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Archive for September, 2022

Last Grocery Trip of September

September 29th, 2022 at 05:20 pm

I did my final grocery shopping of the month this morning. I had to come in under $19 to meet my goal, and I did -- $18.58. Here's what I bought at Aldi: bacon bits, jalapeno peppers, butter, cheddar cheese, bouillon cubes, eggs, salsa, refrigerated pie crusts, Ritz-type crackers.

Meals that I have planned for this coming week include barbecued chicken, chicken fajitas, spinach quiche, and football soup (a cheese soup with bacon bits, beer, and jalapeno). Other ideas will emerge as I go through the week.

I am learning so much from this exercise. I was buying too much! The amount I am buying now is much more manageable. Shopping is easier, because I have a strict list and it goes fast, and carrying the food home is much easier. I find I am not buying much junk. I am making substitutions -- for instance, this morning I bought regular butter rather than my beloved Irish butter. It will still taste good. I am putting things off -- granola was on my list, but it didn't make the cut. I'll eat oatmeal this week. I'm also finding that I do not waste anything. I scrape every bowl and pan clean! Even small amounts of leftovers get reused in some way. I work too hard to buy the food to waste anything!

In other news, I got a $20 check from the state treasurer today. It was an unclaimed fund from Google -- I have no idea what it was that I didn't claim, but I'm glad to have it now. That went to the emergency fund. I think I will be able to sweep $300 into that fund from checking this month. Would be higher, but I have to pay my annual condo insurance this month.

I was planning to buy shoes at DSW today, but decided to wait and put that purchase on October's budget.

Supposedly the weather will warm up a little starting today! Though I know it won't last -- the season is changing, after all.

I have relatives in Florida who were affected by the hurricane. They all checked in that they are safe, some dealing with minor damage. I'm so glad that I don't have to deal with that kind of weather -- just tornados and blizzards here!

Property Tax Rebate

September 27th, 2022 at 04:46 pm

I said earlier I wasn't getting our state's property tax rebate because I hadn't claimed property tax on my tax form (I took the standard deduction and did not itemize). However, I learned that there is a rebate form for those who did not file taxes -- they don't specifically say that filers like me can use it (it seems to be aimed at people who didn't file at all), but I thought it was worth a try. I did pay property taxes after all. I am entitled to the rebate as much as anyone. All told, it will only be $46, but I'm not sniffing at that. I do a lot of work to save $46!

It is very cold today, for the time of year, and our boiler doesn't get turned on till later in the season, so I slept under a pile of quilts last night. I'm wearing a velour jacket, and I'm trying to keep moving. I hate these early cold spurts. So inconvenient for those of us who have radiator heat.

Anyway, since my oven is pretty dirty anyway, I turned on the auto-clean, which is making my kitchen, at least, quite toasty.

After lunch, I'm going to go the library and the gym and to Best Buy to have them look at my computer. Webroot keeps telling me I have too many temporary files, but for the life of me I can't find them or figure out how to delete them. I have a maintenance plan, so I might as well use it.

Birthday Party

September 26th, 2022 at 02:42 pm

My grandson's birthday party was great! Food was ordered in, from a local restaurant, and of course there was cake and ice cream. We played cards all afternoon and there was lots of laughter.

The restaurant, for some reason, threw in a lot of extra packets of ketchup. Enough to fill a sandwich baggie. They were about to be thrown away (horrors!) and I claimed them, sealing my reputation as a cheapskate. I don't care. Throwing away ketchup during a tomato shortage is just ridiculous! I think I'll make barbecue sauce.

I'm waiting for the 29th to arrive so I can use a coupon for DSW. It's a good one, $30 off a $49 purchase, and I need a new pair of sneakers. Of course, they will be more than $49, unless I can find them on the clearance aisle, but I have my heart set on Van's, so it's doubtful I will find them marked down.

It's very chilly today, so it's a good day to do some cooking.

Thursday's Shopping

September 23rd, 2022 at 08:25 pm

I completed my fourth $20 grocery shop (out of five this month) at Aldi yesterday. I spent $18.  If I can stay under $19 next week I will have accomplished my $100-or-under goal.

This week I bought half & half, bread, graham crackers, cream cheese, spinach, carrots, Swiss cheese, creamer, and stuffed tortellini. The half & half was a concession -- the recipe (for roasted red pepper pasta) called for heavy whipping cream, but it just cost too much. The recipe turned out fine with the substitution. The half & half not used will serve as extra coffee creamer. But I bought creamer anyway, because I don't want to risk running out.

I also bought nighttime facial cream at Sam's ($52 for a two-pack), and Poise pads at Walgreens ($25 for a jumbo pack). A lot of money spent, but the unit prices were good. (These things do not come out of the grocery budget.)

This morning I went to the bank and withdrew $50 for my grandson's birthday, and $20 in quarters. I was not short on quarters, but I get them whenever I go to the bank, just in case!

Tomorrow I'll have lunch at my son's house, in honor of my grandson's birthday. That will help with stretching out food this week, though I have plenty, and I'm not worried.

Onions, onions, onions!

September 21st, 2022 at 03:35 pm

Yesterday I chopped and froze all but two of the onions in the bag I bought the day before. Lots of tears rolling down my face! The other two are baking in the oven this morning and I'll use them for French onion soup.

Today is my payday -- one of them, anyway. I have my Social Security payday and then my RMD payday. This is the SS day. I paid off my Discover and Chase cards, as usual. Everything else is automatic.

I may have mentioned this before -- I have been slightly overpaying my assessment fees because I entered the wrong amount on the payment site when the rates went up. It took me a while to catch it because the statements are so confusing. The only way to get that money back is to make a one-time adjustment on the site, thus making a lower payment, and then change it back to the correct amount. I'd rather have the $5 than give it to them, so I'm going to take care of this as soon as the current payment clears. It makes me nervous because I'm afraid I'll screw it up again. Maybe worse!


September 20th, 2022 at 06:16 pm

I went to Food4Less after my gym visit and spent $3 on produce and $6 on bleach. I had intended to get the bleach at Sam's, but they were selling it in packages of three big bottles -- honestly, I don't have the space and don't use it that much. So I got one bottle at Food4Less. Shocked at the price, though. When did bleach get so expensive?

The produce I bought -- from F4L's produce clearance shelf -- was 6 red peppers, 5 kiwis, and 3 pounds of yellow onions. Pretty pleased with that. I have chopped and frozen 4 of the peppers and roasted the other two -- I'll make roasted red pepper pasta tomorrow. Later I'll go through the onions to make sure they are all fresh. I think French onion soup is in my future. The kiwis I'll just eat once a day. I've already had one.

Today it's supposed to be hot -- though it hasn't gotten there yet. Then a cold front will pass through. I took an early morning walk to avoid both. We'll see what tomorrow brings. I'm ready for Fall.

Tax Relief

September 19th, 2022 at 05:58 pm

Our state is issuing $50 payments to anyone who filed taxes this year. I'll take it! It was in my bank account yesterday. The state is also making payments to anyone who claimed property taxes on their state form. I do have property taxes, but I did not itemize (for me, it's always better to take the exemption), so I don't think I'll be getting that.

I was planning to go to DSW today to use a $30 coupon on a $49 purchase. I checked to make sure it hadn't expired, and suprise, surprise, it's not even in effect until the 29th! So I'm waiting on that.

Otherwise, I'm going to the gym today, and since it is close to Sam's and Food4Less, I'll buy some bleach at Sam's and check out the produce clearance at F4L. Whatever I may buy at F4L I'll subtract from my upcoming $20 grocery shop on Thursday.

My electric bill was less than I expected it to be! I feel very lucky that we have had so many days when opening the windows is all I need for air conditioning.

Speaking of electric bill -- I submitted a claim in the class action suit against Spark Energy -- I was a customer for a couple of years after deregulation but went back to ComEd when it didn't seem like such a good deal. It wasn't. They are being sued for charging high prices that didn't align with market values. I succumbed to a very aggressive salesperson and I was glad to get rid of it. Now I'm glad I'll get a little recompense, whatever that turns out to be.

Omicron Booster

September 17th, 2022 at 02:44 pm

I got my Omicron booster yesterday. (I know that's not the real name, but it's the one that targets Omicron.) I became nauseous and achy in the late afternoon and went to bed feeling pretty bad. It took me a long time to fall asleep, because I was so uncomfortable. But this morning I seem to be fine. That's the first time I've had a noticeable reaction to a COVID shot.

While I was at the drugstore that administered my shot, I bought peroxide and superglue for $4.

On Thursday, I did my much-anticipated $20 shop at Aldi. I spent $20.46, because I keep a running total in my head and it's not exact.

Here's what I got:

Brown Sugar


Irish Butter

Lactose Free Milk

Maple Syrup

Peanut Butter

I decided upon getting the maple syrup at Aldi because it was the same unit price as the special deal at CVS, but at Aldi I was buying only 12 oz. instead of 16. As I expected, the maple syrup was almost half of the total.

Seems like a weird list, but I assure you I do have real food on hand. 

I also did two loads of laundry. All this brought my variables to 69%.

I made carrot cake muffins for breakfast this morning. I had wanted to buy cream cheese to make frosting (and then they would be cupcakes!) but I couldn't swing it. They are actually pretty good without frosting, and better for me.

Later today I'm going to a baseball game. I'm planning to take an apple and a thermos of water. Maybe a peanut butter sandwich, too, because it will be my usual supper time.


Thought it Was Payday!

September 14th, 2022 at 02:22 pm

I don't know where I got the idea that today was the third Wednesday. It's only the second. I was SO looking forward to paying my bills!  Payday is next Wednesday. It is no problem, just a timing error on my part.

I sent $34 to my Oregon son last night -- my dues for the family football pool. I never win. It's just a fun way to keep in touch with family members. Variables are now at 66%.

Looking forward to grocery shopping tomorrow. Today I'm having frugal meals of tomato rice soup and cheese quesadillas.


Enjoying Lower Gas Prices

September 13th, 2022 at 03:56 pm

I filled the gas tank yesterday at Sam's to the tune of $38. The price was below $4, first time in a long time at that station. I did get gas below $4 on my recent travels in Indiana and Michigan.

I made a few corrections in my log, and variables are now at 62%, a bit high for not-quite-yet-midmonth, but that is often my pattern.  It will even out.

I pulled out some frozen avocado yesterday and let it thaw in the fridge. This morning I made avocado toast. I was promptly sick. Don't know if it was that or something else, really. It seemed like an awfully fast reaction. At any rate, I'm throwing out what's left. I have frozen avocado before, but maybe I didn't do it properly this time. Maybe it was not fresh enough when I did it.

I'm finishing the bag of salad today, and I'm trusting it wasn't what made me sick. I had some for lunch yesterday -- I think it would have worked on me faster than that if it were bad. I'm also wondering about the bleu cheese dressing.

I'm looking forward to grocery shopping on Thursday. As Frugal Foodie has pointed out, if I buy maple syrup, it will take up a big chunk of my weekly budget, but I really want to get some. During the pandemic I bought artifical maple syrup, and I didn't enjoy it at all. Even though that's what I ate most of my life! I have gotten accustomed to the superior taste of real maple syrup. I hope I can fit it in. I don't have too many necessities on my list. We'll see.


September 10th, 2022 at 12:49 pm

I did my $20 weekly grocery shop yesterday. I spent $20.02 at Aldi and here's what I got: 

A block of cheddar

A bag of coffee

A bag of spring mix salad

A can of jumbo biscuits

A bag of flour

A bag of walnuts

Here are the adjustments I had to make:

I planned to get croutons and dried cranberries for the salad. Instead, I made my own croutons, and I used raisins in place of the cranberries.

I planned to get milk and granola, but that will have to wait another week.

I planned to get Swiss cheese and feta for recipes, but had to pass.

I had salsa on my list, but I will not make any Mexican dishes this week.

I was hoping to get maple syrup for pancakes and French toast, but it was obviously way out of my reach.

I wanted to get brown sugar for my oatmeal; again, that will have to wait.

I had peanut butter on my list, but I am still scraping the sides of my jar, and that will have to do.

I bought caramel-flavored coffee which was on sale, rather than the "donut shop" coffee I first put in my cart.

The biscuits were not on my list but they were cheap and adaptable for many things.

Now, bear in mind, I have plenty of food in my freezer. This is a personal challenge; I just want to see if I can do it. And if I can sustain it, that would be great!


Edit: I also spent $47 on a birthday gift for one of my grandsons.


September 9th, 2022 at 02:16 pm

What a nice little mini-vacation I just had! After totaling up the costs, I see it wasn't too expensive. The actual vacation costs -- room, food, gas -- came to $270. I also did some Christmas shopping - $32 - and bought myself some earrings and a winter hat -- $22 -- as well as a couple of plates for my set -- $11.  I also had to pay $6 for a comb, which I forgot to pack, and I bought some pebbles for the aquarium, which was a great deal at $3. That's it!

I came home very tired, but satisfied. Today I'm getting ready to do my second $20 grocery shop of the month.

Variables are at 45%, but spending should settle down from here.

Travel Plans & Labor Day

September 5th, 2022 at 04:02 pm

My short trip to northern Indiana and Michigan is starting tomorrow. BFF will be my travel buddy. I'm going to visit an old friend who is in assisted living, visit my SIL's antique store, as well as spend a couple of nights in a hotel. It will be a bit costly, but this is not a good time to stay at my brother's for various reasons, and I'll have BFF along, anyway.

Besides the $20 grocery shop, I haven't spent much at all. I got my flu shot the other day, and not only was it free, but I got a $10 credit for it at Walgreens. I turned around and bought a bottle of Beano, which was only $10 after the credit.

I went to a Labor Day cookout at my ex's house yesterday. As usual, he bought way too much, and he sent us home with leftovers. I brought home enough hot dogs and buns for three meals, along with some cole slaw, bagels, and even lactose-free ice cream! (He had bought it for me for a previous gathering some time ago, but we never got around to the ice cream.) It may have some freezer burn, but if so, it will still be all right as a creamer substitute.

But the big haul was hoodies! He has recently retired as a school superintendant, and he had numerous jackets and hoodies that he was apparently given?  All with the high school logo. Some had never had the tags removed. He wanted to get rid of them. I selected four for myself, and my son took a bunch for his family. I didn't try them on, and I don't know yet if they will fit, but if not, I'll give them back so he can give them to someone else. If they fit, they'll be great to wear to baseball games! And also to wear to the gym when it gets cooler.

First $20 Grocery Shop of September

September 1st, 2022 at 05:41 pm

So, there are five Thursdays in this month, so I will shop five times, $20 a pop. (Or less, if I can do it!)

Today I went to Aldi, and I spent just under $20. I bought eggs, apples, creamer, raisins, bread, butter, and cookies. I also bought toilet bowl cleaner for $2, but that doesn't come out of the grocery budget. For household supplies, I buy them when I need them; it's not a category in which I ever overindulge.

Next Thursday I may be out of town -- I'm planning a short trip to Michigan, which may or may not come together. If I'm on the road next Thursday, I'll hold off on the shopping until I get home, probably Friday.

I made quesadillas for lunch today, out of leftover chili and cheese. There is enough left to do the same thing tomorrow.

I'm feeling pretty optimistic about keeping my grocery spending at or under $100.