Thursday, March 19, 2015

Today's Frugal Failures and Successes: Thursday 3/19/15

  • You know how sometimes you get all ambitious when designing your menus and when it comes time to cook you're like "Screw this, I'm making spaghetti and nuking some frozen meatballs!". No?  It's just me, then. Well, last night's dinner plan called for me to make a Spaghetti Fritatta and grill some chicken sausages.  That sounded good to me. Last night rolled around and I was tired from all the chatting with my middle son (yes, it doesn't take much these days to exhaust me!) so I ended up just cooking the spaghetti and "grilling" the sausages in my toaster oven. No one minded, it was easy and ended up being more frugal since I didn't have to use any eggs or shredded cheese.

  • I had to empty out my whole freezer to get to the pork tenderloin that I needed to defrost for tonight's dinner. Arrgh.  I wish I could have a smaller freezer for each kind of items: 1 for the pork, one for the chicken, one for baked goods, etc.  Right now my chest freezer is organized (if you can call it that!) by using reusable bags to group items of the same kind. It's a trick I had read about on Lifehacker last year ago. It's still not as organized as it should be, but I least I only have to lift bags out of the freezer instead of having to pull each pack of meat out one by one...  I'd love to say that I color-coded the whole thing so chicken is in a yellow bag, etc.  Visual Me tried that and would love to say it worked but Very Forgetful Me could never remember which color was which (and Lazy Me never got around to posting a color key next to the freezer) so right now I just try to remember that the pork is at the very bottom to the left, the beef is at the bottom in the middle, the chicken is on top, etc.  I wonder if people waste a lot of frozen food because when they open their filled-up and messy freezer, they get discouraged and just close it back up and order out.  I certainly have found very ancient items in my freezers in the past.  On that note, I'll mention that the pork tenderloin that I'm defrosting was bought over a year ago at Winn Dixie for $2.99/lb.  I know it was over a year ago because I really haven't been shopping at Winn Dixie this past year.  They do have great deals on meat, I should get back into the habit of checking out their weekly flyer.  We won't eat the whole tenderloin tonight so I'll put the other half in the fridge to cook it on Saturday.

  • A couple of commenters mentioned to me, on The NonConsumer Advocate, that I should check the availability of rebates or tax credits for the new energy-efficient windows that we're ordering.  I hadn't thought about it.  I did, but there is nothing available in my area save for some rebates on solar water heating. Rats!

  • I forgot to take my donations to the thrift store yesterday!  I am so absent-minded. I had even written to take them on my to-do list but honestly, these days, unless I have a phone alarm that beeps to remind me to do things, I tend to forget.  Putting an alarm on my phone for next Wednesday right now...

  • I had to wash all those plastic Easter eggs that I'm donating to the library for their egg hunt because they were dirty from having been in the attic for several years.  They're drying outside and I'll have my daughter drop them off on Monday since she'll be driving my car on that day.

  • I also forgot to mention, yesterday, that when buying loose produce at Save A Lot, I reused produce bags from previous trips. I don't tie them closed so when I get home, I put them back into my coupon organizer's front pocket so I can reuse them.  I just shoved everything in the fridge in the bags yesterday since I was distracted by my middle son's chatting, so I today I put the bags back in my coupon organizer.  Have I mentioned that I really like it? Although it's quite bulky and makes me look like a pharmaceutical rep, I really do like its functionality (even though I don't even use coupons all that much anymore).  I got it from Jenn's Coupon Organizers, which is a Florida-based, female veteran-owned company. I made my own dividers with colored cardstock that I laminated, since hers didn't meet my needs. I'll have to write a post about that at some point. Here's a link to a visual post that Jenn wrote about the features of the current line.  I own the black organizer. I've been using it for 5-6 months now.

  • It seems that I've finally trained my family to recycle certain items that they used to throw away!  
    • Everyone knows to just leave the empty cereal boxes on the kitchen table so I can check them for Boxtops, Kellogg's Family Rewards codes, and coupons before they go in the recycling bin.
    • They err on the side of caution nowadays and put things in the recycling bin that we actually don't recycle here but I'd rather pick things out of the recycling bin (because they also know to rinse them before adding them to the bin) than from the trashcan!
    • They have finally started putting the toilet paper cardboard cores into the receptacles that I have put next to each toilet (cut out cat litter jugs with a crappy hand-written sign saying "put the toilet paper tubes in HERE!).
    • Greg is leaving his empty yogurt cups next to the sink. He won't go as far as washing them and putting them in the recycling bin himself but hey. he's not throwing them away anymore either!  Baby steps, baby steps...

  • The sad reality of being frugal AND being watchful of what I eat nowadays... I can't partake in the Free Cheese Fondue promo from The Melting Pot.  Waaaaa.... which reminds me, my son has never had cheese fondue. I think he would love it.  I should make cheese fondue. Oh. I SHOULD MAKE CHEESE FONDUE.  This would be very had for our diets though, Somebody stop me.  Wait, we're going to be near Switzerland in  a couple of months... we'll just have fondue then.  It'll be much better AND we'll be on vacation and calories don't count when you're on vacation :)

  • Tip: if you shop at Meijer's you might be able to get a $10 coupon (there aren't any Meijers down here). I would love our stores to offer a $10 coupon!  I still miss those Enjoy the City $5/$30 Winn Dixie coupons, darn it. Is anyone still buying Enjoy the City books now that they no longer have the WD coupons in them?

  • I got a giggle out of iTunes being categorized as a "record store" on my Discover Card statement.  Someone is stuck in the 70's, methink.  I bet you most kids nowadays don't even know what a record store is.

  • I clipped the coupons that I printed and recipes from free magazines from the library's donation pile while I was using my recumbent bike. It made me so hungry! But I should have plenty of recipes to choose from when I decide to start working on my menus again.

  • I took a Swagbucks surveys, it took about 20 minutes, and at the end, it told me I was disqualified. I was so annoyed that I emailed their Customer Service.  They did apologize and credited me for the 60 SB.

  • Greg decided to work from home today, saving us about $20 in gas and tolls.

  • I was supposed to take our son to Great Clips to get a haircut tonight after dinner but since Greg isn't using the car, I decided to go tomorrow so we could have a "No Drive Day" today. This makes it the 12th No Drive Day of the year for us, so we're halfway through our 2015 goal of spending 24 days without driving at all. It's harder than it should be with my teenage daughter involved in after-school activities and volunteering, including on the weekends.

  • Our son packed a lunch to take to school.

  • I drank the 1/2 cup of coffee left in the pot that I brewed yesterday before brewing more.

  • I defrosted the blueberry muffin that I had gotten for free from Racetrac yesterday for our son's after-school snack.  

  • Target texted me new digital coupons.  The only one that I'm "excited" about is the $1.00 off Market Pantry lunch meat.  There is one for Grape Nuts but Greg went from eating it several times a day to only eating it once or twice on the weekends and I still have 3 boxes on my cereal shelf.

  • I struggled with my son's desktop as I wanted to print some extra coupons from it  but Smartsource is hating Java right now. I uninstalled the old versions, installed the new version, verified that the new Java is working fine but Smartsource keeps on telling me that it can't find Java at all. GRRRR... I was able to print the Target coupons though, FINALLY!  And also coupons from via Swagbucks. I decided to go ahead and print all the pet coupons from there since I'm donating the pet coupons to my local animal shelter's thrift store. They must be using them since they're always excited when I give them the ones I find in the inserts that I get for free.  So if I print them from Swagbucks and they use them, I'll get 10 SB per redeemed coupons for only the cost of my ink.  So, it'll help them and their customers, and it'll help me as well.  Since I'm printing fewer coupons for myself these days, it becomes all a wash, I think. My paper was free from Staples with coupons and rebates anyway and I use scrap paper to print coupons as well (if I only need to print 1 or 2 at a time). 

  • I took the survey from my 2nd Racetrac receipt from yesterday and earned a survey reward code for another free bakery item. Woohoo!

  • Greg mowed our lawn.  It's a frugal victory because we don't pay for landscaping services (and he actually enjoys it!).

  • I put several books and a DVD on hold at our library.

  • You've got to love middle-age... right when I thought I had found the solution for being comfortable at night in our upstairs bedroom (turn down the AC to 75 in the afternoon and through the night), a hot flash reminded me that I shouldn't try to be so cheap... so I turned the pedestal fan back on and made my peace with the extra expense.  If I save money in other areas, it's OK to spend a little more in other areas.  In my case, I'm not buying lattes at Starbucks, I'm turning down the thermostat in my house. Because, darn it, I'm worth it :)

  • I ran out of rainwater to water my garden so I used tap water and the hoses.  Not frugal since we have to pay for the water.  We do have 2 small gutters on the back of the house that Greg installed last year and I just asked him if we could somehow re-route the downspouts to collect the water in bins or rain barrels instead of having it drain into the ground. He said "sure" so we'll have to think of a way to do that soon.  In the meantime, I probably need to buy more bins from the thrift store. I resisted buying 3 of them yesterday, grrr.  The backyard doesn't look very "polished" with all those plastic bins laying about, but I don't really care :)

  • I forgot to turn off my son's computer after printing the coupons, as Greg helpfully pointed out after I came back in from watering the garden so we wasted electricity. He was kind enough to turn it off once he noticed that it was still running :)

  • I didn't get any freebies today:(

Did you have any frugal successes or failures today? Please do tell!

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