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Archive for February, 2008

Snow Day

February 22nd, 2008 at 11:21 pm

We've been hit by the winter storm, and I cancelled my classes today, although the college was open. Over 90% of the students live on campus and half of the professors are within walking distance, so they almost never shut down (although the support staff often are given a late start). I live driving distance AND on a hill. If I didn't have classes first thing in the morning, I could make it, but at 7:30 in the morning on a snow day, my street is always a snowy icy mess.

I'll remember not to schedule such early classes next spring term!

I took advantage of the snow day to sit home and finish reading a novel I had started (reading chapters in between bouts of shoveling).

Tonight I'll sit down with the exams I have to grade and get a start on those. I have a set of exams and a set of papers to grade, and a first year seminar proposal to write this weekend, so I just took my "fun" time first. I'll also be going to a play on campus on Sunday--hopefully the work will be done by then.

I finally finished the "incomplete" from the course I was taking last fall on Monday. It's good to have it completed, but with one thing and another I didn't devote the study time to it that I'd have liked, and I actually failed one of the exams (the only exam I've ever failed in my life; personally quite traumatic, although I ended up with a B+ in the course). I'll have to go back and practice those 4 chapters and learn them thoroughly before the CPA exam.

Today was a no-spend day, bringing to 10 the number so far this month. I've received my monthly paycheck and paid all the bills--current monthly spending is $1983. I'm not going to bring it in under $2000 as I need to fill my gas tank and to buy groceries for the week, but I'm still hoping to come in fairly close to that $2000 goal. Doing so counterbalances the heavy spending I did in January and puts me on target for my annual savings goal.

Grocery & other weekly spending

February 16th, 2008 at 08:01 pm

After spending $130 at the grocery store last week, I was going to try not to spend anything there this week.

No go on that. All the things that I use the most--soymilk, sliced turkey breast, cereal, fruit, salad fixings, frozen burritos--were used up, so I did replace those. That "basic grocery shop" used to cost me about $35/week if that was all I bought. Now the same basket of goods costs $40/week. Inflation.

Only 1 no-spend-day during the week, but 2 more this weekend, for 8 days out of 17 so far this month total. The kitties ran out of litter and I ran out of feminine protection. Both are items that I order in bulk online, saving money over the long term but requiring an inital outlay, so that was about $100 out the door, but now I'm stocked up on both for 6 months.

I also ordered tickets to a play on-campus for my sweetie & I to attend as a late Valentine's celebration. That wasn't too bad--community members pay $15 per ticket, but as a member of the campus community, I can go for $5/person, so that was $10 out the door.

Total spending so far this month $732, still on track to bring the month in at about $2000 total, barring any household/car repair or medical emergencies. I *thought* I was going to have a big vet bill for Henry, but we managed to avoid it. He has a wart on his nose and scratched it so that it began bleeding intensely--I look up and there's blood EVERYWHERE and it's still pouring down his face. Fortunately applying pressure (and hydrogen peroxide) to the spot managed to stem the bleed. Darn wart's still there, though.

My February Challenge Update 3

February 10th, 2008 at 01:15 am

My February Challenge is doing a "fiscal fast," minimizing extras and sticking to spending on monthly bills, food, fuel, and medical emergencies.

This week was so-so. I *did* have two more no-spend days (and I expect tomorrow to be another, as I'm planning not to leave the house and to spend minimal time on the internet), so that's 4 so far. If tomorrow is indeed another NSD, I'll be batting .500 as far as NSDs go, which is pretty good for me.

I *did* buy a couple of unplanned extras. Both were not really unplanned, but not planned for this month. I was called up on Monday and asked by the Dean of the Evening College to supervise an independent study class for a student (which will bring in over $600 more income this term). The class I am supervising for her is one that I am not otherwise teaching this term. I taught it last term. A new video very relevant to the class appeared in January, and I decided at that time to buy it the next time I taught the course; but until this week, I thought that wouldn't be until next January. In addition, I replaced a copy of another videotape I use which was wearing out with a DVD of the same, since both purchases were from ABC video. So that was an unplanned $65 in unreimbursed business expenses.

Then today at the grocery store, I fell prey to the sale bug and bought two pretty glass carafes and a new coffee mug, for $13. These had been on the "to buy" list so were not totally impulse expenses, just taking advantage of the sale.

I did end up spending $130 at the grocery store, so I'm going to do my best to have that last two weeks if I can and skip my regular grocery shopping trip next weekend.

Finally, this week my local public library decided to charge me full price for a book I'd borrowed, as they said it was "too damaged" to go into circulation. I got a lecture from Miss Priss the librarian on the phone and was relieved not to have another one when I went in to pay the fine. I was thinking that I must have written in the book more than I thought, but no. Yes, I KNOW one is not supposed to write in library books--I'm a librarian's daughter. My mother and I used to fight about my habit of writing in books. I do minimize this for library books. (And I frankly I cannot understand people who can read nonfiction books and get involved with them *without* writing in them. Reading a book is like having a conversation with the author, and one has to record one's own side, is my view. Just like "an empty desk is a sign of an empty mind," an unmarked page of a nonfiction book is a sign that the reader was not involved in the reading, IMHO. But really, I DO limit my extensive conversations to books I own.) The "writing all over the book" turned out to be approximately 8 pen dots, lines, and exclamation points marking key passages, and one 6-word annotation pointing to another book on the same issue which also appeared last month (the book in question was Michael Pollan's "In Defense of Food," which I am just as happy to own, and the book I referred to was Gary Taubes' "Good Calories, Bad Calories," which Pollan eventually mentions, about 25 pages after the point at which I first found it relevant. Personally, I am happy when a link to a related reference is posted.) Anyways, that ended up costing me $30.50, for the book, the processing fee, and late fees for a couple of other books I was not allowed to renew earlier this week because of the charge.

Despite the couple of extra expenses, it's still looking as though I'll come in under $2000 in total expenses easily (current projection is for $1825 total), just so long as the pets stay well and no other crisis emerges.

I also got another $25 reward certificate from amazon.com if the spending bug really hits.

As far as my other major goal for the year, I've lost 9 pounds so far. I've been keeping track of my miles walked, both for exercise and otherwise, via a pedometer. To date, I've walked 170 miles so far this year, 74 aerobic miles and 96 other. Much better than I was doing in 2007!

Two NSDs and a bit of extra income

February 5th, 2008 at 02:16 am

I've had two no spend days in a row the past two days--yay! And the scale reached a new low (for the recent span of time) this morning. I was hungry hungry hungry today, so it'll probably take me a week to regain that number. Didn't do huge damage--just ate the number of calories that I ate last year. One day won't do damage but daily eating at that level puts the weight right back on. I rationalized it by telling myself that I needed to let my body know it wasn't starving because of the lower calorie intake of late--when your body figures that food is scarce, it lowers the metabolic rate.

When I got home from work I had a phone call from the Dean of the Evening College I teach at. The upshot of it is that a student needs an independent study in order to graduate in May. I agreed to supervise. It means an hour weekly meeting (plus a couple extra to catch up since we're now in week 4 of the term) and a bit of additional grading, and $600 extra bucks (before taxes) in my pocket this term.

Final thought: Maybe that was a gift from Dad (who passed in 1990). I maintain a pretty rationalistic approach to my spirituality, but sometimes it's fun to indulge. Today would have been my father's 90th birthday. It's just nice to think that he's celebrating by giving his family gifts. Makes me a bit sad, too--although I was 28 when he died, I still feel like he didn't get to know me as a "real grown up." I hope he'd be proud of how I turned out. He was always a button-bustin' papa, so I'm sure he would be.

Weekend/ My Feb Challenge so far

February 3rd, 2008 at 12:30 am

Quiet weekend here. I went grocery shopping in the morning, then the rest of the day has been chores, exercise (in-home walking), having DBF over for a pizza & salad dinner, and, for the rest of the evening, studying. I'll end by watching an episode online of Extreme Home Makeover. I'm actually considering canceling my cable ($15/month) since 90% of the time, I end up watching shows online rather than via cable. That 10%, however, seems to be key news events, and $15 is relatively cheap, so so far I've kept it.

Tomorrow will be all studying--trying to do the final exam for my intermediate accounting course from last term, or as much of it as I can manage--there's still one chapter I haven't even looked at yet. And even when I finish the final, I'm not done with the course--I still have exam 2 to do, too--I just started with the final since that material is freshest--but after 6 weeks, *nothing* is really fresh.

I'll be at home all day tomorrow, so it should be a no-spender. Other than studying, I'll probably make up some food for the week--I'll cook up an entree of beans & greens and have that for lunch, and put a pot of split pea soup on to cook all day and have that for dinner. Plus I'll do an exercise video--I still haven't tried all of the 15 that I bought last month in my fitness frenzy. I've been doing good with the weight loss and exercise--8 pounds down since Christmas, and I've walked more than 10,000 steps per day for all but 2 days out of the last two weeks. Three more pounds and I'll be back to my Jan 1, 2007 weight; 10 more gets me back to October 2006 and Henry's surgery, which marks the time that I started putting the extra weight on. There's still another 50 pounds to go after that, but I'm taking it a step at a time. February is a busy month, so as long as I lose at least that 3 pounds, I'm happy.

Spending so far in Feb:

Fri: forgot my snack & lunch, so bought those at the convenience store for $7.41

Saturday: grocery store: $81.81, includes about 68 in groceries, 7 in pet food, and the rest in toiletries. Late addendum: responded to an urgent appeal from my favorite charity, my local Basset Hound Rescue, $40. Total spending: $129.22, which is 6.5% of my $2000 limit for the month.