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Archive for January, 2023

Aldi & Sam's Club

January 25th, 2023 at 10:32 pm

Today I shopped at Aldi for the second time this month. I spent $26 and bought butter, apples, frozen pie crusts, tuna, green peppers, flour tortillas, lastose-free milk, crackers, salt, half & half, baby carrots, and biscuits. For another $5 I bought a boot tray -- much needed today as it is wet and sloppy.

I made a side trip to Sam's for gas, which was $24 for a half-tank.

Variables for the month are at 50% and I have bought no big-ticket items.

Edit: I almost forgot! In addition to what's listed above, I ordered leggings from Amazon ($94 for six pairs) and Command strips ($21). Those are already included as variables.

Weekend Company

January 23rd, 2023 at 11:23 pm

BFF came and stayed with me over the weekend. We were pretty low-key and didn't spend much. I spent $18 on eating out and $15 on gifts. We ate at home most of the time and watched movies on Netflix. So far my variables spending is only 26% for this month.

I've received two tax documents. I'm going to take my time before I file. I always seem to jump the gun and then I have to make changes because I was lacking a document. This time I'm going to make sure I have everything. Not that my taxes are very complicated!

The weather has remained very moderate after we recovered from that cold blast at Christmas. But it looks like we may get snow in a few days. I wouldn't mind if it didn't come!

First Grocery Trip of the Year

January 17th, 2023 at 09:48 pm

My freezer is finally starting to empty out of food left over from my Christmas brunch. And I was starting to run low on some key items. So I made a trip to Aldi today. I decided to hold my spending to $25, since that's what I'm used to. And I did indeed spend $25. I bought vinegar, stoplight peppers, granola, Swiss cheese, Ranch dressing, spinach, Graham crackers, bread, coffee and flour. They fit nicely into the two bags that I am able to carry upstairs. I'll go back next week, since there were quite a few things on my list I didn't get. And one was salt! Why didn't I get that, cheap as it is? Because there was NONE on the shelf. Is there a salt shortage?

Tomorrow is payday -- Social Security payday, that is, and I'm excited to see the new amount, even though I already know what it is.

My spending has been very low this month. It's good to have a month like this every once in while. I hope it keeps up!

New Rules for the New Year

January 12th, 2023 at 03:54 pm

I'm not making resolutions so much as new rules. I've already instituted the haircut rule -- one cut per quarter. Now I'm adding a few more. No more buying beef at the grocery store. There are so many things I like to make with chicken. And many meatless dishes, as well. It's just not worth it to buy beef. But I will allow myself the occasional hamburger -- or beef-based meal -- when I go out. That will be the treat that supports the rule. Another rule -- no more using my phone at night. I know it's keeping me awake. Why do I do it? And no more looking at the news feed at all. It only depresses me. During the day, I'm cutting out a couple of games and cutting down on the one I continue to like. Simplifying.

A couple of rules that will actually cost me more: use the parking app and stop looking around for free parking. It's an exercise in frustration. So much more calming to just park where I need to and pay the little bit it costs. Also, put health first. Go see the doctor instead of hoping something will go away. Be willing to spring for a test instead of cheaping out and then paying for it in anxiety. And do all the things that I know will help, healthwise. Go to the gym. Walk. Eat more fiber. Cut down on sugar. Stretch! Relax. Drink water. Humidify. Never, ever, ever skip my medication.

Nothing really earth-shattering here, but all things I think will make life a little better in 2023. And all easy to do.

Plugging Along

January 11th, 2023 at 05:19 pm

I love January! It's always so low-spend! For me, anyway. I haven't been to the grocery store yet -- I'm still eating food left over from the Christmas brunch. I won't go until something comes up that I must have, but so far that hasn't happened yet.

Today I got my annual mammogram and afterwards I treated myself to a breakfast sandwich. I actually bought two, since the second one was only $1. I'm hoping it will still be appealing or at least edible tomorrow morning. The two sandwiches were $5. Then I stopped at Walgreens and spent $16 on facial cleanser and denture cleaning tablets. No, I don't have dentures, but I think the tablets will be useful in my crockpot humidifiers. They get so scaly, so fast. I think the tablets will be cheaper than resorting to distilled water, and handier, too.

Other than the scaliness, I really like using old crockpots as humifiers. They fit discreetly into my small rooms, they're absolutely quiet, and they do a good job. I'm on the lookout for two more -- one for the kitchen and a second one for my dining room. The living room could use a second one, too.

I'm enjoying some unseasonably warm weather! I'm so sorry for the troubles California is having right now and hope everyone stays safe.

January

January 4th, 2023 at 09:35 pm

I've done a little spending in the last couple of days -- $8 for hair conditioner (big bottle from Sam's), $16 for probiotics, $24 for a haircut, $5 for parking, $4 for laundry. That's 8% of my variables.

This morning I realized that the insurance payment would be withdrawn soon, and there wasn't enough in checking to cover it. I transferred some money from savings. I'll transfer it back after pay day. It's just a timing thing. But I was really glad it dawned on me to do that.

My electric bill was unreasonably high this month and I tried to talk to someone at ComEd. I didn't accomplish that, but I did get a general email saying that some customers were overcharged due to a billing error. I certainly hope I am one of that group. I haven't heard any followup to that.

No resolutions this year -- except to wear oven gloves! I'm tired of getting little burns on my hands. As for everything else, I'm just going to keep plugging along.

2022 Recap

January 1st, 2023 at 06:04 pm

Housing - $12,027

Home Repair/Maintenance - $3,056

Gifts/Charity/House - $3,026

Utilities - $2,425

Insurance - $1,775

Vacation/Travel - $1,184

Groceries - $1,119

Taxes - $1,021

Medical/Health - $987

Fees/Services - $877

Furnishings/Equipment/Decor - $704

Personal - $644

Car Repair/Maintenance - $553

Gas - $427

Clothing - $415

Phone - $379

Eating Out/Takeout - $359

Household Supplies - $264

Entertainment- $260

Vet/Pet Supplies - $190

Laundry - $186

Fares/Parking - $7

Grand Total - $31,885

Variables - 113%

The big thing this year was the special assessment fee I had to pay for the replacement of our building's roof. That was $3500. It was not a surprise, but the board had put if off so long it was on a back burner in my mind. I am relieved that it's done. I would hate to go into winter with a bad roof.

I also had large bills (for me!) for plumbing and electrical work.

I took a vacation on the train to Oregon this year. All in all, it was pretty frugal, but I wouldn't do it again unless I reserved a sleeper (which is a lot more expensive). I learned that I cannot sleep in coach. At all.

Personal was a bit high because I went through that spell of going to salon stylist. When inflation started ratcheting up, I realized that was something that had to be cut. (Ha, ha!) My new plan is to only cut my hair once per quarter at Supercuts. With a blunt cut, that's doable.

Clothing was a little high because I invested in a new winter coat and two pairs of boots. I think this coming year I will be set.

My grocery spending has been a success story. I managed $100 or less per month pretty easily. Even if prices continue to climb, I think I can make adjustments to keep me in the same range.

I've been lucky on car repairs, and I hope it continues. My car is a 2014, however, so I am braced for some possible big expenditures. 

I haven't spent too much on gas because I don't drive that much! Generally, its one day out -- when I combine errands -- and two days in. The falling prices recently have been very welcome, however.

And eating out was very low! Hope I can keep that up!

December Recap

January 1st, 2023 at 05:39 pm

Well, December was quite a month. Here's how it played out.

Gifts/Charity/Hosting - $984

Housing - $769

Taxes - $505

Utilities - $212

Groceries - $99

Home Repair/Maintenance - $85

Medical/Health - $56

Household Supplies - $33

Phone - $32

Gas - $27

Personal - $22

Laundry - $18

Vet/Pet Supplies - $17

Entertainment - $14

Furnishings/Equipment/Decor - $13

Eating Out/Takeout - $7

Fares/Parking - $1

Grand Total - $2894

Variables - 65%

My analysis - well, obviously, Christmas was the big hit. I don't think I can do anything about the gift-giving without being a grinch, but I think I might opt out of the Christmas brunch next year. If I do it again, I think I'll rely on takeout, so it will probably be more expensive -- but it took too much out of me this year. I have to make some concessions to age and energy levels.

I did speak to each of my children about giving the college fund money with birthdays rather than Christmas, and they were fine with that. That will even out the flow a little bit.

Property tax was a surprise. The invoice came so late I forgot about it altogther. Luckily, as a senior, I did not get the big jolt that others have. I have a senior freeze exemption. A great benefit in my county.

The home repair was $85 for a technician to look at my dishwasher and tell me to flip the switch under the sink. That is totally my fault and a definite senior moment, as I knew it was there, yet also forgot it was there.

The $17 pet supply expense was cat food for the grand-cat I'm babysitting. I may get that back, if my son offers. Generally, he brings more than enough food, but this year he was so stressed about getting the family out before the blizzard/polar vortex hit that he didn't get to the store and just brought what was on hand.

Everything else is in line. Groceries and gas, both under budget. Variables were low because most of my spending was concentrated on Christmas stuff, which came out of Big Ticket (savings for expensive items/services).

January will be low-spend, I think. I do have a $968 payment for auto insurance. I have never had much luck with changing insurance companies, but I'll look into it before the next payment in July. I am over 70 and I live in a dense urban neighborhood with a climbing crime rate, especially theft. So I think any company is going to charge me a lot. Eventually I will give up my car, but I'm not ready yet.

I got a notice from my electrical supplier that the next bill is $90. That's about twice what last month's bill was, and I thought that was high. I'll call them on Monday to get some clarification.