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Archive for March, 2011

Can someone post the chicken enchilada recipe?

March 27th, 2011 at 06:58 am

I made an oven stuffer roaster yesterday, shaved off all of the extra meat, then threw the carcass in the crockpot overnight with some carrots and onions to make soup. I've been meaning to try the chicken enchilada recipe that was posted at the beginning of the month, but I can't find the link. (Was it Robin, or Frugal Foodie)? Anyway, it sounded really good when I reat their post, and it would be the perfect way to use up some of this meat, so if anyone knows where I can find the link, let me know. Thanks!

I balanced the checkbook and looked out through the rest of the month. I haven't gotten my 3/31 pay stub yet, so I'm not sure what the exact outcome will be, but I'm in good shape.

I'm off to dad's later to do some grocery shopping for him. Thanks to Shoprite's dollar days from a few weeks ago, along with some other catalina coupons, I have $43 to spend for us. Hubby is travelling again this week, which means I'll be able to keep the total pretty low. The kids and I will be able to eat out of the fridge, freezer and pantry pretty easily, so aside from milk, bread, and a few other items, it should be a cheap week.

I got another half .com deposit last week, for $6.64, which I transferred to my HELOC. I need to update my sidebar, but the totals are SLOWLY going down...

$10 Amazon gift cards

March 25th, 2011 at 06:40 pm

After a slow few weeks with Swagbucks, I got enough points for 2 more $5 Amazon gift cards. That brings me up to $55 or $60 so far this year. At this rate, I'm hoping that I'll be able to use them for most of my Christmas shopping.

The accountant got back to us with a few questions, including one on the cost basis of a mutual fund that I need to look into this week. We'll shoot to get him what he needs by Monday so we can see what our damage is. I should also be able to wrap up most of our month end bills this weekend, and see where I stand.

I went to the post office today and mailed off 2 more half .com dvds. Sales have been slow but trickling in. Most importantly (or at least as importantly) I'm doing some serious decluttering. Since the beginning of the year, I've sold 40 books/dvds through half, and another dozen or so dvds and cds through secondspin .com. I still have many dozens to go, but at least I'm getting paid for them!

Other than that, it should be a pretty quiet weekend. The kids have a few games, and I'm due for a trip down to dad's. Nothing more exciting than that (thankfully)!

Final Lookback: Contrary1

March 22nd, 2011 at 10:02 am

I started this thinking I would do 6 lookbacks, 1 for each year I've been at SA. I guess technically I have an extra because of Fern, but I'll leave it as is and make this my final one.

Contrary 1 had a really interesting blog. From what I gather, she lived on a farm (and posted about the dead cow next door as landscaping - LOL!!), and took care of foster children, including an autistic child. She was always an active participant in the challenges, and her posts were always down to earth and relevant. She stopped posting in October 2007 after close to 2 years of regular posting, at a point when she seemed to be dealing with medical issues in her family and the death of her dog.

One other thing about her - she lived in the Pacific NW. It's not always clear where people on this site live, but it seems like we have a bunch of bloggers from up that way...

Any memories of Contrary1?

Also, who did I miss? I thought about DivaJen, who seems to have her own successful site going at Divatribe, and Kashi, whom I'm friends with on Facebook. I thought about BA but he's still lurking, and hopefully he'll start back up. Others?

I didn't know what to expect when I started these entries and am thrilled with the response that it's gotten from everyone. I'm glad that I was able to bring back some good memories!

Looking Back #5: Fern (aka Wild Blue Yonder)

March 20th, 2011 at 12:07 pm

I love all my picks, but am particularly excited about this one. First, Fern threw me for a loop by renaming her blog "Wild Blue Yonder". Took me some time to make the connection, but as I read through the past entries, it made me realize why I thought of her for this look back.

She originally posted about daily financial life, interspersed with great stories and pix of her cats. After she lost her job, she turned her focus toward issues and challenges for the unemployed, many of which are financial of course, but also a lot of writing about the psychology of the unemployed (e.g., having all of this unstrucutred time on your hands). Really well written, interesting reads.

She was also well known for kicking off the "No Heat Challenge". For 3 years running, in September, she'd invite everyone to keep their heat off as long as possible into the fall/winter. I personally never participated (I'm always cold!) but the reaction she got was fantastic. She wrote a post in late 2009 about which of her entries got the most feedback, and decided the no heat challenge was top of the list. Others agreed that it's much easier and more fun to rally around a money saving idea in a group setting.

She proposed establishing monthly challenges, but left the boards before they got off the grounds. What do you all think? We had CCF's No spend month challenge for March. Does anyone have an idea for April? What else did I miss about Fern?

Looking Back: Koppur's Moo-nay blog

March 19th, 2011 at 05:15 am

Before I get into this, it's been a CRAZY week! Worked like a dog, and missed my opportunity to meet Boo in person, which totally bums me out! Also, had stuff to do every night after work, so I'm totally beat.

Lots of little things going on the financial front. I got my 3/15 paycheck. It was higher than usual due to my 2011 raise, which was retroactive to Jan 1st, so the extra $ hit with this pay. Much needed because we had several big expense items, some expected, some not. My checkbook is balanced and I'm all caught up on bills.

The half .com sales have definitely slowed down. I have one book to get to the post office today, and another two books for paperbackswap .com to mail off. My March half .com deposit was $11.15, much less than January and February but I'll take it and put it toward the HELOC. I'll have to start thinking of some new sources of extra income though. I also have 2 rebates to get out in the mail.

OK, so today's look back is at Koppur's Moo-nay blog. Koppur posted from mid-2006 through mid-2009, with her final entry in 2010. There are two things I love about her blog:

1) When you read her sidebar, she and I on the surface have absolutely nothing in common. She is a tarot reader, interested in witchcraft, likes heavy metal, etc. If I met her in real life, we likely would never engage and get to know each other. Yet I could have written any one of her blogs; they're about the same things that I write about. I love that we all come from such different backgrounds, situations, etc., yet that's all invisible when we start posting.

2) The second thing I noticed when I was reviewing some of her entries is that she started blogging because she wanted to get rid of her $9,300 in debt. It reminded me of an exchange on one of the current blogs last week. You can't compare yourself to others. Whether you have $9,300 in debt or $93,000, or whether you make $10,000/year or $100,000/year, we're all trying to do the best with what we have. It's a great message.

For newer bloggers who may not be aware, Koppur also posted about AngelFood Ministries, where you can buy a box of food for a low set price. In comments, others (Retire@50 maybe?) priced out the box against Aldi's and found it to be slightly less. As I'm writing this I'm watching the news with a report that the price of groceries is going up. (Really? Newsflash!). So if you're looking to cut food costs and haven't checked it out, you may want to.

Looking Back: Lux

March 14th, 2011 at 07:24 pm

The basement is drying out...

Today's look back is at Lux Living Frugalis. She posted regularly from 2006-2009, then sporadically through 2010. She blogged about all sorts of things, and was a very easy read. But the reason she makes my list of 6 is because she epitomizes what I love about my fellow SA bloggers:

I had been posting pretty regularly since I started at SA 6 years ago TODAY!!! But life got the better of me, with 2 small kids, a full time job, etc., and I started posting more sporadically in 2008. I was never far away, but would go a few months without posting. In 2009, after a 6 month hiatus, I got an email from Lux checking in on me, letting me know she missed me and telling me to get back on the boards. On my first post back that day, I got 10 comments on my post, from CeeJay, CCF, Ima, KIF, Homebody, and Boo welcoming me back to the site, and from several others letting me know that Lux gave them the same kick in the pants.

I love that I have such great friends on this site (none of whom I've met in "real life") that keep tabs on me, care about how I'm doing and are so welcoming. Ima did the same thing last week, wondering where BA has been. Everyone here is SO supportive, which is what sets it apart (imho) from other sites like it.

As a matter of fact, I think I owe Lux a kick in the pants...

Water water everywhere...

March 12th, 2011 at 07:41 pm

I have to take a break from my trip down memory lane for a night to get back to reality. With all of the rain that north NJ has gotten, we had a few inches of water in the basement. Our hot water heater also died, which happened during another flood (to the tune of $1200). We called in "the guy" to look at it, and turns out that the pilot light needed to be relit. There was enough water to cover the air vents, so there was not enough oxygen to keep it lit. $55 for the fix, but considering that I was expecting $1200, I'm pretty happy.

With that problem resolved, we had a bit of cleanup to do today. Mostly sucking all of the water up with a pump. It'll take some time to completely dry out, but we're not expecting rain for the next several days. We've also vowed to actually throw out all of the junk downstairs that should have been tossed long ago!

Went out to dinner unexpectedly tonight. DD had her basketball finals and a big soccer game today, and she did great at both! They lost the soccer game 1-0, but she absolutely played the game of her life. I'm so proud of her. I told her to really soak in the way it feels to know she did the very best she could, and leave it all out on the floor because win or lose, that's what matters. I can honestly say that in 12 years, I don't think I've ever seen her rise to the occasion like she did tonight. The game ended late (8:00) and so we went out to dinner to celebrate. Worth every dime...

Back to my list tomorrow, along with a trip to dad's.

Looking Back #2: PricePlus

March 10th, 2011 at 08:01 pm

I just spent the better part of the evening scrolling through PricePlus's blog. And I see by the comments in his entries that there are many, many people who will remember him.

His deal was that he was trying to be frugal and pay off debt with a less than supportive spouse (which may be the understatement of the year). If there are any newbies or lurkers reading this that are faced with that challenge, Paul's blog is a must read. Spousal support (or lack thereof) is a hot topic - you wouldn't believe the number of comments for some of his entries (he had over 60 on one post), and several of them were in the same boat.

What I loved most about him is the perseverance he had. Every time he thought he was done paying off a credit card, his wife would find a way to spend more. Yet he put his head down and kept plugging forward in a very matter-of-fact way. He was all about "not breaking the $20 in his wallet".

As you read through his entries you could practically feel the emotions jump off the page. The frustration with the debt, the jubilation when it was paid off, the pride when he spoke of his daughter. To me, it's a sign of a great blog when all of those feelings come across.

I also liked the fact that he's a guy. I always appreciated him, BA, and the other men who blog here, because it's a different perspective from most of the bloggers on the site.

Although he stopped posting regularly, he continues to pop in with a "check-in" post every few months. Any other "Price Plus" memories out there?

Looking back: Flash

March 9th, 2011 at 08:23 pm

Many of you may not remember Flash. She stopped blogging regularly in July 06, with a brief stint back for 6 months in 2009.

I was new to SA and learned so much from her. She was a whiz with coupons - had great advice on all of the different ways to find them, which companies came through when you called, etc. She coordinated coupon trains and helped ensure that they were stocked with coupons we all needed. In fact, I think she was one of the original editors of the Grocery Coupon Guide site. Many of her nuggets of wisdom can still be found on that site.

In addition to coupons, Flash was a whiz at stacking deals. Combining shopping rebate sites like ebates, to shop at stores like drugstore .com, which gives you 5% credit on purchases, and pay with a rewards cc that gives an additional 5%, and take advantage of free shipping deals (of course), it was amazing the deals she came away with! I never buy a thing on line without thinking about all the ways I can maximize the discounts.

And she had a knack for finding free or reduced giftcards. I took advantage of many of the offers she highlighted, mostly with those deals that pop up at the end of some internet check-outs, where you can buy discounted gift cards.

And she shared all of the advice and kept it all together while going through some personal and family challenges that would make the average person throw caution to the wind and spend away!

Any other bloggers remember Flash? Did you learn something from her that I'm missing?

Good Goes Round, and Random Thoughts

March 8th, 2011 at 07:30 pm

My head is all over the place tonight. First, a totally non-financial story that warmed my heart today...

DS plays basketball. He's not great, by any stretch, but he has fun and really likes it (which is the whole point). There's a kid on his team who is an absolutely great player. At Saturday's game, this kid was making a concerted effort to pass DS the ball so he could try to get a basket. I thought at the time that it was a great thing for him to do, but I said nothing. Last night, DS and I were talking about basketball. He said, "it was really nice of X to keep passing me the ball to help me get a basket".

I'm Facebook friends with this kid's mom, so I sent her a message, relaying DS's comments, and my own thoughts from the game. I told her she should be proud that she's raising such a great sport, as well as a great athlete. I almost didn't send it, because I thought it sounded corny, but went ahead and sent it anyway.

She wrote me back this morning to thank me for the email. Seems that X was going through some issues with his friends, so she and he had a conversation yesterday about what it means to be a friend, etc. She said my email came at the perfect time, and thanks for sharing it with her. All I could think of was that good goes round. Here I was thanking her for her son's kind actions, and my email meant just as much to her in the moment. It made my day.

Onto random thoughts...My blogoversary is coming up - 6 years on the 14th! (I read my first post. I was only 34!!) I love how Ray was calling out the lurkers on her blog, because I was a lurker way back then who decided to take the plunge, and I'm so much better for it.

I also love CCF's post about her best financial advice. But in honor of my 6th anniversary, I want to take a different twist on it. I want to take a look at 6 people on the site who have really inspired me, and pull out the tidbit or two from them that have really stuck with me. Particularly the ones who don't post anymore, as some of the newbies on this site may not be aware of all of their great advice. (I'm thinking of Flash and Lux specifically). I think it'll be hard to keep it to 6, so I'll just have to keep posting and stick around for a 7th year!

It's easy to be frugal...

March 7th, 2011 at 08:39 pm

...when you're working like a dog! I worked until 9:00 tonight. We had a late meeting, and they brought in sandwhiches, so free dinner for me! Hubby made the kids dinner (and didn't go out for fast food) so I'm really proud of him. DS waited up for me, so I got a quick snuggle in to boot! Bonus!

Crock pot dinner tomorrow will be a pulled pork tenderloin, with some butternut squash on the side. I still have about $20 in free coupons for Shoprite, and a coupon for a free gallon of milk, so I'll have to get there before the week's out.

Cleaned and decluttered

March 6th, 2011 at 01:25 pm

I took a new approach to cleaning the house today. I allotted a half hour in each room. I took however long I needed to clean, then spent the remaining time decluttering. Even if I only had time for one drawer, it was a start. I like this approach. If all I did was clean, I'd never get around to the decluttering (which is how my house got like this in the first place). And if I have a large block of time, the last thing I'm going to do is spend it on decluttering. This "little bit at a time" approach may work for me.

It helped that it's been pouring rain today, so I had no incentive to do anything outside the house. I did make it to the dry cleaner. I also absolutely splurged by going to the fruit store/fish market/butcher (all the same place). I got some awesome looking seafood for tonight's dinner, and some great meat for next weekend. (I already have meals planned for tomorrow and Tuesday, and hubby's away Wed-Fri). Pricey, but worth every penny...

What a great way to end an excellent weekend...

Got through my crazy week

March 5th, 2011 at 06:06 am

I got through my crazy week, but realize that I haven't posted for a few days. When I'm stressed I'm a "put my head down and plow through it" kind of girl, knowing that it will end eventually and things will look up. And so they did.

I had a great night last night. I made an awesome veal dish in the crockpot. I've noticed more pre-made spice packs in the grocery store, specifically for crock pots. I added veal, mushrooms, an onion, a can of tomatoes and this packet and I was done. Made some pasta to go with it and it was great. I used one of those crock-pot liners (worth every penny!) so there was no mess to clean up. We enjoyed a fire in the fireplace, and played cards with the kids. Really great night...

The kids have games today and tomorrow, and I need to fit in my two most hated things - cleaning and tax prep - into the mix. We have an accountant do our taxes and I think I've waited about as long as I possibly can to pull it all together.

Spend-wise, today is the last day of Shoprites big Buy x get $12 back sale. I've gone through the ad and my coupons again, and will be going back for the money maker deals and the good deals on stuff I use all of the time. I also need to go to the bank and the dry cleaner.

So that's it for me...hope everyone has a great weekend!

Tuesday Musings

March 1st, 2011 at 08:19 pm

Warning: This post is going to be all over the place.

This is the kind of week I'm having: Monday morning I was SPRINTING for the train to work and caught it by about 10 seconds. Not a great way to start the week. Tonight, I worked late and was SPRINTING from the train to the car to get to DD's soccer game on time. I haven't run this much since track season in High School! It feels like Friday already and it's only Tuesday!

To make matters worse, we came home from the soccer game and had to take the dog to the emergency room. He has been coughing since 10pm last night. This dog will eat anything and everything he can get his paws on, so we assumed he had something lodged in his throat. Turns out it was only a type of kennel cough, so the vet prescribed him an antibiotic and a cough suppresant (?!) and he'll be better in a few days. The price tag? $210, $149 of which was because it was an after hours emergency room visit. Did I tell you he was just there on Saturday to get his rabies shot and was completely examined and fine? Another example of my great timing. Again, it's a good thing he's SO CUTE!!

So by the time we got home from the vet it was 9:00. I had dinner, watched Idol, and vegged the rest of the night. Phew...

A few other random musings...

1) I can't believe how many of my frugal friends are doing a no spend March! I am so proud (and envious) of you all for tackling this! I wouldn't last a weekend with hubby and the kids, but I'll be cheering you all on. I think it's great.

2) The enchilada recipe sounded great. I'm putting that on the menu for next week!

3) I had dinner in the crockpot tonight. Thankfully, because with a day like I had, we would normally have done the fast food route instead of cooking.

4) Petunia, you've inspired me...my $10 cost avoidance for the dog tag is going to the HELOC (despite the vet visit tonight). You're absolutely right that it's only savings if I "make it real". You rock!

That's it for tonight. I am off to bed for some much needed sleep!!

ETA: I put a picture of the pup on my sidebar so you can see why I'm so nuts about him!