Saturday, October 31, 2015

Frugal Successes and Failures: Saturday 10/31/15



HAPPENINGS AROUND HERE TODAY:
  • Happy Halloween, if that's something you and your family enjoy!

  • I was able to sleep in until 8 a.m. this morning so it really feels like the weekend.  We have no plans save for watching the Gators (UF) hopefully beat the crap of the Georgia college football team this afternoon on TV. Well, Greg will do that and I'll pretend to watch but probably will be reading a book.

  • Tonight marks the end of Daylight Savings Time for most of us in the USA.  Don't forget to turn back your clocks!

FRUGAL SUCCESSES:
  • I had another good Swagbucks surprise this morning: not only my daily goal was lower than it's been recently (82 SB) but I already had a 67 SB credit from an Amazon purchase from September. Yippee!  I'm a little past 2,000 SB and I should be able to order a $25 gift card for just 2,200 SB tomorrow so I'm still going to try to earn more points today so I can have another $25 Walmart gift card for grocery shopping.

  • I earned the maximum of daily Bing Rewards credits.


  • I ordered the free 8 x 10 reprint from Walgreens and picked a close-up photo of my roselle calyces. I'll frame it with a $1 frame from Dollar Tree and will use it to start decorating the guest room when my middle son moves out (end of December).

  • I suggested to Greg that he gets a haircut from Great Clips on 11/11 since he's a veteran and he can get it for free on that day. He's been resisting my demands that he gets a haircut now (not a fan of a longish hair on a man, I must say) for several weeks, claiming that he wants to wait until just before Thanksgiving in order to be "frugal".

  • Based on previous weekends (when I failed and spent money on take out because I didn't feel like cooking), I decided to keep my dinner plans to something that I won't mind cooking when it comes time. So Hamburger Helper it is!

  • I watered the indoor zombie celery and the pineapple that is currently regrowing roots with water collected after boiling eggs.

  • Gee whiz, Greg actually did go through with letting me film him talk about our generator battery and buying experience with AbsoluteGenerators.com so we could get a $50 refund!  He was so great at it too!  I uploaded it to Dropbox and emailed it to them so hopefully they come through and it's a $50 refund because I'm not sure what else we could buy from them if it's a store credit...

  • I washed our bedding in cold/cold and hung it out to dry on the back patio.

  • Greg made himself a sandwich for lunch while I had the chicken sausage that I didn't eat last night, some potato rolls and a piece of string cheese. My daughter made Alfredo pasta for herself and brother.

  • I finally processed the thyme that I had started drying back in late August.

  • I also harvested fresh thyme and set it out to dry on my kitchen windowsill.

  • My daughter went to her friend's Halloween party and ate dinner there too.


WE SPLURGED ON:
  • Supplies for the dessert my daughter baked for her party tonight.  She and my youngest son walked to the store to get them though so that's a small victory :)  Update: well they couldn't find what they needed at the local store so they ended up driving to Publix.  There goes my No Drive Day!

HOWEVER, WE FAILED IN THE FOLLOWING WAYS, BUT LEARNED SOME LESSONS:
  • Typing this at 10:13 a.m. and hoping that I won't have to cross it off: no failures today!

  • Well, crap: I opened my Ibotta app which assured me that I was 90% of the way towards earning the October team bonus and realized that today is the last day to earn that bonus... and I have no plans to do any shopping!  I need to redeem 2 offers of $0.25 or more to earn the $1 bonus. But using gas to do that (even if I needed anything on the list of rebates available) would negate any savings so... I'll forfeit the $1.  I can't believe that when I was looking at Ibotta on Wednesday and reporting on my progress with it, it didn't occur to me that I needed to hit that goal by today!

  • When it came time to baking my daughter found a spoiled half empty can of white frosting in the pantry... a can that she had opened many months ago and left there, in all probability. She's infamous for that.  Arrgh. So not only did we have to throw it away, but she had to go back out to the local store and buy more frosting, which was double the price that it would have been at Aldi or Save A Lot.  Grrr.

  • Someone left the light on in the upstairs bathroom all.day.long.  Arrgh!

  • Greg did use the $5/$5 O'Reilly's coupon that expires today but instead of getting a freebie with it (we had discussed oil for the trimmer), he bought $25 car mats for our family car!  I could get them cheaper on Amazon so I'll be returning them (and hopefully they'll take them back since he charged them to a credit card that I don't have). So we lost the $5 anyway.

TASKS ACCOMPLISHED TODAY:
  • Helped my daughter think of a dessert she could bake to bring to her party tonight: she's making Monster Brownies. I can't find the instructions on the Betty Crocker site anymore but here is a picture of them from Yahoo! Images. We used to make those when the kids were little.

  • Helped Greg print some documents from his computer (he never prints anything).
  • Watered the indoor zombie plants (all two of them!)
  • Uncovered the zucchini plants so the flowers could get pollinated (lots of moths and butterflies around the beans this morning!)
  • Filmed Greg's review of our generator battery and emailed it to the seller.
  • I washed our bedding.
  • I decided not to darn the 2 white socks that had holes in them because the fabric was so thinned out that they would have developed new holes very soon anyway. So I used one of them to dust my living room instead.
  • I straightened out the coffee table.
  • I harvested fresh thyme and processed the dried one.
  • I analyzed my October grocery spending, posted about it and modified my spreadsheet to be more accurate.

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

My Daily Freebies: Saturday 10/31/15


Here is what I got/found for free today!

  • As reported this morning, I ordered a free 8 x 10" photo reprint from Walgreens.  As usual, I was caught by surprise and didn't have any great photo of any family members to reprint so I picked a picture of my roselle calyces and I will use it as a decoration for the guest room upstairs.



  • The latest issue of Entertainment Weekly Magazine (free subscription via Recycle Bank)

  • Bath & Body Works sent me a coupon for a free travel-size Signature Collection item.



Did you get any freebies today?

Monthly Grocery Report: October 2015



I feed 2 adults and 2 teens.  While he is living with us, my middle son provides his own food or eats out on most days so I'm not counting him.

My Food Expenses totals include just that: food.  Toiletries, cleaning supplies, health supplies, pet supplies and a host of other things you can get at grocery stores are NOT included in those totals. I really don't spend enough on them to make an effort to track them more than just having various categories for them in YouNeedABudget (and I'm not even updating that right now, ooops!).

So I split my Food Expenses into Groceries and Eating Out/Ordering In.  "Groceries" only include the food I buy for meals and baking.  This is what I'm reporting on in this post.

Eating Out/Ordering In includes food that we bought because I was too lazy to cook, because we were traveling, because I wanted to treat someone, or because we were socializing. It also includes the money I put on the kids' school lunch accounts.  I track the Eating Out/Ordering In expenses separately and in a perfect world, they would be added up to my Groceries expenses and amount to no more than my monthly Food Expenses budget.  Ha!  This month I really screwed up and we spent a whooping $204 in Eating Out expenses. ($174 in eating out and $30 put in the kids' school lunch account).  Told you I screwed up.  Deep breath, Nathalie.

GROCERIES

My official budget for 2015 is $100 per week for groceries. However, most weeks I try to stay at right about $50.  Some weeks it works out, but some weeks I allow myself to go over if I can stock up on items on sale.

Since I shop on Wednesdays, I usually count the number of Wednesdays in the month to see how many $100 weeks I will have in my budget for the month. September 30th fell on a Wednesday this week and since the vast majority of the food purchased on that day was consumed in October, I'm counting that week as an October week.  So October had 5 weeks for me, hence an official budget of $500.

I spent about $329, after all discounts, coupons, and rebates.  Yippee! In order to reach that number, I redeemed about $91 in coupons, whether it be manufacturer or store coupons.  ExtraCare Bucks, Register Rewards and the like count as coupons as far as I'm concerned. I  redeemed $100.55 in rebates (I count gift cards that I received in exchange for Reward points from my credit cards, as well as the Walmart gift card earned from Swagbucks, as rebates).

Despite doing the bulk of my shopping at Aldi where I cannot use coupons, I was able to save 37.73% of my food bill by shopping sales and using coupons. This savings rate does NOT include the rebates so I actually saved an even large percentage.  This means that if I just bought the same items when I wanted without waiting for them to be on sale and/or to have coupons for them, I would have spent  $610.

Here is what I got for $329, broken down in my usual categories. As usual, the bulk of my dollars went to produce, dairy, and proteins. (NOTE: there is a $10 discrepancy between the numbers I input in my grocery tracking spreadsheet and the numbers I reported on my blog and I'm not going to spend hours tracking it down... however, I think I'm going to redesign my spreadsheet so as to avoid inconsistencies from now on).

BAKING SUPPLIES: $34.57 
(2) packages mini morsels
(5) 5-lb bags all-purpose flour
(4) 5-lb bags bread flour
(1) 4-lb bag sugar
(1) 2-lb bag brown sugar
(2) cans powdered buttermilk
(1) 48-oz vegetable shortening
(1) 46-oz jar unsweetened applesauce
(1) large container pretzel rolls
(1) container whipped topping
(1) box crispy rice cereal
(2) cans cherry pie filling
(1) jar poppy seeds

BEVERAGES: $10.65 
(4) cans Arizona tea
(1) can Starbucks Refreshers
(4) 32-oz fountain drink
(2) 12-ct ginger ale
(2) 30-ct herbal peppermint tea
(1) small bottle fruit punch
(1) 1-L bottle chocolate flavored coconut water
(2) 6-packs Kirin Ichiban beer

BREAD/BAKED GOODS: $9.30
(9) loaves white bread
(1) loaf wheat bread
(2) containers biscuits
(1) 8-ct hamburger buns

CEREALS: $3.54
(2) boxes Grape Nuts
(2) canisters steel oats
(1) canister old-fashioned rolled oats
(1) box generic Special K Red Berries
(2) boxes Special K Red Berries
(2) boxes Kellogg's Origins cereal
(2) boxes Original Special K cereal

DAIRY: $45.60
(2) lbs Imperial margarine
(6) gallons whole milk
(35) cups yogurt
(1) 32-oz plain yogurt
(6) packages string cheese
(3) packages American cheese singles
(3) 8-oz packages mild Cheddar
(1) 8-oz package sharp Cheddar
(1) 8-oz package Neufchatel cheese
(1) container blue cheese crumbles
(1) 16-oz container light sour cream

DRY PANTRY/FREEZER GOODS: $19.22
(9) boxes pasta
(4) boxes mac'n cheese
(1) container organic soup
(4) cans chunky soup
(2) cans beef broth
(1) 32-oz carton chicken broth
(1) container nutmeg
(1) container allspice
(2) envelopes Crock-Pot seasoning
(2) jars Alfredo sauce
(1) jar red pasta sauce
(1) jar beef gravy
(2) packages panko bread crumbs
(1) small jar grape fruit spread


PRODUCE/JUICE: $83.99

Vegetables
(4) cans sweet corn kernels
(2) large pumpkins
(2) medium pumpkins
(1) large bag kale
(1) 8-oz package baby bella mushrooms
(3) lbs sweet potatoes
(5) lbs red potatoes
(2) acorn squashes
(1) bag Alexia potato puffs
(1) jar Lindsay's Naturals Specialty olives
(1) cucumber
(1) lb organic red lentils
(1) lb organic green lentils
(1) large can crushed tomatoes
(2) large cans organic crushed tomatoes with basil
(2) cans Great Northern beans
(1) bag spinach
(2) Haas avocados
(2) lbs carrots
(0.15) lbs yellow onion
(20) oz zucchini
(1) lb asparagus
(12) cans reduced sodium organic black beans
(2) cans baked beans


Fruit
(21) lbs apples
(9.97) lbs bananas
(10) lemons
(10.60) lbs grapes
(4) 1-lb container Driscoll's strawberries
(2.93) lbs pears
(2) 15-oz cans mandarins
(2) 5.5 oz dried apricots
(2) 59-oz containers OJ
(2) mangoes


PROTEINS: $76.13
(3) hot dogs
(1) lb smoked ham
(3.07) lbs beef bottom round roast
(1.86) lbs beef sirloin tip roast
(2) boxes Banquet turkey breakfast sausages
(10) lbs ground beef
(2) packages Butterball turkey bacon
(2) Butterball turkey sausages
(2) Butterball turkey kielbasa
(2) packages honey roasted turkey
(1) lb oven roasted turkey
(8) dozens large eggs
(2) bags meatballs
(2) packages chicken sausages
(2) lbs tilapia
(2) lbs ground chicken
(4) cans light tuna in water


SNACKS: $39.26
(4) boxes Swiss rolls
(8) packages peanut butter crackers
(3) boxes sugar-free mints
(4) bags sour worms
(1) bag sour gummy worms
(2) bags guacamole tortilla chips
(2) bags corn chips
(9) bags pumpkin seed tortilla chips
(3) boxes protein bars
(5) boxes cereal bars
(2) boxes granola bars
(1) box saltine crackers
(1) bag oyster crackers
(1) box Back to Nature rice crackers
(1) large Hershey milk chocolate bar
(1) 8-oz container light whipped topping
(1) package chocolate chip cookies
(1) box Back to Nature mint fudge cookies
(1) 240-ct bag Mars chocolate mini bars


ANALYSIS
  • If I compare my category totals to last month's report, I spent about the same in most categories.
  • My spending increased in the Baking category, though, as I discovered the joy of using a breadmaker and I stocked up for the holiday baking season (now in full swing as far as I'm concerned!)
  • However, my spending decreased in several categories compared to last month:
    • Dairy: I didn't buy any kefir since I switched Greg to probiotic pills and I didn't need to buy any butter since I had stocked up last month. I also bought less milk this month, meaning that I probably did better at managing our supply by stretching it with water.
    • Produce: the ugly truth is that I was lazy with meal planning this past month and when I don't plan meals, I don't include as many vegetables as I should. So our cost was down but that means we didn't eat as healthily as we should have. However, this also reflects the fact that I have been harvesting lettuce and tomatoes from the garden so I haven't had to buy any.
    • Proteins: I spent a lot of money on proteins last month and I probably didn't need to spend as much as I did this month, but I did get some great deals so I don't have any regrets! I still have a full freezer (and then some!), which worries me as far as being able to get cheap turkeys this month!
  • My Snacks totals should go down as I am increasing my baking... this past month I ran across some great deals on chips, but I overindulged in candy and cookies.  I need to get this more under control.
  • So all in all, I came in way under budget for groceries in October, but I negated these savings by overspending in the Eating Out category. My unofficial goal was to keep the total FOOD expenses to $500 for the month and I'm coming in at $533.54.  So, it's not as bad as it could have been.  Not a celebration, but not a total bummed-out feeling either!

How did you do this month?  If you posted your October totals, feel free to link to your post in the comments :)

TODAY ONLY: FREEBIE ALERT!



Sorry for the interruption, but I just saw on Slickdeals that Walgreens is offering a free 8 x 10 reprint with store pick-up TODAY ONLY and I thought some of you might want to take advantage of it. I've already ordered my reprint so I can confirm that it is a valid freebie :)

You don't have to pick up your photo today (I'll pick mine up next Wednesday!) but the order has to be placed today.  See the link for the code and instructions :)

Happy Halloween!

Friday, October 30, 2015

Frugal Failures and Successes: Friday 10/30/15



HAPPENINGS AROUND HERE TODAY:
  • Is it Freaky Friday?  I think it is :)  I had a weird dream last night, one of those that feels like it lasted all night and was a continuation of a previous dream from years ago. It took me a full hour to actually shake off the feeling that it had been real.  So weird. 

  • In my sleepiness, I dropped my laptop!  Arrrrgh, my baby! Thankfully it was on the carpet and there doesn't seem to be any ill effects.  Phew!

  • Greg and I were chatting over breakfast when he asked if there was a way for him to get notification emails when I post something new on my blog.... he wants to monitor how many times I actually feature him in the "Failures" section and his thinking is that if I know he's reading the blog, I won't feature him as much.  Paranoid much?  LOL.  So I used reverse psychology and told him that if he does read it, it'll probably make him realize just how un-frugal he is being with that 25-cent-soda-a-day habit, hahaha.

  • As I mentioned in last night's post, I was unable to do the dinner dishes so I have that to look forward to this morning. Ugh.  Update: doing the dishes while watching a show on my phone via Netflix is much more entertaining and enjoyable than listening to the radio, IMO.  It doesn't really matter if I can't see the screen too well, as long as I can hear the dialogues. I got all the dishes cleaned in no time!

  • Also today is the last day of Racetrac FreeFill Friday AND there is a great deal on Keebler cookies to be had at Publix today so I'll go out at some point this afternoon to score those things and also return that library book that I started last night, "Make Me" by Lee Child.  I couldn't make it past the first 8 chapters, it was horrible. I suspected that I probably wouldn't like it as I haven't enjoyed Lee Child's books in a long time, but I really loved the first few books in the series so I keep on hoping that suddenly he'll go back to his roots.  Not so.

FRUGAL SUCCESS
  • The kids packed a lunch to take to school.

  • I packed a lunch for Greg to take to work.

  • I earned my daily Bing Rewards credits and I'm working on Swagbucks.  102 SB is today's goal and I once again didn't qualify for any surveys, although I only tried 2 or 3.


  • After I peeled and shredded the potatoes, I still had leftovers (the soup only needed 32 oz of shredded potatoes) so I make myself hashbrowns for breakfast.

  • I defrosted a cup of mashed potatoes to make potato rolls.  


  • I temporarily fixed a crack in the bottom of my largest plastic mixing bowl with duct tape.

  • I printed coupons from my son's PC.

  • I bundled a couple of errands so as to make my outing to get our free Racetrac drinks more efficient :)

  • So I stopped by Racetrac and refilled our Sodapalooza cups for free thanks to the last Free Fill Friday promotion this month.  I got a caffeine free diet Coke for myself and a cherry frozen drink for my son (it's in the fridge right now since he won't be home from school for several hours).


  • I drove to Publix and got 2 packages of Keebler S'mores cookies.  They are on BOGO this week and there were $1.00/1 store coupons that expired today. In addition, I received (2) $0.60/1 coupons from Kellogg's Family Rewards yesterday and a $0.20 Ibotta rebate for any pack of cookies that expires on Sunday so the 2 packs cost me: $3.69 minus $2.00 in store coupons, minus $1.20 in printable manufacturer coupons = $0.49, minus the $0.20 Ibotta rebate = $0.29!  Not bad for 2 packs of cookies :)  I got one of them  in the peanut butter flavor so I wouldn't be tempted to each both, lol.  I will also submit my Publix receipt to Kellogg's Family Rewards (and the packs came with code pre-printed on them so I can double-dip on the rewards too!)

  • I also got a dozen eggs there because, with all my baking, I knew we would run out before Wednesday's shopping trip. I could have gone to Save A Lot to get them a little cheaper, but it would have taken me and extra 10-15 minutes and cost me about $1.00 more in gas so I just got them at Publix.  I chose the medium size since they were 10 cents cheaper, at $2.69.

  • From there I went to the library to return the book that I didn't like and that is due on Monday. It'll save me a trip then.  There weren't any good freebies in the donation pile but I got to chat with my favorite librarian for a little bit ;)

  • Back home, the pumpkin that my son and his GF had carved and displayed on our front steps were completely rotten so I composted it.

  • I baked the potato rolls and they are delicious (the photo is of only 1 pan but I made 2).

  • I inspected the garden and watered the greens, beans, and zucchini plants.

  • My lunch was the rest of the black eyed pea soup, the last 4 Old El Paso mini taco boats with a few slices of ham, a string cheese stick, a couple of potato rolls, and a slice of the glazed lemon cake that I baked earlier this week.

  • I submitted my receipt to Ibotta and received my $0.20 credit.

  • I uploaded my Publix receipt to Kellogg's Family Rewards.


  • In the afternoon I caught up on blogs and coupons and had the TV on, as is my habit.  Suddenly my remote seemed possessed as none of the buttons were actually functioning: the TV starting cycling between the 3 screen aspect ratios, non stop and at a very fast rate, it was very disconcerting. I thought that maybe the batteries needed replacing so I did that and also turned the TV off and on again (if you're an IT Crowd fan, you will appreciate this!) but to no avail... the weird behavior was still going on. I couldn't change channels or the sound level or do anything, really.  Nowadays you really can't use a TV without its remote so I was thinking we might have a very expensive failure on our hands and texted Greg to warn him. He suggested buying a universal remote on Amazon and I was thinking that I'd just drive to Walgreens and buy one there.  But before leaving, I googled and read the Philips forums (and didn't find anything related to my problem) and found the TV manual (and didn't find anything related to my problem).  Then I tried using the remote one more time and suddenly it was working again!  Phew!  I can only surmise that someone in the neighborhood must have been using some electronic on the same frequency at the exact same time and it interfered with my remote.  I'm relieved that I didn't drive to Walgreens and spent money unnecessarily, though!

  • Dinner was the Cheesy Potato Soup... and it wasn't good!  The potatoes tasted very gummy, so I'm questioning the wisdom of "let's cook that at low heat for 8 hours and then at high heat for another 30 minutes". It was also very bland. I served it with Red Pepper and Asiago chicken sausages and potato rolls.  I have a lot of leftovers and honestly, I don't know if I'm going to save them. We didn't like the soup so freezing it would be useless (and this time I really don't have any room so I can't even do that, come to think of it).

WE SPLURGED ON:
  • Gas to run the errands and water to water the in-ground plantings.

HOWEVER, WE FAILED IN THE FOLLOWING WAYS, BUT LEARNED SOME LESSONS:
  • I decided to try using the breadmaker to make the potato roll dough and let it rise. Only I didn't read the instructions all the way through (I was using my regular recipe, not a breadmaker recipe) and when I went to add the flour, it needed to be 7.5 cups... wayyyyyy too much for my breadmaker. Arrgh!  So I had to dump everything back into a bowl and hope that it would still turn out (I had added the ingredients in a different order. expecting to be using the breadmaker).  Lesson learned: well it's one that I never seem to learn, actually: read ALL the instructions first before getting started on a project, no matter if you've already done the same project in the past.  Don't trust your memory!  Don't be impatient!

  • Also, in the process of making that dough and everything else this morning, I significantly increased the amount of dirty dishes to be washed. But I did wash everything :)

  • Not a monetary failure because it didn't cost me anything but it was wasteful... getting a frozen drink for my son too early in the day and then forgetting to tell him, when he got home, that there was a drink for him, resulted in the drink completely melting before he could enjoy it and he didn't want to drink it melted. I suppose I could have reused it with ice cubes in the blender to make some kind of Italian ice for him, but our icemaker doesn't work so our supply of ice cubes is very meager (due to no room in the freezer!). So I dumped it in the sink and managed to splatter cherry-colored drink all over my T-shirt in the process. I sprayed Shout on it and I hope it'll come off!


TASKS ACCOMPLISHED TODAY:
  • I cooked breakfast for Greg.
  • I packed him a lunch to take to work.
  • I peeled and shredded potatoes and made potato soup in the crockpot.
  • I also made potato rolls.
  • I did last night's dishes.
  • I swept the kitchen,
  • I sprayed the shower stall with bleach.
  • I made our bed.
  • I printed some coupons.
  • I ran some errands.
  • I inspected the garden and watered some of the in-ground plants.
  • I submitted my receipt to Ibotta and KFR.

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

My Daily Freebies: Friday 10/30/15


Here is what I got/found for free today!
  • A fountain drink and a frozen drink refill at Racetrac, free with our Sodapalooza cups and the Free Fill Fridays October promotion.


  • A box of Keebler S'Mores cookies from Publix, free with BOGO promotion.



Did you get any freebies today?

Food Waste Friday: 10/30/15



  • About a cup and a half of pepperjack cheese.  I had shredded it  and then frozen it a few months back and defrosted it without a clear goal for it in mind... which means I didn't use it and then I realized it had started getting moldy but I couldn't easily tell which bits were moldy and which were just peppers. So I just threw it away:(



    • I had to compost several tomatoes that I had harvested over the past couple of weeks because they went bad in my fridge before I could use them up :(


    • I found another rotted potato in my potato bin :(









      • I roasted the seeds from the 2 butternuts squashes that I had used for cooking and we ate them as snack.

      • I cut up the rotting pumpkin, threw away the bad parts and cooked and puréed the good parts.  I waited too long to do that, but better late than never.


      • I harvested the seeds from 2 pumpkins and roasted them as well.

      I'd love to hear how YOU did this week! Feel free to post links back to your own Food Waste Friday posts in the comments.


      This post was inspired by Kristen at The Frugal Girlwho started blogging about her food waste back in 2008.

      Thursday, October 29, 2015

      Frugal Failures and Successes: Thursday 10/29/15



      HAPPENINGS AROUND HERE TODAY:
      • The week is inching towards Halloween... are you ready?  I'm not planning on doing anything. My youngest son stopped wanting to trick or treat several years ago and I don't give out candy (more because I don't like having people knock on my door and most kids have been pretty rude in the past too so I'm not bothering anymore). My daughter is going to a friend's party just up the street.  We don't even like scary movies so we'll pass on that as well.  Sticks in the mud, that's us :)


      • Speaking of phone calls, I checked the voicemail on my "house phone" yesterday and there was a message from the office of the CEO of USAA letting me know that they had received my letter and would be investigating the matter and keeping me in the loop.  Yeah, you do that.  I didn't mention that a couple of days ago I received confirmations of the change of address (i.e. when the rep who helped me changed everything back to my actual mailing address) on all the accounts. In my frustrating I had forgotten exactly who had been affected... so not only was it my and Greg's accounts (joint and even my personal accounts on which Greg doesn't figure) but also my daughter's accounts and my 19-year-old son's accounts. Their only connection to the person who changed the address is that their mother is married to her father, otherwise there is no blood relation.  So, if you play by their "6 degrees of Kevin Bacon" rules, one person changing an address one a USAA account could potentially change the addresses of infinity amount of people, no?  So yeah, they'd better investigate, damn it.  Can you tell I'm still seething about the whole thing? That was no small security matter.

      • And speaking of phone calls #2, I received, last night, one of those recorded reminders of my son's appointment at the dermatologist 6 days from now.  To stop those (I hate getting those, I'm not an idiot, I know when my appointments are!), I need to send a letter to the "privacy manager" (or something rather) of the practice. It's a national  chain of practices so there isn't a local person to call and ask to uncheck a box on some record so I don't get those reminders!).  Also, what is the point of getting a reminder 6 days in advance? I just made the appointment the day prior... shouldn't a reminder come 1 or 2 days in advance? I need to send the letter.  Is anyone else feeling extra bitchy this week?  Someone at Walgreens commented that it was full moon these days, but I've actually been sleeping very well this week so I haven't noticed. It's probably good that I don't plan on opening the door to trick or treaters on Saturday, lol.


      FRUGAL SUCCESSES:
      • For his lunch, Greg took leftovers that I had packed for him.

      • The kids packed their lunches to take to school.

      • I washed 2 more cereal bags to reuse them when I freeze meat and collected 1 Boxtop to send to my youngest son's school in the Spring.

      • Amazon credited my "gift card account" with $0.04 since the price of the video game that I had pre-ordered dropped by 4 cents.  Greg and I laughed but I would be excited to find 4 cents in the parking lot so just because I can't actually "see" 4 pennies isn't cause to avoid celebrating the refund, right?

      • Speaking of free money, I earned a $5 Amazon gift card with Bing Rewards today. I checked to see if there might be a gift card that would allow me to get free groceries at my local stores but no, so I went with Amazon, again.
      • I earned the daily maximum of Bing Rewards. My first daily goal for Swagbucks is 105 SB today so I'll be tied up to the laptop a little more than I would like but the 300 SB bonus for hitting my goal every day this month is in view! Update: I did reach my goal by mid afternoon :)

      • I was reading a random blog post yesterday which taught me that when I go to Starbucks, I should have each item that I buy rang up separately because you earn 1 star per purchase, not per visit.  Hmmm.  There is a huge gap between getting to the Green level (5 stars needed) and the Gold level (30 stars needed), which seems silly.  I wonder if stars reset every calendar year or if, once you get to the Gold level, you remain there the whole time you belong to the program. Anyone knows? I'm too lazy to look it up.  I'll probably never reach the Gold level though. I guess I could ask my oldest son who actually used to a barista, (baristo?), but I'm sad to report that my readers are probably going to be more responsive than he will be.  I love him but one of his worst traits is ignoring his mother's emails and texts, lol.  Anyhoo, I'm going to put a small sticky on my Starbucks gift card to remind me to do that, if I ever order more than one thing when I go there.  Might as well try to get more freebies, right?

      • The company through which we ordered the battery for our generator is offering us $50 off any order if we make a 60-second video of the battery and how we use it, how we like it, etc.  I told Greg he needed to make the video this weekend and he agreed.  Hmm, I'll believe it when I'm there holding the camera while he chats about the battery that we've used just once so far to make sure the generator actually worked :) I don't even know what $50 item we could get from the site, for all I know it's just batteries and we don't really need another one?

      • I've run out of things to chit chat about and delay my chores, LOL, so I'm getting off the laptop for a while to go do them, ** drags her feet**. This afternoon, though, I'm gonna be reading a book.  I have the latest Lee Child book and it's due on Monday and I haven't started yet.  Update: I didn't read the book.  I did some chores and some internet reading while vaguely watching the "Blue Bloods" marathon on ION TV.

      • I inspected the garden and "harvested" a couple of things:
        • An orange from my neighbor's tree that had fallen on the ground. It's not fully ripe yet so I will zest it and pretend it's lemon zest. Shhh, we won't tell anyone and hope it works when mixed in with regular lemon zest, lol. Not sure what I'll do with the juice since I don't need any and I have no room in the freezer to freeze it. More on that later.

        • A green onion that I cut by mistake when I was trying to prune the dead ones.  I chopped it up and added it to the pot of refried beans that I'm cooking in the crockpot.

      • I fixed the broken branches on my roselle bus, since there were calyces growing on them.  I used electric tape.

      • I reused water collected after boiling eggs to water my indoor zombie celery.  Then I added the water collected after boiling (more) eggs last night to the pitcher meant to water plants.

      • I brewed myself a cup of black tea by reusing the tea bag that I had brewed for Greg's breakfast.

      • I puréed the pumpkin (and pumpkin bits collected from my middle son and his GF's carving pumpkin session) that I had cooked.


      • I baked 2 loaves of Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread. I used unsweetened applesauce in lieu of vegetable oil and reduced the amount of sugar from 3 cups to just 1 since I also added chocolate chips.  

      • I froze 4 bags of 2 cups of pumpkin puree.  I still have 1 cup left that I will use to make bread in the breadmaker so all in all I got 11 cups of purée this morning... and I still have 3 pumpkins to process! The pumpkin had cost me $2.99 so that's roughly $0.57 for 2 cups.  Each 15 oz can is selling between $0.79 and $1+ at the stores right now so I'm a little ahead (oh and did you read about the "oh no! the crops were bad so we won't have any canned pumpkin to sell you at Thanksgiving!" scare?  All the stores I went to had cans of pumpkin purée and they weren't even that expensive.  I';m guessing these might be cans from last year so we might have a problem next year...so puree and freeze your pumpkins now!

      • As I have mentioned many times, my freezers are full to the brim.  How did I freeze the 8 cups of pumpkin?  I put them in gallon-size Ziploc bags and burped them well and then laid down 2 of them across a cookie sheet and put it at the very top of my chest freezer.  For the 2 other bags, I fished 2 flattened cereal boxes out of my recycling bin to make a (admittedly flimsy) "shelf" for my side-to-side freezer, laid it on top of the bags of frozen fruit and laid down the bags of purée on top of it.  They won't be completely flat but close enough. Once the inoperative ice maker bin is cleared out of the pork loin roasts that I'm storing in there, the bags will be stored in that ice bin, sitting upright. That's how I stored them last year and it worked out well.

      • For dinner tonight I'm planning on making tacos and using those Old El Paso taco boats that I received for free a couple of days ago.  I'll harvest lettuce from the garden and cut up some Roma tomatoes that have been in the fridge a little too long.  I have the free shredded cheddar cheese from Walmart (free after Ibotta rebate) yesterday.

      • I wasn't sure what to make as a side dish and I remembered that I could make refried beans in the crockpot.  I used 3 cups of dry pinto beans (good thing they didn't need to be soaked overnight!), the tiny onion I got for free (after Ibotta rebate) from Publix yesterday, the green onion that I harvested by mistake this morning and the various spices as per the recipe. I also used some frozen jalapeño that I had harvested from my garden. The only problem is that I started cooking them at noon and they need to cook for 8 hours on low.  We usually have dinner at about 7 p.m.  So I'm starting them on high for a couple of hours and then finish them on low.

      • I used a bag of oyster crackers and 3 small bags of fried wontons from my last couple orders of Chinese take-out to make mock Chex Mix right after the pumpkin bread was baked, so I didn't have to reheat the oven.

      • I used margarine instead of butter to make the "Chex Mix" and froze the wrapper so I can reuse it to grease baking dishes later on.

      • My lunch was a hodge podge of leftovers: the tiny bit of General Tsao from yesterday, some Black Eyed Pea soup, the last Cheddar wheat roll, leftover salad from a couple of nights ago, and a banana.

      • I uploaded a few new offers to my Ibotta app and also deleted 50 of them (the most you are allowed to remove from your "gallery" per day).

      • I updated my pricebook with the prices documented yesterday.

      • I swapped the 75W bulb in our downstairs shower stall for a 60W one. Every penny counts, although I did spend 50 cents on buying the bulb. However, since 3 people shower in there and all three take pretty long showers, I don't think it'll take us long to recoup the cost.


      • I printed (2) $1.50/1 Gold'n Plump chicken coupons thanks to their e-newsletter.

      • I took the survey on my Racetrac receipt from yesterday and earned a survey reward code for a free 32 oz fountain drink.

      • I finally got around to making a list of the deals I might be interested in getting at Publix this week, thanks to IHeartPublix's ad preview post from this past Monday!

      • I previewed the CVS and Walgreens ads for next week and made a note of what I might want to buy. CVS will have the milk on sale for $2.99 but no ECBs. Walgreens will have some Kellogg's cereals on sale but didn't mention which. I hope Special K will be included? If not, Publix has it on sale this week and if I get credit for all my points from yesterday, I should be able to order $1.00 off coupons from Kellogg's Family Rewards.

      • I harvested some lettuce and 2 tomatoes for dinner tonight.  The lettuce is so good that Greg and I ate it plain, without any dressing!  Also, since I don't spray chemicals on it and it grew protected from bugs and animals, I don't even bother washing it. It's pristine! Also #2, I think I messed up when I labeled the seeds as "Romaine lettuce" after harvesting them. I think they were Bibb lettuce seeds, actually :)


      • The Crockpot Refried Beans recipe made A LOT of refried beans and they were pretty salty. I made a note on my printout to cut the salt out next time, yikes.  I used 2 recycled 32 oz yogurt containers to freeze the leftovers.  Where did I find the room for the containers in the freezer, you ask?  Well, I pushed and pushed in the upright freezer and was able to squeeze them in.  Where there's a will, there's a way, as they say!

      • Those Old El Paso taco boats were TINY.  I only gave us 2 per person because I didn't cook enough meat, but there were 12 boats so we could have had a 3rd each.  I saved the last 4 in the fridge and will have to figure out what to fill them with... diced ham and cheese, perhaps.

      • Calling Alison, will Alison please come to the blog?  I just read on Slickdeals that there will be ANOTHER My Coke Rewards double points promo next week (11/3 to 11/5), on bottle caps again.  See details here.  Dang it, I wish I had kept my bottle cap codes this week!  I need to start hoarding them for the next promo!



      WE SPLURGED ON:
      • Hmm, nothing today?

      HOWEVER, WE FAILED IN THE FOLLOWING WAYS, BUT LEARNED SOME LESSONS:
      • No failures as of this writing (10 a.m. and I hope I won't have to cross this off and eat my words later on!)

      TASKS ACCOMPLISHED TODAY:
      • I cooked breakfast for Greg.
      • I made our bed.
      • I inspected the garden and crushed worms from the bean plants and aphids from the serrano pepper plants.
      • I deadheaded roses and vincas.
      • I fixed the broken roselle branches and cut off the dead ones.
      • I puree the pumpkin and froze most of it.
      • I baked 2 loaves of pumpkin bread.
      • I made mock Chex Mix.
      • I made refried beans in the crockpot.
      • I updated my pricebook.
      • I swept the entry room and the kitchen.
      • I changed the bulb in the shower stall for a slightly more efficient one.
      • I couldn't do the dishes tonight because I realized right before dinnertime that my daughter loaded the dishwasher last night but never started it.  So I'll have a mountain of dishes waiting for me in the morning. Sigh.
      • I read my book while Greg was watching stupid Tom Brady play against the Dolphins. 

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

      My Daily Freebies: Thursday 10/29/15


      Here is what I got/found for free today!

      • I earned a $5 Amazon gift card with Bing Rewards :)

      • Lowe's has a rebate offer for a $10 Lowe's gift card when you buy 2 or more Energizer battery packages in a single purchase.  Click on the link for the printable rebate form or you can submit it online.  I don't know if they have good prices but they do take manufacturer coupons and there was a $0.50 coupon on Coupons.com recently and perhaps even better for the lithium batteries (print it through Swagbucks Coupons to earn 10 SB when you redeem it!).  The rebate is valid through 1/29/16 so we have plenty of time to wait for promos and possibly even Ibotta rebates (one could dream, right?) too.


      • Heads up for tomorrow if you live in an area with RaceTrac gas stations and you have a 2015 Sodapalooza cup: tomorrow is the last day for FreeFill Fridays so don't forget to bring your cup along if you're going to be leaving the house!


      Did you get any freebies today?