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Archive for December, 2016

Getting Ready

December 31st, 2016 at 03:22 pm

Ah! Just lost an entry! And I almost always remember to copy it, but I didn't this time.

I spent $3 today on laundry, so made the adjustments to my final tally for the year.

My packing is almost done, except that nothing is in the suitcase yet -- can't pull that out till the last minute, so my cat doesn't get upset and PEE ON THE BED, like she did last time!

Tomorrow I'm going to Kohl's to use a $5 coupon -- good on any item over $5, so I have to use it! I'll find something, if only socks.

Also have to return a library book. Wish I could take it on the cruise, but it's due and it's non-renewable. Not going to start out the new year racking up fines!

Pet sitter came today and picked up the keys. The cruise is almost here -- it's real -- it's happening!

Year-End Recap

December 30th, 2016 at 04:34 pm

What a high spending month.

Gifts: $1,967 - This includes $1200 contributed to grandchildren’s college funds.

Housing: $1,355 - Ended up paying mortgage and assessment fees twice this month.

Furnishing/Equipment/Décor: $588 - Mostly the cost of a new dishwasher plus installation.

Medical/Health: $246 – Physical therapy, labs, office visits, scrips, gym.

Home Repair/Maintenance: $189 – Plumber

Utilities: $176 – Ended up paying gas bill twice in the same month.

Groceries: $152

Fees/Services: $140 – Amazon Prime, AARP membership, bank fees

Eating Out: $124

Vacation/Travel: $122 – Gas for weekend trip and prepayment for pet sitter.

Gas: $88

Vet/Pet Supplies: $60

Phone: $52

Household Supplies: $27

Entertainment: $23

Personal: $22

Laundry: $18

Fares/Parking: $3

Grand Total: $5379

Variables spending (which doesn’t include Christmas gifts, the dishwasher, or the housing) was 151%! Mostly thrown off by the medical bill, the plumber bill, the fees and the higher food costs.

Ish. December. A budget-killer, and I had some bad luck besides.

But it was a good year. My net worth rose from $205,789 to $213,004. That I am pleased with, considering that I am retired. My retirement nest egg itself actually rose by a couple thousand, even though I am drawing on it (interest only). My liquid savings rose by $2,500, even though I feel like I hit it hard throughout the year.

Notable events this year:

I kept my old car going to the tune of $7K. Time will tell if it was a wise decision or not. I just want it to last 2½ more years.

I took three trips to Florida and quite a few short trips to Michigan and Indiana.

I not only joined a gym, but became a regular attendee.

I never weighed myself, but I lost enough weight to wear a size smaller – sometimes two sizes. And I had a lot of smaller clothes set aside, so there was very little cost to getting smaller. What I did buy, I got at Goodwill.

On the darker side, I learned that I had chronic kidney disease, and I am continuing to learn about it. It is not yet affecting me in any adverse way.

On the good side, I switched my statin and got rid of a lot of muscle pain and insomnia.

I went to a podiatrist, and finally have pretty much solved my foot pain with orthotics.

I continued my contract work at the museum, earning about $5700 this year before taxes. And as far as I know, I’m continuing in 2017!

I bought a new dishwasher. I don’t think there was anything else I had to replace.

Actually, it was a pretty uneventful year!

Going to the Movies

December 30th, 2016 at 05:54 am

I'm home today, but in a little while I will go to my son's house to watch the grandsons. We are going to see "Sing" today, and will probably buy lunch, too. Wish I had a gift card for food, but I didn't get any this year!

I created my final invoice for 2016 for the museum work -- $450. Won't see that until well after the new year.

I did some shopping yesterday - $35 at Aldi and $15 at PetSmart. Much of it was getting ready for the cruise -- pet food and litter, road food. I bought only one perishable -- blueberries -- because I will soon be leaving for 10 days.

I also did another $1.50 load of laundry, and I will probably need to do two more before the trip.

My son called to get some info from my passport and also the number of the credit card I plan to use for "purchases" on the cruise. (He was filling out forms.) I wonder what kind of purchases I would make. Food is included. I don't plan to shop! I suppose there will be little fees here and there. It will be interesting to see how I fare.

A Lot of Nothing

December 29th, 2016 at 05:22 am

Got paid yesterday, but will make my month-end and year-end analysis at the real year's end.

My only spending yesterday was $14 for cat food. (Except for mortgage payment and credit card payments and paying my $201 medical bill.) It is interesting that my medical bill was lower, when I went online to pay it. There must have been a credit or insurance payment they were not counting before.

I was coming off a sleepless night, so I was too tired to go to the gym. I only went to buy cat food because I was completely out. When I got to the store, I realized I did not have my wallet! (It was at home.) I did have my change purse with me, so I paid cash.

Not having my wallet meant I couldn't deposit my museum check, so I am doing that this morning on the way to work.

I slept well last night, so I should do a lot better today. Today is my last day of work this year. I won't go back until I get back from the cruise. And even though I will be in town on the 10th, I probably won't go to work, as that is the day that C has surgery, and I will probably be watching the boys while DIL is at the hospital.

I heard from one of my girlfriends that it is fine to reschedule our luncheon to mid-January. The other I will call today, since she has not responded to email.

Well, that's it -- a lot of nothing!

Yesterday's Frugalities

December 28th, 2016 at 04:04 am

I'm trying to dial back in all the little ways I can. Yesterday I went to the library to pick up a new audiobook. I checked out the library book sale (ongoing -- it never closes). It is my usual habit to pick up a few books there, so I can pass them on to my sister. Well, the price had gone up to $1 from .50. I looked, but didn't see anything I thought was worth a dollar.

I also walked two blocks instead of paying for parking.

I managed to buy no food or beverage at work. To do this, I have to take a lot to restrain my urges!

I have committed a scheduling goof-up. I told DIL I would babysit on Friday, forgetting that it was the day for the girlfriend luncheon (1 1/2 hour trip -- each way). I really don't want to back out on DIL, since she has already said she has no other options, and she is already dealing with enough what with her mother's diagnosis. So I emailed the girlfriends this morning. Hoping they will be understanding....

Yesterday was another day of being alone in the office. I expect I will have some company today.

I did spend $1.50 on laundry yesterday, but that was it. Today I have to do some stocking up at PetSmart, and another load of laundry.

I got my check from the museum yesterday! So I will deposit it today. It is also my SS payday. I think that this time, though, since it is SO close to the true end of the year, I will wait to do the financial reckoning until December 31 and get a true annual count.

Tuesday Morning

December 27th, 2016 at 05:29 am

Other than going to the gym yesterday, I spent the day at home. I would have enjoyed it more if I hadn't started feeling woozy -- that cold I had, which is lingering as a cough, seemed like it was going to start over. I took some mucus expectorant before bed and I feel better this morning.

I got some good things done, like cleaning all around the litter pan. What a mess that makes. I am trying something new -- spreading a big towel under the pan and partway up the wall. I wish the cats would use a covered pan, but they won't.

I readjusted my variables budget for the coming year. It will be tighter, because taxes were higher than I expected, so I have to reserve more. There is not a lot I can control in my budget, but I can be more frugal in grocery shopping (and using my food stash) and eating out, especially the convenience eating. I don't have any big clothing needs coming up. I DO have two vacations, so I don't think I can cut back there.

About the cruise -- we are going to drive to New Orleans, where the cruise ship takes off. It is a two-day trip, and we will stay in Jackson, Mississippi overnight. My son has already booked a two-bedroom suite, so we can all stay together and split the cost. We will stay in the same suite on the way back. I am expecting that C. and I will split the cost of gas and long-term parking. We will probably take her car, since it is newer. I will take some road food, but I am sure everyone else is expecting to make food stops.

I have set aside 5 pairs of capris and 10 tops (so I can change the top for dinner). I'm also going to pack a nice pair of white pants and two cardigans. Maybe a hoodie, too. Two pairs of PJ's. Sandals and sneakers. Plenty of underwear and swimming gear. I don't have to pack a hair dryer, because the room as one. Hooray!

It's time to go to work!

And Now It's Done

December 26th, 2016 at 07:24 am

The day after Christmas is so anti-climactic, isn't it? But I'm always glad to get back in the routine.

I had a really nice day with my local kids, my local grandchildren, and my friend C. For once I didn't feel bad about the gifts I had given. Either I'm getting used to it, or I'm getting over it. My DIL put herself out too much with not only hosting the gift-opening, but making homemade cinnamon rolls for breakfast, and a great Christmas dinner. I tried to help, but only succeeded in making the risotto and helping to clean up afterwards.

Today I've already gone to the gym, and I'm doing a load of laundry. I am jotting down New Year's resolutions whenever I think of them, but they are mostly of the small variety. My big one, I think, will be to find joy in everything I do.

More good news about C. It appears that the cancer MAY be stemming from her gall bladder rather than the bile duct. It IS in the bile duct, but that may be secondary. It is not in the pancreas or liver. (Though they won't know any of this for sure until the surgery.) The gall bladder is easy to remove and not needed. The bile duct can be replaced with part of the intestine. (And a topnotch surgeon will do this). If the cancer has spread nowhere else, we can be hopeful of a good recovery.

Christmas Eve Eve Meanderings

December 23rd, 2016 at 08:50 am

I went into work yesterday, but there was no one else in my office. Since I don't have a key to the main office, I had to call security to be let in. I ended up only working three hours, because it just felt so weird and I couldn't concentrate. I know most people do better without people around when they work, but for some reason I am just the opposite.

After work, I went to the gym and then to Walgreens, where I spent $8 on a prescription and sundries.

This morning, it was back to the gym again, with a $24 stop at the gas station. I have also run a load of laundry for $1.50.

I'm trying to spend money only on needs.

That said, I have yet to withdraw $600 for the grandsons' college funds. I already sent the $600 to the Florida grandchildren, but the local kids have a specific fund and I need to find the info and log on. Need to do that before Christmas, so that I have a printout to wrap up!

I have earned $2,229 in snowflakes this year. Ordinarily, I would have divided this among the four grandchildren, but I decided to stick to $300 apiece since I had such big expenses this year.

Here is how my snowflakes shook out:

Rewards/Bonuses: $1086
Freebies: $288
Dividends: $175
Focus Group: $175
Coupons: $151
Discover Cash Back: $148
Surveys: $70
Gift Cards: $55
Cash Settlements: $26
Unclaimed Property: $13
Found: $8
Peak Savings: $6
Rebates: $3

Also $25 that was not categorized.

I will be earning another $3, as I have a Pine Cone survey to do.

Tonight I'm going to my nephew's for dinner. There will be a small gift opening. I will only bring gifts for my ex & wife, and nephew's family, as all the others I will see on Christmas Day. If I am up to it today I may bake cookies to bring.

I don't have to go back to work until Tuesday, and I will enjoy this break. Today is payday (at work) but I get my check in the mail. I am hopeful that it will arrive Tuesday so I can count it in this year's budget, but with the offices being closed, that's doubtful. There's a chance if they did payroll yesterday.

I still have shepherd's pie to eat, but I am thawing my last container of hamburger in anticipation of making tacos. I am going to try to be better at staying ahead on cooking. Of course, I have a free meal tonight, and another one on Christmas Day, so I'm not going to be hurting!

Oh, brother!

December 21st, 2016 at 03:44 pm

If you looked at the comments on my last post, you will see that Another Reader very nicely informed me that today is not my pay day. For some reason, I thought it was coming a week early.

Therefore, all my calculations will have to be redone next Wednesday. I'm kind of glad, actually. This will be a truer representation of not only my monthly spending, but my annual spending.

I bought C. a pair of pajamas today. I found a nice, soft set at Marshall's for only $20. I also gave $10 to a school fundraiser.

I got my annual notice from Social Security letting me know what my income will be next year. It will be exactly the same.

I logged into my homeowner's portal to update my automatic payment for assessments fees. They are going up by 5%.

I just prepared another invoice for the museum, another $1,100 to come in. I'm working tomorrow, and Tuesday through Thursday next week. I won't work again until after the cruise, so I'll probably prepare another small invoice to capture the remaining hours in 2016.

I made a shepherd's pie today out of leftovers. It's only fair, but it will be cheap eating for the next few days.

I went to my grandson's stage production of the Nutcracker today -- he was a snowflake, and pretty darn cute, I have to say!

The weather has become more temperate, which is very nice after the polar temperatures of the last few days. It's supposed to rain on Christmas Day! Oh well, that will wash away a lot of the grimy slush.

Welcome to the End of the Year!

December 20th, 2016 at 03:37 pm

Well, for me, it is. I get paid tomorrow, so December is closed for me.

It was a high-spending month. Not only did I have Christmas expenses, I bought a dishwasher and had a plumbing issue -- both totally unexpected.

Gifts/Charity: $1344
Housing: $677
Furnishings/Equipment/Decor: $588
Home Repair/Maintenance: $189
Fees/Services: $140
Groceries: $131
Vacation/Travel: $122
Eating Out: $83
Gas: $64
Phone: $52
Medical/Health: $41
Household Supplies: $27
Utilities: $22
Vet/Pet Supplies: $19
Personal: $17
Laundry: $12
Fares/Parking: $3
Grand Total: $3531

After all my hand-wringing, Christmas spending was in line, especially considering that it included postage and contributions to the college funds. I was aiming to come in below $1500.

The fees & services included Amazon Prime, AARP membership, and bank fees.

Vacation/Travel includes $100 prepaid to the pet sitter for next month's cruise.

That crazy low utilities bill is just a fluke. My electricity and cable/internet bills didn't hit before pay day. So next month's utilities will probably be unusually high.

Everything else is reasonable.

Here's the really good news, though. My net worth rose by $5,549. My liquid savings rose by $3,011. This despite the feeling that I was always raiding savings for car repairs, big ticket items, etc.

(I should add here -- that's for the whole year, not just this month.)

So, hooray for the museum, for giving me that extra edge!

I feel really inspired now to tighten my belt in all the little ways that I can.

Two Big Bills

December 18th, 2016 at 08:17 am

Two big bills have arrived -- my semi-annual auto insurance payment ($335) and a medical bill ($230). The medical bill is a combination of money owed for the podiatrist, two metabolic panels, and physical therapy. I won't pay it till after Wednesday, so it will go on next month's tracking. The insurance payment will be automatically withdrawn on January 1.

I still have one more gift to get. For C., my friend with cancer. I had bought her a workout ensemble, but she has canceled her gym membership. I think it is not quite the right thing now. Then I thought of getting her a gift card for her hairdresser, but what if she loses all her hair? I'm sure chemo is not out of the question after surgery. Kind of stumped right now.

She and I went together to our grandsons' recital last night. This was not a school event, but a recital organized by their private music teacher. Neither of the boys played up to par. I think nerves played a part, but also, the older one forgot to bring his music! He did pretty well from memory on his own piece, but the duet suffered. Afterwards I treated them to McDonalds - $6. Also yesterday was a day of flag football -- my DS1 had three games; it was the end of the season. I stayed for one, went out for lunch during the second, and came back to pick up DS1. My lunch out was only $2 -- a very small quesadilla at Chipotle!

Today the pet sitter is coming for a meet & greet. I have to tidy up!

I need to get a haircut, but I hesitate to go out. (Cold and snow). But I probably need to move the car, anyway, since it's on a main road, and if I do that, I might as well go to the gym and get my hair cut!

I haven't adjusted to winter yet, but it is surely here, and I might as well get my mind around it.

Happy Friday!

December 16th, 2016 at 02:40 pm

Today I did NOT buy any food at work. I brought my breakfast and lunch and didn't even buy coffee. My only spending was $15 toward a $20 Starbucks gift card -- had a coupon for the other $5.

I made it a rather short day at work so I could beat the snow. It hasn't started yet, so I guess the early exit was unnecessary. But it was nice to get home when it was still light. Even with a stop at the gym and at Starbucks.

Looking forward to a morning without an alarm!

Can't Stop Spending

December 15th, 2016 at 04:40 pm

I just hate December. I hate the draining cost of Christmas, the way it just dribbles, dribbles, dribbles; you never feel done. Yesterday I spent another $20 on gifts, having learned that I will be going to my niece's house for a dinner/gift-opening before Christmas. I still should get a gift card for that event. I've also spent $11 on packing tape, $5 on hot chocolate and a candy bar, $9 on kitty litter, $20 on gas and $27 on groceries. Yeah, the hot chocolate and the candy bar were not only unnecessary but I shouldn't even have them. I didn't care; I just needed the comfort.

It was bitterly cold this morning, and I was halfway afraid to drive to work. It was a grueling trip, too -- slow, crawling traffic almost the whole way. I wonder if more people drive when it's cold because it's too miserable to wait for the trains. When I got home again I filled the tank, even though it was only a little under half-full. I don't take chances in weather like this.

I got my tree up and decorated yesterday. I still have to bring up another container of Christmas decorations for the house -- I'll probably do that this weekend. Most things I don't really care about, but I do want to get my Santa collection out. I look forward to seeing those little fellows every year.

Variables spending is at 91%. For the year, it's 104%.

After the bad news, some good

December 14th, 2016 at 05:19 am

My friend C (DIL's mom) had her meeting with the surgeon yesterday, and there is good news. The tumor is operable, and she is scheduled for surgery the day after we come back for the cruise, so the cruise is a go! We are going to have nothing but fun on that cruise, and treasure every moment. She seems to be in pretty good spirits. I gave her a care package of homemade potato soup and beef stroganoff, and she was grateful.

I bought breakfast at work yesterday - $3. I have spent 83% of my variables budget, with one week remaining in this pay cycle. But I have not counted the Christmas spending or the dishwasher, which will come out of savings.

Today I am staying home. I finished a big project yesterday. My boss said she has something else for me, but it's not urgent. She strongly suggested I stay home today. I think they're all tired of listening to me sneeze and cough!

I am making a list of things to get done. The big one is to get the Christmas tree up and decorated. I could just skip the whole thing, but there is something uplifting about getting decorated for Christmas. I always love the way the house looks.

Went to my grandson's orchestra concert last night. He is such a good player. He is in the most advanced group, and is much younger and smaller than the others. But of course, he has had private lessons since he was a tyke. He was started on the Suzuki method and he continues to have weekly lessons. And I think he has some innate talent, too. Anyway, it was a very sweet event. Amazing to watch the progression of ability from the beginners to the advanced.

Bad News

December 13th, 2016 at 05:04 am

It took so long to get information on my DIL's mother's condition -- I was afraid it would be bad news. And it is, and I was knocked for a loop. She has bile duct cancer and is meeting with a surgeon today to see if the tumor can be removed. I looked it up online, and shouldn't have. Apparently, it rare for this type of tumor to be removable, and the survival rates are quite low.

She is more than my DIL's mother -- she has become my good friend, and she is deeply loved by my grandchildren. I am just heartsick.

After work today I'm going to take her some potato soup and beef stroganoff. She does not cook much, and might appreciate some homemade comfort food.

Don't know what is going to happen with the cruise.

I am meeting with a pet care supplier on Sunday, in case the cruise goes ahead as planned.

It is turning very, very cold here, after our first big snowfall. Between that, my cold, and this bad news, I am feeling overwhelmed and despondent.