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Archive for November, 2008

Weekly grocery update

November 30th, 2008 at 03:45 pm

I was determined to spend a lot less on groceries this week and I did all right, especially considering it was a holiday week. The percent savings with coupons was low - only 23% - but I'm still happy.

Before coupons, total was $135.73. Coupon savings was $30.54, and the total after coupons was $105.19. Groceries & household totaled $89.00 ($119.54 - $30.54 coupons). Dog food totaled $16.19, with no coupons.

The average per week is now $135.27, down from $135.91.

I'm actually quite surprised the groceries came in so high, considering I had almost everything I needed for the holiday. I guess I went overboard on some stockpiling of sale items, but that SHOULD mean I won't be spending more for the same items in the upcoming weeks.

I guess the most important thing I keep realizing is that I think I'm not spending much each week because each time I stop at a store the overall total is low, usually under twenty dollars unless I buy dog food. But, when you make 4 or 5 of those trips, it suddenly adds up to $100 if not more!

Bling! Went the Strings of my Heart

November 30th, 2008 at 02:44 am

That was the title on one of the pages in a samsclub.com ad in Oprah's magazine. The ad spread over several pages and included a lot of gorgeous jewelry ranging from hundreds of dollars to...drum roll please...$157,984! That is not a typo.

SNAP!!! That's what the strings of my heart would do if DH ever even THOUGHT about spending a fraction of that on jewelry! SNAP, CRACKLE and POP - I would have a coronary!!!

I think if you were considering a samsclub membership, the $25 fee would make sense if you are in the market for an item like this. (in reference to Diolla's post about membership fees) But, if you're in the market for an item like this, are you really shopping for it at Sam's club? That's not the market I thought they usually targeted, but maybe I'm wrong.

Would you buy it and just walk out of the store with it, and not be really, really nervous?! Oh, reading the fine print, I see it's only available online.

"Stacking" rewards strategy

November 28th, 2008 at 10:38 pm

The good news...I went online and bought my color laser printer from Staples this morning. If anyone recalls from an earlier posting, I couldn't figure out if the $99 after rebate price was only in-store during early bird hours, so I went ahead with the purchase to see what happened, and it all worked.

The even better news....is my "stacking" rewards strategy. I signed onto Staples via Ebates, which had a 2% cash back reward instead of the usual 1%. My printer was $199, plus I bought a cord for $25 and an extra black toner cartridge for $57 (and then got $30 off because I combined it with the printer purchase), so the grand total with tax was $263. My 2% back will be $5.26. Ebates also has a $10 bonus, which this should qualify for. So, I should get $15.26 total back there. The $100 Staples Easy Rebate will come in the form of a Visa gift card. Then, because I have a Staples rewards card, there should be some rewards money due to me at the end of the quarter. And, on top of all that, I used a credit card that pays me cash back. It's a small percent, but the small bits and pieces add up!

I can't wait until it gets here!!

The bad news....I really could have used it today, since I have to mail in the registration over the weekend for one of our horses born earlier in the year. Along with the registration, I have to send pictures. I have no way to print the pictures, since my old printer quit working, so instead I have to upload to Walgreens and go pick them up. This all has to be done quickly, so I can get the registration in the mail by Saturday at the latest. If not, I lose out on an $8 credit I have at the horse association, since it expires on 12/1. The rush is, of course, my own fault because I could have easily printed my own picture back during the summer and mailed it all in well in advance of the credit certificate expiring. Will I ever learn?

Clean house!

November 28th, 2008 at 02:47 am

I'm enjoying my nice clean house today! I spent a few hours while things were cooking doing a more thorough job cleaning than I've had time to do lately. I wish it would stay like this on its own. Everything is put away. Glass surfaces have all been polished. Cobwebs and dust bunnies have been banished. And I feel good about it.

It wasn't like I had a houseful of company coming either, just BIL and SS who could really have cared less as long as there was food. But I'm so glad I got it out of the way, and don't need to spend as much time this weekend cleaning.

Black Friday - New printer?

November 25th, 2008 at 04:35 am

A week or two ago, I was really wanting to get a new color laser printer. I had decided on the Samsung CLP-315, but didn't get it because I ran out of time and energy in my weekend shopping to get it. Well, I see it again on Staples black Friday ad, and it's tempting me again...

I'm confused, though. My sneak preview email says: "Get a sneak peek at these hot, limited-time offers now. In store and online." When I click on the link, it takes me to a weekly ad that says "Offer valid Nov 28 - Nov 29". On the top of page 1, in a little Christmas ornament decoration, it says "Friday, 6am to 10am, Offers valid in store only". But that's at the TOP of the page, and the printer is one of the items shown at the BOTTOM of the page. Huh?!? Which is it? In-store only? in-store AND online? 6am to 10am only? or Nov 28 - Nov 29?

Since I don't "do" Black Friday shopping, and since I have to work Friday, I guess I have two options. I can either call ahead for clarification, in which case I'm sure the answer will depend on somebody else's unofficial interpretation of the ad. Or, I can just wait until Friday, and attempt to order the printer online and see what happens. If it's really on sale online, I buy it. If not, I cancel. (I suppose a 3rd option would be to try to force a "truth in advertising" claim by printing what I see when I look at the ad regarding the 2 day sale, and then force them to honor the price if it doesn't automatically ring up that way. I honestly don't think I'd be up to pulling that, though.)

Weekly grocery update

November 24th, 2008 at 04:03 am

I didn't do as well this week as in previous weeks - only saved 28% with coupons. Total before coupons was $194.15. Coupon savings was $53.63, and the total after coupons was $140.52. Groceries & household totaled $48.34 ($94.97 - $46.63 coupons). Dog food totaled $92.18 ($99.18 - $7.00 coupons).

I also discovered I'd made a mistake in my average per week calculations way back in the spring. I had one week split into two. So, now my average per week totals are up overall, and because I spent a lot this week, the average went up from the prior week. $135.91 is the new average for groceries, household and dog food.

Maybe this coming week will be better. I already have everything for the holiday dinner except sugar-free pecan pie and cool whip, plus celery & cream cheese. I might need a few normal weekly items such as milk, bread, and jelly too.

$1.51...and I got paid early

November 23rd, 2008 at 04:44 pm

...is what I paid for gas last night. Woohoo! I love that it keeps getting cheaper, but hope that it doesn't take the focus off finding alternative energy sources.

I was checking my email when I got home and found my paycheck had come early this time. Normally, it hits my account around the 25th or so, and with the holiday coming up, I was really expecting that they would process it on the 25th to go into the account on the 26th, and I'd have to wait until the 28th to really have access to it. Of course, now my next check won't come for 3 weeks, so that will seem like forever! The only real benefit to me is that I can get some early-December bill paying out of the way before the end of this month, since my December is going to be crazy-busy. I have a class several nights a week after work for the first 2.5 weeks of the month, then I have a trip for work for the next 5 days, and then Christmas will be here. Ack! Somewhere in there I have to work on finding a job and shopping for gifts, although our gift-giving will be very sparse this year.

Big OOPS with Walgreens

November 21st, 2008 at 09:42 pm

I participate almost every month in the Walgreens easy saver rebates, especially with the items that are free after rebates. I have the rebates credited to a gift card. Back in September, I noticed the gift card wasn't scanning, so they always had to punch in the numbers by hand, so once I used up all the money I threw out the card and had the September rebates credited to a new card.

When I applied for the October rebates, I forgot to change the gift card number for them to credit, so my $42.86 went to the card I'd thrown away! It took 3 phone calls on Sunday to get the right department on the phone, and all they could do is "put in a supervisor request" to switch the money over. Five days later (today), I checked and the balance has still not been transfered. They put in a new supervisor request, and would ask for it to be expedited....which could take another 3-4 days! Expedited, my A$$!!!

In other news, since it's been a few days, my interview went well earlier in the week.

Wish me luck!

November 18th, 2008 at 07:46 pm

I have a job interview this afternoon. It's not a permanent job but for a seasonal position that starts after the 1st of the year. I can't stop looking for my permanent job if I get this because I really only wanted this to be part time in addition to a permanent full time job. I'll just have to be as delicately honest as I can in the interview, but I'm not sure how to do that exactly. How do I explain that based on what I have lined up for next year so far (which is nothing), I want as many hours as they can give me....but if I find a permanent job, I will want totally different hours and a lot less of them? I hope it doesn't come across as offensive or wishy-washy. I need to give them something to plan on, but that's so hard to do! Anyhow, wish me luck!!

Late by 2 hours

November 17th, 2008 at 10:50 pm

I was outside doing some chores Friday night when all of a sudden it hit me that I had 2 credit cards due soon....very soon. I rushed inside and checked. Sure enough, Amex was due on the 15th, but the AT&T card was due that day - BY 5PM! Ugh! Late by 2 hours, which of course shows as if I just waited until today to pay it because anything with an after 5:00 timestamp goes on the next business day.

I am so mad at myself!! I know it's due around the 15th of the month, but for some reason I didn't realize how fast the 15th was approaching. I can schedule it online ahead of time, but for some bizarre stupid reason I never think to do that. I hope that if a late fee does show up, they will be kind enough to reverse it for me.

I can't bring myself to tell DH about it either. I think he'd "lecture" about how stupid it is to (a) wait until the last minute, and (b) pay anything online anyhow. At least I agree with (a). So, keep your fingers crossed for me that I can get them to waive any late fees, and that they don't raise the interest rate because of it. I know they just wait for a reason to do that sometimes.

Weekly grocery update, etc

November 17th, 2008 at 05:40 am

This week, I saved 36% on groceries, household, and dog food. Total before coupons was $191.15. Coupon savings was $68.24, and the total after coupons was $122.91. Groceries & household totaled $101.84 ($169.00 - $67.16 coupons). Dog food totaled $21.07 ($22.15 - $1.08 coupons).

For the year, that decreases the average per week to $132.92, down from $133.14. I'm still working on getting it lower.

I was in line at Walgreens behind an elderly woman who was scrambling for a $1 coupon she couldn't find. I had one so I gave it to her, plus I had an extra $5 off $20 purchase that I wasn't going to use, so I gave that to her as well. She was very pleased, and so was I.

In other frugal news, I managed to install some of our storm windows (and washed a few windows too!), as well as putting door sweeps on both our front & back doors. Either the wind isn't blowing very strongly out tonight or they helped immensely, because for the first time in a long time I don't feel a cool breeze on my feet. (There was quite a gap at the bottom!)

Random thoughts...yada, yada, yada

November 13th, 2008 at 07:19 pm

Nothing much or exciting to report. DH had a VA appointment yesterday, which is about a 3 hour trip for us. For the first time EVER, the mileage reimbusement actually PAID for our gas and we had some cash leftover to buy lunch. The difference is we were able to drive one of our vehicles that gets decent gas mileage, plus the cost of gas has gone down of course.

We spent an extra $10 at a flea market on the way home too, some as an "investment" in items to list on ebay.

I have to refund 2 ebayers for items that arrived in unsatisfactory condition - one broken and one not working as planned (which I didn't realize when I listed it). I didn't make either person ship their item back, since they would be of no use to me. I should recoup insurance on the broken item, at least.

On the job front, I get to start figuring out how to transition what I know to others on our team so they can take over when I'm out of a job. Is it an option to refuse? Dear boss, you created this situation, you're on your own after I leave. I ain't sharing nothin'!!! Ah, only in my dreams. I'll be a good girl, and tell all, or at least almost all (*wink*).

Puff, puff, puff...NOT

November 11th, 2008 at 05:17 pm

One week ago, DH said he'd quit smoking his cigars to reduce our spending a little. He really CAN quit anytime apparently because he's done great. We did find a few in one of the vehicles that he smoked up when he found them, but there have been no new purchases.

Now, I know it's not technically correct to claim that he quit, since he is still smoking a pipe and does that most of the time now. It's really just substituting one for the other, but the cost should be quite a bit less. By now, I would have had to make 2 purchases of the 50-pack of cigars that he smokes. Instead, I've only done one purchase of the tobacco which costs about half and there is still plenty left.

The money saved will be stashed away in our emergency fund.

Weekly grocery update

November 11th, 2008 at 05:02 am

I saved 34% on shopping trips this week for groceries, household products, and dog food. Total before coupons was $196.64. Coupon savings was $67.60, and the total after coupons was $129.04. Groceries & household totaled $76.38 ($121.35 - $44.97 coupons). Dog food totaled $52.66 ($75.29 - $22.63 coupons).

For the year, that decreases the average per week to $133.14, down from $133.23. Still too high, in my opinion, but at least it's going in the right direction - DOWN!

Talked myself out of spending....for now

November 10th, 2008 at 10:21 pm

I want, Want, WANT a color laser printer, but not a real expensive one. My color inkjet printer quit months ago, and the only other printer I have is an 8-year old black & white laser that won't even connect to my new laptop because it has no usb connection (the printer doesn't, that is).

I've been shopping ads, and I saw the $30 rewards bonus from Staples if you bring in an old printer and buy a new one, so it's really tempting. I even picked out which printer I most wanted from their sales flyer last week, the Samsung CLP-315, and the reviews were pretty good. I even loaded up the kaput printer with me when I knew I'd be running errands by a Staples.

But, I talked myself out of it for 2 reasons. One, I had run too many errands and was tired and ready to go home. Two, I had just spent another $100+ to upgrade our website package to a better one that allows for multiple websites the night before and I was feeling much too spendy.

I really think I just postponed the inevitable, though. We have a personal website where we promote our horses and dogs, and I used the color printer in the past to print business cards. We're out of cards. Also, both the website upgrade and a new color printer are part of an overall plan to generate some type of income besides ebay via the internet next year, and I would use the new printer for business cards, brochures, etc.

So, for now, I talked myself out of it. That printer is no longer at the great sale price, so I won't be tempted again this week, even if the $30 trade-in deal ends. There will always be another sale, and maybe the sale will coincide with when I need, Need, NEED a new printer. I can get by without one for now.

Saving to spend?

November 9th, 2008 at 03:47 am

I had another good shopping trip this week at Dillons, spending just over $8 for $30-$40 worth of groceries. But then, on the way home, after stopping 2 or 3 other places, and getting tired and not wanting to cook, I stopped at McD's to bring home dinner. Ugh! It seems so silly to spend time figuring out how to save just to turn around and waste money on something else.

I had things at home that could have been cooked fairly quickly but gave in to the temptation to "splurge." (Fast food is about the worst splurge we do when it comes to dinners; we rarely if ever go to a real restaurant.)

Before anyone thinks that $8 was the entire amount of our grocery budget for the week (I wish!), it wasn't. I haven't tallied it all up, but the dogs alone cost another $58. I include their food with ours. And, even if I only determine that we spent another $20 on people food, I realized after I got home that we're getting low on milk, bread, eggs, peanut butter and other staples. So, I'm heading into the new week knowing a shopping trip will be needed again fairly quickly.

Ebay trickle

November 7th, 2008 at 10:30 pm

I've been selling several ebay items this past week, providing a slow trickle of money to stash away. I hope saying it out loud doesn't jinx it! It's all low-ticket items, but 10 items at $2 profit is still $20 that I didn't have before. It's a lot of work, and my dollars per hour spent would be below minimum wage, but I don't try to look at it that way. If I wasn't going to do anything else during that time anyway, I'm happy with the "found" money.

In other unrelated news, I saw in our local paper that our state board of education has mandated personal finance courses be part of the high school curriculum. Hurray!!! I think this is a great idea, but I don't know if this is a new thing, or if we're just catching up to the rest of the country. Do your schools do this?

Not keeping up with the Joneses

November 6th, 2008 at 08:20 pm

A few of the blogs about cash & lists for the holiday have me thinking. Since the beginning of the year, I've been squirreling away any "extra" money for our Christmas gift giving. Like creditcardfree, I put away ebay and extra money here & there. I add rolled coin from a jar on my desk every month or so. I accumulate rebate checks and deposit them as well. I have roughly $1100 or $1200 saved, and it was for our big xmas/anniversary gift to each other of a new digital TV, as well as gifts for other people. We'd talked about the tv earlier in the year and more or less planned for it. Except for one thing...

DH announced last week he wanted a 60". Um, I was planning on more like a 36" or 42". He said he'd decided a long time ago when he went through very rough times that if he ever got to where he could afford the best, that's what he'd get. Now, I know if we want to get out of debt, we should just be sticking with our regular analog tv & converter box (which is personally what I would be happy with), but I like to make him happy once in awhile too. It is an absolute want rather than a need whether it's big or small.

But, fate has intervened since we had that latest discussion. Since I now have to look for a job for next year, and so far nothing is on the horizon, we are obviously getting NO new tv, at least not until we have financial stability figured out. And the way I see it, prices on tvs will surely keep coming down. We might end up spending far less in the long run on the new TV, or we might buy a used one from someone else that went in too deep. Maybe in the long run, we'll spend what I'd planned on spending and get what DH planned on getting, and that waiting will work out best all around.

Glad I didn't wait!

November 5th, 2008 at 08:42 pm

I went online to pay my business credit card today, and it wouldn't let me due to some system maintenance or upgrade. It was acting very wacky - one time I got as far as seeing my card summary and the 2nd time I didn't even get that far. So I quit trying. It is expected to be available by 6AM....but did they say which day? Of course not. I'll assume that the notice is correct and they expect it back up by 6AM Thursday, but how do I really know if it was supposed to be 6AM today and they are still having issues?

Oh, well, it's not my problem to fix, and I'm glad I didn't wait until the due date. For once!! I have a bad habit of doing that, even though I don't earn interest on the money in the checking account and even though I could schedule it in advance. It's just this strange thing I do.

I'll try again tomorrow. It's actually not due until the 10th.

This isn't one of the cards in my info, since I don't carry a balance on it. It's just business expenses that I would ordinarily write a check for, but I earn cash back on the purchases so I use it instead.

DH decided to quit!

November 4th, 2008 at 06:52 pm

In preparation for tightening our budget, DH decided to quit smoking his cigars for now. He smokes them just like cigarettes, so this is BIG, not just an occasional or nightly thing. I'm sure it will be hard for him, but he's quit before as needed (before surgery once, and to try to get SS to quit another time). He says it's no "big deal", and he can quit any time he wants. We'll see...

It could save us $150/month, although his pipe-smoking may increase instead. That's still cheaper, but I don't think it's any healthier. Also, I sell on ebay and have to be real careful so the smokey smell doesn't get into my items.

I asked if he expected me to give up something to "match" him, and he said no. That's really a good thing, because I can't think of any habit or spending that I have each month that even comes close to that amount.

I hope the next few weeks don't become unbearable for us both, as he adjusts to the change. Wish him/us luck!!

am I thinking right?

November 3rd, 2008 at 05:07 pm

I've started selling a few things on ebay lately, and have an extra $50 accumulated from that. Plus, I have an extra $30 from an "investment". (I bought a huge box of greeting cards at a yard sale for $1, took out about 50-60 of them for me & my MIL to use, and resold the rest to a local discount store for 10c apiece.

My original plan was to take this found money and add it to one of my credit card payments, but since my job situation for next year is unknown at this point, I'm thinking I'd better just add it to the emergency fund instead. I'm actually thinking that instead of paying my usual 10-15 bucks extra on top of my minimum card payments that I'd really better stash that to the side as well, just in case.

This is logical thinking, right? Not just panic setting in? I reason it out by saying I'd rather pay (at worst) the 7.2% interest on the card rather than having to skip the minimum payments later and have them jack the interest rate sky high.
~~~~~
Grrr. Now I have $79.80 instead of $80. I just burned 2 pieces of bacon beyond recognition while I was typing this!

It's an Addiction

November 2nd, 2008 at 04:01 pm

I started early in the year trying to cut back our spending where possible. Since I do all the shopping, I started learning more about coupons and couponing websites. It is an absolute addiction. If you can't be bothered with it, you won't know what I'm talking about. But if you try and succeed just a few times with huge savings, you'll wonder how you ever thought it was a waste of time.

Granted, I spent a few hours each week doing this. But yesterday I scored great deals at Dillons - $3.41 for $33+ worth of groceries. That's almost 90% savings.

Overall for the week, I saved 42% using coupons. Some weeks are better than others. I've been tracking since the beginning of the year and we've dropped from an average of $191.98 to $133.23. That's for household products, groceries, and dog food. We have 9 big dogs so that's why the bill is so high. Sometimes they make up 50% of the bill for the week.

Hello

November 2nd, 2008 at 06:05 am

I've been reading and learning from all the blogs here, and decided to join in. I've actually been thinking about it for awhile, and hoped to start out with just a basic intro and "where we're at", but I just found out my job will be eliminated at the end of the year, so I'm starting out on a rather negative note. And scared to death!

On the bright side, I STILL have 2 months to figure out Plan B. On the not-so-bright side, I ONLY have 2 months to figure out Plan B!! (I know, I know...that's more notice than lots of people get). But I've known this might be coming sooner or later, and have been looking for a replacement job with the same skills & salary for quite a long time and have come up empty.

So, anyhow, hello to all. I titled the blog "need to write about it", because I hope writing will relieve some of my frustration and stress. Many times I find writing down ideas and thoughts for someone else to read actually helps me tremendously because I have to make it organized and logical.