Saturday, May 31, 2008

More 5/31 Expressions

A few "things" that will save us some $ stay in the back of my mind. Things I don't really want to do. Two things lately and I finally did one. I purchased a gift certificate with a 60% off code months ago. Last month, it was in the news that the owner of restaurant for which I purchased the certificate had been arrested for criminal activity and had sold his restaurant. Yesterday, I called Restaurant.Com's customer service and with no hassle, they gave me credit to buy $50 worth of gift certificates. We will be going on our business/pleasure trip in a couple of weeks. What better way to save some more $. So, I got 2 $25 gift certificates to restaurants close to our hotel - for nothing extra out of our pocket. The other thing I need to get going on is - I saved my receipts when I bought some plants a few months ago. I bought 2 Hydrangea plants and they did not do well at all. I believe they told me they have a 1 year return policy. I need to dig out the receipt and the two dead plants and get my $ back - if I remember right, just over $10 with tax.

Oh and one other thing I plan to write about later - my dislike for Citi-bank! I have decided to cancel my "Rewards Card" - but before I do, I have enough points for a $10 gift card. I ordered a bookstore one for my husband. After I get it, I will be cancelling my Citi-bank card - buh - baiiii! Asta - lasvista, sayonara, . . .

5/31 Expressions

We wanted to buy my daughter some summer clothes. We gave her a "budget". We all hopped in the car and headed to the mall. There was no crowd. Gas prices? Lack of consumer confidence? Any way, there were lots of sales. My husband headed to Starbucks with the $5 GC I got for free thru the mail. My daughter and I hit a store we had never been to - the "Wet Seal". They had a BOGO sale on their clearanced items. Being on a budget, my daughter found 4 shirts for the price of about 1.5 when it was all said and done. Then we headed to Sears as I had a $5 GC for them that I, again, got for free through the mail. She ended up getting a pair of Capri. She has well over 1/2 her "budget" left.

For cheap entertainment this afternoon, my daughter and two of her friends will be swimming at our community pool.

Dinner will be chicken salad sandwich and salad. I got a large box of fried chicken from Kroger last night that was clearanced at half price. We had some last night. The rest, I will remove the skin and bones and make the "salad". I picked some fresh lettuce from my "garden" this morning - the leaves are soaking in a bit of vinegar and water at the moment.

We had some guilt-free unfrugal moments today too. We had a nice lunch at Chee Burger Chee Burger and hit the bookstore.

Friday, May 30, 2008

5/30 Expressions

I have been an "ostrich with my head in the sand" when it comes to checking our stocks, mutual funds, and retirement 401K equivalents for probably the last 3 months. We are "buy and hold" kind of people - so, I didn't want to send us into a panic, depress ourselves over things we don't plan to change in the near future. Well, yesterday, I summed up the courage. Yup, we have suffered a paper loss - but no where near as bad as I thought. Of course it helps that the last 3 days have helped us regain some of the loss.

On the rental property front, one of our long term tenants moved out today. She declared bankruptcy about 7 years ago, but did pay her rent. I believe she ran into some medical problems? In any case, she has purchased a place of her own. So, we are happy for her. We have kept her rent lower than "market" because she was such a good tenant. So, the rental agency said we should be able to re-rent for a good bit more. However, it appears quite of bit of work will need to be done to get the place rent ready. The tenant has agreed to forfeit her entire deposit. Of course, some of it will be chaulked up to "wear and tear". So, I have started calling for estimates - although the rental management company will be providing us with estimates too - I want something to compare them with.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

5/28 Expresssions

Late yesterday evening - the door bell rang. It was the UPS delivery truck - and I had 2 boxes at my door. My dwarf lemon and banana trees were delivered! My daughter and I planted them and they look pretty healthy. Hope we get fruit from them eventually. I have always wanted to try to grow them - so, I hope they are worth the shipping charge. I have been meaning to put together another "load" for the consignment shop so I won't make a trip to "just" pick-up a check. But I have procrastinated again. Instead, I clipped a coupon from my grocery store receipt for the dry cleaners and got some summer work clothes together to be cleaned.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

5/27 Expressions

I must think I am on summer vacation :)

Mail today was nice - we finally got our Federal Tax refund - not the "stimulus" check. And, I got a rebate check. I took the afternoon off my day job and deposited those checks. Then, my daughter and I visited ULTA with free nail polish coupons and we had a 20% off 1 product coupon. We also ran into Kroger and got the Ragu Pasta Sauce for the free Fandango movie ticket. Can't have too many of those for a family of movie lovers.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

5/24 Expressions

Frugal for today: my daughter and I doubled up on baking. While I mixed and prepared chocolate chip, and peanut butter cookies, she prepared a turtle brownie mix. The oven was full the entire time and the cookies took turns baking with the brownie. Part of each dessert is now in the freezer. Unfrugal for the day: we went to Wal-mart and came out with more than we intended.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

5/22 Expressions

We got our hair "done" and are happy with the results. Mail was very nice today. We got fake stick-on nails, 4 dry erase markers, a generous sample size of Cafe Verona from Starbucks, a rebate check from e-bates, and a rebate check from Rite Aid. Can't beat generous freebies and money too often :)

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

5/21 Expressions

Tomorrow is a graduation day for my daughter. I will be taking chips, in a Dollar Tree Bowl (so I won't have to worry about it being "lost" - and for $1, it is a nice decoration too), and dip in for the "party". I have placed coupons in my purse in preparation for tomorrow. One for a BOGO sandwich - our lunch and a 20% of our entire beauty services at the local beauty college. We both have an appointment to get our hair done. We got my health insurance statement for the emergency room visit. All I can say is I am so grateful we have insurance. The insurance negotiated off 75% from the hospital bill and paid the remaining 25% - so $0 out of pocket for us. But gee, does that mean if we didn't have insurance, we should pay 75% more?

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

5/20 Expressions

Mail was nice today. Freebies included free Better Homes and Garden Magazine, 3 individual packets of drink mixes, travel sized men's deoderant, and trial sized bottle of vitamins. All very useful. Corrected rent check - always nice - bank wouldn't take the previous one from the rental management company because the numbers conflicted with the "spelled-out" number. I will be taking Thursday off from my day job to attend graduation festivities.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

5/18 Expressions

I got my coupons together early this a.m. and headed to Publix. I purchased just over $50 worth of groceries for $7.31 - of which $3.29 was tax, You can't see the "total savings at Publix" block - but it is $$46.80. I would have done better if I didn't "have" to buy the chips (no coupon for 2 bags) and dip. But I committed to bringing something for a graduation party this week - so that's my contribution. We have what we "need" for this week from our Aldi shop earlier this week - but the extra pantry items and convenience foods will make this week a bit less hectic. Oh, in our area, the penny item is Publix's brand pasta sauce.

Just for a touch of "beauty" - I added one of my impromputu yard flower bouquets. Flowers are blooming away this time of the year. The "fuzzy" looking pink flower is a first for me. It might have gotten "frozen" out last year. The "vase" was a thriftshop find from last year. If I remember correctly, it cost around $1.50.

This was my first time to drive the new car. For me, it drives like a dream.

And just wanted to mention, we bought theme park tickets earlier this week through my employer. I wasn't sure we saved much - but was shocked at prices this year - in a good way. We are planning to head to Orlando, combining business and pleasure, so, that will cut some of our travel/lodging/food costs. My daughter is fortunate in that in her life time, she has been to all of the "major" theme parks in the area. But, she and my husband get so much enjoyment out of going - still. I have to admit, those rides make me dizzy, sick, etc. So, for me, it is a waste of $. Since they will have 3 full days to go "parking" - that was our starting point. Then they decided they wanted two days at Universal and one day at Seaworld (which seemed a "waste" to me, since if they operate the same as the last time we went, when we got inside of Seaworld, there was a line to get a pass to get in for free the next day - so, more like a BOGO to me). Although they love WDW, I don't love the prices (of course we didn't check this time - so, they may have great specials this year too.) Anyway, when we inquired about the tickets, we were told the special was a 7 day unlimited pass to both Universal parks for $78 each ticket. Of course we won't need it for 7 days - so, we asked about the 1 day pass, $6X was the best price. Sure didn't make sense to buy 2 1 day passes because my employer doesn't sell 2 days passes. Then we asked about the price for Seaworld - $5X for 1 day. So, it was a no brainer, we got the $78 ticket. But I went on line, it says by shopping on line, you are saving at least $10 per ticket. Also, if you buy the 7 day pass on line, at least 2 days in advance, you get it for $79.99 - our's didn't require the 2 days in advance - but we did - and the price for the immediate use ticket is $100.XX. Of course there's shipping & handling charges - so, the savings by buying the tickets through my employer isn't as great as I thought - but still a savings indeed!

This afernoon, we plan to visit Wal-mart for their free "Sundae" samples. Can't beat free ice-cream. But we also wanted to get some grass seed. We had our first lawn treatment a few weeks ago. The weeds are turning brown and the grass does look greener. But those brown "weed" patches look like they can use some help - so, we are hoping a bag of seeds will do the trick.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

5/17 Expressions

I got my 5 coupons for a free box of Michael Angelo frozen meals in the mail today. How exciting is that? My husband got a free Shick Quattro Titanium razor too. How nice is that? That's no cheap freebie. I am already planning on getting groceries at Publix as close to free as possible. My daughter and a friend won very nice prizes at the fishing tournament. They each won jewelry and bath and body products. A big deal for 'tweens. And the best part of it all - they didn't even catch a fish :) Now they are at the freebie baseball game. Hope they each get a freebie commemorative baseball. (This year's freebie was not a commemorative baseball - it was a box of 6 packages of microwavable popcorn. Nice too.) They were a little late in leaving.

Friday, May 16, 2008

More 5/16 Expressions

About the only excitement in the mail was a magazine from Kraft Foods. The recipes always sound wonderful - but his month's magazine had a coupon for a free salad dressing and there were other cents off coupons in there too. I baked several batches of chocolate chip cookies - using a .99 bag of chips from Aldi. I also wanted to mention that avacados were .33 each - not the ultra small one's either. Also, last night, I was reading a good deals site and a code for $20 off plants was posted. I ordered a dwarf lemon tree for shipping only - just under $8. Hope it comes. Anyway, I spotted in the paper that county is sponsoring a fishing derby for those under 18 years of age. They always give out nice prizes (whether you catch anything or not). So, I plan to pack some cookies and drinks for the fishing party tomorrow morning. The afternoon will be spent at the free ball game. I am in the second month of daily papers at the "Sundays only" price. I have to say, there's lots of information about cheap/free entertainment and even coupons that are printed during the week. I just may be hooked. The other day I saw an opportunity to e-mail in for free tickets to a preview of the latest Narnia movie. All that was required - was to write a short review of the movie. Of course - the preview was on a school night - and started close to midnight. But, if you keep your eyes peeled, there are opportunities for free entertainment. I event noted that the Botanical Gardens where we have a membership is sponsoring a picnic (bring your own or buy there) with fun activities tomorrow - free to members. I don't even remember them sending a flyer - or did I toss it. But just a few examples of entaining the family for "cheap".

5/16 Expressions

I answered the phone on a whim last night. The new marketing tactics by companies is just amazing. The lady on the phone said something to the effect of, "you are such a great customer of XYZ (Big Box Retailer). With this recession, we wanted to help our customers such as yourself. We'd like to inform you of our new hospitalization program that you can add to your XYZ (store brand) credit card." That's as far as she got - before I said "no thank-you", and hung up. I thought it was interesting that she used the word "recession" in her spiel. I am sure she was reading something. So, even though there is much discussion as to whether we are really or technically in a recession or not, the big boxes must think so.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

5/15 Expressions

Mail was good - rent checks. I went to the dr. On the way home, we stopped at Aldi. It is great they are trying to keep customers by lowering the price on items that are popular and everyone knows are high elsewhere. A gallon of milk? $1.99! A dozen eggs? $1.29! Then, we stopped at McDonalds for free Southwestern Chicken Sandwiches. We paid for 3 medium drinks - the convenience was worth it. We planned our vacation for next month. We are going to combine business/fun to save a bit on costs. Tomorrow, we are shopping for discount theme park tickets.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

5/14 Expressions

Mail was zzz today. My husband got the sewing machine out for me and I finished my daughter's hoodie - a project we started about a month ago whee we cut the pieces from 2 old t-shirts. Came out to look quite cute. My husband has been able to get a few strawberries out of our "garden". Lettuce looks like it may make a nice salad in a day or two. Flowers are blooming away. Clematis - Red and Purple, Asiatic Lillies, and Roses so far.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

5/13 Expressions

In the mail was a small rebate check - always nice. I asked my husband if the county/city refunds any "unused" portion of the tag fee - we just got a new tag for my totalled car just over a month ago. He said he didn't think so. Sure enough, with some paperwork - we can get it as a credit when we renew our current tags next year. Every little bit helps.

Monday, May 12, 2008

5/12 Expressions

Mail today was nice. Beach condo rent check, a check from the mail decoy service (this was a nice surprise - as they usually "pay" us in stamps), and the $10 Papa Johns Gift Certificate from Mypoints. Well, my husband checked on our insurance and being "frugal" - I had declined car rental priveleges. So, we started researching buying a car asap. Yes, we know many say buy used and avoid depreciation. But neither of us are auto mechanics - so, we usually buy new, for reliability, reasonably priced, in cash and drive them until repair bills are more than the car is worth. So, now that gas prices are a concern, we wanted something with reasonable gas mileage also. I had a 2004 Saturn Vue - manual - that got decent gas mileage. Tomorrow, my husband will be picking up my 2008 Honda Civic LX - automatic - now that my arm/shoulder hurts - I really don't want to have to shift (I know - the hurt will go away - but I'll take the convenience for now). We got it for invoice plus taxes/tags. I am sure they got some sort of "incentive". We checked around for used Honda Civics in the paper and on line - it was hard to find a 4 door - and when we did, they were priced pretty close to new or had lots of miles on them (I know - people say this car lasts forever). So, I would say, we searched for around 2 hours into pricing and are happy with what we got. We put $500down on the the credit card (more hotel points) - the rest will be paid by check tomorrow when my husband and father pick it up. Now, I am hoping the adjuster sends us a check for my totalled car quickly, as our emergency account is now pretty much wiped out. I was going to save that Papa John's giftcard for my husband's birthday. But, since I don't feel like cooking much, we will be getting BOGO Pizza's and they should last for dinner, lunch and dinner tomorrow.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

5/11 Expressions

HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY! The good deal for today was - my husband did the grocery shopping at Kroger. He used his credit card (saving hotel points) to purchase a $300 Kroger giftcard - which they gave him an additional $30 (10%) on - their current "economic stimulus" program. Then he used the gift card to pay for our groceries - that card should last us a while. He used our credit card - but we pay the full balance off every month - so, it was nice to be able to get some points toward a free hotel room in the process. Although many companies are running marketing campaigns to separate people from their stimulus checks, this was a nice one for us, because we haven't gotten one (yet) - but groceries is a "need" for us, so we would have had to buy them regardless - so, it was a nice savings for us.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

5/10 Expressions

I just want to make a public service announcement - wear your seat belt always! My husband and I were heading to eat lunch at a fast food place yesterday afternoon, and a truck hit us on the passenger side (my side) as we were turning in. Most of my very minor injuries were cause by the safety devices - but, I am happy I had them. The air bag deployed and I believe practically knocked the wind out of me and I had ringing in my ears. My shoulder has some brusing - probably from the seat belt - but that is the extent of it. But, another reason to manage your money. Had I had no savings, I might have done things differently. I was unaware that the police now ask if you want to be transported to the hospital - uh - yes. The first thing the ambulance crew asked for - an insurance card. As did the hospital. Seems a bit heartless - but necessary I guess. The passenger in the truck that hit us said her knee hurt - but refused to go to the hospital. I am sure the ambulance ride will be atrocious in cost, and the emergency room treatment - but I am glad I was able to use those services without hesitation. I plan to write about the rest of the experience as it happens. What happens to my car - it was towed since the wheel area was damaged (undrivable) - and we were told by the insurance company to release it to their agent as soon as we can - it won't be until Monday. We were also told to tell the hospital to bill our car insurance and not our health insurance - so, we are working on getting that changed. The driver of the other vehicle called and apologized. Which was a nice gesture. I must say I feel a lot better today - although I still have muscle pain.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

5/8 Expressions

Mail was zzz. But, a frugal friend reminded me to register my free Starbucks giftcard that I received yesterday. Sure enough, there are nice bonuses just for registering your card at

If you are planning on eating at TGI Fridays, I just got an e-mail from them for a giftcard promotion. Buy a $25 Giftcard and get a $5 Bites Bonus card. Read more about it at

Another thing I did frugal today: at work, they offered free tickets to the local baseball team's game this month. The ticket is for general seating. Last year we took DD and a couple of friends. They gave us baseballs as we walked in. Those sold quickly at a yardsale last year. Of course, parking is $5. But, I got enough tickets for the family and few more - just in case.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

5/7 Expressions

Not much mail in the "hold" bin. But, I did get 2 rebate checks and a $5 GC for Starbucks from IZEA. This morning, I ran errands all in one circuituous (sp) route. The Post Office, then to the bank to deposit checks, then to the library to turn in books. I finished "Richistan". I would say I really didn't read much that was surprising. The main themes seemed to be: The "new rich" are different from the "old money". No matter how "rich" one is, they always think they need more - something like double what they already have to be "rich". "Rich" today, is probably around $10M. Yup, you read that right. I got gas and a few groceries at Wal-mart. Yup, every trip to the gas station lately brings a new "high" :( Then to CVS. I had the coupon for a free Adidas Deoderant from the All You magazine. "Paid" for it - tax only. Then used the ECB's ($4.99) toward the $7.49 price of Biore face clenser. With tax, $2.70. I am sending in the receipt for the Glamour offer - I saw it on the web somewhere - in hopes of getting my daughter a purse stuffed with samples - supposedly worth $8X. It is already in the mailbox ready to go. Then I went to Publix for a few more groceries. I had $32 worth of grocies with tax, and after coupons, spent $23. Plus, I will be mailing in a rebate for $9. I am also doing a big "bake" today. Those ripe bananas were starting to take up too much room - so, now they are banana/oat muffins - I used oats in place of the walnuts. I also baked some oatmeal and froze individual portions to take to work. The broccoli/brown rice casserole is for our side dish tonight and probably tomorrow too. A cheesecake, to use up some more of my free cream cheese, and 2 ham and cheese quiches for lunch. One for this week and one for the freezer for another week. Of course I am doing laundry, and other cleaning chores - saving the cost of maid. And later this evening, I will give my bangs a trim, and give myself a mani/pedi. I may even cut a few flowers - roses are blooming, irises have about had it, but a nice arrangement will bring the beautiful outdoors in :)

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

5/6 Expressions

We just returned from a short trip to Washington, D.C. My daughter won first prize for her age group in a national poster contest. The contest was sponsored by a professional organization to which my husband belongs. So, as it was work-related for my husband, his organization paid for his trip. To turn in into a quick family vacation - my frugal skills were employed :) We drove - so, that should be covered. First night's hotel, we drove until we were tired and I started calling hotels in the gas station coupon book (very reasonably priced and appears cheaper than other rates - AAA, etc.). We stayed in a nice hotel and had a nice hearty free breakfast the next morning. We stopped to see the Natural Bridge - exercise was nice too. Oh, I failed to mention that I brought a re-usable grocery tote filled with fruits, raisin, snacks, granola bars from my pantry - oh, and peanut butter cookies from the freezer that my daughter and I baked earlier. We also took a case of bottled water and my husband's favorite beverage - Diet Pepsi Max. We stopped for a late lunch and on to our next hotel that we used hotel points for. No cash out of our pockets for that one and it was nice and we had a hearty breakfast there too. Then to the National Zoo where the organization sponsored a nice brunch - fruit crepes, made-to-order omelets, fruit, etc. Pictures of the poster contest winners were taken and the winners were presented with a gift bag with snacks and momentos from the zoo - all very nice. Plus, we got to see the animals. Of course parking was $15 - but not bad for brunch and an outing. Then on to our hotel. This is a very expensive time DC. Apparently a heavy convention time. My husband's organization had a limit for the amount we would be reimbursed for a hotel - very prudent. So, weeks before, I got on and made reservations. Good thing, because the hotels were booked and apparently, we paid less than 1/2 of the going rate and barely squeeked under the reimbursable rate. The event was wonderful. We saw many sites. For the event itself, awards were presented at the Capitol Building. A nice surprise, our state Senator sent an aide to get my daughter's name and address and sent his congratulations. We were also presented with nice momentos there and had very nice finger foods sponsored by many companies. Then on to the Art Museum. We were treated to a nice tour and then all of us were invited to make "nature boxes". A very memorable family experience - and we were all treated to lunch at the museum. My daughter was also presented with a very nice totebag of items from the Art Museum. It was a memorable experience and one that will last our lifetime. Back to reality. Although I asked to stop the mail delivery during the entire time - I found a day's worth in my mailbox. Of course it was nice - State Tax refund and a nice bubble envelope of products - Neutrogena Bath Wash and Butter Cream that were of a very generous size, and sample of other products (one-time use). So, I am not sure if I "won" a prize - or if this was a generous sample pack from Johnson & Johnson. Either way, all of it will come in handy. Tomorrow, I will pick-up the rest of the mail, do laundry, etc. I took an extra day off from my day job to catch-up and get things back on track again.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

More 5/1 Expressions

My dear husband returned from a business trip today. While on a stop-over at an airport - I believe he said Charlotte, NC, VISA/USAIR had a table set-up for people to sign up for the card. Now, we normally do NOT sign up for cards with fees. This one has an annual fee of $79. But, you get a free roundtrip right off the bat and a voucher for 2 companion tickets at $99 each and a choice of a "gift". He called and asked if he should sign-up? Yes. Our daughter got a nice "bear" out of the deal and we will fly somewhere for a short vacation this summer - and of course, we will cancel the card after the runs out.

5/1 Expressions

Today I had a Dr's appointment. It is slightly out of the way. But, there is an Aldi enroute. On the way home, I stopped and picked up a few items. Our strawberry plants produced a couple of strawberries. Too bad I could only eat one. One had been pecked by a bird and 2 were already over-ripe - so, I hope they go to seed and produce more plants for next year. I guess I will have to keep a close eye on those. I also cut another iris that "tipped-over". So, my vase of flowers started yesterday looks even prettier.