Monday, December 28, 2009

12/28 Expressions

Frugal travel tips: Pictured is the Biltmore in Ashville, NC. That's where we took our vacation. We had enough points for two free hotel nights. My dad gave us check for our Christmas gift and USAA sent us a generous "Subscriber's Savings Account Dividend" check - so gas, food, and entertainment expenses were covered with no money out of pocket. Most of our breakfast costs were covered with our free points too and we ate heavy breakfasts and one other meal per travel day at restaurants. One evening we had take-out from PF Changs and used our loyalty card and got 10% off. One evening, we ate the freebies - veggies with dip and potato skins with all of the "fixins" - with a purchase of a drink. We also brought most of our snacks and drinks from home. We got more than enough goodies for the holidays, home baked, a tin of cashew nuts, packs of Gold Fish, etc. The first leg of our trip, we stopped at an outlet mall and did some shopping - all within our budgeted amount. Since we weren't in any hurry, it was a nice trip. The Biltmore house was nice, nice sights, interesting insights, and provided some exercise with a lot of walking. And my tip is: buy your ticket on-line. I believe when we arrived, there was a sign stating the wait could be up to 2 hours for the purchase of a ticket. We drove right through with our internet printed tickets.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

12/20 Expressions

Frugal deeds for the week: Pictured is a 1/2 full box of 1 oz Gold Fish packages that I received in the mail from Pepperidge Farm. I am not sure why I got them - but it was a nice surprise. My daughter handed out packages on Friday to her classmates who were taking mid-term exams. We love Gold Fish - but this is way more than we can use. I may take some of the packages to work to leave in the break-room for others to enjoy. The gingerbread house cost me under $2 - bought in a 90% off sale last year and kept in the freezer. It was fairly easy to put together - but probably would have turned out nicer had I not been in such a hurry. I shopped at Aldi this week. Christmas dinner will include the second turkey we purchased from Wal-mart just before Thanksgiving. It is about a 12 pounder and cost under $5. I baked cookies yesterday and part of them became adders to a couple of baskets we put together. Some went into the freezer for a cookie tray we will have as our dessert this week.

Monday, December 14, 2009

12/14 Expressions

Frugal deeds for the week: For winter break, we are taking a short vacation. We have enough points to stay two nights at a Hilton. We also got a nice chunk of change from USAA - subcriber's saving distribution. It will cover gas, food and entertainment. I also got a gift certificate in the mail today from cashing out some "mypoints". Oh, and I ordered a house warming/Christmas gift for my brother from Amazon and was able to take $10 off with my swagbuck buck "winnings". There was a rebate form associated with the gift - so, I sent that separately in a card. Hope he takes advantage of the rebate form. We are pretty much done with any holiday shopping. Just need to put a basket together for a neighbor and the mail lady.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

12/13/09 Expressions

Frugal gift to myself: Pictured are the 12 herb plants I "won" on ebay. We recently sold a few items on ebay and we split the $ amongst ourselves. With mine, I was the only bidder of 12 plants - I believe with shipping, the plants came to around $12. The planter box spent several years outside and the containers are various tubs I have "recycled". The bottom shelf holds seeds of "wildflowers" that were inbeded in a note from a retailer and 2 green onion roots. Hopefully, I will have plenty of fresh herbs to use for cooking.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

12/6 Expressions

Financial expressions for the day: Although the fact that we are in a recession has been reported in the media non-stop, I really did not know anyone "personally" affected by a job loss until the last couple of weeks. It also seems that charitable donations and contributions are down. This has been a great time for me to declutter some of my previous "frugal buys" and help those in need. Just this week, my daughter's school has been asking for gifts to donate. She had a few new in the box Barbies, that she donated. Made me proud that she let go so easily. Since she is an only child, I worried whether she would "share". Yesterday, my husband's office put out a call for winter coats and blankets. Much to my surprise, they are also accepting "gently used" items. So, my daughter let go of two of her genetly used coats and a blanket. I had a new, still in the package, "great deal" from Amazon a couple of years ago, blanket to contribute. Yup, it has been a hard lesson, but for me, I need to be careful with those "great deals". Without a purpose, they can take up valuable shelf space, waiting to be used. I doubt I will need another blanket for another few more years, so, now I am glad the thing is going to someone who can use it. I guess the movie we watched yesterday, "The Blind Side" is still haunting me too. Sometimes I forget how fortunate I am. Yesterday, I took my daughter out for an opportunity to do some community volunteer work. On our way back, our neighbor flagged us down. She wanted to pass on a gently used sweater someone had passed on to her to my daughter. She asked what we had been up to and when I let her know about the volunteering opportunity, she asked if she could take my daughter with her to volunteer at a local soup kitchen. Yup, there are plenty of opportunities to help/volunteer.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

12/5 Expresssions

Frugal deeds for the day: Today we used our half priced gift certificate to see the movie "Blind Side" and had a wonderful meal at the in-house restaurant. Then on to Victoria's Secret with the "Secret Santa" gift certificates. The two gift cards we had were worth $50 and $10 - and we made good use of them. We also got a $5 off $10 coupon from Ulta - and got 2 hair brushes for under $5. Then to Bath and Body Works. Got 2 refill packs for the wall flowers for $12 plus tax and got a pair of slippers free.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

12/1 Expressions

Frugal deeds for the week: my the year has flown by. We sold 5 items on ebay and will be using the funds for "fun" $. I purchased plants and spices. I am getting to take another load to the consignment. We sold 4 items on I got selected to test a product and will also get paid a few bucks. I received several survey/rebate checks in the mail. Rents were not as good - we had several maintenance bills this month. We still have turkey in the fridge - and a big pot of soup. This coming weekend, we will pay all of our property taxes (ouch) and write out holiday cards. We rented a carpet cleaner and cleaned our own carpets. Bought no new decorations (probably haven't in years) - and did a nice job decorating. We put up a tree, the best ornaments are the ones my daughter made in third grade. We still remember the teacher's name and remember her fondly.