Home > Archive: February, 2017

Archive for February, 2017

Adjusting to life at home again

February 28th, 2017 at 02:31 pm

Yesterday was indeed a no-spend day. I didn't leave the house. That helps! However, I should have gone to the gym, and I didn't. I'm going today. (At least I didn't use any gas.)

I made chicken stroganoff and potato scramble yesterday, and have enough of both for meals today. I did not attempt making biscuits, like I was planning. I was pretty tired yesterday; hope today will be a little more productive.

I have learned that when I'm home, I have to accomplish at least one thing each day, or I feel like a slug. Something a little more than cleaning the cat pan, making the bed, etc. I suppose cooking was what I did yesterday. Today I'll try again on the biscuits -- and I still need to create the invoice, too, which isn't hard to do; just kind of a pain.

There's a Monopoly game going on at one of our grocery stores. I always play, more for the diversion than anything, because I never win, but this time I did win a "free" cooking school online course from Rouxbe. I don't know anything about this -- and I already know how to cook -- but I thought I would check it out, and hope it isn't a ruse to get me to pay for something.

Tomorrow I'm picking the boys after a half-day at school, and we will go to the library. So tomorrow is set, just need to get squared away on what I'm doing today!

No Work for Me

February 27th, 2017 at 02:22 pm

I'm at home this morning -- my boss texted me that there are (temporarily) no projects for me, and I should wait for further word before I come in again.

I had a nice (though kind of expensive) day yesterday with C. We went to see Manchester By the Sea. I paid for both tickets, since I was the one who really wanted to see the movie. (Also since she is not working.) Afterwards, we stopped for dinner, this time going Dutch. The day cost $31, which is guess is not too bad. But my variables are up to 30%.

My dinner will do double-duty. I brought home a baked potato, a piece of garlic bread, and a container of coleslaw, as well as some chicken. Another whole meal, with the addition of veggies.

Plans for today are to make some biscuits (using my new rolling cutter), going to the gym, and spending nothing. The biscuits I will put in the freezer prior to baking. I just want to have a supply so that I can bake one or two at a time in my toaster oven.

I think I will create an new invoice and send it in. I usually do it after 40 hours. I am up to 35 1/2, but who knows how long it will be until I work again? Last time it was 10 months! I need to capture the information (how much time I spent doing what) while it is fresh in my head.

Other than that, I will do a lot of reading today. And I'll probably take a nap, since I stayed up for the Oscars last night, and then got up early, not knowing whether I was working or not.

I firmed up plans to go visit my brother this weekend. Since I am on hold for work, I plan to leave on Friday. This will be fun -- I will get to meet my new grand-niece!

Busy Saturday

February 26th, 2017 at 03:22 am

This morning I woke up early, so I decided to seize the day, and went to the gym and then grocery shopping. I spent $46. One of my purchases was a Hickory Farms box with salami, cheese, crackers and mustard -- it was only $5, marked down from $13. It expires at the beginning of April, but I'll finish it long before. The salami, cheese and crackers should be good for about three lunches.

My other deals were a free bottle of Chobani yogurt drink, and specialty napkins marked down from $1.50 to .49. I bought two packs. And a fun purchase was a rolling dough cutter, for biscuits or cookies.

Almost everything I bought was on sale.

C and I went to see "Fences" in the afternoon. The theater was packed! We figured out that the large crowd was due to a package deal where people could see most of the best picture nominees in one day.

It was a good movie, but the most awesome thing is that I knew one of the actors! And it was a surprise to me that he was in it. He is married to a former coworker of mine. I haven't seen them in a long time. I knew his career was gaining momentum, but it was really surprising to see him in a pretty large role in a major film like this.

Anyway, the movie cost $8.

Afterwards, I went to my friend S's birthday party open house. Since the movie was so long I was late, but I did get a chance to talk with her and wish her well. She doesn't want presents on her birthday, but I brought her a card with some candy tucked inside the envelope.

Before the movie, I let down the hems on a pair of pants that were just a bit too short. They turned out well; the old hem line doesn't even show.

It's been a full day, both productive and fun!

Short Day

February 25th, 2017 at 12:47 am

I only worked 2 1/2 hours today, because I finished my project and there was nothing else to do. Once again my boss has to confer with her boss about more work for me. I'm feeling like the end is near.

I went to the gym and then came home and did a load of laundry. (Which reminds me, I have to go get it out of the dryer!) I found a penny in the dryer as I was loading it, and I found a dime at the museum.

I also stopped at Walgreens and bought some Easter cards and birthday cards. $20 -- boy, they add up! I did get special cards for my Florida grandchildren since I won't be mailing an Easter basket. My granddaughter's has a fuzzy bunny that is detachable, and my grandson's has sound effects. I'll include some cash in lieu of candy.

For the local grandsons, I may go the gift card route. They seemed excited by the ones that got on Valentine's Day.

My variables are up to 18% already. And I still have grocery shopping to do tomorrow. At least I seem to have broken the coffee habit at work. I'm drinking water, and I'm doing okay. I can always take tea bags, too. Even though the coffee is super-cheap, it's not a good habit to go for it every day.

I just did a Pine Cone survey. It doesn't seem like I get them as often as I used to, but this is the third one this year. I did 17 last year. At $3 a pop, that was about $50 added to my budget. Better than picking up coins!

My taxes have now been paid. Now I wait for the TIAA payment. It usually hits on the 25th, as does my withdrawal for the assessment fees. This time the one is going to help pay for the other.

Still no check from the museum. I heard through the grapevine that the person responsible for opening the PO number has been sick. In fact, several people have been sick. I just keep using the hand sanitizer, and hope that I don't catch it.

I know I will get paid eventually but I wish I didn't have to wait so long. Pretty soon it will be time to write up another invoice, and then I will be three checks behind.

But I'm looking forward to a nice weekend -- even though it will be cold! Boo!

Another Lunch

February 24th, 2017 at 02:21 am

I went out to lunch with K. today; we had a great time and talked for an age. My bill was $15 including tip. Soup and sandwich. Too many calories, but very good comfort food.

After I got home and put in my time at the gym, I went to the grocery -- Food4Less -- and spent $25. I still have things on my list, so I will probably go to Jewel this weekend.

The tax payments are showing as "pending" in my bank account. I was planning to pay the Discover bill today, but realized I have to wait till my payment from TIAA goes in -- otherwise the automatic payment of my assessment fees might bounce. No problem; I just have to remember. I usually pay the Discover bill on pay day, but it isn't due till the 6th.

I packed a lunch this morning and took it to work, even though I knew I was going out to lunch! The habit is so strong I just did it on automatic. Luckily, there is a fridge at work and I can eat my lunch tomorrow.

I'm listening to an audiobook during my commute, and something odd happened today. One section of the book was repeated on different discs. At first I thought I had just drifted off and put in the wrong disc, but no, it was actually repeated. I wonder how often that happens?

Paid! Yay!

February 22nd, 2017 at 10:22 pm

I spent $9 on lunch today, a planned meeting with my professional group. Then I shopped at Aldi ($22) and bought gas (also $22). I also paid my mortgage. I'll pay off my Discover card tomorrow, when the deposit from SS no longer says "pending."

The lunch was downtown, so I rode the El, which feels like paying nothing. Actually, a small fee is withdrawn from my transit pass. But since I'm over 65, I get a reduced rate.

When I got downtown, I was turned around (like usual) and walked the wrong way for a few blocks. So I got plenty of exercise before I got straightened out. So I didn't go to the gym, since it's treadmill day anyway.

My lunch was great. I was planning to get a hamburger, because this place makes my favorite hamburger, but the line was long and I wanted to get to my table, where others were already eating and talking. So I went to another line where only salad was served. I got a chopped salad, and it was delicious! Laura, if you're reading this, yes, it was Portillo's!

Now I'm doing a load of laundry and getting ready for tomorrow -- that means planning my outfit, and planning my lunch. Tomorrow promises to be another beautiful day. I will be so sad when this freaky warm weather ends!

Made It

February 21st, 2017 at 11:18 pm

Today was the last day in my pay cycle, and I did not spend a penny. (And I won't -- until tomorrow.) So I did my February recap:

Car Repair/Maintenance - $975
Property Tax - $970
Housing - $695
Utilities - $162
Medical/Health - $121
Gifts/Charity - $108
Groceries - $98
Vacation/Travel - $85
Eating Out - $84
Fees/Services - $60
Clothing/Accessories - $54
Gas - $53
Phone - $52
Personal - $27
Furnishings/Equipment/Decor - $24
Household Supplies - $19
Laundry - $15
Vet/Pet Supplies - $9
Fares/Parking - $4

Total - $3615

It was a high-spending month, but that was mainly because of the car repair and the property tax. Everything else was in line. I spent 98% of my variables budget.

Next month's challenges will be paying the federal & state taxes. I also have a lot of things coming up -- a tune-up and oil change in March, and in April I am scheduled to see the dentist and the eye doctor. And I do believe the cats are due for check-ups at the vet in March. It never ends, does it?

Presidents Day

February 20th, 2017 at 10:58 pm

I didn't hear from my boss, and I couldn't figure out from the internet whether I had Presidents Day off. So I sent her another email early this morning saying I needed to take the day off, whether it was a holiday or not. Which was true; I had a raging headache. But I also wanted to stay home so that I would not have to use gas. I have enough in the tank to get to work and back tomorrow, and then my budget will reset on Wednesday.

My monthly fee for Planet Fitness hit ($10) so my variables are at 98%. I really ought to adjust the budget so that the PF fee is not a variable -- it is actually a fixed cost, though not a necessity. Maybe I'll do that next month.

Speaking of PF, I went there this morning, after skipping yesterday. I'm starting to feel a relapse -- diet and exercise both -- and I have to be more vigilant. Since I've given away my bigger clothes, I really can't go back.

I took a nap this afternoon and my headache is better, almost completely gone. I just hope the nap doesn't affect getting to sleep tonight.

Once pay day comes, I immediately have two lunches out coming up. On Wednesday I am meeting my professional group, and on Thursday my friend K. As I've said before, I can't keep up my social contacts without eating out, so it's just something I have to budget for. And of course, I do enjoy it.

No mail today, so it looks like I will not get a check before pay day. Thank goodness for the slush fund.

Just Laundry

February 19th, 2017 at 02:51 pm

I did a load of laundry yesterday, and that was my only spending.

I went to my grandson's basketball game in the morning, and in the evening I went to a family dinner -- free pizza, salad and ice cream -- woo hoo! Also got to play euchre, which I don't get to do too often.

I mopped the kitchen and bathroom -- my most hated job. I made some spinach dip, which I will pair with crackers for lunches. Seems like I did more, but the rest was just routine stuff.

I watched two movies on Showtime's freebie weekend -- Big Eyes and 45 Years. Planning to watch more today, even though it is beautiful outside, and I should spend some time walking, too.

I am wondering if I am supposed to work on Monday, since it is Presidents Day. I emailed my boss, but it is her work email, and she hasn't answered. It would be great if I didn't have to go in. I might be able to get by on the gas I have.

Can't Believe It

February 17th, 2017 at 11:17 pm

I just had a feeling I should check my variables entries, and sure enough, there were things I forgot to record. I've actually spent 97% of my budget! In cash, that means I have only $26 to play with. Well, that's mostly going to have to go to gas, so I'm done.

I think I have enough of everything on hand that it won't be a problem; just an annoyance. I sure will be glad to see pay day, though!

So it will be a weekend of sticking around home. I think Showtime is having a freebie weekend, and I have my grandson's last basketball game to attend, so I will have entertainment. The weather has suddenly turned beautiful, so maybe I will take some walks.

I am happy to have a couple of days off, too!

Checking In

February 16th, 2017 at 01:12 pm

The package I mailed yesterday cost $12, and I also paid $1.50 to wash my towels. My variables are up to 90%. Seven days to go, with about $73 to spend.

I am still waiting to get paid this year. The museum owes me two checks now. I wish they could get their accounting figured out, but I think the real problem is my boss' boss. She is the one who has to open new budget lines, and it seems she just doesn't get around to it.

If a $1000 check were to come before pay day, I wouldn't have to take any money out of savings to pay my taxes. Of course, I can always reimburse savings when the check comes -- I'd just rather not have to go through the motions.

I had a nice day yesterday. I accomplished one major thing. I fixed my TV! I have Comcast, basic cable, and I was losing stations and getting scrambled pictures on some stations. I Googled the problem, and found that it was a signal problem. I checked and tightened my connections, and then I unplugged my cable box for a few seconds and plugged it back in. Lo and behold, the stations worked, BUT the TV Guide part showed everything as "To Be Announced." I looked up the problem again and learned that the information would populate within 48 hours. True again, it's all back to normal. What did we do before Google?

Valentines Dinner

February 15th, 2017 at 03:02 pm

For the second year in a row, my grandsons planned (though did not execute) a Valentine's Day dinner. This time it was strongly influenced by our cruise. They played the part of our cruise waiter very well. They created the menu, too, which was very cute. Actually, they each created a menu. Here is the ten-year-old's:


Main Course
Steak with a side of pineapples and oranges in a bowl and mashed potatoes and asparagus, and of course corn

Strawberry brownie trifle with brownies, strawberries whip cream and a choice of chocolate syrup

Fried shrimp
potstickers (crossed out)

You don't have to choose everything

Here is the seven-year-old's menu:

Valentines dinner

Fried shrimp

Stake with a side of spise and asparagus mash and corn

Strawberry brownie triffle with brownies, strawberries, whip cream, and a choise of chocolate syrup.

Can you stand the cuteness?

They were excellent little servers, as well.

I was startled to receive a Valentine's gift from my DIL (well, supposedly from son, too, but I don't think he did anything but nod approval). They gave me a bracelet and a bag of Intelligentsia coffee. I felt bad I had nothing in return, but they did not seem to expect anything. It has never been our tradition before to exchange gifts on Valentines Day; it's always been just a little gift for the kids.

My non-chocolate lover was very excited about the chewy caramels. The chocolate lover was happy with the chocolate drops. Both seemed befuddled by the Swedish fish, but I think they will enjoy them once they try them.

So, anyway, a lovely night, and now I have a day off!

I'm planning to make fettucine Alfredo. I also have chicken noodle soup to use up, and I'm going to take a container of it to C. Another container went into the freezer. When am I going to learn to make less? Well, I know the reason -- I tend to make whatever amount I have to in order to use up what I'm trying to get rid of.

I'm also going to mail a package to my sister (if I get it boxed up!) Books for her, a shirt for her husband.

I have baby clothes for my niece, but I keep thinking I will visit there and not need to mail them -- have to hurry before the baby grows too big!

And I think I will wash a load of towels. And perhaps even take that "soapy" comforter to the laundromat to get it thoroughly rinsed.

Wow, just filled up my day. But for now, I will focus on getting to the gym.

A No-Spend Day?

February 14th, 2017 at 09:47 pm

I think it's been a no-spend day! Not that I didn't want to! I CRAVED coffee at work, and then, on the way home, I was DYING for something to eat. But I didn't get either one. Drank water at work, and waited until I was home to eat. Which meant waiting until I was done at the gym, and also at the library.

Oh wait. I spent .25 to park at the library. I would say that's unavoidable, but I could have parked free a couple of blocks away, and it's certainly a nice enough day to walk.

But .25 ain't bad.

Free dinner tonight at my son's house. Tomorrow I stay home from work; hoping to get a lot of little chores done.

I earned $23 from Discover this month, so that went on my snowflakes.

My boss let me go early today because she had run out of work for me. I hope this doesn't signal the end of my run. I think she just has to meet with her boss and regroup; prioritize projects and so forth. I'm figuring I'll be needed until the campaign is over, but with contract work, you just never know.

One week to go till pay day. About $85 left in the budget.

Valentine Candy

February 13th, 2017 at 11:47 pm

Well, I stopped at Walgreens and bought little valentine bags, filling one with Swedish fish and caramels, and one with Swedish fish and Hershey's milk chocolate drops. Hope this will make both boys happy. Total cost: $14, even though all the candy was on sale.

Son & DIL are having a Valentine dinner tomorrow night, so I'll deliver them then.

I placed a $50 order from OTC-Essentials. It's a $50 value but I don't pay anything -- it is a benefit of my Medicare plan. This time I ordered baby aspirin, generic Pepsid AC, a bathtub mat, generic Zyrtec and Chapstick.

I went out to lunch yesterday with C, DIL and the grandsons, after the Tae Kwan Do ceremony. We went to Chipotle, and my lunch was $8 -- I took enough home for a second lunch, so that wasn't too bad.

My variables are up to 88%, but only nine days to go.

Sunday Musings

February 12th, 2017 at 04:05 pm

Yesterday, in addition to the spending I did at the gas station, and at Target, I spent $3 on laundry.

I baked gingersnaps and made a batch of chicken noodle soup.

Today I am going to my grandson's Tae Kwan Do promotion ceremony. He's getting a new belt! I'm not sure what color. I've kind of lost touch with his progress since they moved his lessons to the school from the Y, and classes are no longer open to family members.

I hope to tackle making scones today. I've never tried making them, but they're one of my favorite things to buy at the museum cafe. Homemade has to be a lot cheaper.

Wondering what to do about Valentine's Day for the grandsons. One has decided he does not like chocolate, so I have to think of something else. Maybe caramels? I can't get my mind around not liking chocolate!

I've got ten days until pay day, and about $110 left to spend to stay within budget. Should be easy enough, but I will have to fill the tank again, and I've made vague promises to eat out with friends, so I'll see whether those plans materialize. Eating out is instrinsically linked with my social life; I think that's just how it is for single people.

Happy Saturday!

February 11th, 2017 at 06:53 pm

Yesterday I spent $6 on dental picks. My lower teeth were driving me crazy; I felt like there was plaque stuck between them. I've been working on them, but still feel the plaque. I suppose the picks are not as sharp as the dentist's. Oh well, I think I have improved things, anyway.

The surprising thing is that I have regained feeling in my lower front gums. That area has been numb for years, following oral surgery. The surgeon said the feeling would eventually come back, but it's been more than 15 years! I have stopped expecting improvement for a long time. Weird.

Today I got gas - $24 - and used my $10 Target gift card. I bought cat food and pantiliners and two valentines, and paid just .97.

Later today I'll do a couple loads of laundry and bake some cookies.

I have spent 85% of my variables budget, so I have wiggle room for necessities.

When payday hits, I'll be paying the $1000 auto repair bill as well as my $450 tax payment. Savings will take a hit, unless I get a check from the museum (which is a possibility; it's overdue.) Anyway, I'll be feeling poor, so it will be good to know that I have met the variables budget for two months in a row.

Variables -- the next two weeks

February 10th, 2017 at 01:35 am

Dinner out was $13. I had budgeted $15, so I was pleased to come in a little under. Especially since I had to pay $1.25 for parking.

I think I will have to fill the gas tank twice, which will cost in the neighborhood of $40.

I will use the Target gift card to buy cat food and pantiliners, for sure. I think all other groceries can be put on hold.

I figure I'll have to spend $6 on laundry.

I can't think of any other necessities that might pop up in the next two weeks. If I hold it down to the above, I'll come in well under 100% on my variables.