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A quick update

May 26th, 2015 at 02:42 pm

I haven't disappeared again but have been very busy and out of pocket.

Work has been crazy, of course. We're heading into Frappuccino season and the hours of making those drinks wear me out! When I get home, my feet and head hurt and I'm exhausted but I usually shower, put on some comfortable clothes, and go for a walk on a nearby trail. My usual route is about 3 miles but sometimes I walk the route twice and between the trail and work, end up with a 10 to 12 mile day. Walking helps to alleviate my stress and gives me plenty of quiet time for thinking. Besides, it's just good for me.

Pop passed away on the 12th of this month. Mom has had a rough time since then so I've spent a lot of my spare hours with her. Since he went to a nursing home a couple of months ago she was starting to adjust to living alone in their home but now it's permanent and she's not quite sure how to handle it. She'll be okay, I'm sure, but right now she needs me so a lot of my free time is spent with her.

We've started some plants in pots, Mom and I. We have lavender, rosemary, and a few other smellgoodums plus some tomato and squash plants. With all the rain we've had lately (if my apartment was big enough, I'd have started building an ark in it!) I'm not sure how well the things planted in the ground will do and that's why we opted for mostly container gardening. She has a very large patio and some of the containers have wheels so moving them into the rain and back onto the patio shouldn't be too difficult. If we only get a little bit of edible produce we'll be happy. If nothing else, tending to the plants gives Mom a bit of distraction.

Right after Pop died my ex was in the hospital. He needs a triple bypass and without it has maybe 6 months to live. He's home now, recuperating and resting and hopefully gaining the strength to be able to get the surgery. My sons are terribly worried about him, of course. The oldest went to stay with him while he was in the hospital but the youngest just started the new job in Utah so his brother told him to stay up there unless he was really needed.

May has been a hard month in my family.

On the finance front I'm doing okay. The bills are all paid on time and I manage to put aside a little money from each check. For now that's good enough. Mom is probably going to need some financial help so we've talked about me moving in with her. I really don't want to live with my mother but if she needs me, I'm there. Just half of what I spend on monthly living expenses would make a huge difference for her so when she's ready I'll probably move to her place.

Okay, I'm off to catch up with y'all!

Almost end of the month roundup

April 28th, 2015 at 05:33 pm

Well, I didn't do as well with the budget this month as I'd hoped but I had a couple of surprises pop up. Isn't that what happens, though?

I went over my food budget by $25. That's the same amount I cut it for this month so that tells me the $175 I originally planned might be a more realistic amount. I really do think I can do it on $150 and will try it again in May.

I went over on gas by $24. The original figure was just a shot in the dark so I'm not too concerned with that and will increase that category a bit for May.

I went over on pet food and supplies by a little over $5. I hadn't budgeted much for that, though, and bought sifting pan liners and some treats that Sammy doesn't usually get. I hope he really enjoyed them. Ha ha!

In miscellaneous, I went over almost $62. I need to dump that category and be specific with those expenses so I have a more accurate picture of where that money goes.

And here's the biggie - I went over my budget by close to $100 in vape supplies! My old unit stopped working so I bought a new one. I know, that might be considered a luxury to some but right now vaping keeps me from smoking (which is certainly more expensive and, in my opinion, much harder on the lungs) and it's worth the expense to me. I hope to give it up this year but until I do, I need to budget $30 or so a month for juice, coils, and such. A few days ago a friend gave me a unit she no longer uses so I now have that for a backup.

And that's it for my overspending. Although I could have done better and will bust my hiney in May to spend better, I know it could have been much worse.

I've been working on my "attitude of gratitude". Right now I'm thankful for my humble apartment and its furnishings, my cat, my wonderful family, my job, and the raise that will soon show up on my pay checks. I'm also very thankful I was able to add $75 to savings and not withdraw from it!

And now I'm off to work on that May budget!

Busy times and my annual review

April 18th, 2015 at 03:07 pm

Between work and genealogy, I've been pretty busy lately. For about 13 years I've tried to find the parents of a particular ancestress. My sister joined me in this obsession in 2009. Sometimes we get burned out on it and give up for awhile, then later get back on it. That's where we are now, hard at work trying to come up with more than a working theory about her parents. I love it but ugh, sometimes it's very frustrating. Genealogy is a great hobby, though, and one that's brought my sister and I closer. We love our "genealogy vacations" when we pack up her vehicle and head to KY and/or TN to research. Since we haven't made a lot of progress on this one person we're tentatively planning another trip for later this year, probably October but maybe a little later. I can't wait!

I had my annual review today and got the highest possible rating with no dings or negatives. Yaay! Even with the great review my raise isn't much but I'll bring home $50 to $75 more a month, depending on how many hours I get. I'll take it, thank you! Every little bit helps.

And now I'm off to get caught up with y'all and then get ready for an evening out.

Have a lovely Sunday!

Long but good shift and low spending

April 13th, 2015 at 10:11 pm

I really enjoy days like this one.

My shift was long but good. Apparently the espresso machine was pulling ridiculously long shots yesterday and when I arrived at work today two techs were trying to repair it. Almost three hours later they were still there and a bit puzzled. After replacing two parts the shot time was better but still erratic, swinging wildly from perfect to way too long. They said to watch it for a day or so and if the timing doesn't improve to call in another work order. Oh the joy of having bad shots! When the machine does this, it takes two to three times longer to make an espresso beverage because I have pull the shots several times to get the right ones. Ugh. One would think an espresso machine that costs $20,000 would be a bit more reliable, huh?

I also started training a new worker tonight. She's pretty sharp and I think if she's patient with herself and sticks with us she'll turn out to be a good barista. I hope so as we desperately need a few more. Although the store was busy for quite awhile after I arrived, it slowed down around 7 PM so we got some good quality training time. Yaay!

When I clocked out I picked up $15 worth of groceries then headed home, stopping for $9 worth of gas. Since I took lunch and snacks I didn't buy anything to eat on site so my spending for the day was $24.00. I like it.

How do I love thee, kitchen items? Let me count the ways!

April 12th, 2015 at 08:52 am

This morning I entered the amount for the few little groceries I bought yesterday into EveryDollar. I also checked balances in my envelopes. I'm doing very well with my spending. When I funded my envelopes last Friday I got $60 for groceries. I'd budgeted $75 for two weeks but wanted to come in under that if possible so $60 seemed like a good goal. I still have $40 of that so I feel as though I've accomplished something. However, there are a few things I need before Friday, the next pay day and I'll probably get those later today or tomorrow before work. I budgeted $25 for gas for two weeks and still have $15 of that and $10 of the $15 I'd budgeted for Sammy the cat. Yeah, all in all I'm doing great!

I posted some clothes and household goods on a local free stuff group. I hope someone wants it all because I very much want the stuff gone. Decluttering is pretty easy for me but I have a few emotional issues with some of it, especially kitchen items.

My apartment is about 540 square feet with a seemingly impossibly small kitchen. It has few cupboards, a tiny amount of countertop, two drawers and no pantry. But I love to cook and do it daily. Fortunately, most of my cooking is simple so all I really *need* are basic items. The problem, though, is that I'm so very attracted to kitchen gadgets and doodads! An all expenses paid trip to Bed, Bath and Beyond is my idea of a great contest prize! Ha ha!

Over the last few years I've managed to calm down that crazy side of myself but I still have things I rarely use. For example, I found a blender at Target three years ago for $6. It gets pulled out a few times a year, generally to make hummus. Keep it or let it go? And there's my KitchenAid mixer. I'd wanted one for many years and scrimped until I had enough to get the red one that made my heart sing. The problem is that I haven't used it for over a year and prior to that its main job was to make shortbread, my all time favorite treat, and that was done only between Thanksgiving and Christmas. The thought of getting rid of that beauty causes anxiety so I keep it. It sits on a counter and takes up space but I smile each time my eyes spy it. I think it needs to stay, at least for now. Maybe soon I'll feel ready to sell it but not yet.

And then there's the electric digital pressure cooker. Another tool I love and one I rarely use now. It produces the best tasting and most tender roast I've ever had but I don't eat much meat now. Of course, I could use it to make vegetable soup. Hmmm, maybe I should try that today. And what about the stovetop pressure cooker? One of my sisters gave it to me a couple of years ago. I've not used it but can't seem to part with it because it was a gift. And let's not even get started on the slow cookers and coffee cup collection!

See the problem?

That darn kitchen. I have so much affection for the inanimate objects contained within it and have saved that corner for the last of the big push to simplify. I thought I'd be ready by now but I don't feel ready. Yes, I know it's just stuff and I know that each item can be replaced easily, if not cheaply, if necessary. But it's still so hard to even consider letting some of those things go.

I think I'll list the kitchen items to which I have no attachment (like a few of the many whisks I have and the wine bottle opener thingamabopper I've used once..what are those even called?) and enjoy the freedom of that for awhile. Maybe then I'll feel ready to rid myself of the other stuff. We'll see. It's a process and for me it's been a long one.

In the meantime, I'm enjoying a day off work and am about to head into the kitchen to give vegetable soup in the pressure cooker a try!

Happy Sunday. :-)

"Consider doing something no one expects - even you"

April 11th, 2015 at 07:26 pm

Those were the words texted to me yesterday by my youngest son.

He had sent me a text to let me know something about his upcoming trip to Utah (which it turns out is actually for the final interview - he isn't sure he has the job yet but we're still very excited!) We talked about how my new exercise regimen is going and he asked what I'd like for my birthday in three months. Since I'm on a path to minimalism I couldn't really think of anything tangible he and his brother might get me but we talked about membership at a local gym, a particular genealogy program I'd like, and a couple of other things. From there the conversation drifted into dealing with stress and since he seems so much more peaceful since his almost six month hike I asked for suggestions on dealing with stress. He asked if my job is the source of some of it and since it's the source of a lot of it, the conversation turned to having a job one likes but that isn't particularly rewarding or challenging.

My son said something about how I need to feel challenged and then I saw these words:

"Consider doing something no one expects - even you"

I haven't been able to get those words out of my mind.

I love my job most of the time but it isn't what I'd call challenging. It's downright routine now. Nor is there any real financial future in it. In fact, without a bachelor's degree I'm pretty much spinning my wheels with the company but oddly enough, I'm okay with that for the most part. I'm not sure why except that I'm not an ambitious person and not heavily into material possessions so money isn't much of a motivator for me.

It isn't like I'm well paid - I'm not. It isn't like I'm appreciated by my employer - I'm not. Employees are a dime a dozen and the company makes their belief in that clear. "Thank you" are words we rarely hear and a "good" raise is .20 an hour. So why do I stay???

Well, the job does pay the bills but just barely. I have health insurance that covers my needs but just barely. But my customers - I love them. I see them and can just feel my grin take over! Some of them are now friends and not just customers. The sad reality though is that I'm not sure the wonderful people I serve are enough to justify continuing in a job that barely helps me make ends meet and doesn't stimulate me intellectually even if I do enjoy the hell out of what I do.

So maybe I should take my son's words to heart and consider doing something no one, even me, expects. I'm not sure what that would be but my mind isn't able to let go of the words or the idea.

Just something to ponder on this lovely summer-like evening.

Dental appointment not so bad ...

April 6th, 2015 at 02:17 pm

and not as expensive as I thought it would be.

It turned out I had a calculus deposit behind my lower front teeth and anaerobic bacteria had gotten under it and infected the gum and surrounding tissue. D'oh, no wonder I felt so much pain!

The hygienist numbed the area then used her handy dandy ultrasonic tool to break up the deposit. At first she and the dentist thought I'd need an anti-biotic but once the pieces were out and they could see the area they decided to leave it alone in the hope that it will clear up naturally. They both said it should but if I still have pain in the morning to call for an anti-biotic.

I already feel so much relief. I'm still numb but not completely. I told her I can deal with some pain but not that agonizing stuff I had going on.

The bill came to $192 for an emergency visit, xrays, and the calculus removal. I checked with the insurance company about using my HSA debit card to pay for it and they said that's allowed so I did that. Whew!

And the best part is...I didn't need anything other than the numbing gel. The hygienist was very gentle and explained what she was doing each step of the way and that helped to ease my anxiety.

I hope the infection clears up quickly but I'm going to work another appointment or two into the budget over the next few months. I need to get this phobia under control and get some work done.

Thank you for the good thoughts!

2 PM dental appointment and I'm terrified

April 6th, 2015 at 06:42 am

A receptionist from the dentist's office I called in desperation at 1 AM just returned my call and I have an appointment at 2 PM today.

Folks, I'm absolutely terrified of dentists. I start crying before I even walk in the door and the tears don't stop until I leave. The smells, the sounds, the entire concept of dentistry just freaks me out.

This practice specializes in dentistry for chickens (i.e. they offer sedation dentistry) and that's one reason I chose them. Thank heavens for drugs and gases that help people like me!

The receptionist doesn't think the doctor will have time to actually work on the problem today but said they'll take xrays and he will most likely prescribe an anti-biotic and pain medication to help while I wait for the big appointment.

Gulp.

I don't have a clue how much this will cost and honestly I don't care at this point. I need relief and will do whatever it takes to get it.

Oh, Mom has decided that right now isn't a good time for a trip to Austin. The nursing home calls her about Pop almost every day and she told me that if something happened to him while she was gone she'd not forgive herself. So, that trip is on hold until....some day. And the money I'd earmarked for it will most likely go to the dentist.

I'm surprisingly okay with that.

Good thoughts for my mouth and nerves greatly appreciated.

A quick picture of me and my mother & ouch, I need a dentist!

April 5th, 2015 at 04:33 pm

I spent the day with my mother. We had a lovely traditional for us holiday dinner and I brought home some leftovers. Those will be nice this week.

I wanted to go to the nursing home to see Pop this evening but I woke up with some serious mouth pain and just don't feel up to it. I think I'm going to have to find a dentist who can see me ASAP. In the meantime, I'm taking 1/2 a hydrocodone every few hours when the pain gets to be too much.

Ugh, I don't have time for dental issues and perhaps time off work! Oh well, I'll do what I must.

Anyway, here's a selfie I took today of me and my mother.



I hope you all had a lovely day!

Things like this make my job so satisfying!

April 5th, 2015 at 04:27 am

One of our best baristas worked her last shift yesterday. Well, the last until sometime later this year. She's taken a LOA to move back to her hometown and get married and Zeus in a pink feather boa, I'm going to miss that girl!

She's young, perky, and has such a beautiful and sweet disposition. Even better, she stays calm when faced with long lines and perturbed customers. We work well together and feed off one another's energy and humor. In my seven years in that position, I haven't experienced that with many baristas.

We had just an hour together yesterday but after she clocked out she came to say goodbye and gave me a long and tight hug. When I went on break I found a hand decorated envelope in my lunch bag and inside was a card from her. As I read it, the onion ninjas appeared out of nowhere. Darn those ninjas!



I have some of the best regulars in my job and love each of them but Birdy is a very special barista. People like her, whether they work with me or get drinks from me, are part of what make my job so fun and satisfying.

I'll miss her!

Bye bye, Birdy!

And in totally unrelated news, I woke up with a swelling bottom lip and chin and dental pain. Oh joy.

Not directly related to my budget but I'm so proud of my son

April 4th, 2015 at 07:54 am

A little background - My youngest son turned 30 last September. He celebrated on the Appalachian Trail, about halfway through an often miserable but always joyful southbound through hike that started on the first of June and ended the week of Thanksgiving. He wasn't with biological family for that milestone day but was with trail family, friends he'd made during the journey.

He's always been something of a free spirit, wanting to travel and spend time with Mother Nature. He's been a welder, a retail worker, a hardware store worker, a driver for the intoxicated but always a helper of people. His heart is with writing, though. And he's darn good at it.

He'd given up his apartment and job to go on the trail so when the hike was over he stayed with me for recuperation. During those couple of months he continued teaching himself programming, something he'd started awhile back, and learned so very much. He also spent a lot of his days writing. After he felt rested, he moved to the western part of the state to help his father, who isn't in the best health, with his business. He's been writing and hiking, using his skills and loving being outside. For several reasons the move might not have been the best thing. His dad doesn't really "get" him and although they love one another there's a bit too much conflict. Also, the business is slow right now and my son isn't earning money. He started to lose the sense of accomplishment the hike had given him and that made me so very sad for him.

The situation finally got to him and he applied for and got a job in Utah at a therapeutic wilderness camp for teens. He'll have several duties but a primary one will be responsibility for said teens during outdoor exploration. Wow, just wow. My son is moving to Utah to work with belligerent and troubled teenagers! He'll work several days then have several days off, giving him time to continue learning programming and to write the book that's been burning its way through his soul. He'll also have time to hike. And hike. And hike. And hopefully he'll be a good influence on some of those young people and help them find their way. To top it off, he'll get paid a pretty good wage to do something he seems to be cut out to do.

It won't be easy, I'm sure. Again he'll be far from home and family and he'll be smack dab in the middle of teens who don't want to be where they are. I don't envy him that. But what an opportunity for him!

For those of you who pray, please send out a few for Jon.

He tried to keep a blog while on the trail but the internet service was iffy at best most of the time and it was very difficult but if you'd like to read about his journey on the trail, you can do so here:

http://jonathanboyd.net/

The last entry was in December but if you go backwards you can read about some of the amazing adventures he had. Lions, and witches, and bears. Oh my!

Click on "images" to see some beautiful photos.

And to make this somewhat PF related, I helped finance the hike. It cost a lot more than I thought it would but I'd do it all again in a heartbeat.

A little Friday spending but it sure feels good to have bills paid!

April 4th, 2015 at 07:07 am

I worked a 7.5 hour shift yesterday, 5.5 hours of it alone. Argh! Whoever wrote that schedule should be horse whipped or made to come work a similar shift. Scheduling one person alone on the Friday before a major holiday isn't wise, especially during the busiest time of any day! They do that to me too often but supposedly it's because I've been there the longest, deal best with the long line of caffeine deprived shoppers, and am the fastest. Well okay, but shouldn't my pay reflect those wonderful things? I think so! Oh, I get to do it again today! I work 12 to 5:30 and 5 hours of that will be alone. Oh my, they really do trust me, don't they? Ha ha! ;-)

I took my lunch and snacks and ate those so -0- spending on food during my shift. Way to go, Denise! When I clocked out, I got half and half, cat food, and B12. I spent a total of $12.83, entered the amounts into EveryDollar, and it feels great to know I have cash for the next two weeks and my bills are paid.

Carry on, soldier, carry on!

Pay day and catching up a little

April 3rd, 2015 at 05:40 am

Thursday was another no spend day. I think that makes 4 this week. That's pretty exciting! I didn't go to Mom's house or the nursing home because I was just too flipping tired to do much at all.

I did make a delicious crustless broccoli quiche and between that and the soup I made Wednesday, I shouldn't need to buy any meals at work and there's no excuse to do the "I'm too tired to cook, let me just grab this on the way home" thing. I don't do that often but need to do it even less often. The quiche is also marvelous for a quick breakfast and it freezes, travels, and reheats very well.

I needed to do laundry yesterday but plumbers were working in the laundry room all day so I hand-washed two shirts, an apron, and some stockings and hung them to dry. I have clean pants so I'm good to go for today and tomorrow. Since Sunday is Easter and the store is closed, Mom and I are going to have dinner at her house. I'll take my laundry over there that morning and get it tended to. Yeah, I'm 52 and take my laundry to my mother's house but I go there several times a week and it was her idea years ago for me to do that. To wash and dry in my complex costs $1.25 a load. That doesn't sound like much but it really adds up so I'm thankful Mom doesn't mind me doing laundry at her place. I buy the detergent and usually wash, dry, and put away at least two loads of hers while I'm at it so it helps us both.

Today is pay day! Once I confirmed my pay was in my account, I paid the rent and water which came to $587.00, $21.32 to my Chase credit card bringing the balance to $100, and later today will pay $80 to Target. That's an account Mom and I both use and pay, though I generally use and pay more than she does. Once the $80 is paid, the balance will be $2,797.12. I really want that one gone but right now am doing well to make the minimum and a little more when I can so I suck it up and deal with it. I paid the electric bill of $54.87 Wednesday and paid my internet bill last week so after I make the Target payment this afternoon, I won't have any bills due until the end of the month. Wooohooo! I need to go to the bank on the way to work for cash to fund my grocery and gas envelopes.

After the funk I found myself in when the ex died, I didn't care about bills. I paid them but wasn't concerned if they were late and I indulged in a little too much retail therapy, eating out, and general irresponsibility. That put me behind and led to more stress, just deepening the funk. I'm so glad I'm back on track with logging income and expenses and using my envelope system. Doing those things doesn't give me more money but it ensures the bills are paid on time and the necessities are covered. I still run with just a small amount of money in my checking account but I have some money in savings, bill payments are timely, I have food to eat, and a job I love or least like a lot most of the time so I feel grateful! The stress level is decreased and that's a very, very good thing.

This site is so motivational and y'all just rock! It's difficult for me to read some of your blogs because I don't understand stocks, bonds, and having large sums of income or large sums of savings but each of you is inspirational, nonetheless, and I thank you.

Happy Friday!

Not a no spend day but really nice, anyway

April 1st, 2015 at 03:39 pm

Mom and I went to the nursing home this morning and spent a couple of hours with Pop. Brutal is the only word that describes it. His rapid decline and her emotional upset over it are sometimes just too much to witness. We left exhausted, came back to my apartment, and had lunch and a little rest.

We then went to the post office because I needed to mail some things to my youngest son who is in west Texas. I'd forgotten about that until he sent me a text this morning reminding me. Ooops! When we left the post office, we headed to one of the area consignment shops. Mom needed jeans and since I've worn to thread bare condition most of my clothes I decided to look a bit. I found four shirts that fit nicely and look good but bought only three of them.

Then off to Walgreen's where Mom bought chocolate covered marshmallow eggs for herself. Ha, she loves her chocolate! I bought a few "last chance" frozen dinners. I don't eat much processed food but for the price of .99 they were difficult to pass up. With a salad and some green beans or spinach, they'll nicely round out a quick meal after a long shift at work.

We didn't get around to buying a weed eater but maybe tomorrow.

So although today wasn't a no spend day as I'd planned, I spent well and had a nice time with my mother.

Post office - $12.65
Consignment shop - $14.03
Walgreen's - $10.18

Total spending for the day - $36.86

Checked the balance on a forgotten online work site...

April 1st, 2015 at 07:34 am

I used to do some data entry online for extra money. It didn't amount to a lot, just a few dollars here and there, and the company didn't pay out until a person reached a particular amount - an amount that always took me a couple of months to achieve. It helped, though.

I'd forgotten about that company and my work with them until this morning. I reset my password (I hadn't logged in for almost three years!), signed in and lo and behold, my account is still active and I have a balance of almost $20! The minimum payout amount is lower than it used to be so if I do some more work for them I should be able to get a payout this month or maybe early next month.

I have more spare time than a lot of people so I'll make a point to log in several times a day and see if there's work to be done.

Hey, I'll be happy for an extra $40 or so any time. I can put it toward debt and as we all know, every little bit helps. :-)

Hmm, I guess I need to check on the other sites I used, also. I don't even remember most of them but with a bit of time and concentration I might remember.

Tuesday blathering

March 31st, 2015 at 03:54 pm

I woke up at 3 this morning. My alarm was set for 5 AM but I was so very tired last night that I crashed on the couch before 9:00 PM. I rarely sleep more than 5 hours at a time so sleeping until 3 was great. For some reason, my blood sugar was 244 at about 7 this morning! My insulin pump was functioning fine so I bolused some units to deal with the high and by 9 AM my blood sugar was back in the good range. Later in the day it was too high again, 277! I bolused a small amount of insulin and put away our weekly order. That's some pretty physical work and between the insulin and activity the blood sugar was 108 a little later when I checked it. When I got home, I changed my set even though I put in a new one last night. Ugh. Those sets are expensive so every time something like this happens I cringe. But diabetes stuff happens and it is what it is!

I worked a 7.5 hour shift but forgot my lunch so I spent $4.33 on that. Grrrrr! I don't do that often but I really need to do it never.

After work I went to the bank to deposit the tax refund check then by the nursing home to see Pop but he wouldn't even uncover his head. I sat in a chair for about an hour, talking to him now and then while he talked to someone else who wasn't there. Dementia sucks, folks. It just sucks. I finally left and called Mom and she told me she wants to get a weed eater tomorrow so when she's ready to get out and about we'll go get one of those and go to the nursing home. Maybe we'll be able to get Pop out of bed and to the dining hall for a little bit of socialization time. Neither of us needs to spend money on lunch so we'll probably come back to my place for a quick meal together before she heads home.

Yesterday evening and this morning I went over my expenses with a fine tooth comb, a very fine tooth comb! There isn't a lot I can do to eliminate or reduce expenses but here are a few things I've done or will do:

Put my HuluPlus subscription on hold and will cancel it in April. I don't have cable television and pick up no local stations so I've relied on HuluPlus, Netflix, and Amazon Prime for viewing. The main reason I got HuluPlus was to watch "Vikings" and an old science fiction series I loved but I haven't used the service in a couple of months so it can go. That's a savings of $8.49 a month.

Decide if I want to keep my Amazon Prime membership. I do a lot of my shopping using Prime so I need to think about this for awhile. I pay annually but If I cancel Prime in September when it's up for renewal, that will be a monthly savings of about $9.

Decided to keep Netflix. I use it for about 90% of my television viewing and feel it's worth the $17.30 I pay per month.

Reduced my Starbucks card reload amount to $30 a month and am considering reducing it to $20. Even though I work at a licensed Starbucks we don't routinely get free drinks. When the boss is there, she'll sometimes let us have one but we don't count on that. I don't drink their dessert in a cup drinks - just unsweetened iced tea, no water added and coffee, hot or iced, or an Americano with cream. I need to drink more water, though, so reducing the amount I spend at work will help with finances and water consumption. That's a savings of $20 a month.

Right now that's about all I can do but progress is progress. Right? Right?? Right! ;-)

I'm off for the next two days and need to do some preliminary moving stuff - you know, throw out what needs to go, pack what I'm not using, etc. I also need to clean the apartment and do laundry, work on my Coffee Master certification, and work hard to have two more no spend days. Yeehaw!

Three No Spend Days, trouble at the nursing home, and tax refund arrived

March 30th, 2015 at 04:23 pm

Saturday, yesterday, and today I spent nothing. I like no spend days and had planned for these so I feel as though I actually accomplished something.

I had an almost 6 hour shift at work and met Mom for lunch afterwards. It wasn't planned but she'd called me earlier in the day and told me about a problem with Pop at the nursing home and said she wanted to meet me to talk about it. We went to Luby's and she paid for lunch. How sweet! I tried to pay but she reminded me that I paid last time and ended the discussion with, "Besides, I'm your mother." as she handed a twenty to the cashier. 'Nuff said. ;-)

The situation with my stepdad isn't good. He's a fall risk and Saturday he fell trying to get out of a wheelchair and when Mom visited that day she was told he hadn't hurt himself. When she arrived today she found him with a bruised and swollen cheek, a bit of a black eye, and rib pain. X-rays show he has no broken ribs but he's hurting and of course, we're worried about him. We can't afford to hire a sitter to stay with him so the doctor suggested enrolling him in the hospice program at the home. Mom's going to make an appointment to talk to someone about that. I don't know a great amount about hospice but if it will give him more care and keep him safer it's worth looking into.

My tax refund arrived today. Darn it, it's a little over $200! That's too much. I really try to keep the refund amount under $100 but oh well.

I can't decide if I should put the refund amount toward the EF or use it for a trip to Austin my mother and I hope to take in May. My oldest son and his wife just bought their first home and it's been at least three years since I've gone to visit them and almost seven since Mom has. A short visit with them would be wonderful and my mother can definitely use a little time away. We'll split expenses so I might be able to put a little of the refund money in the EF. As much as I need to add to add to the EF I also need to spend some time with my son and his wife. So does Mom.

Sometimes emotional wellbeing needs to be a priority, if only for a few days. Okay, that settles it. Thanks for the advice, y'all. Ha!

The sun'll come out tomorrow, bet your bottom dollar....

March 29th, 2015 at 06:18 pm

I'm almost $300 over my budget for March. That's the bad news.

The good news is that I'm still working a job I love most of the time, have food to eat, a wonderful family, a bed to rest in, and a life that's absolutely wonderful! Also, I didn't need to fall back on credit to make up for the deficit and there are two days left in this month - two days of opportunity for something good to happen. Wooot!

The sun'll come out
Tomorrow
Bet your bottom dollar
That tomorrow
There'll be sun!

Here's hoping Monday will be spectacular. :-)

Frugal eating at home and how I got a fantastic A1c!

March 29th, 2015 at 03:21 pm

Sunday is usually meal planning day for me. I worked a 5.5 hour shift today but got most of the week done last night and finished it after I got off work today.

Awhile back I realized there's a very strong correlation between meat consumption and my higher blood sugar readings so I cut back on meat. I mean, waaay back. I still eat fish and small amounts of beef, pork, and chicken but not daily or even weekly. I call myself a "faux vegetarian". Whatever, it works. :-)

My food guidelines are pretty easy. If it's a vegetable I usually eat it raw or lightly cooked and unless it's a starchy vegetable I don't really limit the quantity. Starchy vegetables are a rare treat for me. If it's fruit I eat it now and then and in strict moderation. Fruit needs to be fairly low on the Glycemic Index like berries and melon. Pasta, beans, and grains are things I have once in a blue moon and then just a very small amount. And if it's meat...well, I think long and hard and usually decide against it. There are exceptions to all those guidelines, though. It's a matter of moderation, balance, and keeping my eye on the prize so to speak. But it stinks that the less expensive foods are things I can eat only rarely and it's very hard to stay within my budget for food.

My next to the last A1c was 5.9 and my last A1c two weeks ago was 5.1. For those of you unfamiliar with Diabetes and A1c, that first number is very good for a Type 1 and that last number is in the non-diabetic range so I'm pretty dang proud of both test results!

I didn't get those results by just cutting out most meat, though. I also walk. A lot. I use a Fitbit Charge HR to count my steps and even when I'm at home and watching television, I generally walk/jog in place. I've lost about 9 pounds in the process but it's taken me four months to do so. Four ridiculously long months! Age and the constant influx of insulin via my pump make weight loss quite the challenge but progress is progress, right? Besides, I've had some non-scale victories, too. My work pants are much looser and I simply feel better. I have more weight to lose but am focusing on the positives and not the fact that it takes so freaking long for me to lose a few pounds!

Anyway, here's my menu for this week:

Sunday night - Two boneless pork ribs (bought for .99 a lb at Albertson's), raw bell pepper strips, and a large salad.

Monday night - Homemade french onion soup, sans bread with extra cheese and a low carb muffin in a minute with butter

Tuesday night - Leftover french onion soup and a salad

Wednesday night - Very large salad, complete with cheese, black olives, and artichoke hearts

Thursday night - Dinner at Mom's house so it will be her choice. Heaven help me, she loves the carbs! I'll choose as wisely as I can, though. She always has salad stuff so if nothing else, I'll make a salad.

Friday night - I'll be at work but will take along leftover soup and an avocado

Saturday night - Vegetables roasted in broth and homemade almond meal crackers

Yeah, I eat a lot of salad and soup. I love them and they're thrifty and delicious so why not?

Keep it simple is my motto!

Long time no blog!

March 28th, 2015 at 07:34 pm

Way too long! Umm, a little over three years too long. ;-)

I'm still alive, still working as a barista at the same place, and still keeping my head above water, though sometimes just barely on that last one.

So much has changed in my life in the last three years. The man person, the one from whom I was separated, passed away after a brief illness. That threw me into a tailspin for awhile.

My stepfather's dementia has escalated and he was recently moved into a nursing home after a short hospital stay. If he's going to be there long term, I'll move in with my mother. She can't handle the expenses alone and taking care of the house and acreage is physically too much for her. Fortunately, they moved closer to me last year so although my drive to work will be a little longer than the one I currently have, it won't be bad. Also, there will be plenty of space for a garden! We've already decided to do container gardening again and are both very excited about that.

On the PF front, I'm doing okay. I have a little bit of money saved, have honed my scrimping skills, drastically reduced food waste, still use Netflix for entertainment, and my love for Dave hasn't waned. I still use his envelope system and still listen to his show. His EveryDollar app is one of my favorites! Yeah, I finally upgraded to an iPhone from my decrepit, barely functioning Blackberry. I have my son to thank for that, though. He gave me his old iPhone and added my line to his account so I now have a better phone and no phone bill. Thank you, son!

I'm still plugging away at paying off a couple of older debts. Ugh, would they please just disappear? At least I have no new debt and I'm thankful for that.

Before I stopped blogging here, I'd quit smoking. Well, that quit was busted but on January 21 of 2014 I had my last cigarette. I started vaping and although I still vape I'm down to 3 mg nicotine most of the time and foresee giving it up before too long. I know it's not as good as *no* nicotine but even my physician approves as long as I have a doable plan for quitting.

I'm still on my journey to minimalism. It's been a long and very interesting one. I've been in this one bedroom apartment for almost five years (wow, has it been that long?) and had accumulated too much stuff. Dealing with it was a source of distress for me, though. I'm not sure why except that it had taken me so long to get what I had that getting rid of any of it just seemed not quite right. On the other hand, it really was just stuff. I've given away a lot of it, sold some, and put some in dumpsters. Having more space and fewer material possessions to care for is so very liberating. Having less is easier now because I just seem to want less. I see this as serious progress in my emotional and financial health.

Anyway, I decided I really need to blog here again and to read other blogs here. The motivation provided is so helpful and I need that.

Nothing says "Don't buy that blouse/book/coffee!" like some of the entries here.

So there you have it, folks. Howdy! Again. :-)

Update on work, eating at home, not smoking, etc.

February 4th, 2012 at 05:56 am

I haven't posted in a bit. I've been pretty busy with work, though. It's going great now that the wild and crazy season is behind us. This week I was only scheduled for 22 hours, though, which isn't enough. My boss wrote me in for four more hours then another 14 hours. That put me at 40, which is what I'd hoped for. Unfortunately, Wednesday I woke up with a sore throat and by Friday I was sicker than a dog. I went in anyway but they sent me home after two hours. So much for that 8 hour day on my pay! I work today, though, for six hours and I hope they let me stay the entire time as 32 hours are definitely better than 26. The month of February is historically slow so the hours will be slim and I'll be grateful for any and all I get!

I'm doing well without cable TV. The fact that I still pick up TNT, CNN (a little snowy but quite viewable), and a few others helps. Not sure how I'm still getting them but I'm glad I do. I don't watch much TV, though, and when I do it's usually a Law & Order episode I've streamed via Netflix on my PS3.

I'm very tired of my too large cell phone bill and want to go back to a prepaid phone. I'm just about at the point of paying the $200 to get out of the contract. I have a Straight Talk phone I bought months ago when I was having issues with Verizon's service. I used it for a month and it's now inactive. I can port my current Verizon number to it but it's not an easy phone to txt with and since I do txt a bit I need to be able to do that easily. So, perhaps I need to find another Straight Talk phone that's a little easier to txt with. The biggest problem with Straight Talk, though, is that it doesn't seem to work that well when I travel to Austin. Of course, I only do that once or twice a year but it's a five hour drive and I take some back roads and a working cell phone is a thing of beauty on those drives! I'd hate to have car trouble on one of those back roads and have no cell phone. Hmm, what a quandary.

I haven't been out to eat in awhile. Quite awhile. I'm still spending more than what I like on groceries but a lot less than what I was on eating out so that's a good thing.

Today is Day 50 of not smoking! Yes, I haven't had a single cigarette or puff from one for 50 days today. Smile I've saved about $425 by not smoking, too! That's nothing to sneeze (or cough) at. Wink

Quiet weekend off but educating myself about IRAs and other investments

January 22nd, 2012 at 10:05 am

I'm off again this weekend. Oh my, this is the third one in a row! I work the next few but sure have enjoyed these breaks.

I was off Friday, too, and a friend and I went out for lunch then to the tiny asian market in our town where I spent $16 on some things I want to try then to a newish coffee shop that opened a piece down the road. I spent $3 there. The owner of the shop said she recognized me, asked if I work at a particular Starbucks, and told me how impressed she is with the service I give and experience I seem to have. Aww, that just made my day! She basically offered me a part time job, too, but it won't start until May if it happens. I think I'd like that, though. I gave her my number and told her to call me if she needs some part time help.

I stayed home yesterday so it was a no spender and later today I'm going to a friend's house to watch football. I'll probably buy a Diet Pepsi to take with me but other than that, there should be no spending. Yaaay! Speaking of Diet Pepsi, if I get one it will be my 4th in 3 weeks! I've cut way back on them.

By the way, I still haven't had a smoke. Today is day 37 and I haven't spent about $314 on cigarettes!

Okay, so someone I know online is educating me a bit about Roth IRAs and other investments. You know, over the years I've tried to learn a little here and a little there about investing but I've never been able to put it to use. Or rather, I simply didn't put it to use. I won't be able to act on this until later this year but I plan to open a Roth IRA, most likely with Vanguard. I did check my 401(k) this morning and found out it relied too heavily on common stock so I changed that. Meh, it's something.

I've spent a good deal of today reading about IRAs but now it's time to do laundry and clean the place!

Day 34 of not smoking:how did I afford it?

January 19th, 2012 at 02:33 am

34 days without a cigarette and I'm $289 dollars richer! Sort of. Actually, I don't know how on earth I managed to afford cigarettes since I can't imagine having spent $289 in the last 4 weeks. I don't have it to spend so how did I do it? Misplaced priorities, no doubt. Oh well, I'm working on that slowly but surely and at least I'm not blowing money on smokes anymore.

I haven't heard from the management at the kitchen store where I applied for a part time job. Hopefully they'll get in touch with me soon. It would be great to earn another hundred or so a week.

I haven't spent much money the last few days. I've been taking my meal to work with me and haven't gone anywhere or done anything spendy. I do have to go to the grocery store this morning for a couple of things but shouldn't spend much at all.

All in all it's been very quiet and very non-expensive since Saturday. Gotta love that!

Monday musings

January 16th, 2012 at 04:58 pm

Well, let's see....

Saturday I had to spend $100 on a car battery. I was out and about and the bleepin' van wouldn't start. It was the second time in 3 weeks so once I got it running again I headed straight to an auto parts place and bought a decent, mid-grade battery. Ahh, the joys of the emergency fund. Wink

Sunday was a no spend day. Sammy (the cat) and I cuddled on the couch most of the day watching Law & Order re-runs. It was heavenlyl

When I woke up this morning I realized today is Day 31 without smoking. I haven't spent about $263 on cigarettes. Nice, huh? Go, Denise, go, go! In addition, in the last two weeks I've had only two diet drinks. I'm on a roll, y'all!

I forgot to take my lunch to work so I spent about $4 on a sandwich and drink. Meh. I'll remember it tomorrow, I'm sure.

After work I went by the mall and took a quickie resume to the manager at the kitchen store. Apparently they terminated a part time employee today so I'm hoping they call me for an interview. I think I'd like 8 to 16 hours a week at a kitchen store. Hey, it's more time out and about and a little extra money and both of those are good things, yes?

And I got home this evening and found a brand new oven in my kitchen! My burners weren't working properly lately and maintenance came to check it and left me a note saying they'd order a new oven. I figured I'd be lucky to get a "new to me" unit and would have been quite happy with that, thanks, but to get a brand new GE oven is awesome! It's level, the burners don't wobble, and it seems to work beautifully! I imagine I'll be in the mood to play with it soon, probably this weekend. I can't wait.

Hmm, I guess that's about it... no smoking, kind of spendy weekend because of the battery and a new oven. Yaaay!

Miscellaneous stuffs

January 12th, 2012 at 06:53 am

Well, tomorrow makes four weeks since I quit smoking. Four weeks already? Yes, indeed! It's hard for me to believe but it's true. In that four weeks, I'll have not spent $238.00! I'm pretty proud of myself to be honest but know I'm not out of the woods. I have to stay on guard, all day, every day against that one cigarette that can undo the progress I've made. Meh.

Tomorrow is pay day. I have to pay the internet, electric, and post office box bills, get cash for the next two weeks of food and gas, and save every bit of money left to go to rent and insurances due in February. The hours at work are being cut again. This week I'm scheduled for only 31 but it's going to be more like 29, I think. I have two houses to clean next week, though, so the money from those will come in very handy.

I'm off work today and Mom and I are going to the Alzheimer's support group meeting. Oh joy! Those meetings are emotionally exhausting but good, also.....

Interesting opinion piece on U.S. and meat consumption

January 11th, 2012 at 06:24 am

I read this and thought it was pretty interesting. Apparently, meat consumption in the U.S. has decreased substantially over the last five years.

http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/01/10/were-eating-...

I'd say I eat less meat than I did five years ago and less than a year ago. I still eat a lot but between the cost of it and my own attempts to simply my life and change a few things, I rely less on meat than I did.

Are you eating less meat than five years ago and a year ago, same amount, or more?

25 days without smoking, another NSD & my fridge is leftover free!

January 10th, 2012 at 03:45 pm

Today is Day 25 smoke free. I've not spent $212 for cigarettes and I feel great! I'm sleeping better and surely smell better. I've finished my main wall washing project but every two or three days I wash another wall. I do this to keep the place smelling fresh and to remind myself why I had to wash the walls to begin with. I suppose it's a form of doing penance.




And I'm very excited that today has been another No Spend Day and a No Leftover Day! Why? Because to have two NSDs in a week, much less in a row like yesterday and today, and to have a refrigerator with no leftovers, not because I threw them out but because I've cooked less and eaten any leftovers, show that my focus and hard work are starting to pay off.

For some people, having a NSD might not be a big deal but to me it's almost monumental. Not necessarily because I overspend on big things or a lot of things but because it's been my habit to spend small amounts almost every day. You know, I get a drink or two while at work, maybe a quick breakfast, and perhaps an inexpensive lunch because I forgot to take mine. And while I don't spend much when I do that, perhaps $8 or $9 for the day, it adds up. If I do that three days a week, I've blown $24 to $27! Over a month, that's enough to pay my electric and water bills and buy some groceries.

So, I see this week as evidence that what I'm doing is working. I have a long way to go until NSDs come easily and seem natural to me but I'm closer today than I was yesterday. And that's what it's all about.

I owe, I owe...

January 10th, 2012 at 04:57 am

but not much. Wink

I work today but it's another relatively short shift. I do get a meal period and a break so I have the last of the King Ranch Chicken, some cheese, and my last chocolate mousse packed to go with me. I already ate breakfast so with the snack at about 10:30 or so I should be good until 1:00 when I get lunch. I also have a couple of crystal light drinks so I shouldn't need to buy anything.

I'm trying for another no spend day. I don't know that I'll achieve it but I think I can. I've had three so far this month and would like several more.

Have a beautiful day, all!

A 23 day frugal living challenge! Am I up to it? Are you???

January 9th, 2012 at 02:44 pm

I've been following this challenge for a few days and finally decided to join in.

I'm not sure how well I'll do but hey, any improvement is good, right? As the creator of it says, one needn't do every single day of the challenge if that doesn't work for some reason. I'm all for trying new frugal ideas and if some of them stick with me, that's great!

http://frugallysustainable.com/2011/11/23-day-frugal-living-...

I think it's a really neat challenge. Interestingly enough, I basically started this challenge a few months back without even knowing about the challenge. Wink I've been on a learning trip of sorts and some of the things I've been working on are in this challenge.

Day 1: Redefining Frugality - I started that several years ago and my views on frugality are still evolving.

Day 2: How To Develop The Frugal Living Habit - I started seriously working on this almost 19 months ago. It's a constant process for me.

Day 3: Downsizing Your Home - Well, I live alone in a one bedroom apartment. I have less than 550 square feet and for now that's as downsized as I can get. There are a few things I can do to help reduce clutter, which I hate, and I've been working on that issue. I have very little clutter but I still have too much 'stuff' and I'm getting rid of it, one thing at a time.

Day 4: Reducing Household Bills - I've blogged here about getting rid of the cable TV, downgrading the cable internet, downgrading my Netflix membership, canceling my subscription to a particular website, etc. etc. etc. My car is paid for and I have very little debt. I'm under contract for my phone and might pay the fine to get out of that but if I do it's going to have to wait a bit. I'm steadily working on #4 just like I'm working on 1 through 3!

I'm going to dive right in and see how the water is. Anyone game for joining me?? Smile

Another NSD & a change in my menu with ideas needed

January 9th, 2012 at 12:40 pm

I got off work at 1 and came straight home. I haven't spent a penny today! I didn't buy any coffee or tea at work, no food, nada! Unless I have to go out for some reason I should be at home the rest of the day, not spending money. Smile

I took a breakfast sandwich and ate it when I got a couple minutes. I sure am glad I took it, too, because I got very hungry and would have bought something if I hadn't had that sandwich.

So now I'm at home. The other package of boneless ribs the boss and I bought is thawing. She's requested some cooked in a way other than how we had them for New Years so I'll do something with them this evening. I'd like to use the slow cooker and am considering marinating them in Dale's then sprinkling them with garlic powder and pan frying them a bit before putting them in the slow cooker for the night.

I'm open to other ideas on how to prepare them but whatever I do it needs to be done tonight as I have to be at work at 7:30 in the morning.


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