot better. Even though it's trendy for older women to wear longer hair, it doesn't necessarily look better. So wearing long hair will not be one of the ways I save money in retirement! Ah well, my haircuts are cheap. I found a great cutter at Supercuts, and I will mourn when she moves back to Seattle in a year or so.

I did two loads of laundry today -- I washed my sofa pillows, the cat's bed, and my bath mat. All really needed. I also did some more filing. I've gotten down to one box of papers to sort and file. And most of them will be tossed.

I didn't get to the grocery store today, but it's better to go tomorrow anyway -- closer to the day of the dinner. And I have to do some serious cleaning tomorrow. I love my DIL, but she and her mom are much more particular about housework than I am, so I always feel a bit on the defensive when they come to my house.