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Archive for November, 2005

medicare plan D search

November 30th, 2005 at 03:49 pm

Trying to help my parents sort through all their drugs and insurance and medicare info to select a drug plan. They aren't computer literate, let's just say they are TERRIFIED of the computer. So, trying to sort through the plan sites. The government site is helpful for sorting through all the plans in their area with their SSI and med requirements, but the site is BOGGED down, and it's a pain.

But it's worth it. No way could I sort through all this myself. And, since their meds were $12K last year, even buying from Canada, the plans actually do help them. If we live through the process :-)

Rollercoaster day, but savings on gifts.

November 30th, 2005 at 02:40 pm

Okay, in between all the phone calls on health matters, I buckled down and did some serious shopping/savings.

For my littlest niece, used a $10 disney g/c win, a 25% discount promo, and a sale to purchase a beautiful personalized princesses sweatshirt, regularly $25 plus shipping, my total was $2.

For my littlest nephew, used 2 $10 g/c for Scholastic from hubbies win on Juicy Juice and sales to purchase $20 of spiderman activity/coloring/other books for $5 shipping.

For my other niece and nephew, costco sales on two toys, with coupons, total $60.

For DJ25 and hubby, two $100 g/cs for the new house, but eBates, coupons, etc. down to $100.

For DJ13 a $90 electric keyboard with features (!) on sale for $59, minus a Sharper Image $20 coupon minus rebate minue free shipping minus 20% friends and family, so approximate $30.


For DR16, let hubby do the shopping, Target gc for $100 (OUCH!) but he is like a son.

so, down to parents, hubby, and shipping costs.

So for today, $435 down to $237. Not nearly as much savings as I planned, but the gift cards will be appreciated, and will DEFINITELY save on shipping costs! Everything is DEFINITELy worth more than the money I paid, is perfect, but still higher than budget. Need to review where things are overall.

better

November 30th, 2005 at 12:11 pm

Sister just called, and Dad is doing better. We don't need to fly out there this weekend, which is a savings, but mostly a relief. Now I can joke, I ordered him a peanut-of-the-month club, so he had better stay on this earth for the year! Deep breath.

Guess I should stop the stress spending! Shopping for the holidays while waiting for health tests is NOT a good way to save!

shipping costs surprize

November 30th, 2005 at 11:40 am

Well, it has been a bumpy week personally. Father is in heart failure, or not, and trying to get answers from the west coast while I'm on the east coast has been a roller coaster. So, we've been rearranging schedules, moved my MRI to Friday, trying to get the dog into the vet for travel while she is still recovering from surgery...

In the midst of this, we are still managing to focus on SAVING. I actually finished shopping for CA family and got everything wrapped. Now we just need to get it shipped, and we will be SO far ahead of the curve.

I was surprised on the first shipment we made. 9 pounds, bone china, great buy except for the shipping charges. Previously we've shipped at the last minute, and shipping was over $500, so our goal is to get them out. Anyway, I priced the ship with USPS, and $17 to ship standard ground, and $17.50 to ship priority 2 day. I know the size versus weight of the package changes costs, but this seemed odd. USPS worker said they are encouraging people to get things out of the queue, so it benefits them if you do priority now. Who knew.

So, we ARE making progress in our weekly goal. Have to total spending so far later.

Insulation challenge cost came out free!

November 28th, 2005 at 11:56 am

Well, didn't get the decorations up. Had a family medical crisis, everyone is holding their breath, and I had to reschedule my MRI for Friday.

That said, we did figure out the insulation and saved!

We planned to put in R-39 for the attic, but the cost of insulation was $700. Even with the 10% coupons, $100 g/c, and $150 rebate, we would never get the cost back or justify spending that much.

BUT...Home Depot had some free pamphlets on insulation which noted that it was possible to layer levels of insulation to achieve the higher level. So, since we already have R-13 in the space, we bought one roll of R-19, which will bring it up to R-32, and it was only $51 total. Throw in another $20 for hanging tape, and with the $100 g/c it still came out FREE. THAT's a cost we can recover!

Hubbie says savings is $600.

I'm not sure how to count it, but hope to see some decrease in the heating costs, and definitely less chill in the bedroom walls! Certainly less expenditure than we had planned for.

YEAH!!!!!

Some success

November 27th, 2005 at 09:54 am

Well, I'm still having a Humph after the holidays, but I'm working on it.

I made a 13x9 pan of Turkey Divan and used up the white turkey, gravy, rolls, uncooked broccoli, stuffing, and some mayo that had been open awhile. Always strange to me that MD likes the easy recipe better than the fancy one that DOESN'T use up leftovers.

Had planned to use half the turkey for turkey manicotti. But, he did think I was overcommiting myself, with all the other plans we have for the weeks. So, chopped up the dark meat until it was small enough for our sick little dog to eat while her mouth heals from the surgery. The ricotta, non-fat, I purchased for half price minus a coupon, and it will last another week along with the free eggs (thank you Land of Lakes!), and it's easy enough to throw together the pancakes and filling for the manicotti next week. Toss the unopened bag of cranberries into the freezer, and leftovers are all accounted for. YES!

Today, need to research my parents prescriptions, get them enrolled into some of the discount programs, and review their medicare D. I've been urging my sister to go to the medicare site for months, but she waited until enrollment is underway and she can't get into the web site.

It is an EXCELLENT web site. You enter all the prescriptions and some basic medicare info, and they come back with various insurance plans that would be best for your $$ and needs.

Pfizer and some of the other sites have also come up with great literature on how their programs are changing, since discount cards etc. are out the door. Pfizer is GREAT with helping sort out how to afford their meds. I'm printing out some info to send my parents from www.pfizerhelpfulanswers.com.

Better get to it!

this week's challenge

November 27th, 2005 at 05:25 am

Well, of course hubbie and I must receive and ship everything to complete last week's challenge, so that has rolled into this week.

Also, we are really feeling the NEED for the insulation in the attic. I finally received a 10% off everything coupon from Home Depot, we have a $100 g/c from MD's bday, and Home Depot has a rebate on insulation, $75 off every $250. Sounds expensive, and outer wall/attic insulation is! The higher the number/insulation factor, the more it costs. MD is calculating out how much we need. I already priced it, so hopefully we will have a good idea of the costs before we purchase.

So this week - finish up the gifts to CA, and purchase insulation. Hopefully install the insulation, but we need to put decorations up inside and out, and with medical and all, that may be pushing it. We'll see.

last week's challenge follow up, and more gift savings!

November 27th, 2005 at 05:15 am

Okay, we did not get everything packed and shipped last week, but we did complete the purchasing. Already posted the in-law sales, don't know shipping yet. MD did wrap up and prepare the heaviest items for shipping yesterday, so that will go in tomorrow.

So, for Hanukkah gifts:
We found a beautiful Lenox china menorah, was $172, got it for $38.38, and a Lenox Hallah tray, was $200, down to $63, plus a Lenox coupon for $30, brought the total down to $72, plus shipping. More than I planned to spend, but it is DJ25's first house after living with hubbie and two kids in a 600 sq ft garage while she went back to school and saved for the house. So, finally, she has room for nice things, and she loves to entertain.

Christmas:
For brother, a leather Executive Gift set (writing pad, portfolio, card case, memo pad, all leather, and a calculator), was $50, got it for $5.96 at an outlet sale BEFORE Thanksgiving.

For sister, a leather messenger bag specific to carrying papers, which is what she needs. She uses a purse for everything else. Was $100, got it for $8.96 at the before Thanksgiving outlet sale.

Also purchased clothing during the summer for DR1 and DR21, which is already at my sister's house, original cost was $272, final cost was $23. So they are taken care of.

So, $794 for $110. But, the Lenox was not on my list, so not sure if it counts as savings.

Still have my parents, nieces and nephews and little ones to go...

****

In addition, DR1 and DR21 are both extra large extra tall, so I caught the Casual Male big and tall sale BEFORE Thanksgiving. Will send these to my sister in CA to balance out Christmas and then over the year for birthdays or as needed.

So, got 3 pairs of pants, one sweater, two dress shirts, a sweater, and two long sleeve tee's in 2XLT and 4XLT, original price total was $272, total final was $66.

Back on Track

November 27th, 2005 at 04:58 am

Thanksgiving wasn't bad, I think we spent a total of $50. Now the trick will be to use all the leftovers! Friday we had thanksgiving rerun. Now it will become turkey divan, turkey manicotti, stale could make bread crumbs to top the divan...and things we didn't use after all I need to get into the freezer!

Last night we had an easy dinner that was basically free. A few weeks ago a local store had Campbell's Select soups on sale for $1.29 each, but also a deal that if you bought 8 items on the page, including these, you received $8 off at checkout. And Campbells had a separate deal, buy more than 3 cans, receive a store credit of $3, which they also applied at checkout. So we got bread to use up the rest of the money. There was no limit, not sure why, but we did stock up for the winter at that price!

I'm just in a slump, trying to get past one holiday and on with the next. MRI is tomorrow, so the tension is NOT helping focus on savings. I like to spend when I'm tense, and looking for holiday gifts is the wrong time to do it!!!

So, time to get back on track!

Perspectives on Black Friday

November 25th, 2005 at 04:43 am

'Tis the seaon of sales!!!

The problem for me is, that doesn't always mean savings.

I realized this a few days ago, while I was ordering some diabetic candy for my mother. A pound was $15, but shipping was $10!!! BUT FOR ONLY $5 more I could change to a 2 pound box with the same shipping charge. I started to do it. It was a "better buy". It was also an extra $5 I COULD SAVE. Mom doesn't need the extra candy, but I do need to save the extra $5. There are other gifts to buy for her that I need that $5 for!

Black Friday has it's own challenges. Everything on sale, everything hectic, caught up in SPENDING and catching those great deals. I have to remind myself that the great deal is SPENDING LESS, not necessarily BUYING MORE for the same money. Yes, I've budgeted a certain amount for a purchase, and it is SO tempting to SPEND that amount -- if I can find something cheaper, I want to roll the savings into MORE GIFTS. I'm tempted to buy things that are on sale that are not actually what I wanted to give. And in the crush of a "hot deal" day, it's so difficult to step back and think about what I am spending and why.

The reality of savings, and taking advantage of sales, is that I MUST stop and think. The GOAL is NOT to spend the budget, but to get the gifts I WANT to give for as far under that budget as I can. There is a balance in the question "do I need the extra gift, or do I need the extra money in the bank".

My mother taught me as a child "everything is ALWAYS 'on sale'. That is up to the store. Whether or not it IS a sale is up to you".

HUMOR for the day.

November 24th, 2005 at 04:56 am

I decided to order the Philosophy products that my mother actually likes for part of her gift. It's never on sale, but I did go through eBates to get 5% back, drugstore.com gives 5% credit, I added in the philosophy product I'm out of and have been meaning to buy, and received free 3 day shipping, a free gift, a diamond deal freebie, and the Philosophy gift set that was on MY Christmas list as a freebie ($45!).

So, I thought I was doing well. The package arrived, my husband took everything out, I handed him the gift set and told him this was one of the things on my list.

Hubby HATES when I buy my own gifts, as well as ruining the surprise, and he gave me that LOOK. I reminded him it was a $45 item, but he still had THAT LOOK. So, I actually said it: "IT'S NOT MY FAULT IT WAS FREE". I NEVER thought I'd say that!

HE did come back, 15 minutes later, smiling, and said "hey, free isn't bad!"

Go figure.

emotions, gifts, and savings

November 24th, 2005 at 04:49 am

Tis the season. I love giving gifts. I love saving. I love taking care of everyone.

I'm making progress on finding gifts for friends and family without blowing the budget. But I am really feeling the tug of emotions to do more for everyone.

It's been a difficult year for our family. Brother had a nasty divorce, moved 1000 miles away with one of the kids, while his ex-wife, whom I love, kept two of the children with her. My brother is hurting, the kids are hurting, and my SIL has become the crucible for everyone's anger. They are SO poor, barely getting by before the divorce. Hubby and I have had our own medical problems.

Sister still struggles with cancer, and everyone is struggling with diabetes, heart disease, money. In addition, brother came out of the closet, and for some reason my mother announced that the man who raised me is not my father. He is hurting. Mom is hurting.

I find myself torn, the desire to buy everyone whatever it takes to SHOW them that I love them, I support them, it will be okay. To try to make it better for everyone.

It's particularly difficult because we are retired, living off of savings. So, I can see the money in the bank, it would be so easy to just spend away until *I* feel better. Worrying about having money 10 years from now, well, that's 10 years from now. The holidays are NOW.

But the reality is that no amount of money can buy back the past, or change the present. I have to choose the future that we are all going to inherit. Gifts are not a fix. Having money available in the future might be.

BUT IT IS SO DIFFICULT.

side note

November 23rd, 2005 at 05:02 am

I'm a stickler for keeping receipts, but with so much shopping at once, it's not easy to keep them handy and organized.

The Discover card promotion in malls has a money card style pouch for carrying receipts. I don't have a Discover card, but the pouch has been great!

Gifts for inlaws

November 23rd, 2005 at 05:00 am

Okay, making progress on the season of giving without going broke.

We completed the shopping for MD's family. These gifts are typically difficult simply because they are quite wealthy and usually have a 5 hour massive unwrapping of expensive gifts. But, since MD's family is now retired and living on savings, they have downsized things for the adults. Since we are now retired too, they realize that we are no longer going to be purchasing them big screen tvs and such. The easy part is, they are so gracious and wonderful, no matter what we do, it will be well received.

Somehow we were lucky enough to find gifts that are well suited for them and well priced for us.

So, purchases and costs incurred:

Dad, wallet on sale, from $20 down to $17. Also a collection of his favorite peanuts etc., $25, but I did have it shipped directly to him for a savings on shipping costs. I HATE paying to have things shipped here just so I can wrap it and reship at more expense.

Mom. Wallet on Sale, from $50 to $12. Also silk slipper in a beautiful travel case, were $75, actual was FREE since it was a gift with purchase.

SIL. Leather messager bag. Was $200, sale of sale down to $24.

BIL. Leather briefcase. Was $350, sale of sale down to $47.

Preteen 1. Suede purse, was $50, down to $17.

Preteen 2. Fur purse in favorite color. Was $30, sale of sale down to $9.

Total cost: "Value" is $810, actual paid is $152.

Plus wrap and ship...TBD

NOT BAD. I can live with this as long as the shipping is not more than the actual paid!

Monday was expensive

November 22nd, 2005 at 01:16 pm

Monday started with the best of intentions, ready to go onto this week's challenge of getting the holiday gifts purchased, packaged, and shipped. YEAH!

It didn't take long for that excitement to be deflated, though. We took the dog in for her surgery (another $600 out of pocket). Then my own surgeon called to say my biopsy was unclear, and we just had to ride it out. Stress. Ended that call only to answer another; a close friend called to tell us our mutual friend had just died from a heart attack, and by the way his own wife had relapsed in her leukemia and was going in to Hopkins next week for another round of leukemia.

Now, there is something programmed in us all, I think, that in times like this, thoughts of SAVING go out the window. The survival instinct is to SPEND, not to save for a DIFFERENT rainy day! As MD and I drove to yet another doctor's appointment, we decided to do a quick round of last minute Thanksgiving meal shopping and a check out a few holiday gifts for the kids.

Hmmm...no list, no coupons, no clear plan of what we needed to buy or even what actually NEEDED to complete our Thursday dinner or holiday lists. So, a run through Trader Joe's, throwing everything into the cart that seemed reasonable, like COOKIES AND CANDY for the stress, and a quick run through Costco for a few gifts and wrapping paper, and $400 was gone. GASP. Reality check. DOUBLE GASP.

The good news, I suppose, is that I've reconciled with myself that like a diet, blowing it one day doesn't mean you get to binge the rest of the week. BORROWING from the budget on one day simply means I have to dig deeper the rest of the week to balance things back out.

My deep thought for the day, though, is just how easily a crisis will lead us to abandon the very things we need to get us through the difficult times. This seems especially true of medical emergencies.

10 years ago, MD and I were both in great health and making good money. It would have been so easy to ignore the future, and just seize the day. Then he was diagnosed with cancer, with a 1% survival rate. The last thing he cared about was worrying about a coupon on juice or comparing costs and investment rates. But medical costs, even the incidentals, can drain savings. It was my role to steady the ship, argue with the insurance companies and doctors, ask for samples and discounts, keep the rest of the budget on track. We still paid $20K out of pocket, but that was nothing compared to the total costs, the quality of care, and his LIFE.

When I was assaulted the following year, the 4 months in the hospital came at a price. $120K cash out of out pocket. And it WAS hard. I was SO badly injured, I didn't want to hear about money and insurance and details. Savings seemed SO unimportant. But, MD held the fort this time, and we didn't lose everything. We did not have to start over. We were still able to retire at 40.

So, we had a day where we did not watch costs. Today we will do better, and we will find ways to compensate.

Okay, so next post I will actually look at how our Christmas/Hannukkah costs are coming in and how we are managing the weekly goal. Today I'm still just pulling it back together.

another week, another challenge

November 20th, 2005 at 08:02 am

Okay, MD and I have our savings challenge for the week. Finish purchasing gifts, then get them packed and shipped to the west coast before Thanksgiving.

Granted, we are running two months behind from when our 9/4 challenge was to BUY the gifts at the outlet holiday sale. Purchased most things at great deals, $200 briefcase for $15 etc. But we did not get everyone something, I totally lost track of who we had and had not purchased for (usually have a list and don't do it all in a day!). And we did not make our plan to ship by October. We had never committed to an actual date to have it done by, though, and that is really making a difference on our accomplishing the weeks goal.

It may not sound like much, but shipping has gone up considerable. Historically, we have shipped express a few days ahead of the holidays and paid through the nose. Two years ago MD did not tell me how much it cost for a few weeks -- over $500 for shipping! That's more than the gifts cost.

So that's the goal.

Last week's goal, um, well, as hubbie pointed out, you should not really plan to quit smoking in the middle of two crises that have you totally stressed out. He personally ran out and came back with a carton, opened them, lit one and put it in my mouth. And he REALLY wants me to stop. (Sorry, love, I didn't mean to lose it after the third biopsy!). But it will happen soon.

today - well, pre-saving?

November 19th, 2005 at 04:10 pm

Well, it turned out that today would be the only "warm" today before an "icy cold front" hits, so we bailed on the winter closets and did some outdoor yard work. Not sure it counts as saving money, but it will help keep the plants alive through the winter (preventative saving?) and will keep things safer. I trimmed back the large Cherry Laurels and ornamental grasses to make a path for the fuel oil guy to get to the fuel oil line. Don't want a lawsuit from him climbing through the bushes, and don't want to get that out in the cold phone call that they could not deliver!

Also trimmed out the dead stuff from the perrenials. Cleared away all the debris from where the holiday decorations will be set up, and made sure the electrical outlets are clear. Had to remove a plant that was bonding with the outlet! I just couldn't cut back the petunia's. For some reason they haven't died yet, and even though it's almost Thanksgiving, and they should have died months ago and been replaced with mums or something of the season, they are still going strong. Guess that's a savings. I am trying to switch some of the annuals over to perrenials next year, so we don't have the annual COST associated with the plants.

Was too busy to SPEND anything. Found a few good freebies and offers online. And we get Sunday's coupons on Saturday, so coupon day is ALWAYS a good day!

Tonight, just curl up with tv or maybe the freebie DVD that arrived this week, and let the sore muscles rest. Also, I MUST come up with our savings project for next week. Can't afford to drop that two weeks in a row. The dog is having surgery Monday, which is definitely money going out, so need something big to come in to balance the difference. Better go think...

time to inventory the closets!

November 19th, 2005 at 04:50 am

The weather finally crossed over from summer to freezing cold, so it's time to put away the summer stuff and pull out the winter stuff.

It's also a great time to "inventory" the closets before the holidays! A HUGE savings tip I have learned for the holidays.

Moving from California to the East Coast, going from being grad students to executives to retirement, we have all accumulating clothes. It SOUNDS really good, but one day two years back I realized hubby and I were wearing the same clothes constantly, and I was always saying I had nothing to wear, even though the closet was packed. And I was constantly buying jackets, coats, and other clothing at great deals (75% off of 75%), spending on things I didn't realize we already had or didn't need.

So, here are the tips. First, I went through all the suits and gave away all the ones I did not like, kept the expensive nice ones, but put them in protective bags and moved them to the back of the closet. All the winter gear, boots, hats, coats, jackets, got moved into the guest room closet or packed up. This allowed me to see what I actually had for summer.

Then I went through everything for size, stains, HATE IT, and weeded out things I would probably never wear. Hard to give up these "investments", but worth it. For example, I always thought I needed a new pair of khakis. In the back of the closet I found 5 pair! One was way too small, one was out of style and looked UCK, and one had a stain, but two pair were great. So pitched three, kept two. Same with shoes, etc. At the end of the day, I had stored winter clothes and "hope to wear again some day when I lose 20 pounds), and had a closet that only contained things I could reach in and wear NOW.

When winter arrived, I put away the shorts and sandals and other things I couldn't wear in the cold, or moved them to the back of the closet, got rid of the things that I hated, and found a really nice wardrobe of things I CAN wear. Found a few things I actually did need, and asked for those for Christmas.

This year my husband FINALLY took the plunge and cleared out his "cave" closet. Between all the changes in our lives, the sizes, the things that just didn't fit right, etc., he dumped twenty large garbage bags full of perfectly new clothing to Goodwill. And, I realized he had TWENTY fleece jackets and some really nice sweaters, more than he can wear. He realized he really did need new socks and running shoes (they were ICKY), and now he also can see what he has to wear. And after our best searching, we did indeed find 15 unmatched gloves, so he can stop telling me he doesn't need any becuase he has 15 pair.

So, instead of wasting money on GREAT VALUES that we already have plenty of, we can both find and wear the clothes we do have. Those great buys just aren't great if we don't need them or won't use them.

It seems like such a silly thing, but we saved $1000 last year by actually evaluating what we had instead of just buying more of the same!

The hard part is, those were "easy" gifts to think of. The fun part is, we actually thought of what we needed. With the black ice around here, even our collective 10 pair of Bean Boots don't cut it. But, we each got YakTrax for our gift, a tread for ice you can pull over any shoe, and they were AWESOME. $29 for a tread we can add to any boot, versus the yearly $100 or more to find a shoe with a better no-slip tred that still slips!

You get the idea.

This year...not a clue yet. This weekend, we will bring out the winter, put away the summer, and ponder what we REALLY need. My luck it will be new snow shovels. BLECH.

Perspectives on the Holidays

November 19th, 2005 at 04:16 am

Okay, perhaps I'm waxing too poetic instead of listing specific savings. But I need a good reminder myself soemtimes, too, just to keep perspective as we come into this season of spending/saving.

I grew up in a small town, where my family had moved after we lost the chicken and grape farm in a drought. My other uncles had fruit and almonds, and did okay, but we moved to town and my Dad became a school custodian. He had polio as a child, and it wasn't the easiest work for him. He couldn't afford 3 kids. So, my Mom, who had been a cook, started a bakery business out of the house. We were dirt poor for a long time, but she turned things around because she had incredible focus on saving and the future.

My memories of my Mom were of her three tops she wore every day for baking. Covered with food coloring stains. Two good dresses for church. She didn't believe she needed anything else as much as we needed food. She made all of our clothes, not exactly fashionable at school, and we wore hand me downs. And she saved every way she could.

Fancy little tea sandwiches for weddings meant bread crusts for the family. But with a good soak of egg, they became french toast, or of course bread pudding. Evening out the top of the wedding cake made scraps of cake, which became layered with pudding, nuts, marshmellows, whatever to form an ordinary desert to me, but the most popular "elegant" desert at the church potluck. Fancy little chicken salad boats meant we had chicken stock and bits for real chicken noodle soup, that was also considered a special delicacy by the community, who always hoped for a dinner at our home.

Christmas gifts, well, we had mostly things that came from UPCs on cereal boxes, or Betty Crocker points. Because the business was in our home, there were empty boxes wrapped up so that no one knew how poor we were. And we got by. Even after she became extremely successful, well known, well published, she never stopped saving. And that has taken her through retirement.

As an executive, I did buy the expensive suits, the designer shoes. Also the cheaper ones on sale. And, when I retired at 40, I wished I had bought less and saved more. The clothes are not requirements, not assets, just expenses. The money in the bank would have meant more.

So as I approach the holidays, I am SO thankful that my mother taught me to SAVE, to carve expenses down, and that when the hard times hit, those unexpected things like cancer and a viscious assault, we could be secure, and retire young and enoy life, not our possessions.

It's hard for me to not blow the bank on gifts for others at Christmas. But, I also need to remember that it's not the spending, the gifts, the few hours of ripping open packages that got me through this life. Or that taught me anything for my future success. It was the saving, the learning, the perspective that an ASSET is not worn on one's A*S that ensured my future. For that I am greatful, and that is the gift I truly want to pass on to the children.

But it's not easy!!!

My mother had never been through high school, but all three of her children went on to get graduate degrees. She has money holed up that you would never know, suddenly paying for a new car or RV with cash. Saving on what was not important allowed her to buy the things that were important in later life.

freebie forum

November 18th, 2005 at 11:30 am

Just to let people know, I've been working on cleaning out all the old, expired offer or expired links and..., etc. It's interesting, I find a few deals myself.

I have been trying to add the links for requesting coupons by mail where possible. Some stores that do not take internet coupons will take these, as they are printed either on corporate letterhead or with a "verified" paper.

Most sites will send you a few coupons if you "contact them", but only once or twice a year. Still, when they do send coupons, they are great. Birds Eye has been AWESOME about this.

I've found quite a few sites with trojans, trackers, and hijackers, and those are gone. If I can find a safe link I post it.

I have tried to remove redundant reposts. If your post has been removed, it's not because it's not appreciated. Everyone finds such amazing offers, and a good think can be repeated, especially when the link is old.

Anyway, this has been my super saver this week, as I've found great offers and hopefully helped others find them too. It's great being able to help.

a final comment on Rubbermaid

November 18th, 2005 at 11:24 am

Okay, I made a small inquiry and received two wheel assemblies and a reimbursement check, as previously posted. They ASKED if they could send both reimbursement and a possible fix, even though I did say I would try the wheels. Great service.

Now regarding gifts, I have watched my husband DRAG this garbage down to the road and back up the driveway for two months now. If I had GIVEN him the new wheel assembly as a Christmas gift, he would have been thrilled. Just that I noticed, and took the time to fix it.

Really, it's the thought and care that goes into the gift.

And Again, super thanks to Rubbermaid. They certainly have loyalty from me.

Savings coming in

November 18th, 2005 at 11:19 am

It's always difficult to know how to count "rebates" and other "future" savings in figuring out the monthly income/outgo. It's SO tempting to count them in the store when you are making the purchase, or when you are summarizing the savings of the weeks, and then double count it when it finally comes in.

Today was a great week for getting rebates in. I got my first check from EBates, a cashback online shopping link. I hate that it's a tracker (don't install the reminder service!!!), but it is definitely saving. $35 back for purchases in September, and October - Dec is going well, over $100. It takes 6 weeks after the calendar quarter for them to clear all your purchases and make sure you have kept them. But, does keep from seeing it as a "money generator" giving an immediate check, instead of a rebate to go towards the BILL.

I did do double duty. Ebates had Drugstore.com on a Tuesday special for 10% cash back, and drugstore.com gives 5% credit over a quarter, and I used previous credit, plus I shopped the gold card week (20% off GNC), purchased enough for free shipping, and got some "free with purchase" of products I actually use, so the freebies were actually savings of $30 off what I would have paid myself. Also, I used a 5% drugstore cashback credit card. Since this is the only store I can buy certain medical products for MDs cancer, I definitely appreciated getting the best deal and making use of it.

Also, I got a nice treat from Land O Lakes today. I had purchased their new eggs, on sale, plus doubled coupon, but when I got them home and opened their nice new clear plastic package, it buckled and the eggs broke. So, I sent them an email about their packaging, and received a coupon for a free dozen eggs, and two large recipe books, and a very nice letter. EXCELLENT customer response.

Also won a bottle of the new VAseline lotion, and got a $1 coupon from their promotion. They are giving 1000 bottles a day away, and I'm told if your survey indicates that Vaseline is your favorite product, you will win on one of the subsequent days you play. Not sure, but it worked for me, and my Mom.

Another word on great customer service, we've had the same alarm system for several years, but the signs posted around the house have been hit hard and faded/decomposed. Being 5 years old, I expected to pay to replace them, but I sent a email to ask how to do so, and within two days received a package by UPS with 4 brand new signs in them. Granted, it's a promotion for them, but WAY TO GO ADT.

Also received the $75 refund for People magazine this week, and lots of coupons from different offers and rebates. Combined with grocery savings, it's been a good week!

thoughts on previous holiday gifts

November 18th, 2005 at 04:58 am

It is that time of year again. Hassle and headaches and second guessing myself on gifts for everyone. But reading the forums and reflecting on things, I have come to a few realizations.

1. Being married 23 years, it has actually gotten easier to think of gifts for my hubby. And vice versa. When we were first married in a whirlwind, I really didn't know the deeper side of him, and the things he truly valued. We've also had so many experiences together, good and bad. But there is always something new. This summer, we were looking at CDs in costco, and I asked about a Jimi Hendrix CD. I was surprised when he responded that the only Hendrix CD he really really wanted was Rainbow Bridge, an old album he had as a teenager, which had never been converted to CD. Said he had been looking for it online for three years. I had no idea. I did my own google (experienced shoppers beware!) and found it. Actually last copy ever made. Wasn't that expensive, and totally made his birthday.

Another year, we had just moved to take our first real jobs after grad school. We didn't have the time together, or much money yet, but we both had a deep concern for helping others. In grad school, we had often gone walking along the university's stream, taking our old stale bread to feed the ducks. It was a horrible time, but these moments together kept us sane. So, I bought him a "flock of ducks" from Heifer International, Heifer project, with a note about those special times. He loved it!

Sometimes even the practical things can be special, just because you noticed and did something. Last year a pair of lined nylon waterproof pullover pants were the hit. We had SO much snow, and instead of being out in his jeans, getting soaked, plowing snow, he wore the coveralls and stayed warm and dry. Okay, I cheated alittle, I bought two styles, one with bib and one just waist high. I got to use the waist highs and stayed dry too!

We have the money to buy anything we want. But the gifts that touch our hearts and make us smile are the ones that show we know each other, we notice each other during the day, and we care.

The best gifts I received last year? Actually, a matching set of potholders and kitchen towels. I AM conscious of money, and I never spend money on quality potholders, even though I cook every day. The guest towels may be the finest Egyptian cotton, but I don't do those things for myself. Also, a new set of weight lifting gloves with a bit of padding on the palm and strength around the wrist, since I tend to push myself harder than my hands appreciate. These weren't expensive things, but they were very personal to me and my life.

The best gifts don't make you broke, they just show you care enough about the person to notice the things that mean something to them.

Wish I had appreciated that BEFORE we bought my Mom the big screen tv that wasn't good enough and we dumped a fortune on. What she really loved? A bottle of bath soap that smelled like cinnamon rolls, the smell of our home growing up every day, with a note that I cherished her and these memories.

too good to be true always is

November 17th, 2005 at 12:38 pm

My brother is having a hard time right now. Someone convinced him to drop $5000 on a how to trade commodities package. Said it was guaranteed, but the fine print was more like he was guaranteed to receive it. Anyway, he has "won and lost", but mostly lost, to the point of bankruptcy.

It's such a hard lesson. Nothing is ever truly free. Always look for the strings. And always always always ask yourself what the persons motives are.

I just got caught myself, on a much smaller scale. Signed up to receive a magazine free for a year, with the fine print that they would auto renew it and charge to my card. What they didn't say is that they would charge $200 a year, and break it up into such tiny amounts on the credit cards that it would not be noticed. I only discovered it when I called to cancel, simply because I wasn't reading it that much.

Everyone has a reason for offering something free, or a deal. So many things have not just S&H, but auto delivery trials that can't be canceled after 5 days, and so many things to get you to buy more, invest more.

I do believe in utilizing freebies, gifts, samples, free with purchase, but with caution. If I can find something that I need to buy anyway, at a discounted price, and they want to give me a gift, that's great. But if I don't need the product to start with, I have to resist the temptation to just see what it is, what it's like, if it's really better than what I have. This is how we save money, how we retired when we were 40. But it is still a struggle, finding the balance between getting a good deal and getting taken for a ride.

My brother is $65K down, and out his retirement, in his 60s. Not a good position to be in. I will be helping him out, because I'm the one who always rat holed money away like our mother did. I like the rush I get from spending, but not the guilt that comes afterwards. I LOVE the high I get saving money, checks coming in instead of going out, and NO remorse.

today's savings, groceries

November 17th, 2005 at 12:22 pm

Well, we did okay on groceries this week. Shopped at only one store, shopped the sale and used coupons, brought the bill from $160 to $75, which isn't bad. It would have been better, only we did pick up a few extras for the holidays. We did get $10 back on our turkey dinner, so that will come in handy next week.

Receiving lots of coupons via mail this week. Always good to get.

Received an "oops" of 55 !!! Try me Free rebate certificates for "Try New Pepperidge Farm Whole Grain Frozen Bread Free", a mail in for $3.15. Not sure what I will do with them. If someone has a coupon train or wants me to send them, I'd be happy to. Hmmm...

The total on my grocery receipt says we've saved $1172 since sept 1. Not bad. That doesn't include rebates and freebies. I will have to really plan for the holidays, though. That is the one time of year where MD just plops real butter and cream and whatever we want into the shopping cart. And I've stopped objecting because it is always such a busy time of year, and I love to bake, and it's just an all around spontaneous shopping period. Having health issues and a sick dog and so much else going on makes it so much more tempting to just let it go and endulge. WE DO deserve it, but we deserve the savings in the bank more!!!

So, this year we will try to have a plan for groceries and stick to it.

Still, a positive day for savings!

Boodle responded!

November 14th, 2005 at 03:37 pm

Well, maybe it wasn't a complete loss today. Did receive Febreze coupons. I had a response from Boodle, too!

Boodle is like SmartSource, only it is paid for by local major newspapers, like the Chronicle and the Sun and the Bee. I have seen so many posts from people about stores not accepting internet coupons, and while I was updating the Boodle link in the coupon forum yesterday, I went through the link to our local major paper, and was taken straight to their web site. Now, this seemed obviously ridiculous, my newspaper is paying and advertising it's grocery coupons to be printed online, and none the stores that advertise in paper will take the paper's internet coupons. So, I wrote to the link on my newspaper's home page.

Got a response back from CustomCoupons, today!

They gave me a list of stores in my area who they believe are accepting internet coupons, and some info on "negotiations" they are having with two specific stores who will not.

Don't know if I will try to print and use again, but it's nice to have the information of which stores will accept them! Wish I knew how to do a post, so others could write and find out which stores in their area are accepting them.

Well, on to dinner.



temptations!

November 14th, 2005 at 01:53 pm

Oops.

Did not get much done today. Might actually be a "loss" savings day. Haven't checked the mail today.

Had a doctors appointment in town (30 miles) and took advantage of the trip to go to Gloria Jeans, which is the only coffee MD likes. Bought 5 pounds decaf, used our GJ rewards card to earn a free pound, came home and found out it is regular. We drink lots of regular, but just don't spend that kind of money on it. In the morning, it's not really the flavor we are after. Come to think of it, we may be too tired to even taste it. Hmmm...another potential savings....

Dropped by Target on the way to pick up the dogs prescription. Wanted to pick up a notebook to start organizing some of these savings, notes, rebates, paperwork. Why does saving create so much paperwork?

Anyway, picked up a Mead binder, saw on line there is a contest to win gift cards with Mead UPCs. Now I want more Mead stuff so I can win a $100 gc. Odds are totally unlikely, but it is just so tempting sometimes. And I do need another organizer...

It is difficult to stay on task and focused on savings when I am thinking I have to see a surgeon tomorrow and would rather spend money to distract myself. Have to check out the latest freebies instead. Just as good.

Was thrilled Karen agreed to give everyone free coffee table books. She was thrilled for the opportunity to let people know about her program. Win win!

Better check the mail and see if there isn't something in there to redeem my savings quota for the day!

Response to SharylMB on credit card alerts

November 14th, 2005 at 05:19 am

SharylMB, you are exactly right! My husband was pulling our credit reports, as well as looking at the charges, every few days.

I think the biggest impact for us in savings, especially at the holiday, is that we do have high limits and both use the same cards, so it's easy to pick up a balance that neither of us knew about. This way, we get weekly reports, and a BIG FAT ALERT, with parameters we set up, and it's great.

Okay, so the card with the 5% cash back, we spent $300 in one week, and I had an alert set for $300 in a week threshold, and getting the daily reminder all week is horrible.

My other concern is that we are going to get jaded to the email alert and start ignoring it. So, I'm going to change the parameters for our alerts.

Weekly Savings challenge

November 14th, 2005 at 05:11 am

Well, hubby agrees that all our "ideas" for the challenge are good, but we can't commit to any. And I'm adamant about keeping up with the plan to tackle expenses each month. Historically, if the two of us don't have a plan, and a commitment, it doesn't get done.

So...I've decided to take my own personal challenge and QUIT SMOKING.

I don't actually consider myself a smoker. I only started a few years ago, after an assault landed me in the hospital for 4 months. I only smoke outside, and it's just been a nice way to take a break, go outside, breathe, no matter the weather. I'm a workaholic, and it gives me permission to take a break.

Or so I tell myself. I actually stopped last year, but started this summer after some shocking news from my family.

But the expense is VERY real. Not just the $45 a carton, and all the additional illnesses. Long term health effects could be expensive too! I'm already dealing with another biopsy this week, not related, but who knows?

Also lots of little expenses that are hidden costs. My husband had cancer, and we both hate the smell of smoke. So, I actually wear nitrile gloves and wrap my hair back and put on a jacket or something so the smoke doesn't come back in the house with me. I wash clothes, robes, jackets, much more frequently than I used to. And it ALL adds up to expenses we don't need.

So, this is my challenge for the week, one day at a time, hopefully it will indeed be a permanent savings we can use.

not much savings today

November 13th, 2005 at 02:48 pm

Have a high fever, trying to get it down before I see the surgeon Tuesday. So, MD did the house cleaning, while I sat around on the computer. Tried a few instant wins, no luck, worked on cleaning out some of the expired coupons and freebie posts, that's about it.

We have set our weekly goal for a new saving project. Have three to consider, but MD won't commit because he isn't sure what I'll be up to.

One is to finish the holiday shopping and get things shipped. We planned to ship in October, trying to keep costs down. I always say we should buy GCs, which are LIGHT, but we always seem to find must haves for everyone that seem so cheap until we ship them. Boo.

Second possibility is to insulate the attic over the garage. The house is well insulated except the part next to our bedroom. Home Depot has a rebate, $75 on every $250 of insulation. I was hoping to combine it with a discount, like the 10% off everything they occasionally have, but it hasn't happened yet. Anyway, have to see if I am capable of dancing around on the attic beams without falling through the ceiling.

Third is just filling out the reviews to earn the $10 amazon.com gc's from insider pages. Earned 3 $10 gas cards last month, which were great. November is ending quickly, though, and I need to set time aside to do this if we are going to do it. Then again, what if they have a better offer next month, and I have no one left to review?

I'm off. Got dinner to cook.


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