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Archive for April, 2008

Sale Strategy

April 30th, 2008 at 05:10 pm

I was talking to my mom (hey, she asked) about how I am trying to get the most for my money (and time spent) with CVS/ECB/Qs, Riteaid/rebates/Qs, KMart, Walgreen/ESQs/rebates/Qs and the grocery stores sales. She just looked at me and smiled. She then proceeded to tell me that I would work out strategies and methods to squeeze out the last legal penny and then after accomplishing this I would grow bored and move on to the next thing that interested me. She knows me so well.

Looking back over my life, I have to agree. It is an interesting frugal challenge. I find myself walking out the store door assessing my success and planning how I will do better the next time. I've purchased $100 in products at CVS this spring and only put out $20. Since I still walk out of the store and am able to see where I could have done better, I know the challenge is still on. It is entertaining.

I suppose I could have a different hobby but this one helps me attain several goals at the same time while keeping me in a frugal mindset. The frugal mindset is important because it helps me to stay consistent in other areas of spending, conserving, reusing and recycling. Its so easy for me to get into mindless spending. You know, that "I had $XX on Friday night where did it all go by Sunday night?"

When I am no longer sending boxes to troops overseas or decide to stop donating to local foodbanks, I will quickly acquire to many personal care items for just me so I will probably stock up and then lose interest in the game/process until I run out. Then I will use the system intermittently until the system changes.

But for now it is a fun and rewarding challenge.

Peer Pressure

April 28th, 2008 at 07:59 pm

You'd think I was to old to succumb to peer pressure. LOL. I'm not. I've agreed to go out to dinner tomorrow evening even though I know its not in the budget. At first I said No. It would have been easier to decline if it wasn't for a coworker I really like pushing the invitation. She said things like "just keep us company" and "you could just order an appetizer". Whoa, have you seen the price of appetizers nowadays? Appetizers are as expensive and sometimes more than some entrees. I know, I don't have to choose an expensive one. Guess I am going to have to try to be strong and resist the temptation. I enjoy their company, so it should be fun no matter what I choose to eat.

5 Minute Bean Soup from Raw Beans

April 27th, 2008 at 05:23 pm

A while back I got two books by Rita Bingham, "Natural Meals in Minutes" and "Country Beans." It is a combination of food storage and recipes for quick cheap (inexpensive) meals.

I dislike soaking beans, I forget to soak them and dislike the time it takes to cook them. I know I could pressure cook them, but I don't have a pressure cooker. I've considered getting one, but I am always years behind fads (bread machines, rice cookers, etc). My 1qt & 2qt farberware pans work fine for rice. So I've used canned beans, but I decided since I was yard saling to make a wish list. On it was a coffee bean grinder, brand new, never used. For $2 I became the proud owner of a Krups coffee grinder. It did a great job of grinding up split peas and chickpeas, so next I will get some black beans.

Start 2c of water boiling with one boullion cube, grind the beans (40 seconds for my grinder) and then add 3T of bean flour(whisk in). Stir 1min on med-high then 2min on med-low. Voila! Tasty bean soup in minutes. Quick and easy. The bean flour can also be used in place of wheat flour as a thickener.

Next I'll try black beans and experiment with thickness to make hummus. I love black bean hummus especially in the heat of summer.

Note: Do not make 5 min. soup from kidney beans.

Lists of Things to Do

April 26th, 2008 at 07:56 pm

Price & change car insurance policy

Price & change cell phone service

Sell the truck, remove insurance,
return tags, refund on one year of
registration fees

Switch DS health insurance (August)

Cancel house insurances

Cancel electricity in my name

Cancel cable, phone, internet service

Hold a yard sale

Start to move items to Container for
storage until apartment is ready

List everyone I have to notify of my
change of address

I think thats everything! But having this list to refer back to will help and I can add to it as I go along.

My ex is putting pressure on me to vacate 5 days before settlement. No Way! If I do that he could take possession and then not settle. I have little trust in his doing the right thing. He has paid child support and the house maintenance payment but only after his lawyer warned him (he didn't pay at first) it would come out of his check or he might go to jail and since he considers that humiliating he pays each month. Usually late, but he pays. The child support ends in July. He has not paid toward his 1/2 of house repairs as agreed in the divorce or other things agreed to in the divorce. I could take him to court but its not worth the hassle since it should all end at the end of this month. I will definitely be celebrating this final step. I won't have to have anything to do with him except for DS. events. I will finally be free of him. I've tried to be positive but every time he calls he tries to argue. I've had to practice assertiveness training more times than I can count. I refuse to live the last 30+ years of my life in a constant state of warfare.

An Unplanned Dinner

April 25th, 2008 at 07:15 pm

I stopped at Safeway because they were having a Grand Reopening. The funny thing is they never closed and look exactly the same.

But, during this Grand Reopening, they had all kinds of food samples to give out. They had a grill truck cooking steak so I got about 3oz cooked steak, 1oz of turkey salad, 1oz of lump crab dip, two bites of sandwich, fresh bread w/oil, a bite size piece of meatloaf, 1/2 a chunk cookie and pineapple. I didn't eat the offered soup because I was full.

So dinner was free tonight.

After dinner, I stopped at KMart. They had a coupon for $3 off 3 sunsilk products. On the markdown table were 3 sunsilk products. 1.12+1.12+1.67+tax(-3.00)=$1.10.

It was a good evening.

Monkey Butt Powder

April 24th, 2008 at 03:40 pm

I can't believe I bought a product call Monkey Butt Powder. I have to admit that part of the reason I bought it was the funny name. Its a conversation starter. "So, have you ever heard of Monkey Butt Powder" or "I bought a cannister of Monkey Butt Powder yesterday." LOL

Riteaid had the powder as a free after rebate item. On slickdeals.net, someone said it is to prevent chaffing due to perspiration. I remembered the co-worker in Iraq (US Army) who told us last week that it is 106 degrees in the shade and that their uniforms are soaked when they take them off and sometimes still damp when they put them back on the next day to go out on field missions. After some thought I decided it was a worthwhile product and I am sending it to Iraq or Afghanistan for the troops to use. Cornstarch should work just as well, but which name is better, cornstarch or Monkey Butt Powder? I hope it gives them the same laugh it gave me.

Truck Accident

April 23rd, 2008 at 06:41 pm

So I got the call I was dreading. My teen had his first car accident. He's okay, just a little shook up, mostly adrenaline. He did however put 3 dents in my truck. Granted the truck is old, 19 years. But, it runs fine. It needs a paint job(its not rusty, just faded). Otherwise, it is just fine. Oh, and it gets about 7 miles to the gallon. It gets him to HS and back. I use it for the twice monthly trip to the dump, and in winter every 3 weeks. It also comes in handy for hauling things, every 6 months or so. My plan was to sell it for 1500. Kelly blue book valued it at 1500-3000. Now I will get even less. His response was not apologetic, more like it wasn't worth anything anyway so why care or worry. I am so tempted to take the price of repairs out of his savings account. Maybe if it is his lost money he won't be so insensitive about mine. When I was 17 I had a car accident and totaled my parents car. I paid for it and felt bad about it for years. It was my mistake, just like what happened was my sons fault. I'm glad he's okay but wish he had a more responsible attitude.

Affording My Luxuries

April 22nd, 2008 at 03:50 pm

I like to go to restaurants with friend and enjoy a leisurely meal. Lots of fun and laughter.

I also go out once a week into the community with my students. Its called Community Based Instruction. We are out during lunch so we eat in restaurants. The purpose is to work on educational skills(money, menus, map reading, ect), behavior and social skills. Eating at McDonald, Burger King, ect is okay but they need a wider variety to acquire more skills.

Thanks to bloggers here I have learned about Restaurant.com and slickdeals.net. Combining the two have made it affordable to eat in nicer places and practice skills in a different setting. Some of my students are economically challenged (thats PC for very low income). Its great having the opportunity to introduce them to finer dining than fast food. Ordering from a menu, eating a meal in courses, tipping, etc. are important social skills for adulthood.

So, thanks to the posters on this board for sharing your day-to-day (moneysaving) spending adventures.

Drifting Along...

April 21st, 2008 at 07:56 pm

Sometimes something happens that really motivates me. Right now it is a series of things. Some might say I have no control over these things and to an extent they would be right. And yet, I do have choices.

First, the teacher I work with is moving to Florida. We are a great team. Two, I work with a student who is violent at times and goes for blood, which he has successfully done 4 times this year. Its not personal just part of his handicapping condition. Three, we are getting another student, this one broke his last teacher's fingers. Our school is just a regular school not a special school. We do not have the staff, specialized quiet rooms or protocol to deal with this level of violence and assault. And quite frankly I'm just getting to old to move as quickly as they do. Nobody is willing to say that this is not the right placement. I guess since it isn't their bones, bruises and cuts on the line they don't care.

I have loved working with my students in past years. They have been mr, dyslexic, autistic, emotionally disturbed, tramatic brain injured, and other disabled.

I had hoped to wait 2 years to retire early. But, I may have to leave earlier and get another job for 2 years. Or stick it out one year and live bare bones and save. Or get a second job for one year. I have choices, just not ones I particularly like.

This situation is definitely motivating me to get out early and do whatever it takes.

Yard Sales

April 20th, 2008 at 05:27 am

We are now in the second half of April and Saturday here in the Washington DC area was incredibly beautiful. In past years there were so many yard sales by now, you just couldn't stop at 1/4 of them. Yesterday there just a couple of handfuls. It was a surprise.

That said, I got everything on my wish list at the prices I was happy to pay. I am sending DVDs and books over to Afghanistan. I got 9 DVDs for $12. I got 22 books for $1. I won't have a dishwasher in my new apartment so I wanted a drainer and got the 2pc set for $1. I also wanted a mini-trampoline and got it for $5.

Although gas prices are an issue for yardsaling for me, I live in a rural area and the community of 10,000 plus homes with good stuff is 45 mins away, I went with a friend and so I drove and she paid for gas. Usually when I shop for me and take a friend, I can't find what I want, but they get everything they've been looking for for the last year but couldn't find. Its irritating after awhile, but perhaps I've found my muse, insteading of being everyone elses. I like a good bargain but I really enjoy the adventure and joy of treasure hunting with a friend.

While yardsaling in this community I usually take advantage of going to stores that I don't have in my community. One is a health food store, they have the whole grains I mix together to make my morning cereal. I stock up for 3mos at a time. Another is a Wonderbread outlet which has good prices on whole grain breads. There is also a Target, so I check the ads to see their sales and from now on I will take my coupons because they have (hit or miss) great unadvertised deals. Yesterday, they had crest toothpaste 8oz with a toothbrush together marked down to 1.68 but I didn't have my coupon for a $1 with me that would have given me the pair for $.68. Live and learn.

One of my favorite communities is have a community wide sale in two weeks. It will probably be the last time I yard sale until fall. To be honest, it will be for fun because I am decluttering not acquiring. My wish list is small right now, an oscillating fan on a stand and a fire pit, not things usually found at yards sales but hey stranger things have happened.

My Life As A Commercial

April 19th, 2008 at 08:22 pm

My son is, at this moment, at his senior prom. He looked great in his tux. His date is a lovely young lady inside and out. The part that feels like a commercial is:

Tux Rental $179
Prom Tickets 70
Dinner 70
Limo Rental (1/18th) 100
Corsage 20
Pictures 48
Total 487

Prom $487, memories priceless!

I hope he has a great time and takes with him into adulthood a priceless memory.

I Don't Get It

April 17th, 2008 at 08:37 pm

When I retire in a couple of years, I won't have a huge amount of money. I'll live on about what I make now or a little more.

I know the lifestye I want and I've carefully researched it. I'm not a trailblazer, others have done it and continue to do it on the same amount or less that I'll have.

Today I had lunch with a woman I've worked with for 6-7 years. We've talked alot over the years about our lives and families. I was talking to her about my plans and how it would work and she said but I thought you were going back to school to get a masters to teach. I explained I had thought about it but the costs were to heavy in time and money and I want my freedom sooner. It would only change my retirement amount by $4800 a year. Alot of money but not enough to devote 3 years of my life to school and work to teach for 3 more years and then retire. She said "I don't get it." Its what she says when asked to think outside the box she lives in. Its not a bad or wrong box, just her box, and she gets confused when others live differently. I want to travel and have figured a way to do it most of the year within my means now while I'm young and healthy. She thinks I should work til I'm 55-65. With her finances, she'll be 65 or older.

She was telling me she is paying court fees to force her exhusband to sign over the SUV to her per the divorce decree. I told her she doesn't have to (I'd been through the same thing), she can pay $10 for a duplicate title, take her divorce decree with her and change the title. She said "No I'm not paying one penny more to get it in my name," shaking her head stubbornly. I told her she would make back more than $10 when she sells the SUV as planned to buy a more effienct car and fills it up for the first time. Oh well, we all make choices. They don't have to be the same.

I suppose one day I will be someone she tells others about saying "I don't know how she does it," while shaking her head. Me, I'll be on a cruise ship or tangoing in Argentina or hiking a mountain or drinking coffe in Paris or watching a festival in India while she spends time in court chasing an SUV title. Maybe I should be the one saying, "I don't get it."

A Nice Surprise at Safeway

April 16th, 2008 at 05:29 pm

I was in Safeway today and purchased some living right products.

3 pkg of Charmin tp 12 rolls ea 6.49ea
1 loak of pepperidge farm bread 3.79ea
(4 bags of jelly beans for 2.35)

= 25.61

The total was enough to earn a $10 coupon toward my next purchase. To my surprise I also got a $5 coupon off any gift card. So, I asked if I could use it on a Safeway gift card and they said yes. When I asked about the minimum amount I was told anything over $5, so I bought one for $6.

25.61 - 10 - 5 = 10.61

Then it was on to lunch at Chevy's restaurant. I used a restaurant.com gift certificate $5 for a $25. With 4 people it was easy to spend the $35 required, the check was 35.95. It was a gorgeous day so we ate outside on the terrace. So lunch cost 5 + 11 + tip for 4 people. I left with enough food for 3 more meals.

I now have enough TP for one person for a year. Enough shampoo, body wash/soap, razors, toothpaste, bathroom/kitchen cleaner, and deodorant to last me about 2 years.

I've been working on my new budget, once I move and since I have no debt and an adequate emergancy fund I am going to put 1/3 of my income after fica into my 403b retirement fund. I've also budgeted $2000 for vacation. But I will have to stick to my plan or my vacation money will be blown. That should be a big incentive. Next summer, I want to go to Europe. If the exchange rates stay the same I might end up in Eastern Europe; like Hungary, Romania or Bulgaria. They are beautiful also and full of history. I love the mountains and they have plenty.

Packages to Afghanistan

April 15th, 2008 at 08:28 pm

I have adopted thru Anysoldier.com a group of soldiers in Afghanistan. The contact person is a Capt. who leads 100 men and women serving in the Army. Although its 30-40 degrees at night they don't have sheets or blankets. They need the basics and the little luxuries we take for granted here at home in the USA.

I wanted so much to help. However, I don't have alot of money. Just shipping a box costs $11-12 and that doesn't include whats in it. So, I've come up with a plan. I will send one box a week.

Week 1 will be media items, little or no cost to me (except postage). The local library has 1.00 a bag used books and my sister-in-law has offered to give me leftover magazine(US, People, ect) brought and left by passengers on the AutoTrain (they would be trashed by the cleaning crews otherwise). DVD's are more of a challenge but perhaps a $5-6 sale video, or donation. I like the idea of a humerous movie to bring some laughter into their lives. Budgeted amount $6-7.

Week 2 will be snacks. Through out the month I will watch the ads for loss leaders and put them in the box, trying for a max. amount of $20 for snacks.

Week 3 will be personal care items. Things like shampoo,body wash, lotions, tooth paste/brushes, lip gloss, and other items. Once again, I will look for free to low cost items using sale prices/coupons/rebates/ect. Budgeted amount will be about $10.

Week 4 will be fun things and maybe things for the locals. Card games like poker and Uno. Beanie babies. Pencils and school supplies. I'll ask and then hit the yard sales this spring/summer, back to school sales in stores and dollar stores. Budgeted amount will be about $10-20.

Total budget is approx. $103 a month (items & postage). Its alot but I recently had an Aunt and Uncle pass away who left the nieces(me) and nephews small legacies. He was career Army and served in WWII. I think he would have liked to have received packages from home so I think this is a fitting way to honor him and his service to our country.

Weekly Drugstore Shopping

April 14th, 2008 at 07:29 pm

Stopped by RiteAid to pick up their free with store rebate/coupon items. The difference between a city and country RiteAid is the city store sells out and the country store mostly has stock.

Samy Shampoo - free w/rebate out of stock
Addidas - free w/coupon out of stock
Aquafresh - 2.49 free w/rebate
Colgate Total - 2.99 free w/rebate
Bic Soliel Razors 4+2bonus(2) - 6.29 BOGO
2 coupons $2.00ea = 2.29
Bic Cmfrt Razors 4+2bonus(2) - 6.29 BOGO
2 coupons $3.00ea = .29

Total coupon savings $10, rebate savings $5.48.

I'm thinking of returning the bic soliel razors, I don't like the end price. They don't meet my goal. The comfort razors are almost free at 12 for $.29. Having 12 razors would last me about a year+ giving me time to look for another free or almost free deal. April 1, I got 4 razors free thru RiteAid with their rebate. No sense in spending money to stock up on something that with patience I will eventually get for free or very very close.

I'll stop on my way to the library and return the razors and try to buy the out of stock items at my RiteAid.

No Blame Game

April 12th, 2008 at 01:26 pm

I've spent alot of time in the last weeks reading different blogs and articles on SavingAdvice.com. It has really inspired me. My thanks to all the posters on this site! I've been paralyzed under the weight of everything that has happened in the last few years.

Immersing myself in websites, books, etc has been alot of help. I've made a list of things to do: menus, matching coupons to sales/rebates, evaluating each purchase, and rearranging finances to make the best of my resources.

On my list was to check my credit card reward points. To my surprise I had enough points to get cash checks worth $125. And, to my dismay I noticed on my statement that about $13+ was lost in February to expired points. I've decided not to look further back and play the Blame Game. That is done and cannot be changed. I will just enjoy the wonderful surprise of an unexpected $125 and go on from here.

Planning, Persistence & Decisions

April 11th, 2008 at 05:53 pm

I ate dinner first so I wouldn't think about food or get impatient due to hunger. I checked the Safeway site to see what brands were included in the Spend 30 get a 10 coupon for your next sale. I matched my coupons to the list. I double checked I had spent enough and even had the checker ask if the 30 total was presale price or post. It was presale. I spent 36.81 - 11.64(sale) - 10.74(coupons)= 14.43. Then I didn't get the 10 coupon. So I went to the desk to ask why. I explained the problem to the desk manager and offered to return everything on the order and then go back through the line again. The error turned out to be with the cashier according to the manager. The manager offered to give me the 10 back as cash. Hey, that took my cost to 4.43, what could I say but "show me the money."

I met my Dad at the potential apartment. He felt I should hold off on getting the appliances so soon. After thinking about it, I decided that since we are in a recession that the good prices will continue for the next couple of months. I'll wait. My ex is supposed to be buying me out of our marital home. When I've asked if he has financing, he says he's working on it. We agreed to settle May 30/June 2. Dad's concerned that my ex won't end up buying me out. I'm willing to put it on the market, but it could take awhile to sell. The market is slow. I like where I live so that part would be okay. But, I worry.

Sales, Credit and Rebates

April 10th, 2008 at 06:55 pm

I spoke with my brother yesterday about the apartment and he asked me to get the refrigerator and range. I looked on Craigslist and Pennysaver websites for used appliances. Most were 250+ and 5-11 years old. I thought about Sears. I looked at their flyer and the web site and the prices were not the best. I checked Home Depot and they might be the answer. A Magic Chef 10cu ft Refrig/Freezer is $319 -40 (rebate) - 10% (first purchase on a new credit account)= $247 and it comes with a warranty. The range is $319 - 10%= $287.10. And, both appliances look like they qualify for a $50 gift card for HD.
This brings the total cost for appliances to $484 + tax. That's $242 each. I like the idea of a warranty and that they will be in a pristine condition.

Saying No to a Teenager

April 9th, 2008 at 05:42 pm

My one and only, a seventeen year old, has wants. All his friends get what they want from their parents, according to him. He has said I should go out and get a high powered career that pays big bucks so I can support him in the manor to which he wants to become accustomed. Not going to happen. I like what I do and I have no interest in a job that consumes me. I make enough to meet his needs plus some of his wants. I've told him to get a job of his own if he wants extras I'm not willing to purchase.

My only regret is that when he was a toddler we started putting money monthly in his name for college. He has no interest in further schooling at this point and at eighteen the money will be his to do what he wants with. As I looked at his sweet face as a little boy I was sure he would go to college or trade school and the money would be well spent to ensure his future. I suppose, I have to look at it as giving him a good initial start and let it go. In 3.5 months it will be out of my hands.

People learn the most from their mistakes so if he spends it all in the first year it will be his choice to live with. I won't make this mistake with any grandchildren. That way if they are late bloomers and need help in there 20's with school the money will be there.

Stocking Up

April 7th, 2008 at 07:06 pm

Stock up time:

Giant -
Charmin 24 big rolls 10.99 - $1 coupon
(2)Pantene 2in1 shampoo 2.99 - $1 coupon
(2)Crest 8.2 oz 1.99 -(2)$1 coupon
(2)Secret deodorant-2.50 $1coupon
Total $25.95 - $5coupons=$20.95 - $10 store coupon for next purchase = $10.95

RiteAid - (2)Bottles Vitamins BOGO $5.49ea -(2)$2 coupons = $1.78w/tax

(13) Eating Right Meal 26.00
16oz Organic Raw Spinach 5.99
Apples & Banana 2.87
candy bar .50
total = 35.33 - 10 coupon = 25.33
Spend $30 on eating right get $10 coupon

Now I have 13 lunches/dinners @ $1.23 ea

I'm supposed to be moving in less than 2 mos. My ex is buying me out of my share of the house. I'll be moving into an apartment in my brothers house. The rent is very reasonable. It will be a good transition. Slowly I've been going through my things, decluttering. I need to move quicker or I'll be moving things to the apartment that I don't want or need. Wasted effort. You'd think that would motivate me, but not yet. Soon.

Birthday Dinner

April 6th, 2008 at 06:09 pm

The end of March was my sister's birthday. Today was the first day she was available to go out. I took her, my niece (her daughter) and my son out for dinner at Chevy's. The food and service were excellent. We had alot of fun. Using the Restaurant.com gift certificate for $25 that cost me $5 (couponmom.com had a code) was great and easy. Dinner and dessert cost $5(gc) + $35.84(check) = $40.84 for the four of us. My niece wanted to leave the tip. There was enough left from my dinner for two more 2 meals. I suppose the better deal would have been just the two of us, but the memories are worth the extra cost.

Before dinner I stopped at CVS to shop. The total was $21.64 - $4.19 (sale discount) - $8.48 (coupons)= $8.97. I also got $8.00 in extra bucks to be used in the future, so I suppose I could say 8.97 - 8.00 = .97 as my final cost. I ended up with 2 shampoos, 2 conditioners and a deodorant for $.97. Not quite my goal of free but getting close.

A good day!

New to Blogging

April 5th, 2008 at 06:53 pm

I've read alot of blogs. They have at times entertained and/or helped me. So now I've decided to start one of my own. This blog forum seems to fit me best.

There have been so many changes recently and so many more to come in the next months and years. I am 47. Married (19 years 10 months) and now divorce (1 year). Mother of one child (son). My son graduates high school in 2 months. I'm to move into an apartment in less than 2 months as the house is sold. And I plan to retire at 50 to travel. The teacher I've worked with for the last 3 years is moving to Florida. My parents health is declining. Believe it or not all these are good(except parents health) and necessary things, but change is not always easy or comfortable. I worry if things will all work out as I hope and plan.

My son graduates from high school in 2 months. He has led me a merry dance. He likes the social aspect of school just not the work that goes with it. He has a 2.5+gpa, but his anger relating to the divorce and his dislike of school have made it a struggle to maintain the 2.5gpa.

Now I will be sharing this journey here in this blog and that feels right.