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Archive for December, 2005

Not exactly a savings day

December 9th, 2005 at 01:56 pm

Well, the dog spent the night in the doggie ER, MD didn't get home until 10, and he started at the vet at 1. Now they have called and are holding her over the weekend with catheters, etc. and will do a biopsy and maybe surgery on Monday. More tests, x-rays, COSTS. She is worth every bit to me, she was my replacement baby after a miscarriage, but that doesn't mean we don't feel the costs.

I've been looking for a microfleece thick plush robe, men's extra tall and full floor length, double thick. Hah! I'm pretty good at finding my around the internet, but this is just too specific! It's not like MD has actually SEEN the item, but what he would like.

Did find a super site for gym equipment. We are upgrading and improving our home gym, but Dick's Sporting Good or Sports Authority don't carry the full range of choices and parts. So, from the super site, I found three sites I'm happy with, good prices, quality products. I did a test order from each site, and the delivery time and quality was good. I accidentally got in on a one day 20% off sale on a weight bench that had already been reduced from $500 to $200, with free shipping (at 150 pounds for the bench, that's not insignificant shipping costs) and it arrived within a week. So I placed orders for a few more things.

I am losing track of what I've bought or wanted to buy. Just too much going on between my health and my Dad's, trying to get his meds sorted out and still on standby if he turns for the worse again. And the dog.

Well, when in doubt, save.

I was pleased to hear that a package of coupons arrived safely, and hopefully will help someone else. Forgot to tell her that there were two packages, since hubby forgot a pile on the counter, so one priority mail envelope and one regular letter envelope. It's just been that kind of a week.

pup gets worse

December 8th, 2005 at 02:40 pm

MD called, they are transferring pup from the vets to a place 40 miles away to do an ultrasound tomorrow. Hearts breaking, and costs escalating.

Will have to see what comes next.

Still no word from my surgeon, so I'm assuming all is well on that front.

I did get another check from Zyrtec today, $10. That was nice. Worked a bit on cleaning out freebies/coupons. Have been through top down to food/cooking. Not quite ready to tackle health. Some of these offers are so old the domains are up for grabs. Nice to keep my mind off things, though. Not as great as going in to work, but I'm getting used to it.

Think it's time for a nice hot tub bath. Snow storm is coming tomorrow. So, I'll have plenty of at home time to deal with things.

part D, continued

December 8th, 2005 at 01:05 pm

I have to mail order my drugs? I just figured out how to reduce costs at Costco. Meds get adjusted and changed so often, I can't imagine how this is going to work.

Definitely going to be using the Dividend credit cards (citibank) to get the 5% back on drugs!

doggie bills rise

December 8th, 2005 at 01:03 pm

What a day. Doggie has been acting like she has a UTI, and given her other problems, seemed likely. Had to EXPLAIN to hubbie what the symptoms were, he was just getting irritated at her asking to go out every 30 seconds. He took her to the vet, they said yes, but wanted to do an x-ray$$ and now he called and she has a kidney stone or other blockage and they are catherizing her $$$.

Love my pup. Just have to find more ways to cut costs to balance the budget.

I'm supposed to change her over to canned food, too. She's only 11 pounds now. Just stocked up on her dry foods. So, the SPCA will be getting some nice donations.

Time to trim the budget!

Medicare Part D

December 8th, 2005 at 10:56 am

Determing the correct plans for the different members of my family was my goal for the week.

I did go to the www.medicare.gov site and went through the find a plan link, put in all the medications and all the exact dosages, and it came up blank. Confused. I've used this site before and had great results, but that was before 11/15.

So, after fiddling with it, and it is logged down right now, I found the best way was to "find a formulary", put in all my meds, and it came back with 71 plans for one area that cover 13/13, 12/13, etc., and their rules. Surprise, you MUST use their network of pharmacies. So, it's really another glorified HMO type arrangement. HOW irritating, it's not like I don't fight to keep the prices down, now they want to send me to pharmacies that may be more expensive?

Anyway, the next steps, I've contacted Costco to see if they can share info on what networks they will be in. Now I need to pull up the "compare plans" on the medicare site and try to work through coverage. Almost everything is a medigap/medical plan, not an Rx plan, so we will have to evaluate the overall coverage versus costs for everything. GEEZ LOUISE.

But, still, made a bit of progress. Think this is all my patience will handle for one day.

internet versus manufacturer's coupons

December 7th, 2005 at 04:18 pm

I took the "internet coupons" that I had requested by mail to Giant today. They won't take any home-printed coupons or internet coupons. I asked them directly if they would take the coupons the internet site sends by mail, and they confirmed that yes, those are "verifiable" manufacturer coupons printed on verifiable paper, etc., and they took them all. RELIEF. So many coupons online and so few that can be used until now.

I am still trying to post the "request by mail" links, but bricks has personalized many of them now, so it's more difficult to help others. If you've never installed the "print" software, no problem, but it's difficult to deactive to get the mail link to show up. I am thankful to CoffeeMate for sending me the info.

More coupons, more savings!

Savings were okay today. Getting back on track.

December 7th, 2005 at 04:00 pm

Okay, savings wise it was a "pretty good" day. Not great, but did okay.

Picked up scripts at Costco, ACK on costs, but it's as low as I can get it (see previous entries).

I did keep my morning commitment and go through 3 grocery ads from Sunday, make lists, compare, cross check with coupons. One store had triple coupons, but only three things on sale, and cheaper at Giant which has double coupons up to 0.50, so not worth the gas to run around to different stores.

Sorted through the coupons this weekend, sent expired to military and others in response to requests. SO happy someone else can get some use out of them!

Shopping, well, did pretty well at Giant. Original bill was $220, and final was $114. I'm not happy with it, but there were some unexpected things. Airborne for this cold, $8, even with the coupon, and Batteries, buy one multipack and get one free, but the multipacks aren't cheap. And the little things, my husbands eggnog, some candied fruit for baking. And the surprises. I gave my husband our Dannon coupons last weekend to pick up the Dannon yogurt the vet prescribed, and it left them on the counter. So we needed to buy more, I asked him to grab them from where he left them...oops. Of course there were also the "oh, the vet said to feed her Minute Rice and I forgot to mention we don't have any), etc.

Did pull together the rebates and checks and eBates, which were $145, and deposited them.

So, $220 down to $114, that makes the savings starting 10/1/05 at Giant to $1327.

I know we can do better, and I am disappointed that in all the crises I just let things go. That's when we need the savings the most, for unplanned medical bills and vet bills and traveling to California for a visit or a funeral. Yet that is the hardest time to save. Guess that's human nature, but, BOO.

Tightening the belt and staying focused

December 7th, 2005 at 04:51 am

Feeling a bit bummed on wasting money. The holidays and family medical and my medical and the doggie and, sigh, I've lost track of shopping sales, tracking coupons and rebates, and making sure NOTHING goes to waste.

We are living on stocked up Healthy CHoice ($2 a piece on sale PLUS great coupons doubled) and Campbell's select soups which we got as freebies from the local stores clearance (previous post). That's the good news. Bad news is, well, I've asked MD to thaw meat, ground turkey most recently, twice, and I just haven't "gotten to it". I recognized the SMELL coming from the frig this morning. And fresh veggies like broccoli and asparagus don't last forever.

I was SO careful about using every scrap of everything this summer, cooking and preparing everything first thing in the morning or the night before, having it all ready to eat or throw in the oven after busy days. Now it just seems the last thing on my mind, not only the health, but cleaning house and getting decor up etc. Having a cold and a breast cancer scare and dog sick and Dad dying, normally I would take it in stride, maybe even use "savings" and "no waste" as a distraction from it all.

Of course, this is the TIME of year when spending is high, and we need to save more, tighten things up, and yet it seems the hardest time to do so.

So, I'm going to go through the ads, make a list, cross compare with coupons, refine my list and go shop WISELY. Try to be realistic about whether or not I'm going to cook from scratch, and not commit to cooking or other things that if I *don't* do will mean waste and loss. That free chicken is NOT a savings if I never cook it and it goes to the garbage.

recalculate savings from King Size Direct

December 7th, 2005 at 04:41 am

Looked at my post, and realized I stated the savings incorrectly. Even though the OTHER sites were more expensive, I only count the ACTUAL savings from the purchase. Original price as $70, but got it for $42. I never count the shipping as a savings, it's too difficult to figure it all out.

BUT, sigh, I did use the "saved" $30 to buy another item from them, so NO SAVINGS REALIZED. Double sigh. I KNOW better than to get carried away by deals and buy more than intended, which is no savings at all. BOO.

starting to shop for hubby

December 6th, 2005 at 11:47 am

Usually I am SO in to picking up gifts for MD. This year, it's harder with savings and because he doesn't want anything. He never does, but he always really does. This year it feels different. And we are more focused on saving than last year.

But, started with a few things. REI had a sale end of November, and I waited until I got their "final notice and here's an even better deal" to pick up a few things. Got MD a pair of Solomon winter shoes, he really needs a new pair, they were $90 last time I looked, but on sale for $40. Also needs slippers which he wears to rags and always says he doesn't need any, and they had a nice pair that were $45 for $19. I also picked up a few things in their outlet, sandals for me that were $80 now $14, and I can really use them next summer. Frees shipping. And I went through eBates, so got the 3% back. Actually, I opened the REI email and used their link, shopped, then minimized the window, opened ebates, went to REI through their site, and thanks to cookies all my deals and offers were in my cart and ready for check out. Didn't actually know you could do that, just wanted to calculate if the deal was better through eBates or the email. Got both!

NOW they emailed me a coupon, additional 20% off one item in their outlet. Tempting, but I can't think of anything else he needs. I do love to layer deals on deals.

Anyone wants to use the coupon code, it's GMHAY at the www.rei-outlet.com.

eBates

December 6th, 2005 at 09:41 am

I'm not promoting eBates, I'm sure there are many great rebate sites out there!

But, eBates does offer a $5 cash signup bonus, either that you "earn" after purchases, or that you receive immediately by signing up through an invitation (as does the inviter). If you would like an invitation, let me know and I'd be happy to send it. And, you get $1 cash just for joining eversave through the eBate link!

No flames, just a friendly offer, okay?

one more source of deals

December 6th, 2005 at 09:06 am

My last deal of deals: drugstore.com and beauty.com

They are the same store, but different. I'm always surprised at the range of things they carry. Amazon.com uses them as a preferred vendor for household supplies and OTC, but go direct and get the discounts.

First, eBates gives 5% back if you go through drugstore.com, and 6% back if you go through Beauty.com. In October, eBates had 10% at drugstore.com.

Drugstore/beauty.com also saves up credit of 5% on all purchases, which you can cash in quarterly for purchases, so my October purchases are usually free.

First time visitors to drugstore get special discounts. They also regularly have other discounts. Right now free shipping with $25 order, instead of the usual $50.

Since my husband had cancer, there are quite a few things he needs that I can't buy locally, like Biotene mouthwash ($7.50 a bottle, 3 bottles a week), Biotene toothpaste, GNC protein drinks, etc.

Drugstore.com also is a partner with GNC, so the first week of every month, GNC gold card members get 20% off, in addition to whatever sales are going on.

Existing members also get "diamond deals", which are freebies or cheapies. Usually a free dental floss, or 19cent hand wipes, or discounts.

They have EXCELLENT free with purchases. Log on, and on the home page, check "deals and steals", but these are only a few. You have to hunt. On the home page, under EVERY category, check out their deals, there are always many more. Also, Beauty.com has their own set of free with purchases. All are full size. As I posted before, I ordered my mother's favorite Philosophy product for her Christmas gift and got a $45 gift set I wanted for my own gift for FREE. I've gotten full size tubes of Philosophy skin care, bath gels, etc. with purchases I would have made anyway. Buy 3 get one 1 GNC protein drinks, plus 20% off gold card, plus 5% back, plus 10% from eBates, plus FREE SHIPPING (those are heavy!!!).

ALSO, if you use a DIVIDEND cc (not Rewards, get the cash back!), drugstore.com counts as drugstore for 5% back on citibank dividend cards.

AND, for those of you with FSA accounts that you never spend, they qualify for OTC items, and drugstore.com will indicate if it is an FSA qualifier, so you can pull it out of that account instead of losing the money at the end of the year.

If you don't mind getting drugs over the internet, their prescription prices are ALMOST as good as Costco, better than any local store we have.

So, let's see...5% back quarterly, 5-10% cash back eBates, 20% GNC, 5% cash back credit card, diamond deal, free full size gifts with purchase, FSA, and often great sales.

One thing I don't like, you do have to watch the prices. Sales are good, but they do make it up other places. Potentially great savings, but you do have to be conscious of what you are paying, and not make impulse purchases.

one more tip

December 6th, 2005 at 08:41 am

A favorite thing, once you place an order and get on the mailing list for a site, you don't have to respond or even read everything they send. But, for quite a few sites, if you have not ordered in a year, they will send you some ridiculously good deal to get you back.

Coldwater Creek did this for me two or three years ago, when they still had their outlet, and sent me 40% off everything including the outlet. I purchased a $250 Denali blanket on clearance with discount for $30. I gave it to a charity auction, and then kicked myself when I wanted one and could not find it for a discount ANYWHERE.

Ross-Simons is traditionally great for after holiday sales, and if you have ordered from them, they will let you know when they start so you can get in quick. Tip - don't just look at the "specials" they show you when you log onto the site. Click on show all sales or clearance or whatever, and sort by price, cheapest first. Two years ago I picked up $500 of jewelry for all the women/girls gifts the following Christmas for only $45. HAPPY HAPPY HAPPY.

A favorite place for getting quality gifts for free

December 6th, 2005 at 08:35 am

I've only recently discovered this one, but I've really done well.

www.yvesrocherusa.com

Sign up for their email first, they will email you a code for 10% off your first purchase.

They always have 4-5 free gifts, including something nice free with ANY purchase.

Right now, EVERYTHING is 50% off. They have quite a few things for $2.

Last month I ordered about ten items, small bath and body products, for stocking stuffers and gifts. Cost was $40 before discounts. Several were BOGO and counted as full, so actual was $20. Used the 10% (down to $18)off, went through eBates for 15% !!!!!! cash back ($16), received a beautiful snowflake fleece throw, gift packaged with a bow, a large bottle of rose lotion that looks and smells expensive, and used these as gifts for my ex-SIL. Also received FREE SHIPPING, 3 NICE heavy duty gift bags with cards, and an expensive silk travel case with 3 zip compartments and matching slippers. Used that as a gift for my MIL.

so for $16, I received

Got 10% off, 15% cash back from eBates, free shipping, 4 quality gifts. And maybe a few pampered baths for myself!

Their current free offers are a CRYSTAL watch and earrings set , Free with ANY purchase, lotion, shipping discount, bag and coin purse set.

And, 15% cash back at eBates. There may be other rebate sites, also, but 15% CASH works for me.

example of deals on deals

December 6th, 2005 at 08:22 am

Okay, here is an example of how I get a great buy on regular items like clothing.

My husband needs a new super long robe for walking the dog at night. He's 6'5", so shopping is harder and prices are MUCH higher.

This year, I checked out Rochester Big and Tall, Casual Male (used to be Repp) Big and Tall, and found one I really liked. $145 at Rochester, similar but not quite as nice for $90 at Casual.

I received a catalog in the mail for King Size Direct with a coupon code for 40% on one item, and they had the identical robe that I liked in the Casual catalog. Checked both out in GREAT detail on line to confirm they were the same robe. The King Size Direct was only $64, and with my discount it was $45.

I went through eBates, which has 5% cash back (I think) at King Size Direct, and an offer for free shipping.

It came, and they sent me another catalog with more offers and a clearance section.

So, $140/90 + S&H down to $42.

other freebies

December 6th, 2005 at 08:14 am

Another interesting way to save, is to check out some of the freebies. This site has a pretty good list. Somethings, like a sealer for an open champagne bottle for FREE, when this is something I wish I had every year, perfect stocking stuffer for my husband.

I've made out okay on some of the "Free Trials". Urban Nutrition has quite a few products. If you check them out, start to order, put in your info, then close the window when you see what they want for S&H on this "FREE" trial, usually $7-8, they usually will open a window that asks you to come back for S&H of $1.95. Close that window, and they often come up with yet another window for a free $10 g/c for Starbucks or Blockbuster, and $1.95 shipping. So, now the freebie is a better deal. They do commit you to autoship, but I've done this their pet treats; when she had surgery and had diet changes after I'd already ordered, I canceled without ANY problems, and they still let me keep the gift card.

Quite a few "free trials" will do this with one price, then a lower one, then a deal for the trial. Not all of them. And if you really aren't interested, be careful. I signed up with VetBalance when my dog was sick, but when she had surgery I canceled per their instructions, and they refused, and it's been a mess getting out of it.

ways to get gifts for free

December 6th, 2005 at 08:08 am

I've been asked to post some methods for getting great deals on the internet. Since we are pretty rural, shopping is 30 miles away, I do most of my shopping on the internet. So, lots of "tricks". So, I'll try to break this down into a few organized posts lol.

Freebies.

I rarely take the BizRate surveys when they popup (HOW irritating), but I do occasionally, especially when I'm looking for deals. Note, if you do rate a vendor, BizRate will ask if they can send you offers. Some may be great, some may be spam. Your choice.

BizRate will give you a "$100 shopping spree". Some good deals, but if you aren't careful it CAN become a spending spree, because they offer a limited selection of magazines, DVDs, stuff, and each requires $2 or so processing fees.

Be careful on the magazines. Time at $2 a year is a great bargain, but they WILL autobill you the next year at $77, or the current full price, so if you do sign up for these make yourself a reminder to CANCEL them in 9 months. If you want to keep them, find another cheap way to do it. Maybe another BizRate survey, maybe one of the other great sites I can tell you about.

DVDs, very limited selection. But, I did pick up Disney's Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, and a 3 Stooges DVD at $2 a pop for gifts. (forgot to count those in my totals).

REMIND YOURSELF you dont' have to "spend" their $100s, just get things that you would buy anyway. Otherwise it is NOT a savings!

savings today

December 5th, 2005 at 11:30 am

Have a cold, fever over 100, so didn't really think it would be a great day in savings land.

But, received my free samples from Wei East today, coupons from General Mills, a free movie ticket in the mail, and another freebie that I'm drawing a blank on (blame it on the cold, not age :-).

I skimmed through the latest freebies and found the free membership to American Greetings. com. The free year works for existing memberships, and since I am responsible for my entire family (you get three accounts), I just saved $30!!!

This site actually has saved me money in the past, because it allows me to set up reminders for all the holidays and special occasions, with emails to my inbox at whatever time I specify (I usually go two weeks in advance). Enough time to buy and ship without express delivery charges! It also let's me set up ecards ahead of time to be sent on the day...so if I *do* forget to send a gift or card, they will still receive an ecard on the right date. There are options for sending egifts, also. Love the create and print section for making stuff for my sister's school.

Not bad for a sick day!

holiday gift costs - totals for out of state

December 5th, 2005 at 04:50 am

I finally had a chance to review all the total costs. Considering we are buying for over 20 people, it's been a challenge.

Forgot to previously log that I received a free $60 metacel for my brother with purchase. He lives on this stuff, so nice gift.

So,
ORIGINAL PRICE OF GIFTS: $2999.
ACTUAL COST/EXPENDITURES: $765.

COST OF SHIPPING: $110
EBATE rebate earned: $113

So, the rebate will balance the shipping, which wasn't too bad given that several boxes went priority, and that there are SO many boxes and gifts (49 gifts).


Not bad, total cost of gifts and shipping is still less than we paid for shipping alone last year. But it is still quite a bit of money, and I still have hubbie to buy for.

My other challenge is always to STOP shopping once I've chosen everyone's gifts. December is festive and full of "good deals", and there is a holiday spirit in shopping and wrapping etc. so close to the holidays. BUT, it's not a good deal if I don't need it and already purchased something. Hubbie is really difficult, since he is here, and there are no logistics of shipping, and such a joy in giving him gifts!

But this journal will force me to account for my spending and keep track of it all, which really helps. Hopefully.

snow day preps

December 5th, 2005 at 04:33 am

Snow day. The stores are already cleaned out, yet there are LONG lines for everything. Milk, bread, TP, batteries, ice melt...

Coming from CA, I always thought this was quite odd. If it's winter and you live in a cold climate, why not stay prepared?

Milk, I always have powdered and evaporated on hand, just in case. Bread, in the freezer, and also staples (yeast, flour, etc.) in case I have time to bake. Great for a snowy day, and the smell and warmth from the oven helps keeps the chill out from our patio door. TP, stocked up on last month, good sale, double coupons, room in basement to store it. Ice melt, MD ran out on Saturday and picked up the first of the season, put it out BEFORE the ice came. I HATE THE ICE UNDER THE SNOW. We didn't have that in California :-).

Batteries, I check and restock in the summer, when they have sales. Each summer we have horrible lightning storms and the power is out several times a week, so each summer I put together a "lights out" kit. Unscented pillar candles ($1 each), matches and a lighter, battery operated lanterns (gift for MDs birthday), microbial hand wipes (no power, no pump, no water, since we are on a well), etc. It all goes in a big plastic storage box in the garage, easy access, and has glow in the dark stickers from a halloween clearance sale all over the outside so we can find it in the dark.

Part of the holiday decor is thick polar fleece blankets, festive but always ready to snuggle in if the heat goes. A few duraflame logs and some firestarter sticks from a clearance last winter.

The one thing I am wasting money on, I always buy windshield wash fluid with deicer in it, and somehow MD never fills the jeep with it, and it gets buried in the garage until I buy another gallon. We have quite a supply now. Hopefully we'll use it this year!

updating

December 4th, 2005 at 02:44 pm

Been updating the Freebies/Coupons section while MD trims the tree. It is taking much longer than I thought to test and clean out all the expired links, offers, spam, and update offers if available. I'm down to Food/Cooking, and it is down from around 20 pages to 10. Better. Just keep plugging away.

It is nice to check out all the offers and sites. Have found a few things I'm interested in. Hopefully a few good deals for others too. Now to scrub down the residue off the computer. Wow, some of these sites really dump the trojans and data miners on!

Did complete my daily participation in two panels. Did get through the chores, got some coupons ready to mail off to someone else, little things. Only thing I spent on was the dog's meds, and, well, since she keeps NAILING MD's fingers when he tries to brush her teeth and RINSE her mouth :-), I think we can afford a doggie toothbrush that has a handle. The vet-supplied finger brush, a rubber glove for his finger that he is supposed to brush the dog's teeth with? well, who's idea was that???

savings through instant wins

December 4th, 2005 at 11:59 am

I don't play sweepstakes, as I NEVER win, but I have started playing instant wins. I rarely play the ones with few prizes or only big prizes, since I don't really have time or luck to waste. I play the ones with lots of little prizes. I never win much, but it's really come in handy for cutting gift costs this year. Examples:

Juicy juice, won 2 $5 gcs for Scholastic, found spiderman books and toys on sale, and got 3 items for only $4 (shipping). (Everyone I know has won at this site)

VISA, won a $10 gc at disneyshopping. Never shopped that site before, but they had a sale on personalized cinderella sweatshirts, $25 down to $15, and a special 25% off on all personalized stuff, and free shipping that day. So, for $2 I have the PERFECT gift for my little niece.

Won two Nestle crunches, so will go into stockings.

Won a baseball cap. Great for my nephew.

One of the shopping sites had BizRate, which I really NEVER do, but I did, and received their $100 shopping spree. Of course, nothing was free, you had to pay charges on everything, but they did have two DVDs for free, $2 processing, Cinderella and Snow White. Perfect for niece!

That purchase led to a buy one get two free DVD from deepdiscountDVD, which I'd never used, but they did have good prices and a Jackie Chan movie my husband doesn't yet have, so for $9 I got 3 DVDs for gifts.

That site also had a DVD my husband wanted for my father, which was $30 at amazon.com and $13 at that site. Bought it, it came, the quality is great.

I've also won two Vaseline moisturizer bottles from their site, where they actually invite you back to win again. Perfect for my mother with dry diabetic skin. (everyone I know has won at this site)

Ah, and a pack of candy just for entering at Mike and Ikes (?) which my nephew will like.

So, while it's not much, these little things have added up to quite a few free and really cheap GOOD gifts!

Katwoman, I'll post more later about some of the ways I receive internet deals/discounts/etc.

todays savings

December 4th, 2005 at 11:32 am

Forgot, dog went to vet yesterday, and the mouthwash they prescribed is $40 for 8 oz. Looked at 1-800PETMEDS and it was $30. Googled it, and found two other sources for $11. Also found a great sale on Cosequin, so stocked up. I paid $40 for 180 capsules, when they are $50 for 90 at other sources. So even though my pampered pet is costing a fortune right now, at least we are controlling it a bit.

Tonight, free soup and bread from the great deal a few weeks ago. And a deep breath. Dad is doing better, dog is doing better, haven't heard from the MRI yet, but we have ENDED a tough week, and I'm looking forward to this one.

cheap decor

December 4th, 2005 at 11:29 am

Today, getting the decorations FINISHED. Yesterday I scrubbed the house down and put away the non-holiday decor that was replaced with the holiday decor today. MD is putting up the tree. Actually found a use for a bag of craft picks that I picked up two years ago for 5 cents a piece, when I was crafting, and almost pitched them out last year. This year, they filled up a new Lenox bowl (gift) BEAUTIFULLY. And cheap!

I think one of my favorite cheap decorations is to take a nice bowl, crystal or china or colored, not expensive but classy, and fill it with round ornaments. The cheapest ball ornaments we've had for twenty years just take on a whole new look in a cheap crystal bowl. I also like to fill opaque bowls with picks, add a bit of nice ribbon, especially wired ribbon, and just make an arrangement. Baskets are great, too. I've filled some with pinecones from the yard, tossed in a few picks and a nice bow with remnants of craft materials, and friends actually asked to buy them from me last year.

Lots of candles, too, hand painted or rub-ons or whatnot. I'm so allergic to scents, that getting the plain white candles and adding my own designs really works best. And candles in the craft store are only $1 for a pillar, so I feel like I'm saving.

The one area I blow money in decorating each year is on TOWELS of all things. Our bathrooms are all white, and I want a nice rich color for the holidays, red or green, burgundy or blue would be okay. So every year, I buy towels that are not supposed to fall apart, and every year I find myself and all my laundry covered with red or green fuzz. Especially nice when washing my hair. WHY CAN'T SOMEONE MAKE A RED TOWEL THAT LASTS?

another week, another savings challenge

December 4th, 2005 at 11:21 am

We did GREAT on last weeks challenges. The holidays for all 25 members of our out of state family is taken care of, purchased, packaged, mailed. I still need to tally up the overall costs and savings. I will be happy to respond to the comment to provide more detail on different online discount methods that really paid off this year. Later.

This week's challenge for us is to go through all the Medicare Part D forms, advice, plans, etc., and get it sorted out for everyone in my family. AGH. But, well worth doing. I'm really interested to see what our projected savings will be, since everyone's meds have been SO high this year.

But, that can wait for tomorrow, when the medicare site is not so busy. Getting on is impossible!

dog expenses continue

December 3rd, 2005 at 01:37 pm

We DID get the dog in to the vet, who FINALLY agreed to take her off the antibiotics.

Now we are supposed to feed her yogurt, specifically DANNON yogurt, to get her colon back to normal. I was very surprised, but the vet was adamant that DANNON yogurt was the only yogurt we should use. Good thing I had a coupon!

Still needing Cosaquin and pain killer and special foods. Will be searching for bargains on those this weekend. My dog is WORTH the money, but that doesn't mean I spend it without finding a bargain.

completed this week's challenge! And Last Weeks

December 3rd, 2005 at 01:36 pm

It's been quite a hectic day. MD packaged up all the gifts to be shipped, and 7 large packages, priority, went for $100. Quite a bit to me, but they were heavy, oversized, and it certainly beats the $1500 we spent on shipping three years ago (we still aren't talking about that one!). It was really neat, MD loves putting shipping off to the last minute, getting that holiday feeling going, and we often end up FED EXing things I purchased months earlier. So, we actually purchased, wrapped, and shipped gifts for 27 people, and it's DONE!!! I'll total up the spending and savings later.

We did buy the insulation, this week's challenge, and as I posted earlier we went a different way, layering insulation of lower quality to achieve the higher insulation value, and saved $700! We got the role we needed FREE! My kudos to Home Depot for telling people how to do this.



tips for coupons, #2

December 2nd, 2005 at 03:34 pm

Need more coupons? Find the home page of the vendor you want, and use the CONTACT US link. Tell them about a product you like, one you would like to try, problems you have had, etc.

Some companies, like Nestle, will tell ya tough luck.
Some companies, like Conagra (Brawny, etc.) will send you a set of coupons, with a note about this being a once a year request.

Other companies will surprise you with "a few coupons". Birds Eye, wow, I could not find a coupon for their products, emailed them, and TWO DAYS later I received 6 coupons for $1 on their products, and some lesser ones.

Purina, could NOT print the Beneful coupon, emailed that it was the ONLY dog foog my pup will eat and did they have any by mail, and received 4 $1 off coupons.

Olivia, have a "request a 35 cent coupon" on their page, which is an email link to contact them. They sent 4 FREE PRODUCT (p to $2.19) and several other coupons.

I wrote to IAMS about my dogs health and asked them for recommendations, and they sent samples, coupons, and information.

Of course, you've heard the Rubbermaid story, I asked where to get a part and they sent a refund and TWO sets of replacement parts.

Not all companies are generous. But those that are do tend to get my loyalty. Smart business practices is what coupons are all about for them.

Hope that answers some questions. Good luck, and good savings!

tips for coupons, #1

December 2nd, 2005 at 03:26 pm

I've been asked how people can get MORE coupons.

One issue that has come up, is that so many grocers are refusing to accept internet printed/downloaded coupons. There has been fraud and abuse. I've spoken with the VPs at Boodle, Coupons Inc, etc., and they are negotiating.

Until then, here is a tip. For coupons which go through the "bricks" center, some manufacturers pay the incentive to allow you to request the coupons by mail. Basically it's a "trouble with printing click here to receive by mail" link, but not always easy to access. I've posted those links when I find them.

If you haven't used the mailed coupons before, you should know that they are EXACTLY the same coupon, same dollar value, etc. However, two benefits. ONE, they are printed on veri-fi paper, which is a heavy gray paper with logos on the back, and it's able to be autheticated similar to treasury bucks; scratch the back of the paper with a coin and logos appear. Because of this, MOST GROCERS WILL ACCEPT THEM as manufacturer coupons without question.

SECOND, they tend to have longer expiration dates, usually months instead of weeks.

So, if you can't use internet coupons, the "request by mail link" may be a great option for you.

the day

December 2nd, 2005 at 01:39 pm

Started out great. FINALLY got some sleep. Woke up late, 7, and couldn't wait to log on and get saving.

I had a full inbox, though, and so many messages about my father and his short term prognosis. I ended up just getting through all those before my doctor's appointment at 11 and my MRI at 1:30. Also cleaned out my coupon box, nice unemotional task. I'll send the expired ones to the Army, and the ones I realize I can't possibly use before the expiration date to the coupon train.

FORTUNATELY (or not?) the MRI imaging center is located close to Costco, so I spent my time usefully...we picked up prescriptions and MORE BABY WIPES. Poor pup. Sampled some Mrs. Fields chocolates, which were actually disappointing. I had used a free Ghirdelli coupon recently and it is SO smooth. Mom always used Ghiradelli for her confections, but those were for customers, and the family rarely had such a treat. Now I want more! So, planning to send my coupons for Ghiradelli to SOMEONE ELSE before I fill ALL the holiday candy dishes with them!

I'm hanging in there. I've actually had a nice chance to ponder how MUCH this site has helped me focus my savings and hold myself accountable. It's also been great to receive additional ideas for saving, and remind myself of a few practices, like cleaning out my hubbies change drawers.

I HAVE gone over a bit on Christmas for my parents, but in a small way, not the big screen tv fiasco of 1990 way. And the savings I've seen on other things has really buffered the impact of my small splurges.

Oh, last savings of the day, I suppose, I added up all my coffeemate UPCs for the stir-it up rewards. 30 points shy of 3 free coupons. RIDICULOUS how many coffeemates it takes to receive a coupon for a free bottle, and I am NOT wasting the stamp to send the UPCs in until I am sure I have enough to receive the coupons with ONE stamp!


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