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Archive for January, 2020: CB in the City
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Archive for January, 2020

Iggy's Good

January 20th, 2020 at 03:14 pm

Iggy seems to be feeling pretty good, so the cortisone shot was the right call. Fingers crossed!

Today I was supposed to take GS1 to baseball coaching, but DIL forgot that DS is off work today, so he can do it. That frees me up to get some errands done, provided I can move the car away from the curb. (Mounds of ice to get through!)

I made sugar cookie dough yesterday and I will bake some today and freeze the rest. Otherwise, most of the day was spent reading and watching TV. I watched about half of "The Irishman" and I will get to the rest today. Very long movie! I also want to catch up on PBS' "Sanditon." I am a big Jane Austen fan.

The vet, and a winter blast

January 19th, 2020 at 01:38 pm

Yesterday Iggy was sick all morning. He had uncontrollable diarrhea and he was vomiting, too. I decided to forgo the memorial service and take him to the vet. The vet checked him out and gave him fluids and a cortisone shot. The latter is risky for his condition, so I am watching him. The bottom line is, it may make him feel better, but it may hasten his kidney failure. It can go either way. I know he is near the end anyway. I just want him to feel better. If he doesn't, I will let him go. I can't bear to see him suffer.

He does seem to be better today.

Before all that, we were dumped with snow, which then half-melted and became slush, and then froze when a deep freeze moved in. Driving and parking was terrible. Even walking was hard.

After cleaning off the car, I drove around so the spots I couldn't get to would melt. I got gas and went through the McDonalds drive-through. Finding a parking place afterwards was an extreme challenge. I finally scored a spot across the street that didn't seem too bad, but I don't know for sure whether I am frozen in or not. I don't have to move the car today, but I will have to take GS1 to his baseball coaching lesson tomorrow, so I am hoping I am not trapped in ice.

Money -- the vet cost $120, gas was $15, and a lunch at McDonald's was $4.

It will be cold all day -- in the teens -- but it will moderate as the week goes on. I have all my radiators on full-blast but they are having a hard time keeping up with temps like this.

Snow Day

January 18th, 2020 at 01:46 pm

We got a dump of snow last night, but I hear snowblowers and shovels going even as I speak.

I am supposed to go to a memorial up in one of the northerly suburbs. I don't know how the roads are. I hope I can go because this man was married to a friend, another baseball grandma, who is suffering from Alzheimer's. It's so sad. I don't know what is going to happen to her now; he was taking care of her. He had skin cancer, but it was very unexpected, and it took him fast.

I shopped at Sam's yesterday, spending $28 on groceries. I also spent $19 on a bottle of salmon oil, which I will use on Iggy's food. I hope it helps. He is having trouble pooping. He is so uncomfortable.

I returned rejected cat food at PetSmart and they gave me a $28 gift card.

Variables are at 39%.

Cold Weather and a Cough

January 17th, 2020 at 02:24 pm

Yesterday was a pretty leisurely day, until the evening, when I took the boys to baseball coaching. The facility where it is held is not heated well at all, and the waiting room was frigid! I have to do it again on Monday, which is supposed to be very cold, so I am planning to do a drop-off and then return to pick them up. I'll find a Starbucks, or something.

I am dealing with a chronic cough, so I am tackling it on several fronts. Nasal spray intermittently through the day, humidifiers and misters scattered around the house, a pot of water on low on the cooktop, and lots of drinking (water!) I got out my PurMist appliance but didn't use it last night as I was eager to just get to bed after taking the boys home. But I will make that a daily habit, too.

Of course I will also talk to my doctor about it, but I won't be making an appointment with him until I complete my House Calls visit (from UnitedHealthcare) on the 30th. That way my appointment will be free.

Today will be rather busy. I will go to the gym, then to Sam's for a few things, then to PetSmart to return cat food, and then home to do laundry and make meatloaf.

No spending in the last few days.

Oops, I forgot! I did get the senior freeze form in the mail and I'm sending it back today. There are three exemptions that are available to me, and two of them will become automatic, but there is still this one that has to be redone every year. So I did it!

Property Tax

January 15th, 2020 at 04:40 pm

Disney Steve's post reminded me that I had not yet received my tax bill, either. I got online and saw that it is due March 3, so it could still arrive, and I can pay online if it doesn't. I put it in my budget for next month so I won't forget.

I was also wondering about my exemptions -- senior homestead, and senior freeze, both of which I have to apply for every year. The site said they would be reflected in my second payment in July, and that I am supposed to be mailed the forms in January. I'll be watching for them.

In other news -- today is pay day!

I paid off all the credit cards and thus put an end to my Christmas splurging. I don't have a lot left over, but enough to get through. I also paid my second "car payment" -- actually a credit card payment, but I am paying off the debt from my new car on a 0% credit card. Only 8 more to go and that is gone. I am pleased that I did not have to take anything from savings.

And of course, I paid my mortgage.

My variables are only 33%, so I am doing well on that.

I took the boys to Noodles & Company after music lessons last night, and the tab was $21. I brought home half of my meal and I'll have it for lunch today.

Pine Cone Question Resolved

January 14th, 2020 at 04:58 pm

I got payment from one Pine Cone survey and have been credited with completing another. I have redeemed those points, but it takes a few days to go through PayPal. So all is okay; I guess their site just wasn't up to date.

I went to the gym this morning -- got my free bagel and coffee -- and after working out, I stopped at PetSmart and bought 12 more cans of cat food. Hope Iggy doesn't suddenly decide it's time for a switch again. The clerk at the desk confirmed that they would take back open and unopened food, with or without a receipt. So I'll be taking the rejects back next time. That's a very liberal policy; quite impressive.

I got TWO 1099's from Social Security yesterday. I was quite confused at first, since they weren't duplicates, but different amounts. Then I figured out that one was for the money I drew on my ex's benefit, and one was my own that I switched to in August.

Now I just need the statement from TIAA, and I can get going on my taxes. It seems to me that last year I had to wait till the end of January.

Went to the library yesterday evening and checked out an armful of books. I'm happy!

My Car is Missing

January 13th, 2020 at 02:56 pm

Just kidding. My son asked to borrow my car this morning for a doctor's appointment. They have one car and he usually uses mass transit, but when he has an appointment they need another car. I was surprised this morning to see that the car was gone at 7:30 a.m. So that was an early appointment. (Obviously, he has a key to my car.)

I decided to put off gym day till tomorrow, since it's Bagel Day, anyway. A free breakfast. But I will need to get out later and return some library books (and get some new ones!)

My Discover cycle closed and I earned $1.33. Wow, that's not much; their rewards have really declined since they introduced the system where you get 5% back in a certain category, but not much of anything for all the rest. But also, my Discover bill is lower than usual; I have been using cash, and a lot of my Christmas spending went on my Amazon card.

I've done a couple of surveys with Pine Cone this month (both in one day) but have only been credited with one, and no payment at all through PayPal. In many years with Pine Cone, I have never had any trouble. I sent a request for help through their site. Those surveys are too much trouble to do for free.

Restless Night

January 12th, 2020 at 02:39 pm

I had a restless night and then I was awakened very early in the morning by a snowplow in the alley. It looks to me like we got very little snow, but I'm sure there is ice underneath it. Since I'm tired anyway, I've decided I'm just going to stay home and deal with cleaning up the car and going to the gym tomorrow, hopefully after a better night's sleep.

I've agreed to take part in a squares competition for the Superbowl so I'll be sending $10 to my son, the bookie, today. Whoo-hoo, big stakes!

I guess I'm just going to put in a hard day of reading and watching Netflix!

I updated my variables spreadsheet, and it is now 27%, and I'm almost at the halfway point. Pay day is three days away. That's my financial news today!

A Raise!

January 11th, 2020 at 07:36 pm

I got impatient to get started on taxes so I looked online to see if either SS or TIAA had statements I could download. No dice, but I did see that I am getting a $26 monthly raise from SS. Really, I am happy to get anything. That will more than cover household supplies each month.

Taxes should be easy this year, because I will only have income statements from the two above, and my very unimpressive interest income.

I'm in sort of a pause position right now. I don't have laundry to do, no dishes to load or unload, no errands to run, no cooking to do, no housework to do (other than dusting, which is an easy chore I will get done today.) I'm waiting for pay day so I can pay the bills and refresh the budget. It's kind of nice, but kind of weird, too.

It's a good time to relax and reflect. And to enjoy the simple life I worked so hard to attain.

The weather reports are quite threatening, though we've only had a little rain so far. Supposedly tonight the snow will move in. I'm not planning to go anywhere. I hope it's not too bad tonight, because tomorrow is a gym day, and I hate to disrupt my schedule. And I'll need to pick up more canned cat food, now that I know Iggy likes it. I may try to return the canned kidney food he won't eat, but I don't know if they will take it back. It's worth a try.

No-Spend Day

January 10th, 2020 at 02:20 pm

Yesterday was a no-spend day, and I expect today will be another one -- except for one load of laundry. I have decided to designate Friday as the day to wash sheets and towels.

I've been eating out of the freezer and doing very little cooking. Today I'm going to make tuna salad, though, because I want to use up some celery.

We may have a snowstorm tomorrow, which may mess with my gym schedule. I try to go every three days to do the strength training, and I've been pretty faithful about getting that done.

I have given up on the yoga, but I'm going to look up some simple stretching exercises that I can do on a daily basis. I get cardio from the three-story climb to my condo, and I also try to walk every day (it doesn't always happen). Of course it is more difficult to walk in winter; I really have to force myself to get out there. I could walk on a treadmill at the gym, but I hate it.

I had one happy frugal success yesterday -- I used a plunger on the bathtub drain and pulled up a clog, which was pretty disgusting, but the removal of it got the water draining well again. I was thinking I had to call a plumber, but now it won't be necessary. I got this idea from The Dollar Stretcher, which is emailing me reader's tips.

Success!

January 9th, 2020 at 02:54 pm

The good news is that Iggy ate some wet food this morning! In fact, I saw him at the food bowl twice. I have taken away the dry food, so he is forced -- but I was afraid he might choose not to eat at all. With his kidney disease, it is important that he eat wet food. The kidney diet food would be best, but he won't eat that, and dying of malnutrition isn't a good thing, either. I read several articles on the subject, and it appears that a wet food that is 60% protein and 40% fat is acceptable. There are three flavors of Authority which meet those guidelines, and it looks like it is tasty enough that he will eat it!

I forgot to sprinkle the probiotic on it, but I will do that tomorrow. It is supposed to be tasty, as well as good for him.

He does drink a lot, but that is typical for cats with CKD. He also pees a lot.

No more spending since yesterday's entry. I'm going to the gym in a few minutes, but I won't be making any side trips. Looks like it will be a calm and uneventful day.

I've gone over the budget carefully, and it looks like every dollar that comes in on pay day will have a job. I won't be able to save very much for the table. But it occurred to me that I will probably get a tax refund in the $1000 range -- I have in the past, for quite a few years. (Even though I do not claim myself as an exemption.) So that can definitely be earmarked for table repair. As well as the insurance/warranty money, if it ever comes in.

This and That

January 8th, 2020 at 05:43 pm

I'm really trying to keep spending down, but I had to go to PetSmart this morning to get some cat food that Iggy might eat (he's rejecting the kidney food) and some probiotics. That was $38. Aldi is right next door, so I went over there and spent $5 on a few items. I also paid a $25 copay for the urgent care I received after the cat bite in November. It just now appeared on my account.

And last night I took the boys to IHOP for dinner, which cost $29. Variables are at 28%.

I don't see how I can get the table done in the near future, but the restoration company is not going away, and I will get it done eventually. Just won't be having any dinner parties! I still have to fulfill my promise to put $300 in each of the boys' college funds, so that will slow things down. I was counting on having the payouts from insurance and the warranty to cover this, but that money just won't appear. I'm so frustrated.

Hard to believe that it won't be long before they are using those college funds. The elder grandson is 13. So not many more years to build it up!

The Table

January 7th, 2020 at 02:34 pm

I got an answer from the furniture restoration company yesterday. I had previously called, and was instructed to send in some pictures and a description by email. The guy who called said he believed the table could be brought back to its former glory for about $1800-2000. Of course there will not be a hard estimate until he can see it in person, but he said he has done this a lot and he is usually right.

This was not a surprising estimate to me. And since getting a new table of the same quality would be about twice that, I am leaning strongly toward getting the restoration done. The matching chairs, breakfront, hutch and table legs are all in great condition, it would make sense to bring the tabletop back in line and have a whole set that will serve me for many years. And I could tell that the restorer loves his craft and is very experienced.

So the question is, how to pay for it? I told him I would not be doing this right away. Meanwhile, I need to plan. He did say the payment would be half up front and the second half upon finishing (which would take four to six weeks). So that would help.

Busy Day

January 6th, 2020 at 06:08 pm

It's been a busy day so far, and there is still more to do. I went to the gym, got gas ($17), went to the library to exchange books, and then came home and made chicken fried rice (from scratch, using up leftovers). I still need to do a load of laundry, clean the fish tank, and get the Christmas boxes into the closet. The latter is quite a chore. The closet is long and narrow and the Christmas boxes are big, and of course they go in the back because they won't be used again till next year. So a lot of things have to be pulled out and then put back. But at least it's better than taking them down to the basement, which is what I used to do!

I got a call this morning from the insurance agent who is working on behalf of the other party in the first accident, the one that totaled my car. He just wanted to verify some information, but it makes me hopeful that something is happening there, and that I will get my $500 payout sometime soon.

Variables are at 16%, with three and a half weeks to go till the end of the month. That seems about right.

Free Dinner and a Gift

January 5th, 2020 at 03:43 pm

Last night my kids and their dad and his wife invited me out to dinner. I was treated, and I also got a belated gift of $100! I decided I would use it to pay for everyday things I might otherwise put on a credit card -- groceries and such -- and then down the road I should have some wiggle room in my budget by way of lower credit card bills. (Note to any who don't know me -- I always pay my credit card bills in full each month. I don't pay interest on anything except my mortgage.)

This morning I tried out the beginner session of Yoga with Adrienne. I am so stiff in the lower body; it is clear I really need this. I'm going to do this for five days, as suggested, and see if it gets easier. I am having trouble trying to see the TV screen when I get into some of the positions, but maybe that will get easier, too, as I start to remember the sequence. I am strong from years of strength training at the gym, but my flexibility is poor.

I took all the ornaments off the tree and boxed up everything Christmas except for the tree itself, and the lights. I'll do that today. The worst part will be getting it all back into the closet, since I will have to pull everything out first. It will be good exercise!

I will also be on kitchen duty today. I'm going to make a plan for everything in my fridge. Some things will have to go into the freezer, which will be a tight fit. But I think some consolidation is possible. I'm not going to let anything go to waste. I'm going to maximize efficiency this year.

Yesterday an automatic $25 transfer went into my savings (I've had this forever) so I'm above $1,000 again. Next goal is to get it up to $2,000, even while I am paying off the car.

Sam's and Stuff

January 4th, 2020 at 02:47 pm

I went to the gym yesterday and then I spent $37 at Sam's. Only $12 of that was for groceries; the rest was for a BIG box of pads. The ones I usually buy are no longer available, so I switched brands and had to buy this box with 153 pads inside. Well, I'm set for a while and I hope I like the pads!

My gas tank was not quite halfway down, so I did not fill up. I'll probably do that on Monday, when I go back to the gym again. (The gym and Sam's are right next to each other.)

I spent the rest of the day just doing things around the house. I baked some cookies, made a great lunch for myself (soup, sandwich & salad), and also did some reading. And I watched "Marriage Story" on Netflix, which was very good, but annihilating for someone who has been through a divorce. Even though my divorce happened thirty years ago, the movie brought up some old feelings that were very painful and depressing. I texted BFF not to watch it, because I think she dwells on her divorce more than I do. But I do think the performances by Scarlett Johansson and Adam Driver were amazing and spot-on.

At the end of the day I got a text that my kids got home safely from Florida, and I'll probably see them this weekend.

The day got by me and when it was too late, I realized I had not called the restorer place and had not investigated the yoga class on YouTube. Oh my. This is what it's like to be retired. Time just whizzes by!

Variables are now at 14%. I'm really trying to make this an uber-frugal month. I think I have bought all my necessities. I am still awaiting the $800 refund from the warranty company, and then I can make the college fund donation for my local grandsons. It was supposed to take 60 days. We are past that, but I suppose the holidays were a factor. Any day now.

Snow Broom, Etc.

January 3rd, 2020 at 02:34 pm

I went to Aldi yesterday and spent $58. $11 of that was for a snow broom. I've been aware that I needed to get one in order to sweep the roof of my taller car, so when I saw one at Aldi I grabbed it. It is a telescoping broom, which also has a swivel head. I assume it will make snow cleanup a lot easier on my car.

Variables are at 9%. Oh, and I ended up December with my variables at 82%. I don't think I reported that.

I was planning to go to a furniture store, but I changed my mind after I checked out some websites ahead of time. I am reconsidering the idea of getting my table repaired and refinished. I should at least get an estimate. Replacing my table with the quality of the one I already have would cost thousands. Also, there are so many reasons to keep the same table. It fits and matches with the chairs. I have custom pads to cover it. It is solid wood and it fits perfectly in the room. It is both wider and longer than most of the tables available.

There is a furniture restorer here in town, and I will call for an appointment today.

I appreciate the suggestions to look for a used table, but I think it would just be so difficult since I have to match the chairs, and used options are so much more limited. I have been a very faithful Goodwill shopper for years, and I have never seen a decent dining room table there. Not once. But there are some upscale used furniture stores in the area and I should check them out, should I decide to replace the table. And there is Craigslist.

I made cookie dough yesterday, but didn't feel like doing the baking -- nor was I very hungry. So the dough is in the fridge and I will bake the cookies today. I may freeze some of it so I don't have so many cookies all at once -- such a temptation.

I ordered my OTC meds from Healthy Benefit. With my $50 allowance, I bought 120 allergy tablets, 200 acid reducers, and 120 dairy relief tablets. That actually came to $47, but I couldn't find anything in the $3 range to use up the full allowance. All this is free to me.

Today is a gym day, and I will make a stop at Sam's afterwards. That should finish up my shopping for a while.

Not Loving Online So Much

January 2nd, 2020 at 03:18 pm

I left the house only once yesterday, and that was to take a short walk to the mailbox. I was sending in a $2 payment to a Wells Fargo credit card I never use. I think I mistakenly used it for an Amazon purchase without realizing it. (Clicked on the wrong button.) I'm grateful that I got a paper bill, because otherwise I might never have realized I owed some money, and it would have exploded into a much bigger bill eventually, and a ding on my credit report.

I tried to pay online, but my previous sign-in information was expired, and it was so much trouble to sign up again I just gave up and wrote a check. It was so much easier.

Also difficult online -- ordering my free OTC benefit now that UnitedHealth has switched to Walmart as the vendor. The setup is clunky. You have to toggle back and forth between the UH site and the Walmart site. You can't see the price of an item until you are ready to put it in the cart. Prices are higher. (Price is important, because you have to know you will not exceed the $50 limit.) The Walmart site entices you to order things that are not actually approved by UH. Generic versions are difficult to find. Important information (like dosage and number of pills) is hard to see. In frustration, I emptied the cart and closed the site.

I received a hard copy catalog and order sheet in the mail when the new system was announced. I'm going to order using that today. Funny how ordering online used to be considered so easy. Now, with all the layers required by security concerns, and the obvious attempts to confuse the user into buying more than he/she wants -- it is so much easier to just fill out a paper form with a pen.

Now to 2020 resolutions. I'm not making any!

But I do have some changes I want to make. I want to try out yoga, but I don't want to pay for it. (Really expensive classes around here!) I'm going to try Yoga with Adriene on YouTube. She was on the Today Show this morning, and it looks like something I can do -- and at my price -- free.

I want to get the car paid off with $300 payments to AmEx, and then, if my lifestyle doesn't feel too spartan by then, I will direct the $300 to extra principal on my mortgage.

My dining room table literally fell apart yesterday. It was cracking, and a section fell off the end. Yikes! I was going to have it refinished, but now I think its problems are too severe, and it would be too expensive. I'm going to look for a replacement. Not online. I'm going to go look at real live tables and try to find the best value. Won't be easy, as I want to keep the chairs, so the table will have to blend in. I'm going to make this a mission! We have many furniture stores around here, and I have a lot of time.

Ten Years Ago

January 1st, 2020 at 01:01 pm

Ten years ago today –
I reported that I had spent $30,436 in the previous year. So close to what I am spending now! My net worth was $147K. I have gained $56K since then. I reached a high point in 2017, when I had $215K, but since that time I had to buy a car, and I went through my gap year.

I had spent about $5K in moving expenses, after moving from North Carolina to the Chicago area to take up a new job. And I still had some to go. I was expecting to pay it off with a tax return, which I did.

I was spending $215 a month on medical expenses (beyond the premium), and that didn’t even include the cost for a broken ankle, which I was nursing on January 1, 2010. I was wearing a boot and walking with a walker, and just getting ready to go back to work after the accident (which occurred on December 13, 2009). No, it was not a Friday.

I was rejoicing to have health insurance again, having lost it while living in North Carolina. Long story short, I wasn’t working, the premium was going up, and I couldn’t keep up with it.

I was ecstatic about the birth of my second grandson, and the engagement of my other son to a wonderful girl. Now I have two more grandchildren.

Since then I have retired and bought a condo. Life is good!