Thursday, July 31, 2008

7/31 Expressions

Freecycle: We had a freecycle group in our area start-up years ago. I signed-up - but never participated in giving or receiving. I was just "lurking". Anyway, all of a sudden it was gone. Last month, I thought about checking it out again, and sure enough, a group had started again. This will be a good way to get rid of stuff too. People ask for moving boxes - uh, we have some that we were slowly dumping when there was room in the trash. Now, when we get a bunch emptied, I know how to get rid of them quickly and put them to good use. But anyways, years ago, we had a small round dining table that was taking up space in the garage. I gave it to a recently divorced co-worker. Fast-forward to today, I just got one from freecycle (well, I pick it up tomorrow). We have a "bonus" room. I want to make it the family "game" room. We can keep board games, etc. in there and now, we'll have a table and chairs too. Last week, I got a Nintendo 64 - believe me, I know nothing about this stuff, but my daughter said - even though it is an old game system, she'd like it to play "Pac-man". So, there's a start to our game - perhaps hobby room. I figure if we give it a purpose - it won't become a junk room.

Coupons: Publix mailed me some nice coupons today. $5 off $30, etc. So, I printed a few coupons from web-sites to coincide with their BOGO sale. Since my husband and daughter will be making a stop at Aldi tomorrow, I probably won't need much. But, I am hoping to combine coupons at Publix and get some good deals and stay within our budget.

Condo Principal Payment: Today, I made a large "principal only" payment toward our condo. I am hoping to have it paid off by next summer.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

7/29 Expressions

Rant: Wow - my daughter attends public school. She is now a middle schooler. Yikes, today, I thought I was just picking up her schedule. Good thing I had my checkbook - they don't take credit cards - and ended up paying $180 in registration fees and "donations". Now, not only are the school supply lists a lot longer than when I was in middle school - but, fees are charged. You'd think they'd send "newbie" parents a letter warning them about these types of things. Yup, $20 of those fees were for using a locker, and mailing report cards. I would have gladly paid an additional .42 for an additional letter.

Monday, July 28, 2008

7/28 Expressions

Planning: To save on gas, money and time, we made semi-annual dental cleaning appointments for my husband and daughter. (Entire cleaning is covered by insurance, thank goodness). Our dentist is a bit out of the way, but we really like him. He is an old fashioned dentist. So, on the way, they will drop off the bags of soda cans we have been saving for a few bucks at the recycling center. Aldi is also out of the way for us - but is just down the street from the dentist. So, they will make a stop there and pick up some good deals and a few favorites. And that comes to what I received in the mail today, a durable shopping bag - great to use at Aldi :) Oh, and the dentist always throws in a few freebies, a new toothbrush, but sometimes also sample of toothpaste and dental floss.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

7/26 Expressions

Frugal Today: We don't plan to leave the house today or spend any $. We are all cleaning and decluttering. Meals have been created around what we have. Tomorrow's groceries will be just enough to get us through. I want to use up the stuff in the pantry and track what we have so that things don't expire. Decluttered stuff will be consigned, yard saled, given away, thrown away, or repurposed. It is amazing how easy it is to spruce up a room with curtains that were stored in a box, etc.

Gas Card Give Away at Personal Finance at Money Ning: Hop on over to to Money Ning and win yourself a gas card. What could be more frugal?

Friday, July 25, 2008

7/25 Expressions

Financials/Entertainment: Our American Airlines AmEx Cards arrived in the mail. We will be buying Kroger gift cards this weekend to spend our $750 so that we can get 25,000 miles and earn 10% on the Kroger Cards. I also received a survey check in the mail.

Food: Tonight's dinner? Turkey burgers garnished with the last bits of cheese, mushrooms, and garden fresh sauteed zucchini. Yummy. After dinner, banana/yogurt smoothies. We also picked 3 more strawberries out of the garden for garnish.

Frugal Tips: A co-worker shared a local website where we can try to get a gift card for half price to local eateries, etc. I shared information about mystery shopping and getting reimbursed some or all of your expenses.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

7/24/08 Expressions

Food: My food bargain of the day - we harvested our first zuchini from our garden.

Gifts: For a family member's birthday, we will take him out to lunch at a nice restaurant. The lunch menu is very affordable and they sent us a $20 gift certificate to join their e-mail club. The gift, Bluberry Jam and Onion/peppers relish from Harry & Davids - both are a favorite and I picked them up months ago at an outlet mall on sale with a coupon. I also saved a gold/tan box from the holidays from Harry & Davids and wrapped the jars in tissue paper and placed them in the box. There was a good deal posted on a blog a few weeks ago. Heavily discounted items from AT Cross and a free shipping code. I got a stylus/pen that was originally $30 for $8. This item came nicely boxed. So, I took 4 strands of gold "curling" ribbon - after holiday's sale at CVS - the roll of 3 colors for less than 30 cents - and tied the 2 boxes together and used the scissors to curl the strands. It looks very elegant. My daughter will make a card. Also at the AT Cross sale, I got my husband a new wallet. His is pretty ratty, and I was hoping it would arrive sooner for his birthday. So, he is getting it for a belated birthday present. But the wallet was originally $60 on sale for $15. It is nicely boxes, in its own fabric pouch, and the leather is as "soft as butter".

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

7/23 Expressions

Financial: Today, I took 10 more items (the limit) to the consignment - making 30 items for this month. To combine errands, I stopped at the bank. I also called the health saver's plan administrator - I was sure we had spent the limit - nope - I have just over $70 I can submit.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

7/22 Expressions

Entertainment: My latest project is planning for spring break and our 20th wedding anniversary. They fall about a month within each other. We are thinking about going back to Oahu. We have usually earned a free flight by saving miles. This time, we think we want to splurge - and pay for the cheapest ticket and use miles to upgrade to first class. I just signed up for an Airline Credit card - no annual fee for the first year and 25,000 miles after spending $750 on it. But it takes up to 10 weeks after spending the $750 to get credited the miles. So, I don't want to get too excited yet with all of the airline merging, going out of business, etc. I just fiddled with the reservation program, and it looks like if we go this route, we can all fly first class for less than the price of 1 first class fare. First class didn't mean much for a long time. They didn't seem to have much extra room or much better service. These days, especially on long flights, it would mean something.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

7/20 Expressions

Frugal Recipe: Banana Slushy - 4 frozen bananas (once a banana starts showing a brown spots on the the peel, DD and DH won't eat it. I throw it in the freezer with the peel - to use, I defrost it for about 10 minutes, then use a knife to "peel" it and throw the peel into the compost. I have heard of people peeling them first and freezing them in a ziploc bag). Broken in a few chunks into the blender. A couple of large dollops of leftover yogurt in the large container - store brand. A splash of milk. Drizzle honey and blend.

From the "garden", my daughter got the first "baby" carrot to garnish her lunch. My husband got 2 small strawberries. We also had 2 green beens stir fried with part of our lunch.

Financial: This has happened to us more than once, but I finally went thru mail that looks like junk. One of our shareowner services notified us that "archive services vendor . . . could not account for one of several boxes of data backup tapes that they were transporting to an off-site storage facility . . ." and of course, our data may have been on there - yada, yada. Anyway, atleast they kindly offered us free credit monitoring services for a year - and we will be sure to take them up on it.

Friday, July 18, 2008

7/18 Expressions

Free/Cheap Entertainment: This weekend will mainly be spent doing free or cheap things. We will hit yardsales in the a.m. to see if we can find a few items to spruce up my daughter's room. Then for a fitness walk where there will be serving a free, healthy lunch. Then we plan to redeem our free movie tickets to see "Mama Mia". Sunday night, a local museum is having an event with food and fireworks. $8 per adult and $5 per child.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

7/12 Expressions

Stuff: The theraputic massage at the college was wonderful. I cut my own hair - it looks decent if I do say so myself (trim really), and dyed it. My husband and daughter went fishing this morning - and caught zero fish. We also borrowed 3 DVDs from the library - just gas to get there. Stopped at the thriftstore and got 2 really nice glass bowls in a metal base and 3 small cake pans for $5.40.

Friday, July 11, 2008

7/11 Expressions

Mail: We got a notice from the IRS today that said we should be receiving an "Economic Stimulus Check" by today! Ha, ha. We didn't. It said if don't receive it by today, wait 6 weeks before contacting them. Okay, at least now we know we are getting one.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

7/10 Expressions

Instant wins: This week, my husband and I both won a free movie ticket playing Subway's "Get Smart" game - more free entertainment.

Freebies: The only freebie I can recall from this week is Seattle's Best Vanilla Coffee ground sample - just brewed it - and it is wonderful. Oh, I gave blood today and was given a t-shirt.

Cheapies: At work a couple of weeks ago, we had a health fair. One of the booths was run by a local college for massage therapist. We could sign-up for a 15 minute theraputic message. I did and it was wonderful. They also gave me a coupon for $5 off a 1 hour massage. I asked how much an hour costs - $25. These theraputic massages are given by students in the program. So, I have an appointment for an hour's massage at $20 plus tip (wasn't suggested - but I am sure appreciated). That's my cheapies/frugal luxury for the week. A nice way to de-stress :)

Garden: After a bunch of blooms (still blooming) we have a pumpkin that's about 3nches in diameter. So there's hope for a home grown one yet. The other one we spotted, has bit the dust :( There's also a strawberry or two there.

Bargains: I went to Kroger today - they seem to have lots of "Manager Specials" - you have to keep your eyes peeled for them - but I found them in every section of the store. But anyway, I needed to fill the car with gas, and asked the cashier if I could use my giftcard - sure enough, you can. So, we may buy a giftcard or two before the end of the month. It is nice to earn points on our credit card to buy the giftcard, to get an additional 10%.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

7/8/08 Expressions

what did I do that was frugal today? During lunch break, I drove roundrip, about 5 miles and went to the consignment store a dropped off a load and picked up 2 small $ checks, cashed the checks at the bank for pocket money, stopped at the library to return a few books and renew one, and mailed an oversized envelope.

This evening, my daughter, her friend, and I will be attending the grand opening party of a local bookstore opening.

One last final fix in the property we re-rented/renovated last month. The washer needed a $250 repair and the dryer was kaput! These appliances were atleast 20 years old - so, not much surprise there. The rental agent said the appliance guy would repair my washer for $250 or replace both for $250 with reconditioned appliances - including installation - a reputable dealer that they deal with often. It was a no-brainer for me - almost seemed too good to be true since they are full sized appliances. Of course part of the deal was - he was hauling the old stuff out. I googled copper wire (seems to be a popular item these days) - I read that the old appliance generally have some worth stripping. Plus, I figure the scrap metal. So, perhaps it was a worthwhile deal for the appliance dealer. Sure beats paying more and figuring out how to haul the stuff to the recycler.

Monday, July 7, 2008

7/7 Expressions

I scoured the paper yesterday. I found an entry for a party at a newly opening bookstore. My daughter and I will be attending - sounds like they have lots of fun planned.

In trying to declutter, I notice I have bits and pieces of fabric from my old "crafting" days and sewing projects. I looked up instructions for making yo-yo's. Looks like a good way to use up scraps and making something beautiful - and will be easy to take along for long trips, while waiting in line, etc.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

7/6 Expressions

With gas prices moving up, and time being precious, I pretty much quit accepting mystery shopping assignments. Most pay between $7 - $20. Driving to and from a place, plus taking the time to memorize the requirements, then entering a report on-line - well, to me, it just was worth it anymore. I don't accept those types of shops unless I am going to the establishment anyway or am really interested in visiting the establishment. If was a fun gig while for a while. But today, we got accepted for a nice dinner shop, later this month. Of course, being a mystery shopping, I cannot reveal the establishment - but it is one we really wanted to try. If you are interested in mystery shopping, can work "undercover", are fair, can memorize information, and like to write, learn about mystery shopping (get leads on openings - types of establishments, reputable companies to sign-up with, etc.) at

I shopped Publix this morning, the 1 cent item was a 64 oz bottle of Juicy Juice. I also used my last Planter's $3 off coupon on BOGO Cocktail peanuts that are $3.39 and I printed off 2 $1 off Glen Muir products at To buy the 1 cent item, you must spend $10 - so, I let the cashier ring everything up, hand her the 1 cent item coupon, then the rest. Of course, they had some nice fruit in the produce section - so, I didn't get out of there for as "cheap" as I could have - but I got out of there for $7.74. Of course it is right next door to Rite Aid, and since they had sent me the $10 gift certificate - I also participated in rebate items we can use. With Rite Aid rebates, you can electronically file to get your rebate. CVS had a some nice deals going with the extra bucks too! One item had been cleared off the shelf. It does warm my heart that I am no longer the "odd" coupon user - I see people all over with coupons in their hand :) My daughter and I were talking about coupons. I asked her if she could would rather spend hard earned $ or pieces of paper clipped from the paper, magazines, or printed off the internet. Although she did hesitate a bit, she said coupons.

Friday, July 4, 2008

7/4 Expressions

Happy 4th of July! We had a a nice BBQ - but aren't sure if we'll see any fireworks? It stated raining about an hour ago - so, we shall see. Any way, I wanted to pass along a good deal if you live near a Kroger. I print off several coupons for $3 off Planters nuts over 9 oz. You can print them off at, and other sites. Usually they let you print two. Anyway, you have to buy 3 Kraft, Nabisco and Oscar Meyer items with the nuts. The best price we found was $2.99 for Cocktail Peanuts - so free nuts. Many of the additional items are on sale for the 4th - and the best part - a coupon kicks out of the register - Buy 3 Planters and get $X on your next order, Buy 4 . . ., I bought 5 and got $6.50 on my next order. My husband and grandpa love peanuts. And the next time I have an "office function" - my donation will several cans of peanuts.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

7/3 Expressions

Happy Independence Day (a bit early)! The picture to the side shows what I got in the mail today. I vaguely remember buying a fairly inexpensive item at CVS and mailing in the receipt to Glamour for a "Bag filled with samples", while supplies last, - or so I thought! Much to my surprise and delight, I got the chic bag with full sized products - the card inclosed was from CVS and Glamour. Very nice.

I also got a $10 Rite Aid gift certificate in the mail. I had to chase them around for this.

We also just signed the paperwork to change our HEL from Citi-mortgage - my opinion, a company with the worst customer service and always trying to rip-off the customer off. Uh, yes - perhaps you made some bad loans - but don't try to get well on the rest of us. My beef - as you know, I am trying to pay-off our beach condo as soon as possible - our last debt. Wouldn't you know it, every additional principle payment I made - they tried to process as an advance payment (warning - interest rip-off!!) - and every month - I would call customer service to ask them to convert it back to a principle payment. I got transferred all over the place, got agents that didn't know what I was talking about, placed on hold for what seemed to be forever - horrible! Wrote two letters with no satisfaction. Yes, I have reported them to the State Attorney General and the Mortgage Institution oversight agency - hope they do something. I did see the "CIT" was or is planning to sell-off it's mortgage lending arm - so, I wonder if this is why they are cranky and looking for ways to earn/rip-off? a few extra bucks? So, if you have a HEL with Citi-mortgage and are making additional principle payments - make sure they post them as principal payments!

At the last minute, we decided to BBQ tomorrow. So, after leaving our local bank - we headed to Kroger and bought a gift card and earned 10% additional spending amount on the gift card. I was going to buy it a couple of weeks ago - but didn't since the offer doesn't end until the end of this month - or close to it. We used our hotel points credit card to stretch it a bit further.

And finally, even though the stock market was up a bit today - last week was horrible! But, I have not checked any holdings - because I keep telling myself - we are dollar cost averaging, we don't need the $ immediately, yada yada.