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February 15th, 2019 at 08:10 am

I'll be taking the boys to get their haircuts later today, but DS will pay. I was planning to watch them all day, but DS' work appointment was cancelled.

It turns out Monday is a school holiday, so I'll have them all day. And for the rest of the week, I'll be with them all night and after school. I'll come home while they're in school to get things done, including making our supper.

I'm going to go through the fridge & freezer today and make some plans for dinners next week. I know I have a bag of chicken breasts and a pound of cooked ground beef; I'm thinking I can do a lot with that if I have the right ingredients. I have a can of tuna, too, but I'm not sure if the boys will eat tuna salad.

I found a Starbuck's gift card yesterday, but when I looked it up, it wasn't worth anything. So someone probably just dropped it on the street, rather than bothering to throw it away. Darn! Smile

BFF is asking me to come visit the first weekend in March. It will be a nice respite after a week of childcare!

This and That

February 14th, 2019 at 04:37 am

This morning I paid $5 for medical professional services not covered by insurance. Probably lab work. Last night I bought the boys dinner at McDonalds for $7. Variables are at 67%.

I talked a little with DS about the cost of feeding the boys next week, while he and DIL are vacationing in Mexico. He proposed working up a grocery list and buying supplies himself. I've been thinking about it, and I think it will work best if I just give him receipts at the end and get reimbursed. I will feed them dinner at my house and I'll use some of my food. But I'll feed them breakfast at their house (I'll sleep over). I'm pretty sure I'll just take them out for dinner on music lesson day, as I'll be tied up all afternoon.

And we have to talk about lunch. I think GS1 buys lunch and GS2 takes a lunch, but I'll have to find out for sure. Anyway, I think it's all going to be quite fluid, and getting reimbursed will be the easiest way to be accurate.

DS is leaving Sunday night and the two of them will be back on Friday, so it's really only five days.

Today it's just a pickup day, but tomorrow the boys are out of school, and DS has to work, so I'll have them from around 9 to 4. So I'll push back my gym day to Saturday. I have a mystery shop on Saturday, too.

My socks are wearing out like crazy! I wanted to wait till gap year is over to get some new ones, but I got a coupon for Buy 3/Get 4th Free at a local outdoor outfitter. So after pay day I will probably take advantage of that.

New underwear is also needed, but I can wait on that.

Oh, update on the belt -- I found one at home that will work. Even though it's a little short, it does buckle. Free is even better than Goodwill.

Haircut and Valentines

February 13th, 2019 at 06:23 am

It was a bit of a spendy day yesterday. I got my $16 haircut and I spent $21 on valentine cards and candy. I also slipped two ten dollar bills into the valentines that went to Florida, and I'll do the same for the boys here.

I need a belt, and I went to Goodwill to see if they had one. There were belts, but none long enough. I guess I'll look on Amazon.

Variables are at 64% with two weeks to go.

On the frugal side, I got a free breakfast at Planet Fitness, and I used my leftovers from the free dinner the other night to make a stirfry that was pretty great! I used my Instant Pot to make rice. I had three cups of rice, which made six cups, so I've got a lot of rice in the freezer. Now I'm figuring out that I should have frozen it in smaller packages for ease of use, but, oh well.

Today I'm picking the boys up after school and taking them to music lessons. I have the morning free, and I'm going to read like crazy so I can return a library book on time!

Weather-wise, we had another big drop in temperature. Yesterday was slushy, so I hope my car isn't frozen in place. I'm pretty tired of winter.

Maintenance Visit, and Musing on Surgery

February 12th, 2019 at 06:12 am

I made it to the dealer right on time, and the appointment took about an hour and a half. I knew it wouldn't be a bargain, but I did not expect that it would be $228.

It was not just an oil change, of course, but a maintenance visit. They inspected and cleaned the brakes, tightened the tie rods, checked the steering box and boots, brake lines, hoses and ABS system, topped off fluid levels, checked exhaust system and fuel lines, and rotated tires.

In addition, they found I needed to replace the cabin air filter, which I approved.

They gave me a couple of discounts which amounted to $24.

I also got an inspection which showed that, with the exception of the cabin filter, my interior/exterior, battery, engine, undercarriage and tires were all good.

This was the first full inspection I've gotten since I bought the car, so I feel pretty good about getting it done, and coming in with good marks.

I can't cash-flow that amount this month, so it will come out of the EF.

In other news, we got hit with another ice storm, but once again it looks like my particular area fared pretty well. I have power, and we got a little bit of snow rather than ice.

I'm due for a haircut, and I will try to get that done today. I also need to pick up some valentines for the grandkids.

About halfway into gap year (which is actually a little more than a year) -- and everything is going well so far. The surgery in April, of course, will be a blip on the budget, but it has to be done. One never looks forward to surgery, but I am looking forward to getting rid of the pain! My biggest expenses will be the hospital stay ($300 a day) and the physical therapy ($45 a pop). I am hoping I will have only one day in the hospital. As for the physical therapy, my experience has been that I won't be billed until the end, and by then I should be very close to being done with gap year.

Early Rising

February 11th, 2019 at 04:54 am

I made my oil change appointment for 8 am. What was I thinking? I'm not used to getting up early any more. Add to that, I was so worried about whether I would get up on time, that I did not sleep well at all.

Snow was falling yesterday, so I'm going to have to clean off my car before I go. Hope it's just snow, and not snow with a layer of ice underneath.

Yesterday was a no-spend day. I mostly read and watched Netflix. It was really relaxing. I did do one load of laundry.

Car Stuff, Etc.

February 10th, 2019 at 06:48 am

Last night I met DS and grandsons at a restaurant for dinner, and as I was driving I noticed that the oil life percentage displayed on my dashboard slipped from 10 to 5. I panicked a bit and decided I would go to Jiffy Lube when it opened this morning. But after looking up Honda maintenance codes online this morning, I realized that the 5 only means it is time to get it done, but not past time. I also have a B1 code showing, which means tire rotation and oil filter replacement. I decided I will wait till Monday and take it to the Honda dealer and get established with them as a customer. I made an appointment online for 8 am.

My dinner last night did not cost me anything; I was treated. AND, I brought home enough leftovers for a full meal today.

I filled up the tank yesterday for $16. It was only down about 60-70%, but I do not like to let the gas get low in winter, especially a cold and unpredictable winter like this one.

So today I'm just going to take it easy at home.

DIL left for Mexico yesterday, so I am on call to help with the boys if DS needs it. Not very likely, since he is a great dad -- I will probably just do the usual pickup after school. The following week, when he goes to Mexico to join DIL for a little vacation, will be the challenging one for me. I'm going to essentially move in with the boys. I expect I will be very tired after that week is done!

Plans and Taxes

February 9th, 2019 at 06:26 am

Except for walking across the street to babysit, I stayed inside all day yesterday. Today it is a bit warmer, but still cold. I plan to get out anyway and hit the gym and get some gas. I also need to get an oil change, but I'm not going to try it on a Saturday, so that will be deferred till Monday.

You tax experts out there -- I realized yesterday that I forgot to claim some income. I closed my old Sharebuilder account last summer, and just yesterday I got notification that my 1099 was ready. I really, truly forgot about this. The income is about $171. My federal and state income are already filed and I already got my federal refund. What do I do? I looked at the TaxAct site (which I used for filing), and it recommended waiting till all refunds are made before filing an amendment. But is an amendment necessary for this amount? My income is very low and I don't think this small amount will actually affect my tax bracket. Anyway, I want to do the right thing.

Another freeze, and more babysitting

February 8th, 2019 at 06:24 am

The temperature plunged again, so I decided to stay inside today rather than do my planned errands -- gym, gas station, oil change. But it turns out GS2 is still stick, so I will go over there. DIL promises it will only be a few hours today.

I got my refund yesterday! I think that was the fastest return ever! I moved $500 of it to savings, and the rest is going to stay in checking to cover the property tax, when it comes due in early March.

My granddaughter is a Daisy scout and she is selling Girl Scout cookies for the first time ever. I decided I could afford to spend $30, so I ordered them on her web site. Nice that a grandma in Illinois can buy cookies from a granddaughter in Florida and get them delivered!

Variables are at 48% with two and half weeks to go. But getting the refund has made me worry less.


February 7th, 2019 at 08:19 am

GS2 is not well enough to go to school today, so I am staying with him.

Yesterday was a long day for all of us. There was a half day of school, so I babysat from noon to 3:30, when I took the boys to music lessons. In the process, I picked up another boy who's working on a duet with GS1. Lessons lasted until 5:30, so it was about six when I got home.

I didn't spend any money. I made tacos at home for lunch and had snacks in the car for later. I was planning on going to the gym today, but I guess I'll get that done tomorrow. If everyone is well!

Calm Day

February 6th, 2019 at 06:56 am

Yesterday was a pretty calm day, and I felt much better than I did the day before. I rested in the morning, and in the afternoon I picked up GS2. He wanted to play at the schoolyard for a while, but it was a little cold for me to sit outside, so I waited in the car while he played. After about twenty minutes he came to the car with a friend of his. The friend's mother had not yet picked him up, so I let him use my phone. Turned out he was supposed to be at orchestra, and he had forgotten. Since it was really too late to get much done in orchestra, I offered to drive him home. His mom was grateful.

We had a much-hyped ice storm last night, but I think it affected areas more to the north and west than it did here. I have power and the view from the window tells me there is no ice buildup on cars or wires. I am relieved, as I did not want to chip ice off the car, nor drive to music lessons (in another suburb) on icy roads.

No spending yesterday. Variables are at 43% with three weeks to go. I still have to get an oil change and a haircut in this pay period, and I will need to fill the gas tank soon. I am going through my money pretty fast this month, so I need to watch it a bit.

Rough Day (and Night)

February 5th, 2019 at 08:21 am

I started out so tired yesterday, coming off a short night's sleep. I had things to do, however -- a trip to the gym, and then to Sam's, where I bought kitty litter ($14) and groceries ($16). Then I came home to get ready for a mystery shop, which involved a preliminary phone call. On the phone call, I got some odd responses, so I contacted my scheduler to see if I should actually proceed with the shop. He said no, so I was free of that obligation. So I did a load of laundry, and I was just settling down to take a nap, when DIL texted me. She needed help with boys and their schedules -- DS was traveling for work and she was having to work extra hours. I ended up babysitting and chauffeuring until 8:30 pm and I was exhausted when I got home.

I thought I would fall asleep quickly, but my hip was hurting bad and I couldn't get ahead of the pain. I know I was awake until well after midnight. I did sleep until 9 this morning, and I feel better, but I'm going to take it real easy today. However, I still have normal child care duty to do today, and tomorrow will be another long day, with music lessons taking place after school. DS will be incapacitated with oral surgery, and DIL will be tending to him.

My hip pain is getting worse and the surgery won't happen until April 2. I'm going to have to be more aggressive with pain management, but I hate to do anything that might compromise my kidneys. Uh. Old age.

In better news, I got $5 from SaverLife yesterday for promising to save a portion of my expected tax refund. I was, of course, going to do that anyway, but it was nice to get a little boost. Thanks to Patient Saver for recommending the SaverLife site!

No-Spend Day

February 4th, 2019 at 06:00 am

Had a quiet no-spending day yesterday. Today I am heading out to the gym, after which I will go to Sam's to get kitty litter. I need to do a load of laundry, and I am committed to doing a mystery shop in the afternoon.

I made an awesome meatloaf yesterday -- I think it is the best I've ever made! Here is the recipe link: https://www.thewholesomedish.com/the-best-classic-meatloaf/

I checked out my football pool and I see that I owe .67. Hmmmm.


February 3rd, 2019 at 06:22 am

Yesterday's spending was $29 for aquarium filters, which I ordered from Amazon. I am going through them more quickly now. My pleco is getting so big, and he poops a lot!

Variables are 37%.

Tomorrow I need to get some kitty litter, probably at Sam's.

No plans for today unless the kids invite me over for the game. They may just be getting together with friends, which is fine -- I am not a football fan.

It's going to get up in the 40's today, and that is so welcome! I don't even care that it is going to rain.

Trip is Off

February 2nd, 2019 at 07:45 am

Last night BFF texted me that dense, freezing fog and slippery roads were predicted for her area. I double-checked this morning and decided that I would rather forgo the trip than take the chance of an accident, or a stressful trip. I woke up not feeling very well, anyway. So I'll have to make that trip another time.

I put in some laundry this morning. The ceiling light was out, so I was making do with the dim light from the windows, pretty much feeling my way around. I'm still not sure whether I set the dryer for permanent press because I couldn't see the dial!

Yesterday's mystery shopping earned me $11 plus a free meal and $6 worth of groceries. CCF asked me in a comment if I had reported on my year-end income from mystery shopping. I answered her, but I'll answer here, too. I earned $495 in fees and $742 in reimbursements. Some of it was awarded in 2019, though, even though it was earned in 2018.

The reimbursements were a mixed bag -- meals, groceries, some clothing, oil changes -- as well as useless things like valet service, down payment on storage space not used, items bought and returned, etc.

All in all, it's no way to make a living, but it's good for providing a few extra dollars to make things a little easier. I probably won't continue with it after my Social Security benefit goes up, because it is a lot of work for the money.

As for yesterday's spending -- I spent $21 on groceries above the reimbursement, and $1 for my lunch above the reimbursement. I spent $1.50 on laundry, $1 on a library fine, and a whopping .25 on parking.

Variables are now at 33%.

Getting Warmer

February 1st, 2019 at 05:48 am

Well, today is the day I have to come back to life, and shake off my snow day laziness. I should go to the gym, and I have two mystery shops to do, one out of town. I should catch up on laundry. But I am waking up hard and I don't know when I'm going to get going.

It snowed last night, so I'll have to clean off the car in order to go anywhere.

I made bread yesterday. Put one loaf in the freezer and the other I'll take to the kids.

Plans are on to go to Indiana tomorrow to visit BFF. It looks like roads will be good, if a little wet!