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.
Viewing the 'The Thrill of the Deal' Category
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 love going to auctions - not the fancy antique or art auctions, but the farm, household, surplus, might-be-anything kind of auctions. You just never know what you'll find, and it's interesting to see how much people are willing to pay for things. I like to people watch too, so that's always fun, wondering why people are bidding on certain items.
We went to one yesterday that was a county surplus auction. They had cars, furniture, office equipment, computers, printers, cameras, guns, etc. We didn't get a chance to look at everything before they began the auction. That's always good to do while you can see the item you're bidding on up close. Otherwise you might be at the back of the swarm of people and only briefly see the item you're bidding on as they hold it up in the air or point to it on the table.
But I had seen the particular item I wanted up close. It was a 17" or 19" flat screen monitor, in nice condition. So I bid. I got it very cheap, but paid too much. Alas, when I brought it home, it doesn't work. For some odd reason, it never occurred to me that they would auction off complete duds. I expect that at farm or household auctions, and usually pass up the $2 or $3 computers, printers, copiers, etc. because I don't know how to work on them, but I just thought that maybe the county had purchased some new equipment and was auctioning off old, not dead.
Buyer beware...lesson learned.
I've still been keeping track of my spending on groceries, dog food & household supplies by the week, but I haven't blogged about it.
The week ending 1/24 was a 41% savings week. For $188 worth of things, I saved $77, and spent $111 for the week. A little over half was dog food, and the rest was groceries & household.
The week ending 1/31 was a 30% savings week. Total before coupons was $153, and savings was $46, so I only spent $107. A little improvement, although 2/3 of that was on groceries and household.
The first week in February I spent $120 for the week after saving $93 with coupons. That's a 44% savings, since the total before coupons was $213! Wow!
I don't think I can wrap up this week yet since we are almost out of milk, bread, and a few other things. So far, I've spent $93 for the week, so I'm hoping to keep the bill $7 or under tomorrow. We do need another bag of dog food soon, but I'm going to try to put that off until Sunday or Monday, so it will be on next week's total. I don't think I have any coupons to use either.
The average per week is $103.85, so I'm doing good with getting the weekly total down. I really, really want to try to get it down to $100 or less every week, but I have a hard time passing up stockpiling deals sometimes even though the cupboards and freezer are far from empty. It's a constant challenge to stop myself from spending just because something is a great deal, but I'm trying to prioritize the list and make sure I get what we absolutely need only on some trips.
I enjoyed reading the other lists of 25 frugal things, so I came up with my own list:
1. I split my grocery shopping among 6 stores depending on sales at each. I don't go to all every week, but probably 3 or 4 each week and I won't go out of my way to go to any of them.
2. I spend 1/2 hour daily looking for coupons to use with sales.
3. I look for money on the ground when I'm walking into stores or if I'm waiting in line somewhere.
4. I bought clothes for my job interviews and part-time job at a thrift store.
5. I look for deals all year long for cheap or free gifts for birthdays and Christmas, but don't feel right being so cheap so I usually give something else I've spent money on also.
6. I rarely, if ever, order food out based on what I want to eat. I ALWAYS go by the price.
7. I have reused stamps that aren't cancelled from mail sent to me.
8. I have watered down skim milk on occasion.
9. I reuse coffee grounds, adding some more the 2nd day. (I don't even drink coffee, so I don't know if it tastes weird!)
10. I use address labels with DH's name spelled wrong, because they were sent to us free.
11. I complained about a check order with the wrong monogram letter on it, knowing they would send a new order for free and I could go ahead and use the incorrect order also.
12. I have returned an item purchased without a coupon and repurchased it with a coupon if I forgot the coupon the first time (only if it saves me more than a dollar or two)
13. I get excited when freebies come in the mail, even if it's just a single serving of cereal or popcorn or whatever.
14. I signed up as a mail decoy as a "side" job, even if it might earn me $20 for the year, if I'm lucky!
15. I ask people or stores for boxes, foam packing peanuts and bubble wrap when I need to ship something rather than buying it new.
16. I use my credit card as if it were a debit card, and subtract the amount of each purchase from my checking account register so I know the money is available to pay the bill at the end of each month. I gain lots of rewards points that way.
17. I have opened bank accounts and credit cards just for the signup bonuses offered initially.
18. I call and question any extra charges on credit cards or other bills to make sure they are legitimate. I have had late charges forgiven, interest rates dropped, and billing errors adjusted with nearly every call.
19. When I'm buying merchandise and I'm not sure if I really need X or Y, I will buy both and return whichever isn't needed or wanted. It saves gas money running back to get the item left behind, and I know I'll be back to the store anyhow for something in the near future. This applies most often to auto or equipment parts.
20. I don't think many of my friends know how frugal I am, although it would probably hurt my feelings if they talked about how cheap I am behind my back. Maybe they do know!
21. I have price limits on almost anything worked out it my mind. I will not pay more than $25 for jeans, ever. Apples can't be more than .99/pound. Shampoo or conditioner is $1 max, and I would have to be completely out of free samples and any other supply to do that since I have gotten it countless times for free. Razors, toothbrushes, and toothpaste also fall into the free-or-go-without category. Cereal is only worth $1 to me at the absolute max. I've gotten too many boxes for less with coupons to ever consider paying more.
22. Designer clothes do not impress me, since I wouldn't know a $1000 suit from a $100 suit. If I like it, I wear it, period.
23. I would rather go to a store and buy a pack of gum and get cash back, instead of paying fees at another bank's ATM to get my own money out.
24. I only allow myself one or two magazine subscriptions a year, and only if they cost $10 or less. I get many, many magazines recycled from the library to supplement my reading habit.
25. I have never bought a new car.
I am a sucker for deals. This week there are two that I'm debating. Both CVS and Walgreens have a special to buy $20 of Pepsi & Frito Lay products and get $10 off your next purchase. There is also a rebate sponsored by the same companies to get $15 back in coupons if you buy so many of each of the items. I have about $3 or $4 worth of coupons, so in reality I might only pay $16-$17 plus tax, and I can get both the coupon for $10 off my next purchase and the $15 worth of coupons. What a great deal! But you know what? I'm trying to cut back on the grocery budget, drink less diet colas and lose weight, and I don't NEED any of the junk!
The other deal is at Walgreens. I don't recall the other products, but if you buy 8 jars of either Skippy peanut butter or Ragu spaghetti sauce priced at $1.99 each, you get $10 off your next purchase. The deal also works in smaller numbers, but not as great a deal, like buy 4 get $2 back. I have another $3 or $4 worth of coupons so if I went for the best deal, I'd pay my $13 or $14 and get $10 back for next time. There was a time when I first started couponing that I'd run out and do this because it's a pretty good deal, but it just doesn't thrill me. Could I use another jar or so of peanut butter stocked away? Sure, but I'd rather wait until it's on sale for less than $1.99 somewhere, use my coupons and get just a few jars for $2 or $3.
So, I think I just decided. By NOT doing these deals this week, I just saved $30 on my grocery bill. In the long run, since I would have gotten $20 back, I might only have saved $10. Or, if I count the coupons I COULD have gotten back on the rebate deal, I might have actually lost $5 in the long run with this decision. And I think that's what the retailers and manufacturers want me to think..."if you don't do this, you're missing out on saving money, so buy, buy, buy!!!!"
I only spent $55 and change on groceries this week. That's REALLY low for us! It brings the average for these 3 weeks down to $95 from the 2-week average of $115.16. For groceries and household products, the total before coupons was $72.90. After a 54% coupon savings of $39.69, the money spent was just $33.21. For dog food, it was $25.02 less just $3 in coupons, bringing the total to $22.02. So, the final result for all was $97.92 less $42.69 coupons (44%), leaving $55.23 out of pocket.
I was undecided at the beginning of the year if I would keep tracking the before coupon and after coupon totals. It's tedious, but for some reason I couldn't part with it. It was such an awesome feeling at the end of last year to see how much we saved and to see the average per week drop way down. So, I keep tracking it all.
I've finally finished updating our checkbook, Microsoft Money, and the spreadsheet I tally each week to see my coupon savings for groceries, hba & pet food. I was over 2 weeks behind.
Week 1 (ending 1/3) wasn't all that impressive. Total spending was $157.69, after just $9.58 of coupons. Blah! There were two big purchases of dog food, so that explains the expensive week.
Last week was much better. Before coupons I would have spent $131.49. I saved $58.87, leaving a total of just $72.62. That's a 45% savings! My average for the 2 weeks then is just over $115. I'd like to keep the average that low all year. I know I've been posting about freebies lately, but I also had a few aces in the hole. I had close to $18 in CVS extra bucks. Since I paid once to get those, I count them as coupons when I use them. Also, I got in a batch of Purina checks that I count as coupons. Those are from sending in the weight circles and redeeming them for checks to use on future purchases. I had $21 worth of those that I used. I've got more to use this week too, and I'll try to hit up Target where you get a $5 gift card on the big bags of Purina dog chow.
Other things that I tallied up for the year are rebates, cash from ebates and bigcrumbs, surveys, Walgreens rebates, cash back checks, and anything else like that. I don't include CVS extra bucks, Walgreens register rewards, or points redeemed for gift cards, so it's a little inconsistent. Anyhow, of the things I did keep track of, I earned a whopping $1438!!! (If anyone wants a referral link to either bigcrumbs or ebates, see my sidebar.)
I'm in the process of updating my sidebar too. I updated the ticker, but it's a little disappointing. I'm not sure how I thought I paid off $1791 since Nov 1 on credit cards (that's what it used to say), but I really only paid off $891. I guess in two months that's not horrible, but considering the balances we have, I won't be done until I'm old & gray unless we step it up a notch. It's much better if I look back at the whole year which is not posted on the sidebar. In 2008, we reduced the cc debt by $12,918. Now THAT's more like it!!
In the past week, I've found two pennies and a thing of stamps. Jackpot! The stamps were one of those that sells for $8.40, and there were only 3 or 4 missing from it. I feel bad for whoever lost it, but glad that if someone had to find it, it was me!!
The week before that we were in Walmart and one of the clerks was practically standing on her head looking under all the shelves in the electronics area. She said one of the other men that worked there had lost his wedding ring. I happened to glance down and under the next rack of shelves and saw a dime. I made sure when I picked it up to put it in my pocket I showed it to her so she didn't think I was pocketing his wedding ring!!
I scored some more freebies at a few grocery stores yesterday. With coupons, I was able to get all of the following for FREE: 2 4-pks Cottonelle tp, 2 Suave deoderant, 2 10-pk Lipton iced tea to go, and 4 kit-kat candy bars. I also bought a 120-ct package of napkins for 11 cents, boxed scalloped potato mix for 40 cents, and two 6-ct packages of sugar-free Jello pudding for $1 each. I bought bananas too, but I don't think I spent more than $5 for all those groceries. I also got 2 20-ft boxes of Reynolds Wrap foil from Walgreens for free on Saturday. What could be better than FREE groceries?!?!?
That was just one of my deals this week. I went into a store I don't usually stop in just to pick up a few things. I knew I didn't have coupons for them, so I didn't bother bringing my coupons in. But then I saw a crushed box of Kellogg's cereal in the markdown cart for $2. I paid for my order (without the cereal), went back to the car and found first $1 off coupon, and then the jackpot - a $2 off coupon!!! The $2 one was a catalina from Dillons (those print off after you pay for your order) and this wasn't a Dillons store, so I wasn't sure they would take it. The cashier rang up the cereal and said she was the one that dropped a ladder on it. I told her how glad I was as I gave her the $2 coupon. It went thru with no problem and I paid my 10 cent tax for the cereal. Woohoo!
I had a few other good buys around town yesterday also. I got a FREE Febreze candle at CVS. I don't know if vanilla is considered a Christmas scent or if they are discontinuing this particular candle, but it was marked down to $1.99. No sign or anything, but I had read somewhere online that others had found them marked down. I had a $2 coupon on that, which they adjusted down to take $1.99 off, making it free.
At Walgreens, I bought a bottle of Palmolive dish soap for just 31 cents with coupons. And, at Petsmart, I had a coupon for a free treat up to $4 so I bought a big Christmas stocking with a paw print on it, reduced 75%, and got it for FREE. I'll stash it away until later in the year, and put it on ebay. Anything I make there will be pure profit, even if it's a small amount. I also had a coupon for getting Beggin' Strips for free with any Purina dog food purchase. I bought 3 bags of dog chow, so I got the strips for FREE.
Staples had a lot of $1 items this week, but most were sold out. I wandered around killing time between other appointments and found a Buxton business card holder marked down to $2.50. I thought it was leather, but now I see it's Made in China and 100% synthetic. Oh well, I still love it! I just got business cards for my part-time job, so I needed something to carry them around in my purse.
I know the year isn't technically over yet, but my 52-week period of tracking grocery, dog food, & household supplies ended today, and I did a recap. Before coupons, our spending for the year would have been $10,173.39. We saved $3,199.51, or 31%, so the after-coupon spending was $6,973.88. Average per week is down to $134.11. As I mentioned in last week's recap, that's down from $177.95 the first month. I'm quite proud, even if I do say so myself! I've mentioned this before, but that's for two people and nine big dogs, so I think it's pretty good.
I had very low coupon savings this week, just 8% overall. I don't mind at all because the overall dollar amount spent was low for us, just $84.
That brings my average for the past 51 weeks down to $134.67 per week. As I look back at the beginning of the year, my average the first month was $177.95. HOLY COW!!! I think I've done quite well knocking that average down. Of course, that makes me wonder, what did I do with the additional $2,200+ savings. It's actually in a savings account, in a round-about way. I didn't just add the money that I saved in coupons each week to the fund, but I stuck to a fairly routine method of saving all my coins, rebates, ebay sales, and automatic transfers to sock away a decent sized amount of money. So, I know it wasn't wasted on frivolous things, and I feel pretty good about it.
I haven't yet decided if I'll continue the same tracking method for 2009. The method I have set up is quite tedious, but I might keep going just to see if I can drop it even further. I'd like to get down to $120 or $125 a week. Even lower would be great, but our doggies eat a lot and I can't see the cost on food for humans or dogs going down.
I made a quick trip to my local discount grocery store yesterday. It's not a chain like Aldi's, just an independent store. It might not be entirely independent, as I believe it's somehow affiliated with 2 others further away, but I digress.
Along with some other items, I was able to stock up on:
bacon, Wrights, 3lb package, $5.19
bread, Pepperidge Farms, 99c each
pigs in a blanket, no name, 2 or 3 lb package frozen, $1.59
snack sized ice cream bars, Blue Bunny, 15ct, $1
Now, I would not have bought some of these items at a regular grocery store, since I'm sure they would have been much higher, but if I were to compare prices just on these 4 items, I believe I saved at least $10 to $15 since I bought 4 loaves of bread and just one of each of the other items.
There are quite a few of these independent discount-type grocery stores around, but this one has the best prices. You do have to watch dates on some items too. The bacon is fine - sell by date isn't until next month. The bread is fresh, or at least fresh enough for me. I know their bread truck comes several times a week. The ice cream bars had a sell-by date from a year ago, but they taste just fine. since they are individual chocolate covered pieces, I'm sure I could tell by taste and appearance if they'd been thawed and refrozen. And, I didn't see a date on the pigs-in-a-blanket, but we cooked them last night and they were pretty good!
They sell dented canned items also. I am VERY careful about those, but I have bought things like soup for 25c a can. I know to avoid dented cans and obviously anything leaking, but I haven't really seen any like that since they are definitely not in business to put anyone in danger.
Milk and eggs are just as cheap, if not cheaper than other stores. Produce, while not a huge selection, is also cheaper than most others. In the summer, it's often locally grown produce.
I also know, from being told during prior purchases, that you can return something if it isn't "good". I've never had to do that.
I'm happy to report 51% coupon savings last week, which is HUGE. I've only beat that 3 other times during the year.
The dollar value was also HUGE too, though. Before coupons, total was $334.21. Coupon savings was $170.09, and the total after coupons was $164.12. Groceries & household totaled $76.64 ($191.48 - $114.84 coupons). Dog food totaled $87.48 ($142.73 - $55.25 coupons).
Some of my coupons are CVS extra bucks and Walgreens register rewards, where I paid for items in previous weeks (and included the cost those weeks), so when I spent the rewards or bucks this week to reduce my spending, I count them as coupons.
Some of the excessive spending was to stock up on dog food for two weeks instead of one, and then there were just a lot of good deals. Ironically, when there are good deals, I spend a lot. Either that means they aren't as good as I thought they were, or I've fallen prey to the marketing ploys behind having these fantastic sales. Hmmm...I'll have to think about that more.
No great progress or savings to report this week. I think I'm in a rut, although I did manage a 22% savings due to coupons.
Before coupons, total was $162.34. Coupon savings was $35.69, and the total after coupons was $126.65. Groceries & household totaled $57.32 ($93.01 - $35.69 coupons). Dog food totaled $69.33, with no coupons.
The average per week is now $135.10, down from $135.27.
I spent awhile last night and this morning scanning the sales flyers and organizing my coupons to see if I can do better this week matching them up. I had to chauffer SS to the store tonight, so I stopped in one of the stores on my list to score some deals and another one to get some basics. Between the two I saved 21% using coupons, but I've already started the week spending almost $33! I hope I can do better the rest of the week.
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!
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?
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.
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.
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!)
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!
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.
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.
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