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How do you keep track of all the rewards and other stuff of the day

January 19th, 2006 at 03:40 pm

Geez Louise! I tried to log in to all the sites I have "reward" memberships in, like Club Mom and MyPoints and eRewards, etc today. Wrote down all the totals, looked through all the rewards, tried to determine what hadn't been credited and what I still needed and if there were any easy points, etc. AGH. It's pretty crazy. I've never done these memberships before, but free money sounded interesting. There really is a draw to sign up for a deal to get those few extra points, though, even if you normally wouldn't be interested.

Resisting.

Kimberly-Clark responded to my query: We apologize for any disappointment, however, the order form for the Kimberly-Clark $10 Rebate Offer is only available in the coupon insert section of the Sunday, January 15, 2006 newspaper. Of course, it is available online, just not their site. So, I posted it from the other site.


Got some VERY nice feedback from a survey site, and a technology forum that pays.

Had a short work out, dinner is Healthy Choice and Birds Eye. Got to clean out that freezer.

Haven't decided what the saving challenge will be for next week. DH and I really need to start that again. Somehow the Corgi has wiped out all our time! And budget...


The agony of the unused super deal!

January 18th, 2006 at 03:34 pm

It happened. Seriously. Yesterday eBates doubled to 10% cash back at Drugstore.com. My credit card doubled to 10% back on drugstores. Drugstore.com gives 5% rebate. And drugstore.com is having a clearance sale, 40-70% off!!!! All the stars aligned, so to speak.

I went through the sale list, but there was NOTHING that I needed. If I had a few hours, I could have searched through all the freebies with purchase and made myself feel worse, but really, I'm fully stocked, and nothing to buy. So, it happened. I logged off and stepped away from the deal.

AGH................

Savings isn't saving if it isn't SAVING, and if I don't need it, it's just a waste. But oh, the agony!

Patience!

January 18th, 2006 at 03:30 pm

Patience really isn't my forte. I'm waiting for Club Mom to credit my account so I can request my g/c for groceries. Waiting for other rewards to get posted so I can claim them. I want my money.

eBates is sending a nice check, but not until mid-February. Everything must clear. Surveys must be credited. Sigh.

The hardest part, though, is not spending more on something to see the credit. I need 20 points from Club Mom. I've purchased enough, but I'm just waiting, and if I placed a different order...but then again, I don't need anything.

Running on empty, but I'm still running!

January 17th, 2006 at 03:02 pm

Just one of those days that has turned into a week!

Savings, well, I went to SuperFresh yesterday to pick up a few of their advertised sales. They double coupons up to a $1, but they are QUITE picky about it. As usual, they were already out of everything. In one day. Personally, I think they are just loss leaders, as they do not seem to restock the shelves at all for sale items. DH thinks it's a warehousing problem...but it was irritating. I did get Kotex "on sale" with my coupon, seemed like a good price and it works for the K-C rebate. But, today Grocery Game printed Giant prices, and Giant's 2/1 sale was actually a better deal. Sigh.

Several of the Grocery Game deals did not exist at our store, and the coupons they show aren't correct for our area. But, they are great at showing what a "regular" price really is, so I can evaluate the sales price with coupons. So, I'm keeping the membership for awhile. $1 a week is still $52 a year, but I'll monitor it.

So, today, went to Staples, exchanged my empty ink cartridge for $3 coupon, which I used for some file folders. Definitely MUST get better organized.

Giant, groceries, here I am NOT going to buy anything until I clear out my freezer and pantry a bit...but I am still working on a few rebates with sale items/coupons, and then a few sales. Not a great deal, $150 down to $75. VERY disappointed. I refuse to buy anything just to get the rebate back on it. Other items, though, paper towels and TP. Orajel for the dog, who is preparing to lose his teeth.

Also bought a larger crate and pads for him online. Petco had a sale, plus 15% off. Went through ClubMom to get the 6 points/$1 spent. Fairly sure getting the cashback from eBates would be a better deal, but I am SO close to getting the $25 g/c for Giant through ClubMom. We'll see. Calculating all this out has my head spinning!

Bought heathy edible bones online, too. $10 for 3 in the groceries, and $1 a piece at drsfostersmith.com. The dog is CHEWING. He's gained a pound a week, up to 9 pounds, but he can go through a small Dentabone in less than 5 minutes. And he's getting more and more determined about it. I am getting concerned about all the treats he is going through, so I'm trying to find something he will chew for awhile. He doesn't gulp, just chew chew chew chew chew! Jaws of steel. I'm calling him our little land shark. He tried to eat a bounce sheet that was stuck to a fleece blanket yesterday.

Little things are suddenly paying off. So many paid surveys I've qualified for, and follow up tasks that pay even more. It's great, but it does take time that I suddenly don't have.

It's cold. DH and I are disagreeing once again about the draft from the garage. You can feel the wind coming in straight through the kitchen garage door, but DH reminds me that all houses need airflow. But then again, we just recaulked all the windows and insulted the outlets, etc. Seems to ME that we are plugging leaks when the flood is already coming in!

Coupons, picked up more coupons and rebates in the store today. Got a coupon train to keep running!

I did get a fairly good deal on orajel, the tooth pain product with the current rebate. It was $10, ouch, but they doubled the $1 coupon, and although the newspaper had a $4 rebate, the box had a $5 rebate, so that will go into the mail tomorrow.

DH promised today would be a catch up day. But, all this running around takes time. We haven't found a routine since the pup came. Didn't get our workouts in today.

Lunch we actually ate out at Taco Bell, shopping ran later than expected. That's how it is when NOTHING is on the shelves. Just lots of errands. Dinner, carrot and wildrice soup. DH requested it, and it's perfect because I have everything for it. Usually would use up fresh carrots, but we picked up DM canned carrots at 10 cents a can for the DM rebate, as well as Broth, and a freebie on wild rice, so a bit of tarragon and pepper, and we're in business.

Savings today, not sure, I have spent so much on doggie crates and doors, that money saved is just to try to get under our usual budget. Doggie expenses were never planned. Worth it.

Well, enough rambling. Better go see what everyone else has posted, and where things are on the bullet train!


Oh, actually got the confirmation mail that I won the Breathe Right strips contest! THAT will help.

free gift cards with free trials are pushing my ethics...

January 15th, 2006 at 01:45 pm

Hmm. I consider myself an ethical person. But I keep getting these offers for trials of this or that, $1 for a month or a sample and such, and $20 gift cards for gas or grocery or even AMEX. So, I succumbed to two yesterday. $40 in cards for two free trials that I know I will cancel. Doesn't seem right. But then, I didn't come up with the offer, and I didn't email it to me.

Sigh.

Not much in the mail lately. Did get a hooded sweatshirt we won on Saturday. It's listed at $40, but really, where do they come up with these values? I haven't entered contests lately, though, so probably not going to be bringing in so many benefits.

Changing from retirement to consulting for the company to free lancing now, is quite challenging. I didn't realize all the benefits, and pot holes, there would be for women free lancing their own business. I need to establish something more formal, I suppose. Too much to think through right now.

Coupon day, and another pile came in. Seriously, I am so overstocked on groceries right now I will have to send most off. I am out of Downy, which is a pain because I specifically asked DH to check if we were out and he said we had too much, so of course I go to do laundry today and nada. The one thing I am never able to stockpile sufficiently is laundry products.

Hopefully stopping smoking is going to cut the laundry down considerably, and I can get that part of the household back under control. The pup is chewing EVERYTHING now, though, especially fleece blankets and anything in sight, so quite a bit of slobbers to wash off.

So, 2006 total savings so far is $3253
2006 "extra income" so far is $2035.

I'm not counting rebates or gift cards until they are in my hand.

brookstone shure ear buds are fantastic!

January 14th, 2006 at 10:10 am

Wasn't sure how much I was saving by getting the Brookstone Shure MP3 ear buds for DH. He is never without the Jens MP3 player, and he usually goes with Bose for the headphones and sound quality. But, I read up on the Shure, and they are rated extremely well.

DH says they are his FAVORITE gift of the season. They weren't on sale, although I received a $25 brookstone g/c for the order. But of dozens of gifts he received, they were the hit.

So, having a gift that is LOVED, that is a real savings. And a joy. Yeah!

Total cereal coupons paid off - free cereal

January 13th, 2006 at 02:32 pm

Not a huge savings today, but I had purchased 5 boxes of Total cereal with $5 coupons, getting an $8 in store rebate. Those boxes each had a $1 coupon, so today I went back to do it again, but they had a different Total on closeout. Hmmm. $1 a box and a $1 coupon on each...they wouldn't give me the $8 rebate though ;-)

Several of the new General Mills boxes are labeled with coupons inside, especially for the Brand New Day partnership. So, maybe I will take the $1 coupons and go back tomorrow for more free cereal and coupons. But where am I going to store all this cereal? Ah, the agonies of wanting to get great deals.

Got the coupon train started. Over an inch thick envie, so hopefully something for everyone. I forgot about the holiday Monday, no mail, and I definitely want to get the coupons around before they expire.

Tonight, I'd better get hopping. Turkey divan, use up the turkey and broccoli and cheddar. DH says to USE THIS UP BEFORE I BUY ANY MORE. But is it buying if it's free? Hmm...too philosophical.

Much more going on. Maybe I will breathe this weekend.

Savings today, $23.

so far behind I think I've come full circle

January 11th, 2006 at 03:20 pm

Yikes, the computer or internet or SOMETHING has been flaky all week, and I'm running so far behind on things! Have not even been able to read the forums, or check my usual sites.

Working on getting a coupon train together. Hate to waste them.

Connected with an old friend and received a $2K retainer. Nice.

Brief workout, brief meeting, brief puppy interaction. Dinner will be leftover turkey breast, potatoes, veggies. Maybe dump together a Turkey divan with the turkey and broccoli tomorrow.

Two rebates sent off. No new deals in today's mail.

Got to run after the pup!

Brand New Day Rebate deals

January 10th, 2006 at 02:49 pm

I was not going to do the Brand New You rebate ($10, buy 10 items), as they are not items I regularly use.

However, SF had GM cereals for 4/$10. I planned to purchase Total, but they only had a few types on sale. Then I saw the GIANT boxes of Cheerioes and Honey Nut Cheerioes, something like 40 oz? anyway, $2.50 each, but I had a $1 coupon on each which they doubled, so two boxes for $1, regularly $9. They also had the Chex Mix at 99 cents, and I had a coupon, down to FREE, as well as Progresso soup, with a coupon, down to $0.30.

So, 4 of the items for less than $4. I might make this one pay off. I am definitely holding off to see if the other items go on sale, though. Yoplait Nouriche, one bottle, is $3 here, which would wipe out the rebate!

That part is hard. I like to get rebates accomplished, finished, out the door, and not need to remember two weeks from now what I still need to purchase, save UPC and receipt, is it on sale, etc. So, I will wait and see on this one.

General Mills cereal coupons paid off, and Del Monte rebate form in the mail!

January 10th, 2006 at 02:44 pm

Well, I am trying to stick to not buying groceries for awhile and living on our stockpile. But I got some great deals today I couldn't pass up...well, maybe shouldn't is the better word...

SF, total was $39.86, down to $10.33 THAT's MORE LIKE IT.

Giant, $186 down to $85.

Mostly cleansers, Viactiv, things on sale but still adding up. They did have buy 5 General Mills cereal at regular price and get $8 off at total; the smallest cereal was $3.50, but had $1 coupons off the back of the Total boxes from this weekend, so $5 along with the $8 certainly helped the total. Did buy some Breyers on sale with coupon, which I would not have done if it wasn't listed in Grocery Game as a super saver, and it just sounded good! Very bad.

Made up for it with by buying the 20 cans of DelMonte for the $10 rebate, all on sale, cut and packaged for tomorrows mail!

So, 2006 total savings so far is $3230
2006 "extra income" so far is $35.

shampoos at Trader Joes

January 10th, 2006 at 02:32 pm

Thanks for the info! We have a Trader's Joes in the next town, and I shop there once a week or two, but I've never priced their personal products. I have allergies and sensitive skin, so I'm fairly cautious about trying things. That's why I was so surprised that the Dove didn't make me sneeze or my hands peel and such. I will definitely give TJ's a try. I didn't realize they were so reasonably priced.

Glysomed free samples and other Monday savings

January 10th, 2006 at 02:28 pm

I emailed Glysomed regarding where to purchase their products in my area. They responded that they did not have a store locator, but would send free samples. And they did!

Nutro dog food samples came, too.

Checked up on credit card dividends, and they are applying 5% cash back on gas, groceries, and drugstores. Nice. Trying to sort out which bonus program is best for each site is a bit crazy. Club Mom points, cash back from eBates or Mr. Rebates, or eRewards or all these other point programs. Cash back is always my first choice, but Club Mom allows members to earn GCs to grocery stores, and a few of their sponsors give good deals on points. I was trying to work it all out, but it would require coded spreadsheets! So, going with best guess, eBates plus credit card as standard cash back, and other offers as they present themselves.

Received a $10 gc award for a survey.

That makes total "extra income" of $35.

Dove free samples not working out.

January 8th, 2006 at 10:14 am

After using the free Dove shampoo and conditioner samples, my plan was to switch over from my Biolage and Keratase to the Dove. So much cheaper.

But after 3 weeks, maybe a little longer, my color has washed out, my hair feels thin, and I'm disappointed! My color isn't much of a change from my actual color, but it always lasts 4-6 weeks. I switched from highlights to color to bring the costs down.

RATS.

Now I need a new plan. Pantene?

Mega muffin day, or how to use leftovers without really trying

January 8th, 2006 at 10:09 am

We got off to a late start yesterday, but we did bake 50 dozen large muffins. DH, and I, go through at least 4 or 5 a day. Used up the 20 cups of fresh frozen blueberries from our garden, all the old cereal, oatmeal, eggnog, juice, coolwhip, ice cream, iced over frozen bars, stale graham crackers, christmas cookies (grind em up), holiday chocolates, free granola, old protein powder and drinks, eggs, syrup, etc. Total use of 3 cups of flour and one cup sugar. Mostly use oatbran, bran, oatmeal, and cereal to keep them super healthy. Old canned pineapple, oranges, whatever needed to go. Cleaned out the freezer, pantry, and frig. Total cost DH estimated at $50 plus leftovers (which would have been tossed), so not bad. Taste excellent, too!

I am not positive they save so much money, I don't buy the $1.95 Starbucks ones, but DH will buy Costco or Trader Joes if we run out. I do it for the healthy good-for-you start to the day. DH says it saves a minimum of $250 a year, though.

Also had a chance to clear out the freezer to make room for all the muffins, as well as find stuff that needed to be used soon. Discovered 6 whole chickens, a turkey breast, and several platters of chicken breasts. We haven't had the horrid winter that was anticipated (yet), so I've kept shopping instead of staying home with the stockpile! Time to start cooking!

Last night, final left overs of the deli/veggie platter from New years. meats and cheese got all chopped up, mixed with egg beaters (cleaning out the freezer!) and evap milk, and baked in two free with coupon pie crusts for excellent baked omelet/quiche. Yum.

Today, wow, my 'mix and stir' hand and shoulder are a bit sore. I've got a good 3 months to heal before we do it all again, though!

When it stops being fun, it just stops

January 6th, 2006 at 02:38 pm

Blech to the entire morning. Why is everyone in such a MOOD today? And how many surveys can they possibly send me in one day? Only one paid. Count that when the $ comes, not until.

Thanks for the info on the rebate. I will try to be careful. I am already not thrilled that I spent money to buy the stuff just for the rebate. I RARELY do that. Blech to that too!

Savings, spending, did okay today.
Pet store, picked up a free 6.6 pound bag of puppy food from a coupon. Saved $9
PetSmart, $38 down to $15 with coupons and sales. Saved $23
Giant, generic stuff to prepare for muffin baking. $22 to $15, saved $6
TJ, base for muffins, oats, oatbran, organics, etc. $86.
Won 4 bottles Vaseline Renewal, which came today. $10 save?
Won year of nasal strips. $360 save.

Total save today: 9 + 23 + 6 + 86 + 10 + 360.

Total save for week: $3100.

Today was grocery savings day

January 5th, 2006 at 03:30 pm

I rarely go to Superfresh, as they don't restock the shelves on their sale items, and not friendly, and expensive on anything that's not on sale. But, we did a quick run through for chicken at 79 cents a pound and turkey breast at 89 cents a pound, 6 Lean Cuisine for $10 but they doubled a $1 coupon, etc. Came to $84.79 before coupons, $32.73 afterwards.

Giant, higher than hoped, but I am stocking a few items to start the muffin bake next week. Takes piles of cereal and oats and STUFF for 50 dozen muffins since I don't use flour. Bill came to $117, down to $65 after sales and coupons. I also purchased the items for the Colgate rebate, spent $6 to get back $10. Not sure it was worth it, as it's not what we usually use, but should work out.

Also sent back a pair of LLBean boots. I love their products, but this duck boot didn't hold up after 3 years, and they have a life time guarantee, so I shipped them back. I normally wouldn't have, even with the guarantee, because they are after all used, but MD does need a new pair now. Postage was prepaid at $5.85, which is cheaper than if I had paid it at the post office. The boots are $89 in the current catalog, so important savings for us.

Also, received 4 free Claritin tablets which hubby uses, they cost $1 each without coupons here, so saved $4?

Days total:

Totays savings: $52 + 53 + 89 + 4. I'll count the rebate only when it comes.

2005 summary

January 4th, 2006 at 02:14 pm

Skimmed through my journal and receipts to see just what I've saved since starting this project in October. It's not easy to track all the little things, like rebates and freebies. But

grocery -- store log shows savings of $1700 since September.
costco -- savings of $1500
Rx -- savings $2000 since Nov. 1
Magazines, other cost cutting -- more than $500
insulation - budget was $700, and it was free.
Holiday gifts saved about $2200, plus hubbies was $1000K

So, without going into the details, that's still over $9K just from focusing back on saving and not spending!

THANK YOU EVERYONE! You all have such great ideas, reminders, and advice!

[Is there any way to track daily costs through the journal? It's a pain to go through each entry to find them.]

savings with LEFTOVERS yum!

January 3rd, 2006 at 04:36 pm

I did forget to log the savings from "recycling" our holiday meals. The ham from Christmas, 1/3 eaten, 1/3 out for use, 1/3 bone meat etc. frozen for soups (split pea, lentil...). Cookies, frozen some, eaten TOO many. Pretty easy reuse.

News Years has been a bit more fun/challenging. We purchased makings of a meat/cheese tray, and of a veggie tray, made some protein dips, and have been working it off since New Years Eve. Having a gourmet chef for a Mom probably helps. Last night, hot melted sandwiches, with meat and cheese piled and a bit of dip to hold it together and moisturize the bread. Fried in butter, but the dips are non-fat, so hopefully it balanced. Tonight was open-faced hot beef sandwiches, used up the roast beef, tiny bit of turkey, lots of mushrooms and onions, a few freebie McCormick gravy mixes, touches of this and that, a bit of the provolone stirred in. Poured on bread, with a slice of provolone on top. Pretty tasty!

Tomorrow I'll probably take the leftover ham and cheese with the eggs and make quiches. Maybe broccoli one, too. They are lowfat and high protein, except for the ham and cheese. Non-fat evap milk works VERY well to richen a non-fat quiche, and adds protein. Egg whites, egg substitute, etc., helps even it out too.

So far, we've had about 5 meals from New Years trays, MD including last night's remaining sandwiches in his lunch today. Maybe a stir fry to use up the last of the veggies. Hmm. This is the fun part of saving! Creating!

Saving on Memberships

January 3rd, 2006 at 10:21 am

One of my goals for the year is to clean up all the loose ends that are unneeded expenses.

The first area is memberships.

Professional memberships look great on the resume. I'm retired now, except for consulting and such, and my credential themselves are worth more than all the "fellow of"s. I don't use all the credit card offers, and "benefits" that come with the memberships, and I don't need the "networking". So, time to drop all those grad school fears that I needed a bunch of titles to prove myself. My work proved itself, and I became the person everyone was trying to network WITH. A strange "rite of passage", I suppose, but it's time to let the fears go.

Four professional memberships I have all came due this month. Annual dues range from $150 to $1000. They renew automatically if not canceled. I canceled them ALL today, $2500 SAVINGS from previous years.

Second area is shopping memberships.

This one is a bit more complicated. Comparing cost of membership with actual savings over the year. They wouldn't be selling memberships if they weren't making money on them.

Barnes and Noble. $25, 10% on all purchases, so I would need to spend $250 on books etc. a year to make it worthwhile. Probably will. But, MD and I EACH have a membership, and we can combine them as a single household membership, and save $25. Done.

Roadrunner Sports. $25, 5% savings and discount on purchases. Have used this quite a bit in previous years, running and workout clothes, but the savings are much better at Dick's clearance racks, or online at REI. Definitely paid for itself in SHOES this year for the whole family. But I really need to look at this one.

American Greetings. $25, 3 memberships. My whole family uses this, especially my sister for her school work. But I did scoop up the "free year" membership from the freebies section (thank you Kimmie!), so $25 savings!

MisterArt.com. $25 for VIP discount. I have used this extensively since we retired, and especially for nice gift sets and paints and canvases and things that are difficult to find locally. I'm stocked up for now, though. Sister uses it quite a bit for crafts for her school, but the freebies section has pretty well maxed her out on teacher ideas and supplies, so this one can go. $25 saved.

GNC Gold card. $25, 20% savings every month. Just renewed this, and we do get protein drinks, etc., but we are well stocked. I'm stuck with it this year, but will have to consider it for next year.

AAA Roadside assistance. $35 I don't use this regularly, but they were the only company to respond, even though we have dealership roadside assistance, etc. There are discounts, I've received coupons books at the outlets and a very nice travel game set. They just updated their web site with other benefits, so I need to look at this one in more detail.

I'm sure there are more, and I am definitely going to be watching for them on the credit cards. Auto renewal isn't always a time saver! Still, thats $2575 "saved" against last year's spending.

Today's savings, using up those December rewards!

January 3rd, 2006 at 09:58 am

Made two purchases today, but I actually resisted the temptation to go beyond the "rewards" money earned and just spent the free money!

First, drugstore.com, I had a $47 rebate, plus they emailed a link for $5 off of a $50 order. They are having a sale, and usually I get distracted on the site by all the freebies with purchase and deals and stock up on things. But I've already stocked. I usually also ask MD what he needs, as most of the purchases are for him, Biotene, Aveda, things we can't buy locally. He actually ANSWERED me this time! Guess he realized that we have 30 bottles of Biotene mouthwash, so he'd save money if I actually purchased something else for a change!

So, bought two bottles of his Aveda Black Malva (a luxury he WON'T do without), a bottle of TheraTears (eye injury last year pruning trees), and took advantage of a sale on dog toys and treats for the pup. Total was $55, minus the $5 and $47, free shipping, and I get 5% back through eBates. I am pleased that I actually stayed focused and spent wisely, didn't go through the "list" they keep of all the things I've ever purchased and might possibly want again, just used the loyalty rewards and logged out. Yes!

MD has been allowing the dog to chew his workboots. Sigh. Anyway, the dog ate through his Yaxtraks, which we really need when the ice comes. So, the $25 g/c from making a purchase at Brookstone last month went to a $20 pair of new Yaktraks. Also picked up one item on sale, but it was one that was a replacement for a broken item, which was on MY wish list, but MD keeps saying he can fix the old one. He probably can, but it's been a year. Needs to "get around to it".

I've collected a pile of notices on freebies and coupons and savings, ready to post, and I'm still trying to get my hands around the $20 challenge. Too many possibilities. What counts? Is it SAVING $5000, or MAKING $5000? I get that it's up to me. Maybe I'll keep the journal for SAVING, and use the challenge for PROFITs?

Must think more.

I QUIT SMOKING but tough day to do it!

January 2nd, 2006 at 02:19 pm

My sister emailed today that my father, or Dad, I guess, since I just learned he isn't my biological father, is declining quickly. It's been confusing, he wasn't supposed to make it through Christmas, but then he was doing well and for some reason my mother said he was going to recover fully and now, well, it sounds like I need to get out there soon if I'm going to say good-bye. My heart is breaking. It's been so sudden!

Three weeks today since our dog died. I was informed that the vet was fired. No consulation.

I got on the scale today. ACK. A bigger job than I realized in my last post. I need to lose about 25 pounds. And I was wrong about the sizes hubbie bought me for Christmas. ACK and GASP.

And still, for some crazy reason, I just woke up and decided I wasn't going to smoke today. Quitting was my challenge a few weeks ago, or maybe months? Time has lost meaning as the crises flow together. But in thinking about my savings and earning goals for the year, reading through the forums, I allowed my mind to drift through all the potential savings, cost cuttings, frugalities, and earnings potentials, and scattered among all this was the simple fact that smoking is costing me money. It's costing my health. It's adding prescriptions. It's stinking up my new fuzzy bathrobe. It's burnt holes through my Polartec gloves (and have you ever tried to get smoke out of Polartec? Plastic absorbs!). My ashes are confined to a single pot outside, but the dog wants to sniff and walk though them. I'm TIRED of doing laundry and washing my hair and even fading my hair coloring getting the smell of smoke out. All the little things that you never think about when dumping $4 out for a pack of cigarettes (well, I buy cartons, but the principle is the same).

So, even though it has been a stressful day, and hubbie is in a grumpy mood to boot, I just haven't smoked. I'm a bit irritable, but I get irritable when I can't run 6 miles or hike or need to step out for a smoke at an inappropriate time, or when the horses are sniffing the smoke on my gloves. Or I realize I'm doing 12 loads of laundry a week because of the SMOKE. It is SO out of character for me to smoke.

No New Year's resolutions. I don't believe in them for myself, mainly because it's so likely some crisis will happen and interrupt the resolution, and I don't want to wait for the next year to restart the goal.

I think as I quit, I'll start tracking the costs that decrease, and try to estimate what it has been costing me. I read Jeffrey's article, and I'd like to see what my own costs have been.

Other than that, have lots of little ideas bouncing around for the $20 challenge, but it seems like you need a plan to post the start, and I haven't firmed up a plan. So, I'll keep pondering, and maybe organizing a bit. Nothing saves money like organizing!

The Cost of Gaining Weight

January 1st, 2006 at 02:34 pm

Hmph. I was the exact same weight and dress size for 25 years. I lost weight after the assault, and when I was gaining it back, everyone was telling me to put on a bit more. Just a bit more. I thought I looked great. Husband thought I looked great. But I did gain a bit more on some of the meds, and thought I was okay with it. First time in 25 years I *had* to buy new clothes. I needed too anyway, when I retired and went from business suits to sweats. Then I went back part time, bought some clothes in a larger size for the office. Then I gained a bit more, and a few more clothes. Again. Now, for the holidays, MD bought 5 pairs of jeans one size up for me. While I love him for caring, I hate me for needing it.

I've been resisting. Clothes are outrageously expensive. Last year I switched to skirts, elastic waists and looser, purhcased at clearance sales, boots to go with, stretchy pants, long sweaters. This last weight increase, though, I just said NO, no more money wasted. So, I've been griping about not being able to button my jeans and doing all those pregnant tricks, like slipping a rubber band through the button hole and over the button. Lots of hubbie shirts and sweats.

It's not that I look bad. I went from a size 4 to a 2 to a 4 to a 6 to an 8. Now a 10. But clothes are expensive, and every role, be it wife, athlete, executive, friend, housewife, maid, cook, everything requires something different. There are health reasons for me, also, the breast cancer scare and the family history of diabetes and high cholesterol and heart attack, GI, etc. Insurance. Risk. How I feel physically, emotionally. The worse I feel about how I look or worse, how I am dressed, the more I spend on other things, until eventually I buy some decent fitting clothing. But at some point this has to stop!

My sister does this, too. At 250 pounds, she is always losing or gaining weight, always buying new clothes. Having new clothes is wonderful, but the bills are not. Hubbie also, was a 32" waist when we married, got up to a 40, now is back to a 36". In between, 10 pairs of jeans a year, and countless suits and dress pants and shirts, etc., and the cost is absolutely staggering to look back on.

So, this year, I'm going to manage my meds AND my weight, and get back down one size. I have a closet full of clothes I liked at that size. If I go down two, fine. No more, and certainly not up.

end of year deals

January 1st, 2006 at 02:15 pm

I took advantage of some online year end clearances yesterday to stock up on gifts for the upcoming year.

The best offer, I think, was from Yves Rocher. Half price on the entire site, 4 free gifts, including a wrap and a wallet organizer, free samples, 20% off everything coupon code, and 15% back through eBates. They had previously sent samples of 15 different perfumes, so I knew which I liked and which gave me headaches. I love their hand cream, some bath gels, and I placed 3 orders, so received 12 gifts, plus more than 70% off of the things I purchased. Most will be gifts during the year or for next Christmas.

I resisted the urge to buy everything on the holiday clearances just yet. Winter sales will still be better in a few weeks, and nothing is urgent. I would like another pair of fleece gloves and a hat, although I have a set that is in poor condition, they still work. All the things on MY wish list that didn't come, well, I did without them before Christmas, and they can wait another year. Just little things, like a better CD organizer for the basement gym, as I cannot manage to get the CDs to slide in and out of the carosel we currently have. So I've been using a cardboard box. Not urgent, it works perfectly fine. There are just quite a few CDs.

I haven't started up my goals for the year yet. Still feeling VERY happy to survive the last year, after the intense few months we've had.

Happy New Year to all who are celebrating today, and to those who celebrate on different days, a good day to you too!

Selected Medicare Part D plans for everyone!

January 1st, 2006 at 02:07 pm

Okay, I finished and set up everyone's insurance accounts on Friday, but I'm still recovering!

My father's condition, and prognosis, caused a redo on his meds and considering "value" that was extremely difficult. I don't think of his impending death as "savings", and finding plans that won't make him go through a step program was irritating.

But, I did go through www.medicare.gov and used the Medicare Prescription Drug Plan Finder, input the area information, specific medications for each person, changed for actual quantity used, got the lists of how many drugs each given plan covered out of each persons list. For MJ82, the best was 5/5, and she is on fairly ordinary drugs. RM85 was 11/13, and MJ45 was 11/13.

The list from MEdicare allows you to click on each plan to see the specifics of each drug listed as "covered", and shows for each medication listed whether or not there were quantity limits (i.e., "standard dose of Zoloft for the plans was 50mg, but most people are on 100-200mgs. So, having 50 mg covered and not the remaining quanitity WAS a consideration that had to be evaluated for each medication).

The list also shows if there is prior approval required for each medication, and whether or not a step program is required. A step program just requires you to try the cheapest alternative out there, then step through other trials until they "prove" you need the most expensive one. For example, if you needed Zoloft, perhaps generic Prozac first, then after your doctor reported that it was ineffective (several months in the case of SRIs), a different generic, etc., until you "proved" that Zoloft was the only medication that would work for your specific condition. This requirement is true even if you have already tried all the other meds; but you can petition the insurer. In my father's case, having only a short time to live, going through trials of cheaper drugs does not make sense. For my mother, who has been ordering generic from Canada since she first went on Medicare, it would not matter, and step plans tend to be cheaper. She tends to stay on a simple set of medications, also, while my father's new diagnosis and MJ45's changing meds needed a broader coverage to plan for the likelihood that the prescriptions will change during the year.

Some plans provide coverage of "generic" drugs during the "donut hole", some plans have deductibles, some plans have copays in tiers, (e.g., $5 for generic, $20 for name brand), some have better prices with higher deductibles (in one insurers two plans, a $0 deductible plan had 20 of the top 100 drugs costing less than $20 a month, but a $250 deductible plan with 91 of the top 100 drugs costing less than $20 a month).

Each plan has a different premium, too. So I spent most of Friday bouncing between web pages, the medicare MPDPF and the www.medicaredrugplan.com/ratings page for each person.

All three are enrolled in plans, now, and I do think they are the right plans. I've posted my opinions on part D itself, but the process of sorting it all out was in a catagory by itself!

GOOD grocery savings with SUPER SAVE on GE 5 year light bulbs!

December 28th, 2005 at 01:43 pm

MD did NOT want to stop by Giant on the way home from the doctor's. MD: we do not need to shop or waste time shopping or money shopping or BOO to anything spending money. There were a few good sales in the ads, though, and we needed eggs...

GE 5 year bulbs were on sale for $1 (loss leader), rather than $5 (current regular price, they were $7 in October!), and MD was ecstatic to SPEND WISELY! He bought 4 for the garage and 4 for the basement. $8 for $40 priced bulbs. Even better, a regular GE bulb is rated for 1000 hours, these are 8000 hours, plus they are "energy saving" rated. I'm not quite sure what the overall savings will be over the long run. But they are going in the locations we have to use a ladder to access, and we use the basement lights daily, so having to change them 8 times less often is a savings to me!

Overall we did well with coupons and sales. The most expensive items were dog chews (still cheaper than replacing the dining room furniture) and a favorite frozen fruit bar that we HAVE to keep on hand. Still, overall not bad:

Total before "savings" came to $213.76
Total after sales/coupons/etc. came to $86.57


I'm happy with that! I don't like going over $50 for the week, but basics like lightbulbs are in a separate category from weekly purchases. MD pointed out it is not 2/3s savings, which is always the goal, but he has been wanting these light bulbs, and was very happy to stock up!

the mortgage equity game - to pay or play?

December 27th, 2005 at 03:36 pm

Brother (DR55) has just explained more of his financial woes. I understand the problem he is in, but it is really hard to advise him. I've never been in his situation, although I've heard the debate. Do you pay off your house, or put the money where it will earn more, even at risk?

MD and I approach our mortgage by PAYING IT OFF. We have a good, not great, rate, renegotiated the ARM at a lower rate after the PMI limit was reached, and then PAID IT DOWN. Top priority.

Brother, 55, has no savings and 4 kids with an expensive divorce settlement. So, he bought a fixer upper house, after 5 years the appraisal was twice what he paid, so he took out a second mortage against the new value and put the cash into commodoties. But he has two full time jobs, and doesn't have time to do the day/minute trading required, and has LOST the money. Worse, he still sees the value of the house as equity he can retire on, and is having difficulty seeing that he has no equity if he has already taken out and spent the money. If he sells the house now, he will BREAK EVEN, not double his investment. No retirement, no savings, he was hoping for a magic bullet, and he took one instead.

I DO understand the thought process of using equity to invest the money in a higher yield plan, but higher yields are usually higher risk. I'm a strong believer in truly evaluating the risk you CAN ABSORB, not just that you need to be able to absorb.

So, now, he wants to keep trading, $20K down again, to regain his money. To me, he's gambling straight up, as he CANNOT afford the risk, no matter how great his need.

MD is flat out horrified. He doesn't want to bail DR55 out just to watch him sink again. DR55 is POSITIVE he can and should reinvest, and to pick himself out of the dumps he bought a new Bowflex and some power tools on credit. ACK!

I'm staying out for now, but he needs some supportive words, and I'm all out. He's jealous of my retirement, yet I'm the one looking for the $10 rebate on my new mixer! Do people actually win the equity game?

things to do after the holidays

December 27th, 2005 at 01:11 pm

It's been a full week already!

Now it's time to prepare for next year's holidays. Not just stocking up on sales. Things to do:

Organize/file receipts from stores, note where favorite gifts were located. I may need to find the store for parts and warranties, but I also may want to come back next year to get accessories, upgrades, or find other neat things. Generally if a product was loved and I got a great deal, I want to remember to check back.

Check and list where favorite "treats" were purchased AND manufactured or sent from. The "Smore's" MD always gets from Williams and Sonoma actually come from Charlottes confections in California, and if I buy directly from them I can usually get a better deal. The virginia peanuts from Williamsburg are sold in SO many holiday catalogs, but when MD wants them in August, no where to be found. They originate from www.thepeanutshop.com, The Peanut Shop of Williamsburg, and are actually $5-10 cheaper to order directly. Also, a better selection and more choices. Besides, next year the site I got them from may not carry them. Bauers candies has a favorite caramel/marshmellow that is expensive from WS, but again, cheaper and fresher direct.

Also checking back at the catalog sites, which will be dumping the holiday food items, since they don't keep them in stock through the year. Great prices, but they go fast, and need to be freezer-friendly or otherwise keep until we want them.

Making notes of the favorite shoes/clothes/socks, where they were purchased, what the size was, who had ones that were long enough for MD. He LOVES Teva sandals, loves LLBean tall winter pants, was thrilled with EVERYTHING from REI.

Also time to download rebates for the new mixer and blow dryer MD gave me, along with so many clothes to try on. Sensitive subject, since I've gained 20 pounds from meds since the assault, and keep slowly upping the sizes. I refuse to WASTE MONEY on another size, but after so many grumps, he flooded me with 5 pair of jeans one size up. Don't know whether to love him or hide in shame, but given the lingerie he also gave me, I think I'll stick with loving him.

ALSO, the week to finish up the year, give the old items to charity before the end of the year, finalize the medicare prescription plans for everyone, clean out the closets and review finances for year end close.

Good thing the pup is housebroken already!

Met the challenge for the week!

December 24th, 2005 at 12:13 pm

Okay, yes, I did not give myself a budget when it came to MD, and I spent quite a bit, although MUCH less than usual. No "stunning" gift this year. And I did really try to shop the discount sources and find the coupons and use rebates and such.

I still have the problem with giving gifts early. I buy MD something I know he wants or needs, and when it comes I tend to just give it to him. Then have to find MORE gifts, which is another excuse for overshopping the last week when all these BARGAINs hit my email. I know, they aren't bargains if I wouldn't have bought them without the grand announcement.

But, I did NOT buy any more gifts this week, a first EVER for me. Hubby, on the other hand, bought everything last minute, and has spent the last 6.5 hours behind closed doors wrapping away.

We are going a bit cheap for the Christmas Eve and Day dinners. Usually I bake for two weeks and we have a crowd and loads of appetizers and a loaded table for the Day. This year, two big spinach salads, a spinach dip and a Harlequin dip and some crackers, using almost all stuff I already had in the pantry. For dinner, a nice ham, but just a free box of mashed potatoes, no yams and mashed potato casserole loaded with butter and sour cream, no refrigerator full of leftovers that will go to waste. Seems nice, actually.

Today, I mixed up a few last minute items, got the salads ready, vacuumed and checked under the couches again (pup got stuck again last night!). Checked the mail, received some unexpected refunds for my medical expenses and some really nice cards. Ready for a nice quiet weekend.

Niece wrote that her husband loves the Hanukkah platter, and they are having quite a celebration of Christmas, Hanukkah, and birthdays. I'm glad we decided to send gifts for both holidays separately this year. It's their first year in their new house, and they are starting their own traditions in both religions. Nice to be a part of that.

Having a nice wait for MD, catching up, reading some journals, thinking about financial goals for next year. We did all the "easy" financial cuts over the last few months, now it's time to get down to business.

But for now, a hot bath, a good book, and wishes to everyone for the happiest of holidays.

Frugal moments in marriage.

December 23rd, 2005 at 01:05 pm

MD just called. Took 45 minutes to drive 5 miles from one store to the next. Now he is trying to find parking at the grocery, but says if he parks he's not going to get back out! Sounds pretty crazy out there. I told him to forget the butter, I can deal without it, but he is STUBBORN. And, he LOVES butter. Our first realization of what DIFFERENT backgrounds we came from was when I asked him to run to the store for "butter" thinking of course the 20 cent store brand of margarine. He returned with 5 pounds of Land of Lakes butter! Never occurred to me that people would purchase butter unless it was a holiday or they were entertaining. Never occurred to MD that someone would actually buy 20 cent margarine!

Maybe that's part of the blending in a marriage. I learned that he expected to eat butter, mayo, sour cream, and steak, and he learned that I expected the cost of groceries to be negligible in the budget. [I think what I actually said was something like "you mean you PAID for that?".] The first time I made BLTs, I expected we would each use one slice of bacon per sandwich, as my frugal family does, but while I was setting the table he scarfed down the two pounds straight!

Over the years, we've learned to compromise,. We each save judiciously, but we each have our own style and priorities. MD would never buy clothes on his own, he stitched his Nike's back together once; I would never buy $20/pound steak. But he LOVES and APPRECIATES clothes for Christmas, and I've got to admit, he grills up a mean steak.

Enfamil and other events for the day

December 23rd, 2005 at 12:59 pm

Well, this morning I poked MD awake and asked HIM to take Max out. I did get up, just wanted help with the a.m. crunch. Pup is doing pretty well, he hasn't had an accident in the house in days, and last night he was rolling around on his back when he suddenly stood at attention and ran to the back door! Progress! Lots of treats and pets for his success!

MD is out doing last minute shopping. I'm sticking to the no more buying. I think I'm going to make my challenge of not buying for that last minute festive fix. He is even picking up the butter and milk. Last minute change, the store was out of sweet potatoes, so need milk for mashed potatoes.

I cleaned out the freezer, found lots of leftover ground turkey from Thanksgiving I had made up for the dog. I just threw it out. There wasn't really enough to make manicotti or anything with, and Max is too young for it, but mainly I just didn't want to deal with it. I've got too many emotions around that aren't festive, and I need festive! And everyone around me needs a bit of festive, too!

Christmas has been difficult here the last few years. I miscarried at Christmas, which led to the dog we just lost; MD and my sister's cancer over a recent Christmas; my assault the following Christmas, spending four months in the hospital; now losing the dog two weeks before Christmas. What a mix of feelings!

To top it off, today I received a Christmas package from Enfamil of two large cans and lots of vouchers and gifts. I'm a bit embarrassed, but when the dog was in ICU, they said we would need to feed her Enfamil and baby food when she came home. So in my great HOPE that all would be well, I immediately emailed all the baby sites and explained. I didn't follow up after she died. Now I'm not sure what to do! I know it's expensive and I don't want to dump it, but our need for it passed on with the dog. I may bring it to a woman's shelter. Even in my grief I don't want to waste it.


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