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Archive for September, 2018

No-Spend Saturday

September 30th, 2018 at 06:19 am

I like to have a no-spend day early in the pay cycle. Often I feel the urge to stock up on something every day when I have the money, and then I run out of money too fast. A no-spend day slows me down.

Today I am headed to a cookout, and the weather is still too cool for my taste, though it is starting out warmer than yesterday. I checked with my friend J to make sure I wasn't expected to bring something, and she said, no, don't bring anything. So I won't!

I guess I will wear lots of layers!

I was considering taking the train, since the fare is now free for me, but when J texted me with plans I realized that her schedule would be too tight for her to pick me up at the station. So I will drive. I'm already down to about half a tank.

Guess that's it!

Just Stuff

September 29th, 2018 at 08:10 am

It was so cold yesterday. And it's still cold! The boiler doesn't get turned on till mid-October, so I hope we have a warmup.

Last night I went to GS1's football game. It didn't start till 9! Thank goodness it didn't last too long. I was freezing, even though I was wearing three layers and I was wrapped in a blanket.

Today I'm going to GS2's birthday party. This is his party with his friends, which is being held in a game room at the university. I won't be doing much there, except socializing with any other adults that turn up. The kids will all be tuned into the cyberworld.

Oh, but there is a baseball game before that. So, another busy day.

I got a call from a SHIP counselor! We have agreed to meet on Tuesday.

I completed a mystery shop yesterday -- free dinner -- and on the way home I stopped at a PetSmart and bought kitty litter for $18. It's a 42-lb. package and I could barely get it into the cart and then into the trunk. I'll have to use the dolly to get it upstairs. But it was only .03 per ounce and is supposed to be low-dust.

Variables are at 11%.

Tomorrow I am scheduled to go to meet a friend in one of the western suburbs for a cookout. But we haven't really talked lately, so I'll have to touch base to make sure it's still on. In this weather, I'm not too excited about it.

What was THAT??

September 28th, 2018 at 05:37 am

I woke up at 6 am this morning to a loud CRASH! I shot out of bed, expecting to find something knocked over. I have a lot of boxes stacked in the dining room because of the impending garage sale. But -- nothing. I looked all over and nothing is out of place. I know it wasn't part of a dream, because Iggy was freaked out, too. So I can only surmise that something happened upstairs. There were no footsteps, so whatever happened, it happened without human intervention.

Anyway, it sure got me going early.

I went to Sam's yesterday and spent $37 on toilet paper, Poise pads, and bread. I like picking up the Sara Lee artisan white bread whenever I'm there. I have to eat white bread because of my kidney condition, and the Sara Lee brand is pretty good, without the high cost of bakery bread. (Please don't urge me to eat whole wheat bread -- it is not easy for kidneys to process and not recommended! Honest!)

In the evening, I took GS2 to a hamburger place to help me out with a mystery shop. Well, actually, I was helping out his dad, who was carting GS1 to football practice while mom worked. I spent $8 over what the mystery shop company will reimburse. If DS asks about the cost, I will tell him, but otherwise I will let it go. It is basically covered by the fee I earned.

I'm going again tonight, to a different location. This time without a child in tow.

GS1 has a football game tonight at 9 pm! Don't know if I'll make that. If I do, I'll bundle up, because Fall has fallen.

Still waiting on the SHIP counselor. I did get a call yesterday from someone who identified himself as an independent agent (on voicemail). He probably got my number from one of the internet searches I did. I may call him back today to see if he will answer my questions. But I would rather talk to someone from SHIP.

Pay Day Spending

September 27th, 2018 at 06:59 am

What a nice feeling it is to start a new budget month. I did some shopping yesterday, spending $27 at Aldi and $16 for a new ink cartridge, which I ordered from Amazon, using a $5 credit. I also spent $1.50 on laundry.

I headed out to my usual Aldi, but it was finally closed while it finishes remodeling. So I just kept going and went to an Aldi in a neighboring suburb. What a surprise that was! The Aldi there is BEAUTIFUL! Basically the same stuff, but more produce, and everything is laid out much better, in a much brighter environment. I hope this is what our new Aldi is going to look like.

What I bought for my $27: spring mix, cheese, evaporated milk, pasta sauce, syrup, apples, rolls, oatmeal, canola oil and cookies. I will have to shop again in the not-too-distant future because I am getting low on eggs and butter, and I also have no meat in the freezer.

Today, after I go to the gym, I'm going to Sam's to get toilet paper and pads. And I'll take a look at the kitty litter again to see if they've started carrying a dust-free litter.

My variables now stand at 7%.

Pay Day!

September 26th, 2018 at 06:18 am

It's finally here.

I paid the mortgage and my assessment fees. I paid my two credit card bills in full.

Later today I will pick up some groceries.

After subtracting fees and the overspending last month, I have $168 to add to this month's variables budget. I am hoping I will be able to stay within budget this month.

Here is the recap from last month:

Housing: $713
Utilities: $284
Medical/Health: $240
Groceries: $99
Gifts/Charity: $71
Vet/Pet Supplies: $59
Phone: $52
Gas: $49
Entertainment: $48
Household Supplies: $47
Vacation/Travel: $44
Fees/Services: $40
Personal: $17
Eating Out: $16
Furnishing/Equipment/Decor: $16
Laundry: $15
Miscellaneous: $11

Grand Total: $1821

Utilities were higher than usual because I paid Comcast twice -- just a matter of how the due dates fell.

Medical, of course, was higher than usual because of an expensive prescription and specialist copays.

I had two birthdays this month but only spent $71 altogether on gifts/charity. Yay!

Everything else was pretty much in line.

I applied for an HSBC credit card to earn the $150 reward. And I finally ordered my $200 Amazon gift card from Wells Fargo, which I will use for Christmas spending. They are sending a physical card, so I hope it isn't in the mail too long.

eBay seems to have settled down. I am methodically ending listings that have no action.

Still no word from the SHIP counselor.

Grandson's Birthday and More Medicare

September 25th, 2018 at 07:22 am

I didn't spend anything at GS2's birthday last night -- the meal was covered. All I spent out of pocket was the $10 that went into the birthday card.

The birthday card was one I found in my stash of unused cards. It featured Ziggy, a cartoon character we don't see any more. My grandson's step-grandmother commented that it must have been something I didn't sell on eBay. Ouch! Not sure whether it was meant in fun or not, but I'm pretty sensitive about my financial situation and I don't appreciate barbed comments from someone who's never worried about money a day in her life.

Anyway, not only did I not pay for dinner, but I took home GS1's leftovers. So I guess my cheapskate reputation is well-deserved.

Another eBay mistake caught up with me. Today I'm paying someone to take one of my items. In other words, the postage was way above what I had calculated. For some reason I had calculated the weight as 3 oz. when it was, in fact, almost 1.9 lbs. A typo, I guess. So the extra postage cost ate up all the profit and I had to shell out .20 besides. Now I know what to do about postage, but in my early listings, I was just winging it -- and not so well. Overall, I have done well, though. I've cleared $343 after all fees and postage costs are subtracted. That's way above what I was expecting.

I have not heard back from the SHIP counselor yet. But yesterday I got my 2019 annual notice of changes from UnitedHealth. There is a section explaining what to do if I want to change my coverage, and it clearly states that I can switch to original Medicare with a prescription drug plan by enrolling in a drug plan before December 7. That will automatically disenroll me from my current plan. This contradicts what I have learned on other sources about the disenrollment period starting in January.

Of course, doing so would leave me without a supplement, which I guess is the sticking point.

Anyway, I really need to talk to this guy and I hope he calls me back.

A Little More Income

September 24th, 2018 at 11:34 am

I just packed up two more items I sold on eBay, and I just did another mystery shop. Altogether about $25 in income. I am working hard on these side hustles!

I had my quiet day yesterday. No spending, no driving, just a calm day of relaxation.

Tonight I go to my grandson's family birthday party at Buffalo Wild Wings. That should be my last hoo-rah before pay day. I'll try to order cheaply. But I think I've earned enough this month to make up for the deficits and to give me a little extra for next month.

I stopped at the Senior Center and they gave me the number of a SHIP (Medicare) counselor to call. I made the call, but had to leave a message on voicemail, so who knows when we will actually talk. I hope it's soon.

Medical Stuff and Mystery Shopping

September 22nd, 2018 at 05:55 am

Yesterday morning I got a mammogram, and I already have the results. No sign of malignancies, but due to density it is recommended that I also start getting sonography. I'll have to check my insurance. Another reason to make a change. I did a little reading on my plan yesterday, and it looks like I would have to pay $295 per day just to be an in-patient in a hospital. That's not even counting rehab. That's terrible! I thought Medicare always covered hospitalization, but maybe that's only original Medicare and I have a Medicare Advantage plan. Changes will be made. More reading to do.

I spent the rest of the day on mystery shopping. I had to go back to the car dealer and get a business card -- which meant I had to listen to the spiel all over again and get back on the salesman's radar. It was a bit of a drive, too, thirty minutes away.

My other mystery shop was to go to a self-storage facility and rent a unit. Then I identified myself as a mystery shopper and got the whole thing cancelled. I felt kind of bad because the employee went through all this rigmarole for nothing. But his company contracted for this. The two shops, if I get full payment, will yield $70. No, not much for all the time I put in.

In the evening I went to GS1's flag football game under the lights. It turned quite cold and I was really ready to come home.

I'm taking GS2 to a complimentary screening of "Smallfoot" today, and then we'll drop in on GS1's baseball game.

I'm getting quite low on gas, so I should fill up today. I hate to do it, being so much over budget already, but I think I must. Safety first.



Friday Plans, and Thursday Doings

September 21st, 2018 at 07:13 am

In a few minutes I will head out to get my annual mammography, and then I will do a mystery shop at a storage facility.

I got my blood test done yesterday and I got the results this morning. It looks to me like my kidney function has actually improved a little! I haven't received my doctor's comments yet.

Yesterday I got a surprise at the end of the day when I found I was expected to take the boys to their back-to-school bash. Son and DIL each thought the other had told me. Anyway, we got there, not too late, and I got a free dinner out of it. Hot dogs and chips, not great nutrition, but free!

I ran a load of laundry and that was my only spending. I should be able to wait until pay day now before running laundry again.

Monday is GS2's birthday, and I need to buy a card to put the cash in -- or at least find a card in my stash. I also have a book for him. The family dinner is planned at a restaurant, so I'll have to buy my dinner unless someone offers to treat. That probably won't happen! So, I hope, that should be my last spending in this pay period, unless the gas tank empties out too fast.

Another Day

September 20th, 2018 at 06:15 am

My day with the grandsons was pretty easy, as GS2 spent most of the day at a friend's house.

I did one load of laundry yesterday, and there was no other spending.

No more sales on eBay. I went in and stopped the re-listing of items that are not getting views and watchers. There are still a couple more new things I could list. One of them is a porcelain clock which is worth at least $200, and I would not take less. But I have to get my sister's permission to sell it, as we bought it together as a garage sale. The other is a cast iron cornbread pan, which is worth around $30-40, but is SO heavy. I would have to charge a lot in shipping. And there are several others being sold right now.

I got two complimentary tickets to a preview of Smallfoot on Saturday. I will take GS2, as GS1 has a baseball game too close to the time. I hope it won't cause hard feelings. If GS1 feels left out, I'll take him when the movie officially opens.

I took a break from thinking about the hip replacement yesterday. Today I need to figure out how to get in touch with a Medicare counselor so I can figure out if I have to change my supplement in order to get the best coverage for this particular event.

Variables are at 128%. I'll be so glad when this month is over.

Day Care Today

September 19th, 2018 at 05:39 am

No school today, so I will be taking care of the boys. I have cheese and tortillas to make quesadillas for lunch. And baby carrots, which they will probably not eat.

I had my follow-up appointment with my primary doctor yesterday. He wants me to get another kidney test (blood test) to make sure that the Celebrex is not hurting me. He agreed with the ortho surgeon that there is no hurry to get the hip replacement done. The blood work is free and I can drop in any time.

I also got my flu shot. Free, of course.

I talked with DIL about the upcoming surgery, and between the two of us, we figured out that the week of January 7 would be best. Now I need to investigate whether I can go to rehab afterwards. Mainly, whether Medicare will pay for it. Also, I need to make sure Medicare will pay for the surgery itself. Apparently, from the little reading I have done, it has to be shown to be medically necessary. Why would anyone do it if it's not medically necessary? I don't understand, but I'd better find out.

I have one week to get through before pay day. On Monday, I have to go to GS2's family birthday party (he has a birthday party with friends a few days later). The family party is being held at Buffalo Wild Wings, which means I'll have to buy a lunch. I also need to add $10 cash to the inexpensive gift I bought already. I'm going to look cheap, and I hate that!

I got a bill from eBay for $43. I'll subtract that from my eBay income before adding it to next month's budget.

Sales have really dropped off the last few days. Everything is set to be relisted, and now I think I should go in and change that. I did that once before, and it didn't stick, but then I was glad for the relisting because I made some sales from the second time around. I guess I'll give it a few more days.

I did not make it to the gym yesterday, and I really should go today, but it will have to wait until the boys go home.

Hip Replacement

September 18th, 2018 at 06:42 am

The ortho doctor said that I have advanced arthritis and spurs in my hip and that I will need to get a hip replacement eventually. I don't have to be in a hurry about it as long as I am comfortable enough. Right now I feel pretty good taking the Celebrex, but I can't take that long-term, so I need to figure out when I can do this.

The main thing to figure out is who will take over the afterschool care for six weeks while I recover.

The other thing to figure out is where I will recover. Everyone I know here lives above ground level (including me, of course) so the question is, can I go upstairs after surgery or will I have to go to a rehab center until I can?

Good thing there is no rush to figure this out.

Switching back to eBay reporting, I have four packages to mail today! One is a real snafu. I listed my Scrabble pieces for $3.50 because that looked like the going rate. But I mistakenly did not charge for shipping. So I made a whopping .31 after the sale! Major goof.

The other interesting thing that happened is that I listed a scrimshaw pendant that I bought at a garage sale a good twenty years ago. EBay took the listing down because they cannot be a party to selling ivory. Well, I didn't think it was ivory, but I did the test with the hot needle and now I think maybe it is. HMMMmmmm. I guess I will wear it instead of sell it.

I'm going to my primary care doctor today for a followup. On Wednesday I'm taking the boys to their doctor for flu shots. Feel like I'm spending a lot of time in doctor's offices. I'm getting a mammography on Friday!

So today's agenda -- doctor, gym, post office, library (need more books), after-school pickup and care. And I really should do another load of laundry!

Quiet Sunday

September 17th, 2018 at 05:16 am

I did one load of laundry yesterday, and that was my only spending. I didn't leave the house other than to take out the garbage.

As for the chores I meant to do, I did clean the fish tank, but I got derailed from the vacuuming and dusting. Instead I entered six more items to sell on eBay.

I got paid for one of my auction items, so I will need to package that up today.

I'm heading to the doctor in a few minutes. I'll let you know tomorrow how it went!

Eking It Out

September 16th, 2018 at 07:58 am

No spending yesterday. I went to a baseball game and pretty much spent the rest of the day reading and watching Netflix. I tried to mail an eBay package but forgot the post office was closed on Saturday afternoon.

Today I'm going to stay in on this hot day and do some chores. At the bare minimum I have to do laundry and take out the garbage. It's also time to clean the fish tank again and just do some general vacuuming and dusting. How much do I want to do this? Not much. But I am going to dedicate today to getting it done.

As I coast into the last few weeks of my pay period, I am trying harder to stretch my food. This morning I baked biscuits (from a can) and ate a couple for breakfast, along with applesauce. The rest are going to be made into sausage biscuits, to put into the freezer. After I cooked off the sausage patties, I was left with a pan rich with sausage bits and drippings. I made that into gravy, which I put into the fridge. When I was a kid I loved bread & gravy, and that may be a meal in the next weeks.

My jar of applesauce is close to empty. I'm going to add some water to shake it up and get it all out, and then I'll cook it down again. I'll store it in a container which is easier to empty.

For lunch today, I'm going to make tuna melts on crescent rolls. That should be good for about three meals.

I have lots of carrots, so carrot soup is undoubtedly in the future. And I have lots of peanut butter. I'm getting low on bread, but I have the ingredients to make bread, if I have to.

I also have rice on hand, walnuts and peanuts, eggs, dried fruit, pasta, potato flakes -- I feel pretty confident I can stretch all this out for the next week and a half.

My DIL and I have arranged a new after-school schedule, to start this week, where I get the boys on Tuesday through Thursday, and she handles Monday and Friday. That will give me nice long weekends free for travel, etc. Assuming I will ever have the money to travel. Smile Kidding. I know I will.

Tomorrow I go to the ortho doctor. I'm going to ask them to bill me, rather than pay the copay ($50) outright. If they agree, that will push the bill off to the next pay period.

Hoping he will not tell me that surgery is imminent. I'm doing well on the Celebrex, but unfortunately, because of my kidney disease, I cannot take it indefinitely. I'm just going to take this one day at a time.