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Archive for March, 2019

Downtown Mystery Shop

March 31st, 2019 at 05:14 am

Yesterday I did a restaurant mystery shop in Chicago. I took a train to the site, which worked out pretty well, except that I headed off in the wrong direction once I got off the train! Re-oriented myself, and all was well.

I also got a haircut ($16, using a $4 coupon).

I didn't get much else done, because I was very tired. Not taking meds is affecting my sleep, and the continual pain is stressful.

Today I'm going to the gym, and then I'm going to get all the laundry done. I'm also going to make a library run and stock up on books. Tomorrow I will take the car to the shop, and then spend the day at home cleaning up and getting things situated.

Variables are at 59%.

Wind chill values are in the low to mid-teens! We had a couple of beautiful days, but now this setback. I am trusting that when I come out of the hospital, Spring will truly be here!

Treats!

March 30th, 2019 at 05:28 am

My little bit of spending at the grocery store turned into $93. I asked my BFF what I needed to get for her at the grocery store and she texted, "Treats!" I said, okay, what else, she texted, "Chocolate!" I got the message and stocked up on goodies. I also got a bunch of paper plates and bowls. And quite a bit of real food -- apples, carrots, clementines, roast beef, meatballs, and bags of frozen veggies.

Obviously, this is going to be a weird month financially.

I picked up a raised toilet seat at a lending closet -- had to try three different places before I hit pay dirt. But that was free.

I mistakenly used a private parking garage instead of a city one and paid $5 for parking.

I got the estimate done ($1700, but I don't have to pay it!) The body shop agreed to take my car on Monday, and they will probably get it done by Friday or Saturday. One of my kids will pick it up.

Today I have one last mystery shop to do, and it's downtown. I plan to take the El rather than try to manage parking. Wish I hadn't signed up for this, but I wasn't really thinking ahead at the time.

I got my Breeze system litter pan set up yesterday. I was waiting to use up as much of the old litter as I could, but I couldn't wait any more. I love the neatness of it, and the total lack of dust. Iggy has used it, and hasn't commented. I have lots of pads on hand, but I probably need to buy a bag of pellets to have in reserve.

Which brings me to variables. I've already spent 56% this month, which has just begun! And I'm going to spend more, because I want to get a haircut before I go into the hospital. Hoping a few weeks at home will slow me down, but there will be meds to pay for -- they might come out of savings.

Claim Approved

March 29th, 2019 at 05:55 am

The claim was approved, and I will be taking the car in for an estimate today. I have to go to a different shop than before because State Farm has its preferred shops. I will probably arrange to have the repairs done while I am in the hospital and laid up. I have things to do this weekend and can't give up the car yet.

Yesterday turned out to be a bit of a spendy day. I had to order new checks - $15. I hardly ever use them any more but I can't be completely out of them. I decided to renew my AARP membership for $16. They tempted me with a free trunk organizer, which is something I can use. The surprise was lunch yesterday. I had a mystery shop scheduled at a restaurant, which paid for my order, but since I was babysitting the boys, I had to buy their lunches,too. They stepped up and ordered burgers, shakes and fries, and the cost above my reimbursement was $27! I could ask DIL to pay me back, but I won't unless she offers.

I got a cut in my payment from TIAA -- only about $16 a month, but any cut is disheartening. But I signed up for a service through my healthcare provider which will pay my gym fees, so that will help.

In addition to getting the repair estimate, I have to go to a lending closet today for some durable medical equipment, and I have a little grocery shopping to do. DIL is not working today, so I will have no childcare.

I had to go in and get CT Scan retakes yesterday, and I'm hoping that's all good now. It's getting awfully real!

Yesterday's Spending

March 28th, 2019 at 05:28 am

I spent 20% of my variables yesterday -- $30 for pre-surgical cleanser and facial moisturizer, $1.50 for laundry, $5 for lunch, $14 for a board game, and $50 for printer cartridges.

I did not earn a lot of extra money last month, so this month my pot is small.

I stopped taking my meds yesterday. I am really feeling the loss of the Celebrex and I had a very hard time sleeping last night. Finally I managed the pain by sticking an ice pack on my hip.

I am also feeling stuffy without Zyrtec. The good news -- at least my acid reflux isn't kicking in yet!

Almost forgot -- I filed the auto insurance claim yesterday and it sounds like the other company will pay with no problem. But I haven't heard any follow-up yet. If the claim is approved when I'm in the hospital, DS & DIL will take my car to the shop.

What??

March 27th, 2019 at 05:08 am

I can't believe it. I had another crash yesterday. This time I was just waiting in line to make a turn. The truck in front of me backed up for some reason. I wasn't quick enough to go into reverse, and he smashed my headlight and scratched up the bumper.

I filed a police report and will call his insurance company today. Meanwhile, I'll be driving with one headlight. This I didn't need just one week before my surgery.

It's pay day, though! I just paid the mortgage and will pay the two credit cards when the deposit is no longer in the pending stage.

I ended up with 89% in variables. I took the boys to lunch yesterday and the total for all of us was $17.

Here is the monthly recap:

Housing: $733
Car Repair/Maintenance: $500
Fees/Services: $190
Utilities: $177
Groceries: $106
Clothing: $85
Medical/Health: $58
Household Supplies: $56
Phone: $52
Eating Out: $52
Vacation/Travel: $40
Entertainment: $36
Gas: $23
Personal: $20
Gifts/Charity: $15
Laundry: $11
Fares/Parking: $7
Grand Total: $2172

The fee was mostly the Ancestry.com subscription. Clothing -- expensive socks and some clothes from Goodwill. Everything else is pretty typical, except, of course, for the $500 deductible I paid to get the car fixed.

Certainly hoping the other guy's insurance will pay this time.

Trampoline Park

March 26th, 2019 at 05:52 am

I took the boys to an indoor trampoline park yesterday. DIL had given me $40 for entertainment. The actual cost was $50, but for that $10 they were well-entertained for two hours and burned off a lot of energy. Afterwards we got milkshakes at Steak N Shake's 2-for-1 happy hour -- but it was even cheaper as the person in front of us in the line paid for our order, too! One of those random acts of kindness -- very nice. I did manage to wave my thanks as she drove away.

Oh, and we had lunch at their home -- mac & cheese from the pantry and some fresh fruit.

I'm going over at 10 today and I'll probably sit with them till 3 or 4.

Both my phone bill and my assessment fees hit right before pay day so I didn't get a break, but next month should be cheaper -- except for the medical costs, of course! I have done my monthly recap, but I'll post it tomorrow, as there is the possibility I'll spend something today. Right now variables are at 85%.

Cheese

March 25th, 2019 at 05:31 am

I spent $3 on cheese yesterday, and it was worth it -- it did make the onion soup so much better. Variables are at 84%. With 2 days to go, that's very good.

However, I'll be babysitting the boys this afternoon and some days this week -- not sure of the schedule, if there is one. They are on spring break, but mom & dad are working. DIL's schedule is very loose. I'll take it day by day and hope I can hold back on spending till Wednesday.

I have a mystery shop to complete this morning. It is 10 miles away -- a 30-minute trip at this time of day. And it should take about a half hour when I'm there.

I got my ballot for school board elections in the mail, so it's time to do a little research.

It has turned very cold and windy today. Will true Spring ever come?

Spring Cleaning

March 24th, 2019 at 05:43 am

I did some spring cleaning yesterday -- mostly floors and cleaning up around the baseboards, which have been neglected. Whew! Also, the closet where the litter pan is kept. What a mess. I'm using up the last of the clay litter before I install the new Breeze system. When I do that I'll clean again, more thoroughly. I'd like to put down some vinyl on the floor and paint the baseboards in there. But that will wait till I'm healed and I have more expendable cash.

Three days till payday and I'm trying not to spend anything. (Though I do have about $100 in the budget.) I don't know what my expenditures will be in the next cycle. I'm guessing not too much out of pocket -- not till later. Food is pretty much covered for the first week after surgery. There will be physical therapy, which is a $45 per session co-pay, but they usually don't charge till the end. I will have to pay $300 per day in the hospital, but again, that won't be charged right away. It may fall in the next pay cycle, however.

Today is a gym day, and I'm getting ready to go. I may break my spending rule and buy some cheese while I am out. The French onion soup would be so much better and heartier with bread and cheese on top. All I have is shredded cheddar, which isn't quite the right cheese.


More Prep

March 23rd, 2019 at 07:27 am

Yesterday I made a pot of French onion soup -- in the Instant Pot! And it was great, though I used white wine vinegar instead of red wine, and so it is a little -- tart? Most of it is going in the freezer. But I left out enough to eat the next few days.

I also made some chicken/vegetable broth and put that in the freezer.

I got paid by one of my mystery shop companies -- $71, but about two-thirds of that was reimbursements.

I assigned myself to another mystery shop on Monday. There will be two others before I have my surgery, and then, of course, I will be done for a while.

Next week is spring break for our school district. I haven't been asked to babysit, so I'm not sure what is happening with DS & DIL. They might be staycationing.

Today I will continue my quest to spend nothing till pay day on Wednesday. I have one more cooking job -- pan-frying chicken medallions, which I will use for chicken sliders post-surgery. After pay day I'm going to buy some roast beef and I'll assemble French dip sandwiches for the freezer. I think I'll be done then.

Day at Home

March 22nd, 2019 at 06:24 am

I'm planning on making this a day at home. I woke up with a headache, so I want to take it easy as much as possible.

I do want to get some things done. I need to clean the fish tank. I want to do some more cooking for the freezer. The whole place needs to be vacuumed and mopped. And I have another load of laundry to do.

Yesterday I spent $6 on hot chocolate for GS2 and me. It was the day I take him to cooking class after school. There is not quite enough time to go home, but too much time to take him straight there. I killed a little time with a trip to the library, but we still got there way too early, so I pulled into Starbucks and we got the hot chocolate. Variables are up to 83% -- five days to go.

It appears the lending closet loans items out for three weeks, so I going to go there closer to my surgery date.

I am hoping not to spend anything between now and pay day on the 27th.

Culver's

March 21st, 2019 at 07:05 am

The boys and I stopped at Culver's last night after music lessons, and I spent $13 for three burgers. Music lessons now start a little later and go a little longer, so the boys are really hungry when they get done.

I spent $4 out of pocket above the $15 gift card for groceries at Aldi yesterday. Variables are now at 82%. Six days to go.

I am checking out lending closets for medical equipment. It looks like the nearest one is a little over nine miles away. I will be provided with a walker, but I will need a booster seat for the toilet. I think I'll skip the shower stool, etc. I plan to take what my mom called spit baths until I can lift my leg over the tub side. That has worked out well before.

Anyway, I will go check out the lending closet tomorrow.

BFF will have to leave five days after my surgery. I am hoping that I will be pretty good by then. I will have my DS & DIL who are VERY nearby on call, and if I feel a little shaky one of them can stay the night. (They don't know that yet.) When I had my ankle surgery I spent a lot of time alone, and the recovery from that was a lot more challenging than hip replacement is reported to be. I guess I'll find out.

I'm off to the gym....

Net Worth Has Fallen

March 20th, 2019 at 06:29 am

I was doing a good job of keeping my net worth stable. It went down by $14K after I bought the car, but I was okay with that -- I had to have a car. Being in my gap year, I wasn't able to work at making it up, but I was keeping it on an even keel.

But now it has fallen again, because my condo was assessed at a lower value. In short, according to the assessor's office, it is worth about $8 less than I had it figured in my spreadsheet. Now, to be fair, I think I had personally assessed its value too high from sales of comparables in the area, and not from what the assessor said, because the actual change from last year is only $3K. But this assessment is supposed to be a fair market value, so I think I should adjust my spreadsheet. It is probably more realistic, as I do not see a lot of healthy sales in this area any more. It is probably what I would be able to get if I sold it.

Why did it go down? I am assuming that there are now more rentals in the building than there used to be, and that hurts property values.

At least I should see a drop in taxes. And I am not going to sell any time soon.

Yesterday was a no-spend day other than laundry. I did not make the Aldi trip, but I hope to get it done today. I'm going to use the $15 Visa gift card, and try to keep my purchases at that level.

I made some spaghetti sauce, but it cooked down to a pretty small batch, so I may just eat it rather than freeze it.

Today I'm going to make some granola.

After a lovely day yesterday, it's rainy and cold today. But it's spring!!!!

Soooo Sloooowwwwww

March 19th, 2019 at 07:33 am

Lordy, the site is slow today!

After getting my documents signed and witnessed yesterday, I went to the library and got more books.
Other than that, I didn't get a whole lot done. I was very tired from my sleepless night. I did make the mac & cheese. Today I'm going to start work on spaghetti sauce with some tomatoes I took out of the freezer.

I'm doing laundry, and I need to get to Aldi later. I'm also on tap to pick up the boys from school.

I just watched a clip on the Today Show about food waste in the US. 40% of the food produced is thrown away! It's criminal. So that reminds me to do something with the celery that is going limp in my fridge. I also have a bunch of onions which I'm going to carmelize, but the celery is closer to the edge. My little efforts may not do much, but at least I know I am not throwing away food that I have paid for!

I didn't do any spending yesterday, and my variables are at 78% with 8 days to go.

Monday Doings

March 18th, 2019 at 06:31 am

I just got back from the gym. It was really hard waking up at 6 this morning, but I know they mean business around here when they tell you to move your car. And I thought I might as well get the gym visit out of the way since I had to get up anyway.

I found a legal place to park just around the corner. The tree-trimmers are not here yet, but my street is blocked for the whole day. Hoping it will just be the one day.

After I shower and dress, I'll head to DIL's work to get my living will and durable power of attorney witnessed. After that I'm free. Probably. Monday is one of those days when I am not expected to chauffeur the boys. However, I am on call.

I just applied for a mail-in ballot for the April 2 election. In my city, it is just for school board, but of course the makeup of the school board is important to me, with grandchildren in the school system. In Chicago proper, the election is for a new mayor. It is a pretty exciting race, with two African-American women running for it. As they keep saying, history-making! But as a suburbanite, I don't get to vote in that.

Of course, on April 2 I will be too busy to vote -- I'll be having surgery -- hence the mail-in ballot request.

I had a terrible night's sleep last night, so I may take a nap, if my schedule allows.

My only at-home goal today is to get the mac & cheese made. I'll have a serving and put the rest in the freezer.

Another Day

March 17th, 2019 at 07:21 am

I had a terrible dream last night in which I lost my laptop, with all its information -- it was stolen right out from under me, and I couldn't get anyone to listen to me about what happened. It was such a relief to wake up and realize that everything was safe.

Aside from the cooking I had a leisurely day yesterday, with no spending. Today I'm going to do some laundry and some cleaning. I'm going to finish a book today, so I may go to the library and stock up, even though I have one more.

Tomorrow they are tree-trimming on my block and I will have to move the car before 7 am. I'll set the alarm and go to the gym; then later in the morning I'll go to DIL's work to get my documents witnessed and then get the copies distributed.

BFF is going to bring some sweatpants for me to borrow during recovery. I have several pairs of loose workout pants, but I don't want to have to worry about running out and doing laundry. She bought a bunch when she had hip surgery herself, and I don't think she has used them since.

My menu during recovery is shaping up: chicken rice casserole, French dip sandwiches, spaghetti, mac & cheese, chicken sliders. I'll also have sausage rolls and sausage gravy with biscuits for breakfast. All this will be prepared ahead of time and in the freezer. I will also have fresh things on hand, but of course, they won't be purchased till the last minute. BFF doesn't cook, so I want to have the food as ready-to-go as possible.