Monday, January 27, 2014

My $20 pepper

I usually watch the cashier at the grocery store - well, as much as I can while I'm unloading my cart. And I almost always glance at the receipt before I leave the store. But last week, I was tired and in a hurry to get home. I stuck the receipt in a notebook and didn't think about it until I pulled it out to see if I could use it for a rebate I was sending in.

As I was scanning the numbers, I saw $20.72. I couldn't imagine what I had bought that cost that much, so I looked left. And there it was. Fourteen red peppers. Right between the one green pepper and the one onion I had bought.

Of course, I had only bought one red pepper, but somehow it had been rung up as 14. (I have not been able to come up with a plausible reason for how that happened.) I took the receipt back to the store and, to their credit, they didn't ask a single question. Just gave me back my $19 and change.

The moral of my story: ALWAYS check your receipt!


Monday, January 13, 2014

New week, new optimism

Fast on the heels of the furnace going kaput, we had a big storm blow through on Saturday afternoon. We lost power at 2 p.m. and didn't get it back until late Sunday morning. It wasn't that cold here, so had it just been us we would have toughed it out. But DS sleeps with a ventilator, so about 9 p.m. we finally packed up and moved to my folks' for the night. With all the medical equipment we brought as well as the food from the freezer and fridge, you would have thought we were staying a week! We were glad to get home and even happier last week is over!

Since I was having such a fun week, I decided to go to battle with a mouse. I knew the little rodent was spending time in my kitchen (he left evidence) and it was getting annoying. Set a couple of traps with peanut butter as the bait. Next morning, one of the traps was sitting there just where I'd put it with the peanut butter licked clean. Figures the smart mouse would move in with us. That night I was sitting at the kitchen table and could actually hear that little beast moving the trap around in the cabinet trying to find more peanut butter. That was it - the war was on! I switched the two traps, added more peanut butter and outsmarted him. Sarah: 1, Mouse: 0.

It's been almost two months since my van was rear-ended by a speeding bus. It's been about a month since I got it back from the repair shop. Since then, it's been back to the shop twice and is scheduled for a third visit next Monday. The lingering problem is the fuel gauge ... which doesn't work. It falls to about half a tank and then sticks, leaving me to guess how much is left and when I'm going to be stranded by the side of the road. The men at the shop think I'm the crazy lady. "It works for us. Shoots right up when we fill the tank." Yeah, buddy, it goes UP, it just doesn't come DOWN! I'm wondering whether the van will ever be restored to its former glory. It has 130k miles on it and we were planning on at least 200k before we seriously started thinking about a replacement. It's sure not in the cards right now. Sigh.

Happy Monday everyone. Here's to a new, uneventful week!


Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Feeling the chill ...

It was 9 degrees outside when I got up this morning. A couple hours later, I started thinking it was awfully cold inside, too. I glanced at the thermostat and then peaked outside to the pipe that should be spewing smoke when the furnace is on.

It had icicles on it.

We just had the furnace inspected for winter last month. Fat lot of good that did. I called the heating company. Thank goodness for that service plan that I hate paying for but am afraid to give up. Because of that, a repairman was at the house within the hour on the coldest day of the year. But that's where the good news ends.

It took about three hours to figure out what was wrong. It took another three to find and install the replacement parts.

And 60 seconds to clean out our emergency fund. $819.

I know, I know. I should be happy I had the emergency fund. Sorry, I just can't find it in me to be happy about spending nearly $1,000 two weeks after Christmas. Bah, humbug.


Wednesday, January 1, 2014


Not a very original post title, but my retired hubby has run some errands, and I'm trying to zoom thru a LOT of tasks before he returns. It's been great having him around because I've had a cranky hip for a while, but I'm having to learn to work with more distractions. My aging brain needs fewer of those, not more!

At any rate, I'm glad Sarah has continued to update on HER impressive progress! We're still here, over a year after the bankruptcy was finalized. As with Sarah, things are not easy (courtesy in large part of school loans that came out of forbearance/deferment - ugh), but we have survived some relatively significant medical bills (for me), followed by a wedding for our son (we provided and prepared all the food for the rehearsal and reception for about 30 guests), followed by an unplanned $450 plumbing bill, followed by a $300 gas line replacement for our '98 car, followed by Christmas, which was not over the top in gifts as much as food and toilet paper to accommodate our visitors (NOT complaining there!). Our savings account took a major nosedive and will likely be fumes after paying taxes this month, but we HAD savings after so many years without one. We are determined to build it up again.

We haven't used a credit card in over two years. We've been getting plenty of invitations for new ones, but the thought of even applying for one makes me ill, which I think is a good thing. If only chocolate would do the same....

Retirement for my husband came earlier than we'd planned, thanks to the political games of education, but when we realized that holding out three more stressful years would bring only $300/month more, it was a no-brainer. While our regular income dropped significantly with the retirement, it's now for 12 months a year instead of 10, and the LONG commutes are gone.

What has been particularly encouraging is to see how financially responsible our two grown children and their spouses are. I'm hoping that our own experience will serve as a wake-up call for them for a long, long time... even when their families start expanding.

And with that, happy, healthy, and prosperous 2014 to us all!