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Archive for August, 2016

Day One Hundred Ninety-Two

August 31st, 2016 at 06:15 am

Calories: 1550

Yay! The car is ready! And the total cost is less than the estimate: $4305. Now I just have to get there to pick it up. I bought an Amtrak ticket last night - $25. Unfortunately, the train only runs that way at 5:45 pm, and arrives at 9:45 pm (because of the time change.) So I'll spend the night at BFF's and pick up the car tomorrow.

I want to put the charge on my Discover card, but just in case it is too large of a charge to go through, I'm going to transfer enough $$ to my checking account as a backup. I don't see why it wouldn't go through -- I think my credit limit on Discover is quite large, and I pay off the card every month. But I don't want anything to go wrong!

I got an offer yesterday for a Chase Sapphire card - $500 bonus for spending $4K in three months. That's a nice bonus but the spending is a little high for me. I think right now I am better off curtailing my spending -- drastically, if I can!

So, in the interest of "earning" the car repair bill money, I have turned off the AC for the last couple of days. Today, I think, it will be no problem, as it is cooling off. I will pack my dinner to eat on the train, rather than buy food on the way (peanuts & raisins, probably). If I have time I will run a load of laundry at BFF's house. These are little things, but I am trying to think in terms of little things, which are mostly the ones at my disposal. I think, combined with the extra income from the museum, I can make up the difference fairly quickly if I put my mind to it.

The museum still hasn't contacted me. It's always a waiting game with them, but I assume since I have been asked if I am available, they will eventually get in touch again.

Day One Hundred Ninety-One

August 30th, 2016 at 05:42 am

Calories: 1483

I spent a quiet day at home yesterday. No spending. I didn't accomplish much, except some household tasks.

I did not hear from the museum, and I heard nothing about the car. Of course, I don't expect to hear anything about the car until this afternoon, since they will get the part today (I hope).

I was called by TIAA to participate in a focus group that would have paid $175. However, after answering a series of questions, they decided I did not fit the profile they needed. This usually happens to me on surveys and such. I don't know what it is they are looking for, but it's not me!

I don't know the final tally on my car repair yet, but when I do, I'm going to actively work on making up the deficit. One thing I've decided to do is put a cap on my college fund gifts to my grandchildren. It doesn't make sense to give all my snowflakes away, when I need to pay for unexpected expenses. I will give them $350 each, which is still above what I gave them last year.

Of course, the money I make from the museum will be a big help, but last year I made $5K altogether, and that's about what the repair will cost. I can't really count on this particular stretch of work amounting to $5K.

All that said, yes, I DO have an emergency fund! It's just that, in retirement, it is so hard to replenish an emergency fund. I don't want to just drain it away.

Day One Hundred Ninety

August 29th, 2016 at 05:52 am

Calories: 1387

I had a really pleasant day yesterday, just getting back in the groove after my little vacation. I was thinking -- I love a break in my routine, and then I love getting back in the routine!

I took a walk with my grandson and his other grandma to get frozen yogurt, which was my dinner. ($5) Then we went to the park; GS played while the grandmas talked. On the way home, I picked up a bottle of creamer ($3) at Walgreens.

I also registered for a networking event ($60).

I also did a load of laundry. ($3)

Variables spending is 20%.

I'm going to be without a car until at least Wednesday -- that's the very best case scenario. I expect it will take longer than that. And then I have to take the train down to get it. The only train leaves at 5:30 pm, so it will be a two-day event.

Meanwhile, I can't go to the gym -- not only because of transportation, but because I left my pass on the key ring which is with the car! I can't go to the grocery, but I have enough to make do, and Walgreens is near enough in case I really need something. So I'm just going to enjoy this time until life gets back to normal. I have a stack of books to get through, after all!

I expect I will hear from the museum today with more details about what they need from me. I am hoping that it won't be such a hassle getting on the payroll again, since I've been on it before. I am also hoping they don't need me to actually come in immediately, because that will mean more public transportation.

Days One Hundred Eighty-Five to One Hundred Eighty-Nine

August 28th, 2016 at 08:25 am

No calorie counts to report. Not because I didn't eat, but because I didn't count.

My little vacation in Indiana was great, but disastrous in one way -- car trouble. Basically, my transmission went out.

I was faced with the decision to repair or buy a new car. I didn't feel ready in any way to buy a new car, so I decided to repair, even though the repair is a little more than the retail value of the car. The truth is that right now, while I'm in my lean years, I would rather spend $5K than $15K, and I'm gambling that the car will last without any more major repairs until 2019, when my income will go up and I will feel more secure financially. I know many others would make the decision the other way, but this is what feels right to me.

So the car is in Indiana. I took the train home, and I'll take the train back when the repair is done. They had to order a part (ironically, from Chicago), and don't expect to get it until Tuesday.

I am hoping I will earn enough from the museum to pay for the repair. If not, I will make up the deficit in other ways. I want to maintain my net worth.

Before that little bomb fell, I was having a good time on my vacation. My BFF and I did some eating out, and we hit THREE Goodwills! We both love treasure-hunting at Goodwill, so it was great fun. And we went to see Florence Foster Jenkins, which was very well-done and quite touching.

My vacation costs were $72, which counted food, movie, and transportation. At Goodwill, I spent $26 on gifts, $35 on clothing, $18 on household things, and $4 on books. My most exciting purchases were the clothing -- I got some nice pieces for the cruise (where you have to dress for dinner), some workout wear, and new jeans and capris. All a size smaller than what I was wearing before.

We made our eating out dollars stretch. We had gift cards to use up, and ordered meals that gave us leftovers to eat at home.

Yesterday was a bit of a disaster. I was scheduled to take the train to Chicago at 7:30 in the morning, but the train didn't come until 10:30. It had hit a tree that fell over the tracks in a storm, and the engine was damaged. When I finally got to Chicago, I had to wait for two more hours for a train home. I was so, so tired, but a good night's sleep restored me.

This morning I did my August recap:

Housing: 677
Home Repair/Maintenance: 200
Utilities: 144
Vacation/Travel: 110 (that was my Michigan vacation)
Groceries: 84
Household Supplies: 81
Eating Out: 69
Gas: 57
Phone: 52
Entertainment: 51
Medical/Health: 39
Gifts/Charity: 24
Furnishings/Equipment/Decor: 14
Laundry: 11
Car Repair/Maintenance: 7
Fares/Parking: 6
Grand Total: 1626

Day One Hundred Eighty-Four

August 24th, 2016 at 05:51 am

Calories: 1329

I had a lovely dinner in the city with E; it cost me $20, plus $2 for a train ticket. Next time I take the train, I'm going to have to put some money in my account, so that's another September expense coming up.

I'm getting ready to go to Indiana for three days with my BFF. I expect there will be a little spending. I moved this trip up by one day so I can be home on Saturday morning for my grandson's first fall ball game.

I bought fuel injector cleaner yesterday for $6 -- can't tell yet if it's made a difference, since it has to mix into the gas in the tank. I'll know by the time I get to Indiana!

I got an email yesterday from my boss at the museum -- they need more work! So I'll have a little extra income again -- we won't talk till Monday though, to figure out the details.

Today is payday, and I've paid my mortgage and credit cards. I won't do my August recap, though, until I get home again. I can report, though, that variables spending came in at 90%, and that's including the dinner last night! The clock starts over today!

I'll check in again with you guys when I get home on Saturday.

Day One Hundred Eighty-Three

August 23rd, 2016 at 05:37 am

Calories: 1698

The calories above reflect the free meals I got at the College -- all kinds of stuff I shouldn't have had! But I did take plenty of fruit as well.

I skipped dinner entirely, having maxed out my calories. I realized that I was following the pattern of Intermittent Fasting, which Dido (?) mentioned yesterday. I did all my eating within eight hours. I've been kind of unconsciously following that pattern, because I so often do finish up my calorie count rather early in the day. It's not too uncomfortable, but I think ideally I would rather spread out the calorie count through the day, rather than feast and fast. But I think I'll read up more about it. It might be good for maintenance, once I reach a weight I'm satisfied with.

My car is hesitating upon acceleration. It may be that I got bad gas. Or the fuel injectors may be clogged or going bad. Anyway, I'll start out by getting a fuel injector cleaner. I can do that today; there's an auto parts store right by the gym.

Today IHOP is serving $1 short stacks. I think I may indulge. I know I have been kind of an IHOP hog lately, but the calorie count for a short stack really isn't too bad. It just doesn't offer much food value.

The $1 collected will go to a charity.

I'll survey the parking lot first -- if it looks like the place is jammed, I'll probably pass.

Meeting my friend E. tonight for dinner. She has selected a tavern in the station complex where I used to transfer. Should be easy to get to. I'm really looking forward to seeing her again; it's been a long time!

Day One Hundred Eighty-Two

August 22nd, 2016 at 12:57 pm

Calories: 1472

I just got back from a half-day at the College from which I retired last year. They were having their annual opening breakfast, which featured a talk by the new President. I found out when I got there that they were also having an all-day team-building retreat as well. I was urged to stay for a couple of the sessions and then for lunch. So I got two free meals today! And the sessions I went to were pretty interesting. It was nice to be an interested, but not involved, participant. And it was good to see old workmates. They seemed so happy to see me, which felt really good.

I learned that the College did away with contributions to faculty/staff retirement funds just after I left. This is on top of freezing wages. I knew they were discussing it. I'm glad I got out when I did.

On the way home I had a powerful craving for a milk shake which I gave in to. $3. I also bought gas - $20. Variables spending is 83%. Just fine, since pay day is Wednesday.

Since the breakfast was so early, I didn't go to the gym this morning. I can still do it later on, since the gym is open 24/7, and I may. I'll be spending three days this week at BFF's house, so I won't get in any gym time then.

It has really cooled down, and I am enjoying a cool breeze coming in the windows. The AC can take a rest. In fact, it's perfect napping weather!

Day One Hundred Eighty-One

August 21st, 2016 at 08:17 am

Calories: 1549

Just got back from the gym, where I did my treadmill and abs. Joining this gym is one of the best decisions I've ever made -- it makes exercise so easy, and I feel so much better. And it gets me out of the house every day, which improves my outlook for the whole day!

I bought $10 worth of gas yesterday in anticipation of my trip tomorrow to the western suburbs. Then I'll top off the tank when I get there, where the gas is so much cheaper. The breakfast I'm attending starts at 7:30, which means I'll need to be on the road by 6:30 at the latest! Yikes, I used to do this every day, but now it seems daunting.

I'm going to try not to spend any more money before pay day on Wednesday, other than for dinner with my friend E. on Tuesday night. Even after pay day I think I will try to hold off on groceries. I'm going to Indiana to visit BFF Wednesday through Friday, so it would make more sense to get groceries when I come back.

That said, the food situation is getting a little challenging. Not that I'll starve, but I'm having to be a little creative. For instance, yesterday, tired of eating spaghetti, I turned the remaining spaghetti sauce into chili. It wasn't bad, though I would never enter it in a chili contest!

I'm out of fresh vegetables/fruits and bread (but I do have frozen vegetables and end pieces of bread in the freezer).

I thawed a whole pack of burgers yesterday. Didn't really want to, but they were all stuck together, so I couldn't thaw one at a time, like I was planning. (They came this way from the store, with no wax paper or anything between the burgers -- I know better than to freeze burgers in one big stack). I cooked four of them, ate one in a bun, and froze the other three. Today I'll do the same, so I'll have six cooked burgers in the freezer. They'll be easy for lunches, though not as tasty as fresh-cooked burgers.

My trip to visit lakeside lighthouses with SIL has been canceled. Her schedule got too crowded. I'm just as glad -- not that I wouldn't have enjoyed it, but it would have been another September expense that I didn't need. I have two birthdays in September, a conference/workshop to attend, a dentist and doctor appointment, and I'm due for an oil change and a haircut. I'm sure there are other things that I'm just not thinking of!

Day One Hundred Eighty

August 20th, 2016 at 06:59 am

Calories: 1321

I was just getting ready to go the gym, when the skies opened and rain came pouring down. So I guess I'll wait till it clears a little. No reason to get soaked, when I can easily wait.

Other than a load of laundry, I didn't do much of anything yesterday. Financially, I'm in a holding pattern till payday on Wednesday. However, I am concerned about how low my gas tank is getting. I don't think I should chance taking an hour drive on Monday without getting gas first. So I think I'll just get a little bit today, and then do the big fill-up when I go to my old work town on Monday, where the gas is so much cheaper. Variables spending is still 79%, so I'm doing okay, even with that $200 charge for washing windows at the beginning of this budget cycle.

EDIT: I almost forgot -- I did one frugal activity yesterday -- or non-activity. It was peak savings day -- a two-hour period in which to dramatically reduce electrical usage. I turned everything off -- AC, lights, TV, appliances, etc. I just lay on my bed and dozed and read by natural light. Soon I will get a text telling me how much I saved, which will be a credit on my next bill.

Day One Hundred Seventy-Nine

August 19th, 2016 at 06:34 am

Calories: 1529

I seem to be naturally gravitating toward 1500-1600 calories a day. This seems to be my comfort level. I eat food I like and I don't go hungry -- my two requirements for a diet! Of course, it is not fast. But that is better, anyway, for the body. And I do burn around 120 calories a day in the gym, except for the strength-training days, when I assume I burn very little.

I did a little extra calorie-burning yesterday, though. When I was preparing to go out to lunch, my son called and asked if he could use my car. He had to appear in traffic court, and my DIL took their car on vacation. No biggie, I could take the El to lunch. But when I got downtown (this time MY downtown, not the big city) I was disoriented and walked the wrong way. I eventually doubled back, but I probably spent 20-25 minutes walking. Then, when I took the train home, I got off at the wrong station! Which meant another 15 minutes of walking. It was a little hot for all that walking, but it was good for me.

Lunch was great, and only $7. Good to see old friends, too.

Variables spending is at 79%. But there is spending coming up. I'm going to the College's opening breakfast on Monday, which is free, but it means I'll have to fill up the tank. (Which I also like to do, when I go to a more distant suburb, for the lower cost per gallon). On Tuesday I am scheduled to meet a friend for dinner in downtown Chicago. For that I'll travel on the El, but the meal won't be cheap. However, I can probably legitimately count the meal in next month's cycle, as the charge to the credit card won't post till Wednesday.

Reminder about variables spending -- this is the amount I allow myself to spend after subtracting $$ for fixed bills and for savings. The savings are for the EF and large semiannual bills. I can spend 100% of my variables spending and still be on track, but if I come in under, I have extra savings to celebrate!

Day One Hundred Seventy-Eight

August 18th, 2016 at 08:27 am

Calories: 1594

Just got back from the gym. No shopping planned today, but I will be going out to lunch with friends at Naf Naf grill. Looks like I can get a chicken shawarma sandwich for under $10.

Yesterday, no sooner did I say that I didn't need to pick up any necessities, than I cleaned the litter box with the last baggie. So I had to buy a box of small trash bag liners - $3.

I am still disgruntled that I have to buy them at all -- plastic bags have been outlawed in my suburb and the city of Chicago, but I really depended on them for throwing out used cat litter. I wonder if the whole scheme hasn't backfired, because businesses are now giving out much heavier, reusable plastic bags that are probably worse for the environment than the thin ones were.

I also did a $1.50 load of laundry yesterday.

Got an email that the replacements for the shoes I bought in Georgia, which I had to exchange (by mail) for a larger size, are in the mail today. I'm so relieved; for a while there the company had both my shoes and my money, and they were not responding to my emails. (Turned out they were having problems with the "contact us" email on the website.) I got a nice apology from the manager for the lapse in communication. Now I'm really looking forward to my "new" shoes.

Day One Hundred Seventy-Seven

August 17th, 2016 at 07:25 am

Calories: 1506

It turned out my DIL had a job interview yesterday, so she didn't leave for her trip till afterwards. Meanwhile, I took the boys to the park.

When she asked me to babysit, I said sure, and then went into action cleaning up the house -- which really needed it. Then she said she wanted me to take them to the park so they could run off some energy. Ha! So I cleaned the house for nothing! Well, I will enjoy it, and it did need to be done.

Spending yesterday was $17 for TP, and another $17 to join the family football pool this year. My "fee" was lower than usual because I had winnings last year that rolled over. I generally don't win anything, as I am very unknowledgable about football, but I do enjoy being in touch with the family.

Variables spending is at 76%. There is nothing I have to buy today. I've got enough creamer to get me through tomorrow, so it's not needed yet!

Day One Hundred Seventy-Six

August 16th, 2016 at 06:27 am

Calories: 1489

Very quiet day yesterday. I did my gym session and went home. Did not do much except a lot of reading.

We were supposed to have rain and storms, which did not really materialize, but a nice cooling front came through. I turned off the AC.

My stipend from the College went into the bank. It is going into the Chase account that I opened in order to earn a bonus, so it is kind of out of sight and out of mind. Eventually it will be a great help to me in my gap year.

I've been eating food from the freezer. Today I took out a large container of spaghetti sauce to thaw, so I see pasta in my future!

Yesterday was a no-spend day, and I would try to make today one as well, but I have to buy TP on the way home from the gym! I've decided I will only buy necessary items as I run out of them until payday. There is a grocery store almost right next to the gym, so I won't be going out of my way. Today it is TP, tomorrow it will probably be creamer. I'm very low on bread, too, but I have biscuits, tortillas, crescent rolls and buns, so I obviously have plenty of carbs and can make do!

My grandsons and DIL are leaving on a trip out east today, so things will continue to be quiet for me!

Day One Hundred Seventy-Five

August 15th, 2016 at 06:00 am

Calories: 1656

I went out with my grandsons and their other grandma yesterday -- lunch and then a street fair. I only spent $3, as the other grandma picked up the lunch tab (I paid the tip) and the street fair activities were free. I also picked up a lot of free stuff -- including two tote bags, a water bottle, and a mini-fan!

The downside is that standing for so long really did a number on my legs and hips. I was awake a long time last night before the pain finally abated enough so that I could drift off. Gotta solve this....

Nine days left in this budget cycle, and I have 28% of my money left. But I have two lunches out scheduled, as well as a trip to the western suburbs. I don't want to dial back on my activities, just be mindful of the pace my money trickles out....

I found the too-small bras I had put away, and I can wear them now! My drawer is suddenly packed! But this is good, as I am changing bras more often now that I am working out almost every day. So far I have only gotten rid of one that was too big. I've also gotten rid of a couple pairs of pants and T-shirts, and several pairs of capris are going to be donated at the end of the season. When the season changes, I am going to open up the bins of too-small clothes to see what I can wear.

My DIL is urging me to buy new clothes for the cruise in January. But I plan to still be losing weight, so I don't want to buy anything now. I think a lot of the clothes that have been put away will seem new. Anyway, I don't plan to buy new clothes -- I think, for my DIL, that's just part of the excitement of the trip for her.

Off to the gym -- treadmill today!