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Archive for April, 2015

Almost end of the month roundup

April 29th, 2015 at 12:33 am

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 10:07 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 14th, 2015 at 05:11 am

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 03:52 pm

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 12th, 2015 at 02:26 am

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 09:17 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 01:42 pm

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 11:33 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 11:27 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 02:54 pm

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 02:07 pm

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 12:40 pm

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 10:39 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 02:34 pm

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.