Home > Archive: January, 2019

Archive for January, 2019

Day Two

January 31st, 2019 at 12:54 pm

I made it through day one of the polar vortex and now am starting day two.

DS and the grandsons came over yesterday afternoon. We played a board game and watched TV. The boys were restless from being cooped up. They really need to get out and run, and that is impossible.

In case you are wondering, they live very close. We live on parallel streets and our buildings are in the same position. There is a walkway straight from my building's front door to their back door. So it is a walk that can be made in a couple of minutes. And they were all very well bundled up.

I made peanut butter cookies in the morning, so it was good timing. Not only did I warm the kitchen, but I had eager consumers!

Also in the morning, I completed my taxes. I'm going to get a $953 federal refund and a $36 state refund. Filing was free, even for the state taxes, which has never happened before. I used TaxAct. Ironically, this morning I got an email from MyPoints offering 1,500 points for filing through TaxAct. Too late!

The nurse who makes the house call for UnitedHealthcare left me a voicemail yesterday to say she would not be coming today. I'm so glad her company allowed her to cancel her appointments today.

We are supposed to get some snow tonight, but the temperature will start rising -- and this weekend it will actually get above freezing!

I'm scheduled to do two mystery shops tomorrow, so I hope the rise in temperature is pretty significant.

Welcome to the Icebox

January 30th, 2019 at 03:10 pm

It's cold! Really cold! Minus 21 air temperature (not wind chill), as Alliecat already reported.

I have all my radiators on full blast, but it's still chilly, so I'll be wearing sweaters all day. I am not going out at all. All my faucets are in dripping mode.

I had a mystery shop scheduled for tomorrow, but I rescheduled to Friday, which should be more moderate.

I'm supposed to get a house call from UnitedHealthcare tomorrow, but I'm leaving it up to the nurse on whether she wants to cancel.

The bottom line is, I'm staying put, inside, for two days. I'm not even going to do laundry, which would entail stepping out onto an open-air stairwell.

The boys' school finally cancelled, for today and tomorrow.

I'm going to do some cooking and baking, to keep the kitchen warm.

I have lots of books on tap, so I'll be very happy these two days!

Hovering at Zero

January 29th, 2019 at 02:47 pm

Air temperature is zero, that is -- wind chill is much lower. I was hoping they would cancel school today, but no such luck. They're saving that for tomorrow, I assume, which will be much colder. So I will have to go out today to pick up at least one of the boys. Sometimes DIL picks up GS1. We'll see how it goes today.

I did manage to dig out my car and move it to the other side of the street last night, the side that got plowed. Now they will plow the other side. They are doing a good job of keeping up on the snow removal.

No financial news. I didn't buy anything, I didn't get any income. I found a $4 coupon for my next haircut, and I did a Pine Cone survey which will earn me $3.

The day after tomorrow, I will get a house call from UnitedHealthcare, which will earn me a $15 Walmart gift card, and after that I have a restaurant mystery shop to do which will earn me a free lunch and a $12 fee.

I am tentatively planning to visit BFF on the weekend, but it will depend on the weather. If it doesn't moderate by then, I'm staying put.

I blinked.

January 28th, 2019 at 02:48 pm

I didn't take the car to the city garage. Yesterday it looked pretty calm and clear. But today the snow is coming down, and I hope I haven't made a mistake. I can see my car from my window and it looks like there's a couple of inches on it, so far.

At least I did get it moved to the side of the street that will not get plowed today. This evening I will have to move it to the other side, or to the city garage.

I got out yesterday with no problem. Hit the gym, and then went to the library and checked out five books, which should keep me busy a while. I got to the library before it opened, so I went to Panera and got my free bagel, buying coffee for $2.

Spent $1.50 on laundry. Variables are at 26%. But here's the kicker -- four weeks and two days to go! And I'll have to pay my assessment fees twice this month, which are $412 a pop. I've already paid once, and the next one will come up a few days before pay day.

Schools are closed all around the area, but not, apparently, my grandsons' school. I generally do not chauffeur them on Monday, so I'm trusting that I won't be needed today. If weather gets worse, I hope they will close the school tomorrow.


January 27th, 2019 at 03:14 pm

Yesterday I went to the Spiderman movie with GS2. The price for the two of us was $16. DIL provided some bootleg popcorn and candy bars. DS gave us a ride and went to see an advance showing of the new Lego movie with GS1.

Variables are at 26%.

Today is the day before another big chill and a big snow. Sigh. I need to get out and go to the gym, and to the library, before I am locked in. I am worried about my car. Last night I heard someone spinning their tires, stuck in the alley for quite a while. There was snowfall yesterday, so I know I will have to clean the car, but I hope it won't be stuck.

I just put in some laundry, and I'll go to the gym/library after it's done.

The beef stew I made in the Instant Pot turned out pretty good, but it needs some work. Today I'll reheat it on the stovetop and add a little more seasoning, and thicken the sauce with some cornstarch. I'll probably do more cooking today, too. It warms the kitchen!

Day at Home

January 26th, 2019 at 03:17 pm

I didn't go out yesterday, although I did run some laundry in the basement, and I took the garbage out, so I got a taste of the cold weather. It's even colder today, so I'm staying in today, too.

No spending, other than the laundry and my phone bill hitting my credit card.

My painted footstool looks so nice in the bathroom, I've decided I'm going to paint a little freestanding shelf unit in the dining room. I have enough paint to mix together a make a nice brick red, I think. This unit is that fake wood stuff, so I don't know if it will take the paint, but I won't really lose anything by trying. It doesn't exactly look great as it is.

I made apple pancakes and sausage for breakfast yesterday and had enough left over for today (and tomorrow!) I'm going to make stew in the Instant Pot for lunch, and the leftovers should last a while.

On TV I'm still watching Mrs. Maisel and The Crown. I don't binge watch -- just pick up a show now and then. But soon I'll finish both, so I'll need to find a new one. Maybe Homecoming? The Julia Roberts miniseries. Any suggestions? I have Netflix and Amazon Prime.

Speaking of shows, I realized that I'll be babysitting the boys full time during Cinemark's Oscar week. So sad! I really enjoyed Oscar week last year, and this year BFF was going to come up and enjoy it with me. Oh well, I made this promise. DS and DIL will be vacationing in Mexico, and my hands will be full.

Feels Like 11 Below

January 25th, 2019 at 01:28 pm

That's the wind chill factor here. But it will get worse. Forecasters say it will get to 14 below in air temperature in the next few days.

I went out yesterday before the big chill began, but even so, my gas door was frozen shut, and I had to go to an auto parts store to get de-icer before I could gas up. The gas, when I got it, was $20. The de-icer was $6.

Then I went to Aldi and I stocked up. I spent $77, but that should pretty much hold me for the month except for perishables and fill-in stuff.

My Florida son's birthday is coming up on the 6th, so I went ahead and ordered some small gifts for him from Amazon. $30.

Variables are 23%. It will be a long month (Jan. 24- Feb. 27), so I need to take it easy on the pace of my spending.

I don't have to pick up the kids today, so I don't have to go out. I'm supposed to return a couple of library books, but I will just pay the fine. I haven't finished reading them anyway. Before you ask -- they cannot be renewed, they are "most wanted" books which have a short circulation period and are unrenewable so that demand can be met. I plan to return them on Sunday. We're supposed to get snow as well as this cold blast, so we'll see.

I did get some income yesterday -- $17.50 from a Procter & Gamble settlement.

I just put some laundry in down in the basement, so I did get a taste of the weather. Awful.

Errands and Weather

January 24th, 2019 at 12:39 pm

I did not make it to Aldi yesterday. Maybe today. I still have food; I'm just getting really bored with the selection.

I took the boys to music lessons after school yesterday. We made a stop at McDonalds which cost $6.

Today is a gym day, and I need to get gas. Maybe I will pick up a few groceries, since I will be close to Food4Less.

Weather is turning very cold, as well as another heavy snow predicted for the weekend. So disheartening. Makes me wish I could stay inside for the rest of the winter.

It's Pay Day

January 23rd, 2019 at 01:51 pm

This is the first deposit that reflects my "raise" -- which was swallowed up by the raise in my assessment fees, but, oh well, it's something.

I paid the credit cards and my mortgage. I have $131 extra to add to variables from mystery shopping and cash back rewards.

Here is last month's recap:

Housing: $733
Insurance: $643
Medical/Health: $237
Utilities: $182
Phone: $52
Vet/Pet Supplies: $47
Clothing: $46
Eating Out: $33
Furnishings/Equipment/Decor: $32
Groceries: $32
Household Supplies: $30
Gifts/Charity: $21
Gas: $20
Personal: $16
Entertainment: $15
Laundry: $15
Fees/Parking: $4

Grand Total: $2158

I intended to spend nothing yesterday, but I realized that two of the pairs of pants I had bought at Goodwill just didn't fit right, and I had a limited time to return them. So I returned them yesterday, before I picked up my grandson, and while I was there I found four more pairs. Because of the store credit I received, I spent only $13. So now I have five pairs, if the new ones fit. I didn't try them on, but I measured the rise and inseam.

I will probably take a trip to Aldi today. Grocery spending was really low last month, due to my focus on using up food in the freezer and pantry, but now it's time to get something new in the mix.

Surpassed $100!

January 22nd, 2019 at 01:57 pm

I found a dime yesterday, which brought my coin-pick-up total above $100. It's now $100.04. I've been keeping track since 2011. I wonder if it will take another 8 years to get to $200?

I've been dealing with health issues the last couple days. One night I was bothered by pain from what I think is a gallstone moving around. This happens every once in a while. I've gone to the ER twice about it, but the pain always stops before I can get tested. They tell me to come when the pain is active, but it doesn't last that long. I get a lot of tests, a big bill, and no diagnosis. So now I just stick it out.

And yesterday was devoted to diarrhea, which is common with kidney disease, but annoying nonetheless.

Today I hope to have a pretty normal day.

I did a chore I've been ignoring for years -- I painted a footstool which I use in the bathroom. It is now a cheery red, which looks good with the green and white decor. I do need to put another coat on today.

Today I go back to after-school care. Tomorrow is pay day. Woo-hoo!

Oh, and I got a $17 payment and $26 reimbursement from one of my mystery shop companies.

Another winter storm warning. Yuck.

And Now, For my Regular Update

January 21st, 2019 at 05:25 pm

I picked up my car from the city garage today, and it was indeed free to park there from Friday till this morning.

I took the train to the garage, which was a bit of a challenge on several levels. First, it was a four-block walk in single-digit temperatures. Second, I missed the first train by mere seconds! Third, the train I caught had mechanical issues and we sat in the cold with open doors for a while. But I finally made it there.

After getting my car, I made my gym visit even though I really didn't want to. And I feel good after getting it done.

Two days till pay day and I am trying to avoid spending anything till then.

Top Money Saving Tips

January 21st, 2019 at 05:19 pm

Everyone has contributed so many good ones. I'll try to stick to tips that have been personally successful for me.

1. Don't throw food away, unless it is too old to be safe. If you don't know what to do with it, put it in your freezer, well-wrapped. And don't let it get old in the first place! Take action before the bacteria sets in!

2. Periodically go through your freezer and pantry and form a plan to use up everything that's there. Then execute that plan. Don't throw it away, that's cheating!

3. Don't buy new clothing unless you really have to. Goodwill and garage sales offer great clothing in every size, new and almost new. I buy everything used except underwear, swimsuits, coats and shoes. (And I will buy coats and shoes if I find them, but I never do.)

4. If you have a Sam's (or Costco) membership, use it! I find it's worth the fee for the gas savings alone. I buy most non-perishables at Sam's in bulk. Usually way cheaper, but check first, of course!

5. Use the library. Don't buy books! They are available free, every day, and you get to return them and avoid buying bookcases! Even buying books at Goodwill adds up -- I know!

6. If you live in a city where parking is an issue, know where the free parking is, and be willing to do some walking. I also use mass transit whenever it makes sense, because it's free to me as a senior.

7. Buy gifts all year long when you find them at the right price. But be judicious, and only buy what you really know you will wrap up and give away.

8. Develop hobbies that are free. Reading, walking, and cooking/baking are all great leisure-time activities. Usher at plays. Go to ball games. Attend the concert in the park. You know what's free in your neighborhood -- go do it!

9. Don't let yourself get disorganized. When you know where things are you don't buy it twice. When bill-paying is a system, you don't miss a payment. No need to spend a lot to "containerize" everything, just be neat and keep on top of things.

10. Take advantage of freebies. I am not too proud to get my free pizza and bagels at Planet Fitness. I get my free car washes at my dealer. When I visit my brother, I take advantage of the free car vacuums that are offered in his town. When downsizing friends offer me stuff, I take it! Sometimes I pass it on, but I always accept freebies because better stuff may be coming next.

These are the habits that have allowed me to live a pretty good life on a very limited budget.


January 20th, 2019 at 08:04 pm

Glad we're back to normal!

I have spent another uneventful day at home. The snowstorm was not as bad as expected -- I would say we got about 4-5 inches, and the lake-effect snow that was predicted is hitting the other side of the lake, not ours. I am leaving my car in the city garage, anyway, because they will be plowing the streets today and tomorrow. I do have to get it before noon tomorrow, when the free period ends. That means a short walk and a train ride, and then I have wheels again.

The boys have no school on Monday, but I think DIL is staying home as well. DS for sure.

I have been reading, watching TV, working puzzles, and doing little things around the house. It is very cold outside, but I am very snug at home. I haven't done the baking I thought I might do, but there's still time!

I'm very excited that variables are only at 62% and pay day is Wednesday. That means I've saved more than $300 this month on a very small income. If I manage not to spend anything till then.