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Archive for December, 2017

1st week of 2018 Grocery Report

December 31st, 2017 at 11:08 am

I decided to do my first grocery spending on Dec 30 instead of Monday due to the lovely below zero temperature we are enjoying currently. Smile

Some items were purchased with a giftcard / on Amazon. I'm still counting those items towards my total $160 personal spending budget. I also bought a few items DH requested which will not go towards the $160 total but the general food budget.

My goal is to eat healthily without spending a lot.

So ...

Amazon -

3lbs of raw cashews - $21.99
1lb Nutritional Yeast flakes - $11.41

*both items used to replace cheese, cream, etc. Should last many months.

Stock up budget - $33.40

Dollar Tree
4 10 oz bags mixed frozen berries - $4 (smoothies)
5 3pks mandrain oranges - $5 - (work snack)
$3 personal spending budget (i.e. junk)
1 32oz Almond Milk!! $1

Stock up budget - $43.40

Walmart
Generic Old Fashioned Oatmeal - $2.48
Generic PB2 powder 30 oz - 9.98
Smuckers Natural PB - 3.32
Pecan halves (DH)
Hungry Man x 2 (DH)
Bananas .44/lb - $.86
Bulk lemons $.48/each - $.96
Fresh parsley - $.98
bag of whole carrots - $1.54
4 red delicous apples - $1.64/lb - $2.25
1 green bell pepper - $.78

Stock up budget - $59.18
Produce budget - $7.37

Other items purchased -
Can colander - 1.88
Juicer - $3.97
Egg slicer - $2.97 (slicing whole mushrooms)

Used $50 giftcard earned from koinme

Aldi's
2 cartons veg. broth - 2.98
2 pkgs frozen brussel sprouts - $1.78
Garlic Powder - $1.19
160z walnuts - $5.99 (32oz bag at Walmart is cheaper!)
Organic seeded bread - $3.79
3lbs sweet potatoes - $1.49
2 x 8 oz spinach - $2.49
4 six pack raisins (work snack) $4.36
8oz fresh mushrooms - $1.49
baby carrots - $1.69

Stock up budget - $73.70
Produce - $20.10

Ok, so I went a bit over in both stocking up and the weekly budget. This is a prime example of why I need to write this all out.

One area I know I need to improve on is my work snacks. If I joined costco I probably could get one of those huge things of raisins and a large can of Mandrain oranges and then portion them out ... I'd just have to see if they have the kind not packed in sugary gel ...

At Walmart they had a 32oz bag of Walnuts for $9.34 but I couldn't remember what Aldi's price was, so waited til Aldi's. Now I know. Smile

Currently reading - Treasured Grace by Tracie Peterson
Listening to - Klove on my Alexa Dot
Will be making for dinner - Beefless Stew
http://www.straightupfood.com/blog/2015/06/07/beefless-stew/
and Braised Cauliflower from the How Not to Die Cookbook

2018 Goals

December 30th, 2017 at 02:58 pm

So I've been thinking about goals for the coming year. I want to try to keep them fairly simple so I may actually manage to do them.

Health:

Big Goal: Lose 5% of current weight

(I lost 10% in 2017 and have managed to keep it off since May.)

Plan - Average 35k steps per week.
Minimal use of processed foods.
Water from the tap, plant milk, and tea only.
Complete the Daily Dozen at least 90% 5+ days a week. (Have a check off list on my fridge)

Financial

Big Goal 1: Fully fund both ROTH's - $12k

Big Goal 2: Reduce Grocery Spending - keep personal average to $160/month or less. (not including DH's food) *Check sidebar for explanation*

Big Goal 3: Increase EF by $3k

Personal

Big Goal 1: Complete at least 3 tasks daily before vegging at computer

Big Goal 2: Get the office organized with functional files. Put together the bookcases. Keep it that way.

Big Goal 3: Read 52 physical books.

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I am not planning on doing the uber frugal challenge, however, I do want to be more transparent with my spending. I think I've gotten lax on being mindful.

So, I am going to attempt to post my spending a few days a week here - starting January 1.



Nutcracker, Snow, Merry Christmas!

December 25th, 2017 at 10:39 am

I really enjoyed myself at the Nutcracker. DH tolerated it. Smile Afterwards we ate at a Chinese place with a grill. I was able to fill up on grilled veggies and tofu.


I updated our budget and realized we only had $50 left in the grocery budget! I knew DH still needed to buy his turkey and the stuff for the rum cakes. That was $28. So I tried to buy as little as possible and make do with what I had on hand.

As I was making the tater tot casserole yesterday I realized I was out of veg stock, and only had one can of green beans. So I subbed green peas .... I've got a whole casserole to eat for myself (other than the piece DH ate.) Oh well.

I got my $50 Walmart card from Koinme, so I can use some of that for groceries without it affecting the budget.

I plan on adding a category for next year for Holiday spending - the extra spent for Thanksgiving day food, Christmas day food, multiple Christmas cards, stamps, and I did buy a gift card for my mom ... Need a separate category for this.

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DH gave me a spice rack for Christmas! It is beautiful - made of solid oak. He's going to stain it to match our cupboards and hang it on the wall. I'll take a picture of it once he's done that and I've filled it with my spices. Smile

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DH has been pretty okay with us not having cable. But there are a few times where I know he's really missing it. This coming Monday (NYD) with the Florida bowl game (Scott Frost) he's really missing it.

So ... I finagled our household general budget a bit (i.e. borrowed from some more flush categories) and bought a set top converter box and antenna for his huge analog tv monstrosity that sits in our living room. Hopefully that setup will pull in whatever channel the game is on. Smile

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We woke up Sunday morning to 4 inches of snow! It was so beautiful.


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DH went with me to the Christmas Eve service at my church Big Grin and then we went Christmas light looking. We ended with my favorite one - the place I call the "Alley Place."

Afterwards DH made his rum cakes. 1 for us (mainly him - I had two bites of it.) 1 for the partner and sister of his sister, and 1 for his long time friend.

We however were out of good paper plates. I did NOT want to use any of my real plates (did that last year for the one we gave his sister, and only got it back after her memorial service ...) So ... I ended up driving our Honda CRV for the very first time.

I don't like driving vehicles that are high up off the ground, but this wasn't too bad - other than backing up ...

I still haven't driven our pickup truck. (And won't for awhile now since the insurance for that is now covering the CRV - until winter is over.)

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I'll be taking Kari (cat) to the vet again tomorrow for a recheck. Hoping it won't be another $168. I'm pretty sure she's over the UTI though.

It would be nice to not have any activity in our pet fund (other than food/litter) for at least 6 or 7 months so we can actually rebuild our funds to a reasonable level!

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Well, I hope you have a wonderful Christmas all!

Good, Busy Day Off, $ Ruminations

December 16th, 2017 at 11:30 am

So I got to sleep in a little on my birthday. At least a bit of a lazy and easy wake up. I was greeted by the Alexa Dot playing a Happy Birthday song to me as my alarm - which was funny weird. Smile

I had a doctor's appt for bloodwork at 9, but had gotten a call around 4 on Thursday which I was only able to catch part of (voicemail) and of course when I tried to call back the office was closed.

I tried calling before going, but got their answering service. So I decided to just go and see what was up.

Apparently since the city switched insurances (from BCBS to AETNA) the lab my doctor uses is no longer in network. Great - already had labwork done in November (start of new ins plan year) wonder how much that's going to bite.

They'd canceled my appt due to this ... I told them to please see if I could get into Quest (now in network) that day since I had the time.

So while they were getting this all figured out, I headed to Aldi's - they have mejodl dates 1 lb for $2.49!! I spent a total of $33 there.

Then I headed to Kohl's to see if I could find anything that grabbed me. There was one sweater I really liked - but not $26 liked. So left with nothing.

Next I headed to Lane Bryant. I got fitted for a new bra (down 2 cup sizes! Like I'd mentioned, desperately needed a new bra!) I bought two - used a $25 coupon - spent $76. I told my husband - glad these things last a long time!

While I was at LB I got a call telling me to go to a local hospital to get my labs done - walk in anytime.

I needed to put my groceries away, so I went home first, then headed to the hospital. That was at least 40 minutes later. They didn't have any idea I was coming. It was nearly noon.

30 minutes later I had my labs done - after the tech joked that she thought the birthdate was written wrong. Smile

Now on to HyVee (grocery) to see if I could find the things Aldi didn't. Spent $16, but still was missing a few items (ordered on Amazon)

On my way to Bed Bath Beyond, I stopped at the Oriental Market and stocked up on tofu and a new bottle of stir fry sauce (vegetarian) - $13

At BBB I walked around for awhile and ended up getting a hanger for tank tops/cami's, a set of sillicone hot pads and some special glasses for night time driving (for DH.) I used two 20% coupons and a gift card. So no out of pocket cost. Smile

Next I headed to Dollar Tree and stocked up on Frozen fruit and diced tomatoes ($.50 a can!!) ~$16

Finally I stopped at the Credit Union to make our weekly deposit, and then home.

I had planned on a mani/pedi but by the time I got home it was 3 pm and I was tired. Plus my mom was going to be calling me ... so I decided to just stay home and chill the rest of the day. Smile

I did have some chocolate - the Harry & David's popcorn my brother sent, and chocolate covered potato chips from Aldi's ... Mmm yum!

Today I'll be taking it easy for the most part - although I do plan on getting some housework done. Dishes/sweeping/mopping/laundry..

Tomorrow I'll do something foodwise for my lunches, fill up a few more leaf bags, and .... Nutcracker!! Woo hoo!

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I saw an idea somewhere about making shorter tops more professional looking by simply adding a layer of a long tank top. I'm going to be checking Goodwill for some. I have a few, but I think black would be best since my dress pants are all black.

I really need to replace my work flats. I'm hoping I can find Mary Janes that will work.

Is there something you can attach to the bottom of your shoes to make them more slip resistant?

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I cashed out rewards points for our Credit Union account - $15 (This is the account that pays 3% interest!

Also Citi DC - $26

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DH's ROTH is fully funded for 2017 - and has earned $500 since inception!! (started it in June or July I think.)

My ROTH is short $1045 from being fully funded.

I get a 3rd paycheck in March ... but there's so many places that could use padding .. pet fund especially, I don't know that putting it towards the 2017 ROTH is the best use of it.

To fully fund DH's for 2018 it's $500/mo.
To fully fund mine, it's ~$458/mo.

So, $958/mo. We're setting aside $1k/mo.

So .. $42x12 = 504
$1045 - $504 = 877
504/4 = 126

So, we'd need to set aside an extra $126/mo for 4 months to have 2017 and 18 fully funded. Ugh. Probably isn't going to happen. Just taking out the $1k/month is making our budget thin enough.

Or ... if I put the January contribution fully into my 2017 ROTH, then ...
13k / 12 = $1,083/month

So, $83 extra all year long. I wonder if that'd be doable ...

*FYI - DH never had any kind of retirement savings til we opened this ROTH. I had been setting aside funds for it til he finally agreed for me to get the ball rolling. I have retirement funds/accounts galore, although I've never fully funded a ROTH. Smile

We are using the funds put in my ROTH as a very last resort EF since it's been open more than 5 years and they have more time to grow.

ETA - I just realized my calculations were based on $6k for DH instead of $6500. Ooops. But the $1083/mo still would do what I'm thinking.

More $ to the Vet

December 12th, 2017 at 05:05 pm

Kari has a UTI - I dropped her off this morning and picked her up after work. $168. Sigh.

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The Nutcracker is this Sunday!!!

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I bought two Christmas gifts this year. One for DH (after he told me he'd gotten me something, and then after I asked him to tell me explicitly what he might like ...he's impossible to shop for,) and a movie gift card for mom and her husband. (from Raise.com) All in all, about $80.

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I'm debating about what I want to do on Friday. I took the day off as a b-day gift to myself. Usually I'd go see a movie or something. But having had the Moviepass the past few months (now canceled) it's not such a special thing.

I have a doctor's appt in the am, so that'll get me going. Then I want to stop at the Oriental market and stock up on tofu. Maybe get a mani/pedi? Maybe stop at Lane Bryant and see if they have their bra sale yet? (Desperately in need of new ...) Or just go home and spend the day chilling with kitties and Netflix. Smile

Hmm...

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On Sunday I had a couple teenagers and their younger cousin here helping me get leaves picked up and into bags. The garbage service doesn't charge extra after Nov 30. The 4 of us did 10 bags in about 2 hours. I paid them $30. It was WELL worth it. There's still more to go (after 20 bags) but it's much more manageable I think.

I was a bit perturbed at DH who decided to not come out and work in the yard while the kids were there. He did go out later (after dark) and got a good bit done on our deck.

With DH's shoulder/back/knee issues and energy level issues ... I'm really thinking it may be time to hire a yard service. Otherwise it slowly is falling on my shoulders. Everything. And its not like I'm a ball of energy either. We got a house with a yard like this for DH. I just wanted space for a small garden.

I don't know where the money would come from for that though ...0

Property Taxes!

December 5th, 2017 at 05:30 pm

So I checked the website today to see if our taxes were posted yet. They were! We paid ~$2300 last year - but they upped our taxed value from $113 to $142 so I knew they'd be up a good bit.

I guestimated $3k and have been saving $250/mo towards that.

The new tax amount? $2760! That means we have a choice - move $240 to the CRV tax/registration category or something else; recalculate what we need to save monthly and absorb remainder into budget, or keep the extra as a buffer. I'd be fine with any option.

I was told today that we should have protested our assessment since it went up so much. I didn't even think about it due to thinking there was no point - it was the accessed value at the time of sale. If so, too late now.

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I got another leaf bag done tonight. Tomorrow afternoon I have my dentist appt in the pm and probably will get home a little early. Hopefully I can get 2 or 3 bags done before I have to go help out with the costumes for our living nativity. (Sat night program.)

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I am debating on the wisdom of getting a $25 AGC card. It's a free $3 (only 2200 SBs for first one) vs the $25 Paypal for 2500 SBs. I sometimes wonder if I spend the AGC $ more freely because I don't have to account for it in my budget. Whereas if it is cash, then I have to account for it.

Is it worth it to lose the "free" $3 to get only PayPal from SBs? In a year's time that's equal to 1 1/2 $25 giftcards ... But do I piddle away $36/yr of the "free" money?

Dentist, Rethinking Spending, ROTH's, etc

December 4th, 2017 at 08:10 pm

Thanks again everyone for your kind words about Sunny. It is so strange to not have her here.

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I got word from my doctor that my bloodwork came back looking good. She didn't test for vit D and my platelets looked high - so I'll be going back on the 15th for a recheck of platelets and a check of vit d.

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I went to the dentist this morning - had two fillings replaced and a partial deep cleaning. Ouch. I had gone to the dentist a few weeks ago for a cleaning (after not having gone for a year) and found out I needed a deep cleaning of my back teeth.

I bought a water pik which should hopefully help going forward. (If I actually use it consistently ...)

I have another appointment on Thursday for the other side of my mouth.

DH needs his full mouth deep cleaned - he has appointments in February.

Glad to have FSA money set aside for stuff like this.

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I have decided to cancel my MoviePass. While it was fun for awhile to go see any movie I wanted to, it's started to get tiresome trying to not only find a movie I want to see, but one that's playing at a theater I want to go to. Most of the ones I want to see seem to be at the downtown theater - and the night I prefer to go - Saturday - isn't a great night to be downtown!

My spending money isn't coming in as much lately. Swagbucks is still a decent source, but most of the other things I was doing seem to be getting more difficult, or I just have gotten tired of them.

So ... I'm going to be much stricter with my spending of my fun money. I've been a little too free with it in some ways.

I'm also going to try to be a little more tight with spending of the family budget money. Especially groceries. That seems to be edging up and up the past few months. (along with the scale ...)

I'm going to continue to budget $300/mo to groceries, but any month we come under it, the balance is going to go to the EF. I'd really like to get that up to at least 12K. That way if DH gets to the point where he can't do his job anymore, we have funds on hand to last til he can be approved for disability (without having to go into our ROTH savings.)

Speaking of ROTH's - DH's is fully funded ($6500) for 2017! It earned $457 since we opened it (in June I think?) That's a lot more than it would've earned sitting in either our 5% or 3% checking accounts! My ROTH is about $1k short of being fully funded. (We had $3500 set aside for the DH's ROTH when we started his account. Each month I've allocated $1k to be split between our accounts since then. Plus, I have my retirement accounts at work - one of which shows a 14.5% increase!)

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Can I say how much I love the Echo Dots we bought?!

They may actually end up saving us a little money ... I called my grandma on Saturday like I do every week using the Dot, and it didn't count towards my minutes! As long as I remember to call my mom or brother that way, that'll save several hundred minutes whenever that happens. I forgot to use it tonight when I returned my DHs call, but will be working on remembering. Smile

We've used the intercom a few times, and I've used the thing where you can have multiple ones play at the same time (like when I'm cleaning and listening to music) DH really likes it for hands free alarm setting, and has been requesting a lot of music. Smile

I have a couple podcasts I listen to, plus my news flash with the daily Bible study reading. Smile

I also am loving the easy list making.

This would be in terms of Kon Mari a joy producing purchase Smile

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We got some yard work done yesterday. DH cleaned out the shed and rearranged everything, he then put in the fence lumber so it won't warp over the winter. (Forgot to mention that $200 worth of cement is toast due to being put on the ground and covered with a tarp. Thanks Fence guy. Not.)

I bagged up 3 bags of leaves from part of our front yard. (Did a 4th one today after work.) Also picked up a ton of sticks.

We're running out of time to do yard work. DH got a bee under his bonnet due to wanting to put his CRV in the garage. Thus why stuff is slowly starting to get done outside.

I've also decided energy or no energy, I WILL do at least one hour of focused effort on housework or other needs everyday plus whatever we do on Sundays. (Only day we both have off together.) Eventually maybe I'll catch up and can go to 20 minutes daily plus cat litter.