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Archive for March, 2009

It's the little things that make me happy!

March 31st, 2009 at 06:54 pm

My last entry was about a frustrating day. Things are looking up today...other than the fact that I typed this whole entry up once and it disappeared on me!

I shopped for a few sale items at Dillons tonight. After coupons, my $25 worth of groceries came to $3.52! And, I'll either get $2.50 or $3.49 of that back from a mail-in rebate. I'm not sure how much because I don't know if they'll rebate the price before my plus card savings or after. But under $4 for 6 boxes of cereal, 2 lbs of grapes, a canteloupe, and a package of salad finishers (I wouldn't have bought these, except this is what the mail-in rebate is for!). Trips like this take the sting out of the fact that before this I'd already spent a little over $100 on groceries, household, and dog food this week, and it's only Tuesday!

Then, at CVS, I found a Budweiser $10 rebate form for the purchase of propane, ice, meat snacks, salty snacks, some other stuff and pizza. I just bought $10 worth of pizza on Sunday, so it's ideal for me. No alcohol purchase required. I love these high dollar rebates!

I came home to find 11 pieces of "decoy" mail, that I'll get paid to log online. I signed up to do this awhile ago, and some days I just get 1 or 2 pieces of mail. Sometimes, none. Today is the jackpot! It pays just a quarter an item, but it should only take me 10 minutes to log it. My volume last quarter was low, but the payout just accumulates, so hopefully I'll have enough to get paid the next time.

And, last but not least, I found a free Hallmark card deal on moneysavingmom (see the link on my sidebar). Hallmark will mail a real card (not just an email card) to anyone you choose with the TRIAL code. I picked a cute Easter card for my mom.

Frustrating morning

March 29th, 2009 at 11:08 am

I had to take SS to a community service assignment this morning. I'd organized my coupons and grocery lists and planned on a leisurely morning after I dropped him off shopping. I had a magazine to read if I got done before he did (he was scheduled for 3 hours). Well, we arrived on time and waited around for 20 minutes. The "boss" didn't show, so we drove by his house and SS knocked on the door. A teenage kid answered the door and told him the man was sleeping, and that he'd call him later! (I personally think he ought to get credit for the hours he showed up to do; it was his last 3 hours. If they don't give him credit, we'll have to do this again next weekend - not fair to me!)

So, now I was no longer looking at leisurely shopping by myself. Bah humbug!

I crossed off two of the stops on my list, to shorten the trip. I'll go to those some day on my way home from work instead.

Stop #1 was Walgreens. I had my list and my coupons and a $10 Register Reward to use. I pulled it out and discovered it had expired yesterday. Crud!! The manager wouldn't let me use it so I didn't buy the 2/$5 pizzas they had on sale. I did buy everything else I was planning to get, but it wasn't quite as thrilling.

Stop #2 was Walmart. I had them price match the Walgreens price on the pizzas, and I picked up some other things. One of the items was a box of cereal that I have a rebate form to mail in and get my money back. I got out to the car and double checked the receipt to make sure everything was at the correct price and I noticed the amount column was blank on 2/3 of the receipt! I couldn't even tell what the total was to enter in my checkbook, so I took the receipt back in. At customer service they printed a duplicate copy, but it's just on regular computer paper, and not even a receipt that says Walmart on it. Oh, great, I won't be able to use that for my rebate either. I thanked the woman for giving me something to know how much to enter in my checkbook, but told her I'd probably be back some day this week to return & repurchase the cereal. I think she thought I was a PITA (pain in the a--), but I don't care. I couldn't bring myself to go out to the car and lug the cereal back in to do it right then, especially with SS waiting in the car.

Stop #3 was an auto parts store for some hydraulic fitting. They didn't have it.

Just not a good morning...

It's all about timing

March 28th, 2009 at 07:26 am

You just never know. I had an item listed on eBay for fixed price for 30 days. The price? $1.99. I had several lookers, some watchers, but nobody purchased. I finally got around to relisting it last weekend, but picked a 7-day auction instead. I started it at the same price, and whaddaya know? It doesn't end until tomorrow and it's currently bid over $5!

It's all about timing, I suppose, and buyer psychology. Maybe the $1.99 fixed price scared people away that it wasn't the "real" thing. It was a rock bottom price and I would have only earned half that in profit, since my shipping fee is always actual or maybe just 25 cents more for supplies. But I just was tired of hanging onto it and I'll never use it. So, maybe at a fixed price, they thought "no way, something is wrong with it". But, with an auction, people figure things that are worth hundreds or thousands sometimes start at 99 cents, so it's okay.

I'll never know, but I'm glad it will sell!

A reason to bring lunch to work

March 26th, 2009 at 06:18 pm

Has anyone heard the recent Qdoba commercials? The announcer talks about how you could bring your lunch to work, but "your briefcase will smell like lunchmeat" and "you'll eat alone" and "you'll be the office equivalent of the crazy cat lady"....or at least I think those are the claims.

Then, it goes on to push some lunch "special" that is just $6.99. JUST?! I know that's comparable to lunch prices at other places, but for $6.99 I could buy my lunches for the week at the grocery store. So, their ad isn't working for me. As a matter of fact, it's having the opposite effect. I'll make sure to bring my lunch! I don't carry a briefcase, I don't eat lunchmeat, and we have a fridge at work, so the only thing I have to worry about is eating alone. No worries! I don't mind it at all. I often eat while I read a book, or eat quickly and then go for a walk anyhow.

Please note: I'm not knocking Qdoba. As a matter of fact, I've never eaten there. Maybe for some special occasion I'll try it...if I come up with a coupon, that is Smile

The week in review

March 22nd, 2009 at 10:08 am

I haven't had time for blogging, but as I look back over the week, I can think of a few things worth noting.

Today, I found a quarter in our Walmart parking lot. Cha-ching! I scored a few deals with coupons as well. Free tiny bag of Iams dog food, free bread, cheap chex mix and cheap cough drops. I think I saved close to 50% with my coupons.

*****

Yesterday I was in a 1-day class all day, but it was a reunion of sorts with some people that I was in class with last fall. On our lunch break, I wanted cheap food but I was with one girl who doesn't like burger joints and another who seems to like to eat out a lot. We went to a nice restaurant and the cheapest thing on the menu was a $4 bowl of chili. (I could make a big batch of chili for THAT!) But it was good, and much better than fast food, which would have been the alternative, so it was worth it. Plus, we had a blast!

****

I went to a quickie seminar at work one day on cutting costs. The speaker was from a consumer credit counseling place. The bad news is that I didn't learn anything new! (or maybe that's really good news in disguise. The best news was that the lunch was FREE for attendees. So that's really how I saved costs that day. LOL.

A lot of the focus was on how much you could save in a year if you reduced or cut out spending on:
movie rentals $4/wk = $208/year
cigarettes $4/day = $1,465/year
lottery $2/week = $725/year
acrylic nails $40/quarter = $120/year
cable TV $50/month = $600/year
books/magazines $4/week = $208/year
lunch out $4/day = $1040/year

For the most part, I don't do ANY of these things! Maybe a movie or lunch out once in awhile (like mentioned above). The one place I could use help is buying a soda or candy each day at work. I try to incorporate both into my grocery budget, but occasionally run out or need an extra lift during the day. The best way I've found to curb that is to go to work with no cash at all in my purse.

I'll try to catch up on all your blogs and update my grocery tracking when I have a chance so I can blog about that. I think I've been going over my $100/week goal but I'm a few weeks behind on my updates so I really don't know.

Trying to keep up

March 16th, 2009 at 04:49 am

I've been trying to keep up with all the blogs, but haven't had much time to add something to mine. I don't want to get out of the habit, so here it is! Smile

This past week has been a creative spending week. I had $75 worth of Rx to pick up at Walgreens, so I used $100 Amex gift card I received as a partial rebate when I bought my printer last year. I spent another $20 from the same card later in the week and used up the last few dollars on a Walgreens gift card to stock up on Scott's tp that was on sale. I bought four 12-pack rolls, enough to last us for months! Plus, the purchase generated a Register Reward for $10. So, it was almost like shopping without spending any money...can't beat that!

I also found 9 cents this week, all at Walgreens. At one store, I found a nickel and 2 pennies right outside the door. Inside, at a totally different end of the store, I spotted another penny. Then, yesterday at a different store, there was a penny on the ground under the sink in the ladies room. Cha-ching!

Cheap entertainment

March 8th, 2009 at 03:59 pm

I spent a few hours this afternoon looking through an old, old house that was on a piece of property we bought last month. We'll eventually knock it down, but it was fun looking to see what had been left behind.

At some point, people stopped living in it, and others began using it as a storage/workshop. There are some old children's school desks, not really in great shape, but not all that bad either. There is a whole area full of old tires, another with plumbing fixtures that were ripped out of somewhere (but not this house, as it predates any indoor plumbing). I found an old Manhattan Coffee tin (never heard of it), and an old Nehi bottle. But the most interesting find was some records (33 1/3) to use for training on automotive service. I dragged them home, but haven't done any research to learn more about them.

One room had an old dresser in it, but it looks too far gone to be any good. There were some buzzards flying around, and they appear to have been roosting in the house since there are no windows any more in it.

So...I didn't get anything useful accomplished that I really NEEDED to do today, but it was cheap entertainment and sometimes I just enjoy doing stuff like that.

In money-related news, I called a friend and mentioned I'd seen her husband's name in the paper in a list of people with unclaimed funds from the utility company. Good thing I called, as the copy of the newspaper she received hadn't had part of the listing in it - the part with their name. I don't know how much the unclaimed money is, just that it's less than $50. She was thrilled to hear it, so I've done my good deed for the day!

My two cents

March 7th, 2009 at 04:56 pm

I found two pennies on the ground today outside a store. Actually for one of them I had to lean way under a pickup truck to get at it. Fortunately the truck was high off the ground or they might have wondered what I was doing under their truck! Anyhow, they're my two cents now!!

I was at a birthday party and people started talking about gardens. We haven't planted one in many years, and probably won't this year, but I came home and saw a post about free lettuce seeds so I sent for them. If anyone is interested, it's at http://www.ebfarm.com/AboutUs/GrowYourOwnOrganicSalad/seedpa.... If we don't use them, I'll give them to my brother-in-law.

Under $30K

March 6th, 2009 at 09:02 pm

Our credit card debt is now under $30,000! Still unbearably high, but it's a milestone worth mentioning.

I haven't had a chance to post all week, but I've been commenting on several blogs here.

~~~
I haven't updated my spending totals here lately for groceries, household & dog food, but I'm still keeping track. Maybe I'm avoiding posting it, because it's going in the wrong direction. My past two weeks I've spent $120 and $140 respectively, with measly coupon savings of 10% and 15%.

I think this week the total may be somewhere close as well, but the coupon savings should be better. So much for keeping each week around $100! Part of it is due to our puppies. There are just 3 of them, but they are big puppies, so between canned food and puppy chow, we're spending an extra $20-$30 per week. When we sell them, we'll recoup the cash though. I think the rest of it is due to me relaxing my rules, and grabbing little snacks here and there. Must stop that!

Where did February go?

March 1st, 2009 at 07:28 am

It was almost 70 degrees here a few days ago, and now we have 3" of snow from yesterday. Go figure! I guess it was just a reminder that it is still winter technically, but I'm glad we're heading toward spring.

I had a productive day on Saturday:
* made batch of pancakes and froze them
* made batch of corn pancakes and froze them
* made 2 batches of cornbread for dinner
* fed all the critters (takes a few hours)
* updated Microsoft Money & grocery recap
* listed 2 items on CL
* reviewed BIL's receipts, etc for taxes

As I look back thru February, it's been a productive month too. Of the 12 items I listed on ebay, 8 sold and 3 are still running as 30-day fixed price listings. I had to do two refunds, unfortunately, so my ending profit is a low $20.11. Oh, well, it's $20 I didn't have earlier. I took care of car maintenance, listed our puppies for sale, finally set up that silly new shredder (took 5 minutes tops!), listed a few things on Craigslist, and completed other small things.

But the biggest accomplishments were (1) finding a job!! (2) investing in land nearby, and (3) surviving without a primary paycheck for a whole month without increasing our debt! This is HUGE!! Our savings is almost depleted, but I think we'll make it until the first paycheck that comes mid-March. I suppose this is all a little misleading since we did increase our debt with the land purchase, and that did take a hunk out of savings to come up with the required $$$ down, but that's investment debt, not credit card debt.

I have to say thank you to everyone on this site for their inspiration. Once I started reading and seeing examples how easy it was to start small but accumulate an EF, set aside money for expected expenses ahead of time, etc, that really helped prepare us for when I lost my job. So, THANK YOU ALL!!

I am very nervous how well we'll be able to handle expenses with the new job, though, since it is a much lower salary than what we were accusomed to. Once we get a little into it, I'll have to rethink the budget.

One humorous last note is that in an earlier blog, I mentioned an offer from Bass Pro to open a rewards visa card and with the first purchase I would get a $50 gift card. I didn't bite, since I don't go there much and don't need another Visa. Well, guess where I went Friday night? I forgot all about the offer, so for my purchase that I made for DH, I could have gotten a free $50!!!