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March 22nd, 2023 at 04:38 pm

Yesterday I mailed my package -- $10 -- then stopped at a Hallmark store and did a little Christmas shopping. I'm determined I'm not going to leave it all to the end of the year this year. I spent $47 there on stocking stuffers, some things on sale, some not. Then I bought lunch at McDonalds - $4. I have learned that Happy Meals are just about right for senior citizens. Except for the toy. That I give to Goodwill. If I ask the McDonalds employees not to include the toy, it seems to thrown them off.

Speaking of Goodwill, so far this year, on my walks around town, I have found two abandoned hoodies and three t-shirts. They were all crumpled and wet, and dirty, but I picked them up, and after soaking and washing, they have come out like new. I take them to Goodwill after I get them back in shape. All are small sizes, so I'm guessing that kids peel them off when they get too hot, and they leave them, and their moms say "Where's your shirt?" and they say, "I dunno." I suppose there's a chance someone might go back looking for them, but I think they don't bother. So I hope I'm doing a service. I know if the city maintenance crews pick them up, they'll just go to the landfill.

I was planning on grocery shopping today, but I'm going to do it tomorrow instead. I'm not feeling my best and I think it will be wise to stay home.

I was going to wash clothes, also, but there is no light in the laundry room. Blown fuse, probably, but I don't know where the fuse is. So I notified maintenance, and I think it's just going to be one of those days of relaxation.

Variables are at 75%, and less than a week to go.

Museum Day

March 20th, 2023 at 10:28 pm

My day at the museum was much cheaper than I expected, thanks to the generosity of my friends. Unbeknownst to me, they expected that I would be admitted on their ticket, as they have a membership which admits two guests. Meanwhile, I went ahead and bought admission online. When we met and talked over what had happened, they insisted on taking me to the ticket window to get my money back. Well, as it turned out, they had to count two of their kids as guests, so I wasn't a freebie after all. Which was fine with me. But they wouldn't hear of it -- they said it was their invitation and I was their guest, and they gave me cash for admission and paid for my parking, too! I was really blown away. I spent only $15 while I was there. It was a good day, lots of fun. A bonus was that I ran into my niece and her family while there. They live in Michigan and it was quite a surprise!

Today I walked to the post office to mail a package, but their computer wasn't working and the clerk could not even open her drawer. So I walked the package over to Walgreens, but I couldn't mail it there because I didn't have a FedEx label. So I spent nothing today. Tomorrow I'll take the package to a different post office, but I won't walk there!

This and That

March 17th, 2023 at 04:49 pm

Pay day was on Wednesday. I paid my property tax - $562 - the first of two payments this year. I also went to Aldi and spent another $10 on groceries. My previous shopping, at Food4Less, yielded two boxes of crackers, granola, and bread, for $10. Plus I spent an additional $4 for lotion, which comes out of another bucket. At Aldi, my $10 bought lactose-free milk, mushrooms, onions and creamer. It seems like I am buying less and less with the same amount of money. But since I skipped grocery shopping on the first two Wednesdays, and I seem to have plenty of food on hand, I'm not worried. I am learning that I used to buy way too much!

Tomorrow I am going to a museum with a friend and her family. I do not have a membership, so it will be expensive, but it will be a social outing, which I sorely need. I need Spring, too! It's another cold, windy day in the windy city.

Car Stuff

March 14th, 2023 at 08:09 pm

It was quite a saga yesterday, looking for hubcaps. I finally decided to go with the expensive but sturdy hubcaps from the dealership, since even the people selling the cheap hubcaps couldn't recommend them. Since I bought four, they gave me break on the price, but it was still $399. But they have been installed and they look great, so much better than what I had before.

I've also gotten the front bumper fixed. The body shop jerry-rigged it with a combination of glue and wire, and they are pretty sure it won't pop up again. But if it does, I am to take it back. That was $112 for labor.

I'm starting to feel more easy about the car. Next month I have to get an oil change, and I'll have them check the rear brakes to see if it's time yet. Once that's done, I'll have addressed all the issues except the unsightly hole in the floor carpet. I'll spring for a good Weathertech mat to cover that, and I'll get a matching mat for the passenger side.

I went through the car wash today with no issues, so I think I'm good to go!

In other news, while I was waiting for the car repair to get done, I spent $10 on groceries and $13 on lunch, as well as $4 on a bottle of body lotion. Variables are at 60%. The cost of the hubcaps went on my Big Ticket spreadsheet, so it doesn't affect the variables.

Ancestry, Again

March 11th, 2023 at 03:02 pm

I looked at my Discover card account online this morning, and the pending charge to was gone. So I went to Ancestry's site and cancelled. That didn't really help, since my cancellation date is a year from now, so they're still going to charge me. They must be having some glitches with their billing. We'll see how it goes. I don't really care either way. If I still have a year to play with it, I'll get some things done. If they don't charge me and I can't do those things, that's fine, too.

My insurance company withdrew $108 for coverage for the new car.

The new Netflix payment hit; it's $16.

My Discover account re-ups tomorrow, so I'll start taking care of some car stuff. I lost a hubcap on my trip. It looks like I cannot get just one to match my current (cheap plastic) ones -- I have to get a whole set. I guess that's what I'll do, as better hubcaps are quite expensive, and frankly, I'm not sure they wouldn't get stolen, since my car sits out on the street overnight, and thieves are clearly operating in the area.  I also want to address the front bumper which is not locking into place as it should.  I'm afraid to go through a car wash. I think the bumper would separate. Forgive me if I'm repeating! This has been on my mind for a while.

Variables are at 36%. I haven't spent anything on groceries yet!

Weekend Trip, and New Clothing Expense

March 6th, 2023 at 07:56 pm

Before I left on my weekend trip, I felt a painful spot between my breast and my armpit. I wasn't too worried, but I went to Immediate Care to have it checked out. The doctor verified what I already thought -- that it wasn't really a lump, it was irritation from the underwire in my bra. She suggested that I replace my bras with better fitting ones with no wires. So in the next few days I bought six wireless bras, very comfortable and yet supportive (Bali Comfort Revolution). The total cost was $143, or about $24 each. If you've shopped for bras recently, you'll realize this was a very good price. That's why I bought six when I had the chance. This was an unexpected expense, but oh well.

The cost of my trip to Indiana was $67, for gas and food. I also did a little fun thrift store shopping for $19, buying a hoodie, a gift, and a few things for the house. 

I came home to find my property tax bill in the mailbox - $561 (semi-annual payment) and then when I checked my bank account I saw that had withdrawn my subscription fee, which is now $229. I was going to cancel this year, but obviously I did not get on that soon enough. So I'm feeling a little overwhelmed.

Anyway, my trip was fun, and the play -- Guys and Dolls -- was so good! It was hard to believe it was a high school production! Way above my expectations!

What a Month!

February 28th, 2023 at 09:56 pm

May I have very few months like this one! My total spending was not only above income, but above several months' income.

Of course, the main reason was buying a new (to me) car. But that wasn't the only thing.....

Here's the recap:

Auto Expenses - $7548 (down payment, repairs)

Housing - $769

Utilities - $234

Medical/Health - $204 (Urgent care, x-ray, MRI, prescription)

Gifts/Charity - $107 (birthday, gift to AHA)

Groceries - $101 (inclues Girl Scout cookies)

Vacation/Travel - $37 (day trip to Indiana)

Gas - $33

Phone - $32

Furn/Equip/Decor - $32 (Goodwill finds, new phone holder for car)

Eating Out/Takeout- $30

Laundry - $18

Entertainment - $17

Personal - $15

Clothing/Accessories - $7

Fares/Parking - $3

Grand Total - $9187

My car cost was offset by a generous $2K gift from my ex-husband, plus he paid off the balance beyond my down payment and trade-in. I am very grateful, as there is no way I would have been able to swing a new car on my own. Of course, it is not a new car; it is used. But I hope it will be the last car I have to buy.

I hope March will not bring so many surprises. I do have one nice thing to look forward to -- I'm going to go down to BFF's house for the weekend, where I'll go see her granddaughter in a high school production of "Guys and Dolls." Should be fun!

Catching Up

February 22nd, 2023 at 09:10 pm

Yesterday I met BFF in the middle city. We had lunch and took a long walk in the mall. The lunch was $16 and I had enough leftovers for two more meals. I also spent $22 on gas, and I bought earring backs at Claire's for $7. I also bought a cable for charging my phone in the car, but it was the wrong one, so I returned it.

This morning I did my grocery shopping at Mariano's since I needed popcorn. I spent $32, and in addition to the popcorn I bought apples, crackers, 5 cans of soup, pudding, English muffins, eggs, and dairy-free "alternative" yogurt, which I'm trying out for the first time. Prices were noticeably higher than at Aldi, but you just can't get everything at Aldi. That should complete my grocery shopping for the month, bringing the total to $91.

The other day I donated to the American Heart Association ($40) in response to a request from my granddaughter, who's doing this for school.

Variables for the month so far are at 59%.

My TV is not working today and none of the fixes I Googled are working either. It's probably time to dump Xfinity and just go with streaming, but I would have to set up internet access before cancelling. The internet is still working. I'll probably go with RCN (now Astound). It seems to be popular in this area, and it's what my son went with. But I'm just not in the mood to deal with it now, so I'm procrastinating.

It's been raining all day and we are expecting to get freezing rain as the temperature drops. I'm glad I got my errands done this morning. I'm going to hibernate.

Eye Trouble

February 17th, 2023 at 01:34 pm

I woke up from a nap with a pain in my eye, so I immediately went to the eye doctor. He determined that the pain was caused by a small abrasion, most likely the result of dryness. He told me to get Systane eye drops. I went over to Walgreens and got the drops - $14. After a day of use, my eye is feeling much better. The visit to the eye doctor was free, because I had a debit card provided by Medicare Advantage, to be used for medical costs not covered by the plan. It's worth $250. This was the first time I used it. I wonder if I could have paid for my x-ray and urgent care visit with it -- or if it is just for eye and dental. I'll have to check on that.

Variables are now at 43%.

I got a notice from my insurance company that my new car will cost me another $117 semi-annually. It was not a bill. That will come soon, I'm sure.

Edit: I checked. The card is just for dental, hearing and vision costs not already covered by the plan. Still, a great benefit!

Repairs & Groceries

February 15th, 2023 at 07:20 pm

I picked up my car yesterday from Midas. The total bill was $1029, less than I was expecting. They did not do the maintenance on the rear brakes; they said that while there was some wear, it was not time yet. What WAS done -- front brake service, alignment, tire balance, cabin filter, serpentine belt, wipers ... I think that's it.

Today I went to Aldi, my second trip of the month, and I spent $30. I bought milk, creamer, butter, biscuits, frozen green beans, frozen peas, baby carrots, coffee, granola, salsa, peanuts, graham crackers and a six-pack of ramen. I thought that was pretty good. Maybe I'm just getting used to it. My variables are at 37% -- of course, that does not count the car repairs. That does include a medical bill for $55 that I paid the other day. More of that is on the way. I had an MRI last month and I don't know how well my Medicare Advantage plan will cover that. Waiting for that shoe to drop.

Auto Inspection

February 11th, 2023 at 08:23 pm

I had my mechanic look over the new car. It is sound but there is quite a bit of maintenance to catch up on -- brakes, mainly, but also some belts, filters, alignment, rotation, etc. The cost for the auto inspection was $148. They asked me to come back to have the codes checked out after the computer reset (codes had been wiped), so I'm taking it in on Monday. Then, after I learn what I can from that, I'll schedule the maintenance work. Hope there aren't any new surprises, but I do have a 12-month powertrain warranty, so that should cover anything big. My ex, learning about this, chipped in $2K. I can't stop the man!

There really hasn't been much other financial news. Luckily! I have continued to eat from the freezer and pantry and haven't needed to go to the grocery. There are some medical bills to pay, but I'll do that when my Discover card re-ups. That will be tomorrow, in fact.

It's Done

February 8th, 2023 at 12:37 pm

I traded in my Kia Soul yesterday and bought a 2021 Toyota Corolla. My ex came with me and insisted that he was going to help out financially. I was in no position to argue. (Though I did.) In the end, I contributed $6,000 in cash and the $7,200 value of the trade-in. He paid for the rest of it, and I'm embarrassed to say how much that was. I told him I would pay him back, as I was able, and he said he didn't want me to.

Some history here -- when we divorced, he was so besotted with his new love that he had no regard for what was going to happen to me. He did everything he could to limit child support (there was no alimony), and all his energy seemed to go toward impressing my replacement and lavishing her with gifts. In the following years, his income skyrocketed while I struggled for every penny, and he seemed to be completely blind to that. He made many comments that indicated he thought we lived similar lives.

Fast forward to now -- he is no longer besotted with his new love and other family members tell me he has cheated on her several times. Big surprise. Not. But his attitude toward me has changed, and he has given me money for several home repairs in the past few years -- and now this. I do think he is trying to make amends, but he is not able to say he's sorry. He's just that limited in character. But I will take the money, even though it is uncomfortable, because I think I've earned it. And because I was in a bind, and this needed to be done.

I have some work to do to build back my savings. I will do it, bit by bit.

Some short-range challenges -- my phone holder doesn't fit, so I'm going to have to figure that out. And I can't figure out where to put the charging cord. Bluetooth is a mystery to me. I'm hoping my son can help me with the technical issues.

Today is a grocery shopping day, but I have enough food on hand and I'm going to defer it as long as I can.

Smash and Grab

February 5th, 2023 at 11:53 pm

On Thursday night my car was broken into. Someone smashed the rear side window, got inside and somehow dismantled my steering wheel lock, and went through all the nooks and crannies and threw everything around. Nothing was taken; I had nothing of value in the car. But I had to replace the window. It was $367, which I paid out of pocket so I could get it done right away. Tomorrow I will call my insurance agent. I think he told me they would pay whatever was above my $250 deductible, but frankly, I was so rattled, I'm not sure what he said.

It turns out that eight cars in my general area were damaged that night and one was stolen. All were Kia Souls.

I am in a bad situation. I have to park on the street, leaving my car vulnerable every night. Kia has done nothing to help out its customers. There is no "fix" to protect my car from people who think if they get inside they can start it without a key and steal it. If there were a way to fix it, I would do it. I actually like the car. But I think I'm going to trade it in, even though it will be very hard to swing it right now. I can't spend every night worrying about whether my car is safe.

You're probably wondering how they took apart the steering wheel lock. I'm wondering, too. My ex suggested that there must be such a thing as a universal key, and this team of thieves had one. I don't know why they didn't take my car! Maybe they only needed one, for whatever crime they were planning to commit.

Anyway, I'm going to be looking at cars in the coming week. My ex is going with me. He insists he wants to help.

In other news, I grocery shopped on Wednesday, at Aldi, and spent $28. That was a bit over my limit, but I had some expensive things on the list -- a bag of frozen chicken breasts, walnuts, prunes, bread, and creamer.

I also spent $14 on fast food during those couple of days when I was getting the window fixed. There was a lot of waiting involved.

This morning I refilled a prescription for $15.

I will keep you posted on my car search and what a new car will mean to my budget.

January Recap

January 31st, 2023 at 03:50 pm

It's the last day of January, and I'm not going to spend anything, so I did my recap.

Insurance 968
Housing 769
Utilities 234
Clothing 97
Gifts/Charity 58
Medical/Health 55
Eating Out/Takeout 55
Groceries 50
Personal 41
Phone 32
Household Supplies 29
Gas 24
Entertainment 17
Laundry 14
Furn/Equip/Décor 5
Fares/Parking 5

Grand Total was $2453, and I kept variable spending to 61%.

The big "splurge" was my semi-annual auto insurance. I'll look around before I pay the next one in July, but I'm guessing that all insurance has gone up -- that's what I'm hearing, anyway -- and I also wonder if having a Kia is now more costly since they are being stolen so often due to that TikTok challenge.

The clothing cost was mostly for leggings, which will arrive today, and I hope they fit!

Nothing else really needs any explanation.



January 31st, 2023 at 12:31 am

I did my taxes yesterday. I owe nothing to federal, and I'm getting nothing back. I'm getting a $262 refund from the state, because they withheld that amount from my RMD's.

It was pretty easy. Retirement has certainly simplified tax time. For me, anyway.

I will have four grocery shopping days in February, starting on Wednesday. That means $25 a trip.

I have one birthday in February, and I'll be getting an oil change, which may generate some car repair costs. Also, according to last year's schedule, I will be paying property tax, my first semi-annual payment. I just paid property tax in December, so it seems too soon, but no doubt they will be johnny-on-the-spot this time.

I have had some medical expenses -- appointments and tests -- which I haven't been billed for yet. I'm sure they will appear soon. Speaking of medical, I will be renewing a prescription next week, too.

Because my spending has been low this month, I am planning to transfer $1000 into my emergency fund tomorrow, unless there is a big surprise. I love frugal January! It looks like February won't be quite as frugal.

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 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.

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!

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