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Archive for March, 2017

Quiet Day, Restless Night

March 31st, 2017 at 08:22 am

Had a quiet day yesterday. My only spending was a load of laundry for $1.50. I went out for coffee with DIL, but she paid. It was rainy and cold, a good day to cuddle up with a good book, which I did.

My new payment from TIAA will hit today. I don't know exactly what it will be, because I don't know how much they will withhold, but I am expecting it will be just under $300. My bank sent me another warning about my low checking balance, but it should be rectified today, when the payment shows up. The reason the balance is low is that the automatic payment to the gas company slipped in there. I've got money in savings, but I just don't want to transfer again. It is only a low balance, not overdrawn. And nothing else can possibly be automatically withdrawn until the 6th, when my Medicare supplement payment is withdrawn.

I had another awful sleepless night. I had coffee in the afternoon, so I suppose I can blame that, though I've also had terrible nights when I have had no caffeine at all. At least I don't have to go to work, or babysit! I can have another day cuddling up with a good book! And try to avoid napping so I don't have another sleepless night.

My BFF is going to come to visit on the 6th and will stay a couple of days. Really looking forward to her visit, but since it is before pay day, I will be trying to keep spending down as much as possible. Variables spending is at 35% right now with 26 days to go. And I have a dentist appointment to pay for. Which will probably be too high to cash flow, but I would like to try.

Our Day at the Museum

March 30th, 2017 at 07:26 am

It was certainly different to be a guest at the museum than it is to be an employee! But nice to be an employee, too, because I could just bypass all the lines with my handy-dandy badge. There is just so much there. We couldn't possibly take it all in. The boys loved it, especially the "Idea Factory" which was basically everything you can do with water (except get in it -- not allowed). They also loved the Mirror Maze, the robots, and the electronic screens where they could see themselves as butterflies, dancing animals, etc. Kind of like Snapchat, only huge.

I spent $35 on food, between the snacks bought ahead of time, and the ice cream at the museum. In hindsight, I spent too much on the snacks, but there are leftovers which will get used.

There was no cost for tickets or for parking, because of my status as an employee.

The boys were full-speed-ahead all day, but I was the one who came back exhausted.

Today I'm going to make some apple pancakes, do a load of laundry, and work more on my mother's diary. Other duties as they pop up!

Income!

March 29th, 2017 at 04:52 am

Yesterday in the mail I got a settlement check for $4.36 and a Wal-Mart gift card for $15. I would be even happier to receive my third invoice payment from the museum.

Speaking of the museum, I will be going there today with the grandsons. Hoping this will be a good way to keep them entertained all day.

I checked my pantry for snacks to carry, and I don't have anything that would interest the boys. So we may make a stop at Trader Joe's beforehand.

I had to transfer funds back into checking from savings because the balance got too low. That's because the assessment fee was withdrawn before I got the TIAA payment. (Still waiting on that.) I need to remember to keep about a $100 balance in checking. Or maybe a $1000 balance -- then it would be my slush fund. There is certainly no reason to keep it in savings, since the interest is almost non-existent. And I wouldn't have to worry about the possibility of incurring a fee.

Right now my slush fund is very low. I need to build it back up, but don't get many opportunities. I usually put random checks into the e-fund, which is at my credit union. I do that just for the ease of depositing by mobile phone. I could set that up for my bank, too, but haven't bothered.

Checked my Groupon account again and realized I also have a $15 credit for a restaurant in the area where I go to the dentist. So I'll use that in a couple of weeks when I go to the dentist.

My only spending yesterday was $1.50 for laundry and $5 for a birthday card.

Cost-Free Childcare!

March 27th, 2017 at 04:00 pm

Well, I babysat the grandsons all day today and did not spend anything. I made them lunch, and deflected requests to go to the arcade. To make up for the arcade, I made them milk shakes and popcorn in the afternoon.

On Wednesday I'm going to take them to the museum. I'm going to pack snacks, because the food there is expensive! But I will get in free, and so will they, because they are members. The major cost will be the gas to get there and back.

Getting back to my mother's life, I came to an entry where she went to Chicago for the first time! She went with my father (still not married to him) and his mother to visit with his aunts for the weekend. She even put the address in her entry, so I Googled it and found that it is about a half a block from the train line I commuted on every day -- probably could have seen it from my window! It is an area that is very sad and downtrodden now, but it looks like it was once a charming row of houses. She went to the Field Museum (which is not my museum) and did some unspecified sightseeing. She seemed excited to be in the big city.

She also mentioned several times, with excitement, that her uncle has received compensation checks. I was wondering about their financial situation, given that he was hospitalized for months with no apparent income, and underwent two surgeries and a long convalescence. Apparently he got some kind of compensation after the fact. She herself does not seem to worry about money, but she is working and living at home, and doesn't have any expenses. She seems to spend mostly on movies, clothes and gifts. She does not mention helping out her aunt and uncle, but then, it would be perfectly feasible that she did and saw no reason to mention it in her diary.

Sunday Doings

March 26th, 2017 at 05:22 pm

Whew! Another chilly day! And wet!

I just got back from visiting with C's friends at the local Hyatt House. They came up to surprise her for her birthday. DIL and I took them dinner (DIL made it; I just helped carry). It was a nice interlude, and I was amazed to learn that the suite at the Hyatt was only $108 per night and offered two queens and sleeper sofa, a beautiful kitchen and nice sitting area -- great views as well. This would be a nice option for when my family comes to visit, since my space is too small to host any more than one (on the couch!) This was way cheaper and way nicer than I imagined.

I got a free dinner as well, for the little bit of help I provided.

My only spending today was $9 for a Groupon for IHOP. Since IHOP is my grandson's favorite restaurant, I know it will be used. The $9 voucher will purchase $16 worth of food.

Speaking of Groupons, I realized when I got the voucher that I still have one for Tall Ship Adventures that I never used. I invested $15; and it is no longer worth $30, but I can still put the $15 toward a ticket. I think I would like to do that this summer -- maybe as a birthday present to myself!

I forgot to report yesterday that I spent $25 on gas, and $1.50 on laundry.

Tomorrow I will babysit the boys all day. DIL starts a new job tomorrow. She is keeping the old one, so she'll have two part-time jobs. Spring Break starts tomorrow, so the boys will be home all week. I'll sit for them on Wednesday, too; the other days are covered.

Spent the afternoon playing Smallworld with my son and my grandson. (Other grandson declined to play, and read instead.) It's been a nice day!

A Few Errands on a Rainy Day

March 25th, 2017 at 02:33 pm

I stopped at Walgreen's after going to the gym this morning. I had a $5 reward to use, and I bought a big round brush. It was a two-for-one deal, so I picked one out for C to add to her gift bag. Out of pocket cost was $8.

Then I went to Jewel to get the free MyMixx deals. They were especially good this week. I got a 22 oz. package of frozen fried rice ("Ling Ling") and a 16 oz. bottle of Sunny D. The total value was $8.99.

I also found two pennies in the very wet parking lot. It's a cold, rainy, dreary day. I'm just kicking back. I did some more work on Mom's diary. Sometimes her writing is very hard to read. Even though it looks fine, when you try to decipher the words, it sometimes doesn't make sense. I struggle with it. It doesn't help that she wrote in pencil and those pencil marks are now almost eighty years old!

Anyway, here is how she described a date with my dad in 1940: "G & I went to the city, mailed a card, chased around looking for mints, came home and looked at a magazine." Another time she went to his folks' house, where they had a "waffle supper, Chinese Checkers & Hearts." They clearly enjoyed the simple pleasures, though they certainly did their share of going to concerts and movies and restaurants, too. Oh, and she also said that when they went to see Garbo in "Ninotchka," G "almost had hysterics." I cannot picture that at all! My dad was always a chuckler. I'm not sure I ever saw him laugh out loud.

A Bit of Spending

March 24th, 2017 at 02:19 pm

I did some spending today. It's my newly-initiated monthly "deal day." I've decided to start putting aside coupons and promotions and not looking at them until after pay day. Then I sort through them and decide if I want to use them. I usually have a coupon from Kohl's and BB&B. I hit both today, getting a frying pan at BB&B for $17 (20% off) and a bra at Kohl's for $9 (30% off). I also went to DSW with a $10 coupon and got a wallet for C's birthday, spending $11 out of pocket. And it was haircut day; I spent $16 on the cut and $15 on shampoo. (No deals here, except the senior discount for my cut.) The shampoo I only buy a couple times a year. It's Paul Mitchell for platinum blondes. I alternate that with Head & Shoulders (and I only wash my hair every third day) so it lasts a long time. I also made a $20 donation to a fundraiser.

I won't do any more "me" shopping until my next deal day, which will be after my next pay day. Unless I shop at Goodwill; that doesn't count. But I only shop at Goodwill when BFF visits, which happens less often than once a month.

I realized today that I will have to get a different kind of sandal to wear this summer. When I was cruising this winter, I tried using my orthotics with sandals, and they slide around and work their way out the front. Not good. I need a summer shoe that is closed at the toe and heel. Espadrilles, maybe? Should have looked at DSW, but I hadn't thought of it then. Maybe flats with cut-out sides, or mesh. It's unfortunate, but I cannot walk comfortably without the orthotics any more. But that's a next-month project.

Today's spending has pushed my variables to 22%.

Missed the Meeting

March 23rd, 2017 at 09:48 am

I didn't go to the downtown meeting last night, because I checked beforehand and found I wasn't registered! Apparently I put it on my calendar, but neglected to go through the registration process.

I was glad I had such a good excuse not to leave the house. I really wasn't up for it, and I saved some money.

Today I shopped at PetSmart and Aldi, spending $19 on cat food & litter, and $25 on groceries. My ten items at Aldi were: apples, spinach, mushrooms, toilet paper, butter (2), spreadable margarine, turkey gravy mix, mayonnaise and granola.

Have to buy a birthday present for C before Tuesday. I'm going to check out DSW. I have a coupon to save $10 on a $25 purchase, and they have nice socks, slippers, wallets, etc.

Forgot to mentally budget for the upcoming tune-up. Think I will put it off till after the next pay day.

Will put off the oil change till I go to the dentist. It will be cheaper in that suburb.

Tomorrow I will get my hair cut. Much-needed.

Today I will do some more laundry and make the quiche. However, I will probably not bake it till tomorrow.

Such is my busy life! Smile

Pay Day

March 22nd, 2017 at 12:01 pm

This morning I went to the gym, then to Food4Less (discount Kroger's), where I bought ten items for $24: Coffeemate (2, to use a coupon), cat chow, Polish sausage, pie crust, onion, pantiliners, strawberries, half & half, and bacon bits. I plan to make a quiche Lorraine, and Polish sausage with sauerkraut.

After I got home DIL called to let me know that C had a good medical report; her chemo is working -- at least it is keeping her stable. We all went out for lunch to celebrate, and C paid, because she said it was her party. We went to a very good taco place.

I came home and paid the mortgage and credit card bills.

I'm supposed to go to a professional group meeting tonight, but I'm kind of dragging my heels now. It's very cold, and I don't like walking around in the city when it's cold. I'll have to check how close the El runs to the cafe location.

I did get a load of laundry done. My variables spending -- for this one day -- is at 4%.

No real news in the diary, except that Mom has clearly settled on Dad as her steady -- but I knew that! Smile

March Recap

March 21st, 2017 at 05:10 pm

This was the last day in my pay cycle, so March is done, financially speaking. Here is the breakdown:

Housing: $695
Taxes: $449
Fees/Services: $229
Groceries: $176
Eating Out: $128
Household Supplies: $63
Medical/Health: $55
Phone: $52
Gas: $39
Entertainment: $33
Vet/Pet Supplies: $30
Vacation/Travel: $28
Laundry: $12
Furnishings/Equipment/Decor: $3
Fares/Parking: $1

Grand Total: $2186

I went 12% over on the variables budget. I'll try to make that up this coming month.

There were several driving factors this month. I spent a lot on groceries because I hosted a dinner -- and I did some stocking up. Eating out was high because I did more socializing this month than usual, and I also took my grandsons out three times. They are turning into growing boys with appetites.

I couldn't really help that my ancestry.com subscription and my I-Pass renewed at the same time.

Generally, entertainment is a really cheap category for me, but I saw three movies this month -- and at one of them I treated a friend.

And of course, I had taxes to pay. Could have waited till April, but I wanted to get it over with.

Today's spending was $6 to see "Beauty and the Beast," which was amazing! Such artistry.

I skipped the gym, saving my one clean pair of workout pants for tomorrow morning.

Tomorrow will be a busy day. I'm going downtown at dinnertime (riding the El) for a professional group meeting. Before that, I will go to the gym and go to the grocery. I will only get ten items, since that's all I can carry upstairs, so I'm going to peruse my list and choose the most important. I'm sure another grocery trip will be on the docket on Thursday.

I also want to get at least one load of laundry done. All my bins are pretty full.

As usual, it feels pretty good to know that pay day is imminent!

No-Spend Day #3

March 20th, 2017 at 07:01 pm

Successful at spending nothing today, but I will spend a little tomorrow. C wants to go see "Beauty and the Beast" on Senior Day, and I will do about anything she wants.

I got a notice from TIAA today about my interest-only monthly payout. It will go down a little; I'll be getting about $45 less per month. While it's not a lot, my budget is already tight. I've made the adjustment in my variables budget. It will be a little harder to meet.

Looking at the things I'm scheduled to do next month, I realize I may have to do some juggling. I have a dentist appointment coming up, the cats need their checkups, the car needs an oil change, and I need a haircut. I also have Easter expenses. Something will have to give, and it will probably be the cats' checkups. That can wait till next month, but then I'll have my eye exam, and my girlfriend weekend getaway. Sigh. I know I have plenty of savings, but I just hate to use it for anything but true emergencies. Not to mention, my 16-year-old car could give out any time.

Not much new in the diaries. My mother mentions giving a ride to "Danny" -- that is my dad's younger brother, who outlived them all, passing away a few years ago at age 90. He was my favorite uncle. Mom and Dad celebrated their birthdays together for the first time -- their birthdays were only two weeks apart. Mom mentions having rabbit for dinner, and I thought of Lucky Robin! I think her rabbit was a wild one, though. She is working for the Red Cross after work, teaching Sunday School, and playing her violin at receptions. Also doing a lot of work for her sorority. Busy lady.

No-Spend Day #2

March 20th, 2017 at 07:04 am

Again, spent nothing yesterday. I used a bit of gas going to the gym, but I won't have to fill up before pay day, so it doesn't matter.

I ate Reubens, potato salad, grapes and carrots again. Also working my way through the sherbet so I can free up more room in the freezer. Tonight I am going to babysit my grandsons while my kids go out, so I am going to take over a carton of ice cream.

There is only one Reuben left to eat today. Yay! But I still have a lot of rye bread, Swiss cheese, sauerkraut and a bit of corned beef, not to mention the Thousand Island sauce I made. I'm not going to make more Reubens but need to figure out how to use up these items. The cheese I can use in a quiche. The TI sauce is great on hamburgers. The sauerkraut I can eat with Polish sausage or hot dogs. But I can't do any of these things until I can grocery shop again on Wednesday.

Went over to my son's yesterday and we played Splendor (a board game). We tried to get the grandsons interested, but they are only interested in video games now. I'm sure they are having fun, but I miss the shared experience of playing a board game together. They are not mature enough yet to realize they are missing something.

My grandson tried out for the travel baseball team, and he felt it went well. He is starting to figure out that he will not ever be a pitcher, but he is good at fielding and catching, and at hitting. I hope he is selected for the team; he enjoys it so.

No big changes in the diary. My mom is still dating both JB and Dad, as well as an occasional date with someone else entirely. She and her sister spent a week at a lake resort which I have also visited with my sons when they were small. I don't know if it even exists any more, but in my day it was a place with a variety of rides, pools, mini-golf, etc. She mentions "tobogganing" -- which must have been a water flume or something -- and dancing in the evening in the dance hall.

I really enjoy her descriptions of her clothing. She sewed a lot, and made most of her clothes. When she says she bought a new dress, she means she bought the material. But occasionally she gets ready-made stuff. She had an "old rose Sloppy Joe sweater" that she apparently liked to wear a lot. She also enjoyed wearing her "black & white gingham" -- a dress. She seemed to buy hats often, including a "doll hat." Turns out that is one of those little hats that perched on the side near the forehead. (No explanation how she got it to stay!) She mentions only once buying a pair of slacks. My guess is she only wore them at home. She also buys gloves, hose and purses a lot. It was a different world.

War has broken out in Europe, and she is impatient with all the "war talk."

I suspect I am reading about the happiest time in her life, and it is nice to see.