Sunday, January 31, 2016

Frugal Successes and Failures: Sunday 1/31/16




HAPPENINGS AROUND HERE TODAY:
  • Happy last day of January!  Our temps are warming up, it'll be 72F today and warming up to 82F on Tuesday.  I did turn the heat on last night since Greg wasn't feeling well and our son had complained about being cold too.  As for me, I had another hot flash last night but it might have been that I was dehydrated because I didn't drink much yesterday and then had all that Chinese food that's loaded with sodium.  I drank so much water last night!

  • Our New Kitty came to us with a black spot under the chin which I thought was her hair color at one point and no one, including the vet and techs who examined her during the visits remarked on it.  But it keeps spreading so it's obvious she has some kind of skin disease, although only on her chin.  I made a reminder in my calendar to call the vet's tomorrow to have them look at her.  Oh!  I just remembered that I had decided to go to the low-cost clinic so maybe it's a perfect opportunity to start transitioning to that clinic!  See? writing this blog is definitely helping me with my frugal efforts.

  • So last school year my daughter participated in the local Optimists' Club essay contest and won the speech competition for her category in our district.  They have to present it in front of a panel and then present it in front of visitors as a way to practice for regionals.  She didn't win regionals but she won a $300 Amazon gift card for the district win.  She also found out that she could have entered the essay competition as well but she didn't know that as the rules stated that you could enter only one contest.  This year, she had decided on not participating at all because she didn't think she'd have enough time to write the speech and memorize it since she has college classes, the SAT and ACT tests to study for, etc.  I was disappointed because I so enjoyed seeing her present her speech last year (she allowed me to come see her present it for visitors after she had won but had refused to let her dad watch her present during the actual competition because she said she would have been too nervous!) and I pointed out that she was giving up a really good chance of winning again because this contest isn't well known so the odds are excellent.  I guess that must have changed her mind because late yesterday afternoon she announced that she had contacted the contest's administrator to ask about entering both the essay and speech competition (yes, she is allowed to do that) and found out that the deadline for submitting the application and speech was last night at midnight!  So she stayed up late to write her speech and submit it.  She has to present it in March, I think. She had heard last year that this year's prizes would be much larger than last year, so here's hoping!

FRUGAL SUCCESSES:
  • Greg got up at 6 a.m. to drink some OJ and then went back to bed but I was wide awake so I got started on Bing and Swagbucks.

  • Bing: earned the maximum of daily credits (I know it's repetitive to read the same thing day, after day, after day, but typing this every morning helps me remember to actually do those activities!)

  • Swagbucks: my 1st goal today was 90 SB.  I was able to qualify for a 60 SB survey right off the bat so between that, Ngage, JunoGroup and SBTV, I had reached my goal  by 7 a.m. and qualified for tbe Monthly Master Bonus of 300 SB, yay!  I'll get the bonuses around 2/4, I think.  That should put me nicely ahead for my next SB gift card :)  Did you qualify for any bonuses this month?

  • Taking a leaf from my friend Alison's book, I signed up for the MobiSave app.  I was hesitant because some of the reviews weren't glowing and those people complained that offers "disappeared" from their line-up when they went to redeem their receipts, and also because Paypal is the option to cash in... I emailed them and they said that they might have more cash out options in the future so I was thinking that I'd just keep accumulating money in my account and redeem it once another option than Paypal was offered but apparently a "plus" of MobiSave is that they transfer the money to Paypal several times a day so it shows up in your Paypal account instantaneously.  Well, great, apart from the fact that I don't ever use Paypal anymore and I don't want my Paypal account linked to my checking account either.  But the more I thought of it, the more it sounded like lame excuses for not taking free cash so I signed up anyway. I remembered that Alison said she used Paypal at the Home Depot checkout (and I remembered seeing that option there too) and then she told me she also uses it at Wendy's. Plus there are lots of websites that let you pay via Paypal too so...  I checked the FAQs on the app (weirdly I couldn't find any FAQs on their website) and they state that all the offers get reset at midnight during the night from Sunday to Monday so maybe that's why people say offers are disappearing... they don't close their apps and when they bring them back up, they're still seeing the previous week's offers instead of the current week, but that all refreshes when they go to try and redeem a receipt.  Anyhoo, I put a reminder on my calendar to upload new offers every Monday morning and I'm hoping that the offers for Post cereal, bananas, and apples are all still available this coming week!  Thanks to Alison for clueing me in and being so patient with my questions.  I only wish they had a referral system but they don't :(


  • I unlocked new offers on my SavingStar app this morning and printed coupons via Swagbucks, Redplum, Smartsource, Target and CVS.  I uploaded an app-only coupon to my CVS ExtraCare account.  I uploaded new digital coupons to my Publix wallet.

  • Ooooh, I logged into my Discover account to see which deals were available and there was a printable coupon for Aunt Annie's!  "Buy any flavor pretzel nuggets and get a free pretzel".  Ohhh, I'm going to Walmart on Wednesday and there's a brand new Aunt Annie's located right inside the entrance!  And it'll be a new month so I have a clean slate as far as eating out!

  • Greg downloaded a free app to his Kindle Fire.

  • Susan will be pleased to hear that I only had to compost 1 of the serrano peppers that I had harvested.  I reused a sandwich bag that I had washed recently to freeze the others :)

  • My lunch was the rest of the Hearty Beef Stew leftovers from several days ago, a bowl of butternut squash soup from a couple of nights ago with some oyster crackers (I should have used some of those fried wontons strips that came with Greg's soup last night.  We never eat them and I always forget to tell them not to give us any!) and a small cup of Dole Frusion fruit/veggie mix (peach mango in veggie juice, I guess).

  • I spoke to my oldest son for a bit on the phone since I needed to ask him about his Jazz Workshop concert on Tuesday.  The good news is that it will be streamed live so if you're interested in listening to some jazz on Tuesday night, go to http://performingarts.cah.ucf.edu/live/  The jazz groups will be playing starting at 8 p.m. EST  My son's group will be the last so probably around 9 p.m. EST. They will play 3 tunes.  My son is the tall redhead trumpet player :)  If you do watch it, please let me know what you thought of the performance!  The UCF Jazz Studies program is pretty renowned in jazz circles thanks to their amazing director, Jeff Rupert, so it should be a good show. In addition, my youngest son and I will be attending the Flying Horse Big Band Concert at UCF on Friday, but that one won't be streamed since they raise money with the full concerts.

  • While at the Civil War reenactment yesterday, we were given a flyer about a Military Vehicle Rally and WWII Battle Reenactment taking place in the same location during the last weekend of  February.  The flyer said the event was free to all. Yay!  So I put it on my calendar but emailed the coordinator to find out the exact day and time of the battle reenactment so we don't miss it.  

  • Greg went to get his haircut and remembered to pay with a credit card (Mastercard, 1% Rewards) since there was a $7.99 sale going on and we didn't want to waste a $9.99 credit on our Great Clips prepaid card. He charged the $2 tip as well.

  • He also stopped by Publix to get himself some more OJ since his throat is still scratchy.  I had instructed him to get the Publix brand (cheapest) and to pay with American Express (3% Rewards at grocery stores) and he did just that and didn't buy anything else even though he had really wanted ice cream!  Yay!

  • Meanwhile, I inventoried my fridge and pantry and put together a menu for the upcoming week, using items that we already have on hand.  Woohoo!  Yes, I'll still go grocery shopping because we'll need bread and fruit and I always am on the lookout for bargains anyway.  I think I might go shopping on Tuesday again but I'm not sure.

  • Looking for a specific cookbook on my cookbook shelf (it is to be noted that I tried decluttering my cookbook shelf last week but after looking at all my books, even the ones that I never use, I decided to keep them all! Yes, I have attachment issues when it comes to cookbooks.  My kids will start families at some point, I presume, so who knows if they'll want any of them.)... well now I've lost my train of thought... oh yes.  So looking through my cookbooks I found The Complete Book of Small-Batch Preserving that I had bought myself last year but that I haven't used yet.  Since I'm planning on harvesting our oranges this week, I thought I'd look through the book for some inspiration of what to do with them beyond plain marmalade.  I realized that I had never finished going through the whole book and there are tons of recipes well beyond pickles and jams!  One recipe that I look forward to trying is Microwave Orange Curd with Candied Peel.  Doesn't that sound good?  You can use it as a topping on scones apparently and you can freeze it if you're not planning on using it right away. Perfect!

  • I submitted my Publix receipt from yesterday to Kellogg's Family Rewards since I bought 2 packages of Keebler cookies (on BOGO) and noticed that I had been credited for all the points for my CVS purchases on Tuesday and earned one of the (10) 1,000 KFR bonuses that we can earn from now until the end of March (buy 10, get 1,000 points). I'm also just 2 punches away from the 2nd 1,000 bonus reward and since I bought 2 boxes of cookies yesterday, I expect that I'll get that bonus once they process my receipt. This means that I'll be able to order new $1.00/1 coupons next time Special K is on sale somewhere so I can continue to stock up. Yay!

  • While I was logged in to the KFR site, I also printed the new coupons that are available. My kids eat tons of cereal so I always print tons of cereal coupons :)


  • Then I got an email telling me they had processed my receipt so I checked my account and I earned the double points bonus for uploading a receipt (I thought it was only for Winn Dixie receipts!) although each of my boxes of cookies was worth different points. Had I known, we would have gotten the same boxes that were worth 100 points each, lol.

  • I took the survey from my daughter's RaceTrac receipt from yesterday and wrote a long compliment about their sollicitude and generosity when she locked her keys in her car.  I earned a survey reward code for a free bag of TasteWorks chips :)


  • I took (2) Driscoll's Consumer Advisory Panel surveys and printed four $1.00/1 coupons for my grocery trip this week.  Unfortunately, I had messed with the margins in the printing options earlier today so my first 2 coupons printed a little truncated.  I emailed Customer Service before I realized that it was my fault so when I realized that I had caused the problem, I emailed them again with an "oops".  Then I printed the other 2 coupons. I compared all coupons and I think that I might be OK because it seems that the whole bar code might have printed anyway.  I'll have to buy just 2 containers and hand the truncated coupons to the Target cashier to see if they scan and if not, I'll just swap them for the other two.

  • For tonight's omelette I used most of the rest of the bag of Potatoes O'Brien, a container of baby portabella, some sliced ham, 6 eggs, 1/2 cup of milk and the rest of the shredded Monterey Jack/Cheddar mix from early last week.  I had to pick out a few shreds that had gotten moldy.  I cooked the veggies and ham on the stove, poured the eggs/milk on top, topped with cheese, and baked it at 350F in the oven for 20 minutes. Since I was using my cast iron pan, it was easy!  I made a large salad to go with it with the rest of the lettuce from our garden, grape tomatoes, the rest of a cucumber, some olives and some croutons.  It was delicious, Greg really liked the omelette and I have some leftover salad for my lunch tomorrow. I'll pick the meat that's left on the rotisserie chicken that we ate on Friday night and add it to the salad.

  • I poured the crumbs from the bag of croutons into my bread crumb jar.

  • Greg and I came across "American Ninja Warrior" on NBC and totally got hooked on it.  Dang it, I should have been pedaling on my bike during that because I was completely pumped up, lol!

WE SPLURGED ON:
  • Nothing.

HOWEVER, WE FAILED IN THE FOLLOWING WAYS, BUT LEARNED SOME LESSONS:
  • I should have remembered yesterday that Greg needed a haircut and suggested that we go right after our outing so we could have had a No Drive Day today, darn it!

  • I had to throw away a few moldy cheese shreds and the last chunk of summer sausage as it was too far gone to save it.


TASKS ACCOMPLISHED TODAY:
  • Fed the cats
  • Signed up for MobiSave
  • Printed coupons and uploaded new offers to apps
  • Followed up with my oldest son about his Tuesday concert
  • Inventoried my fridge and pantry and did a dinner menu plan for the week
  • Filled out a couple of consumer surveys to earn freebies and coupons
  • Clipped all coupons
  • Prepped the kitchen wall calendar for the month of February - hey! 2016 is a leap year!
  • Cooked dinner

PROGRESS TOWARDS MY 2016 GOALS TODAY:
  • Signed up for a new rebate app, which hopefully will allow me to save even more.

  • I found out that Greg's cell phone will no longer be under contract as of 5/24/16.  At this point we should be able to save $15 per month on his line, if they still offer the same discount as what my son and myself have on our phones on the same family plan.  I have been thinking, though, that although I like having a smart phone, there's really no NEED for me to have one and I'm wondering if I could just have a pay-as-you-go deal because I'm pretty much always on WiFi. I almost never use the phone to make or receive calls and I have a digital camera that takes better pictures.  The apps can all work on Wifi.  I really need to think about this.

HEALTH ACCOMPLISHMENTS TODAY:
  • Liquids:
    • 2 cups coffee
    • 1 cup water
    • 1.5 cups instant coffee
    • 1 cup water
    • 1.5 cups decaf coffee
  • Food:
    • Breakfast:
      • 1/4 cup granola, 1 banana, 1/3 cup whole milk
    • Mid Morning Snack:
      • nothing
    • Lunch:
      • Rest of hearty beef stew, bowl of butternut squash soup, fruit cup
    • Mid Afternoon Snack:
      • poptarts (!), string cheese stick
    • Dinner:
      • 1/4 of a Spanish omelet, garden salad

    • Evening Snack:
      • nothing
  • Weight:
    • Didn't weigh myself as I forgot to bring the scale downstairs!
  • Exercise:
    • Didn't exercise...again!
Did you have any frugal successes or failures today? Please do tell!

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