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Archive for May, 2010

Good Deals

May 31st, 2010 at 02:49 pm

I made it to the CVS and Shoprite this morning all by myself. I was able to get my hands on a few good deals.

I had a $5/$30 ECB. CVS ran a promotion if you buy $25 worth of Proctor & Gamble you'd get $10 ECB back. I got a 12-pack of Bounty paper towels and 13 Puff tissues. I also got a tube of Clearasil normally $4.99 for $1.99, thanks to a CVS coupon and a mfr coupon, and a pack of envelopes to mail books, which was $3.99. Altogether, spent $34.84, minus the $5/$30 and the $3 Clearasil coupons. Got it down to $26.84. I used a $10 gift card I got from Mypoints, and $8 in ECBs, for a total out of pocket of $8.84 + tax. And I got the $10 in ECBs from the Proctor and Gamble stuff to use next time.

Then I headed to Shoprite. I got a free Smart Balance sour cream ($.99-$.50 coupon doubled). That was the only freebie, but I got some good deals. Cherries are in season, $2.29/lb. A whole watermelon was $3.99. And I had a $1.50 coupon for Buitoni pasta, so I bought Angel Hair for $1.99, which I ended up getting for $.49. But here's the kicker: I got $.95 for recycling bottles and cans (had plastic too, but the line for that machine was too long, so that'll have to wait until next time), and I got $.20 for using canvas bags. So that was an extra $1.15. I want to get in the habit of this more, because it's free money and there's absolutely no reason not to take advantage of it.

Planned the menu for the week, mostly using things we already had around the house. It's a start...

Cost Avoidance Weekend

May 30th, 2010 at 04:43 pm

Ouch...My daughter had a soccer tournament this weekend and it was absolutely beautiful out! Unfortunately, I'm still not in sunscreen mode (usually don't get there until mid-June or so), and by the time I put some on it was a bit late. I'm now a shade of reddish-purple that will last for two days, be replaced by peeling, then I'll be back to my super-white self. Will I never learn?

Aside from the money I saved on sunburn (which I'll spend on aloe), we saved some money this weekend. It wasn't really "savings", more "cost avoidance". We were originally going to put the pup in the kennel, but they're closed Sunday and Monday, so we would have had him in there for 5 days @ $25/day. We really only needed him in there for 2, so that would have been a huge waste (and I would've missed him terribly). So a friend of mine who walks dogs took care of him Saturday ($20), and Grandma took him today. So I avoided $105.

The tournament is about 1.5 hours from the house. We normally stay in a hotel close by on Friday and Saturday but because of the pup, we stayed home and drove (really early in the morning!). So I avoided $125/night for the hotel, plus dinner out on Friday night, for an avoidance of about $300.

It wasn't a totally free weekend, though. We paid gas and tolls, breakfast out each morning, and lunch with the team today. (Oh, and a tournament t-shirt, which I got at the end of the last day so it was marked down to $12 from $18),

And I found 2 quarters over the course of the day, so I was excited about that.

Tomorrow will be a slow day. Sleeping late, then hitting the grocery stores for ONLY the really really good sale items (that means no hubby, no kids with me Smile).

Cracking down...

May 29th, 2010 at 11:31 am

I've been following the $1/day challenge on grocerycouponguide.com. Wow, it's amazing that he's been able to get through an entire month eating on $1/day. And not just getting by, but really eating (though I think I'd be sick of salsa by day 6)! It's really interesting, if anyone hasn't already seen it.

Financially, this was a challenging month, but we're getting by. We had the second payment for our summer vacation house, along with a few annual big ticket items. (I intended to do the envelope system this year, where I'd be setting aside money each month for the annual bills but it didn't fly). One piece of good news: The kids went to their dentist, which is out of network. However, our insurance still pays 100% reasonable & customary for preventative work, so even though we had to shell it out ($450 total!), we just got the checks back on Friday.

After many months of going through the motions without being terribly careful with our finances, it's time to start cracking down. Nothing extreme, just some simple things that quickly go by the wayside if I'm not paying attention. First is the eating out. We enjoy eating out, and I don't mind paying for it if it's a special treat. But if I take out pork for dinner and the family "doesn't feel like pork tonight" (or chicken, or veal, or...), then we shouldn't be rushing to get pizza, fast food or Chinese. This hit home when I checked the credit card bill and saw a $52 charge for a local sushi place. I totally forgot about it until I saw the bill, and hubby didn't even remember it then! That's $52 down the drain. And there were a number of others just like it. So...we'll crack down and see if we can make some progress over the next few months.

A few positive money moves

May 7th, 2010 at 03:59 pm

I spent the better part of the day working on a few money-related tasks. First thing was to fill out the claim forms for the kids' dentist bill. He's out of network, but my plan still covers preventative 100%, subject to reasonable & customary prices. The total bill for the two of them was $450, so I need to get reimbursement from the insurance company, and put the rest through my flexible spending account. The claim forms will go out tomorrow.

Then I spent some time working on my grocery list for the week. I love reading the $1/day grocery challenge. I don't think I could ever do that, especially with hubby and the kids, but it inspired me to take another look at the old grocery bill (which is, of course, through the roof). A friend of mine mentioned the grocery game. I logged on for the 4-week free trial (I WILL remember to cancel before they charge me!). It was great to see all the deals in one place, but I'm not sure that it's any better than looking through the sale ad and my coupon envelope myself. My problem isn't finding the deals, it's avoiding all of the other stuff that I see along the way that's not on my list! So anyway, I checked the sale ads for the two stores I go to, and matched them up with coupons, and hopefully can make it out of both for under $100. That sounds good to me, and I'd be happy with that, except that it doesn't include veggies/fruit (which we get elsewhere) and it doesn't include meat, beyond some ground beef (we have everything else in the freezer). I'm going to stick with the grocery game through the free trial and see if I like it better but otherwise, not sure it's worth it.

Then I took some time going through all of my books, checking what would sell on Powells and Cash4Books, and updating my Paperbackswap list. This was one of those chores that really needed to be done, because I haven't updated the PBS list in months and I've been getting requests for books that I've given away through other channels. Plus, I found a bunch of books that were never listed in the first place! The net result is that I found about 10 books that I can sell to Powells for $9.00 (all cheapies - children's scholastic type books), but I'll take it. I also got 8 requests for new books I listed on Paperbackswap.

So all in all a pretty decent day, financially. Tomorrow I'm off to the grocery store and see if I can stick to the list!

Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes!

May 3rd, 2010 at 06:09 pm

Wow! I've been absent from posting for a month and a half or so (maybe longer?). Haven't even had time to lurk so this is the first time I'm back and WOW! The site looks great! I LOVE the new layout. Also love that some of my old favorites are back (I'm talking to you Lux and Retire@50), along with the old standards who never seem to get sidetracked from posting on this site (FrugalinTexas and Ima). I envy your dedication!

Our big news from the past 2 months: We got a dog!! He's awesome! Part golden retriever and part lab. Cute as a button, friendly as can be. MAN, I love this pup! He's putting quite a dent into our finances, as we have had to bring him to the vet 3 times since we got him to get him up to date on all of his shots, and we'll have to get him neutered in 2 months (cha-ching). Add the trips to Petsmart for the food (and all the cool toys to get him - it's like shopping for a baby!), but it's worth every penny...

Aside from that, it's just life as normal. Hubby is still working from his home at his own consulting business. It's going well, but slow and erratic as far as the income goes. I'm more convinced than ever that you spend what you make, because our income was cut pretty substantially when he went out on his own and we've adjusted pretty well, cutting back without totally depriving ourselves, so that's been great.

Booked the house in Outerbanks for the annual summer trip with my brother. And I just got a letter from Liberty Mutual that my homeowners insurance will be reduced by about $10/month. I'll take it. Haven't been doing anything agressive to save money / reduce costs. Just a matter of not having the time to focus on it like I should. I'll try to get back to it...

So glad to be back here again. Time to catch up on everyone's blogs...