Home > Archive: December, 2022

Archive for December, 2022

Aldi Trip

December 30th, 2022 at 01:54 am

As the year comes rolling to an end, I have made my last grocery trip. I spent $19, making my monthly total $99.  I also spent $4 on half-price Christmas gift wrap for next year. My food purchases: bread, carrots, brown sugar, instant potatoes, frozen green beans, shredded cheddar, chicken bouillion cubes and strawberry preserves.

I still have lots of food in the freezer, so these were just regular pantry items I was out of or running low on. I probably won't do a lot of cooking this week. I'll be eating from the freezer.

The brutal cold weather has given way to unseasonably warm weather. It's supposed to rain tomorrow. And it will remain warm all week. Go figure!

It's the Day After the Day After Christmas!

December 27th, 2022 at 11:11 pm

I had a quiet and lovely Christmas Day. My actual family celebrations took place on the 11th and the 18th, so the 25th was just a me day. I opened the presents that were delivered from my Oregon kids and some friends in different states. I had long telephone conversations with those close to my heart. I watched some Christmas movies and I made a Christmas dinner of sorts -- sauteed chicken breast, mashed potatoes, carrots and wine. It was actually a delightful day.

But very cold. I did not go out of the house during the polar vortex. I forced myself out yesterday because I had to go get my car from the hospital parking garage -- my free time was up! From there I went to the university lot where my son's car was parked. I made sure the car started and then I moved it to a different spot. Scraped it enough so that the parking sticker was showing. Then I went to PetSmart and bought some cat food ($16) for my grandcat.

Today I did some laundry and took some boxes out to the recycling bins.

Of course I am starting to look forward to the new year and thinking about how I might do things differently. I'm certainly going to stick to my $100 grocery plan. I'm going to take a bunch of stuff to Goodwill -- in fact, I'm going to work my way down to a capsule wardrobe. I have a new haircut plan -- cutting my hair to chin length and then letting it grow to shoulder length. I figure I should be able to go three months or so without a cut, and I'm going back to Supercuts. I'll miss my stylist at the salon, but I have to admit I can't afford their prices. Those are just some early thoughts.

I'm excited to be getting a "raise" and I hope I can leverage it to good effect.

I hope everyone had a very merry Christmas and that the new year will be amazing!

Waiting Game

December 22nd, 2022 at 04:41 pm

I've done everything I can, and now I'm just waiting for the storm to hit. This morning I drove my car to the hospital and parked in their garage. I can leave it there till the morning of the 26th. I walked home, picking up three books from Little Libraries on the way. It is still mild. 

Unfortunately, I fell this morning -- tripped over a box -- and I landed hard. I can tell I didn't break or sprain anything, but I'm going to have some bruises and a lot of discomfort, I think. At least I don't have to go anywhere.

The only thing to worry about now is whether the power will stay on. They did an upgrade on the electrical system this fall, so I'm hopeful.

I did some tinkering with next year's budget, and it looks like the raise in Social Security will a little more than offset the increases in assessment fees and insurance. If I can continue my $100 a month limit on groceries, I should be okay.

Blizzard Prep

December 20th, 2022 at 08:31 pm

A blizzard is on the way!

Good news from my kids. They have been able to change their flight to tomorrow morning, thus getting out of the area before the storm hits. The grandkids will miss some school, but I'm sure a lot of that is happening. And it is really better that everyone is safe. Also, they will be parking one car at the airport and the second car at the football stadium, so there won't be any concern about moving their cars for snowplowing.

Mine, of course, will still have to be moved. But the city always opens the municipal parking garages when the snow is heavy, so they can get the plowing done. I'm just waiting for the announcement, and then I'll move the car there. I will use the one next to the train station and ride home to the nearest station, 4 short blocks away. Oh, and did I say the parking is free? Also the train ride, because I'm a low-income senior citizen. Train rides are always free.

I went to Aldi this morning to stock up on a few things. Even though there is a lot of leftover food in the freezer, some staples were needed. I bought peanut butter, bread, granola, butter, maple syrup, crackers, crescent rolls, biscuits, eggs, rice, lettuce and tomatoes. The total was $33. I'm still on track to only spend $100 on groceries this month, thanks mostly to the brunch food being counted in the gift category!

Once I get the car moved, I'm ready to hunker down. Now I'm just hoping I don't lose power.

My Early Christmas, and Bad Weather on the Horizon

December 19th, 2022 at 03:21 pm

I had my Christmas with my kids yesterday. It was so very nice -- many traditions were followed -- the Christmas movie on "Christmas Eve" -- "Spirited," this year -- with popcorn and M&Ms. Homemade cinnamon rolls for breakfast on "Christmas morning." Stockings, and so many beautiful gifts. A board game afterwards.

I only wish I had been feeling better. I was sleep-deprived, and it showed.

Now, as the kids get ready for their trip to Florida, we are looking at bad weather coming at just the wrong time. They are flying on Friday afternoon. Forecasters are saying things like "blizzard conditions" and "dangerous wind chill."

My own little mini-vacation in downtown Chicago has been cancelled. Which is a relief. I would love to do it in good weather, but not in the kind of weather that's being predicted. And I will save some money.

My worry now is shuffling around my car, and my kids' cars, as snowplowing takes place. Well, I'll face that when I have to.

I can't remember if I already shared that my assessment fees are rising by 5% in the coming year. I got more bad news yesterday -- my auto insurance bill arrived, and it will cost $200 more for a six-month period. Yuck. No matter how much I try to control my spending, there are always things I can't control.

I did talk to DIL about making my college fund donations on birthdays this year instead of Christmas, and she was fine with it, so that will help.

Christmas Brunch

December 15th, 2022 at 05:42 pm

Our Christmas brunch went well, though, even with careful planning I managed to exhaust myself.

There was lots of leftover food and I'm still dealing with how to preserve it. Some things had to be thrown away, but not much.

I have finished Christmas shopping. Two small things -- for stockings -- have yet to arrive from Amazon. I hope they make it before gift-opening on the 18th!

I'll be meeting BFF and her family on the 22nd in downtown Chicago. We will stay a couple of nights there and visit the Kristkindl Market, the zoo (maybe) and the Art Institute. BFF has invited me to go home with her for Christmas Day, but honestly, I am not crazy about the idea of sitting in on another family's Christmas. Plus, I will need to get home to take care of my grand-cat!

It looks like I have spent $933 on gifts and the brunch this month. That's a lot, but I do have the money in savings to cover it. It's about the same as I spent last year. It is what it is.

Not counting the gifts, my variables are at 46%. I should be able to come in very low in groceries this month, with all the leftovers on hand.

I'm enjoying the holidays, but looking forward to a much more frugal January!

Just Wondering

December 10th, 2022 at 04:42 am

I'm wondering if people are able to post. It seems like we are stuck, but maybe everyone is just busy.

I have finished buying food for my holiday get-together on Sunday. It is somewhere in the neighborhood of $177. I can't be exact, because I did buy a few other things that are not for the the brunch. That does include two bottles of wine, but otherwise, it's just food. I was especially struck by how expensive the fruit was -- berries, grapes, pineapple -- all higher than I expected. Inflation has gone rampant.

I was happy to learn that my new Social Security payment will come in December. It will be a couple hundred more, after the payment to Medicare Part B is subtracted. Every little bit helps!

Property Tax

December 4th, 2022 at 04:47 pm

To my surprise, I got my second installment property tax bill yesterday. Somehow I didn't notice that it didn't come in September, and, in my mind, I was all done with taxes for the year. It made me blue, coming when I am already stressed about Christmas. It is $505. Much less than some people pay, because I have a senior exemption, senior freeze, and homestead exemption. Without those, it would have been $2889!

I believe I can charge it, and that's what I'll do, come the 11th when my Discover card begins a new cycle. That will help. My December budget is on life support.  Making that payment in January would be much better.

I'm also considering not making my annual Christmas donations to my grandkids' college funds. Just not at this time, that is. It would make sense for me to make these gifts along with birthdays rather than Christmas, thus spreading out the cost.  And it would delay that cost to September, the first birthday in the group. Of course, I can make the gifts any time I want, but it's nice to link it to an occasion. Even though the kids don't really notice! The parents do. I have to think about it, especially since the November birthdays kind of fall into the Christmas rush, anyway. And it would essentially be skipping a year, which I don't really like to do.

More Christmas shopping

December 3rd, 2022 at 03:48 pm

I just made another Amazon order for $59. This was for small gifts to even out what I already ordered. Even though I know my family members are unlikely to compare costs, I am pretty vigilant about spending nearly equal amounts on all.

Yesterday I walked to Wild Fork and bought two gift cards for $40 each. These are for my son and ex. My son, I know is a fan. I expect my ex will like Wild Fork even if he hasn't invesigated it.

I still need to buy stocking stuffers for my grandsons. I don't know what to get, besides candy! They have teenage tastes now.

I almost scored a free dinner last night! Haha. I would never have kept it, but DoorDash pressed my buzzer by mistake (the food was for my neighbor) and, because my intercom is pretty crackly, I thought he said he was leaving a package. I told him to just leave it. I went downstairs and there was an aromatic bag of food for my neighbor! I immediately took it up to him, but, my, it smelled good!

Christmas Shopping

December 2nd, 2022 at 03:49 pm

I've bought a few little gifts in the past few months, but my real Christmas shopping started yesterday. I ordered gifts from Amazon and spent $330. These were gifts for my local family. I will order the Oregon gifts later, after my Discover card re-ups, but the local family gathering is early, on the 11th.

Three gifts have already arrived! I'll be wrapping them today. I will be buying some smaller gifts for the local family -- the "something to open" gifts -- as I do my normal shopping and errands. The Oregon family will get just one big gift each, from Amazon, because mailing is just not worth it. 

I just got a flex card from UnitedHealthcare, my Medicare Advantage provider. It is loaded with $250. Unfortunately, it looks like it can only be used for dental, vision and hearing costs beyond what is already covered. Well, that might buy a pair of glasses. I'm also interested in OTC hearing aids, but I'll have to check and see if they are covered, being so new.

A new library branch opened last year, and I have not visited it. I have continued to use the main library. But I have realized that it is on the way to the gym, and that the facility it's in also has an indoor walking track, which would be appealing in winter, so I think it's time to check it out. The main library is way out of my way and the parking situation there is terrible.

And to cap off the positive news, in the last few days I found a quarter and a dime!

First Grocery Shop of December

December 1st, 2022 at 04:58 pm

There are five Thursdays in December. (Yes, I switched back to Thursday, since I didn't shop yesterday.) That means only $20 per trip. I spent $21 today. It was the leanest trip ever, I think. I bought two sweet potatoes, a canister of raisins, a pound of butter, creamer, eggs, yellow mustard, granola, and a package of cookies. I know. I just really miss cookies when there are none.

In ten days I'm going to be hosting a brunch for my family, so I'm going to make two shopping trips before then -- one for non-perishables and one for perishables, the day before. I'm not counting either one in my grocery budget. It will be tracked under Gifts/Charity, which I am going to rename Gifts/Charity/Hosting. It's the right place for it, I think. I will probably have leftovers from this event, which will help with the grocery budget.

I have never seen the shelves at Aldi so empty. If that train strike does happen, I can't imagine what it will be like.