Monday, February 29, 2016

Frugal Successes and Failures: Monday 2/29/16



HAPPENINGS AROUND HERE TODAY:

  • Last week Susan asked me if "Domestic Monday" was going to be a thing on my blog now and I thought... why not?!  Mondays are already the days when I'm usually energized by the weekend and most productive (which isn't saying much though), and since I get tired of always having the same graphic as a title post, I thought I'd go with the idea.  Anyone want to join me in trying to be domestic on Mondays?  You don't have to.  

  • I'm actually going to be alone all day long today.  Greg isn't so much into working from home these days because he really wants to go to the gym at lunch time, our son started volunteering at the library after school on Mondays, and my daughter has a night-time college class so she likes going from the high school to the gym and then to the library to study/do homework before heading directly to her college class.

  • I could whine about the fact that it's going to be lonely this afternoon without at least one of the kids here, BUT: not only do I want to be domestic today, but also I had told myself that it would be really cool if I could finish our tax return today or at least make a bit dent in it (but finishing it so I can review it with Greg tonight would be really cool).  So as of 9:15 a.m. today that is my goal.  However, some caveats: I didn't sleep well/much last night so I'll probably be totally run-down after lunch (when I plan on working on the taxes because I really need to do the domestic part of the goals this morning) and I'm not even sure I got all the documents that I'll need.  That being said, I will try my best.

  • This also means, Susan, that I won't be getting on the bike and reading Kiplinger's today.  Then today I'm going grocery shopping (something else I need to prep for tomorrow!) so it won't happen then either.  Then I'm getting my period and who wants to exercise when their insides are being shredded to bits?  Yeah, not me.  So.... I may skip exercising this whole week.  But thanks for helping me stay accountable by gently reminding me of my recumbent bike :)

  • I'm not doing a "Day Book" post today so here are some plans for the week: my daughter is taking the SAT (for free thanks to her school - well, I guess our taxes!) on Wednesday.  She'll be spending the weekend at her dad's so that means he'll refund me for the gas/tolls and will feed her all weekend :)  My son is taking the FSA Writing tomorrow (Florida's standardized test). He's a very good writer (as are all my kids, that's one thing they got from me as I always excelled at writing - couldn't tell from this blog, right?  lol) so I'm not worried about it. Actually I've never worried about any standardized tests with my kids save for my 2 oldest when they had to pass them in 3rd grade in order to be promoted because it was still new to me. But they aced them so I didn't worry about it with the other kids.  I hate that so much time is being wasted testing the kids in Florida (seriously, sometimes you think they spend more time being tested for various assessments than actually being taught something!) but mine do well on the tests so I don't feel a passion for protesting them.  However, I was reading a story on a Sarasota newspaper late last night about this mother who is pissed (and I would too) that the Florida Department of Education will not excuse her daughter who has cerebral palsy and is non-verbal from the FSA. WTF?!? IMO the Education Commissioner Pam Stewart should be ran out of office just based on that. This is ridiculous.  Anyhoo, I don't think we have other plans for the week ahead.  Oh, the Educational Foundation Duck Race is on Saturday in Leesburg.  We won't attend but I'm keeping my fingers crossed that we win something with my 15 tickets!

  • I called my oldest son to see how last night's concert went and we were able to talk for a few minutes: it went extremely well. As a jazz musician he had thought that he would improvise but when he got to the rehearsal in the afternoon, he was told that he had to play the piece exactly as Chris Botti had played it on the video that I had shared before.  So he spent a couple of hours learning that exact interpretation and he said it went very very well.  As a matter of fact, Josh Groban told him that he was welcome to improvise during the next 2 concerts (tomorrow in Clearwater and Wednesday in Orlando), something that, according to his own agent, no other trumpet player has been allowed to do up until now!  I really wish I could see it but of well, right? The shows are all sold out.

  • Single tasks accomplished today:
    • Reaching out to someone:  called my oldest son, emailed my siblings and mom, texted my middle son
    • Household chore: did the dishes, laundry, made the bed
    • Investing: 
    • Tax-related: worked on our tax return for 3 hours. Not done yet.
    • General finances: Signed up for FL Prepaid plan
    • Saving money:  
    • Gardening: 
    • Health: 
    • Cooking: made corn muffins and lemon bars
    • Indulging myself: Watched Third Rock from The Sun on Netflix while doing the dishes and other online tasks.

FRUGAL SUCCESSES:
  • When it was time to pack Greg's lunch this morning, I realized that there really wasn't enough taco meat left over to tide him until dinner.  I was going to make him a sandwich but then I realized that he'd been snacking on the Black Forest Ham so there's none left, which ticked me off because I needed there to be some left for the kids' sandwiches tomorrow.  He told me last night that he didn't want to eat PBJs anymore because they're too fatty (that diet of his is driving me crazy and the fact that he talks about it constantly is really irritating.)  So I resigned myself to the fact that we'd go over budget even more for today and told him, when he came down, that I had packed him hard-boiled eggs and a yogurt but that I couldn't make him a sandwich since he had eaten all the ham as snacks, so he would gave to buy something for lunch again.  My husband is a good man (albeit at times irritating!) and apologized for eating the ham (he's good at placating and I'm really good at pretending that I'm placated!), offered to stop by the store tonight to buy more lunchmeat (I declined because Greg at Publix is like an elephant in a crystal factory!) and then proceeded to make himself a PBJ.  I think. Because I didn't turn around to see what he was doing, I'm thinking he might have packed the PBJ as an additional snack and will still buy something at lunch time.  I'm zen with it.  As long as he stays out of Publix :)

  • I did 2 super loads of laundry in cold/cold. I washed all my clothes with the undies, etc, and hung them out to dry on the back patio. Greg still prefers his clothes to be dried in the dryer so I dried them with the bath towels on the Auto Moisture Sensing setting.  I used vinegar as softener in both loads.

  • I was up late last night (I had fallen asleep at 10:30 a.m. but someone with a CA number called my cell phone at 11:30 p.m., which woke me up and then I started worrying about my oldest's concert with JG - I haven't heard from him, I hope it went well!) so I couldn't fall back asleep.  So I uploaded the new MobiSave offers.  They pretty much the same as last week but not as good. Lots of magazine offers, bleh.  Also: I had updated the app, which promised to have fixed the bug with the new offers not being loaded automatically but it didn't fix anything and I still had to log out and log back in.

  • Hey, the Swagbucks goal for today is 29 SB.  Cool!!!  It's 9:30 a.m. right now and I've really reached it, thus ensuring that I will get the 300 SB bonus for the 29 Day Monthly Master level, woohoo!  I'm at 1940 SB for now, so I won't get to order another gc this month, oh well. I'll order one this week though, once the bonus hits since I'll only need 2,200 SB.
  • Bing Rewards: going to work on it now so I don't forget later on.  I was trying not to stress about doing Bing right away when I get up, but if I don't, then chances are I might forget and it's pretty easy anyway so might as well get it out of the way.

  • In order to fulfill the cooking part of "Domestic Monday" mandate for today, I'm defrosting a sirloin pork roast so I can cook it in the crockpot tomorrow as I do my shopping, I'm cooking the box of Betty Crocker Suddenly Grain Salad mix that I never used last week (I'll have some for lunch), and I'm planning on making lemon bars from a mix I had in the pantry. Oh and for dinner I decided to make a version of the Black Bean Soup that I didn't cook last night, in the crockpot.  It's called Fiesta Black Bean Soup and allows me to use up the cubed smoked ham that I had defrosted last week but not used.  I didn't have any cans of diced mild chiles, so I substituted some frozen sliced jalapeƱos from my garden.  I have a box of corn muffin mix in the fridge (got it free with SavingStar a few weeks back) so I'll plan on baking those at the same time as the lemon bars.
Pork roast defrosting for tomorrow's dinner
Corn muffins

Lemon bars
  • When I was looking for my homemade taco seasoning in the pantry last night, I came across 3 envelopes of sauces/marinade mixes that I've had for years.  Seriously, I think a couple of them might have fossilized.  Ahem. I'm going to try to use them up in recipes this week. I still need to put a menu together.

  • I had lunch very late, once I gave up on the taxes, at 3:15 p.m. Some of the grain salad, a hard-boiled egg with the last slice of Everything French bread and a navel orange.
Blurry photo of the grain salad. It was... interesting.

  • Oh my, our Health FSA claim for the dental work done on our son in was finally approved!  No news as to when they'll mail us the refund check though.

  • My son's trapper keeper's zipper broke apart.  I was able to get it back in its tracks, although it's a very temporary solution since it easily gets unhooked again and the fabric around the zipper is ripping up anyway.

  • So I ordered him a new one on Staples.com.  Had I known his current one was in such a bad shape, I would have kept my $15 in Staples Rewards!  I went through the Swagbucks portal so I should get 2 SB per $ spent (so 60 SB), got free shipping thanks to Staples Rewards, and charged it to my Amazon Visa card, with which I will earn 2% back in Rewards.


  • I received the $120 rebate check from Ace Hardware today and deposited it right away into one of our accounts via our bank's app on my phone. 

  • I also received the refund check from my ex-husband although he didn't complete it all the way so I'm waiting to hear from him whether he minds if I complete it myself (he signed it already) and then I'll deposit it into my savings account.

  • Kohl's sent me a coupon for a $5 promotional gift and a 30% off discount.

  • I received a free sample of Fancy Feast cat food which I will pass along to my neighbor.

  • My 14y old brought me back $2.00 from the library because they hadn't realized that the Friends of the Library not longer charged the member fee for the junior members.

  • For dinner we had the Fiesta Black Bean Soup. It was more liquid than I had realized it would be but it was very very good. I also used 2 small tortillas and some cheddar cheese to make 2 small quesadillas that I cut in halves and we each had one, and then we each had a corn muffin. Once again, this Jiffy Corn Muffin mix is pretty horrible, I'm glad I didn't pay for it.

WE SPLURGED ON:
  • The kids bought their lunches from school today since we allow them to do that once a week.

  • Today was the last day to sign up for Florida Prepaid and lock in the 2015-2016 rates.  I texted Greg that I wanted to sign up our son for a 2-year "college plan" which would lock in the tuition rate for a 2-year stint in a state college (i.e. community college).  The  plan can also be used at a 4-year university (although they will apply the credit it probably will only cover 1 year) or a technical school.  Our son has been doing chores without being reminded to do them for a very long time, without complaining and so had accumulated (in virtual credits!) about the amount that the 2-year plan will cost us, since the other kids always got paid for the chores we asked them to do.  He doesn't give us any grief as parents and is an excellent student so I would really wanted to do that for him as opposed to handing him close to $8,000 in cash when he graduates from high school, you know?   Greg wasn't really on board because we always agreed that the kids would have to pay for their own education once they graduated but after we discussed it via text, he told me to do whatever I wanted.  Didn't I tell he was a great guy?  So I signed up for the plan,which will cost us $150 or so per month through October 2020.  There also was a $50 application fee.   The fact is, my 3 older sons have benefited of partial prepaid plans paid for that their dad and some cash that I gave them that corresponded to their share of the Series EE bonds I had bought when I still worked and have or have had jobs too. I won a college scholarship for my daughter and she is working hard to earn her AA while she is still in high school and living at home.  The oldest stepdaughter elected not to go to college, and the 2nd one had a JROTC scholarship (which she ditched in her Senior year) and Bright Futures scholarship and somehow we still had to advance her money to pay for her dorm during 2 semesters and other fees as well, and we never saw that money again.  So actually most of the older kids got helped in one way or another. I'm really happy that we'll be doing this... college costs increase by 5% every year!

  • Greg bought lunch at work.


  • Gas to drive my son to the library when he was running late for his volunteering gig. He had to come home first because his trapper keeper broke open so he couldn't walk all the way to the library with his school papers and books falling out (stupid middle school rule that they can't have backpacks even though they have lockers!).

  • A new Case-It "trapper keeper" for my son.

HOWEVER, WE FAILED IN THE FOLLOWING WAYS, BUT LEARNED SOME LESSONS:
  • Our taxes are driving me nuts. We made too much money so once again we have to move the Roth IRA contributions back into regular IRA accounts and so I can't proceed until that's done PLUS stupid E*Trade (I hate them, don't understand their website and their documents never include the info that we need, I'm gonna have to do a bunch of research by hand AGAIN and then reinput everything into a spreadsheet for it to make sense.  I hate them, hate them, hate them!).  I've spent 3 hours on our taxes and I'll probably need to spend many more before I can even file them and we'll probably end up owing a bunch of money too.  Plus now it looks like I might need to amend the 2014 return too.... shoot me now.


TASKS ACCOMPLISHED TODAY:
  • Cooked breakfast for Greg
  • Packed part of his lunch
  • Set the breakfast table for the kids
  • Did 2 loads of laundry
  • Baked corn muffins
  • Baked Lemon Bars
  • Cooked dinner in crockpot
  • Signed up for FL Prepaid plan
  • Did all the dishes. Woot!
  • Made our bed
  • Worked on our taxes
  • Deposited checks into our accounts
  • Drove my son to the library
  • Set the dinner table
  • Corresponded with my middle on via text

PROGRESS TOWARDS MY 2016 GOALS TODAY:
  • I don't think anything? I'm too tired to even think.

HEALTH ACCOMPLISHMENTS TODAY:
  • Liquids:
    • 2 cups coffee
    • 1 cup water
  • Food:
    • Breakfast:
      • bowl of granola, banana, ~2% milk
    • Mid Morning Snack:
      • nothing
    • Lunch:
      • grain salad, 1 slice French bread, 1 hard boiled egg, 1 navel orange
    • Mid Afternoon Snack:
      • nothing
    • Dinner:
      • Fiesta Black Bean Soup, 1/2 cheese quesadilla, 1/2 corn muffin
    • Evening Snack:
      • nothing
Did you have any frugal successes or failures today? Please do tell!

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Frugal Failures and Successes: Sunday 2/28/16




HAPPENINGS AROUND HERE TODAY:
  • Hello, hello, how was your day?  Typical Sunday over here, not much was accomplished but it was by design, eh eh.  Our ancestors fought for our right to have a day off so I'm honoring their sacrifices :)

  • It was 60 in the living room when I woke up at 8:30 a.m. and at 11 a.m. it's 61 F!  Greg told me it was warmer outside than inside so I opened the windows.  Our high should be in the mid 70s today before it shoots up to the low to middle 80s tomorrow.  

  • I didn't take any pictures today so this is going to be a boring post.

FRUGAL SUCCESSES:
  • I mixed 1/4 gallon of whole milk with 1/4 gallon of water to stretch it.  Didn't get to mix the milk before and the gallon went down fast!

  • Swagbucks goal is at 95 SB, grr.  I reached my goal but it was 8:15 p.m. when I did.


  • I almost forgot to do Bing Rewards yesterday and remembered at almost 11 p.m.!  So I did them earlier today.

  • My daughter and I skyped (free!) with my brothers and their significant others. It was fun :)

  • Michelle emailed me TEN MCR codes that she had collected for me.  Isn't that sweet?!?  Thanks, Michelle! I'm still waiting for a bonus points promo to be on so I can enter my codes, darn it.  They haven't had one of those in a while.... well, since people start sending me codes, hahaha.

  • I printed a few coupons from my usual places, but not that many today, which is a nice relief.  It's the end of the month so new ones will probably appear in the next few days, and I'm going to have to clean my coupon organizer again... I'll do that later on in the coming week.


  • I follow a lot of couponing blogs (wherein the bloggers dissect the current deals at various national stores/websites and provide their best deal results including which coupons they used and how to get those coupons) but more and more I find myself skipping 99.9% of the posts because being frugal is no longer chasing the latest deal or anything that I can get for free, but for me it really has evolved over the past 2 years so that now I'm more concerned about keeping as much money as I can. So a free bottle of Zzquil after rebate sounds like a great deal, until I ask myself whether we will ever use this product, realize that the truthful is "probably not" and that I don't know anyone to whom I could give it either and then I stop obsessing about the thrill of getting something for free. It has really simplified my life.

  • I'm also slowly warming up to the idea that spending the time saved educating myself about how to make our money work for us is probably more valuable than spending hours chasing deals.  This is not to say that I'm going to stop using coupons or blogging about my groceries because I think it goes hand in hand with being smarter about how to invest and manage our money.  Intellectually I have known this for a while but in practicality I haven't done it.  Greg and I really are due to sit down and discuss our goals for the future and how we're going to get there.  Right now it feels like we want different things from life and it's frustrating. And yes, it means that I want him to agree to my own vision, darn it.  LOL. 

  • I checked the Health FSA's administrator website and the credit from the dentist was received so I resubmitted my son's dental claim for the 3rd time, but as a "Pay Me Back" claim this time.  Having to do this reminded me of how annoyed I was with the whole process and lack of information on their website, options to contact them and clarity from their Customer Service Reps so I wrote a long letter to their CEO.  Yep, that's my M.O.  I go straight to the top because that's the only way that things change, usually.  Let it trickle back down to the managerial level if it needs to.  I mailed the letter tonight.

  • Then I sat down with my 14-year-old to discuss various deadlines for his projects/applications.  We're going to have a meeting every Sunday afternoon so he can report on his progress until I am satisfied that he is using his calendar to organize himself and is able to follow through on projects that I ask him to do but that he might not particularly want to do.  We discussed JNHS, what it is and why I want him to participate, discussed why participating in the Teen Video Challenge would be a good idea even if that means he has to do a little bit of work, got him to use Google Calendar.  He checked the Kid College website and realized that he doesn't need to worry about volunteering them this summer since you have to be an incoming 10th grader at least (he's an incoming 9th grader) to qualify, and we got him signed up for the H.O.P.E. class via Florida Virtual School.  Now we have to wait for his Guidance Counselor to approve the class.  It's a high school class which is required and that satisfies the P.E. requirement and also the online class requirement for graduation. HOPE stands for Health Opportunities through Physical Education.  I had to order a Fitbit-type of band called a MOVBand for $25 + shipping, though.  When my daughter took the same class 3 years ago, she only had to keep a log on paper.

  • For dinner I made tacos and a salad. I was supposed to make black bean soup but I didn't do it early like I had planned to do and when it was dinnertime it was too late. I used ground beef, homemade taco seasoning (but apparently not enough because my daughter complained that the beef didn't taste like taco meat at all) and some tortillas from Aldi. I shredded some cheddar cheese, we're still using the Daisy sour cream that I had bought on clearance at Save A Lot several weeks ago (full flavor, it's sooo good and thick!) and I put salad on top of everything so my tacos were very full and yummy.


WE SPLURGED ON:
  • Greg drove to Tampa so we didn't have a No Drive Day today.  On his way home, he got stuck in traffic on a 2-lane road so he made a U-turn and had to take another, longer way to get home. He wasn't a happy camper, poor guy.

  • He bought lunch for himself and the stepdaughter.


HOWEVER, WE FAILED IN THE FOLLOWING WAYS, BUT LEARNED SOME LESSONS:
  • I don't think we had any failures today, woohoo!

TASKS ACCOMPLISHED TODAY:
  • Did a load of dishes
  • Fed the cats
  • Skyped with French family
  • Assisted daughter in completing a French assignment (parental involvement was required)
  • Resubmitted Health FSA Claim
  • Wrote letter to CEO
  • Discussed various deadlines and project with my youngest son
  • Showed him how to use Google Calendar
  • Helped him sign up for an FLVS account and for the HOPE online class
  • Cooked dinner
  • Greg and I watched the last 2 episodes of "Fargo, Season 2" after dinner (I had bought the season on sale at Christmas time)

PROGRESS TOWARDS MY 2016 GOALS TODAY:
  • Probably nothing today. It's the weekend!

HEALTH ACCOMPLISHMENTS TODAY:
  • Liquids:
    • 2 cups coffee
  • Food:
    • Breakfast:
      • bowl of granola with ~2% milk, banana
    • Mid Morning Snack:
      • 2small crepes with organic strawberry fruit spread
    • Lunch:
      • pita with "egg salad", navel orange
    • Mid Afternoon Snack:
      • 1 crepe with Nutella
    • Dinner:
      • 2 small tacos, salad
    • Evening Snack:
      • nothing
Did you have any frugal successes or failures today? Please do tell!

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Frugal Successes and Failures: Saturday 2/27/16



HAPPENINGS AROUND HERE TODAY:
  • Oooh it's chilly this morning!  The temps were in the 30s last night and we didn't turn the heat on.  I'm glad as I had to take off my sweater in the middle of the night anyway, one good side effect of having hot flashes when it's cool!  It was 61 F in the living room when I woke up at about 7 a.m.  Our high is supposed to be 64 F.  I put on jeans and a sweater.

  • Today the boy, Greg and I are driving to Mount Dora to attend the free military vehicle show and WWII battle reenactment at Renninger's.  It's their first year hosting it so I hope it's worth the drive. The plan is... well we don't have a plan because Greg is reading on his Kindle and refusing to discuss any plans. He claims that we always end up doing what I want to do anyway so what's the use of him worrying about planning. Grrr.  I really wish we could have a discussion about what to do, believe it or not I don't like having to do all the planning on my own, all the time! And when we don't have a plan, we're not as frugal as we should be.  However, today I suggested that we eat out of lunch after our outing since the battle starts at 1 p.m., it takes us an hour to get there (so we need to leave at about 11:30 a.m. to have some extra time to explore beforehand) and he and the boy get up late on Saturdays so they're not up for having lunch at 11 a.m.  I can't think of what restaurants they have in the area save for fast food places. The boy and I are fine with fast food (I have coupons for McD and BK), but Greg probably won't like the idea. Ugh.  So the only real plan that I have is to come home on 441 N so we can stop by CVS and I can get more eggs with my gift card.  Greg is on a huge "gotta eat protein" kick, which threatens to wreck havoc on my "let's keep it to $50 a week" grocery budget and we're down to less than a dozen eggs with 3-4 more days before I go grocery shopping.

  • Also, he's going to Tampa tomorrow to spend some time with the eldest stepdaughter.  So we'll have added gas expenses and he'll probably take her out to lunch.  So we're going to be way over budget in Food Expenses for February anyway... might as well go out to lunch today too, lol.  Yes, I should pack sandwiches, darn it.

  • Confession: it's 4 p.m.,we've been back from our outing for 90 minutes and I have done nothing but read some blog posts here and there... and I don't feel like doing anything either.  I have 2 days of dishes waiting for me to wash them.  Sigh.  I really should get to it.

  • 5:20 p.m.: I still haven't gotten to it. However, I found an article I like on a blog I just ran across entitled Why Social Media Is Broken.  I happen to agree with a lot of what he says.  Ironically, his paragraph about Social Media (of which blogging is a part) is actually the opposite for me: "World's Largest Time and Productivity Bandit - the big problem with social media is how much time it consumes.  People take pictures of every goddamn thing and post it on Facebook.  But Facebook is just the most popular version of the genre.   Twitter, Reddit, whatever - they all add nothing to your life, and detract much."  Yes, blogging is a big time sucker and I could be much more productive were I to stop documenting every single cereal bag that I reuse.  But would I?  Probably not, and actually blogger has greatly helped me in my effort to be more mindful of how we spend our income and hence, more frugal. So, for me, blogging has added to my life (helped me save money and help me connect with others since I'm so antisocial IRL) and actually I think it enhances my life greatly.  It might not be the life he aspires to, but it's the life I like and enjoy!  But, yes, the way I choose to blog is resulting in my spending a lot more time on this blog than doing anything else.  But I'm not on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Snapchat or any other platform, really.  Blogger is it for me. It's a good thing or those dishes would never ever get done!  

  • Here's another thing that he says in another blog post that I agree with and really need to print and post somewhere to help me (us) keep our eye on the prize: "Wage-earners tend to look at "wealth" in terms of annual salary, not how much is saved.   And that is one reason they remain poor even with a good paycheck."
FRUGAL SUCCESSES:
  • I reused water collected in the shower to flush the toilet.

  • I have a bit of conditioner left in a tube. Not only is it hard to get out (I need to cut the tube open), but I also don't like that particular conditioner.   It's been sitting on the side of the bathtub because I can't bring myself to throw it away but I also don't want to use it on my hair. Today, I used some of it as shaving cream.  Glad I thought of this way to use it up instead of just throwing it away!  I usually don't use anything as shaving cream, not even soap.  Just water and my razor, works fine.


  • Swagbucks goal today is 75 SB. I'm at 43 SB at about 11 a.m. Update: but I reached my goal in the early evening.


  • I did have lunch before we left: a pita with "egg salad" (which is low fat mayo spread on the pita and a sliced hard boiled egg on top), a cheese stick and a navel orange. Both my kids felt that my egg salad sandwich was "weird and disgusting". What?! Weirdos. Greg also had a sandwich whereas our son just had breakfast.


  • I texted "SAMPLE" to 827-438 and received new Target digital coupons.

  • The Military Vehicle Show and the WWII Battle Reenactment were free, which is good because they were... meh.  The men liked the weapon demonstration (they were firing blanks). The area that they used for both the demo and the battle was very small and poorly situated, IMO. We got there 45 minutes prior to the battle but we still couldn't see anything because there were about a 2-3 person depth in front of us and everybody was standing and everything was up a few feet up on the hill but we were standing down the hill so that made it even worse.  The reenactment that we had attended a couple of years ago in Bushnell had been much better as there actually was an encampment and the reenactors provided educational insight.  Still, it was nice that we went together and we did see a lot of Jeeps and several big military trucks too (but no tanks).




  • I did pick up a brochure for the Armed Forces History Museum in Largo that has a $3.00 coupon on it so I'm going to see how far it is from here because the brochure makes it look very nice.  None of us knew where Largo was, though. Well, it's just West of Tampa and South of Clearwater, so about 1h 45 min from here.  Totally feasible!  I'll have to pencil that in as another family field trip.

  • We resisted buying any snacks at the reenactment and stopped at CVS on the way home. I bought 2 dozens eggs (on sale for $2.49 each), a Dr. Pepper for Greg ($1.89), a bag of candy for our son ($2.87) and a box of cookies for us to share ($3.00 on sale).  I redeemed the $0.99 in ECB that I had earned earlier this week and then the cashier asked if I wanted to use the coupons on my account.  I didn't think that I had coupons for anything that I was buying but I said sure... and $2.00 came off.  So my OOP was $10.09 but it was all FREE to us since I use the CVS gift card that I had earned via our Mastercard Rewards program.  Well, once in the car I looked more closely at the receipt and the coupons that the cashier deducted were for Cottonelle and Viva, so color me puzzled! But woohoo!

  • Greg reused logs that he had cut out of a huge tree branch that had fallen in our yard last year to make a border for the small berm on the side of his shed.  Looks nice and rustic, it was free, and it allowed him to get rid of the pile of wood that had been sitting in front of the shed: win, win, win.

  • I was supposed to make grilled ham and cheese sandwiches with a Betty Crocker Suddenly Salad Grains mix for dinner, but i forgot to precook the salad and let it cool so instead I gave my tribe some options: our son decided to have canned ravioli (from Aldi, $0.69, I believe) since he loves them, my daughter and I split a box of Campbell's Organic Tomato Basil Soup (I had gotten it for free several months ago) and she had a grilled ham and cheese sandwich while I had the same but with a fried egg inside too, and I made the same grilled ham, egg & cheese sandwich for Greg, along with a can of Campbell's Heart Healthy Chunky Chicken & Noodle Soup (I had gotten it for free at CVS a couple of weeks ago). There are bananas, oranges and apples on the table if anyone is still hungry and we have yogurt in the fridge. Dinner taken care of.  Dishes? Not yet.



WE SPLURGED ON:
  • Gas to drive to Mount Dora.

HOWEVER, WE FAILED IN THE FOLLOWING WAYS, BUT LEARNED SOME LESSONS:
  • No failures today, yay!

TASKS ACCOMPLISHED TODAY:
  • Fed the cats
  • Went to the WWII Military Vehicle Show and Reenactment
  • Bought more eggs for Greg :)
  • Read blogs
  • Cooked dinner
  • Read more blogs

PROGRESS TOWARDS MY 2016 GOALS TODAY:
  • Hmm, I thought about doing the taxes.  Lol.

HEALTH ACCOMPLISHMENTS TODAY:
  • Liquids:
    • 2 cups coffee
    • 1 cup water
    • 1 cup decaf coffee
    • 2 cups OJ
  • Food:
    • Breakfast:
      • bowl of granola with banana and whole milk
    • Mid Morning Snack:
      • nothing
    • Lunch:
      • egg salad on a pita, string cheese, navel orange
    • Mid Afternoon Snack:
      • navel orange, string cheese, slice of raisin cinnamon bread
    • Dinner:
      • grilled ham, egg and cheese sandwich, basil tomato soup
    • Evening Snack:
      • nothing
Did you have any frugal successes or failures today? Please do tell!

Friday, February 26, 2016

Frugal Successes and Failures: Friday 2/26/16




HAPPENINGS AROUND HERE TODAY:
  • I don't know if Friday is going to be more frugal than usual but I just felt like having a different title graphic today and was too lazy to come up with a brand new one, lol.

  • So it's Friday. Happy Friday!  To me it's been feeling like every day is Groundhog Day.  I need some excitement.

  • Speaking of excitement, I was talking to my daughter about making sure that if she is picked for the coding camp in California this summer, she checks with her uncle and aunt, where she will be staying, to see if transportation is available to her there or if she would need to provide her own.  If she has to provide it, I've been thinking about driving to CA with her in the family car and then flying back on my own.  Not a frugal proposition but she would be there for 7 weeks and the camp would be a huge boost on her college application so it's the least I could do, right?  When I mentioned that, she got all excited about having a road trip across the USA.  But then... I realized that I'd have to fly back at the end of the 7 weeks and drive back with her. So that "it's the least I can do..." started to feel more like "crap.  I hope they have transportation for her over there!"  lol.  Also, the timing would be very short as the camp starts just 2 days or so after her high school classes end here so I'd have to pull her out early, and then school starts early this year as we're changing school calendars again, so we'd have to probably drive straight back. In a little Ford Focus, not my comfortable SUV.  Yeah, I hope they can help with transportation too!  But a road trip would be fun.

  • My younger brother emailed me his Skype addy.  My other brother and his GF are visiting my younger brother and his wife in Paris this weekend so we're going to try to Skype or FaceTime with them on Sunday, woohoo!  It might sound weird that we never do this since the technology is there and it's free too, but we don't. We never call each other, we rarely email.  I send them long emails with lots of news and they hardly ever reply, lol.  When I hear of families that are very close and siblings who talk to each other every day, I secretly find that creepy.  I could see where I'd love to talk to my daughter every day when she's in college but I don't think that will happen because she's going to want to be left alone, hahaha. Update: so Skype isn't going to work... the version that I have on the laptop won't let me do video calls now (it did before so, whatever) and if I want to update to the newest version, I have to accept to let them update it automatically from now on, which I am completely against so I'm not updating.  The version on my phone won't take my password, I had put a note somewhere that it had to do with the 2-factor authentification thing, but whatever #2.  So I'm hoping we can do FaceTime. I had completely turned it off on my phone and it was a PITA to find out where to go to reenable it.  Ugh.  My brother has an iBook so I think we can do FaceTime... if not, we're shit out of luck.  Update:  Nope he can't do FaceTime because he has the newest iOS X on his laptop and that doesn't support FaceTime, apparently.  So I had resigned myself that we wouldn't be able to talk, but then my daughter said that she had Skype on her laptop and it works fine.  

  • Speaking of my daughter, yesterday she started a puppy eye campaign (she's very good at those!) to get me to agree to go to her high school graduation.  If you're new to my blog, you're going to do a double take and wonder what is wrong with a mother who doesn't want to attend her daughter's high school graduation.  Well, I'm French, we don't have graduation ceremonies over there, I think it's a HUGE waste of everybody's time (especially mine!) and everybody's money.  Of course I'm proud of her but graduating high school in itself isn't anything special and certainly can be celebrated at home, in private. In my house, it's an expectation and a requirement.  I don't see that it necessitates anything else than a pat on the back.  However, she is having an exceptional high school "career" so I might make an exception. Another reason or two why I didn't attend my oldest sons' graduations: I hate crowds, it's Florida and our graduation ceremonies are outdoor, and I don't care about all the boring speeches that everyone is going to make. And then it takes hours to get out of the parking lot. I know, because I used to have to pick up my band member kids right after graduation. Seriously.  Ugh.  When my oldest graduated, they streamed it live so I was able to see it online AND I got a better view of him walking onstage than my ex who was in the audience.  When my middle son graduated, they didn't do it and I was disappointed, but he didn't care about graduation and only attended himself because his dad pressured him to.  My daughter thinks she has a good chance of being valedictorian so that might spur me to go too.  Arrgh. She also says that she wants me to be the 1st one to reach her across the field after she throws her cap up in the air.  So now I have to start training as a linebacker too! One more thing to add to my 2016-2017 goals, right?  Yes, I am a terrible mother.  I don't wanna gooooooooooooooooooooooo....  You know that I'll go, right?  Good grief she IS really very good with puppy eyes.  But expect that there will be a lot of "arrghs" and "ughs" and criticism of the whole pointlessness of the whole thing when May 2017 rolls around, on this blog. I know you can't wait. Stay tuned!  On that note... my oldest is graduating from UCF this Spring.  UCF is the 2nd largest school in the country,  Can you say "crowds"?! And I'm worried about high school graduation... 

  • I really liked that "do at least 1 task in each category" that I did yesterday, it helped me cross off things on my to do list that I had been putting off.  So I'm trying that again today:
    • 1 Reach Out to Someone task: emailed my brother about trying to do a video call on Sunday
    • 1 Investing-related task: read 4 chapters of my investing book.
    • 1 Tax-related task: printed the 1095 form
    • 1 General Finances task: researched the HARP mortgage program
    • 1 Gardening task: trimmed raspberry canes, pulled weeds
    • 1 Health-related task: weighed myself
    • 1 Repair/Mending task: rubbed the disc scratch repair goop onto my Il Trovatore CD to see if it'll fix the skipping problem. I'll have to test the CD this weekend.

    • 1 Cooking task: cooked hardboiled eggs for Greg's snack and cinnamon raisin bread for the rest of us.
    • 1 Indulgent task: cuddled with New Kitty, lit a scented candle, had some cinnamon raisin bread...


FRUGAL SUCCESSES:
  • It was chilly last night and it's supposed to be 39 at night for the next 2 nights but we didn't turn the heat on.  Just piling on blankets and wearing sweater or cardigans.

  • I packed leftovers for Greg's lunch.

  • The kids packed their lunches for school.

  • My Swagbucks Birthday Challenge team won yesterday so I got a 100 SB Swag-Up. Woot!  My 1st goal is 80 SB today and the Swag-up doesn't count. I'm trying to earn the SB without doing surveys.

  • Bing Rewards: I was able to order a $5 Amazon gift card today, woohoo! Still need to earn the mobile search credits, I'll do it later on.

  • My ex and I agreed, when we divorced, that we would share custody of the kids 50/50 and split many expenses 50/50 too instead of seeking child support. Back then we both earned about the same amount. Then I became a SAHM but we continued to use the same system. We used an Excel spreadsheet and then Google Sheets to update a list of what we spent for the kids that needed to be split and we agreed that we would seek the other's agreement prior to adding anything to the list.  This worked out great for the 15 years. Most years, we just let the ongoing totals roll to the following year.  Well, we're at the point where my ex owes me over $500 and he just wanted to pay it.  What? An ex-spouse who insists on giving you money?!  Yes, I lucked out, my ex has his faults as we all do but he's a pretty good guy and my kids are extremely lucky to have him as their dad.  So anyhoo, he emailed me this morning that the check is in the mail :)  Now, I need to figure out what I want to do with it.  I guess it could be the airfare for the CA trip if I have to go...

  • My daughter finished a cereal box this morning so I saved and rinsed the inner bag and recycled the cardboard box.

  • Some of my favorite things recently (not sponsored, I just thought that I'd share and also put it here to remind myself to buy them again when I re-read this post in the future):
    • Gevalia Mild Traditional Roast Coffee. Delicious! In the past I used the Dark Roast and I also added cinnamon or other spices to turn it into flavored coffee. But the Mild one is delicious without anything else added (well, in my case sweetener and a little bit of milk!) so I think I'll stock up on that brand the next time there's a good BOGO sale at Publix.

    • Dawn Escapes Mediterranean Lavender dishwashing liquid.  Doing the occasional (!) dish with this was... like being on vacation!  Seriously, I'd forget that it was the soap I was currently using and when I realized that I was about to open the bottle and smell the delicious scent, I did a little happy dance in my head. LOL.  This week I'm using the Ajax that I got for free at CVS on Monday and it's the total opposite because the scent is pretty abrasive.  Also? Dawn is awesome at cleaning dishes. Seriously, that brand is the best. No phosphates, apparently, too.  I might just have to splurge and just buy that from now on. The next bottle of Dawn that I have in my stash is "New Zealand Springs" and seriously? I can't wait for the Ajax bottle to be empty.... wait a minute!  I'm my own boss!  I can use whatever dish soap I darn well please!  Switching the bottles out... Ajax can be my back-up when I'm out of Dawn. Eh.

  • I started prepping my shopping list for next week last night, which will be my first shopping trip credited to March.  Totally Target posted the ad scans for Target and raspberries will be on sale for $2.50 a container, woohoo. Their raspberries are usually Driscoll's so I can use my $1.00 coupons :)  I think I'll only get Special K cereal bars at CVS next week ($2.50 each on sale but I should be able to order $1.00 off coupons from Kellogg's Family Rewards, I think I have enough points saved still).

  • My son really liked the cinnamon raisin bread that I had made in the breadmaker earlier in the week so I baked another loaf of it.  Once again I used vegetable shortening instead of butter.  It's not listed as a Rapid Bake recipe but I'm wondering if I couldn't just choose that setting for it... better safe than sorry, I'm following the recipe without changing it today so it'll take about 4 hours to bake. He's attending the free Algebra tutoring session until 6 p.m. anyway so he can have it some for snack right before dinner, if there's any left considering that I really like it too!

  • Zinio alerted me that the newest issue of Kiplinger's is available for free via my library and the Zinio app.  Woohoo!  I did check, by the way, whether my library gets the printed edition because I was hoping that I'd be able to snag the back issues when they purge them, instead of printing the articles that I want to keep, but they don't.

  • My middle son is having a health issue so he called me last night and again this morning to try to make sense of how to use medical benefits on his own. He's never done that before so it's a new world for him. I'm grateful (as I'm sure he is) that he's still able to be on our plan, although life is a little complicated since he's both on Greg's plan and his dad's plan, which are each employed by a different company but both use United Healthcare.  So between the two, he should be pretty well covered. I hope his issue is nothing serious.

  • I used the water that was left in my cup from last night's dinner and Greg's tea bag from this morning to brew myself a cup of tea.

  • My lunch was the rest of the Thrifty Lo Mein, a pita with some low fat mayo and a sliced hard boiled egg and a navel orange.


  • I started reading Chapter 3 of "The Bogleheads' Guide to Investing" but after 30 minutes, I found that I was pretty much copying the whole book down because there is so much good info in it.   I checked my library account and the book is due on 3/11 and this time I cannot renew it so I decided to just buy a copy.  The new hardcover option with Prime shipping was cheaper than the used option with shipping that they had, so I bought it new. I used the $5 gc from Bing Rewards to reduce my OOP to $11.81 and I used my Amazon Visa card so I'll get 3% in Rewards, I think.


  • I mixed a new bottle of Bergamot Grapefruit liquid hand soap for the bathroom and once again reused the foaming bottle from B&BW that I have been reusing for a couple of years now.

  • I spent 45 minutes pulling weeds in the garden. Free exercise? Tonight, I'm pooped!

  • Dinner was Raclette. Greg looked doubtful but he liked it, in the end. I steamed several Klondike Gold potatoes in the microwave and warmed up some smoked ham cubes that I had cut from the smoked ham I had bought on clearance at Save A Lot a couple of weeks ago.  I also served slices of Black Forest Ham, and I cut up the small "wheel" of Smoked Gouda that I had bought at Aldi (@2.99) into thin slices.  The raclette "party" set from Aldi worked great, my daughter loved recreating the meal we had had at my mom's in France last summer and Greg liked it too.  Next time I will have to think of more veggies and meats to offer.  The manual actually has several suggestions.  I was supposed to make a side salad to go with it but I forgot to!



WE SPLURGED ON:
  • Gas for my daughter to drive to the gym today.  She usually goes right before her class at the nearby college, but today she's going to Clermont just for the gym.  Since we've paid for a membership for her, her dad and I, it's actually a good thing that she's using it!

  • I had $15 in Staples Rewards to use by the end of March but I also needed to buy $30 or more in ink or toner before March 5th to keep earning ink rewards with Staples Rewards.  I didn't need any ink or toner so I asked my middle son which combo pack I should buy for his photo printer and ordered it for him. It'll be mailed directly to his apartment for free, I was able to redeem my $15 in Rewards which helped, I charged the order to my Amazon Visa card which will earn me 2% in Amazon Rewards. I asked my son to keep all his unused ink cartridges for me to turn in at Staples and suggested he gets his own Staples Rewards card if he didn't want to give them to me ;) The money for the ink came out of my School Supplies budget.  However, I thought that I would qualify to get $6 back for the cartridge that I will turn in next week when I do my shopping trip since I spent more than $60, but it had to be more than $60 in HP ink or toner and I bought Canon ink.  Grrrr.

  • I bought a copy of the Bogleheads' Guide to Investing on Amazon to keep as a reference book.


  • I finally reached my Swagbucks goal in the early evening without nary a survey having been attempted.



HOWEVER, WE FAILED IN THE FOLLOWING WAYS, BUT LEARNED SOME LESSONS:
  • I have to throw away half a box of Blue Diamond Almond Nut-Thins crackers and I'm torn about it but I can't use it up: first off, the crackers are stale because we opened the box several weeks ago. Secondly: no one but I will eat them. They're the cheddar cheese flavor.  However, there is maltodextrin in them, as I found out this morning when I looked at the ingredients, and that explains why, after having some of them for a late night snack yesterday, I had very intense abdominal pains. There doesn't seem to be any scientific confirmation of people being sensitive or allergic to maltodextrin, but every time that I have had some, I'm in pain.  That started with Crystal Light lemonade mix.  So the half box is going to the trash bin.  So not frugal!  Oh, I had bought them because one of my daughter's friends who apparently has Celiac disease was supposed to come visit us so I was trying to be a good hostess for a change... but she ended up not coming so then we were stuck with the gluten-free crackers.

  • You know what I realized had been a complete waste? The money I spent getting a stock of probiotic pills for Greg when they were on sale.  I was giving him probiotic pills every morning to try to help his digestion issues but honestly, it didn't seem to help at all.  He hasn't complained about them so I stopped giving them the pills (let's just say that I forgot to put them on the table and since he doesn't like taking any pills he didn't ask for them either!) and I found 2 more bottles of them in the closet the other day. Arrgh.  Since it didn't hurt either, I guess I might go back to giving him a pill every morning with his breakfast so we can at least use up the stash!


TASKS ACCOMPLISHED TODAY:
  • Cooked breakfast for Greg
  • Set the breakfast table for the kids
  • Packed Greg's lunch
  • Made to-do list 
  • Corresponded with one of my brothers via email
  • Ran the dehumidifier in the bathroom
  • Made our bed
  • Boiled eggs for Greg's snacks
  • Baked a loaf of raisin cinnamon bread
  • Helped my middle son with finding out a PCP and using the medical benefits
  • Read some of my investing book
  • Went in the garden to pull raspberry canes, did that and ended up spending 45 minutes weeding my garden beds and bins.
  • Cooked dinner
Raspberry canes were cut back

I took the covers off the broccoli (spindly ones in the foreground) and the kale/collard greens (square area).

My empire of self-watering bins. Not pretty, but they do the job.

PROGRESS TOWARDS MY 2016 GOALS TODAY:
  • Read chapters 3-7 of the Bogleheads' Guide to Investing.

HEALTH ACCOMPLISHMENTS TODAY:
  • Liquids:
    • 2 cups coffee
    • 1 cup tea
    • 2 cups decaf coffee
    • 2 cups water
  • Food:
    • Breakfast:
      • bowl of granola with 1 banana and whole milk
    • Mid Morning Snack:
      • nothing
    • Lunch:
      • egg salad on a pita bread, rest of Thrifty Lo Mein, navel orange
    • Mid Afternoon Snack:
      • 3 cheese sticks, slice of cinnamon raisin bread
    • Dinner:
      • Raclette
    • Evening Snack:
      • slice of cinnamon raisin bread
  • Weight:
    • 221.8 lbs  Aaack.  All my January exercising in January and weight loss have been negated by a very indulgent February.  I guess it's time to get back on the bike and finally crack that darn "My Fitness Pal" app open.  Sigh. But not today!
  • Exercise:
    • no comment, although I must have exercised by pulling the weeds because I'm terribly sore tonight!
Did you have any frugal successes or failures today? Please do tell!