Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Frugal Successes and Failures: Wednesday 9/23/15



HAPPENINGS AROUND HERE TODAY:
  • Happy Hump Day, everyone.  Ugh, I don't feel like going shopping today.  I went shopping on Friday and then again yesterday and now I still have to visit Aldi and the other stores and I'm afraid that I'm all shopped out.  I don't know if Greg's illness is about to strike me or if it's just all that gardening that's catching up with me but all I want to do is stay home today.  I'm sure I'll feel better after I've had my coffee and a shower :)

  • The first email I saw this morning was from UPS alerting me that my Amazon order (my Rubbermaid garden shed) wouldn't be delivered today despite Amazon's "guaranteed delivery date" of Wednesday.  It's now supposed to come in tomorrow. Well, yes, apparently Amazon didn't ship it until last night.  Grrr.  So I emailed Amazon to point out that apparently a "guaranteed delivery date" doesn't mean much, does it?  I think they might extend my Prime membership by 1 month, but I'm not sure.  Their FAQ is kind of murky. Or maybe I'm not that awake yet. Anyhoo, we'll see what they say but that didn't help brighten my mood this morning.

  • Isn't today's Google Doodle so cute?! I got the screenshot without the squirrel that waves at you because squirrels are NOT my favorite animals by far. Rats with tails. But today marks the 1st day of Autumn, which is one of my 2 favorite seasons (Spring and Autumn for the win!) so that does a lot to brighten my spirits. Gotta get my Fall decorations out of the attic!



FRUGAL SUCCESSES:
  • Greg worked from home today, saving us about $20 in gas and tolls and giving me access to his truck for my grocery shopping.

  • My daughter drove herself to school today, saving me time and money (one fewer roundtrip).  Her former employer called her a couple of times asking for her to turn in a W-4 form so he could process payroll, so we're hopeful that this means she will actually be paid for the hours she worked since the first and only paycheck she had received.  She dropped off the W-4 yesterday.


  • A quick aside for people who don't know how U.S. federal income taxes work: a W-4 form is the one you fill out when you're first hired telling the employer and the IRS, which is the federal tax department, the amount of taxes your employer should deduct from your paycheck for federal income tax.  There is a worksheet that you can use to indicate which "allowances" you'll be claiming,  The more allowances you claim, the less taxes will be deducted but then you might owe the IRS money come tax time. Similarly, if you tell them to deduct too much, you'll get a refund at tax time, but that means you're essentially loaning them money for free for a whole year, and why would you want to do that?!  Income taxes are way too complicated in this country, it's ridiculous, but it's worth your time trying to keep as much of your income in your own account so you can use it when you need it.  There is an online calculator that I use all the time to figure out how many allowances we should use, but so far Greg's "status" had been changing every year (since we have children from different marriages and the spouse who gets to claim them has been changing every year so far) and then also when we decided to start saving for retirement again and when he gets a bonus.  So it's been hard trying to figure out how much we should or should not have deducted from his paycheck and the last 2 years we owed money to the IRS, never a good surprise.  This year I left the allowances at zero, which means we're getting the most money deducted from each check.  I'm just hoping we won't owe anything beyond that.  Aside #2: you can change your W-4 allowances throughout the year, just turn in a new form to your employer.  It's not immediate, they have to process it, but it can help if your income situation changes throughout the year.

  • Amazon Customer Service emailed me back within 15 minutes and extended our Prime membership by 30-days to apologize for the delay in my order. Woohoo!

  • I put dinner in the crockpot before I went shopping: pork loin, Klondike Gold potatoes cut in quarters, a bag of baby carrots, a bottle of Sweet Honey barbecue sauce and some water.  It was delicious last week so I'm going to do that every Wednesday for a while since I have so much pork loin and BBQ sauce to use up :)

  • I cut the almost 10-lb pork loin into 6 roasts (1 went into the crockpot) and 5 chops.  That's 7 dinners so about $2.xx per dinner for 4 people with probably leftovers.  I used 4 cereal bags and 3 reused Ziploc bags to freeze them.

  • I brought my coffee along on my shopping trip in my travel mug that Greg got for free at one of the conferences he attended.  I also brought a banana as a snack. Unfortunately it didn't prevent me from overspending at the grocery stores :(


  • I gassed up Greg's truck for his upcoming trip and received a receipt with a survey that I will take to earn a free roller grill item.

  • I looked for the cattle rebar sheet at Home Depot because I wanted to make more tents for my self-watering bins. However, it wasn't accessible (high on a shelf and a large ladder was parked in front of it) and there wasn't anyone around to help.  So I only got potting soil.  I decided not to get the Miracle Gro brand since I have fertilizer that I can apply so I got the cheapest potting soil, @ $2.74 for a 40-lb bag. I got 4 bags and used the gift card from the Mastercard Rewards program to get them for free.


  • So I went to Lowe's to get the cattle rebar sheet. It was easily accessible, and the price was clearly indicated. I decided to get 2 of the sheets ($15.52 total OOP after tax). I had to bend them slightly for them to fit in the bed of Greg's truck and I got rust stains all over my tan capris as a result. Grr. My hands were really filthy too but my next stop was Aldi and they have an awesome bathroom so I was able to clean them before shopping. Phew!

  • (I'm listing my stops out of order for the sake of the narrative).  CVS was out of the eggs priced at $1.59 a dozen, but I anticipated that.  I got a rain check, as well as a rain check for the Starbucks Refreshers. The manager offered for me to get another Starbucks product as long as the full price was the same (and he would issue me the $1.50 ECB as well) but everything else was more expensive so I just got the rain check.  The almonds were on sale and my daughter uses a lot of those, so I bought 2 bags, used a store coupon and also $5.00 in ECBs from last week.   There was a display with a bunch of coupon booklets filled with store coupons, including store coupons for Gold Emblem Abound breakfast items and freeze-dried fruit snacks.  There were plenty of them so I was greedy and grabbed 4 copies.

  • I decided to get my eggs for the week at Target since I had a rain check to get the Eggland's Best eggs for $2.50 a dozen. I got 4 dozens.  The strawberries were not on sale, the price has been steadily climbing. Also, the 5% Cartwheel discount off berries has expired (sob!). I bought 3 packages of strawberries and a large bag of Fresh Express baby spinach and baby kale that was marked down from $3.99 to $0.99 and headed to the deli where I asked the attendant to slice some Mesquite Honey BBQ chicken breast as thinly as she could, and to make sure I hit $3.54 so I could qualify to use the $3.00/$15.00 fresh produce, deli and bakery items store coupon.  She did so I got a really good deal on the chicken breast since there is also a 5% Cartwheel discount on Archer Farms deli items. It was almost free :)  I stocked up on some more pasta by getting 4 boxes of Barilla Pronto pasta since I had good coupons for them. There wasn't anything interesting on the clearance aisle this week.  I also got a couple of gift cards that we needed for a couple of events.

  • At Aldi I grabbed some toilet paper thinking that we must be almost out, but when I got home I realized that we had about 16 rolls left!  Oh well, it won't go bad. Also, they were fully stocked with cat litter so they didn't discontinue it. Yippee!  I noticed that several items have gone up in price: the dishwasher liquid has gone up by 30 cents, the 8-oz blocks of cheese have gone up by 30 cents as well.  The baby carrots were $0.99/lb so I got a 2-lb bag of regular carrots for $1.29 and I will peel and cut them into sticks for my daughter.  The peels will be frozen for soup or stock.

  • I went to Dollar Tree to get bleach. I need it to scrub the mildew off the house siding and off the patio pavers. I got 3 big bottles for just $1.00 each.  I also grabbed a Congratulations card for a relative for just $0.50.  I'm glad I didn't pay $1.99 at Target for it!  The Libby's mandarin cans were still there and I had a $1.00/3 insert coupon so I got 3 cans. My daughter likes packing mandarin quarters in her lunch.  Her efforts have been paying off as she had lost several pounds compared to last year when she had her check-up yesterday! I found nutmeg!  I'm almost out of it and I was hoping to find it on sale somewhere.  The stores that carry cheap spices don't always have nutmeg so I was thinking that I might have to bite the bullet and pay more. I was excited and considered buying 2 containers but I think 1 container should last me the year.  You typically don't use tons of it when you cook or bake. Lastly, I grabbed a box of peppermint herbal tea bags.  We have loose mint tea at home but since Greg is going to be away for a few days and he likes to drink mint tea to settle his stomach, he can pack the box.

  • At  Winn Dixie I redeemed my last rain check for the Challenge butter on BOGO and also redeemed 2 coupons. I let myself be tempted by a can of 5 Pillsbury Grands! biscuits. I guess I was hungry after all. They were on sale at $1.00 and I had a 40 cents coupon. They also had the Yoplait Greek 100 Whips! yogurt priced at $1.00 (Publix has it for $1.25), which was great since my "Free" coupon was only good up to $1.09.

  • My last stop was the South Lake Animal League Thrift Store, where I dropped off the pet coupons that I had collected/printed and a sample of cat food that I had gotten in the mail.

  • Back home, my lunch was the free pizza roll from Racetrac, a small caprese salad made with 1 Roma tomato, the rest of a package of Galbani fresh mozzarella cheese, and a few basil leaves that I harvested from my garden. I also had another banana (I bought 5 lbs of them at Publix yesterday!) and I brewed myself a cup of black tea by reusing the tea bag that Greg used at breakfast time.

  • Home Depot Garden Club, Steak'N Shake, and Tractor Supply Company each emailed me a coupon. I print them all, just in case :)

  • I noticed that my laser printer was starting to print with smudges so I changed the toner cartridge.  I had last changed it on December 28, 2014. It was a high yield cartridge and I had taped over the eye to make it last longer.  There is still ink in the cartridge but the quality of the print is very bad so it was time to change it. I print a lot of coupons on that printer. Perhaps I should start adding the cost of my toner to offset the amount of how much money I save with coupons? In the meantime, I'll turn the "empty" cartridge in to Staples to get another $2 reward.

  • I took the survey on my new Racetrac receipt and earned another code for a free roller grill item.

  • Greg mowed our entire yard.  Thanks, honey!

  • Dinner was in the crockpot and it was so easy and yummy.  I should just use the crockpot every day, ha.  I served the 2nd package of Hawaiian rolls with it, which helped everyone feel a little fuller.  My middle son was cooking his dinner right before we sat down to eat so he sat with us. It was nice chatting with him.

  • I washed a plastic sandwich bag to reuse it.

WE SPLURGED ON:
  • A box of 50 small binder clips at Target.  I know I had said I'd get them at Staples with my rebate rewards, but I need them now to make more tents so I splurged. They were $2.19.

  • A bar of milk chocolate with hazelnuts for me.  I've been craving chocolate for weeks and no one is buying me any! It was $1.49.


HOWEVER, WE FAILED IN THE FOLLOWING WAYS, BUT LEARNED SOME LESSONS:
  • Guess what I spotted in the Aldi brochure for NEXT week?!  Arrgh.  I didn't pay for mine since I used a Swagbucks gift card, but I would have gladly paid $2.99 at Aldi and saved my $7.48 gift card for something else!  I looked for one of those for months at thrift stores.  Argh, argh, argh!


  • Greg was going to make sure that the trimmer was all set for me to use this weekend but apparently the started is broken. I might just get a new trimmer this weekend, then.  He says he's gonna try to fix it but he's gonna be gone this weekend and I want to trim!  Maybe I'll just use a pair of scissors.  There's no reason to buy a new trimmer if he can locate a spare part to fix ours.


  • After dinner I found one of our soup bowls broken in the sink :(  I think it might have been the one that I had already superglued a couple of times. This time it was in too many pieces to fix it so I had to throw it away.  I'll have to find a replacement at a thrift store.



TASKS ACCOMPLISHED TODAY:
  • Put the recycling out on the kerb (curb?  I should look it up).
  • Cut up the pork loin and froze the resulting portions.
  • Went grocery shopping, documented everything for the blog, put everything away.
  • Input all my receipts in my spreadsheets.
  • I updated my pricebook.
  • I caught up on blogs and posted comments and replied to comments.
  • I washed the dishes.
  • I fake mopped the kitchen but I really need to mop it for real. I'll try to get to it tomorrow.
  • I got the Fall decorations down from "the attic". I'll put some up tomorrow.

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

4 comments:

  1. Crossing my fingers so your daughter gets another paycheque.
    Your email to Amazon paid off.
    I am positive the apple wedger you ordered from Amazon is a much better quality implement. (Just so you feel better)
    And what is FAKE mopping. I need to know.

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    1. LOL, thanks for trying to make me feel better. Isn't that infuriating, though?! And to think that so far, I'm the only one who's used the apple slicer. I could have waited a few more weeks after all!

      Fake mopping is when I just take a cleaning cloth (in this case an old bath towel cut into pieces), wet it, and scrub the most obvious stains on the tiles with my foot over the cleaning cloth. It makes me kitchen look instantaneously cleaner although it wasn't properly mopped. But now it really needs to be mopped properly. Ugh. I hate mopping. Or any kind of housework, really. I know you feel the same way :)

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  2. I agree on the apple corer from Amazon being a better bargain because if it is sharper then you won't cut your finger off in the process. I am sure it is a win win :) I bought eggs last week at Aldi's after thinking about your post because I just knew I wasn't going to make it to the store and I have used them for brownies and applesauce bread so I am sure that they paid off even though they were more expensive. I bought a ton of Aldi's cheese over the summer at $1.59 and it was back to $1.89 a few weeks ago. I guess the price increases hit here first so I should tell you so that you can stock up before the price rises!! I know that cheese keeps for a long time if sealed so I always grab a bunch on sale but I was bummed to see the price jump. I have so many things that I need to call and complain about to get free things....should I send you the list? Good job on the Amazon prime extension! I would have been irritated and not done anything but complain to my husband who didn't care and couldn't do anything about it :) I have wood floors so we swiffer with reusable crochet cover and then I get down on my hands and knees or use the special spray but we can't mop cause it would destroy the wood floor which is great because I also hate to mop :)

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    1. I wish there was a way to save the Aldi online brochure as a pdf so we could email it to each other, lol. I suppose we could do screen shots. For all I know the cheese went up a few weeks ago and I didn't notice. My Aldi always seem to have discrepancies between prices on the shelf and what they actually ring for at the register but most of the time it seems to be in my favor and the few times that I mentioned it to the cashier they didn't seem to care so much because the price never got changed on the shelf. The American cheese slices have been $1.79 on the shelf for a few months but they're back to ringing up at $1.89. At Publix, we would get the $0.10 refund AND the cheese for free.

      As you said the blocks last a long time although I've noticed that the mozzarella and the Monterey Jack do get softer with time, which makes them even harder to grate. Have you ever tried freezing the cheese and grating it frozen? I wonder if that would work.

      The grated parmesan (in the canister) went up too... I had marked it (although several months ago) at $1.59 in my pricebook and now it's $2.49 here. A $0.90 increase, that's huge!

      I have wood floors too throughout the house. I just sweep and vacuum them. Also, we have rugs in those rooms so vacuuming is easier for us. Good job of crocheting the cover!

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