Friday, February 19, 2016

Frugal Successes and Failures: Friday 2/19/16

The kitties plotting to get the white ibises in our backyard!
HAPPENINGS AROUND HERE TODAY:
  • Friday... I should be happy that it's Friday but with this date comes the unavoidable fact that most of the needed paperwork to work on our tax return should be available, which means that this weekend I'm either going to be pulling my hair trying to do our tax return OR bemoaning the fact that I should be doing our taxes, darn it.  Wanna take a bet on which scenario is most likely?  lol.  A plus though: it also means that Greg's paycheck should have been deposited into our checking account. Woohoo!

  • My daughter "threatened" to follow my blog yesterday now that she knows the name of it (dang it) so I'm waving at her in case she does.  Hi babe!  Nothing to see here, I'm not talking about you AT ALL.  She thinks it's weird that I post under my own name and talk about Greg but won't name her or her siblings and won't show pictures of them either.  It's ironic since I'm doing this to protect their privacy. However, she and I got into it yesterday via text because she had emailed me something from school and somehow I saw her profile photo from Google and it was really funny (and inoffensive, a picture of a cat) so I commented on it in an email and she was confused because that wasn't the profile picture she had set. Come to realize, she had logged into a school computer the previous day to do some work, but had to go to the bathroom so she had asked a friend to watch over "her stuff" and while she was in the bathroom, the friend changed her profile picture as a joke.  Well, I went off the deep end because I don't care that teens it's funny to do this to one another, you just don't let people get into your accounts, friends or not, or do it to other people!  The risks are too great, nowadays, that the friend would lack the maturity to change it to something funny but inoffensive.  What if the friend had changed her profile photo to something racist?  Or that could be perceived as a threat to the school? Teens have got to realize that the internet isn't innocuous or ephemeral.  Things are stored online forever, even if you delete them.  What they post online (or what gets posted under their name) can be recovered.  I reminded her that anyone she emailed got that profile picture so, outside of family members, it meant teachers, contacts for scholarships and camps, etc.  It is NOT something to be taken lightly.  (confession: I had misunderstood her reply at first so I thought that her friend had gotten onto her PHONE, because they do that too, and I was really pissed because she uses an app or two where my credit card is the means of payment so we went around in circles about that and I had to apologize for misunderstanding because she IS being careful with her phone, supposedly, but my point about what the friend did on the computer still stands!  If you're going to walk away from your computer, lock your screen or log off your programs.  It's a PITA, yes, but better safe than sorry!

  • I'd like to welcome Laura as a commenter.  She's in Florida too (Jacksonville), a librarian (another person who works in a library, yay! Several of my regular commenters work or have worked in libraries too) and a fellow frugal living devotee. And she has 6 cats!  She blogs at All That Junk in My Trunk, which I don't think means she has a fat butt, unlike me.  Check out her blog!  I'd ran into her blog during one of my "down the rabbit trail" afternoons and I finally added her to my Feedly a few days ago.

  • Oh, hey, I'm relieved... all my fretting about that Duke Energy Contractor pick-up truck's weird behavior on my street a few days ago? Just now I saw an actual Duke Energy repair truck (the one with the lift platform, you know, to repair electric cables) drive down my street and it actually even parked in front of my neighbor's for a short time. So that probably was an actual contractor back them, scoping out the neighborhood for possible repairs that needed to be made. Phew. I feel foolish. But nowadays, you can't be too cautious either.

  • I was just thinking this morning that it's a shame that it's so nice outside and I haven't been enjoying our back patio at all.  I should, but right now I'm just so comfy indoors. Then I'll regret it when it starts getting too hot. The truth is, the neighbors who moved in next to us within the past year have been more active outside than our former neighbors and I like my privacy and quiet. There is no fence between our houses and their house is placed kitty corner from ours so there's really no privacy either.  I've been telling Greg that I wanted us to put up a fence but, as with everything, we're dragging our feet.  So just now I noticed a guy planting little pink flags between our houses (well, there's only one right now) so I'm thinking that either THEY're putting up a fence (and hopefully a nice tall one!) or the house is being refinanced or going on the market.  I guess we'll see. I'm betting fence because they have small kids coming to visit (grandkids, probably) all the time so I'm thinking they would want for the kids to be able to be in the backyard without having to worry about them coming in our yard (we're not on speaking terms, I told you I was grumpy IRL!).  Greg thinks that it must be that the house is going for sale because putting up a fence would be a hindrance to the house being sold easily because it would highlight just how little backyard they actually have (most of the "backyard" is either a city easement or our side and back yard), but the house was inherited by a younger woman from the same family and I think they're renting it from her so I wouldn't think they would buy it or that it would be refinanced. Do I sound like a nosy neighbor?  lol.  I would really like it if it was a fence, honestly, especially if I don't have to pay for it. Now, if they built it over the city easement, that's gonna create problems because grumpy Nathalie won't allow the Duke Energy trucks to trample our side yard to get to the 2 power poles that are planted on our property, so hopefully it gets done right :)  I just want to move somewhere where I don't have to deal with neighbors at all: not see them, not hear them, not even know them.  Greg feels the same.  But unless we win the lottery, that won't happen, lol. (ooh, I forgot to look up the Florida winners of that huge Powerball jackpot, they were supposed to be announced this past Wednesday, doesn't it suck for them to have to be "outed" like that?! I would hate that!)

  • I'm thinking about Susan being at her mom's this week to help take care of her. I hope all is going well, Susan, and that you can do some crafting too, and that your family is managing fine during that time too. We're having splendid weather so your stepsister is probably enjoying her Florida vacation.

FRUGAL SUCCESSES:
  • I packed leftover Mock Zuppa Toscana and made a sandwich for Greg to take to work.

  • The kids packed their lunches to take to school.

  • Swagbucks: goal of 90 SB again.  I'll worry about doing a survey this afternoon. Update: I reached my goal mid-afternoon without having to do any surveys.

  • Since we bought pizza on Wednesday, my dinner plans have been all pushed back by a day, so today I'll make the Beef Stroganoff in the crockpot.  I had defrosted a chuck steak about a week ago, already bought on clearance, so I'm hoping it's still good.  

  • I have a pile of leftover containers in my fridge so I should do a "Leftovers Night", but it's not enough for a meal for 4 people.  Just a bit of this and a bit of that. I need to think of a way to use them up. My daughter has been taking some of the taco leftover meat from last Sunday night for her lunch everyday, on a tortilla, but she must only take one spoonful at a time because it doesn't seem to be getting used up very fast!

  • My daughter finished a box of cereal so I recycled it and rinsed the bag so I can reuse it to freeze meat or baked goods.

  • I noticed that Greg had finished 2 large jars of peanut butter last night and put them in the recycling bin, Yay for recycling but I don't like putting containers that still have food in them in there so I usually just throw the PB jars away because they're a pain to clean and I waste so much water trying to get the PB out.  Today I decided to try it again because I'd like to keep the jars to reuse to freeze things or store soup or what not.  So I boiled water in the electric kettle and we'll see if boiling water melts the PB so I can clean them with soapy water afterwards... yeah, I don't think it's gonna work because I shook the jars and I'm not seeing any PB melting or anything...

  • I had put too much water in the kettle so I reused the extra water to water the plant that I've had on my windowsill for... 14 or 15 years now.  It's a very hardy plant that's just sitting in water that my middle son had brought back from kindergarten!

  • I started dinner in the crockpot.  I was going to use a can of sliced mushrooms that had a best before date of 2010 (gulp!) but it was a little dented and once I poured the drained mushrooms into the crockpot, I realized that the can was also disfigured on the inside where the dent was so I fished out the mushrooms and composted them.  Thankfully I had another can of organic mushrooms with a 2016 date that wasn't dented so I used that.

  • Then I didn't read the instructions all the way through and dumped my brick of frozen Neufchatel cheese in there too (what? I forgot to defrost it and the cooking time is 8 hours so plenty of time for it to melt!) but then I realized that you add the cream cheese at the last minute with the sour cream so I fished it out as well and put it in a measuring cup to defrost throughout the day.

  • I used up my last can of cream of mushroom soup so I'll probably get some at Walmart next week even though it'll be more expensive than at Aldi... but I got that Walmart gift card from Swagbucks yesterday so it'll be free.

  • I read an article on NPR last night about how to parent/teach children who are introverts... how serendipitous since introvert Nathalie has been worrying about her very introvert youngest child and how he will fare in high school and how to help him beef up his resume in a world that values extroversion way more than introversion.  The book they're referring to, "Quiet Power: The Secret Strengths of Introverts" by Susan Cain, won't be published until May so I send a request to my library system for them to buy it because I'd like to read it. They do have her first book, "Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking" so I put it on hold. And since my own library had a copy of it, it's available for me to pick it up today. I think I'll go get it so I can speak with my children librarian friend some more... my youngest son was interested, last night, about the volunteering opportunity that she told me about.  He was worried about not knowing how to shelve books but I quickly explained the Dewey Decimal system and how fiction books were shelved in alphabetical order by authors' last names so he was relieved to know that it wasn't hard and that he wouldn't really have to talk to anyone (although I didn't tell him that patrons ask volunteers for help all the time, lol!). So I need to tell her about that.  He also got some work done about designing his Dungeons and Dragons campaign for the group that he wants to organize and told me he wanted to wait until next week to go talk to her about it so he can organize his thoughts :)

  • I took 2 surveys for the Driscoll's Advisory Panel and earned (4) more $1.00/1 printable coupons for my berry purchase next week. Woohoo!

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

  • I took a Dunkin' Donuts survey with my receipt from Tuesday and earned a survey reward code for a free donut with the purchase of a medium+ drink.


  • I took 2 surveys for RaceTrac using recent receipts and earned (2) survey reward codes for a free bag of TasteWorks chips.

  • A few days ago I realized that Greg had received a new CHIP card from Discover and that the authorized user card that my daughter uses also was a CHIP card but I had never received a CHIP card myself. So I logged into my account and was able to request a new CHIP card for free. I could have chosen a cutesy design and was going to pick cats, but then I figured that maybe the cashiers would get confused and start telling me they didn't accept that kind of card (that happened to me once when the cashier thought I was trying to pay for my gas with food stamps because the EBT card had an American flag on it and so did my Discover card back then and she was really rude about it too) so I just ordered the regular design. I got the card yesterday so I activated it this morning and replaced the old one.  It's just odd that I had to request it. You'd think Discover would want their members to get the CHIP card automatically (like Greg and my daughter did), no?  Anyhoo, I also signed up to get an email for pretty much any expense charged to my card.  That way I'll know when anyone tries to use my account right away.  I've already done that with a couple of other accounts and I like it.

  • I looked into how to pay with Paypal at Home Depot and decided that downloading the free Paypal app was probably the easiest solution.  It seems easy enough and it will deduct the money from my available balance (i,e, my MobiSave rebate refunds!) first before it charges my other method of payment. I can also use it at Dollar General so that might spur me to check out their deals. I only go there once in a while.

  • Greg wanted to get a special scale that calculates your bone mass, BMI and what not (those things never work but OK...) but it was $31.  I asked him to send me the link so I could work my magic and order it for much less and I was able to get it for $6.78 (because I used my Discover Rewards) and we'll get $1.00 digital credit too for picking the No Rush shipping option. I went through Swagbucks so I'm hoping that we'll get the 3 SB per dollar for shopping in the "Beauty and Grooming" section but it probably wasn't classified as such. We'll see.

  • I had to go to the library so I took advantage of my trip (yes, I drove, it didn't occur to me to walk, dang it!) to get a few freebies:
    • Started by going to RaceTrac lest I forgot again!  I picked up a bag of Macho Cheese TasteWorks chips for my son, free with a survey reward code.

    • Went to the library and picked up one of the books I had ordered, asked them to return the 2nd one that I had ordered since it was for my son but he told me last night that he has a big Language Arts assignment coming up for which he needs to read 2 other books.  I also spied the new David Baldacci book so I borrowed it too. I know... I already have a fiction book that I haven't finished, 2 non-fiction books (including the latest I picked up todau) and now this one too.  I just love having books waiting for me to crack them open. I feel very insecure when I don't have library books checked out!

    • I also confirmed with my librarian friend that my son would like to volunteer there so she was excited. I need to email the branch manager to set up a meeting so she can explain to him what she needs and he can tell her when he'd be available to do it.

    • I also picked up another one of the McDonald's coupon sheets since there's a bunch.  I want it mostly for the "free small fries or hashbrown, no purchase necessary" coupon :)

    • And they had a small printout with the link to the downloadable Florida Driver's Handbook, which my son will need in a few months, so I grabbed that for him.

    • I stopped by McDonald's and got a free hashbrown for my son.  They gave me 5 packets of ketchup that I hadn't asked for so I put them with the rest of our stash, along with the paper napkins that they put in the bag as well.

    • My receipts from McD's both yesterday and today have a survey on them that I can take to get a free quarter pounder with cheese or egg Mcmuffin with purchase of the same.  I'll probably take the surveys "just in case" since the code would expire in 30 days whereas the coupons from the sheet I just picked up expire at the end of February.

  • I paid a couple of bills online (no stamps needed and free bill pay from my credit union) and balanced my checkbook.  They had credited me the 19 cents on my Mastercard (for hitting me with a $0.19 fee for transferring the balance from the card that was compromised to the new one) but the billing statement had already been issued... I decided to pay off the amount on the billing statement and keep the $0.19 for next month because I was afraid that paying less than the whole amount billed would make the interest charge kick in.  Better be safe than sorry, right?


  • One of the leftover containers in my fridge had a turkey wing in it from when I roasted the turkey a couple of weekends ago.  So I plucked the meat from it and added it to last night's Mock Zuppa Toscana leftovers. It's not really Zuppa Toscana anyway...  I'll freeze the bones later on this afternoon and I'll have the soup for lunch.

  • I unlocked some new offers on Ibotta.
  • And then... I didn't really do anything else!  I found an old blog that I used to love and caught up with it, then my daughter got home and needed some help with a couple of things. She played with New Kitty and I watched them for a while because they were so cute :) And then it was time for Greg to drive home so I cooked some pasta to put in the Stroganoff.

  • Upromise confirmed that they had received the money transfer from SavingStar. I wanted to request a check but the amount is still "pending" so I have to wait until it's actually deposited in there and then request the check.

  • Dinner was pretty good and we have... lots of leftovers!  Arrgh.


WE SPLURGED ON:
  • I put $10 on each of the kids' school lunch accounts.


HOWEVER, WE FAILED IN THE FOLLOWING WAYS, BUT LEARNED SOME LESSONS:
  • Hmm, no failures?  I'm sure one will come up shortly.  Ah yes, I had to compost a can of mushrooms.


  • Not my failures but it sucks: according to Southern Savers, Coupons.com has removed the ability to be able to change your zip code to access coupons from other parts of the country.  Boo to them!

TASKS ACCOMPLISHED TODAY:
  • Cooked breakfast for Greg
  • Packed his lunch
  • Set the breakfast table for the kids
  • Boiled eggs for Greg's snacks
  • Ran the dehumidifier in the bathroom
  • Gave New Kitty her antibiotic
  • Showed the cats all the white ibises digging through our backyard (they hadn't noticed!) and opened the sliding door that has a screen on them to taunt them even more (ha! I know, I'm evil.)
  • Started dinner in the crockpot
  • Took customer satisfaction surveys and earned coupons and freebie codes
  • Input some receipts in my spreadsheets to continue tracking our spending
  • Scheduled some bill payments
  • Uploaded new offers to Ibotta
  • Cooked dinner

PROGRESS TOWARDS MY 2016 GOALS TODAY:
  • Thinking about what a PITA it is to have to fill out our federal tax return yet again.  Ugh.  Yes not really progress but it's only 9:25 a.m. so maybe I'll actually do something about it before this gets posted. Yeah.

HEALTH ACCOMPLISHMENTS TODAY:
  • Liquids:
    • 2 cups of coffee
    • 1 cup tea
    • 1 cup decaff coffee
    • 1 cup water
  • Food:
    • Breakfast:
      • bowl of Post Great Grains with ~2% milk
    • Mid Morning Snack:
      • everything French bread and Stilton cheese
    • Lunch:
      • Mock Zuppa Toscana and 1 orange
    • Mid Afternoon Snack:
      • 1 orange, 1 string cheese, 3 soft gingerbread cookies
    • Dinner:
      • beef stroganoff, 1 Pillsbury Grands! biscuit
    • Evening Snack:
      • nothing
  • Weight:
    • 220.2 lbs BUT it was before I used the bathroom AND I was wearing my PJs and socks.  That's gotta be, what?  10 lbs?!  lol. I wish.
  • Exercise:
    • **whistles while walking away***
Did you have any frugal successes or failures today? Please do tell!

6 comments:

  1. I love that picture of your cats. So funny andcute!

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  2. Hi Nathalie! Thanks for the shout-out! So excited for your son to volunteer at the library -- hopefully he really enjoys it. I am sure that your library will purchase Susan Cain's upcoming book -- Quiet was a best seller and is still circulating strongly in our library system.

    Your picture of the peanut butter bars made me laugh -- I scrape those suckers out until there is hardly anything at all on the sides. I tend to save up the jars and then do several all at once. I think I ended up with 1/3 cup peanut butter. I have one of those plastic scrapers that is really thin and kind of swoop shaped to get into curves. That's one of those little frugal tasks that makes me really happy. :)

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    Replies
    1. Honestly, if I had finished the jar, I would have done the same thing. But they had been sitting in the recycling bin overnight without their lids on so I didn't know what critters might have crawled through there... yuck! After all these years of crumbling that Greg wouldn't put ANYTHING in the recycling bin which is equidistant to the sink or the trashcan, he finally does and now I find myself fishing everything out, LOL.

      Isn't it satisfying to make sure of something that we might have ordinarily thrown away, though? I love it too!

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  3. All containers are thoroughly washed with soap and water before going into the recycling bin at this house. I don't want to attract any kind of insects like ants or yellow jackets, so everything is clean enough to eat off. *laugh* My husband thinks I waste more resources this way, and he might be right, but I am OCD about this.

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    Replies
    1. I'm noticing that in a lot of cases the women want to clean out the containers and the men are the ones who either don't recycle at all or claim that we're wasting resources cleaning them. Yet they won't pick up the dead roach lying in the kitchen.

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