Saturday, August 15, 2015

Frugal Failures and Successes: Saturday 8/15/15

Found this on another blog and loved it so I'm borrowing it :)


HAPPENINGS AROUND HERE TODAY:
  • My daughter has her job interview this afternoon, I'm kind of nervous for her, lol. In the meantime, still no news from the library about my application so I think it's safe to say that they weren't interested in me :(  Update: my daughter got the job!  Woohoo! I'm so happy for her!

  • We spent a quiet day at home.  Greg was sore from exercising a lot yesterday so he decided to not do any chores today.  He and our son spent several hours playing Axis and Allies in our entry room.  I did some uncluttering, baking, putting things away and I read blogs while earning Swagbucks :)


FRUGAL SUCCESSES:
  • I asked Greg this morning if he had plans to go anywhere today or if we could have a No Drive Day. His reply was "Well, today is going to be a No Drive Day until today when you declare you don't feel like cooking!"  Arumpf.  So maybe he knows me a little too well!   Bent on proving him wrong, I resolved to make the Ratatouille Bake that is on my menu for this week.  I'm excited about this dish because I love ratatouille (my French grandma's ratatouille was the best!) and because it is going to free up some space in my upright side-by-side freezer.

  • So I foraged through the freezer and decided to use the shredded zucchini (2 cups but that'll shrink to nothing once defrosted), a big bag of yellow squash (cut in chunks, my neighbor had given them to us from his garden a couple of years ago), a little bit of okra (not in the recipe but a perfect addition!), and some green pepper.

  • I was able to inventory (although I didn't write anything down!) the "veggie/fruit" freezer and reorganize it a bit, consolidating bags, putting like items on the same shelf, etc.  Oh my, I have a lot of frozen berries. Methinks I should bake something this week. And I have enough rhubarb for a last rhubarb pie, yay!  I also found a container of sour cream (frozen before my trip to France), some grated Parmesan cheese, and a bag of shredded Monterey Jack cheese (frozen before my trip to France) plus some odds and ends.  I defrosted a bag of apricot halves and I'll bake German Apricot Cake this afternoon.  I also ended up with 10 empty zipper bags of various sizes that I'll be able to rewash and reuse :)

  • I also set some bread dough to rise so I could bake fresh bread.  It's been on the kitchen table for a couple of hours and it hasn't risen at all. Well, poop. I'm starting to think that my yeast isn't good anymore, although I have stored it in the fridge. Also, I have a lot of it left AND another unopened pack in my pantry that was bought at the same time. I supposed that I should be baking a lot more bread. Yikes, not good for our waist lines!

  • I earned my Bing Rewards credits for the day, I'm at 61% of my goal currently.

  • On the Swagbucks side, I'm killing it!  I'm up to 2,209 SB already (as of 10:30 a.m.) so I anticipate being able to order my 3rd $25 Amazon gift card of the month tomorrow. Yippee!  I've also reached my Daily Goal 14 Days in a row, which means I'll be getting a 100 SB bonus next month. I'm pretty excited. I didn't get the job at the library but at least I'm bringing in a tiny bit of an income, you know?

  • Speaking of Swagbucks, I've gotten in the habit of leaving a Chrome tab open with my Twitter account displayed throughout the day. I really only use Twitter to retweet things that will give me access to coupons, etc.. and to monitor accounts that will give me access to discounts and promos :)  Well, last week I started following @ezswag  This "user" (I think it's a bot) posts all the hourly winners of the 1,000 SB every hour (usually you have to check the blog page to see that and who thinks about doing that?!) as well as all the swagcodes that are released, including those for Canada, the UK, and Ireland! What's even better is that it also tells you when a code has expired so you don't waste your time.  I really like it! I have been able to gain  2-4 SB here and there that way.  That account also publishes promo codes for other kinds of contests apparently, so make sure you read the tags in the messages to make sure that the codes are indeed for Swagbucks. Leaving the Chrome tab open allows me to know when there is a new tweet in my "feed" since the tab gets a notification icon that shows that there is/are new tweets. That way, I don't have to remember to go onTwitter every hour (my phone is busy running SBTV pretty much all day!).

  • Yesterday, I received an email from Roku that had the word "free" in it. You know me... it's hard to resist FREE.  However, I did. Well, OK, I wasn't going to so I reached out to Greg and he helped me resist.  You see, it regarded Game of Thrones, a series that Greg and I have really enjoyed watching (as in we first got it from the library and then bought the DVDs/BluRays because the wait was too long!) aside from the last season which we didn't really like. We don't have cable so we just wait until the seasons have been published on Blu-Ray (we only buy Blu-Ray now that Greg has an Xbox One, the quality is so much better... and I'm still hoping to find a Blu-Ray player at a thrift store at some point, although a garage sale might be a better option?), resisting my brother's offer to get it for us on torrents. I don't do that illegal torrent thing.  So right now we are not planning on watching Season 5 (that just aired) until March next year.  However, as I was saying, Vudu is offering for us to see the first episode for free IF we preorder Season Five, which will be available on Vudu August 31 of this year. Oh, the temptation! So I emailed Greg, asking what he thought of the offer, with a list of pros and cons as I see it: 
    • Pros: 1) we get to see it now instead of waiting until March/April and 2)the price is the same as pre-ordering the Blu-Rays on Amazon
    • Cons: 1) we could get it for free on Amazon if I bank my Swagbucks gift cards, 2) if we went the Vudu route we would have to manage yet another streaming library (we already have Netflix and content that we bought on Amazon Prime Video).
Greg's reply was that we should wait.  He's right, we're in no rush and that would be the most frugal option for us. Also, he's going to be watching a lot of football this fall, and then at Christmas we'll be watching those Lord of the Rings extended edition Blu-Rays that I bought a few weeks ago. And right now we're re-watching Frasier on Netflix for the nth time (such a great show, we laugh so much every night!).  So, long story finally ending... I resisted :)


  • At my suggestion, my daughter went to Aldi yesterday to look for health-conscious foods that she would like me to buy for her. My goal was for her to realize that there are other alternatives to buying expensive stuff from regular grocery stores... and that Aldi beats them all. Goal? Smashed!  In her own words: "I wrote the price of everything I would buy when I was at Target the other day, and I compared it to Aldi and EVERYTHING at Aldi was cheaper... it was crazy. Even brand names like Arizona tea."  She's almost 17.  I think it's awesome that at 16 she's already comparing prices and making somewhat of a price book, don't you think?!  She's light years ahead compared to her siblings, quite frankly.
Two of the items she would like to have for her lunch box. Funny, I had just printed
coupons for Nature Valley Oats'N Honey bars yesterday, thinking I would
get her those next time they were on BOGO at Publix :)
  • Of course, my retort was to point out that Arizona tea was bad for her (but so delicious!) but that CVS would have it for 50 cents a can next week with a CVS card. Since she likes green tea, I suggested she makes iced green tea at home with the $1.00 for 100 green tea bags that I buy at the Dollar Tree for Greg and that she looks for recipes online too.  She thought that was a great idea and she will look for recipes on Pinterest :)

  • Since I've had a CVS Extracare card in Greg's name for several years but he never uses it (he doesn't do any shopping unless he has to!), I switched all the information over to my daughter's info. I did have to fib about her DOB since you have to be 18 to get a discount card (how dumb is that?!) but I won't lose any sleep over it. I want her to be able to save money if she goes shopping there, and since there is one near the Community College, she might just. That way she can start learning about ECBs, rolling them, etc.


  • My son has been grounded for a couple of days and unable to use the computer. I think it's the first time that I have grounded him in... years.  Anyhoo, he's been reading the Dungeons & Dragons manuals, drawing, going to the park.  Yesterday he wanted to go to the library but it was right at closing time so he went today. I asked him to return the DVD set that was due on Monday, as well as pick up any free coupon inserts from the donation pile if he saw any.  Since my daughter will be using my car on Monday, it saves me some time and steps, lol. Plus we won't be fined for late items ($1 a day for DVDs!) if, for some reason, I can't make it on Monday.  Also, he did come back with a small coupon insert that he found in the donation pile for me. Woohoo!
  • I was trying to put some laundry away in our room and got frustrated with our stuffed our dresser was. I couldn't even close Greg's undies/socks drawer!  So I reorganized part of it: I took all my socks, bras and undies out, which freed up a drawer for Greg's socks and unearthed this organizer from the laundry room where it had been collecting dust.
I'm always glad that I keep everything that I could be reusing at
some point. Yes, my house can feel cluttered at times, but it saves
us a lot of money.

  • At first I was going to use it for my undies, socks and bras, but  it didn't quite work as the top bin kept on collapsing on the bottom one, so I looked around for another solution and spotted the 2 drawers under my thriftstore-bought-bedside-table-turned-TV-stand.  I figured they would be perfect (and the room would look better too with my undies out of sight!).  
  • Since they were full of "stuff", I emptied them out and divided the contents into 3 piles: relocate, throw away, donate.  The donation box received a TV antenna, several brand new (albeit a few years old) bottles of nail polish, and other make-up items as well as hot rollers.  The relocation pile included a eye liner pencil (for my daughter), several deodorants, many razors, and other personal care items.  I ended up using one of the white baskets for some of those items that are now stored under my vanity table, and the other for my winter socks, which are now stored in my closet.  The low socks, undies and bras are now housed in the TV stand.  
All of this went into the thrift store donation box, except for the plastic shoebox
which I reused to organize my ice cube trays in the kitchen.
  • I cleaned the upstairs bathroom with some of the Lysol wipes that I had gotten for free after rebate last year.

  • I reused water from the shower to flush the toilet.  I remembered that I had seen a tip about putting Efferdent tablets in a toilet to get rid of mineral deposits so I added them to my shopping list. I'll see if I can find generic ones at the Dollar Tree.

  • I used rainwater to water my indoor seedlings and zombie plants :)

  • For lunch Greg made himself a PBJ  and had a yogurt (he didn't want anything else), and our son made himself a sandwich.  I had the leftover Caribbean rice from a couple of night ago, a hamburger patty that was leftover as well, the leftover salad from several nights ago (with homemade vinaigrette) and a quarter of a cantaloupe. Later on we all had delicious homemade bread.

  • Our electric bill came in and is for $232.20. Since sometimes the dollar amount doesn't tell the whole story, I looked up our consumption.  Duke Energy has this nifty Bill Analysis Tool on their website (see below): last year's bill for the same period was for $292.59 so I'm happy for the drop! We used 1,912 kWh last year vs. 1,573 kWh this past month. The difference? With Greg and our son gone camping for 2 weeks, I left the AC at 78 as much as I could and slept downstairs. Also 2 computers weren't turned on all day, fewer lights were needed in the evenings, etc. 

  • There is a 50% off scented candles sale on Bath&BodyWorks.com today and I really wanted to order some more Beach Grass candles since we enjoyed the one that burnt out today (see "Failures") so much but of course 2 candles would still be $24 (TWENTY FOUR DOLLARS FOR 2 CANDLES AND THAT'S WITH A 50% OFF SALE?!) and the $1 shipping only starts with a $25 order (of course!). There is a 15% off discount with ShopDiscover that I could stack, but I couldn't get the $1 shipping too since they both require a promo code and I can only use 1 promo code at a time, as per the Discover terms. So I resisted.  I'm thinking that they will send me some coupons close to the holidays so I should be able to use them then and have Greg give them to me for my birthday :)  Truth is, I just had coupons (even a freebie one!) but the closest store is 25-30 minutes away from my house and I'm stocked with soaps and bubble bath (and didn't realize that this yummy candle was from Bath & Body Works!) so I let them expire. Argh.

  • My daughter called us to announce that she had gotten the job!  On the frugality side, it's "in town" (well, in Clermont so about 15 minutes away, which is much better than if she had gotten a job at Universal Studios!), and since she will be earning money, I won't need to be paying her for volunteering. I'm not even sure that she'll be able to volunteer at all with the work schedule that it sounds she will have and all her other commitments. Thankfully she had already earned more than the 100 hours of volunteering required for the Bright Futures scholarship. On the other hand, she will be needing my car every night that she doesn't have a college class to attend (until she gets her own car), which, with her brother's cross country season starting soon, will be challenging and we will never see her :(  We really need to get that car from Greg's parents now.

  • We had some storms roll in that roared and threatened like tigers but ended up being kittens. Still, I'm grateful for the little rain that we got as it saved me time and money by allowing me to not have to water the garden today. I do need to go water the roselle tomorrow, though, as it looks very droopy. I don't think it likes its new spot. But the darkness and the thunder and the black clouds... ugh. Those can go away now. Update: it started pouring while I was cooking dinner so we did get plenty of water and I won't need to be watering tomorrow either. Yay!

  • I made a German Apricot Cake with the apricots that I defrosted this morning. I should have baked it sooner since the apricots got very soggy (oops) but I don't really care if it doesn't look good as long as it tastes good... and it does!

  • I emptied the countertop compost bin into the large one outside and relined it with paper scraps kept from printing and clipping coupons.


  • Dinner was Ratatouille Bake.  I used homegrown green pepper, okra and eggplants, along with zucchini and yellow squash, onion, minced garlic and canned diced tomatoes. Instead of cheese ravioli, I threw in some porcini-filled tortellini.

  • I cut up the last onion from the bag I had bought upon my return from France, used half of it in the ratatouille and put the other in the fridge. I kept the bag to make another scrub "sponge" with it.
  • Today was No Drive Day #24 and with this, I reached my 2015 goal. Yes! And not a minute too soon since my daughter comes home tomorrow and it looks like she'll be driving every day of the week from now on!


WE SPLURGED ON:
  • So we signed my oldest son up for the NFL Sunday Ticket. Since he is a student at a 4-year college, he qualifies for the $99 special promotion.  And since he doesn't (have time to) watch football, well, we'll be watching all the NFL games that we can stand on my husband's Xbox One.  Woohoo!

HOWEVER, WE FAILED IN THE FOLLOWING WAYS, BUT LEARNED SOME LESSONS:
  • The scented candle that we've been using this week (Beach Grass by Bath & Body Works) stopped "working" again as the 3 wicks wouldn't stay lit. Once again there is about 1/2 an inch of candle left in the jar and I am loathe to just throw it away! First off, it's not frugal and second (off?) we really liked the smell of that candle so I'd like to use it all up.  I tried digging the wicks out of the wax with a knife, hoping that that would help them staying lit, but it didn't. I found some candles that my son had made when we had visited a pioneer museum several years ago and tried to reuse their wick (the wicks were very long), tied to a small screw to anchor them, but that didn't work at all as the string just burned right away.

  • So in desperation I just lit the Yankee Candle that I bought at Kohl's this week for $0.85 and I will try to melt the (now 2) unfinished candles and reshape them into newer, smaller candles. I'll try making my own wicks too. When? well... one of these days! Also, the Yankee Candle? Can't smell anything unless my nose is right on top of it. What a disappointment. I have drafted an email to the president of the company (Yankee Candle is a brand that some of my friends have been singing the praise of for several years so I really expected something good) since there is an email address dedicated to customer feedback for the brand, but I'm holding off on sending it until the candle has burned for at least an hour, just in case. After an hour, I could smell a faint smell, but nothing like with the Bath & Body Works candle.

  • I had to throw away about 1/2 a cup of grated mozzarella that had gotten moldy :(


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

1 comment:

  1. Busy day for you! Yay for your daughter getting the job! And it's not 45 minutes away! LOL Apricot cake looked delicious by the way! =)

    ReplyDelete

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