Friday, October 31, 2008

10/31 Expressions

Tonight, I will be handing out candy from a CVS sale and when I run out (hopefully I won't), I bought several packs of free "Frosty Jr" coupon booklets from Wendy's. 10 coupons for $1. Not bad at all. I also received 2 rebate checkes in the mail and we dropped off some donations to a charitable organization.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

10/30 Expressions

Frugal Deeds for the Day: Wow, this is the first year that health care companies are REALLY trying to woo our business. We had a health fair this year, and we were handed recyclable shopping bags, tooth brushes, t-shirts, candy, pens, paper, eye glass cleaners, etc. This is the first year we have not attended our condo owners' annual meeting. Although it we can stay in our condo for "free", and they usually put together a really nice lunch, this year we have decided it just isn't worth the expense - gas, boarding the dogs, food out, etc. So, I guess we can count that as being frugal.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

10/29 Expressions

Frugal Deeds for the Day: Today, I dropped 15 items off for consignment and picked up 2 checks. I received the 2 Staples $25 giftcards I ordered last month. I am just a money magnet today :) And while the stock market stunk today, that .5% drop the Fed gave today will positively impact my HELOC - dropping the rate to the low 3's%. So, more of what I pay toward the condo will be going toward principle! That's my silver lining for the day :)

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

10/28 Expressions

Frugal Deeds for the Day: We have too many T-shirts - most of them freebies. Although we do use them, we sure can't use them all. Today, I cut one up into pieces about the size of 2 wash clothes. They are in one of the freebie recyclable shopping bags - I am using them to clean. We have reached our saturation point for freebie t-shirts, we usually refuse them now. But to be honest, if one had the time, there are plenty of thing the t-shirts can be recycled into. I have seen braided rugs, people re-using them to make fashionable clothes, bags, quilts, and even underwear. So, now I need to get inspired. The other thing I am finding a lot of: travel sized and sample sized products. I am now making a conscious effort to get them used up. They sure are fun to receive in the mail, but what is the point - if they don't get used?

Monday, October 27, 2008

10/27 Expressions - the late Edition

I received an e-mail from Restaurant.Com earlier today. They provided a code to get 80% off the regular price. The code is: TREATS I was able to get a $10 off gift certificate for .60 and a $25 Gift Certificate for $2. I also went through mypoints - 6 points per dollar. It was a bit slow as I am sure plenty of people are ordering. But the $10 gift certificate is for a local sandwich shop, normally sold-out - so, I was glad to get it.

10/27 Expressions

Frugal Deeds for the Day: I have noticed plenty of ways to get the Flu-shot free this season. Not only am I being offered to get it free through work, but I noticed an article in the local newspaper - the County Health Department is also offering it for free this season. My frivolous frugal deed - I polished my nails with free polish at lunch - with the nic 'stick - I believe - it was a freebie from a couple of months ago at Ulta. The other nice thing about the stick - it doesn't have a strong "smell". It is like a marker - easy to paint on and looks pretty good (especially for free). I also spent about 30 minutes today going through closets to find stuff to put into the "donate" box and I also found a few items to consign. Tomorrow, I will will prepare the paperwork for the consignment stuff. I won a hair-cut certificate at a silent auction for charity for $5 earlier this month. I called and made an appointment for my husband to get his hair cut. It would be cheaper if he would let me cut his hair for him, but he did once - and that was it. Not only did he claim it didn't look right (the barber he went to asked him who gave him last hair cut - I told my husband they all say that when they want your business), I nicked his ear. So, that $5 is a bargain in this household and I am sure he will throw in a tip (if the stylist doesn't nick his ear).

Sunday, October 26, 2008

10/26 Expressions

Frugal Deeds for the Day: This afternoon, we went to Barnes and Noble and each got the free drink with coupon and browsed the books/magazine. My daughter did end up buying a book - but with double discounts. Then off to Bath and Body Works. We each also had a coupon for a free Wallflower with any purchase and were able to match up the $3 handsoap with a wallflower (these will make nice gifts for our mail lady, etc. for the up-coming holiday season. We also stopped to rent a $1 DVD from the vending machine.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

10/25 Expressions

Frugal Deeds for the Day: In today's mail, I received a pouch of mashed potatoes from Betty Crocker and a .40/1 coupon, a coupon from Bath & Body Works for a free room spray with any purchase (you know you can buy $1 gift bags right?), the DVD I got for "free" with 3 UPCs from Pasta Viola (remember the Publix BOGO sale plus coupons not too long ago?) - which I have promptly listed on, and a free issue of "Traditional Home" magazine. Another thing I learned today: I took my daughter to Sally's Beauty Supplies for her favorite product. They always ask if I have a "Sally's card" - and I always say no - and that's the end of it - because I was always under the impression that you had to be a beautician to get one. This time, I asked - "do I have to be a beautician to get one?" Turns out there are two different cards. One for non-beauticians like me. The cost of the card is $5 - saves you 10-30% on items purchased and costs $5 - but, you get a $5 coupon at the bottom of your receipt that is good off anything the following month - so, now when they ask me if I have a "Sally's card" - I will be saying "yes". We saved more than 10% on the products bought today - almost like a BOGO - we used a store coupon too.

Friday, October 24, 2008

10/24 Expressions

Frugal Deeds for the day: For dinner tonight - I shopped in my pantry. I had a small box of spaghetti noodles, large can of Glen Muir Organic crushed tomatoes (bought with $1 off coupons printed from the internet), and a can of Campbell's tomato soup (bought on sale w/coupon). I already had a pack of turkey burger defrosting. Of course I used some spices from the cabinet - and we had a pretty tasty and quick dinner tonight.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

10/23 Expressions

Frugal Deeds for the Day: Well the season for office parties has started. Our office is having one next week and we were each asked to bring a contribution. I want to bring something good - but not overly expensive. I found a recipe Coffee Punch - who doesn't like Starbucks (okay perhaps not their prices) - and I have an antique punch bowl. I am thinking that will be my contribution because I have most of the ingredients - instant coffee, milk. I will purchase ice cream/cream this weekend. The other frugal deed for the week. My husband was traveling for business this week. Gone are the days when there's extra shampoo, etc. since these days - we really don't take "liquids" in carry-on luggage. But, they usually have shower caps - which he doesn't use :) I asked him to bring them home. I am going to use them for "lids" for things that need to be refrigerated. Oh, and I called my HELOC holder - my rate drops to 3.XX% for next month. I realize the rate will eventually have to go up - but that just means more that I can contribute toward the principle.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

10/19 Expressions

Frugal Deeds for the Day in Advance: My husband and I just went on a date to Barnes & Noble/Starbucks Coffee Shop for $1.52. I printed 2 coupons for a free Cappuchino and 1 coupon for a Cheesecake Factory dessert for 1/2 price on the internet. No problem at all and we had a nice time browsing the books and magazines. We also went to Walgreens to use the $5/$25 coupon that expires today. I mainly went for the free after rebate items and I plan to file for my return on-line and get 10% extra by asking for my refund on a giftcard. All 3 Free After Rebate items were available - about $18 worth, so my husband was able to get Planter's Cashews on sale BOGO to get us to the $25. Total after coupon, $22.XX. Rebate will be the $18.XX plus 10%. Then to Kroger to gas up the car - gas is down to $2.74 - better than last week. Then we stopped at Wendy's. They had Halloween Coupon books - 10 coupons for Frosty Jr. for $1 and no tax. So, I got 3 books. After I run out of fun sized candy bars I purchased from CVS earlier this month - that's what I will be handing out. Any extras? We will use them for treats since the coupon doesn't expire until 2/09. Oh, and I got two more $10 J C Penney gift cards for purchasing Kraft items a month or so ago (most of the item were free with coupons). Forgot to mention it was a bit brisk this morning. I had been thawing pumpkin puree from last year in the fridge. I finally mixed it up and (I was out of eggs - but substituted 1 tbsp of soy flour/1 tbsp of water for each egg) and made pumpkin muffins. I also substituted oat meal for the walnuts. With the pumpkin butter, they were delicious and warmed the house up just enough.

10/18 Expressions

Frugal Deeds for the Day: Today will mainly be about my daughter. She is going to a birthday party. The giftbag is a "re-gift", so no cost. The birthday card is coming from a kit for making birthday cards we bought last year at a heavy discount. The gift itself came from our "gift closet" (nice items I purchase when there is a good sale/discount, items "won", freebies, etc.). So, no last minute running around for that. Also, my daughter got great grades this quarter. She would like to add a few items to her wardrobe to accomodate this changing season. So, I printed a 15% off a purchase for J C Penney. Yesterday, I received a $10 gift card for J C Penney from a Publix mail-in rebate. Plus, she has a J C Penney gift card with a few $ left on it. So, we are hoping to get a nice item there. I also got a gift card in the mail from Victoria Secrets for a free cotton panty. Also, Bath and Body Works sent two coupons, one for a free aroma therapy pillow spray and 20% off one item. I think there is a coupon on-line for a free travel lotion with any purchase that I may tote along. She also has a coupon from her favorite clothing store for $15 off $40. Hopefully, we will find some great sales and we will be able to supplement her wardrobe for as little as possible out of pocket $. Also, we will stop at Chick Fil A for lunch, and use a few coupons (sent in the mail, from the Calendar, etc.). Tonight, we will be attending a silent auction for a charity. They always have wonderful finger foods, drinks, and music - so, dinner will probably be soup before we leave. Last year we got a few nice gifts and gift certificates. We hope to be able to contribute to a great cause and "win" a few things in the process too!

Monday, October 13, 2008

10/13 Expressions

Today's Frugal Deeds: My husband and I have today "off", but my daughter has school. My husband ran our errands today and I provided him coupons to save a few $'s. First, he dropped off some clothes at the dry cleaners. The place we use charges $2.39 per item. On the back of Kroger receipts, they have coupons to drop the price to $2.19 per item. Kroger receipts no longer have this item, but fortunately, I saved a bunch, and they don't have an expiration date. The store honored it the last two times we dropped stuff off. Then to CVS to get my daughter's saline solution for her contacts. I printed a $1 off coupon from and I had $10.XX in ECBs to use. Too bad we burned through our HSA already, or I would have sent in the receipt. Then to Kroger for $2.91/gal gas with our Kroger Giftcard we bought when they offered 10% more - and purchased on a air miles credit card. Finally, his last stop was Publix. I checked the internet quickly, and printed 2 $1 off Barber Foods Chicken meals that are BOGO, regularly $4.XX each, then I printed 2 $1 off any Kelloggs for the BOGO Special K that is regularly $3.XX, and I printed off 2 $1 off Liquid Coffee Cream, on sale for 3/$5 and I gave him the Mystery Item coupon - turned out to be Publix Corn Candy (and it is yummy :). Total after coupons, $6.XX. While he was running errands, I found a list of "reasonable values" for items donated to charity, and have itemized the items and they are ready to go. I have 10 items - almost ready for the consignment store. We were hoping to deposit some refund checks, but, the banks are closed. Lunch was Johnsonville Brats on sale at Kroger at $2.99, minus a $1 coupon, a .5X can of Kroger brand "pork 'n beans", and cheddar cheese mashed potatoes from the last Publix BOGO sale with internet coupon and there are 2 packages per box. So, for a buck or less a piece, we had comfort food on our lazy fall day. Of course we have plenty of leftovers packed away too.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

10/12 Expressions

Frugal Deeds for the Day:I've read lots of "frugal" tips and there have been times where I have been "more" frugal. So, today, I have been thinking of tips and trying to implement them when I can. Today, most of my frugal activities have been around cooking. Perhaps because it is a basic need, it brings a certain satisfaction when I can "think outside of the box". Funny story (sorta), the trip before this one, we took my daughter's friend. We stayed at a condo - so, we ate many of our meals "in". On the last day, I made a salad, but we were almost out of "Ranch" dressing for our salads. Both girls used generous portions. Anyway, I let everyone squeeze out what they wanted, when it came to my "turn", there was pretty much nothing left to squeeze out. So, since we were trying to use up the milk too, I splashed a swig of milk into the dressing bottle, and although my dressing wasn't as thick, it was just as tasty. My daughter's friend was amazed. She said she had never seen anyone do something like that, but she'd let her family know the next time they are about to run out, that they can add some milk, swish, and pour. I can just imagine what the family must have thought - but, I am hoping they could use tip to keep from running to the grocery store for one item and from wasting less. Okay, so, for today, I brought home two oranges from Florida - they were 3/$1 at the neighborhood store. I remember reading that the rind can be placed in a disposal to make it smell citrusy. So, that's where a few pieces of the rind went, and it does work. Will that make me rich? No, but it did produce a nice "natural" fragrance for no additional cost. Okay, this part is an experiment I am hoping will work. The rest of the rind went into a former cereal bag, and is in my lunch box, with a small packet of salt. See, I take tea bags to work, and heat my tea up in the microwave. Even though I was the cup out, those tea stains are tough to get rid of. The tip I read somewhere, put a bit of salt into the cut and rub with the rinds. Hope no one at work thinks I am bonkers - but, I am going to give it a whirl. What else did I do. I made a large batch of brown rice. Some I moved to a container for use later. Then, as I was looking through the pantry, there were a few items I wanted to use up. So, for a meal or two later, I wanted to make a pizza type dish, since my husband and daughter love it so. I took brown rice, mixed it with 2 raw eggs, and pressed it on the bottom of my cookies sheet - that has about a 3/4 inch "side" all the way around. I baked it at 350 degrees for 10 minutes. Once it cooked, I spread a can of fat-free refried beans. Then I placed slices of American Cheese on the bean - the cheese was "free" with a recent coupon and I still have several packages to go. The next layer was herbed, diced organic tomatoes - a brand that recently had a coupons out, making it a bargain. In the meantime, I had 4 boneless skinless chicken breast (BOGO at Kroger this week - making each one about .70 each with tax) cooking away with a packet of almost free taco seasoning - another coupon deal. Once done cooking, I individually wrapped 3 of large seasoned pieces of chicken and froze them. The remaining one, I thinly sliced and placed on my concoction. While this was going on, my daughter was looking for bread. I did not buy any this week. You see, a friend sent me some really delicious looking pumpkin butter. So, while looking in the pantry, there was 1 beer left (my brother left it when he visited last year). So, I looked up a beer recipe at and they are pretty simple. But, I only had a bit of self rising flour, so, the rest of the flour was pancake mix with an extra dash of baking powder. I baked both at the same time. The bread with the butter was delicious. The pizza will be for another meal - already in the fridge - as we ate the leftover pizza from yesterday at lunch. I have also started back with the decluttering. I have box started with consignment stuff and a box of donations. They are going in at the same time. As always, I plan to combine errands at lunch one day this week and get this stuff "taken" care of.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

10/11 Expressions

Cutting costs while on vacation: We just returned from our vacation. As mentioned earlier, we saved costs by combining a business trip with pleasure. We redeemed miles for my daughter and I. We stayed in a 1 bedroom apartment with kitchen facilities. But we ate out once per day, at lunch. Although you cannot take fluids (bottled water, etc.) anymore from home to the plane - you can bring snacks. I took snacks in my purse, and it sure saved some $ on our trip. We also bought some reading material at a discount before we left, and my daughter checked one book out at the library. Oh, and we had access to "free" laundry facilities - so, I washed clothes too. And, this is the first time my daughter and I checked no luggage (cost = $15 per bag each way - starts to add up) - just our small carry-on and "personal" carry-on item and we did fine. Oh, and before we left, I turned off the heating/cooling system as the weather was predicted to be mild. So, hopefully, that will make a difference on utility bill for the month. And good thing we didn't water the outside plants/grass before we left, we got plenty of rain - and hopefully that savings will be reflected on the water bill - in addition for not using the water at all at our home during those days :)

Frugal activies today: Thinking ahead, for teacher's gift, I had enough point at mypoints to order 2 $25 gift cards - so, I ordered 2 for Staples. Seems more and more teachers are paying for classroom stuff out of their pocket - so, we thought that would be a nice gift - and save on wrapping paper too :) We got our mail today and great friend from another state sent me refund forms and coupons. Wouldn't you know it, there was a rebate form for pizza and one for buying prepared chicken. Since we were tired and still in vacation mode, I relented and let my husband and daughter use the BOGO coupon and order pizza. Now, we also have lunch for tomorrow - and I will be sending in for some cash back on that pizza. Of course we were out of groceries - so, I gathered a few coupons and headed to Kroger. I had a $6/$60 coupon that had to be used by today. And, a great rebate form on deli chicken - which will make it easier for me for the next couple of days. I got 3 "boxes" of 8 pieces of herb roasted chicken on sale - 1 box is in the freezer. After the rebate, the 3 boxes cost me $4 out of pocket plus tax. I hit the store perfectly because there were lots of "manager specials" on the veggies and produce too. But best of all, although there was a bit of a line, I got gas for $2.91/gal.

Economic News: Wow, I am sure the last two weeks will make economic history. But surprisingly, I feel calm. I don't plan on looking at any financial statements any time soon though. I was surprised that my husband - who normally doesn't care about personal finance much asked if this might not be a good time for us to buy more stocks. I was happy just with the status quo - just the automatic buying in our retirement accounts at the moment. I suggested that we keep our eyes open for another "rental" property to buy in the next year or so. He was even open to that idea. And although many may not be excited about the 1/2 point rate cut - that gave me hope. As I have mentioned, we paid for our beach condo with cash and part with a HELOC against our primary residence. Our primary residence was mortgage free and we have great credit scores, so, we got prime minus a percentage or so for the life of our HELOC. (Not bragging here, just thought I'd throw in a few facts because I am sure many are against HELOCs - but, we saved thousands of dollars because it cost us "nothing" out of pocket to set the HELOC up, the rate is lower than the "best" mortgage rate, we only planned on paying on the condo for two years. So, we saved thousands of dollars by not going with a traditional mortgage and we were also able to negotiate $ off the price for a quick closing . . . so, we did think about it too - and I am sure in today's environment mortgages for rental properties have dried up and if available, the rate/cost would be more than we would be willing to pay - perhaps this is TMI?). So, I am hoping the interest portion drops even more as the balance drops each month as this HELOC is our only debt. No mortgage debt, no car loan debt, no credit card debt - in other words, we don't make a distinction between "good" and "bad" debt - debt is debt to us. Our jobs are fairly secure, we are still hoping at least one of us can retire next year. We are happy with all our tenants - meaning no deadbeats (knock on wood :). Now my frugal "ways" don't seem odd. Having kept fairly frugal in our day-to-day living, for us, living well below our means, has meant that many of the frugal things we do are ingrained, automatic, sometimes enjoyable, and since they seem normal, we don't feel deprived. Perhaps that is why I can remain calm.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

10/4 Expressions

Frugal Entertainment: I rarely take naps. I took one today and feel so refreshed. Thus, I put off picking up a few groceries today and will do that tomorrow. So, we made "do" with what we had. Now I will be more alert to do mystery shopping assignment at the nice restaurant tonight.

Frugal mail: I got a $25 rebate for buying groceries last month from a beer company (no beer purchase required). I also got a box from Procter and Gamble. I am not sure if I signed up it or for what reason they sent it to me - but I got a full sized "Secret" Clinical Strength deoderant - new sport scent. Have you seen the price in the store? $6-$7+ around here. My daughter is so thrilled!

Friday, October 3, 2008

10/3 Expressions

Frugal Entertainment: I signed up for a mystery shop at a nice restaurant for this weekend. And, I will be keeping my eyes peeled for discounts as I'd like to buy a few certificates for lunch/dinners out during our vacation.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

10/2 Expressions

Frugal Vacation (sort of): Next week my daughter is on vacation. My husband has to travel for work part of the week. Combine the two for a frugal vacation. My husband and I have enough miles for what we thought would be "free" tickets. But to our minor chagrin, a free ticket now costs $110 - of course the cheapest if we had to "pay" is around $440. So, we got 2 tickets for half the price of the "cheapest" ticket.

Frugal Meal: I must have joined something because Pillsbury sent me a coupon for free refrigerated pizza dough. I had tried it in the past - and can't say it was a favorite. I got a can last week and since I was a bit pressed for time - I made pizza with ingredients I had on hand. I stretched the dough to fit our cookie sheet - so it was a "thin" crust. This time, every bit of it was gone as everyone in the family raved about it.