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Update and Thank You

September 29th, 2022 at 08:16 pm

I want to first thank everyone for your kind words, thoughts and prayers for my SIL and my family. I am sad to update that she has passed away.

It really is true that you just never know when something like this might happen. My last happy memory of her was  on the boardwalk, enjoying the sun, eating an ice cream and watching the ocean waves. The beach was truly her happy place.

Rest in Peace Bev. 

Vacation Nightmare

September 24th, 2022 at 04:24 pm

A few days before my sister and BIL were going to leave Texas and drive to Maryland to stay with me for a few days before we all left for our family beach vacation, he had a medical problem and needed to get a pacemaker. He is fine, but they were unable to come for the vacation as he couldn't travel.

So, while this was very disappointing, the rest of us went to the beach as planned. We were having a wonderful time until on Wednesday, when my sister-in-law fell ill and had to be rushed to the hospital. She had a very serious brain bleed. This required emergency surgery. She is still in ICU, but is listed as stable. She is still sedated so we don't know the extent of any long term damage. We thought we were going to lose her so we are very grateful that she pulled through, but the road ahead will be very difficult. 

I left the beach to come home early on Thursday while I could get a ride home with my neice and her boyfriend. My brother and nephew remained at the beach so they could, of course, be with her. They had to check out today and will be coming home briefly to regroup, then head back. The hospital is about a 2.5 hour drive from where we live. 

The last few days have just been a blur. This is just devastating for us, please keep her in your thoughts and prayers. 

Thank you my on-line friends!



Quick Update

September 17th, 2022 at 01:07 am

We are heading out on Sunday for our week long family vacation to the beach! I've been busy with laundry and packing and buying some groceries to take with me. This will be a weird finance tracking month, especially for food spending. Now that football season has started I always have my brother, nephew and cousin over on Sundays and serve lunch. Sometimes we all pitch in for pizza and wings, sometimes I make something. I think I need to just make an entertainment category during football season.

I'm still evaluating Mint Mobile. I've been having some problems with incoming calls going straight to voicemail for some reason, and I can no longer recieve or send pictures attached to text messages. Sigh. I may just deal with it for the 3 months I paid for, then just bite the bullet and upgrade my phone and sign on again with a larger carrier. I need reliable service as this is my only phone. Still mulling it all over.

That's it for now. The weather for the upcoming week at the beach looks pretty perfect! No rain in sight.

August 2022 Saving/Spending

September 1st, 2022 at 12:03 pm

Income Total$1425.00

     * $1200 Recurring monthly retirement account distribution  

     * $225 Swagbucks and My Points earnings (cash out to PayPal


Total Spending: $1462.67

Total Savings$0 (difference between monthly income and monthly spending)

Total Overspent $37.67  
Fixed Expenses: 
Verizon bundle (internet, cable): $160.43

Cell phone Verizon: $67.79

Cell phone Mint Mobile: $51.78 (prepaid 3 months)
HVAC and water heater contract: $0 (billing delay)
Condo Fee (includes water) $190.00 

Health Care: (includes health, dental, vision, prescription plans) $477.78 
Utilities: $114.63
Gasoline: $0
Groceries: $97.97
Health: $13.17 (co-pays, scripts refillsvitamins and personal health care items) 
Take Out/Dining Out: $45.83

Shopping: $133.29

Haircut and Tip: $60.00

Gift Card: $50.00


* Condo is paid in full 
* Car is paid in full (2017 Camry) 
* No other debt


Notes: Both my Verizon cell service that I cancelled, and my new Mint Mobile service were included this month. Shopping included my Brita water pitcher, new wireless mouse, 2 bras and some tops for upcoming vacation. I took my brother out for lunch for his birthday and gave him a gift card. I keep a $500 cushion in my checking account so the small overage was easily covered.


Switching to Mint Mobile

August 24th, 2022 at 08:11 pm

My current smart phone service with Verizon was recently increased from $59.89 a month to $67.79 per month. The reason for the increase was stated as “increased administration cost”, so I wasn’t really getting anything more. My monthly plan with Verizon included unlimited talk, text and I believe 5 GB of data. I was happy with them; the service was always very reliable. When I called them to discuss any other options to lower my bill, they basically said there wasn’t anything they could offer me.


After doing a lot of research on different providers and plans I decided to try Mint Mobile. This is a prepaid plan as opposed to a postpaid plan which seems fine to me. For unlimited talk, text and 4 GB of data per month, the cost is $15 per month! The offer was to sign up for 3 months (prepaid) and after taxes and fees the total cost for 3 months was $51.78. This makes the taxes and fees only $6.78 for 3 months. After the 3 months if I am happy with the service, I can keep that rate for another full year.  


I am not a heavy data user and always use less than the 4GB’s a month so this plan should work great for me. 

They are sending me a SIM card which I should receive in a few days (for free) and all I need to do is switch it out and then activate my account. According to Mint Mobile, my zip code is in an “excellent” connection area, so I’m hoping the service works well. I can also keep my current phone# and phone.


I must say, the customer service so far has been excellent. I was easily able to speak with an actual person who was very knowledgeable, friendly and patient! I had a lot of questions and she answered all of them without rushing me. She even said that they would be happy to walk me through the activation process over the phone if I would be more comfortable than trying to do it on my own. It does sound very easy to do so I think I can manage it, but it was nice to have that support.


I’ll update again after everything switches over and I begin using it. Paying less for 3 months of the same service as Verizon was charging me for one month will be some great savings. 


And I will need it to bump up my monthly grocery budget. I am stopping the free grocery give away from the senior center. They have been receiving a LOT less donations from the grocery stores and I would rather the food go to others who may need it more than me. I am still doing my monthly food drop offs and will continue to do so to those people without transportation, or who are disabled and can’t drive. I enjoy it!


I was trying to stay at $70 per month for groceries but will be bumping it up to $100 per month. The savings from reducing my cell phone bill makes this possible.

Mid-Month Update

August 15th, 2022 at 09:28 pm

Spending so far this month is right on track. I have spent $60.29 on groceries which only leaves me with $9.71 left to spend for the rest of the month to stay at my monthly goal of $70. I will need to buy butter, cheese, fresh spinach and iced tea soon so it might be a stretch to stay under budget this month. I did a quick tour of my fridge, freezer and pantry and I have 6 chicken drumsticks, frozen veggies, chili, veggie soup, ground meat, fish sticks, tuna, canned chicken, PB&J, pasta, pasta sauce and eggs so I can make it work. I like the challenge of using up what I have on hand! 


The price of eggs keeps going up. I bought an 18 count of large store brand eggs on 8/8 and the regular price is up to $4.89. The time before that, they were $4.75. I’m happy that my store still offers them for just .99 cents when you use 100 store club card points. I have not seen any shortages on any products that I usually buy and can still get some things on sale. At least the price of gas is going down. It was down to $3.89 for regular at my corner station today. Still high but better.


I took my brother out to lunch for his birthday spending $35.91 for both of us with tip and gave him a $25 gift card so some spending there.  


I’m getting excited about our upcoming vacation in September! I’ve been tucking away some spending money every month so I can just enjoy myself without counting every penny.


Not much else is happening, we had an absolutely beautiful weekend with perfect weather in the low 80’s and low humidity. My BF and I went to a few yard sales (I didn’t buy anything) and hit the park for a long walk and then sat outside for a while enjoying the sunshine. 


Football season is fast approaching which means I will soon be hosting my usual football Sunday get togethers. There will be some food spending for this, but everyone either pitches in, or brings something so it’s affordable, and we have so much fun!


I can’t believe it’s already mid-August!

July 2022 Saving/Spending

July 31st, 2022 at 04:12 pm

Income Total$1415.00

     * $1200 Recurring monthly retirement account distribution  

     * $200 Swagbucks and My Points earnings (cash out to PayPal

     * $15 Health co-pay refund


Total Spending: $1232.73

Total Savings$182.27 (difference between monthly income and monthly spending) 
Fixed Expenses: 
Verizon bundle (internet, cable): $160.43

Cell phone: $67.79
HVAC and water heater contract: $29.95 
Condo Fee (includes water) $190.00 

Health Care: (includes health, dental, vision, prescription plans) $477.78 
Utilities: $102.55
Gasoline: $47.68
Groceries: $67.43
Health: $3.42 (co-pays, scripts refillsvitamins and personal health care items) 
Take Out/Dining Out: $32.61

Shopping: $0

AARP Yearly Renewal: $16

McAfee Anti Virus Yearly Renewal: $37.09


* Condo is paid in full 
* Car is paid in full (2017 Camry) 
* No other debt  


Notes: Good month overall, I squeaked in under my $70 target for groceries, no shopping, and was able to sweep some to savings.

10 Things I (mostly) No Longer Buy

July 24th, 2022 at 06:16 pm
  1. I cut out, or cut back on buying these things to save money, for health reasons, or have found alternatives. 
  3. 1. Bottled water: I finally bought a filtered pitcher. 

  1. 2. Cleaners: I buy these 4 things: bleach, vinegar, blue Dawn dish soap, and baking soda. I make my own cleaner and it works great. My house is clean and sanitized. DISCLAIMER: This does not work on all bathroom surfaces. It depends on your type of tub and shower materials. 

  1. 3. Air fresheners and plug ins: I make a freshener using an essential oil. There are tons of recipes for this on-line. I really don’t even use this much as I am sensitive to most perfumes and fragrances. 

  2. 4. Lunchmeat: It’s just too expensive. I really don’t miss it. 

  1. 5. Soda: I drink mostly water. I do like diet iced tea with my meals and will have coffee in the morning and make an occasional iced coffee. 

  1. 6. Pre-packaged salty snacks: I have zero willpower with chips and pretzels etc. And can you say shrinkflation? I buy bags of unpopped popcorn and use my air popper and a little melted butter if I am craving a crunchy snack. 

  1. 7. Liquor: I have never been much of a drinker, so this was easy for me. I will occasionally have a glass of wine or a beer when I go out to dinner. 

  1. 8. Most Vitamins and Supplements: I do buy and take a daily vitamin, and a prescription Vitamin D supplement per my doctor but no others. I really try and eat a healthy, well-balanced diet.


  1. 9. Plastic food storage containers: A while ago I invested in some glass containers. They work great and last a long time.  

  2. 10. Laundry soap, fabric softeners and dryer sheets. I still use them but will stop when I use up what I have on hand. I do have a good amount in my stockpile but will investigate alternatives when these are used up. 


These are just things that work for me that help me to save money and for health reasons. I am not suggesting that there is anything wrong with purchasing these items if they work for you! Since I retired, I have the time to make cleaners and research alternatives. I am also the only one in my household and I fully understand it is harder to cut out certain things if others in your household enjoy them. Is there anything you have stopped buying or found an alternative for?

Some July Updates

July 17th, 2022 at 06:00 pm

My July monthly spending so far is at $1086.06 with all of my usual bills paid, except my cell phone. My grocery spending so far is at $55.85. I will need to make one more shop, but just for a few things so I’m hoping to stay under $70 for the month.  


Many years ago, I was diagnosed with osteoarthritis in my neck. I manage it mostly with over-the-counter anti-inflammatory meds, stretching exercises every day, and using a heating pad when necessary. But over the past few months the pain and stiffness has really been increasing, and my usual methods just weren’t working so well anymore. My doctor ordered an MRI since it had been many years since I had one. I wasn’t surprised that it has progressed to include moderate stenosis, and I have a herniated disk. The arthritis is very pronounced. I was given a script for a much stronger anti-inflammatory, a muscle relaxer and to consider physical therapy to start with. This isn’t something that will ever get any better, and it will most likely continue to get worse as I age. So, finding effective ways to manage the pain is very important to my quality of life. 


Financially, my health insurance covers the PT, but I would have a $25 co-pay for each visit. If I go once a week that’s $100 a month expense. But it’s worth it. I went to PT a few years back for this issue and I remember that it really helped. I will try and pay for this out of my monthly earnings and not dip into savings to pay for it, but it stretches my already very tight budget even more. 


My earnings from Swagbucks and My Points is now even more important. But it has been getting a bit harder to earn as they have cut out some activities that were easy money makers. It is taking me more time to earn the same amount of money each month. I will keep plugging along with it, because I really rely on this income, but I am starting to explore some other ways to make money from home. I really, really do not want to go back to working for an employer.  


I had lunch out yesterday with my family and we had a great time.  I also got together with some former co-workers for lunch last week. It seems that quite a few people have either retired or joined the ranks of those who joined the “great resignation”.  The college really needs some fresh leadership who is open to considering more flexible schedules and hybrid work from home models.  


I have started researching some new cell phone plans but have not made a decision about switching yet. Since I no longer have a home phone, having reliable cell service is my most important consideration when deciding who to go with.  


The weather here continues to be hot and humid with some really severe storms that seem to pop up almost every day. Next week’s forecast doesn’t look any better. 

Property Taxes

July 7th, 2022 at 03:37 pm

I received my property tax bill in the mail, and it does include the Homeowners Property Tax Credit of $991.00 that I was approved for. Total bill comes to $2,245.44 for the year. This also includes a discount of $9.89 for paying the full amount in the month of July. Last year, without the Homeowners Property Tax Credit I paid a total of $3235.36.  


Of the $2245.44 I paid this year, $1064.73 of it was “other charges” that includes things like, sewer benefit, sewer service, water benefit, water distribution and a bay restoration fee. Sigh.  


Before I retired, I had saved money into a separate savings account that I use only to pay yearly property taxes, car insurance, and condo insurance. When I am able to save any money from my monthly income (after my monthly expenses) and most of my yearly tax refund, I sweep it back into this account. Right now, I have a solid 15 years' worth of savings to cover these expenses. This account is not my emergency fund, I have a separate savings account for those kinds of expenses when they pop up. This system is working really well for me so far.  


This month so far, I have spent $28.93 on groceries. I’m trying to keep it another low spend month by using up what I have on hand. I was sent home with a bunch of leftovers from our 4th of July BBQ at my brother’s, so I’ll be using all that up this week. We had a wonderful time, and it was great to catch up with some of my cousins that I haven’t seen in a while. 


I was notified that my cell phone bill would be increasing by another $6 a month. Time to start looking around for a cheaper plan. I really dislike switching things when they work really well but at almost $66 a month with this increase, it’s just too much.  


The weather here in Maryland has been hot and humid and we have been getting a round of rain and thunderstorms nearly every day this week. Typical weather for us this time of year, except the storms seem much stronger with the last one producing a tornado just to the south of me.  


I hope everyone has a wonderful upcoming weekend!

June 2022 Savings/Spending

June 30th, 2022 at 01:12 pm

Income Total$1509.42

     * $1200 Recurring monthly retirement account distribution  

     * $225 Swagbucks and My Points earnings (cash out to PayPal

     * $84.42 Credit Card Cash Back Rewards


Total Spending: $1127.87

Total Savings$381.55 (difference between monthly income and monthly spending) 
Fixed Expenses: 
Verizon bundle (internet, cable): $160.43

Cell phone: $59.78
HVAC and water heater contract: $29.95 
Condo Fee (includes water) $190.00 

Health Care: (includes health, dental, vision, prescription plans) $477.78 
Utilities: $98.26
Gasoline: $0
Groceries: $32.03
Health: $69.72 (co-pays, scripts refillsvitamins and personal health care items) 
Take Out/Dining Out: $9.92

Shopping: $0


* Condo is paid in full 
* Car is paid in full (2017 Camry) 
* No other debt  


Notes: My grocery spending was great this month! I really focused on using what I had on hand. 

Great News!

June 20th, 2022 at 04:52 pm

Back in March I applied for a Homeowners Property Tax Credit through my county. This credit is income based, and it requires that applicants fill out a lengthy application and provide all of the required supporting income verification documentation, including the most recent tax return. This was my first time applying and the application was a bit confusing, so I was very surprised and happy when I received an e-mail this morning that my application had been approved and I would be receiving a $991.00 credit on my upcoming property tax bill!  


Our property tax cycle runs from July 1st through June 30th, so I am expecting my next bill early next month. Last year's bill was right around $3300 (for the full year) so this credit will be a big help. You must reapply every year, which I will do.   


What a great way to start the week!

Mid Month Update/Vacation Plans

June 15th, 2022 at 03:36 pm

At mid-month my total spending so far is $996.48. All my regular bills have already come in and have been paid except for my cell phone.  

I have spent $15.34 on groceries so far.  I expect a very low grocery spend this month. I have been using up what I have on hand, and what I receive from the senior center. 

We have firmed up the family vacations plans! My sister and BIL will be coming in from Texas, and then the whole family will be heading to a beach location for a week’s stay. It’s only a 3-hour drive from us, and we have been here many times before, but not in the last several years.  We have rented 2 condos in the same building. I will be in one, with my sister and BIL, and my brother, SIL and nephew will be in the other one, one floor below us. My cousin and his wife will most likely be joining us for a long weekend. We will be going in September, right after Labor Day. The rates are much lower, and it will be less crowded. My sister and BIL are generously picking up the cost of our condo. She said that they feel that since I put them up when they come to visit from Texas for long stays, this sort of “evens things out”.  It is futile to argue with her on this, so I happily accepted.  I will be saving up for gas, food, and fun. It has been quite a few years since I have been on a vacation, so I am super excited! 

In other frugal fun, my cousin’s employer gave him 4 tickets to our MLB teams home game on a recent Sunday afternoon. But not just the game, it was use of the company sky box! My cousin and his wife and me and my brother spent an amazing Sunday enjoying the game, a huge food spread, drinks etc. It was so much fun and completely free.  

My best friend and I have been enjoying some free neighborhood festivals and going to some yard sales. It seems so easy to find fun, free things to do in the spring and summer. I also have some lunch plans later in the month with some former co-workers.  

One thing I was a little concerned about when I retired was having enough resources to enjoy my freedom from the daily work grind. I knew I would be on a very tight budget, so finding free, or nearly free things to do would be important. So far, so good! My ex-husband and I traveled extensively when we were younger, and I no longer crave international travel. I don’t like to fly anymore so I am content with road trips, weekend getaways, or vacations that are drivable. I am finding that with a little effort, it is possible to have a full, fun life on a small budget! 

May 2022 Saving/Spending

May 31st, 2022 at 02:50 pm

Income Total$1425.00

     * $1200 Recurring monthly retirement account distribution  

     * $225 Swagbucks and My Points earnings (cash out to PayPal


Total Spending: $1347.52

Total Savings$77.48 (difference between monthly income and monthly spending) 
Fixed Expenses: 
Verizon bundle (internet, cable): $160.43

Cell phone: $59.78
HVAC and water heater contract: $29.95 
Condo Fee (includes water) $190.00 

Health Care: (includes health, dental, vision, prescription plans) $477.78 
Utilities: $78.24
Gasoline: $0
Groceries: $82.84
Health: $86.62 (co-pays, scripts refillsvitamins and personal health care items) 
Take Out/Dining Out: $54.39

Shopping: $79.49

CVS yearly Carepass renewal: $48.00


* Condo is paid in full 
* Car is paid in full (2017 Camry) 
* No other debt  

The Power of Community

May 22nd, 2022 at 03:36 pm

Last Friday our senior center received an unexpected donation of USDA food (produce) boxes and gallons of milk from a nearby food bank.  That food bank had a very large delivery of these items and after their own food distribution still had quite a few left and could not store them. They reached out to local churches and other food banks as well as our senior center to see if we were able to help distribute them to the community. Yes! 


I contacted my 5 families that don’t have transportation that I usually deliver to once a month and all 5 were interested, and I picked up another 6 families from another “route” because their regular volunteer who delivers to them was out of town. Everyone is in about a 10-mile radius, so it was an easy delivery.  


We also put the word out to our members to stop by the senior center to pick up.


Inside each produce box was a 5lb. bag of russet potatoes, 2 mini, organic watermelons, a small bag of yellow onions, and a bunch of loose sweet potatoes and carrots! And separately, the gallon of milk. It’s wonderful to be able to deliver, and receive, healthy produce.  


I was really impressed with the power of the community. Because the food bank, churches and our senior center were easily able to coordinate this, a whole lot of food that might have gone to waste was distributed. Our county councilman has been instrumental in bringing resources together, and we have a very strong volunteer base. In a world where so much is going wrong, it restores my faith in basic human kindness to see this kind of effort in action. There are some very good people out there. I know I post a lot about food on here, but the volunteer aspect of this is so important to me. There are people out there who are really hurting and need help. If you are reading this, and you are one of them, please don’t be embarrassed to reach out for help.


So now, I will be prepping and cooking and freezing a whole bunch of great healthy food! Those watermelons are absolutely delicious. I plan to blanch and freeze some of the carrots (there were so many) and plan to make some sweet potato fries and potato and onion pancakes with the russets. I was really happy to receive some onions as I was totally out. I was also out of milk and needed some for a few recipes I had been planning.  


This morning I went to CVS to stock back up on TP. I had a lot of extrabucks, my $10 carepass bucks and some digital coupons. I purchased 2, 12 packs of Scott TP, 2, 12 packs of Charmin TP (the mega rolls) and a 12-count pack of Tide pods. After all deductions I paid $16.47 (with tax) out of pocket. But I received $15 of extrabucks back to use on a future purchase. According to my receipt this was a 76% savings. 


Yesterday evening I went over to my brothers for dinner, we had burgers and dogs on the grill. He just found out that he will need hip replacement surgery very soon, probably right after 4th of July, so we needed to discuss how I can help him during his recovery. His wife is mostly in a wheelchair now, and his son is partially disabled from a stroke so this will be challenging. 

I also had lunch with a few friends last week, it was nice to catch up!


We are having a heatwave here in Maryland, in the mid 90’s, so I had to turn on the central air. I keep it at 77 during the day, and 75 at night and use a fan and so far, this feels comfortable. We will see how high my utility bill goes!

Mid Month Update

May 15th, 2022 at 09:20 pm

I went to the grocery store yesterday for a few things. My favorite International Delight coffee creamer was on a great sale, so I stocked up. I bought 2 of the large, half gallon size on sale for $4.99 each. The regular price is $6.49. The expiration date isn’t until October so they will keep.


The price of eggs went up again. An 18 count of large size, store brand eggs is now priced at $4.45. The price just 2 weeks ago was $4.29.  I continue to buy these for just .99 cents using my club card points. I hope they continue to offer this. 


I picked up 3 bags of shredded cheese on sale for $1.99 each if you buy 3, regular price is $2.39. I needed cheese for some meal plans, including lasagna, and some cheesy corn grits. I also bought a loaf of bread for $1.99.


In total I spent $18.93 with a savings of $7.66, not too bad. Careful grocery shopping and spending is a necessity for me these days.


I received some great items from this month’s senior center food distribution. A 5 lb. bag of flour, 2 bags of fresh apples, and a 2 lb. bag of Kanza Corn, corn grits. Apples are my favorite fruit and I usually eat one a day, so this was such a treat. I made some biscuits from scratch (my first attempt) and they turned out delicious! Thanks, Rob62521 for your biscuit recipe suggestion and the tip on how to best store flour. I don’t bake a lot so I never buy flour, but this gift will not go to waste!


There is a recipe on the bag of corn grits for Baked Corn Grits and Cheese that I will be making this week. I have also been using up other things I have received from the senior center. I made an applesauce cake to use up some individual snack cups of applesauce and a box of white cake mix. This cake was moist and very flavorful without being overly sweet. Very good.  


I have a lot of peanut butter and oatmeal to use up, so I have been researching some recipes on different things to bake with these.


I went out to lunch with some friends today, it was nice to get together and enjoy a fun afternoon.  


We have begun to plan a family vacation for September, the first vacation in many years. There is a popular beach destination that is only about a 3-hour drive away, so we decided to go there. Something to look forward to and an easy drive to get there.


Not much else happening. The weather has been hot and muggy the last few days with rain off and on and more rain and possible thunderstorms expected tomorrow. Sounds like a good day to stay in!

April 2022 Spending/Savings

April 30th, 2022 at 01:21 pm

April was a rare month where my spending was higher than my income for the month. While I was only over by $87.03, and I have a very healthy emergency fund to cover it, I began thinking how easy it can be to fall off the “frugal” wagon and suffer from belt tightening fatigue. 


An unexpected dental bill of $102.40 was the main culprit, but I still did some shopping, dining out, gift giving and grocery stocking up while some foods were on sale (chicken). A few of the things I bought were wants, not needs. And while I am not really concerned about overspending a little one month, it just goes to show how easy it is to do. It seems to be getting harder and harder to balance staying out of debt, saving money, and still being able to enjoy life.


I know I’m not alone in feeling frustrated with inflation, the continued rising costs of food, and other consumer goods. Not to mention gas prices, utility costs, and well, pretty much everything!  


Here is my monthly spending update for April:



Income Total$1475

     * $1200 Recurring monthly retirement account distribution  

     * $275 Swagbucks and My Points earnings (cash out to PayPal)



Total Spending: $1562.03

Total Savings$0 (difference between monthly income and monthly spending) 

Overspent: $87.03
Fixed Expenses: 
Verizon bundle (internet, cable): $160.43

Cell phone: $59.78
HVAC and water heater contract: $29.95 
Condo Fee (includes water and trash) $190.00 

Health Care: (includes health, dental, vision, prescription plans) $477.78 
Utilities: $103.76
Gasoline: $38.83
Groceries: $105.32 (stocked up on coffee and chicken)
Health: $122.40 (co-pays, scripts refillsvitamins and personal health care items) 
Take Out and Dining Out: $34.80 

Shopping (anything other then food): $163.98

Gifts: $75


* Condo is paid in full 
* Car is paid in full (2017 Camry) 
* No other debt 



Groceries: I stocked up on coffee pods and chicken that was on a good sale. I should not need these again for quite a while.

Gifts: I gave my nephew a $50 gift card for his birthday and also gave a $25 gift card to a good friend for her birthday.

Dining Out: I took my brother out to lunch and had take out once.

Shopping: Some wants and some needs. I needed to restock my makeup and skin care basics as I was almost out of everything. The rest was household stuff and clothes (some wants, some needs).

Health: I had a $102.40 dental expense




The Price of Eggs! Mid Month Update

April 14th, 2022 at 04:28 pm

I went to the grocery store to pick up a few things this morning and checked on the price of eggs. An 18 count of large store brand eggs was tagged at $4.15. Yikes! Just 10 days ago on 4/4 the price was $3.39. That’s an increase of .76 cents in just 10 days! They were well stocked though so no shortages yet.  


My store is still running the club card deal where you can get an 18 count of store brand large eggs for just .99 cents when you use 100 club card points. I bought 2 cartons of 18 back on 4/4 to stock up and paid just $1.98 for both. I’m glad I did! I really wonder if they will continue to run this deal. I usually have an egg every morning for breakfast but now I am having oatmeal a few times a week instead.  


I also usually buy Hellman’s mayo as my preferred brand, but it was up to $4.99 (and I think that was a sale price). I bought the Weis store brand instead for $2.99 for the same size and it tastes just the same to me, so I’ll be purchasing that instead from now on. 


They are still running the ground meat deal, so I got one pack priced at $12.26 for just $2.71, and a second pack priced at $12.46 for just $2.75. I made a meatloaf with some of it and froze the rest. I also wonder how much longer they will be able to offer this club card deal too. 


Yesterday I put together 2 canned goods storage racks that I bought to organize my pantry. They are great! They are stackable and hold 36 cans each. They were really easy to assemble, are pretty sturdy and are angled so when you take a can out from the front the rest of the cans roll forward. I also wrote the use by dates in black marker on the cans so I can easily see them. Love it! 


My brother and I went out to lunch yesterday, my treat. We always have fun and good conversation, and it was nice to get out on a beautiful, warm sunny day. The weather here hit the mid 80’s yesterday with the same for today, then it will plummet and get chilly again over the weekend.  


My cousin and his wife are having us all over for dinner on Easter. It’s been a while since the whole family has been together, so I am looking forward to it.  


I also did my first senior center volunteer free grocery delivery to the seniors who are unable to drive or have no transportation. I just text or call them when I am on my way. 2 of the ladies were out on their front porches so I got to meet them (at a distance and masked) and chat for a few minutes. They were so nice, and it was such a pleasure to be able to help them. The other 2 people did not come out, so I left their groceries at their front doors. I really enjoy doing this and will continue for the foreseeable future.  


I hope everyone has a great day and upcoming weekend!

March 2022 Savings/Spending

March 31st, 2022 at 02:48 pm

Income Total$4973.30

     * $1200 Recurring monthly retirement account distribution  

     * $225 Swagbucks and My Points earnings (cash out to PayPal)

     * $3514.00 Tax Refund

     * $34.30 Product Refund 



Total Spending: $1849.87

Total Savings$3123.43 (difference between monthly income and monthly spending) 
Fixed Expenses: 
Verizon bundle (internet, cable): $160.43

Cell phone: $59.81
HVAC and water heater contract: $29.95 
Condo Fee (includes water and trash) $190.00 

Health Care: (includes health, dental, vision, prescription plans) $477.78 
Utilities: $116.47
Gasoline: $0
Groceries: $81.64
Health: $42.18 (co-pays, scripts refillsvitamins and personal health care items) 
Take Out and Dining Out: $0 

Household Shopping (anything other then food): $0

Personal shopping: $303.65

Gifts: $25

Dryer vent cleanout: $75

AAA Yearly renewal: $76

Haircut, tip and product: $76.96

Cash withdraw: $20

Tax prep fee: $115.00


* Condo is paid in full 
* Car is paid in full (2017 Camry) 
* No other debt 


Shopping was high, but these were all planned purchases. I was waiting to receive my tax refund to pay for them. The dryer vent clean out is required by the condo association for all owners once every 2 years. My grocery spending included a little stocking up. I think as long as I stay below $100 a month for groceries these days with such high prices I will be happy with that level of spending. If I see something on sale that I routinely use I stock up, so some months may be higher then others depending on sales.


I'm very happy to send a big chunk to savings.

Some Updates

March 17th, 2022 at 09:59 pm

I am so excited to have found a volunteer opportunity at the senior center! Twice a month I will be delivering free groceries to seniors in the community who are unable to pick them up themselves for the monthly food distribution. So far, I have 5 people lined up for the month of April. I call or text to let them know I am on my way, then when I arrive, place their food on their porch or right outside their door. For safety reasons we do not go into the house or apartment. They all live pretty close by so gas usage will be minimal.  


I went to the grocery store and was very happy to find that my Weis store was still running the points deal on ground meat. Buy the Weis brand 80/20 and use 100 club card points and the price is just .99 cents per pound up to 3 pounds. I picked up a 3.04 lb. pack and paid just $2.99. It was originally priced at $13.49, for a savings of $10.50.  

I also used another 100 points on an 18 count of large eggs. These were originally priced at $3.09, and I paid just .99 cents, for a savings of $2.10. 


I searched around for the best price I could find on fresh chicken breasts (boneless, skinless) and the lowest I could find was $2.99 a pound. I bought one family pack that was originally priced at $16.20, and paid $12.14, for a savings of $4.06. This will last me a while.  


I also picked up a head of lettuce on sale for $1. Regular price was $2.49 for a savings of $1.49, and a bag of fresh spinach for $2. Regular price was $2.50 so a savings of .50 cents. 


I also purchased butter, iced tea, taco seasoning, and one onion but these were not on sale.  


My total spending was $29.51 for this trip. Not too bad considering I bought chicken and ground meat. I should not have to go to the grocery store for the rest of the month.


I was also very happy to see that both my state and federal tax refunds were deposited into my account. This took only 2 weeks. Last year it took at least 4 months for me to receive my federal refund. I was expecting the same kind of delay this year, so this was a nice surprise. 


I have planned to do some spending with some of this. I need some things for the condo and some personal items I have been putting off buying. Today I ordered a rechargeable battery-operated lantern with a built-in phone charger, and a battery powered AM/FM NOAA radio. I want to be prepared in case of a prolonged power outage. I also need some new walking sneakers and want to get a few canned good racks for my pantry. There are a few other small things as well. I figure I will spend about $300 on everything I need. The rest of the refund will go to savings. 


I finally got a haircut yesterday and splurged on some hair products. After a nice tip I spent right around $75.


Happy St. Patrick’s Day if you celebrate!

Tax refund/Stocking up

March 6th, 2022 at 06:02 pm

My friend/CPA completed my taxes, and I will be receiving a total refund of $3514 (combined federal and state). I have decided to use some of the money to stock up on some food. I want to stock my freezer with some meat, more frozen veggies, and a few shelf stable items. The rest will go into savings. The price of food is just going to continue to rise, so stocking up now just makes sense to me.


The March senior center food distribution was last Friday and included a one lb. pack of ground meat and a bag of frozen fish fillets. I also received a gallon of milk, a loaf of bread, and a variety of canned goods and dry goods. Thanks to this program my pantry is very well stocked with pasta, pasta sauces, soups, canned veggies, tuna, peanut butter, oatmeal, mac and cheese, and rice and beans. These are all items that I eat and will use. I am very, very grateful. 


I am so happy that my elderly neighbors finally agreed to register with the senior center for the food distribution! I took them with me on my last trip so they could see how it worked and be comfortable with it. Their daughter came for a visit this weekend (she lives about 3 hours' drive away). She is a single mom of 2 kids and works a lot and can’t get here to visit as often as she might like. I was invited over for dinner on Saturday, and she gave me a bunch of sweet potatoes and a few baking potatoes that she brought with her that she had too many of as a thank you to me for looking in on her parents. It was a very sweet gesture, and we had a really fun time. 


Last week I did a CVS deal on TP. I bought 3, 12 packs of Scott TP. They were priced at $9.99 each. I used a combination of coupons, CVS extra bucks earned on previous purchases and my $10 Carepass rewards for the month to pay for it. I paid a total of just .58 cents out of pocket for tax. And I earned another $5 of extra bucks to use on a future purchase. This was 100% savings!


The weather today will hit the upper 70’s with some rain on the way. Next week it’s supposed to get cold again with a chance of a mix of snow and rain. I will take these warmer days, so my heat doesn’t need to kick on. The price of utilities keeps going up along with gas prices. We are at $4 a gallon.  


My thoughts and prayers continue for the people of Ukraine.

February 2022 Spending/Savings

February 28th, 2022 at 03:09 pm

Income Total$1563.05

     * $1200 Recurring monthly retirement account distribution  

     * $200 Swagbucks and My Points earnings (cash out to PayPal)

     * $163.05 Cash Back Credit card rewards 


Total Spending: $1306.69

Total Savings$256.36 (difference between monthly income and monthly spending) 
Fixed Expenses: 
Verizon bundle (internet, cable): $160.43

Cell phone: $59.81
HVAC and water heater contract: $29.95 
Condo Fee (includes water and trash) $190.00 

Health Care: (includes health, dental, vision, prescription plans) $479.19 
Utilities: $149.76
Gasoline: $43.37
Groceries: $63.56 
Health: $63.42 (co-pays, scripts refillsvitamins and personal health care items) 
Take Out and Dining Out: $0 

Household Shopping (anything other then food): $0

Personal shopping: $67.20 (clothes)


* Condo is paid in full 
* Car is paid in full (2017 Camry) 
* No other debt 


Notes: My utilities saw an increase, and I wasn't using more. Gas for the car was also higher. I'm happy with my grocery spending and hope to continue to keep this down as much as possible to offset other increases that I noted. I'm also trying to decrease take out and had zero this month! Now that football season is over this will be easier.

Fantastic Grocery Deals!

February 10th, 2022 at 05:17 pm

I saw a post on my neighborhood Facebook page that my local Weis grocery store had added on some new food deals by using your club card points. These are fantastic! Weis brand ground meat, 80/20 is just .99 cents a pound up to 3 lbs. when you use just 100 points. Also, you can get Weis brand ice cream (1.5-quart size) for FREE by using 100 points. They still have the deal on eggs, an 18 count of large eggs for just .99. after using 100 points, and you can also get a gallon of milk for just $1.39 when you use 100 points. ** I do not know if these deals are offered at all Weis stores**


Today I purchased (all Weis brand): 

A 3-pound pack of ground meat (80/20) originally priced at $13.47 ($4.49 a lb.) for just $2.97 TOTAL, after cashing in 100 club card points! This is a great deal and I hope they continue it for a while. 

A container of ice cream for FREE using another 100 points.! Regular price was $2.99 

An 18 count large eggs for just .99 using 100 points. Regular price is $2.79 

Total saved: $15.29! 


These savings took the sting out paying $3.69 each for my International Delight Sweet Cream coffee creamer. They finally got it back in stock, so I bought 2. This is a splurge for me, but I love this stuff and haven’t found a comparable store brand that tastes as good. I love my morning cup of coffee Smile 


Last week I stocked up on Dawn dish soap at CVS. I bought six of the very large bottles (34oz.) and after using all my CVS extra bucks and my monthly $10 CarePass bucks I only paid $7.91 out of pocket (including $1.02 tax) This was an 86% savings. Just for context, one bottle is regularly priced at $8.29. And I got back another $8 in CVS Extra bucks to use on a future purchase.


I also filled up my gas tank today. I was almost on empty and spent $43.37. Ouch. That’s $3.50 a gallon.


My senior center had the food distribution earlier this month. The highlights were: 2, four packs of center cut pork chops, a large can of wild caught salmon, bread, and a variety of canned goods and other dry goods. As usual I shared with my elderly neighbors and my brother. I kept the chops and salmon though. I haven’t had salmon cakes or pork chops in ages!


So far this month I spent $32.30 on groceries and won’t need anything for a while. A lot of this was fresh produce. I was happy to see that most things I normally buy were back in stock.  


The weather here in Maryland will be spring-like for the next couple of days before the cold comes roaring back on Sunday with a threat of snow.

January 2022 Spending/Saving

January 31st, 2022 at 03:11 pm

Income Total$1450.00

     * $1200 Recurring monthly retirement account distribution  

     * $250 Swagbucks and My Points earnings (cash out to PayPal


Total Spending: $1169.23

Total Savings$280.77 (difference between monthly income and monthly spending) 
Fixed Expenses: 
Verizon bundle (internet, cable): $160.43

Cell phone: $59.81
HVAC and water heater contract: $29.95 
Condo Fee (includes water and trash) $190.00 

Health Care: (includes health, dental, vision, prescription plans) $476.37 
Utilities: $111.72
Gasoline: $0
Groceries: $78.54 
Health: $10.43 (co-pays, scripts refillsvitamins and personal health care items) 
Take Out and Dining Out: $51.98 (my share of cost of pizza and other food for football gatherings)

Household Shopping (anything other then food): $0

Personal shopping: $0


* Condo is paid in full 
* Car is paid in full (2017 Camry) 
* No other debt  


I am happy to put some money into savings after all the December/holiday spending. 

Pantry Challenge/Food Shortages?

January 22nd, 2022 at 03:54 pm

Grocery shopping has been different for me this month. I started out participating in the January eat from the pantry/freezer challenge but slightly modified because I was out of some staples so I knew I would have some minimal spending at the start of the month. My goal was to keep it as low as possible and really refocus on using up what I had on hand after the holidays.  


When I went to the store at the beginning of the month I encountered (for the first time) that my usual store was completely out of some of my preferred brands, such as butter, iced tea, ice cream bars and coffee creamer. I have tried many other brands of these over time but really prefer certain brands now and like to stick to them. I went to a different store, and they were also wiped out of these brands, or they just don’t carry them. I had to have butter so that was the only item I bought a different brand. I went back to the store a few times over the past few weeks checking to see if my preferred brands were in stock and they were still out until this weekend, so it took 3 weeks to get them in. So, I stocked up not knowing if they would run out again, which threw off my attempt to keep my spending lower. 


I also noticed that bottled water was almost completely wiped out, the frozen cooked chicken patties and tenders (which I haven’t been buying but looked to see what they had) were also very limited. I needed an onion, and the quality was terrible. They all seemed very soft, but I did manage to find one that was ok. The apples also seemed limited and somewhat bruised. I passed on those.   


So far this month I have spent $78.54, and don’t intend to spend any more. Of that amount I calculated that $16.62 of that was due to stocking up on the things they had been out of.  


The shortages may have been due in part to some winter weather up and down the east coast, and maybe some supply chain issues. This is really the first time I have encountered noticeable shortages on products I regularly use. I realize that I didn’t HAVE to have ice cream bars, or iced tea, and changing brands of butter and coffee creamer isn’t a hardshipBut it contributed to me stocking up on these products when they did come in. Instead of buying one of each item, I bought two.  

Is anyone else noticing shortages? Do you stock up a bit when you see your usual items back in stock? I feel like I’m grocery shopping a bit differently now. 

It's snowing and other updates

January 3rd, 2022 at 04:34 pm

It’s snowing! This is the first snow of the year here and I’m glad to be able to stay at home and enjoy the beauty. It went from 65 degrees yesterday to 32 degrees today with wind and snow. Crazy! 


I hope everyone enjoyed the holiday season, I had a wonderful time celebrating Christmas with my family, and a quiet New Year. I’m busy now taking down the decorations and packing them away for next year. 


Eat from the pantry challenge for January: I did an inventory of my freezer and have a 19 lb. (free) turkey that I am defrosting, 4, 1 lb. packs of ground meat, 1 chicken breast, and a pack of 10 chicken drumsticks. I also have about 7 packs of a variety of frozen veggies. My plan is to stretch this out over the month, so I don’t have to purchase any meat.  


In the pantry I have numerous cans of chicken and tuna for lunches, as well as canned soups for lunches. I also have a lot of canned veggies that I like to use to make vegetable soup. I have several cans of beans and tomato products, so I’ll be making chili using these and the ground meat. I also have a LOT of pasta and pasta sauces so while I am cutting back on carbs, I will be having some pasta throughout the month. 


For breakfast I will be having my usual eggs and toast, cereal or oatmeal. 


Almost all of this food, including most of the meat, was from the food give aways from the senior center. There will not be a distribution in January due to the recent covid outbreak in Maryland. Sadly, our infection rate is way up.  They are hoping to resume the distribution in February. 


I will need to buy a few things that I am out of: eggs, milk, iced tea, bread, butter, apples, fresh spinach and ice cream bars as my occasional treat. So, this will be a modified eat from the pantry/freezer challenge with the goal of spending as little as possible by using what I have on hand. 


Goals for 2022: I didn’t really make any new ones. I want to continue to focus on being healthy, eating well, keeping my weight down and exercising every day. Financially, I just want to continue to live within my means, look for ways to continue to save, and enjoy life on a small income. My greatest joy is the freedom of retirement, even it means living very frugally.  I did want to spend more time volunteering in different ways, but covid has interrupted this goal. Hopefully after this latest wave decreases, more opportunities to volunteer will happen that I feel safe doing. 


I did receive my covid booster shot recently and was happy to not have any side effects like I did after my second vaccination dose.  


I hope everyone has a happy week! 

December 2021 Savings/Spending

January 1st, 2022 at 08:23 pm

Income Total$1350.00

     * $1200 Recurring monthly retirement account distribution  

     * $150 Swagbucks and My Points earnings (cash out to PayPal


Total Spending: $1389.92

Total Savings$0 (difference between monthly income and monthly spending) 
Fixed Expenses: 
Verizon bundle (internet, cable): $160.43

Cell phone: $59.90
HVAC and water heater contract: $29.95 
Condo Fee (includes water and trash) $190.00 

Health Care: (includes health, dental, vision, prescription plans) $476.37 
Utilities: $103.39
Gasoline: $0
Groceries: $193.92 (includes food for Chritmas Eve dinner for 8 people)
Health: $0 (co-pays, scripts refillsvitamins and personal health care items) 
Take Out and Dining Out: $15.38 (my share of cost of pizza for football gatherings)

Household Shopping: $0

Christmas Gifts and personal shopping: $160.58


* Condo is paid in full 
* Car is paid in full (2017 Camry) 
* No other debt  


My grocery spending includes all food for a sit down dinner for family (8 people) on Christmas Eve. It also included some paper products that I didn't seperate out.


Shopping: I went a little over budget on Christmas shopping, and bought myself a few things. No regrets.



November 2021 Spending/Savings

December 2nd, 2021 at 02:19 pm

Income Total$1400.00

     * $1200 Recurring monthly retirement account distribution  

     * $200 Swagbucks and My Points earnings (cash out to PayPal


Total Spending: $1484.34

Total Savings$0 (difference between monthly income and monthly spending) 
Fixed Expenses: 
Verizon bundle (internet, cable): $160.43

Cell phone: $59.90
HVAC and water heater contract: $29.95 
Condo Fee (includes water) $190.00 

Health Care: (includes health, dental, vision, prescription plans) $476.37 
Utilities: $68.33
Gasoline: $35.35
Groceries: $86.15
Health: $72.50 (co-pays, scripts refillsvitamins and personal health care items) 
Take Out and Dining Out: $23.07 (my share of cost of pizza for football gatherings)

Household Shopping: $44.39

Christmas Gifts: $136.46

Car maintenancce: $81.10

Personal: $20.34


* Condo is paid in full 
* Car is paid in full (2017 Camry) 
* No other debt  


*Groceries included drinks and snacks for football gatherings

*Car Maintenance included oil change, oil filter, tire rotation, topping off all other fluids and basic engine       check. I also had a coupon for a free set of wiper blades and free installation. 


*Christmas gifts: My sister and I went in jointly on a few of those gifts and she will be sending me a              reimbursement, but we haven't figured out totals yet.

Thanksgiving Update and Some $Deals$

November 28th, 2021 at 02:59 pm

I hope everyone had a Happy Thanksgiving! I celebrated with my family at my brother’s house. There were 10 of us total and we had a fantastic time with lots of food and laughs and football watching afterward. It was so nice to have everyone together again after last year, when there were only a few of us.  Lot’s to be thankful for! 


I am mostly finished with my Christmas shopping; I only need to pick up a gift card and a doggie toy for my niece's fur baby. I started wrapping yesterday and today I will start to decorate. I always host on Christmas Eve with a full dinner and then we open gifts. I’m looking forward to having everyone over this year. 


I went to CVS this morning to pick up some TP as part of a spend $30 get $10 CVS Extra Bucks back deal. But they were completely out of the TP. Since the sale just started this morning and I got there really early I asked the manager if maybe they just hadn’t put it out yet, and she said that they never received the order to stock the store. She said they have been experiencing supply chain issues like this for a while now on a variety of productsbut especially on paper products. Just something to be aware of.  


While I was there, I did the toothpaste deal that they have been running almost every other week, buy 2 for $7.98 and use the $7.98 off 2 CVS app coupon so these were free. I have enough toothpaste stocked up so I will give these to BFF.  I also bought 2 boxes of candy, a Whitman sampler, and a Russel Stover sampler. These were buy 1 get one free. I paid using my $10 Carepass Extra Bucks so I only paid .48 cents for tax. I give these for Christmas gifts.   


The senior center gave out a really nice Thanksgiving food box last week. I received a 15 lb. frozen turkey, potatoes, sweet potatoes, gravy mix, stuffing mix, cranberry sauce, etc. Really everything for a standard Thanksgiving dinner. Since I already have the free turkey from the Weis grocery store points giveaway, I gave this turkey and some of the other items to my elderly neighbors. They are a sweet couple in their late 70’s who I check in on every so often. They don’t have any family close by, their daughter lives about a 3-hour drive away. Miss D reminds me of my mom and I enjoy her stories and lovely kind nature. It’s a pleasure to help them out here and there. 


The weather here on the east coast has been cold and windy the past couple of days and I even saw some brief snow flurries last night. Today is sunny and a bit warmer. Well, it’s time for me to get to decorating!  

Free Turkey!

November 5th, 2021 at 02:05 pm

I went to my Weis grocery store and picked up my free turkey! I got a 19-pound Weis brand frozen turkey that according to my receipt would have totaled $31.48. I redeemed my 400 club card points to get this for free. I did this deal last year and even though this is a store brand turkey, it was delicious. I will prepare this for Christmas Eve dinner when I host my family for the holiday. This will be a huge help with keeping my Christmas food budget reasonable.  


I also received my November senior center food distribution. I won’t continue to do a full list but here were some of the highlights: 


2 pounds of ground meat 

I pound of bacon (I can’t remember the last time I bought bacon, such a treat!) 

1 pack of hotdogs 

pack of chicken thighs 


Fresh produce (first time receiving fresh produce) 

4 sweet potatoes 

5 russet potatoes 

3 apples 

2 oranges 

3 white onions 


I also received a dozen eggs, a half-gallon of milk, 2 loaves of bread, and a variety of other baked goods. Also included were a bunch of canned goods, cereal, and pasta, pasta sauce etc. As always, I share this with my family. 


I went to CVS and used up some extra bucks that were getting ready to expire. I bought 3, 12 packs of soda to have on hand for when my family comes over for Sunday football watching. The sale was buy 2, get 1 free.  After using the extra bucks this was free, I only spent .30 cents on tax. I don’t drink much soda, though I will have a diet coke now and then so this will last a while. I also ordered some CVS brand, gallon sized freezer bags (18 count). After using extra bucks, and having free shipping through CVS CarePass, I paid .94 cents for these, including tax. I’m going to need these to freeze all that turkey after it’s cooked! 


In other news, my dental issue is still not over. I now need a root canal (same tooth,) and developed an infection that required antibiotics. Sigh. When everything is finished, I will tally up the final out of pocket expense. Even with dental insurance I’m still looking at over $1000 out of pocket. That includes a crown, which are crazy expensive. Thankfully, I have a healthy savings account to cover these kinds of expenses.  


And finally, the heat is on! It got really cold, really fast here in Maryland. I had to turn on the heat. I keep it set at 68 degrees during the day, and with a sweater on that is comfortable for me. I turn it down to 66 degrees at night. I sleep better when its cooler.  


Have a great weekend everyone! 

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