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Archive for February, 2011

$10 Cost Avoidance

March 1st, 2011 at 03:44 am

It's not really savings, but I avoided spending $10 today. The town requires dogs to be licensed by 2/28, otherwise the $18 fee becomes $28. I totally forgot about it until 3:30 today when DS asked me about it. The town office closed at 4:00, so we booked up there and got it in on time.

I did unfortunately have to get the dog's rabies shot from the vet. The town had a free clinic, but it was cancelled due to one of our many snowstorms in January, and not rescheduled. So although I avoided the $10 late fee, I still paid through the nose. (Good thing the dog is SO CUTE)!

I finished up the Feb finances last weekend, so I should have a pretty quiet financial week. I do need to pull our tax info together so hubby can get it to the Accountant. There are few things I dislike more than taxes! So tedious.

Well that went fast!

February 27th, 2011 at 10:04 pm

I'm sorry to see this weekend end. Friday I had dinner with my dad, and hubby took DS to the ice cream/dance party at school. Saturday we had basketball games, dog to the vet for a check-up (cha-ching) and dinner with friends. Finally today was a soccer game and grocery shopping. The weather is beautiful, close to 60, and the snow finally melted enough for us to put up the ladder and take the Christmas lights down. (At this late date, we should have just left them up for next year!). All in all it was a really good weekend that absolutely flew by.

I got my 3rd $5 Amazon gift card through Swagbucks on Friday. It only took a few days because I hit the jackpot with a couple of surveys. It's been slow going since then.

I finished updating the February financials and set up March's spreadsheet. It's amazing the night and day difference between tracking your spending and completely ignoring it. I have such a better feel for what's going on now!

I went to Shoprite today and got some good deals. This was their second week of "Buy X Get $12 back". (You get $3 off/week for 4 weeks). It seems like every deal was free, a money maker, or a really good deal. They had Kelloggs cereal B8G$12. They were $2 each *8 = $16 - $3 in coupons and I got $12 in coupons back. So basically I got 8 boxes for $1.00.

Also had a sale for ConAgra, so I got Hunts tomatoes (paste, tom sauce, and pasta sauce) B15G$12. I got 6 pastes, 4 tom sauce, and 4 pasta sauces for $6 and an Act II popcorn for $.20, and got $12 in coupons back. Every deal was like this. I need to go back again later this week.

I also didn't have time to hit CVS or WAG, so I'll have to make time during the week for that...

Hope everyone has a great week!

TGIF!

February 26th, 2011 at 01:57 am

I'm so glad it's Friday. This was the longest short week ever! My big plan for the weekend is to wrap up my February finances. I think most of the bills are paid or scheduled.

Tomorrow I need to go to the post office and mail dad's taxes, some bills, and a half .com book. Also need to go to the bank to deposit a check, and to the dry cleaner. I also need to come up with a good dessert, because we're going to a friend's for dinner tomorrow night. I'm thinking a homemade carrot cake -I've had a hankering for it all day.

I did have a few good financial days. I have a $50 rebate check to put in the bank, a $35 check from a rewards program that I got a few days ago, and I just got an email from half .com that they're depositing $42 in for my last set of books. All of that will be going to the HELOC. Woohoo!

That's it for now...hope everyone has a great week!

Free Dinner

February 24th, 2011 at 03:33 am

I'm so thankful for good friends! Hubby was out of town and I had to work late, so I asked a good friend of mine to pick up the kids from school and have them over for a play date. I told her I'd be back around 5:30 to get them.

Well, I ended up getting there at 5:00. She had just ordered a pizza and a large salad for dinner and insisted that we stay. Homework was done to boot! So what I thought was going to be a crazy night (DD had a basketball game at 6:30), ended up being a relaxing, enjoyable evening.

On the financial front, I received a check for $35 from one of my rewards programs, so that went into the bank today and will be transferred to the HELOC tomorrow. I also have to get to the post office to mail a half .com book.

More Swagbucks

February 22nd, 2011 at 03:49 am

I got my 2nd $5 Amazon gift card from Swagbucks. Took about 10 days. It seems I'm not the target audience for most of the surveys.

I've spent the better part of the day vegging out and doing nothing. The kids went to grandmas for a sleepover, becuase they're off from school tomorrow and I need to work. Hubby's out of town, so it's just me and the dog Smile. So I caught up on all of my finances, did some filing, etc.

I also signed up for Weight Watchers. I did it a year or so ago, and it worked but I got lazy (I do the online version). Thought it was about time to get a kick in the pants again, so I started it up. It's pretty easy to follow. Hopefully it'll be like my finances and once I start tracking it, it'll get better.

Great day at Shoprite

February 21st, 2011 at 04:04 am

Shoprite had some awesome sales this week. Great prices, and I had coupons for most items. Even better - I finally got into internet coupons! I looked over my list, and for anything I didn't have a coupon for, I went to either coupons.com or directly to the product's website, and pulled down a bunch more coupons. Made for a great trip. Here are the highlights:

Total spent - $213.01
-Bonus Club - $ 23.35
-Mfr Coupons- $ 22.70
-Bottle Dep - $ .80
-Canvas Bags- $ .45

Total OOP: $165.71
OYNO Coupons: $ 67.50

Net Total: $ 98.21

The challenge is on! I thoroughly cleaned out my pantry and fridge of all expired items. (Including molasses that expired in 2008 - can you tell we don't use that very often?!). I still have to do the freezer, which I'll do tomorrow. I've written down everything I have and what expires when, so I can make a game plan for using it up and cutting down the waste. I also made a roaster chicken for dinner tonight, and took a page from Robin's book...I have enough left over for dinner tomorrow, and I threw the carcass and some veggies in the crockpot to make soup.

Hubby went to Target today to get a birthday gift and some other things. I had the $15/$30 rebate from Offermatic (thanks Petunia), so I'll let you all know if/how long it takes to come through.

So all in all a great weekend, and a day off tomorrow to boot! Woohoo!

Prepping for my challenge

February 19th, 2011 at 06:30 pm

There was an interesting article on the "Articles" section of this site, about examining your trash if you want to save money. When you see what you throw out, you can see all of the money you've spent and/or wasted. The article covered all sorts of categories, but the one that hit home for me was food. We throw away an inordinate amount of food, and it's just an absolute waste! Here are the drivers:

#1) We don't plan our meals well, so we buy veggies that we don't use, meat goes bad before we use it or freeze it, we don't use up all of the fresh fruit, etc.
#2) We cook more than we need and aren't good about using up leftovers. For example, I'll make a package of chicken, which may include 5-6 breasts, even if we only eat 4. I should make the 4, and save or freeze the other 2 for later use. Sheer laziness.
#3) Things expire before we realize it, and they need to be tossed. Happens all the time with yogurt, cheese, bread, etc.
#4) We'll buy something and use part of it, but then not actively plan to use the rest of it and it goes bad.

So my plan is to start with a clean slate tomorrow. I'm going to completely clean out the fridge and pantry of any expired items. Then I'm going to keep track of what I'm tossing. I'm hoping that it works like writing down everything you spend - if you're tracking it, you're less likely to waste it.

In other news, figured out the problem with the HELOC. I inadvertently applied my last payment to ineterest rather than principle. I'll fix this in March. It's now showing that I don't owe a payment until April, so what I would normally pay in March I'll put toward principle, which will get me back where I should be.

I got to the post office today to mail a book and a cd, and made it to the bank to deposit a few checks. I need to finish my mid-month finances and update my sidebar, which will be later tonight or tomorrow.

Serious Surfing

February 19th, 2011 at 03:43 am

What a relaxing night...Hubby went out with the guys, and the kids were playing Xbox upstairs. It was just me and the pup, watching whatever I felt like, and mindlessly surfing the net. I don't get enough nights like this!

While surfing, I went on the websites of the 2 grocery stores I frequent. I'm able to load coupons right onto my bonus club card, so they'll come off automatically at the register. I also will get a $2 off my next order just for registering. So that was cool. I also did some swag surveys, and a few things like that. Finally, I balanced my checkbook, which I haven't done for a few weeks.

No sports for the kids this weekend, due to the holiday. They're going to grandma's for a sleepover tomorrow. Hubby and I are going for dinner and drinks with friends (already budgeted under entertainment). Looking forward to sleeping late and relaxing all weekend! Woohoo!

Flowers and Take Out

February 17th, 2011 at 03:38 am

Today is the 20th anniversary of our first date! It's convenient to have it on February 16th. We never celebrate Valentine's Day. Instead, hubby gets me flowers today (much cheaper) and we order take-out from the local Italian place (cheaper than eating out, but still special).

On the downside, I have to look into my HELOC. I think they may have applied one of my extra payments toward my next interest payment instead of principle. Wouldn't be the end of the world (I'd just take my normal interest payment and put that toward principle), but it's frustrating to have to spend time making sure I have my story straight. I called the customer service guy last night and he didn't see the discrepancy...



Slow and steady

February 16th, 2011 at 03:18 am

I'm still plugging along. I received my Direct TV credit, but I won't be getting anything back from Cablevision. I also made it to the post office and mailed a bunch of cds and books I sold through half .com.

I have another $60.48 to transfer to the HELOC. $50 is from a rebate card, and another $10.48 is from the sale of a gift card. Making good progress. I read Jean Chatzky's book on paying down debt $10/day a while back. I need to dust it off and take another look at it. I like the slow and steady approach.

In other financial news, we avoided taking out dinner tonight. I made the worst pork tenderloin ever! It just wasn't good. Hubby suggested we go for Chinese food instead, but I held my ground and insisted we have ravioli from the freezer. They were actually really good! Unfortunately the pork was a waste, but at least I didn't compound the problem! I'm so uninspired with dinner...

Freebie Week

February 13th, 2011 at 05:11 am

I spent some time tonight prepping for my shopping trips tomorrow. I'm ready to stock up!

First stop: Walgreens. I have $4 in register rewards from last week, so I'm going to pick up 2 Purex laundry detergents @ $1.99 each.

Second stop: Rite Aid. Colgate Toothpaste is on sale for $3.50, and you get $3.50 back in UP rewards, limit 2. I also have 2 $.35 coupons, making this a $.70 moneymaker. They also have Maalox on sale for $4.99, with a $1 UP reward. I have 5 $5.00 coupons from a few weeks ago, so I'll pick up 5 for free, and will get at least $1 in UP rewards (not sure what the limit is). They also have GE Soft white CFL bulbs for $2.99, with a $2 UP reward, and I have a $1 mfr coupon.

CVS: Colgate Toothpaste $3.79 - $3.79 ECBs (limit 2). Also, Speedstick deoderant for $2.99 - $2.00 ecbs = $.99, and I have a $.50 coupon, making the final price $.49. (This is hubby's favorite brand).

Shoprite: Colgate toothbrush for $.66, and I have a $.35 coupon that will double, so that will be free. I also have a coupon for a free Schick Hydro razor that expires this month, so I'll pick that up. Finally, I have a coupon for $3.50 off Gillette deoderant. Can't imagine that it's much more than that, so that should be close to free.

Final stop - A&P: Perdue chicken nuggets are on sale for $1.99, and I have $1 coupons, so I'll pickup 4 for $.99 each. I also have a coupon for Excedrin 20 ct for $5.99 off. Again, I have to check the price, but am thinking this has got to be close to free.

So that's a great week of sales! I've got some other shopping to do that won't be free, but I'll feel a lot better about spending the money knowing I'm making out so well on these deals!

Swagbucks

February 12th, 2011 at 02:49 am

So KIF in Texas has inspired me to try Swagbucks. I signed up and have been blowing through the surveys and other stuff. I've already gotten enough points to redeem a $5 Amazon gift card! I have a $20 credit from some other offer I took advantage of earlier this year, so this'll put me at $25. The credits don't expire, so if I keep at it, I'll have a nice chunk of change in there around Christmas time.

KIF, question for you: Is the $5 Amazon card the best deal? It seems like it is by a long shot, when you calculate swagbucks/dollar, but I wanted to make sure I'm not missing something.

I deposited my 2 checks from yesterday in the Bank, and the $42.22 from Half .com hit. So I'm transferring $131.34 to the HELOC.

I called Direct TV about the status of my credit. The check went out on 2/7, so I should be getting it any day. Unfortunately, it was $16 less than I thought, because of some movies we rented in 2006 that we were never charged for. Seems they pulled the info off of the access card when we returned the box. They don't miss a trick. Also called Cablevision. I thought I was getting a $17 credit from them but they said no, it was applied against my last bill. They're probably right, but I asked them to send me a copy of my last bill so I could make sure.

I have to get to the pet store tomorrow to get dog food, but it will be no out of pocket, as I'll use my discounted gift card Smile. Sunday I'll stop by my dad's. A quiet weekend in store...

Paying off the HELOC is addicting!

February 11th, 2011 at 02:51 am

I got two checks in the mail today. The first was a $50 rebate for a new laptop that I bought in January. The second was an unexpected check for $39.12 from DD's coach (a refund for an overpayment).

The first thing I thought was, "I should put these toward the HELOC!". Then I tried to talk myself out of it. Technically, the check for the laptop should really be deposited in the bank under my "Other" category, because that's where I paid it out of. And the check from the coach should really go into the kids' "extracurricular" category, because I'm going to have to pay fees in a few months for the spring season.

But then the bug took hold of me. The laptop is already paid for, done deal, last month. So why bother putting the cash there when I can pay down the HELOC? And I've already budgeted for DD's fees in April. Why put this check toward that when I can put it toward my debt?

I face the same issue with my half .com deposits. Usually I subtract the amount that I pay for shipping from the total they give me, and only put that toward the HELOC. But the shipping costs have already been paid, usually the previous month due to the timing issues with the payments. Why not put the whole amount in?

This is a whole new way of thinking for me. Last year, I would've cashed the checks and gone out for drinks with the ladies Wink. At best, I would've just deposited it back in the bank. Actually doing something productive with it like paying down debt is unheard of for me. I'm hooked!

Back from the Store...

February 8th, 2011 at 05:09 pm

...and I made out great.

First stop: Rite Aid
Transaction 1:
2 Finesse conditioners (13 oz + 33% bonus) for $6.00.
Tax $.42.
Total OOP $6.42, got $5 UP reward back.

Transaction 2:
Coldcalm Tablets (60 ct) for $5.99.
Revitalens contact solution for $4.99.
Total $10.98, used $5 UP reward from Tx 1.
Total OOP $5.98.

So total, total OOP = $12.40, and I'll get $10.98 back for the Tx #2 items through single check rebates, for a net spend of $1.42.

Next stop: Walgreens

Transaction 1:
Right Guard body wash 13.5oz for $3.99
Minus $1 peelie coupon on the bottle = $2.99.
Tax $.28
Total OOP $3.27, got $3 register rewards

Transaction 2:
Veripur Hand Sanitizer 3oz for $3.99
Used $3 register reward from Tx 1 = $.99
Tax $.28
Total OOP $1.27, got $4 register rewards

So total total, got both items for $.54, which is basically tax.

Next stop: Bank. Deposited $60 in change from piggy bank, which I transferred to HELOC. Woohoo!

Final stop: CVS. Had a $10 ECB that was expiring soon, so I bought 2 Poland Spring 24 packs @ $3.33, 1 Trident gum @ $.99, and 4 padded envelopes for mailing books and cds/dvds. They were b1g1 free.

Total: $12.13 - $10ecb = $2.13, plus tax $.38 = $2.51 OOP, and I got a $.99 ecb back for the gum.

Phew, now I'm beat, hanging out on the couch with my pup. I'll stop at the post office to mail 2 books and a dvd on my way to pick up the kids from school.

Errand Day

February 8th, 2011 at 03:04 am

I'm taking a vacation day tomorrow. Hubby is going out of town on business, so I have to drop the kids off and pick them up from school. In between, I need to clean my house top to bottom, do laundry, and hit the post office, CVS, WAG, and Rite-Aid. Aggressive schedule, but I can do it. I need to take some time tonight and get organized with my coupons, etc. I'm really annoyed because my dog got to a couple of the coupons I needed (scamp!). It's a good thing he's so cute!

Hubby being gone does keep the grocery bill down, as the kids and I will live off of whatever we have in the house. I got a dozen eggs for $.99, which was a pretty typical deal a few years ago, but lately the price has skyrocketed, so $.99 is pretty good.

I also have to, have to, have to start pulling our tax stuff together. I'd rather go to the dentist! Speaking of which, I need to set up that appointment as well Frown

Chipping Away at the HELOC

February 5th, 2011 at 11:09 pm

I put $60.97 toward my HELOC principle today. The bulk of it ($44.85) was from a bonus check, $6.50 was a rebate from December that finally came in, and $9.62 was from a shopping program called NextJump. I'm in good shape to meet my $150 target this month. I have a half .com payment coming soon, and some other reward checks. I also have a piggy bank full of coins that needs to go to the bank, hopefully this week. Slow and steady wins the race.

I received my Petsmart gift card in the mail today. That was fast! The kids went to Grandmas for an impromptu sleepover. Hubby and I are going to take out from a local place. We thought about going out, but the weather is could and rainy. I'd much rather hang home in comfy clothes drinking a nice bottle of wine and watching a movie on tv.

And I totally took advantage of the kids being out of the house by gathering an entire bag of garbage to be thrown out. Half of the bag was from my bathroom, where I cleaned out the cabinets, threw out expired medecine, etc. And now I have a much better sense of what I have on hand. The rest of the bag was just clutter and garbage that we don't need, can't sell, etc. Junk. The kids are total pack rats though. Can't get anything past them!

This is shaping up to be a pretty good weekend...

Barnes and Noble Groupon

February 5th, 2011 at 03:42 am

I took advantage of today's Groupon deal: 50% off $20 B&N purchase, good through April 11th. I also had hubby take advantage of the deal as well. Both kids got B&N gift cards for Christmas that they haven't used yet, so I thought this would be a good deal to take advantage of.

The kids are 12 and 10. I'm trying to get them to start thinking frugally (uh, good luck with that). Apparently, they did not inherit my frugal genes, at all.

One thought I had was to have them help me do the weekly grocery list. I wanted to give them my grocery budget ($100), and have them look through the sale ads and clip the coupons, and if they came in under $100, I'd split the difference with them. But then I had visions of eating bread and water every night, so that won't fly. So then I figured I'd let them be responsible for just the coupon / bonus club savings and I'd make out the rest of the list, but I had visions of them clipping every coupon in the insert. Hmmm. I think this is going to be one of those trial and error type of things.

I have a quiet weekend in store. I need to hit the bank and post office tomorrow (had a few more half .com sales), and the kids have basketball games. We're expecting a wintry mix (surprise), but these days, 2-4 inches doesn't even make me blink an eye. No plans for the Superbowl. We have a soccer game early in the day, and we'll have "fun food" (chili, nachos) for the game.

Nothing better than a cheap, restful weekend...

The Mail Psyched Me Out

February 3rd, 2011 at 02:02 am

Hubby braved the icy driveway and brought up the mail. (They really do deliver in rain, sleet, snow and dark of night)! I thought this was going to be another one of those banner mail days, with one great envelope after another. Close, but not quite. I got a Staples reward check for $16, and another check for credit card rewards for $26. I also saw an envelope from Direct TV, which I thought was my $133 credit from when I cancelled my service BACK IN DECEMBER! They said the check was set to be cut on 1/31. Alas, it was just an advertisement. So I'm glad I got something, but I thought it would be a lot more...

Ended up with a snow (ice) day. Kids were home from school, and I was home from work. It was great. I was totally productive, made pancakes for breakfast, cinnamon streusel muffins for snack, a great dinner, and caught up on a ton of work and personal stuff. Ah, if every day could be like this, but without the crummy weather.

So tomorrow I MUST get to the bank and the post office. And wait for my Direct TV check in the mail :|

Two Financial "A-Ha"s

February 1st, 2011 at 10:21 pm

I had 2 "A-Ha" moments today. Looking back at them now, I feel pretty stupid for not thinking about them sooner...

#1) I spend about $200/month to commute. (Actually $300, but my company gives us $100/month toward public transportation). I haven't really stopped to think about this in a long time. The $100 from the company goes onto a credit card, along with $130 that I take out pretax from my paycheck. The rest comes out of pocket. I usually just buy my ticket and go about my business without a second thought. Well today when I went to get my February monthly, the clerk actually read out the total. "That'll be $234". (The subway adds another $70 on to the total). There's not much I can do to lower it. It's definitely cheaper than driving, and I'll switch to weekly tickets if I'm going to be out of the office alot.

#2) Why have I not been buying discounted gift cards for things that I buy all the time anyway? I had a gift card to sell, so I've been checking out a few of the sites. A great example is PetSmart. I easily drop $50/month there between me and my dad. They sell the cards at 7% off. That's $42/year! AND I'M SPENDING THE MONEY THERE ANYWAY!! So I bought an $86.17 card for $80.14 (and I used your link R@50)! I can also get Home Depot/Lowes and others that I know I'll use. I'm kicking myself for letting that opportunity slip through my fingers all this time.

I made it to the post office today before the storm hit. I mailed 2 cds. I need to go back tomorrow with a book and the gift card. I made dinner in the crock pot before work, so no work there. I'm just spending some time getting caught up and hoping my power stays on. Good luck everyone!