Thursday, April 16, 2015

Daily Frugal Failures and Successes: Thursday 4/16/15



HAPPENINGS AROUND HERE TODAY:
  • I've been spoiling my family: at dinner last night, Greg exclaimed that the spaghetti and sliced chicken Italian sausage that I served "wasn't gourmet cooking!". The kids defended me since they love anything that has pasta in it anyway, but I have to admit that the joke stung a little.  I didn't put any less love into making dinner because I kept it simple!

  • For the past year I've been doing a few mystery shops for a company called "Market Force". A friend had referred. While the assignments allowed me to make (very little) money and get a few items for free, they were very time consuming and their website is  poorly designed, with inconsistant information from section to section. For my most recent assignment, the site wouldn't upload my receipt. I emailed it to them but for an untold reason, they refuse to accept emailed receipts (the same ones that I'm trying to upload) and asked that I fax it to them, using an online faxing company. I did.  6 days later, and after wasting my time each day to check the status of my receipt on their site, the receipt is still not showing up as having been uploaded. In the meantime, I pointed out inaccuracies on their online survey process and was reprimanded for "not answering the survey truthfully." This morning, I emailed them asking them the status of my receipt and stating that I didn't understand why they couldn't use the version I emailed them. I received a very rude and passive aggressive non-reply from their "Customer Service" department so I told them to cancel my account. I will lose $16 but my time is worth more than that anyway, especially since they're apparently doing away with faxed receipts and I can't trust that their website will accept my uploads. My recommendation is to stay clear of that company. 

  •  I love doing genealogical research, mostly on Greg's family since mine is all overseas.  I have a huge database and I'm always looking for more information to refine it.  Today, Fold3 emailed me to say that they were opening their Civil War records for free.  I usually take advantage of those freebies and it sucked me right in.  With me, it's all or nothing so I think I'm going to be quite obsessed with genealogy for the next few weeks again :)  I spent my afternoon doing research and recording my findings. Such fun!

FRUGAL SUCCESSES:
  • My daughter drove herself to school, saving me a round-trip (i.e time and money). She also packed her lunch and didn't forget to bring it along today!

  • I packed leftover for Greg to take to work.

  • Our son packed his lunch as well.

  • For breakfast, I heated up the large hazelnut-flavored coffee that I got for free from Racetrac yesterday.  I'm certain that they used to have XL cups but now it seems their largest size is "L".

  • I reused water left in my cup from last night to water my rose cuttings.

  • I reused water collected in the shower to flush the toilet.

  • I washed a length of already reused aluminum foil and refolded it so I can continue to reuse it.

  • I checked the weather app and it's supposed to rain this afternoon... it never did rain yesterday but the garden still looks fine so I'll take my chance for today. I can always water it around 4 p.m. if rain really doesn't look possible.  My "guest" squash plants growing in the bean patch have flowers this morning!  One of them is definitely looking like it'll turn into some kind of squash. I'm thinking butternut squash like the one I planted in the same patch over the winter.  I wonder if it just reseeded itself or if it's indeed from the compost. No matter, I have several squash plants growing in that patch right now and they're looking strong and healthy.  The beans are flowering too!

  • The Bibb lettuce is flowering, I will be collecting (or trying to collect) lettuce seeds shortly.  The tomato plants are full of blooms, Greg is starting to panic that he'll have to harvest and preserve all the tomatoes on his own, lol. 

  • I reused a large pot to replant my rhubarb.  I think the pot it was in was too small.  I hope it survives the transplant, although I didn't disturb it soil at all as I just picked up the whole thing, dropped it in the larger pot, and added more potting soil... and this time I mulched it too.

  • I was going to place an online order at Lowe's for store pick-up on Saturday so I could earn the Swagbucks, use the $10 coupon I got, and use the e-gift cards I have, but I decided to get fruit trees so I will just shop in-store on Saturday morning. I'm sure I'll be agonizing about what to get. I wish they would sell loquat trees but they don't :(

  • I transplanted the 3 basil cuttings that had grown roots. I put them in the same pot as my other basil plants.  I also transplanted the 3 majoram cuttings into the same pot as my marjoram plant.

  • I took 3 more cuttings of basil and used rainwater. I set it on my windowsill and should be able to transplant them in a couple of weeks.

  • I cut the bottoms of the 2 buckets that I got at Lowe's last weekend with Greg's electric saw.  I will use them as potato towers.

  • While I was in the shed, I saw that Greg had fixed a broken chair so he could use it at his workbench :)

  • I chose 2 potatoes with large eyes, cut them in half, kept the good half for cooking and planted the other halves into the ground of my "cursed" garden bed. I used the buckets to support the netting over it (so the squirrels don't dig them out). Once the plants have emerged. I will place the buckets over them and will start "hilling" them by adding soil to the buckets so only the top of the plant remains.  The blogger who uses that method says that he gets about 5-10 lbs of potatoes per bucket.  I think I might get more buckets this Saturday since I have more potatoes that have sprouted.

  • I requested a free sample box of CeraVe products.  I will share them with my daughter.


  • I earned 5 KFR points by entering bonus code PTSW-ORTH-MELT-ING4 into my Kellogg's Family Rewards account.

  • I pinched back the flowering basil and harvested a few leaves to make a caprese salad for my lunch.

HOWEVER, WE FAILED IN THE FOLLOWING WAYS, BUT LEARNED SOME LESSONS:
  • I received our latest electrical bill and it was for $182.49.  Our house is about 2,500 sq ft and almost 85 years-old so the insulation is really bad.  For the same time period, we paid $153.80 last year, $183.11 in 2013, and $175.28 in 2012. (we still had our older AC unit in 2012 so it must have been a cooler year!).  We have been keeping the AC at 75 (74 at night for the last 2 nights) this year, which is the price of having hot flashes and I've also baked a lot more this month than the two previous months. But for the past few months I've been hanging the laundry out as much as I can and we're very good at turning off the lights. I don't feel that I'm seeing any significant savings from hanging the laundry.  The good news is that I usually budget $200 for this month's electrical bill and that, for 2015 so far, we are under budget by $366.05.  This is more before I tend to over-budget so we don't have any surprises and we have several small "cushions" in the yearly budget to cover unexpected expenses.

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

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