Home > Archive: January, 2024

Archive for January, 2024

January Recap

January 31st, 2024 at 11:05 pm
Car 2496
Insurance 1335
Housing 784
Vacation/Travel 680
Gifts/Charity 251
Utilities 229
Fees & Services 40
Phone 39
Entertainment 38
Groceries 35
Gas 30
Medical/Health 29
Personal 28
Laundry 19
Clothing 13

Grand Total                  6046

It's a short list this month, but a big total.  With car repair, insurance and vacation costs all hitting this month, it packed a whallop. There were some wins -- the low grocery bill, NO eating out (except for what was counted in vacation), and the only clothing cost was for a pair of earrings (because I misplaced the pair I was planning to wear to the wedding).

I hope to keep costs down in February. 

A correction: I forgot to count $75 for a service call for my fridge. Household Repairs. So the correct total is 6121.

Pantry Challenge and Spending

January 30th, 2024 at 08:45 pm

My freezer and my pantry are finally starting to look a little spare. I mean, there's plenty of food in there, just not so packed.

Today I had chicken strips and broccoli cheese soup for lunch. The soup came from the freezer, as well as the chicken. Breakfast was toast and prunes.

Yesterday I had a peanut butter sandwich for lunch, and eggs and toast for breakfast. Dinners have been trail mix.

I've spent about $12 more for groceries -- creamer, butter, raspberries. And $31 for a large box of bladder leak pads from Sam's. I also got half a tank of gas at Sam's for $15. My variables for the month are at 84%.

Pantry Challenge

January 25th, 2024 at 09:23 pm

Another day on the pantry challenge. Breakfast was toast and peanut butter. Lunch was sauteed chicken breast (one-half), green beans, sweet potatoes, buttered poppyseed noodles.

Yesterday's lunch was much the same -- chicken and noodles, green beans, sweet potatoes, a biscuit. Breakfast was two fried eggs, applesauce and toast. Yesterday's dinner was trail mix -- peanuts, raisins and a combination of white chocolate chips and butterscotch chips. It looks like I have enough of each to do that again sometime.

Dinner tonight will be bread and drippings left over from cooking the chicken.

Tomorrow I plan to finish the rest of the noodles by combining with cheese and cream. And I should be able to finish off the green beans and sweet potatoes (though there is another container of green beans in the freezer -- but I'll give that a rest!)

I also plan to use the leftover chicken breast to make two chicken 'n' biscuit sandwiches. Not sure when those will be consumed.

In other news, my buddy who accompanied me on my road trip let me know that she owes me $66. I thought we were pretty even, but she went over the receipts. I'll take it! She's going to send me a check, so it won't be available for a while.

Still Plugging Away

January 23rd, 2024 at 11:16 pm

At the pantry challenge, that is.

I made chicken and noodles the other day, and today for lunch I had a serving of that, some green beans and a scoop of mashed sweet potatoes. I will have the same lunch tomorrow! For breakfast I had oatmeal and raisins. My supper today -- which is always just a snack -- was popcorn.

I have only been to the grocery store once, and I only spent $22. I would say I might make it to the end of the month with no more grocery spending, but I will probably run out of creamer.

I started my taxes yesterday, but soon realized that my interest statement and mortgage interest statement were not yet available, so I saved my progress and closed it down. I don't even really need those documents. I know that what will happen is I will be refunded the money withheld from my RMD's. My SS is not taxable. I don't itemize; the standard deduction is always higher. But I will go through the process to make sure.

My property management company switched to a new portal this month. I was traveling when the switch was to happen, but even though I checked email every day, I never got a notice of how to log into the new site. So I wrote a check and sent it. I had to estimate what the payment would be since I was only told it would be a 3% hike.

After I got home, they finally got the new site running. I logged in, to find that my check was .02 short, so I was in "arrears." Disgruntled, I sent an e-check through the new site, for .02 plus a 2.99 processing fee. Because I didn't want any more nonsense. So the other day, I got an email statement showing that I owed them .02.

With steam coming out of my ears, I replied pretty snippily, told them that I had paid my .02 bill plus processing fee on the very day the site became live, that I wasn't going to do it again, and they'd just better fix it. I have received no reply. I'm probably going to get a .02 bill again. Hmmm, I wonder if I'll get sent to collections.

If I receive yet another ridiculous bill, I will figure out how to call someone. I am so disgusted with this company. I have tried so hard to pay this bill, despite their gross incompetence. I'll bet they have hundreds of customers who really do stiff them, pay late, etc. They need to get their act together.


January 20th, 2024 at 10:45 pm

My latest meals from the pantry/freezer were pancakes (two days) and peanut soup (also two days). I had popcorn for a snack, as well as prunes. Still working on those cookies. Will need to cook again tomorrow.

A Big Car Bill, and Other Things

January 18th, 2024 at 04:06 pm

I reported earlier that my "maintenance required" message lit up while I was on my road trip. I intended to take my car to the dealer as soon as I got home, but the vicious cold snap that arrived at the same time I did kept me home for a few days. Yesterday I finally took the car to the dealer. I have to say I didn't expect the cost of 70K maintenance to be quite so high, but they did address and correct other issues -- brakes and alignment being the major ones. All told the bill was $2496. Wow. Well, I assume the car will run like a top now. I put it on my Discover card and will pay in full next month.

So, it's austerity for a while. 

I averted one disaster when my refrigerator appeared to be losing its cool. I called a repairman, and he showed me that the temperature dial was set too low. I thought that might be the case, but the design of the dial made it hard for me figure out where the setting should be. He showed me and turned it up, and the fridge quickly regained its coolness. Unfortunately, it cost me a $75 service call. And I lost a half gallon of ice cream. Everything else seems to be okay, since I acted quickly. I must have accidently bumped the dial without knowing it, because I certainly didn't deliberately dial it down. Anyway, I'm glad not to be buying a new refrigerator.

As for the pantry challenge, I'm still working on the Mexican chicken casserole. One more serving today, and the remainder will go into the freezer. For breakfast I had some biscuits and an apple.

Pantry Challenge

January 15th, 2024 at 09:16 pm

Yesterday I thawed some Rhodes rolls that had been stored in my freezer. They were the rolls I didn't bake for my Christmas dinner. I set them out to thaw, but later in the day I noticed they were still hard little balls, and quite dry on top. The kitchen was so cold they were not rising. I moved them to a warmer spot and spread some olive oil on their tops. They revived somewhat, and I baked them. I had some for breakfast today, along with prunes for roughage. For lunch I had another bowl of chicken corn chowder. That was the third serving. I put the rest in the freezer to enjoy another time.

There were a lot of leftover Christmas cookies in the freezer, and I'm having a few of them every day.

There is still a lot of chicken in the freezer, both a leftover rotisserie chicken, and a bag of chicken breasts. I have printed off three recipes: cream of mushroom chicken, chicken cobbler, and chicken and rice casserole. The first two require a few ingredients I don't have, so I will make them later, but tomorrow I can make the chicken and rice casserole, and it should last me several days.

The temperature outside is not improving. I am staying housebound. Later, when the weather gets better -- hopefully in a few days -- I will need to take my car to the dealer for maintenance.  The maintenance light came on during my trip. I did stop at a dealer, but was told to keep going, I had plenty of time. Still, it made me nervous. I have been taking good care of the car, so I don't think this visit will set me back too much. However, I may need brake work in back. My front brakes were worked on when I first got the car almost a year ago. I was told then the rear brakes were wearing unevely; however, subsequent visits showed that the rear brakes were fine. I'll bet it's time now to deal with them. Especially after a long road trip.

I also want to get some acrylic paints and canvases. I'm itching to do some artwork on these long winter days. That, too, I will do when it gets a little warmer.

Before I left on my trip, I took down most of my Christmas decorations, but I left the tree up with just the fairy lights. I was planning to take it down upon my return, but it's still up. It's my January tree. It makes me feel more cheeful in this depressing winter weather.

Pantry Challenge

January 13th, 2024 at 09:28 pm

Now that I'm settled at home, I'm back on the pantry challenge. Today I made chicken corn chowder, using ingredients I had on hand rather than following a recipe -- though I did print off a recipe to get the gist of it. The only thing I was really lacking was potatoes. I used potato flakes instead, which gave me the taste and also thickened the broth. It made quite a bit, so I'll have some tomorrow and maybe the next day and then freeze the rest.

Tomorrow the temperatures in our area will be bitter cold, so I do not plan on going out at all -- not even to the basement to do laundry. I did that today.

I've spent 50% of my variables, which is about right, since we're almost halfway through the month. Of course, that does not count the vacation expenses which come out of Big Ticket, not cash flow.

I hope everyone stays safe and warm during this wild weather we all seem to be experiencing!

I'm Back!

January 12th, 2024 at 08:27 pm

I'm back from an 11-day road trip that had some ups and downs. Unfortunately, enough downs that I decided it was my last road trip. The ups -- getting to visit with my cousin and my sister, having a delightful breakfast with my sister, attending my nephew's beautiful wedding, spending two days at a luxury resort, getting to see some old friends who came to the wedding. The downs -- it rained constantly, I drove through terrible rainstorms amid warnings of flash flooding, I got soaked to the skin pumping gas. My car went into "maintenance required/visit dealer" mode and I had to find a Toyota dealer on the fly. My travel companion and I suffered a few nights in some pretty cruddy hotels. I lost one of my favorite jackets. Ah well.

I was hoping to do the whole trip for $1,000, and I came close. I spent $745, and with the $308 room deposit I paid in December, it was $1,053! Ta-da!

I rushed the trip home, because of dire snowstorm warnings in my area. I got home before it hit (which happened today). It's not as bad as predicted, but soon the temperature will drop. I'm going to stay home until the whole thing gets more normal.

Before I got home, I bought coffee, creamer and bread at the grocery store ($22) to ride out the storm.

I've done my year-end tallies. 2023 was my most expensive year since 2016. I spent $35,678, which is $3,862 more than the year before. Housing and the "new" car led the list as the biggest expenses. Gifts/Charity, Utilities, Insurance, Vacation/Travel, and Medical were next in line. My groceries, however, were the lowest ever since I've been keeping records!

My net worth rose by almost $15,000, but that was mostly due to the rise in the value of my condo.

I'm all ready to tackle a new year of challenges. I can hardly wait!