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Using Public Transportation

May 18th, 2024 at 08:35 pm

Yesterday and today I got out my Ventra card and tried out public transportation. Yesterday I took the train to the library, where I checked out a couple of books, and checked up on a book that I have returned, but that seems to have disappeared. It's still checked out to me. I spoke to one of the librarians, and they said they are looking for it -- will do three sweeps before they consider it lost. I know I don't have it. The only thing I can figure that MIGHT have happened on my end is that it fell out of the car. That doesn't seem very likely. I have looked thoroughly at home and in my car. If they don't find it, the cost to me will be $20, which is better than I was expecting.

Today I took the train downtown to the farmer's market. I had never been before, and I had trouble finding it. Google maps directed me to a parking garage. Well, the market was situated behind the parking garage, but you weren't allowed to walk through it. I finally found someone who was heading there, and he directed me around the block -- a long block. Once there, I bought a bunch of asparagus and a bunch of rhubarb for a total of $10. I also stopped at a coffeeshop for coffee and a croissant, which was $9.

It is a bit warm today and I got pretty overheated walking around. If I'd known where I was going, I wouldn't have gotten quite so hot!

Tomorrow my planned adventure is a bus ride to the grocery store.

Neurology Appointment

May 16th, 2024 at 03:35 pm

The appointment with the neurologist went well. I passed all the tests. I am neurologically fit. The doctor wondered why I had even been sent there.

When I checked in, the receptionist asked for an ID, since my license was marked as "expired." I was glad I had my passport card with me. It was perfectly acceptable.

I paid a $45 copay and spent $6 in the facility's coffee shop.

Yesterday I took flowers and candy to DIL, who is recovering from surgery - $27.

Hanging in There

May 13th, 2024 at 07:50 pm

This morning I mailed my license back to the SOS. It's already cancelled, but I guess they like to have the actual license in hand. I walked to the post office, since I didn't want to put even a defunct license into a mailbox -- but the post office was closed. I think it was due to construction in the area, but there was no sign on the door, and their website said it was open. Frustrating. I ended up walking to mailbox anyway. Since it was due for pickup in a few hours, I thought it would be okay.

Since it was a bit of a walk, I rested at a coffeeshop, spending $4.

I did discover that there is a new little grocery store within walking distance. I didn't take the time to check out what they carry, but I will. It will probably be expensive, but may be good in a pinch.

I had a really nice Mother's Day yesterday -- my son prepared a wonderful meal, and we played games afterwards. I got a beautiful bouquet to put on my dining room table, and my grandson chauffeured! All in all, a really good day.

I still haven't received any medical bills, not that I want to! The hospital I was taken to is one in the Ascension Group which was recently under cyber attack. I don't know how that will impact me. I hope not much.

I bought a 7-day pass which I can use on the El, the bus, and the Metra (a suburban line). I actually did not want a pass with a time limit, but the woman helping me to purchase it didn't seem to understand that I wanted an open-ended pass. So I settled. My son tells me if I get onto the Ventra app I can add money to my card as I need it. So far I haven't needed it at all -- I just wanted to have it if I did! The seven days won't start ticking off until I use it the first time.

So far this month I've spent 38% of my variables allowance. Not too different than most months, although the distribution is different.

I have an appointment with a neurlogist on Wednesday. Hoping that it won't lead to another. I'm scheduled to see my PCP on June 4, when I think we can start the process of getting medical clearance to get my license back. I hope.

April Recap

May 5th, 2024 at 04:06 pm
Housing 784
Fees & Services 254
Utilities 213
Groceries 162
Medical/Health 93
Home Repair/Maint. 65
Personal 62
Phone 49
Eating Out/Takeout 39
Household Supplies 39
Fares/Parking 34
Gas 32
Entertainment 31
Gifts/Charity 18
Laundry 18
Vet/Pet Supplies 13
Car 6

Grand Total                 1912

Nothing much to comment on. It was the calm before the storm. Higher grocery and medical than usual, because some of the fallout from my accident had trickled in. The fares listed were Uber rides to medical appointments.

I am trying to be very careful with my spending now, but it's hard when I can't drive. I order on Amazon or grab something when I get a ride from someone. I'm pretty well stocked on groceries now, but I know an Instacart order is in the future.

I haven't received any medical bills or EOB's yet. I don't know how bad it will be yet.

My car has been assessed by the claims adjustor, but the collision shop has not yet emailed the estimate. (My son took the car in.)

The Secretary of State sent me a letter telling me that my license has been revoked. Standard procedure, apparently, for anyone who faints while driving. Well, it makes sense. I have to pass a number of medical tests, have my doctor sign off on them, and then reapply for my license.

My brain wave test showed something that requires followup from a neurologist. I read the results, and it seems to be an abundance of caution thing, but we'll see. The neurologist is in Chicago, and the appointment is ten days from now. I will probably Uber there, since my son and DIL will be working, and my ex will be traveling.

Doing all kinds of new stuff, like borrowing ebooks, and trying to do strength training at home. I walk in the neighborhood, but only if I'm not feeling dizzy. I don't know if I'm really dizzy or if I just have a fear of dizziness now.

Mostly I feel good, though. I just have to work through all of this.

Thank you for all your nice comments!

Car Accident

April 24th, 2024 at 02:33 pm

Yep, I had a fender bender, and it was my fault, though in a way it wasn't my fault. I actually fainted while driving, so I was very lucky it didn't turn out worse than it did. What did happen -- a slow-speed crash that damaged my vehicle and the other one, a trip to the ER and overnight observation, lots of tests, and more tests to come. And I'm grounded at home for the next two weeks, while my heart is monitored by a sticker device I wear on my chest.

I'm trying to take this all in stride.

Because I wasn't planning for this to happen, I have had to do some Amazon shopping for things I am going to need. I have spent $38 on toiletries, $39 on household supplies, $13 on fish food, and $53 on medical supplies. My son bought me some groceries, but I spent $60 myself.

BFF is coming up in four more days to take me to some medical appointments. My son is going to take the car in for repairs. I am a person who hates to ask for help, but I am needing a lot of help.

Luckily, I don't feel bad. I wasn't injured aside from a few bruises. As far as I know, the other person was not injured either. Insurance is handling that side of it. Since I was passed out, I didn't see or speak to the other person involved, but my son followed up with the police and the insurance compnay while I was being treated in the ER.

What a mess. I guess I will just look at like I have a two-week staycation and hope for the best.



April 15th, 2024 at 07:52 pm

Well, April has been interesting so far. I got the shower rehab installed, and it's beautiful! What a difference! 

I've been talking to several plumbers, what with the install and the problem with my kitchen sink (all resolved, and no cost to me). I asked their advice about replacing my old flush valve toilet with a tank toilet, and they said no! The toilet works. It's ugly, granted, but they said it is better than anything I could get installed today. And it would be such a hassle to do it. So now I am concentrating on beautifying it. I have ordered a new toilet seat -- and what a journey that was! The old toilet is a non-standard size, but I finally figured out that it is the size of a marine toilet -- the type installed in boats -- and I could order a toilet seat made for that. I have yet to receive it, and I hope it will fit. It wasn't too expensive -- less than $30.

Now, because I don't have to replace the toilet, I don't have to tear out wall and floor tiles to accommodate a new one. (Yes, it would have called for that!) Suddenly, my bathroom rehab became a lot cheaper. The tile I have, while not gorgeous, is unmarred, and I will keep it. I still want to build a cabinet under the sink, where I can store things, and I want to replace the wood trim around the window. I also want to install an exhaust fan in the ceiling. That will be more expensive than it sounds like, because the building has rules about not installing anything that shows on the outside of the building. My electrician said it is possible to comply, but it will be more expensive than a normal installation. And then, after all is said and done, I want to paint the upper walls, and I want to replace the ceiling fixture with something -- well, less ugly.

So, I've paid the balance on the shower install, and I still have about $2K in my emergency fund, which is a relief. I have paid a handyman to remove a towel bar that was in the way of the shower install -- that was $65. That may sound high, but you wouldn't believe what it took to remove that thing. It was meant to stay there for the ages.

My normal spending has been in line. I've spent only $25 so far on groceries, but I used about $30 of credit on my UCard (a UnitedHealth benefit) to augment my supplies. Otherwise, just the normal spending on gas, bills, laundry etc.

I pulled something in my hip area, trying to do a yoga pose I should have known I couldn't do -- it's been bothering me something fierce for several weeks, so I'm seeing my doctor on Wednesday, hoping to get some answers, and relief.

March Recap

April 2nd, 2024 at 11:21 am
Home Repair/Maint. 1500
Housing 784
Fees & Services 394
Gifts/Charity 231
Utilities 230
Clothing 116
Groceries 100
Vacation/Travel 97
Household Supplies 76
Phone 49
Entertainment 31
Medical/Health 29
Laundry 16
Vet/Pet Supplies 12
Eating Out/Takeout 9
Furn/Equip/Décor 1

Grand Total                 3675

It's very rare that home improvement is at the top of the list, but this month I paid the down payment on having my shower/tub area refurbished. (This will actually happen tomorrow, when I will pay the balance).

Most of the fees/services spending was for the work permit.

Gifts included Easter "baskets", a sumptuous Easter dinner, and some charity.

Clothing -- mostly Goodwill finds, basic lounging stuff, also underwear, which was not Goodwill!

My travels included a trip to Michigan for a last-time visit with my good friend, and a trip to Indiana to see BFF's granddaughter's play.

Household supplies were water filters, sponges, dishwasher detergent and razor blades.

Everything else is self-explanatory.

It's been a weird few days. On Easter Sunday, as we were cleaning up after dinner, my neighbor knocked on the door to say that his sink was overflowing, and could we stop running water? He got a friend to look at the plumbing; he snaked the pipe, but still it was jammed. Yesterday a regular plumber was supposed to take a look. I have not heard the outcome. I have been washing dishes in the bathtub and bathroom sink. The dishwasher is jammed full of dirty dishes and I hope to be able to run it soon -- as soon as I get the all clear!

There is a possibility that the pipe will have to be replaced, which will probably be an expense that the three of us (me, my upstairs neighbor, and my downstairs neighbor) will have to take on. I am trying to be calm about this.

Catching Up

March 24th, 2024 at 08:13 pm

I haven't been keeping up with blogging recently because a very good friend of mine died this past Monday. It was not unexpected, but it is still hard to accept. I'm working my way through it.

As far as finances go, I've spent all of my grocery budget, and 91% of my variables. I'm just kind of hanging on till the end of the month. On Easter, though, I'll probably be providing a meal for my family, so there will be some spending and I will probably not come in under budget.

The bathroom remodel plans are moving along. It is scheduled for April 3, and now I am waiting for my PM company to authorize a water shutoff that day. I've purchased the work permit (who knew it would be $344? Wow.) I've scheduled a before-and-after inspection. A handyman from the PM company got in touch with me about removing the towel bar, which is in the way, but he has sort of disappeared. It doesn't matter if he doesn't do it, because the installers will do it if need be -- I just thought it would be a good lead on getting a handyman, but I don't want a disappearing handyman.

I've bought the Easter candy for my grandkids, including, this time, my grandson's girlfriend, who seems to be a regular fixture. (A nice one, though!) Chocolate prices have really gone up. I spent $31, and then I'll give each a ten-dollar bill (which is our tradition). C'est la vie.

Bathroom Remodel

March 14th, 2024 at 12:34 pm

I have finally started on my bathroom remodel, after putting it off for quite some time. I'm going to do it in stages. The first stage is the tub/shower area. I'm having Bath Fitter install new walls. I have backed off from the idea of removing the tub. The total cost will be in the neighborhood of $5600. (Would have been $10,000 to remove the tub and install a new shower). I put $1500 down. Work will begin in approximately three weeks. The next stage will probably be a new toilet and a new tile floor. Since I will be replacing a flush valve toilet with a tank toilet, it will be a bit complicated.

Before they can install the shower walls, I have to remove a towel bar that's impeding on the space. It is a ceramic bar, grouted into the tile. I've been trying to remove the grout, with little success, and in the process I have damaged the tile a little. I have decided that I need to get a handyman who knows what he's doing. Even if that wall gets damaged, though, it is a small area where I can just replace all the tiles, if need be. So I guess that will be the real next stage.

Even spending $5600 is scary to me, but I do have it in savings.

In other news, a dear friend who lives in Michigan has just been placed into hospice. I want to get up there and visit. 

Sometimes it seems like everything is happening at once.

February Recap

March 6th, 2024 at 12:06 am
Taxes 506
Housing 287
Utilities 232
Fees & Services 205
Gifts/Charity 106
Groceries 98
Medical/Health 74
Clothing 57
Entertainment 56
Vacation/Travel 50
Eating Out/Takeout 40
Phone 39
Vet/Pet Supplies 26
Household Supplies 25
Personal 23
Laundry 14
Home Repair/Maint. 13
Furn/Equip/Décor 6
Fares/Parking 2

Grand Total                 1859

I'm a little late getting this out, because I was visiting BFF in Indiana. But here it is, not a bad month. Property tax was the big expense, and I got a break with not having to pay my assessment fees. Fees and services included the license for Microsoft Office. Medical was a bit high because of a copay to the dermatologist. Entertainment included art supplies as well as the usual streaming expense. The pet supply expense was a new heater and thermometer for the aquarium. Nothing else really stands out.

March has started out with some expenses. My vacation expense, for my weekend with BFF, was $59 for food and gas. I also spent $92 on some new clothes -- underwear, joggers, T-shirts. I have spent $78 on groceries already, because I was out of almost everything. And I made a $25 donation to the American Heart Association. I also purchased filters for my drinking water; they are pretty expensive, $36 for two. So I've spent 43% of my variables already, but spending will slow down now.

Still hard to believe it's only March. We've had springlike weather for most of the winter. It's crazy.

Checking In

February 24th, 2024 at 03:49 pm

I have spent very little since my last entry. I went to Walmart yesterday just to buy a loaf of bread. $4. I won't buy any more groceries unless I really need something. Needs instead of wants.

I also donated $5 to a charitable fund. That's it. Variables are at 88%.

One break I've had with my budget this month is that my assessment fees will not hit this month -- not until March 1. I paid my last one early, so I have essentially skipped the whole month of February. That has given me almost $500 worth of wiggle room. Well, not really, since my semi-annual property tax was a little over $500.

On March 2, I'm going to travel down to BFF's house for some weekend fun. We will go to a play her granddaughter is working in -- running the sound board. Of course there will be some shopping and eating out.

Still waiting for my tax refund. It seems a bit slow this year.

February Blues

February 17th, 2024 at 05:04 pm

I was hoping February would be a low-spend month, but it's not turning out that way. Partly my fault, partly not. My fault -- I ordered a Levi hybrid trucker jacket from Macy's -- a good deal, but still $57. Because of the size I needed I had to order online; I hope it fits. Not my fault -- the college where I used to work, and from which I was an official retiree, retracted the perk I got upon retirement of free Microsoft 365. The IT person I talked to -- when I started having problems -- didn't even know that retirees were given this. Anyway, it seems that with changes in administration, the whole idea of this has gone away, and they disabled my account. (Hence, the problems!) I was hitting a brick wall when I tried to get them to understand that it was a legitimate account, so I gave up and took my laptop to Best Buy to get Microsoft Office loaded onto it. I opted for the one-time fee, which was $165. Ah well. It was nice while it lasted.

Other things -- my tollway pass replenished again -- that's three months in a row, $40 a pop. I guess I could avoid the toll road more; it's just so much easier than the crowded highways.  Also, I met BFF in the middle city and spent $51 on gas and food. I got a haircut -- $25 -- which is way cheaper than the salon I used to use. I was getting low on toilet paper so bought the big package at Sam's for $26. And after several months of very little grocery shopping I find I have finally started needing to stock up a little. Sigh. Variables are at 86% and I'm only halfway through the month. Well, a little more, since it's a short month!


February 9th, 2024 at 04:49 am

Just a few updates to my spending log. The heater in my aquarium bit the dust (haha, no dust in an aquarium!) -- it malfunctioned, the red light flashing on and off erratically. I didn't want to take a chance of the fish being harmed, so I bought a new one. That, and an underwater thermometer, cost me $26. I bought a few groceries for $9, valentines for $11 and I spent $24 for lunch the other day. That seemed like a lot, but I brought home leftovers that will provide a few more meals. And I had to pay a buck for parking. Variables are at 36%. Too high for only a week into the month.

In other news, my two cents has officially been logged in by my property management company, so I hope that's the end of that saga.

Taxes are done; I am now awaiting a state refund of $238, which will be most welcome!

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!

December Recap

December 31st, 2023 at 05:48 pm

December is always a difficult month, financially. But this year it was not too bad. I exceeded my variables by 9%, but I had a few surprises, like needing a new phone and then needing a new Amazon firestick and remote. And the average of my variables spending was only 93%, so overall I did well.

I stayed within my Christmas budget of $1000, spending $989. That is not just gifts, but hosting a Christmas dinner, postage, gift wrap, cards etc. My total spending in the gift category was $1028, because there were a few non-Christmas gifts.

Anyway, here it is:

Gifts/Charity 1028
Housing 784
Vacation/Travel 373
Furn/Equip/Décor 287
Utilities 203
Groceries 94
Vet/Pet Supplies 62
Car 45
Fees & Services 40
Phone 39
Gas 38
Entertainment 37
Medical/Health 34
Laundry 22
Eating Out/Takeout 16
Clothing 8
Household Supplies 6
Personal 3

Grand Total                 3119

The groceries were items not included in the holiday dinner. The vacation was mostly pre-payment for a hotel room on my upcoming road trip. The car expense -- wipers. The fee -- replenishment of my tollway pass.

Some of the pet supplies expense was for my fish, but some was food for my son's cat, who I am babysitting until tomorrow morning. I may get some of that back.

Of course, the phone and the firestick are reflected under "Furnishings/Equipment/Decor." The firestick was really cheap because I had Amazon credits to use.

My trip starts tomorrow. I probably won't be checking in until I get home, roughly around January 15.

A Sad Season

December 27th, 2023 at 08:05 pm

I had a wonderful Christmas with my family, so I'm not bah-humbugging -- but it has also been a sad and challenging Christmas. My nephew died a week before Christmas -- complications from Type 1 diabetes. It was a shock. I knew about his disease, but had no idea he was in trouble. I went to the funeral, which was out of state, and I was glad I did, since I saw family members I hadn't seen in a while. But still, a very sad affair.

Then I learned that my sister was scammed out of all of her money by someone posing as a PayPal employee. She is naive and not very savvy about technology -- and she is 80 years old and her cognitive function is diminishing -- so it is not too surprising that this happened. Her two bank accounts were emptied. There wasn't a whole lot there, but it was the money she had on hand to pay bills. The banks are working with her, and she will eventually get some or all of it back. But right now she has $2. Social Security payment will arrive in two days, thank goodness.

The worst part of it is that this has sent her into a deep depression. I'm worried, and I feel helpless. I will see her soon, when I travel next week, so I will be able to help her a little bit. Unfortunately, I'm not so rich myself.

And I just talked on the phone to my friend who is in a nursing home. It was a very difficult conversation -- he has good days and bad. This was definitely a bad one. But as we were talking, some of his family members arrived so I hope they will perk him up.

Altogether just a hard time.

I start my trip on the 1st. My sister was going to come along, but now she doesn't want to, and who can blame her. She just wants to get back to normal. So it will be my friend and I, a road trip to NC and FL, with a wedding to attend in Orlando. Hope it will put me in a happier state of mind.

Financial update to come later....

Christmas Spending

December 13th, 2023 at 11:11 pm

I have been deep into Christmas spending.  I have spent $857, out of a budget of $1000. I am mostly done. I still have to buy the supplies for Christmas dinner (which will actually be on the 17th because of scheduling conflicts). I also need to buy something for GS1's girlfriend, who will be at our Christmas Eve gift opening. I'm thinking maybe an Ulta gift card? I've only met her once. She definitely seems to be a girly girl.

Other expenses have been pretty regular. I did have to replenish my IPASS again, because I seem to be on the toll roads a lot.

I've already received notice that my assessment fees will go up by 3% in the new year, and car insurance will go up by $20 per month -- I pay semi-annually, though. So the raise I will get in Social Security -- again, about 3%-- will not be felt much.

So, not counting the Christmas spending, my variables are at a respectable 34%.

November Recap

December 1st, 2023 at 06:30 pm
Housing 769
Gifts/Charity 660
Taxes 356
Utilities 199
Vacation/Travel 115
Groceries 74
Personal 71
Medical/Health 56
Fees & Services 56
Furn/Equip/Décor 54
Entertainment 51
Phone 39
Eating Out/Takeout 31
Gas 26
Clothing 21
Laundry 18
Car 6
Vet/Pet Supplies 6
Grand Total 2608

I made it through the month spending 99% of my variables. My average for the year is 91%, so I'm doing all right.

The big total in gifts/charity came about from my donations to two of my grandchildren's college funds. This happened in September, too.

The tax was my second installment of property tax.

Vacation -- a little trip to visit BFF in Indiana, and my Thanksgiving trip.

Nothing else really stands out. My grocery bill was low because of the traveling I did. The personal category was a little high because of a haircut and stocking up on some toiletries.

December is starting out with a bang -- as it does. I have spent $103 on Christmas gifts and some supplies for Christmas dinner. This morning I spent $29 on groceries.

I reserved a room for two nights in Orlando for the wedding I'm attending there. I had to charge $308 for the deposit, which basically covers one night. It will be an expensive trip, but worth it, I think. Most of the spending will occur in January.

Thanksgiving Over, Christmas Coming

November 28th, 2023 at 07:32 pm

I'm back at home after a really nice Thanksgiving trip to my brother's house. I spent $80 on gas and food, and $5 for a special Christmas card for a friend. When I got home I spent $6 on a car wash and $4 on laundry. I've spent 98% of my variables (my spending allowance.)  But today is my son's birthday, and there are plans afoot to either go out to dinner or get takeout, so I'm not going to be able to stay under 100%. At least I already have his gift.

In two more days, when the month turns, I will start ordering Christmas gifts from Amazon. The house is already decorated, and my dinner is planned, but nothing will be bought until shortly before the dinner (December 17). So I'm in a kind of relaxed mode right now, before the craziness begins!

Getting Ready to Travel

November 21st, 2023 at 03:51 pm

I'm pausing now as I get ready to travel tomorrow for our family get-together in Michigan. I have promised to bring green bean casserole, cranberry sauce, and a dump cake. This morning as I assembled my ingredients, I realized that I forgot to buy the yellow cake mix for the dump cake, so it's back to the store. Yesterday I spent $44 for ingredients. I logged that expenditure in Gifts/Charity. As it is a gift to the family, similar to hosting, just not at my house.

Since my last post I have bought a Christmas tree ($50), birthday gifts ($103), groceries ($37), takeout ($11), and a painter's smock ($4). I have paid the second installment on my property tax ($356). I have spent $13 on donations.  I have spent 85% of my variables, and I still have a trip ahead of me. But 'tis the season. 

I enjoyed the painting class I took at the community center, so I am contemplating taking the next one in December. I am also contemplating buying some paints and brushes and canvases so I can practice at home. The painting I produced in class was pretty bad, but I think I can improve with practice, and I do enjoy the process. Anyway, the next class, if I sign up for it, is $20. I probably won't buy art supplies until after Christmas, and after my trip to North Carolina and Florida in January.


November 12th, 2023 at 07:52 pm

I've had a busy week. I drove down to Indiana to attend a birthday dinner for BFF, then spent another day and a half there. My costs for that little trip were $41 for gas and food. I also had to replenish my tollway pass ($40) and then my AARP subscription renewed ($16). While in Indiana, I went shopping with BFF at Goodwill, where I bought two pairs of jeans and some gift wrap for $18. After coming home, I sent $250 to my Oregon son for my granddaughter's birthday and college fund. (In a few days I'll do the same for one of my local grandsons). I've spent $10 on laundry so far this month, and $9 for a healthy lunch from Farmer's Fridge. And I spent $20 to sign up for a painting class at the community center. So.... I've spent 56% of my variables for the month, and it hasn't even been two weeks. Time to really slow it down.


November 5th, 2023 at 03:13 am

Well, as I said before, November is going to be challenging. I have already spent 29% of my variables. That included a $30 medical copay, $20 in groceries, $10 for hair conditioner, $38 for deoderant (6-pack from Amazon), and $24 for a haircut. It also includes my medical premium and my streaming expenses, which are actually fixed, but it's just easier this way. Medical and entertainment categories include a lot of true variables and I'd rather not split the categories. Too much explanation, I know, and only meaningful to me. Smile

Tomorrow I will go to a cookout at my ex's house, and I'll buy potato salad to take, and probably a bottle of wine as a late birthday present. On Tuesday I'm going to go down to BFF's house and there I will attend a birthday dinner for her and another friend. I'll spend a day there and come home on Thursday to attend a free Tai Chi class to see if I like it.

My big expenses this month are the second installment of my property tax, birthday presents for my granddaughter, grandson and son, and college fund donations for the two grands having birthdays. And there will be a trip to my brother's house in Michigan for Thanksgiving, and food expenses for that event.

And after that comes Christmas, and a trip to Florida for my nephew's wedding. Which may include a side trip to NC! Whew! A lot going on.

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