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Archive for April, 2017

That $20 Went Fast

April 28th, 2017 at 05:15 pm

My general feeling is once you break a $20 bill, it just disappears. And I certainly felt that way today. Someone on a local FB list was selling serving pieces and a few extras that match our everyday dishes for $8. I met with students all morning and desperately needed a cup of coffee to make myself grade more papers, so off went another $2. I took DD for a doctor's appointment, but had to run back to judge a contest at school, so gave her $5 and told her to wait in Panera until I got back in 45 minutes. And because I was in a hurry, I had to pay for parking at school, so I could turn around quickly and pick up DD. Yep, I've got $3 left.

Not sure all of that spending could've been avoided, but I probably should've brought my own coffee. I've still got odds and ends on my gift cards. Perhaps I should try to use them up on grocery shopping this weekend to fill in some of those gaps. And darn Swagbucks maybe.

My First Cup of Coffee

April 27th, 2017 at 01:07 pm

Let's make that my first cup of coffee shop coffee for the semester. And it was well-deserved, I think. I was up late late late trying to untangle upset students mired in a group project. They hate each other; they want to work independently, they are clearly stressed and crazy. I arranged to meet a couple of them after my classes, and the angry meeting I was anticipating turned out to be sad. Several of them are facing failing classes (not mine) and they were grateful for the few crumbs I had to offer them. Students need some sort of stress mgmt techniques. They exhaust me.

My class is actually writing a report on increasing 401k participation in my fictitious organization. It's to teach them about audience, report formatting, etc. And my secondary (and hidden) purpose was to encourage them to do some research about retirement planning and financial literacy. I'm really pleased with it; several of them have commented about how they're "accidentally" learning so much about pensions and 401ks. Now they're very keen to start investing and enrolling in their plans--which surprisingly are offered by many of their employers. I hope when they have fat retirement accounts they drink a toast to me--or send me $10.

My Magic Number is 5

April 25th, 2017 at 06:03 pm

No, not the lottery, but that's how many sessions of each of my classes I have left. Circle the date in red: May 11! I cannot remember when I've been so happy to have a semester over. I think it's the combination of being here vs London this spring, my brand-new class, and the ongoing budget cuts.

I've had a fun week. I drove with colleagues to a small river town on the MN/WI border called LaCrosse to give a presentation at a teaching symposium. It's a pretty town with the beautiful Mississippi bluffs. They all went out for dinner after our session on Thursday, but I ate the free lunch and was upgraded to the fancy level at the hotel where I had a free glass of wine and appetizers. I stayed in all night and graded papers. Friday brought free breakfast, lunch at the conference, and my only food spending--a nice dinner at a beautiful supper club on the river bluffs. It was fun to be with my buddies, though none of them would be my ideal traveling companions. And we always talk too much about work. I did buy a pretty scarf and some earrings at a local shop.

My adjunct class ended last night with hugs all around. What a nice group of women. And I spent hours today evaluating capstone projects so that'll add some $$$ to the bank account in June. The next adjunct session starts in two weeks.

I've also cashed $50 out of Swagbucks which will go into my 100K goal. And I found a penny in the parking lot. Today's biggest find was a very cute outdoor wrought iron plant holder marked "Free" curbside on the way home. I love it! It's missing one terra cotta pot but is sturdy and fabulous.

Three Weeks and One Day

April 19th, 2017 at 12:40 pm

until the blasted semester ends. I'm hanging on, not spending much, but fueled by caffeine and sugar. I seem to have legions of students who need help, are tired too, have lost the plot, or something else dire. Despite some major grocery spending last weekend, I seem to have spent nothing for days.

Tomorrow I'm driving with a friend to a teaching conference and meeting some other colleagues there. I am so excited, but so tired at the same time. I have a short presentation to do, and miracle of miracles, the university is paying for our lodging. It's over at noon on Friday, so we hope to have some time to hike Friday night. If you want an indication of how boring I currently am, I'm planning on holing up in the hotel room and grading papers all Thursday night. And worst of all--I'm looking forward to it.

DH is also busy at work and I need a couple hours tonight to pull things together around here.

Friday Fun

April 14th, 2017 at 09:38 am

I usually go to church n Good Friday, but DD has the day off and needs some cheer. We're going out to Noodles for lunch (with our coupon) and picking up the making of something strange called Rainbow Slime. Her friends are coming at 2 to mix this goop up.

Yesterday was our dirge of a department meeting, harried students, textbook reps, no lunch--all on a day of little sleep the night before. I honestly cannot believe I had the foresight to pull a lb of hamburger out of the freezer before I left for school and make a hamburger pie thing when I got home. But it was another no-sped day for me, though DH had to pick up half and half on the way home.

So--we're off to Michael's (with coupon), and tomorrow I'll do the "real" Easter shopping. I'm sort of treading water here with the expectation things will ease up soon.

Another NS Day!

April 12th, 2017 at 03:03 pm

And a sunny one at that. My MW classes are working on a big project, so I'm there mostly to give feedback. The Tuesday/Thursday ones are still getting modified lectures, and we're building in some time to work on their projects. My students are really really tired. With four weeks left of the semester, they seem to have hit the wall. I think they'll need some love--probably in the form of doughnuts next week.

I was about to splash out on a coffee during my office hours today, but found one lonely little orange teabag in my work bag, so made a quick cup of tea through the magic of the electric kettle instead. Chalk up a $2 savings.

Our theatre building at the university had a serious fire on Sunday causing over a million in damages. But the local community has been very generous offering us space, extra materials, and cash to rebuild.

Something a little strange has happened with my DH's job prospects. He's heard from a source that his old job may be interested in having him back. I think if they offered him a non-contract job, he'd go back, but we'll talk it through tonight and see how steady it is.

I have indeed deposited $1300 in my new account toward the $100k goal. So, I'm 1.3% of the way there! This may be painstaking progress, but I'm eager.

It's spaghetti night here. Do you all have a regular taco/spaghetti/pizza or something night?

Staying Sort-Of Hunkered Down

April 11th, 2017 at 05:29 pm

This has been a glum week in my academic department; we've issued "none renewals" to seven people, some of whom have been here for more than 15 years. Demographics are hurting us, and it's going to be a bleak few years. I've spoken to several of them, and we're trying to figure out what we can do for people. My decision to go for what I'll call alt-tenure a few years ago was, in retrospect, very wise. It seemed to have no reward at the time and took months to complete, but we're only hiring two people without it in the fall.

Faced with their situations, we're still in modified frugality around here.I've spent nothing since Sunday, and tonight was an amazing variety of leftover made a bit more exciting by crudites and dip. Eat it all, as my friends the Frugalwoods say. DH is still toting his lunch as is DD. I gratefully accepted a coffee from the textbook peddler who came to visit me during my office hours.

I'm very glad Monday and Tuesday are done. The rest of the week is busy but easy. I'm starting the cash transfer toward the $100K goal tonight.

The Power of Sleep!

April 7th, 2017 at 02:42 pm

I've had way too many late nights this week editing a dissertation for a local nursing student. English is her second language, and her grammar and phrasing needed a lot of work. But it was an interesting project, and despite my issues getting her tables to merge into the original copy at 1am this morning, we're finished! She had the original tables, so all is well. I took the dog to have her stitches removed this morning, deposited some rebate checks, came home, and took a nap. Two hours later I felt like a human again and started cleaning the kitchen, catching up on laundry, and grading quizzes. Inspired (as always) by CCF's idea of a new savings goal, I'd like to try to save a big chunk alongside our regular retirement savings before DD heads to college and we consider moving to the UK. Ideally, I'd like to shoot for $100,000, but I'm not sure how realistic that is. The more reasonable figure is $50,000 but I'm going to aim big. Maybe I'm loopy on sunshine. So far it's been a NSD as the stitches removal was free.

Tired Tuesdays

April 4th, 2017 at 05:48 pm

I'm always beat on Tuesdays; I guess I've resigned myself to it for the rest of the semester. That evening class is full of personality--which is my polite way of saying I can't get them to discuss nicely, in fact everyone seems to all talk at once. Last night I actually commanded two students to be quiet for ten minutes so others could talk. On the positive side, if I can get 15 working adults enthusiastically discussing 100-year-old stories, something must be going right. But one of the women said to me on the break, "we must exhaust you." And they do. And the class is over four hours long. And I have two more classes beginning at 8 on Tuesday mornings.

But I got a lot done--after school I stopped for milk and a few things. The checker forgot my coupons and sent me to customer service for a refund. Hey, it was $4.45. There's no way I'd leave that money there. And I'm using the wellness- incentive pre-loaded debit card DH got last year for our grocery spending this month. That should ease the budget a bit.

I also stopped to vote on the way home. We had a bunch of small local elections, a judicial race, and the school board. The sun came out for a few hours so we put the chicken on the grill, and I roasted some potatoes and carrots. Since they're talking about sleet and snow tomorrow, I'm glad we took advantage of some of the sunshine. And I found a penny on the street!

I'm going to write a quiz tonight, work on the dissertation, and try to get to bed early.

Spendy Friday Leads to Frugal Weekend

April 3rd, 2017 at 12:09 pm

Friday DD and her BF went with me to Kohler to the famous bathroom design center there. Trip Advisor described it as "the Disneyworld of Plumbing." I have to admit, we had a very good time. Imagine 14-15-year old girls turning on all the taps, envisioning themselves in the model rooms, critiquing everything from sinks to soaking tubs--and blabbing a lot about their ideal homes. Since DD went to the movies with her BF's family on Thursday, I treated her to lunch and the $12 lunch special was augmented quite a bit by tiramisu and cannolis as well as wine for me. But we really enjoyed the Kohler art center and spending a goofy day together.

Spending continued as my office mate and another colleague went for wine and apps later--and missed the happy hour specials.

Something had to give amidst the riotous food spending so I told DH we were eating from the freezer and pantry and not going shopping over the weekend. He was less than enthusiastic, but I had a pouch of that Rick Bayless Frontera simmer sauce which made a lovely dinner over chicken on Saturday night with frozen veg, and plenty of beans and cheese for a huge pan of enchiladas with some leftovers for lunches.

Frugality wasn't the only reason I didn't go shopping; I spent hours and hours on a dissertation I'm editing. Yikes, what a mess. Great topic but not fabulous writing and a tremendous lack of knowledge on APA citation. Untangling bad citation in scholarly work is a nasty job, and I'm afraid this will cost her more than she bargained for. The writer wants it ready to submit to her advisor by Friday. She has to look over the parts I sent, then I'll come back to it on Tuesday or Wednesday. And off to tonight's lit class in a couple hours. I need another spring break!