Home > Archive: December, 2005

Archive for December, 2005

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

December 28th, 2005 at 09:43 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 11:36 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 09:11 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, 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 08:13 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 09:05 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 08:59 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.

BUSY day, but cheap!

December 22nd, 2005 at 08:56 pm

Okay, I will admit it. I'm exhausted.

Got quite a bit accomplished today. Got up, peed, fed, medicated, played, and pooped the new pup. Checked email, and REI sent an email this morning that my express had been shipped. It's supposed to be HERE today.

Mixed up the cinnamon rolls, forgot to half the batch, but 3 dozen isn't too many. Made up a batch of pecan bars, two of brownies, and one of magic bars. Nothing special, but will go nicely with the cookies I froze before, and used up some free mixes and things from the pantry. After that, made 3 dozen scones, I do NOT think prepared pantry gave good directions, but they are what they are, and no one else knows what they were *supposed* to look like! Then, 12 dozen giant muffins. Really just 3 batches. Used up two boxes of stale cereal, some old oatmeal, the egg nog and eggs that had aged a bit, cans of pumpkin and much stuff from the pantry that I really needed to clean out. So, no actual expenses for the week.

MD was right, 2 pounds of butter were NOT enough. We will have to shop tomorrow (yikes!) for more eggs, butter, and SOMETHING that I just cannot remember. Every year I either buy too much butter, or not enough. One year we USED 12 pounds, but we entertained quite a bit and had the family here. The scones and cinnamon rolls took more than I realized, though, and we will need some for dinner and I still have spiced nuts and some dips to make. Just didn't get it all done.

Pup was pretty cute, first wedged himself between me and the garbage can while I was mixing up, then laid down between my feet. Keeping every thing picked up and out of his mouth was quite interesting. Every time I take him out, though, he wants to eat rocks. Truly a chow hound.

Did 7 loads of laundry, whic is pretty funny since MD said he had just done it all on Saturday. "All" turning out to be relative to what he needed that day, underwear. Yesterday he said he was out of jeans, ALL were in the laundry, and 7 pair were! So, today I fit laundry into everything else.

Ah, MD is arguing with the pup. I think the pup is winning! Better go check.

sticking to the week's challenge - sort of!

December 21st, 2005 at 10:51 pm

Well, I didn't EXACTLY buy another gift, but when I went to wrap up a set of gifts I had gotten MD, I found all the "accessories" and not the main gift! Checked the order, it wasn't on the invoice, went back through all the emails, and nope, I FOUND what I wanted, and managed to order the car light adapter and charger and case, but didn't actually buy the gadget! Now, a charger that doesn't charge anything does NOT make a great gift, so I zoomed my little fingers to the site and ordered it, on express. Sigh. Boo. It had been on a nice sale, with a bunch of other outlet and sale and coupon/offer stuff, so shipping was nothing. NOW, of course, it's full price and shipping is OUCH. Guess my mind wasn't that focused last week!

The weight bench did come, and I'm thrilled. A $700 professional quality bench, was $450 at one of the web sites, on sale for $350, and then a coupon and I accidentally ran into a "cyber day" sale of an extra 20% and it was free shipping. Invoice came to around $250, which is ALOT of money, but still less than MD paid for the bench that is now falling apart. And he is putting it together (weighs 125 pounds, I managed to get it into the house, but I am NOT wrapping it!) and it is excellent. HAPPY. Feels a little more like the holidays.

Received a check for a survey I took, a nice holiday card from another forum member, and managed to get the dog outside every time today! Accidentally fed him breakfast twice, but we are all still a bit tired from recent events.

The only other savings I can think of today was we dropped by Gloria Jeans and picked up MD's favorite coffee. Had a coupon for a free 1/4 pound, and had reached the level for a $10 discount, so not bad. Other coffee's are MUCH cheaper, we usually get Trader Joe's or store brands, but it's a nice treat.

Now, I HAVE to remember to go cook dinner, as we are running low of emergency back-up plan meals, and I want to get some protein back to my hair!

Fitness and Home Gym equipment on discount

December 20th, 2005 at 07:45 pm

Happy! MD's gifts have arrived. I'm upgrading our home gym equipment, and replacing some worn out parts. It has been a BEAR finding quality products at descent prices. There is no way MD will go to an outside gym with his scars and physical issues. But he has far exceded the capabilities of our basic equipment from Dick's and Sports Authority.

So, best sites I've found: Good site, no catalog, good prices, free shipping. Also incredibly great service. I was trying to find replacement foam pads that wrap around the leg lifts and arm cushions, and NO ONE has them. I sent emails everywhere, most sites were rude or didn't respond, but Scott at this site told me that they didn't have them, but he sent the address for a site that did ( I ended up buying several cool items there for 20% of what I saw at local stores.
Good prices, hit a great sale, good selection. Shipped very fast, great service.
Good prices, site was difficult to nagivate because they have SO much stuff, but they sent a catalog, and I found everything from bar wrap pads, to ab crunch weights, to well, I can't tell ALL of MD's gifts! But prices were excellent, and they don't bill until they ship, and they ship within 2 hours of receiving the order. Loved that.

A directory for finding different web sites for equipment vendors is:

I did spend more than I planned, but I saved more than 75% on everything I purchased, so I will need to calculate the break even point. I know it's all stuff he will LOVE, though, so HAPPY.

Even found a lat pulldown bar designed for extra tall men to target that area he claims he can never get to with our current equipment. Yeah!

Groceries, coupons, savings, and LIFE

December 20th, 2005 at 07:28 pm

Finally made it to the grocery store. I did try the, which did have a few buys I wasn't aware of, and had a great reminder system by color coding what is "buy this only if you are out" sale and a "buy this now and stock up" sale.

Didn't do too badly. Checkout price before savings was $203.92, and after savings was $89.62.

It would have been better, but I did need some spices, which are EXPENSIVE at a standard grocery story, and MD bought a chimney-cleaning log, $7. I told him he was RUINING my % savings, but he pointed out that hiring the chimney sweep every year was $100, and we aren't using the fireplace much this year. The fireplace DOES increase our heating bill as well as cause allergies, despite the forum arguments about what the air does or doesn't do. Hubbie has 3 PhDs, and one is in physics, so I keep my mouth shut about air flow and such.

The bad news, PetSmart. Had a $5 coupon, but by the time we bought a crate and a pad and some treats and a gate, it was $200. OUCH. And, I think Max will outsmart us on the gate in about two tries.

Didn't BUY ANY MORE GIFTS, so am keeping up my goal for the week. Need to wrap a few, I think that's my festive fix. NOT as fun, but we DO have costs to cut. The vet bills came to over $2000, the pet insurance was worthless. Never seen SO many loopholes. So, we continue to rebudget and dig for more ways to save.

I'm considering starting up a coupon train. I've got an envelope a week that is overflowing with ones I won't use. Anyone interested? Might ask another CERTAIN MEMBER to head it up if she wants. But, to be cost-effective, i.e., the costs of mailing has to be insignificant to the savings from the coupons received, there would need to be a committment of a turnaround time by each member of around 3 days. Is that reasonable? Anyone have any experience with this?

another day without buying gifts!

December 19th, 2005 at 10:01 pm

Okay, I'm STILL not feeling the great festivities and joy I get buying lots of last minute gifts. But, I didn't buy any gifts today. The big expense was running down to Costco to pick up a Rx, and picked up a few emergency food items. MD noted we are running out of my stockpile of muffins, soup, frozen meals, etc.

I did manage to dig out my pile of newspaper inserts and received coupons and cut them out and pile them up. MD hasn't filed the coupons yet, which he defends as HIS job in helping out in shopping. So, we will do the grocery shopping tomorrow. Mostly basics, a few items on sale for the holidays, like Gold Medal flour is 99 cents and I have a 25 cent coupon that will double to 50, and Philadelphia cream cheese on sale and a coupon for the frosting on the cinnamon rolls or stolen.

We need more chewy but not edible treats for the pup. He chews on EVERYTHING. The greenies went RIGHT through him. The rawhide chews he likes but gets bored pretty fast. He loves chewing the corners of the Christmas packages. I put a Neat Sheet over them, and MD held it down with an ottoman and weights, but the little one STILL managed to pull the Sheet off in about 60 seconds and was back in the gifts. Good thing he is SO cute.

It's been a hard day. A week since we put Mieske down. Spent an hour talking to JB about flying home to see my dad that is not my father. What a year! Anyhoo, the family has sent us $2000 to fly out and stay in a hotel. But, accepting money from the family means obligation and control and having to listen to their opinions, and staying "long enough" to have made their money worth while. There are issues with how long to stay and when, still trying to determine what is prognosis really is, 3 weeks or 3 months or 3 years.

There is debate about the inheritance, and if Mom will change the will when Dad is gone, lots of family politics about money that I want to stay clear of. It's amazing how families who are so loving can change so much over money.

Other than that, MD and I are just exhausted. So, we will be getting back to saving, and I will get back to writing up my savings challenges and successes and failures soon. Tomorrow, probably. For tonight, we crash.

Okay, maybe after I post a few freebies. Got to do SOMETHING useful today!