Sunday, July 31, 2011

Frugal weekend

Other than the small size Starbucks Dd and I treated ourselves to yesterday morning on the way to help move Grandma, it's been a pretty frugal weekend.  Last night's dinner was spaghetti and french bread.  This morning I made blueberry muffins for breakfast, put a pork roast and vegetables in the crockpot for dinner and this afternoon I got a loaf of bread started in the breadmaker.  Just now I put some brownies in the oven for dessert tonight. Yum!

Later this morning we took the dog over to Petsmart for a nail trim ($9), I picked up 2 newspapers at Walmart for the coupons and stopped at Walgreens.  Using my $4 Register Reward from last week I got 2 Coffee-Mate creamers, 2 Dawn dish soap and some hair clips for .80.  I also got another $2 RR to use on a future purchase.

School clothes shopping - already!

Dd and I went school clothes shopping Friday night.  I usually have to split up the annual expense over the end of July paycheck and the end of August paycheck.  I had set a limit of $150 for last night but we ended up spending $169, sales tax of 9.3%, of course, brought it up.  I think she did pretty well for the money spent.  She got 2 pairs of shoes at Famous Footwear for $71 (including tax). It was buy one get one 50% off sale.  The Vans shoes were $45 and the dressy flats were half off at $20.  Then we hit Ross Dress for Less - 3 pairs of jeans ($20, $11, and $9ea) and 3 tops for $70.  Then she added a belt and some socks.  Total with tax came to $98.  I still think she needs a few more tops and maybe one more pair of jeans and we should be good to start high school with.  Birthday in November and then Christmas usually gets her the rest for the year.  She will need a new pair of tennis shoes for actually playing tennis, but that won't be necessary until after the first of the year.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Living to 93 and beyond

As we moved my Grandma for the third time in 18 months, I was struck by how few possessions she now has left.  The moves have been out of a combination of necessity, my Grandma's stubbornness and my mom's guilt and indecisiveness.  The first move was from Grandma's small 2 bedroom home into a nice assisted living complex where she had a studio type room, with a bedroom in an alcove.  She didn't have a lot of things to get rid of - she and my Grandpa never accumulated "stuff" and she was able to take her sofa, recliner, coffee table, end table and bedroom furniture and most of her sparsely placed here and there, knickknacks.  But, at 91, Grandma was adamantly against having to move (there was no way she could live on her own any longer and was way past due for assisted living, in my opinion.) and so she fought living there every step of the way.  Complained about everything, driving my Mom nuts, until she made herself sick and my mom too filled with guilt.  Mom took her out of assisted living and moved Grandma into her place. At that point we had to sell/donate most all her furniture, other than her recliner and end table.

That arrangement lasted a year, until it got where 24 hour care is just too much for a 70 year old to handle.  She found her a nursing type place that was in a private, licensed home that cared for 5 ladies, total.  This was about 4 months ago, but things have slowly gone downhill with her care (she has lost 13 pounds and only weighed about 110 to begin with) due to the owner's own health problems (and apparent gambling addiction, where she was gone all night quite often).  My grandma quite liked one of the caregivers that worked at this place, who was also telling my mom how unhappy she is with how the place was being run the past couple of months.  So, she offered to take care of my Grandma herself, in her home.  So, we moved her again today.  All's she has left of possessions at 93 years of age is a recliner, an end table, a walker, clothing and a few of her doll collection and a few pictures.

I guess that is the cycle of life.  But, makes me wonder why I have so much stuff!  What's the point?  My grandparents were children of the Depression era.  The never had much at all.  During my lifetime they had always lived in small places, usually a single wide trailer or one time, for a 6 month period, in a little camper trailer.  Their last place was a small 2 bedroom double wide.  It was always neat as a pin and not overloaded with possessions.....just the stuff they needed and a few things that made them happy.  Isn't that all we all really need in life?

Friday, July 29, 2011

Looking into the future....

Ds has been gone camping all week with his girlfriend and her family.  We still have tons of pop left...the jar of peanut butter is still full....lots of bread still left....which got me to thinking.  When both my kids are grown up and on their own I will be saving A LOT of money!  Health insurance, car insurance, car gas, food, electricity, clothing, allowances.  I estimate around $10,000 a year!  Ds is probably about 2 1/2 years from full independence, when he fnishes his 4-year degree. Though I am hoping at some point along the way he picks up at least a part time job to help a little with his expenses.  I still have almost 6 years for Dd to reach independance.  She has 3 more years of high school, but she plans to also get (or as close as possible) her 2 year AA degree by the time she graduates high school, thereby getting her 4 year degree 2 years after that, when she is 20.  Plus, knowing her, she will find a part time job while in high school and college to help a little with her gas and clothing.

It's a nice thought that I will have that much extra money each year in less than 6 years!  I'll really be able to get our HELOC loan paid down/off and/or ramp up the 401k contributions.  I'm not currently contributing anything right now.  I had to stop 2 years ago when dh couldn't work anymore.  The $280/mo I was contributing was just too much of a strain for our budget.  Fortunately at the same time this happened my employer added a profit sharing portion to our benefits, whereby I get approximately $2100 (3.4% of my yearly salary) put into my 401k each year.

At a minimum life financially won't be quite such a struggle when it's just me and dh.  I was previously kind of worried that once the kids were grown and gone we'd be poor, stuck at home, bored, etc.  But we'll be able to afford going out to dinner every so often and even a couple of little trips :-)

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Sunday deals

I got a few good deals on Sunday.  I had to buy 2 newspapers, but still saved more than the $2 I spent on papers and still have some coupons I will use out of the inserts.  I get my mom's inserts from her paper, but sometimes it's a week or two later since I don't seem to see her as often (now that she has a boyfriend!!)

(2) Irish Spring deodorants - Free
Milos Kitchen dog treats - $1.00
Sally Hansen nail clippers - Free
Cortaid cream - .99
Mitchum deodorant - Free
(2) M&M's (small individual bags) .09 ea
(2) Reynolds foil - .79 ea

Monday, July 18, 2011

One way to save $9....

...have your back go out on you just after you leave for work.  No gas spent to go to work - $9 saved! NOT that I'd recommend this method to anyone to try.  I'm sitting in my car driving to work, minding my own business, and wham! my back seizes up and instant pain.  This is leftovers from the car accident I was in 4 years ago - it sucks!  So, I'm back home, loaded up with a muscle relaxer, pain pill and the heating pad.  At least it hasn't happened in quite awhile, so guess all the regular chiropractic visits have helped.  I couldn't think of anything I did that might have triggered this but then I remembered that yesterday, after I sent Dd back into Target to get our left behind bag, I picked up the bag (only like 18 lbs) of dog food out of the car and lifted it into the back of her pickup. I had to lift is chest high so that probably was enough to cause it.  Damn!

Shopping Fiasco's!

Apparently I should not have tried shopping yesterday. It was one fiasco after another!  Went to RiteAid first where I was trying to use my $10 UP rewards towards a deal where if I purchased $25 of any combination of Speed Stick deodorant and Irish Spring soap I would get another $10 UP Reward. Each item was $2.50.  I wanted to get quite a few deodorants but they didn't have enough left, so I got more soap. But, I added wrong in my head and only bought $20 worth.  I went back to get $5 more of soap and the girl (kind of new) had to return the first stuff and then rering it all again.  It's a slow process at RiteAid - where she has to call a supervisor over and the supervisor has to what looked like put her fingerprint on a scanner after each item to approve.  Then the new receipt (which was exactly $25) did not produce the $10 up reward.  So the supervisor (and quite elderly lady who is a little slow) went back to verify I had the right items (I did) and then tried to find the ad in the circular (I had to find it for her). Then she didn't know what to do. Another cashier, who is the sweetest and best cashier there, finally suggested to her to give me a gift card for $10.  Eventually she figured out how to do it (with the old supervisor breathing down her neck telling her she wasn't doing it right - but she didn't know how to do it either).

Then we headed to Target to get some deals along with a bag of dog food.  I left the dog food in the cart.  As we are getting finished checking out another Target employee comes to the end of our checkout counter with a big box of hangers and sets it down and is talking to our cashier.  Dd and I aren't really paying attention, just kind of in "auto" mode. We get out to car and realize we didn't grab the bag of stuff we bought. She runs back in (all this in like 2 minutes) and our bag is gone! The cashier is like "oh, I must've put your stuff in someone's bag" huh?.  So, she tells Dd to go back and get all the stuff again.  So I have to come back into the store and we re-shop.  Of course we took the last of a couple of the things the first time! So we replaced with similar. After Dd and I talked about it we think when the employee came up with the big box of hangers and set it down the cashier didn't put out bag on the end of the counter as I was paying, nor reach the bag out to us and we just spaced out and walked out!  So frustrating!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Learning Priorites

Ds had a lesson in money priorities this past couple of weeks.  I'm glad to report he made the right decision, on his own.  We could have made the decision for him, but we decided just to give him our advice and let him make the decision.  He won 2 tickets to a two night event he really wants to go attend, plus hotel room for 2 nights and $100 towards travel costs.  Very exciting.....except for the fact the event is 2300 miles away!  He and his gf checked on airline pricing - about $500 each.  And then I threw in the monkey wrench that they would need to rent a car and I doubt that would happen as they are both 19.  At one discussion I also dropped in that I thought he had other priorities for his money, other than spending it on this fun trip.  So, they figured out how much it would cost to drive there.  I had to remind them that that plan would add several more nights of hotels for the trip there and back.  Ds is basically broke.  He's been doing some side website jobs and will have money coming in sometime in the future, so his gf would've had to pay for it all and he pay her back his share.  I was REALLY hoping he didn't go that route. I don't want him getting into the habit of spending money before he has it (been there done that!).  In the end they decided to just stay home and they seem ok with the decision and at least it was their decision..not "Mom and Dad wouldn't let us" :-)

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Coupon deals

I've spent my little bit of extra free time this week shopping for some good deals.  So far, this is what I've got and spent:
(2) bottles of John Frieda shampoo (dd's favorite)
(2) Trial size Jergen's Natural Glow lotion
(1) Walgreen's lady's 6 blade razor w/refill cartridge
(1) Finish dishwasher tabs - 20 ct
(1) Infusium 23 Shampoo (what dh uses - he's brand loyal which makes bargain shopping tougher)
(1) 25 cent piece of candy/Yorks Peppermint - I hate Walgreens coupon policy that you have to have same number of items as coupons and Register Rewards used are counted as a "coupon"
(1) Candy bar (again another Walgreen's "filler" item)

Total spent out of pocket $19.56 (with tax).  I now have $10 in RiteAid UP rewards to use on a next purchase and $1 in Walgreen's Register Rewards to use on next purchase. Not bad and it is all stuff I will use.  I've gotten pickier of late and not shopping just to get free products. If I can't use it I don't buy it - unless it turn out to be a "money maker", then I buy it and use the profit towards stuff I can use.

At this point I think I am going to hold on to my $10 in UP rewards until next weeks sales.  There is a deal that includes the deodorant and soap dh uses.  Spend $25 and get $10 UP.  I can use the $10 I have towards my out of pocket expense and get another $10 to use in the future. Hopefully I can find some coupons on these items to make the deal even better.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

The cost of quality time

So, I was heading out the door at 3:30 yesterday, after finishing up work for the day, to go grocery shopping.  My usual companion was at her friends house.  Ds asked where I was going, so I asked if he wanted to come along.  He was in the middle of washing Dd's car for her (what a sweet brother!) so I said I'd wait.  Him being almost 20 now, we rarely get to spend time together just the 2 of us anymore.  By the time he was done washing and helping his dad with a couple of things it was now almost 4:15. I hate going shopping that late and that close to dinner time.  We usually eat around 5:30 and rarely much later than 6pm.  Dh just turns into a grumpy bear if he goes past that so I avoid it at all costs.

We needed 3 bags of ice, so I thought I'd be "smart" and "efficient" and pay for the bags of ice as I'm checking out and grab them on the way out.  Guess, what? They were out of ice (they have never been out of ice before and it's not like it was a hot day). So, we had to go back to customer service and stand in line to get my $3.24 back.  By then it was after 5, we still had to get ice, get back home, unload and put away groceries.  I knew the dinner I had planned to make would end up being closer to 6:45, so we decided to stop at the McDonalds next to where we got the ice.  I just got dinner for Dh and Ds (Dd eating at friend's house) and I munched on salami and cheese at home.  Spent around $11 I hadn't planned on, but worth the later trip shopping in order to spend some time with my son!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Outta sight!

Well, I shoulda known Ds's eye doctor visit would be at least $200.  I forgot his lenses are the polycarbonate type so that they aren't so thick/coke bottle looking.  So, our 2 pair for $70 ended up being $216!  There was an extra $15 tacked on the "free eye exam" if you wanted the visual field type exam.  The special lenses for both glasses brought it up to $216.  Well, at least he has 2 pair now..he calls them his "fun" pair and his "business" pair, LOL.  The business pair are dark and make him look kinda smart and nerdy :-)  He's so funny.  All in all I was happy with this vision center (America's Best Eyeglasses).  If he didn't need such a strong prescription it really would've ended up $70.  I priced a couple other places out - Sears Optical - which we get a small discount through our health insurance plan would have been at least $190 - and that's only for one pair of glasses.  Last year the place we went to was very pricey - $270 - and that wasn't even for frames - ds kept his same frames and just got new lenses.  So, all in all, I am pleased to get him 2 pair for a little over $200.   I priced out one pair with out using the "2-fer/free exam special deal" and would've been $189. I would probably use this place again. I pretty much planned on spending around $200, but we were hoping the 2 glasses would be $150 or less and then we could use the rest towards some rx sunglasses that are pretty reasonably priced at Walmart.  I'm going to make him wait on those now, since I spent my budgeted amount.

I had planned on stopping to pick up some dinner, since it was getting kind of late, on the way home but remembered I had some steaks in the fridge and we got home by 5:45 so it really wasn't too late by the time I got those fixed least a $15 savings by not being lazy - yay for me!

Back to reality!

Back from our trip to Hawaii.  We had a fun and relaxing time.  We stayed in a condo so had a kitchen to make our own meals.  We ate in all but 2 dinners and 3 lunches.  I think we spent less than $200 on groceries (not bad for 10 days, considering Hawaii's high food prices).  If we had had to eat out 3 meals a day it probably would've cost $130/day, easy). 

Dd and I were a little confused by my mom and her approach to spending once we were there!  Not taking away from how much I appreciate her taking us and footing the bill...but we just figured there were going to be a few expenses to do a couple of activities. (and with nearly a million dollars in her portfolio, a few hundred certainly wasn't going to break her).  The only thing I wanted to do was go to a luau (about $200 for 3 people) and the only thing Dd wanted to spend money to do was take a surf board lesson (about $60).  When we mentioned these 2 things she started balking at them, like she didn't want to spend the money.  So Dd and I just said ok and I told Dd I'd pay the $60 for her lesson (she had some money she brought too, so she could've paid for it).  We of course had the tourist magazines of stuff to do to look at and after a few days Mom mentioned going to a luau. I found one near where we were staying at it was only $186 total. Dd was a teen rate at almost half, Mom was $10 off as a senior and then got a 10% discount for booking online.  Most of the other luau places (at big hotels) were over $100 each person.

After Dd tried boogie boarding she wasn't too keen on the surfboard lessons any longer.  My mom suggested we take one of the snorkeling cruises, so we jumped on that idea! So much fun and worth the money.

Now I am back to work and back to trying to save.  (I only spent $165 on the trip).  Ds really needs new eyeglasses and I finally have the extra money for that.  We are going to try a different place that offers 2 pairs and free eye exam for $70.  We'll see if that's what it actually costs, I'm sure it will be higher, but the other places I priced out would be at least $200, so even if I get out of there for $150 I will be happy.  Next paycheck my plan is to get Dh into the eye doctor for glasses.

I also got news today that my company is switching health insurance plans effective next month.  I don't have all the details yet (next week) but looks like we will have a copay of $20 instead of $25.  Other than that it looks pretty similar.  My regular doctor takes this plan, but it doesn't look like my chiropractor does (I am double checking on this).  That is very disappointing as I love my chiropractor and usually go every 6 weeks.  But I guess I can find someone new if I have to.  Just off the top (with the # of visits I go per year) I will save at least $50/yr.  Every little bit helps.