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Archive for November, 2005

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.

living on a fixed income - oops!

November 13th, 2005 at 09:33 am

We hadn't planned to retire at 40, but we did. We had the savings to support it. But managing those resources has proven to be another thing.

Our most recent oops: most $ are tied up in investments, 401K, etc. But for our cash, MD sets aside a portion for us to live on annually, and puts the remainder in a high yield CD or other short term investment. So, this last year he dumped most of our accesible cash into a CD for 9 months, with a penalty for early withdrawal, but good return.

The PROBLEM, is that he did not do a bottoms up analysis of what we were ACTUALLY spending each month, our "burn rate", and he did not leave any slack for unexpected expenses. So, the amount he left us to spend each month was less than we were spending, and we were so side tracked with medical and other issues that he did not flag this to me, or perhaps himself, until half way through the 9 months. So, now we are finding every way we can to reduce costs until the CD reaches term.

It's actually a relief for me, I grew up so poor, and yes, sometime after becoming established in our careers and dealing with life threatening issues, the "small" savings, like couponing and using everything we buy, fell to the background.

These last two months, we've cut our grocery/Costco bill from $500 a week (NOT PROUD OF THAT NUMBER!) to $100 a week. We've cut the prescriptions from $2K a month to just over $1K. Lots of little things, watching ads, cutting coupons, maximizing savings. I enjoy it, it feels like a HUGE reward. And it's the way I was raised, so no more guilt about spending on luxuries.

But, the holidays will be a bit strange. Family is used to us spoiling them with large gifts. I know MDs parents went through this when they retired. The extra $$ just isn't there for all these things once you have no income and are living on savings. But since we are so young, no one understands. It's like, get back to work so you can give us what we need. My parents and family aren't rude about it, but the children don't get much from the rest of the family. This will be the first year we haven't gotten them their dream gift.

slow day for savings

November 12th, 2005 at 03:01 pm

Well, I haven't figured out my great saving plan for next week. I did spend the afternoon cleaning out the freebie/coupon forums. I had already been through animals, baby, beauty, book, teachers, travel, and office, but there was so much expired or updated it was hard to keep track of all the redundant posts, so I skimmed through a bit, then started on coupon forum.

I do like going through these and checking the links. Nice to see what is out there, update the information or the links, and take advantage of any great offers in the process.

The teacher stuff has been great, my sister is so happy with the items that she is getting for her class! She is so swamped, it's nice I can do this one thing to help. Unbelievable how much of their own money teachers spend on their classes.

Anyway. I am still irritated that our local grocers all decided to stop accepting internet coupons two weeks ago. I've only been doing this a few weeks! But, I have been contacting the manufacturers directly, and getting very nice responses of coupons. Also links for how to request internet coupons by mail. So, that's helping. I've noticed other people are having the same problem, so I'm trying to post info on both internet and postal mail coupons. It is nice to know before you go to the link.

Have spent half the week it seems trying to get spyware, trojans, etc. off the computer. Cool Savings put 17 critical objects on every time. But it hasn't been as bad as some. Took me forever to find the coupon printing files and delete them so I could request the coupons by mail.

MD is working at pulling out the expired coupons to send off to our military friend. Guess that's about it.

end of week and preparing for next

November 12th, 2005 at 05:59 am

IT has been QUITE a week. The dog's illness, meds, tests, and cardiologist (ACK) have set back our Savings for the week, and I'm trying to figure out how to compensate in the upcoming weeks.

MD and I started doing a "weekly saving" initiative, where every Sunday we agree to do some new specific thing to tackle an area of expenses. No idea what I will come up with for tomorrow. We skipped last week, so many crises that I don't think we even thought of it.

The week before was really good. Insurance doesn't cover our prescriptions, which are running 2K a month. When we signed up for our self-insurance, we didn't anticipate all these medical things.

Anyway, I made a spreadsheet of all the meds we use, the amount/number pills, etc. per month, and then did columns for prices with and without our prescription discount card at the grocery/pharmacy we usually use, several internet sources, and costco. It turned out that without the discount card, Costco was the cheapest by 20%, and 200% on certain meds! So, contacted our physicians and had them send new prescription orders directly to costco after I set up a Pharmacy account, and transferred some old scripts.

Also upgraded our Costco card to Executive Member. The increase in membership fee is more than made up for in the 2% back on the meds. Also signed up for their free AmEx card, where we will get an additional 1% back on all purchases.

I also pulled all the offers from the net, Flonase, Zyrtec, etc., that are regular monthly discounts, and started sending them in. Total Rx costs should drop from $2K a month to just over 1.1K. Whew!

The other thing I looked at was Biotene. MD has to use 2 bottles a week because of the cancer. It's not available here, but at drugstore.com I can get it, buy enough to get the free shipping, get 5% back from them in credit, get 5% cash back by going to their site through eBates, and get 5% back from the credit card. Not perfect, but it is something. Drugstore.com sent free gifts that I don't need, but maybe stocking stuffers or donations to the local woman's shelter.

Now, how AM I going to top this next week?

Important Info on Rx offers!

November 11th, 2005 at 07:48 am

Talked to my friends at some of the pharm companies about upcoming offers. Found out it is true, the vouchers etc. they leave at with doctors are generally not as good as the offers they post online. Marketing online is to bring in new patients, if you are at the doctors, they figure you will be getting the meds anyway.

An example, the Actonel kit available from the doctor has a voucher for 4 free tablets. The kit available by online request has a voucher for 30 days free trial! Don't take Actonel myself, but that is a huge difference in savings if you are paying for scripts! I am definitely going to watch these offers closely. Our meds are $2K a month, so anything to bring it down helps.

rx savings

November 11th, 2005 at 07:43 am

Well, some savings. I told my doctor the new meds were too expensive, and insurance would not cover them. He gave me samples, two weeks of one, which is a savings of $110. Every bit helps!

Credit Card savings

November 11th, 2005 at 04:16 am

Another savings started this week.

We called the number on the back of our credit cards and had them convert the cards into 5% cashback dividend rewards cards. The interest is slightly higher than on "stuff" reward cards, but we pay off our balances each month, so that's not an issue. And I need the cash, not the STUFF.

Our banker advised us to change all four cards, since each one has a separate cap on total cash back. We can use each card to receive the max, and 5% cash back on groceries and gas is great.

Another advantage, I used the online account management to set up alerts if we charge/spend more than a certain amount in a certain period (week, month), if we are within so many dollars of our credit limit, weekly updates on the balance, etc. Nothing like an email alert to remind you to STOP SPENDING, and to track your balance, especially during the holidays!

This week's "found" money

November 10th, 2005 at 12:26 pm

When we decided to get back to proactively cutting costs two months ago, we started looking for all those hidden costs and things we could do without. One thing I did was go through our magazines and decide what I really read, what we skimmed, and what we tossed without even looking.

I went online and canceled People, which I had picked up a few years ago as a freebie, with "auto renewal". I was SHOCKED to find they were charging me over $150 a year!!!!!! I canceled and they said they would refund the balance.

I received a check for $75 from them today!!!!!!

So, now I've gone through and canceled most of our mags, and signed up for new scrips with a clearinghouse CHEAP, and also went to the site througheBates, so got % cash back too! Also renewed some this way. MUST remember to redo this every year.

I had not even thought about the autorenewals coming in, since they appear on the bank statements under a clearinghouse company name that seemed pretty generic.

today's grocery savings

November 10th, 2005 at 12:20 pm

Okay, haven't shopped for groceries/cleaners/med supplies in 3 weeks. I followed my usual rules:

1. Make a list of MUST HAVE
2. Make a list of items from the ad
3. Cross check for coupons. If the discount from the ad plus coupon is not 50% or better or an item we don't use much of, cross it off the list. Put a star by the items with coupons. Separate out the coupons to be used and put them with the list in the front of the coupon box.
4. Shop.
5. I do always take the coupon box with me, because there are always in-store unadvertised specials. My control is that I don't cut out coupons for things I don't need, so the temptation of a "super buy" on something I don't need isn't there. Also, take hubby with me. He is good at calculations and a reality check on what we are stocking up on, etc.

So, first shop of the month, store cost was $288, final price paid was $147. Not as good as usual, but we had 7 6 packs of ensure and extra med stuff for the dog, so I will cut myself some slack.

Also noticed that SMARTSOURCE has restocked the store throughout with those electronic coupon machines, so grabbed what I needed for the future, when they go on sale. Also had some rebates. Will sort through and post what is available.

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