Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Today's Frugal Failures and Successes: Tuesday 4/28/15

  • I had to get up extra early to see Greg off and then it was a crazy day with lots of running around, but I was productive. I think. Sorry, I don't have many pictures to share in this post today.  

  • Since I needed to drive into Clermont to make the phone switcheroo at the AT&T store, I decided to do my grocery shopping trip at the same time. It saved me gas (i.e. no second trip tomorrow) and gave me extra time since school lets out earlier on Wednesday than on Tuesday.

  • I went to Walmart to purchase some clothing items for myself and ended up freezing up TWO separate self-checkout counters when I tried to verify the 3-digit code on my Amex.  There isn't a 3-digit code on Amex cards, but there is a 4-digit code.  The registers didn't like that.  The cashier manager who came out to help was super, super nice.  Not the kind of person you usually get at Walmart.  I ended up being checked out by the person supervising the self-check-out lanes and I paid with my Mastercard.  I was worried that maybe Amex would still get charged (twice!) for the $54 bill so the manager gave me her name and the name of the department to talk to  if that did happen and she wasn't there when I came back in.  I felt very good about the whole interaction and will be filling out the survey to compliment her.  She almost changed my mind about shopping at Walmart :)

  • After all the frustrations about not being able to print Earthbound Farm coupons for a couple of years, I was able to print one last week... only to discover that SuperTarget (at least mine) no longer seems to sell that brand! 

  • It rained last night and poured a good portion of the morning so I didn't have to water the garden AND the bins collected rainwater. Woohoo!

  • Greg being on a business trip for a few days means no gas or toll expenses for him (beyond the trips to and from the airport, which he won't expense, grrr!) and also no food expenses since he will be charging those to his corporate card.

  • My daughter packed a lunch for school. I dropped her off at school since I needed my car and went shopping at Publix right away since it opens at 7 a.m. and is on the way home.  I had brought the recycling bag with me so I recycled a few plastic bags, and a bunch of foam egg cartons and foam Racetrac coffee cups while I was there. I got several freebies too!

  • I put the 2nd season of "Elementary" on hold at the library. I don't love it but it's fine to have on in the background while I'm doing something else, so...

  • I harvested a few more green beans (in the rain!).

  • My son packed a lunch for school as well. I delayed my shopping trip so I could drop him off at school (it was pouring) on the way.

  • I brought my own coffee with me in a traveling mug. 

  • I stopped by Save A Lot to see if they had milk or meat on clearance. They didn't, but I did score "brown" bananas for $0.29/lb.  I also bought 3 boxes of Hamburger Helper for just $1.00 a box and qualified to get a 1-lb package of ground beef for free after mail-in rebate. It's as if I got 1 lb of beef for $3.00 and got 3 free boxes of Hamburger Helper with it.  At least, that's the way I see it :)  The ground beef I got was $5.49/lb.

  • I made sure to go to Target & Dunkin' Donuts before going to AT&T so I could use the Target Cartwheel app, the Target digital coupons and make a purchase with the Dunkin' Donuts app on my phone... however, after they switched the SIM cards, the only thing that changed on my "old" phone was that it was assigned to my son. My apps were still on there, until I reset the phone when I got home. I don't know why I thought switching the SIM cards would wipe the phones too... brain fart!

  • At Target, I went to Customer Service and explained that the $1.00 digital coupon for the Seventh Generation dishwashing liquid  that I purchased on Sunday hadn't been deducted so they refunded me $1.00 in cash. I found the Immaculate Baking Co mixes with "Try Me Free" offers on them (one per address, I picked the brownies). Since I needed separate receipts for rebates, I paid for food items and non-food items separately. I redeemed the $10 gift card that I got from buying the cat litter on Sunday for the food items.  I also bought 2 more boxes of cat litter and earned another $10 gift card that I will use for groceries during another trip.

  • I went to Dunkin' Donuts to redeem a free coffee perk that expired tomorrow.  It qualifies me to redeem a survey code that gave me a free donut (I kept it for my son's snack), and I purchased a reduced-fat muffin for my daughter for just $0.99 since I had a coupon that Valpak had sent me.  The purchase earned me another TWO free drink perks: one because I only needed 2 more points to reach the 200 point level (200 points = 1 free drink) and the other because they had a special perk alert where you earned a free drink just for making a purchase! Those don't expire until late July. I asked for the coffee to be black and I put it in the fridge when I got home (I will have it for breakfast tomorrow).

  • At AT&T, switching the phones only took a few minutes and I wasn't charged for the two $40 activation fees that I thought I would be, since it was just a straight equipment swap! I was very happy to hear that!

  • I gassed up my car at Racetrac and got another receipt with a survey to take (i.e. free coffee!).  Gas was $2.489/gallon.  It's going up!  Greg texted me that gas is $2.70/gallon in San Francisco.

  • My favorite deal today (aside from all the freebies!) was the 7 boxes of Lucky Charms that I bought from Walgreens.  I had 3 boxes on my shopping list but when I got to the cereal aisle, they only had 1 box there.  Since the Cinnamon Toast Crunch was also on sale for $1.99 a box and I had coupons for those too, I got 2 boxes. But as I was walking to the cash register, I saw a display with more boxes of Lucky Charms... and those boxes had BOGO coupons printed on the back of the boxes!  Squeal!  I put the Cinnamon Toast Crunch back as well as the Lucky Charms box that did NOT have the BOGO coupon and grabbed 3 of the boxes with coupon. I checked out and redeemed a $3.00 Register Reward that I had earned last week.  My total for those 3 boxes was $1.22.  When I got back to the car, it occurred to me that I also had $5.00 in Balance Reward points available!  I looked through my coupons and found 2 more coupons for $1.00/2 General Mills cereals (including Lucky Charms), so I went back inside and got 4 more boxes with the BOGO coupons on the back (the last 4 boxes, as a matter of fact).  I paid $0.96 for all 4.  So for $2.18, I purchased 7 boxes of Lucky Charms priced at $4.59 regularly, and also will be able to get 14 FREE boxes of General Mills cereals the next time Publix or Winn-Dixie have a BOGO sale on those (which is quite often, actually).  21 boxes of cereal for $2.18!!! The coupons expire in June 2016 so I have plenty of time :)

  • I had a late lunch at home.  I made a quick sandwich with one of the Flatout Artisan Breads and the last few slices of salami that I bought last week.  Then it was time to pick up my daughter from school. On the way back we stopped by Family Dollar to see if they had lettuce seeds (the Dollar Tree only had 1 packet left).  They had lots of them so I bought 8 more (for $0.25 each).  Then we went to the library to pick up 2 books that had become available for my son and me. We also stopped by the local Racetrac for my daughter to get a free drink refill. My son had told me not to get him one as he wanted to walk there on his own later on, but the weather didn't cooperate.

  • Back home, I endeavored to wipe my "old" phone out and upgrade its iOS to 7.1 for my son. It worked!  It took a little bit of time to make sure all the settings were the way I wanted them to be so his battery would last longer, etc.  I also restored my old phone back-up to my new phone. I had chosen the "encrypted back-up" option so it restored everything without me having to log back in to most of my accounts, which saved lots of time. I had read (on the Apple website, no less) that I would lose all my old text messages, but everything was restored!  There is a slight problem with a couple of contacts that I cannot seem to be able to delete or edit, and also there is a problem with iCloud. I'll email Apple about it. I don't plan on using it but I want to be able to have the option if I want to.  I updated several apps too.  All in all, all of the apps were much better in their old iteration on my old phone. From the look, to the placement of things... the old versions allowed me to be more productive, to be honest. Now it takes longer to accomplish the same thing, the contrast of the design in several apps is all wrong for people with poor vision like me (i.e. not enough contrast), etc. I'm sure I'll get used to it but I feel like I have lost functionality instead of gaining some.

  • Dinner was simple: a $0.33 box of macaroni and cheese and the leftover chicken drumsticks from last night.  The kids didn't want any strawberries for dessert, though.

  • I received Target coupons in the mail, including a $5/$25 clothing coupon.  Grrr, I just spent a lot of money on clothing at Target this past Sunday!  I don't anticipate needing anything else before the coupon expires...

  • I submitted several rebates to SavingStar and Checkout 51.

  • Looking at my CVS receipt once I got home, I realized that the cashier hadn't rung up the CVS-branded generic chex mix that I bought for my son. It was $1.00 and 30% off (so $0.70).

  • I ordered 3 samples via SampleSource: BreatheRight, Garnier Fructis, and Nature's Path Granola.

  • Clothes and shoes for me. I went to Walmart and found a pair of shorts and a pair of capris with the cargo pocket that I wanted.  I also got a new bra and a pair of black ballet flats. 

  • Snacks!  I was tired and hungry (despite bringing homemade bread for my shopping snack!) so I ended up buying several snacks that weren't on my shopping list and I went over budget but oh well.

  • When will I learn?!  For the 3rd or 4th time these past 12 months, a gallon of milk crashed to the ground when I opened my trunk door because I had forgotten to secure the milk in a box or on the floor of the back seat.  Arrgh!  This time I sprung into action and grabbed the bottle before it completely exploded. It had a large cut at the top of it and I lost about 1/8th to 1/4 of a gallon. Thankfully it happened at Walgreens, just a couple of miles from my house and it had been my last shopping stop. So I rummaged in my trunk and found one of my Publix "freezer" bags that are lined with plastic.  I put the gallon on its back in the bag, the milk sloshing all over the place, and emptied the one cardboard box that I had gotten from Save A Lot (very ironically so I could put the milk in there but of course I forgot!), put the bag in the box and propped it with the pack of soda cans, bananas and jars of gravy that I had gotten from other stores.  Then I proceeded to drive home very slowly and very carefully, in as straight a line as I could.  I lost some milk in the bag and since meat had previously been transported in the bag, I just dumped it. However, I was able to transfer the remaining milk from the broken bottle into the almost empty jug that I had in the fridge.  Victory!  I did notice, though, that the 2nd gallon of milk that I had bought was also damaged (although it didn't crash to the floor, but the cap was askew, I think the bottles got banged against the heavy boxes of cat litter in my trunk) so I might need to transfer it to another container (if I can find one) and freeze it before it goes bad.

  • I thought I'd avoid going to Dollar Tree to get chili powder since I saw it at Save A Lot for $1.00. However, there is almost a full ounce more in the Dollar Tree container than in the Save A Lot container :( In the end, I stopped by Dollar Tree anyway because I wanted to get more lettuce seeds. 

  • Family Dollar charged me tax on the seeds that I bought (Dollar Tree didn't).  It was only $0.14 but it shouldn't have been collected. The cashier was on a personal phone call when I checked out so I couldn't bring it up with her.  I researched it online and printed the documentation from the Florida Department of Revenue. I will go back with my receipt and ask for my $0.14 back, maybe tomorrow. It's just down the street from my house so I can walk.

  • I still don't know why I did, but I succumbed to "the call of the freebie" at CVS... they advertised a free reusable bag with 30% off any regular-priced CVS branded items that would fit in the bag.  I have TONS of reusable bags so it's not like I needed another one, and CVS-branded items are horribly overpriced when they're not on sale... I ended up buying a box of tissues (I needed tissues but I could have probably found a better deal somewhere else), a small bottle of dish liquid detergent (?!) and a bag of generic Chex Mix for my son (which the cashier forgot to scan so that failure wasn't mine, at least).

  • My daughter and I are driving to Tallahassee on Sunday for her National History Day competition on Monday-Tuesday.  The teacher told us we'd be staying in dorms somewhere but the little information we received today doesn't mention accommodations at all.  I left a voicemail for the coordinator at the School District level asking her what the deal was but I think we might have to get a hotel for a couple of nights.  I don't want to make a reservation until I hear back from them (a lot of hotels will now charge you for a night's stay if you cancel at any time) but I'm also leery of driving 4+ hours away without knowing where we'll be staying!  Also, there is no information on whether we should bring a laptop or if they'll have computers available... and wi-fi connections!  I don't have enough data on my plan to do a hotspot.  My daughter wanted to come back on Monday so as to only miss 1 day of school, but the presentation of the awards is Tuesday and if we're not going to be there for the awards, I'm not really sure why we're going at all (knowing that we can't go to Nationals anyway...).  I'm peeved at the teacher and district coordinator for not having getting answers sooner... we're 3-4 days away from leaving and we have no idea of what is going on! I hate it when people don't communicate. It's my worse pet peeve.

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

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