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Archive for January, 2018

Stocking Up and Spending

January 31st, 2018 at 08:08 am

Yesterday I went to Walmart and bought two 28-lb. packages of Slide kitty litter for $35. I looked online and WM seemed to have the lowest unit price. This litter should last through vacation and beyond.

It was quite a struggle to carry upstairs, but I did it in two trips!

I also did a $1.50 load of laundry, and bought dinner for my grandsons at McDonalds -- $17 for the three of us. They had to go to an evening event shortly after school and my son asked me if I would do this for them, so he could finish up some work.

These expenditures pushed variables up to 42%, and I have to get through the full month of February before another pay day.

I was planning to make quiche today, but I don't have any cream or half & half. I was going to pick some up this morning after the gym. However, I slept TERRIBLY and I'm too tired to go to the gym. I'm going to baby myself and I'm not planning to leave home until 4 pm when I pick up my grandson. So I'm going to try combining milk and butter to make a substitute for half & half. I think it will work, since I will be cooking it, anyway, and texture is not important.



Getting Sick Again?

January 30th, 2018 at 03:08 am

Even though I have never really overcome the cold/flu I got after Thanksgiving, I seem to be getting sick again. It's 4:30 am and I've been awake since 3. I finally got up. My throat is sore and I'm stuffy again. I took some cold medicine yesterday and last night, and I guess I'll take more today.

Yesterday was a no-spend day, again.

Today I need to get more kitty litter. I should have done that on Sunday, when I had an online coupon for PetSmart -- but I would have had to spend $80 to save $10 and I just couldn't face it. I'll probably get at least a couple of boxes today, so that there is enough to get my cat sitter through my vacation next week. It would have been easy enough to spend $80 and I don't know why I didn't do it.

My cat sitter will be my GS2 (with the help of his mom.) He wants to establish a cat-sitting business and I am his first customer. I'm going to pay him $5 a day. He'll be feeding and watering the cats, cleaning the cat pan, and feeding the fish. Since he's only 8, Mom will make sure it actually gets done.

Variables are up to 37%. The tax fees caused this jump. I counted them because they aren't an actual tax payment, and I could have chosen not to use the service.

Taxes

January 29th, 2018 at 03:31 am

I sat down and did my taxes yesterday and I was pleasantly surprised. While I did have to pay $40 to the state, I will be getting a $238 refund from federal. I had to pay $76 in fees, because I ended up using TaxAct's Freelancer product (as well as paying for the state filing). But this will be the last year I have to do that, since I don't expect to do any more contract work. My net gain is $122.

It is filed electronically and now I wait!

I made a stirfry yesterday from leftover chicken and vegetables that I brought home from my restaurant meal on Friday. It made two servings!

I also made a potato/onion casserole, which made about 3-4 servings. So no more cooking for a few days.

Other than the tax stuff, there was no spending yesterday.

Property Tax

January 28th, 2018 at 07:58 am

My property tax bill arrived yesterday. It is 55% of the year's total - $872. I plan to pay it next month. I could put in on a card right now, but they charge a 2.1% fee, and that would be $18 lost. I work hard to scrounge up $18 in snowflakes, so I'm not going to throw it out the window. Next month I'll be able to pay it out of my Chase checking account, where my college payments are deposited, and I won't have to move money around.

I also received my 1099-MISC from the museum, and I downloaded my 1099-R from TIAA. So I'm ready to figure out my taxes, and I may get started today. I'd be more excited if I didn't feel like I will probably have to pay.

No spending yesterday. Today I've dodged several spending bullets already. My BFF was tentatively planning to come up and visit the planetarium with her family, in which case I would have met her there and perhaps even taken my grandchildren. But the plan fell through on their end. Then my grandson asked to go see Ferdinand at the movies, but changed his mind to next Saturday. Plus, I was very close to going through a drive-through for breakfast this morning, but I convinced myself to just go home and have apple crisp. (Yes, I finally made it!)

So it's shaping up to be a quiet day, which is just fine.

Busy Day

January 27th, 2018 at 05:41 am

In the morning, I went to the gym and then got gas ($25). I went back to the treadmill for the first time since last summer. Only 20 minutes (a mile) but I feel it in my knee today, so apparently I'm still not ready for that. Back to the bike.

I came home and did some laundry ($1.50) and then got my hair cut ($18). In no time at all, it was time to pick up GS1 from school. I took him to McDonalds for a McFlurry ($3). Then it was time to pick up GS2 and we all went to the library, where it cost me $1 to park. From there, we went to a local restaurant to meet up with the rest of the family. No spending there, my dinner was paid for.

The rest of the family went to a high school basketball game. I was invited, but I was tired, and really not too interested. I like to watch sports when I know one of the players, but when they're all strangers, it's less interesting to me. It's a good thing I decided not to go, because I had diarrhea on the way home! I think it was the mango chutney I had at noon. Note to self: cooking an under-ripe fruit doesn't really make it digestible.

Variables are now up to 26%.

I talked with my brother yesterday. He is on the fence about whether to go to our cousin's wedding. I have decided to go no matter what. I hope he goes, too, but it's up to him. He hates to pay the fare -- so funny, since he is much wealthier than I am, but he worries more. I think he worries more because he doesn't track his spending, and because his wife is spending a lot establishing her new business -- which may pay off, but who knows? She did well with her last business, but it's never a slam-dunk.

Thursday News

January 26th, 2018 at 05:42 am

I did my grocery shopping yesterday at Jewel; the total was $59. For that I got graham crackers, Annie's mac & cheese, strawberry jelly, 24 cans of cat food, 12 rolls of toilet paper, 2 pie crusts, two packages of Swiss cheese, a box of frozen burgers, a baking potato and a head of lettuce. Oh yes, and a plastic container with a spout for storing dry cat food. I've started buying the huge bags to get best unit price, but they are really unwieldy and hard to store. So I'll fill up this container intermittently to keep in the kitchen. It will make it much handier for cat-sitters, too.

Now I'll try to see how much longer I can go without another grocery trip.

I stopped at Walgreens and picked up four more packages of the panty liners on sale. The day before I paid $7 for two packages, but with additional promotional savings, I paid only $9 for four packages yesterday. Now I have enough for 20 months!

Variables are at 19%.

I took the boys to their music lessons, but afterwards took them to their cousins' house for dinner, so there was no financial burden there.

My old boss at the museum is at another institution (she didn't say where) and asked me if I was interested in contract work. I turned her down, which may seem stupid, but I just feel so done with all that. I want to continue to be really retired, with time for family and time for fun. Also, having worked for her now at two different places, I know all the pitfalls, and I'm not willing to go another round. Much as I like her personally, she is too flighty as a boss.

Also, I feel like the field is moving beyond my skills. It is a fast-moving field, and technology is pushing it into territories I don't even know. And I'm not willing to stress myself out trying to learn. Not any more.

I looked up the schedule for the Oscar movies at my local theaters, and I can actually get them all in before I go to Texas on the 2nd. But here's the rub: I would have to go to four of them at 10 p.m. I would have to see two movies a day for three days and three movies on the 1st -- the day before travel -- the last one finishing up at midnight. $35 is a great deal, but I have to think about whether I really want to do this. I don't like being out so late, especially alone, and the day before travel would be exhausting.

I also did a little poking around for flights to Houston, but realized I would have to coordinate my flight with a hotel room. I texted my cousin for recommendations, and he said they were going to reserve some rooms, so I guess I will just wait to hear more.

Low-Spend Pay Day

January 25th, 2018 at 05:21 am

Yesterday was a pretty low-spend pay day. Aside from paying my mortgage, electric bill, and credit cards, I spent $7 at Walgreens for panty liners and $5 for shakes at Steak N Shake. Oh, and also a $50 copay for the nephrologist. And I did a load of laundry.

Variables are at 9%.

I may go back and get more panty liners today. If I spend $12 more on them, I'll get a $2 coupon for anything at Walgreens, and they are currently priced at 25% off. I don't mind stockpiling them; I use them every day. Oh, and I have a $5 reward to use!

The nephrologist visit was almost a non-event. My kidneys are stable. My Vitamin D level has doubled. She told me not to come back unless my creatinine level increases. My GP will take over the testing. This is good; my GP has only a $5 copay!

Today the boys have music lessons, so I'll be taking care of chauffeuring them there after school. I may also be getting them dinner, if their parents need me to.

I'm going to be grocery shopping today -- ten items only -- probably at Jewel, because some things I need are not available at Aldi.

And of course it's back to the gym today. And it's time for a fill-up.

I made mango chutney yesterday, using up a mango that never ripened properly and some of the caramelized onions. I'll be having that with sauteed chicken tonight, unless I end up eating out with the boys. (Something I learned about mangoes -- don't refrigerate until they're ripe!)

I have yet to make the apple crisp to use up the apples. Oh, my! It might not happen today, either, since it's looking like a busy day.

Black Ice

January 24th, 2018 at 06:16 am

Black ice is keeping me in this morning. This is one of the best parts of retirement. If the weather's iffy, I don't have to go out. I was planning on the gym and a little grocery shopping this morning, but it can wait. This afternoon I have to pick up the boys, but I trust the roads will be better by then.

It's pay day! I paid my mortgage and my BOA card (the one I'm earning a bonus on). I'll wait to pay my Discover card until my SS payment shifts from pending to processed. My electricity payment hit the bank, also. That was a bit of a break, because it did not hit at all during the January pay cycle. It will probably hit twice in February, even though February is a short month. It was $51.

I did my January recap:

Housing: $713
Insurance: $337
Vacation/Travel: $236
Utilities: $129
Groceries: $81
Eating Out: $54
Phone: $52
Furnishings/Equipment/Decor: $48
Gas: $44
Medical/Health: $37
Household Supplies: $35
Vet/Pet Supplies: $25
Laundry: $14
Gifts/Charity: $11
Fares/Parking: $4

Grand Total: $1820

Variables ended up at 82%. I previously thought it was higher because I somehow overcounted the groceries.

I'm happy any time I come in under $2000. To do so when I've had to pay insurance and have bought an airline ticket is great!

February will inevitably be higher. I'll be traveling, I'll have to get a haircut, I have two gifts to buy (son's birthday & cousin's wedding), another airline ticket to buy, -- just to name a few expenses I can think of off the top of my head.

My BFF has bowed out of the Houston road trip due to previous plans with her granddaughter. I'm disappointed, because I'd much rather do that than fly again. But flying will be cheaper.

Our local theater is offering a $35 ticket to watch all nine Oscar-nominated movies. Boy, I would love to do that, but the timing will fall over my Houston trip, so I can't. So, money saved there!

My next pay day will not be until February 28. So, even though it is a short month, it will be a bit long for me.

Colonoscopy - Sort Of

January 23rd, 2018 at 07:42 am

This morning I collected a sample for a colonoscopy. No procedure needed! No prep! I'm sure you've seen the ads on TV. It was pretty simple to do. I don't know what it will cost me, but it is supposed to be covered by Medicare, so I can count on 80% being covered, anyway.

My doctor says that if they don't get the result they want, I will need to do the "real" colonoscopy next year, rather than in ten years.

I can't tell you how much better this was than doing the real one.

Yesterday I got a check from the Indiana BMV. They had overcharged for a number of years, including the years I lived there, and I turned in a claim in the class settlement. The check I got was $4.50! I guess they didn't overcharge by much. Oh well, it's $4.50 I didn't have before.

I picked up the boys after school yesterday, but it was so warm, they wanted to play on the playground for a long time. By the time they were ready to go their dad was home. He had gone in to work to shut things down. Now he's going back today to open things up again! And it's only three more weeks or so that is guaranteed. He is so over being a federal employee.

Anyway, my point is, there was no time to swing by McDonald's or anything like that, and I had another no-spend day.

I did not make the apple crisp yesterday. I hope I will get to it today, but if I pick up the boys again that will take a chunk out of my day.

I made an omelet for breakfast yesterday with the caramelized onions, and it was delicious! I'm thawing some leftover fried rice now, to which I will add some of the onions and another egg. After pay day, when I can buy some more ingredients, I'm going to follow Frugal Foodie's suggestions and make a potato-onion casserole and an onion quiche. And I'm going to have the onions as a side dish per Lucky Robin's suggestion. That should take care of all of it!

I love our community of sharing!

Comcast Bill, Etc.

January 22nd, 2018 at 07:18 am

Just got my Comcast bill and it has crept up more, now $104. I got online and looked the bill over, and it wasn't for a movie rental or anything, it was just a bunch of fees. I did not take the bait a few weeks ago to switch to AT&T because I felt in the long run they wouldn't be any different. But maybe that's the thing to do, just switch back and forth when they roll out their enticements to new customers. A pain, but they certainly don't reward loyal customers.

I didn't spend anything yesterday, and, in fact, I didn't leave the house. Just felt like taking a break from the gym. I've gone quite a few days in a row and I do need a break sometimes. I'm going back today, in the rain.

I had two big onions getting old, so I carmelized them yesterday in the crockpot. They turned out great, though I had to get up in the wee hours of the morning to turn off the pot. I didn't get started early enough! I will be looking at recipes today to figure out how to use them up. French onion soup is obvious, but I don't want that much. I know they are wonderful as topping on hamburgers and on steak.

Today I'm planning to make apple crisp to use up a bunch of apples.

I talked to BFF yesterday, and she may be interested in a road trip to Houston when I go to my cousin's wedding in March. She has a brother there she would like to visit. It would be great to share expenses and also just have fun together on the road. She has to get back to me on her final decision.

Today and tomorrow are the last days before pay day. I'm going to try not to spend anything. If I can do it, my variables will be at only 84%. I'm making a list of things I need to buy on pay day, but so far it isn't very large. Since my airline fare is 40% of the total, I think I have succeeded in being uberfrugal!

More Quiet Days

January 21st, 2018 at 06:36 am

Yesterday I started some laundry before going to the gym. I realized as I was loading that I was out of white vinegar, which I use as a fabric softener/deodorizer. So I decided to stop at Food4Less (right by the gym) to get some. While there, I also bought rolls and tuna. The total cost was $7.

I also found another dime!

Variables are at 84%. My new budget cycle starts on Wednesday. I'm so excited that I will come in under, even with cash-flowing the airline ticket. I don't think I will have to spend anything till then.

And I've already earned $161 in snowflakes, which, this year, will not go to college funds, but to fund my own gap year.

I spent the rest of the day at home, mostly reading. With the house all clean and not much to do there, it was a pleasure.

While cleaning on Friday, I threw a bunch of random papers in a bag, so I am determined to start working through them and getting them to their proper places, or thrown away. Meant to start yesterday, but actually, I was enjoying my book too much. I also watched "Paint Your Wagon" on TV, which I guess I had never seen before, because everything in it was new to me, except for some familiar music.

I anticipate today will be quiet, as well. I am expecting to do quite a bit of after-school care this coming week as DIL's company gets ready for a big event, and she puts in some overtime. Then she will be in New Orleans for that event the following week. DS will be taking the time off to be Mr. Mom, but I am sure my services will be needed. Then I go to Florida as soon as DIL gets back! So, busy times coming; I might as well rest now!

Yesterday's Spending

January 20th, 2018 at 05:25 am

Well, they shut down. For my son's sake, I hope it won't be too long. For my sake, I'm glad that SS checks will still be cut.

I had a lovely dinner with my friend K last night. I intended to be more frugal than I was, but you know how eating with a friend eggs you on. We had wine, salad, entree and dessert. But we were able to order half portions, so my total cost, with tip, was $34. Also $2 to park. Could have been worse.

K had news -- she is moving to Minnesota! I'm not totally surprised. Both her kids are there and now a granddaughter, too. I regret that we have not taken advantage of both of us living in Chicagoland very much. But she is on the south side and I am on the north, so it has not been very easy to get together.

Anyway, I will still see her for our girlfriend weekends, and I will for sure go visit her, too.

In other news, I did buy the airline ticket to Florida, as well as travel guard, for a total of $236. I will have to pay $25 to check a bag when I check in. And I will have to pay for ground transportation in Chicago, which is always expensive. But that will come out of next month's budget.

My morning run to Aldi cost $11 for almond milk, creamer, butter, cheese and tortillas.

Variables have jumped to 83%, but that's still great, considering that the airline ticket is part of it. I only have four days to go now.

Edit: funny story to add --

When I was leaving Aldi, I saw a man struggling with the carts. Ever helpful, I offered mine and put my hand out for his quarter. He gave me the quarter and then turned around and went to the parking lot! I called to him when I realized my mistake but he just waved his hand and left. I guess he thought I was a panhandler!

Later, when I was at the parking meter outside the restaurant, I found a quarter and a dime on the ground. So altogether I raked in .60 in found money yesterday!