Friday, February 26, 2016

Frugal Successes and Failures: Friday 2/26/16

  • 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...

  • 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!

  • 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.

  • 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!

  • 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.

  • Read chapters 3-7 of the Bogleheads' Guide to Investing.

  • 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!


  1. I actually had to go out to the Drug Store today to buy probiotic pills to start taking now before I leave for Egypt. That is to make my gut as healthy as I can make it before eating the food over there. I have been advised to eat only hot cooked foods and fruit that you have to peel before eating. It is almost a sure thing to develop "mummy tummy" while over there.
    I had never heard of raclette before you mentioned it. It looks like it could be fun. Ask your daughter to organize and prep the next one. She would probably enjoy doing it. And homemade raisin cinnamon loaf??? Mmmmm.
    Way to go, reading four chapters from your investing book. It would have to be interesting for you to have read so much at once. The latest issue from Kiplinger's has grabbed my attention. You used to ride your recumbent bike while reading the articles. *hint* Having said that, nothing beats a good workout like pulling weeds and pruning in the garden. Way to go.
    Have a nice "visit" with your brothers today.

    1. Mummy Tummy would not be good, indeed. Want my probiotic pills? lol. How long will you be in Egypt?

      Leave it to you to pay attention, remember and gently remind me that I used to read Kiplinger's while I biked, lol. Thanks, Susan! Such an attentive follower... but you're keeping me accountable, which is wonderful. You're right, I'll try to get back on the bike tomorrow and read it then, since I still haven't read it :)

  2. Love love love dawn dish washing detergent!! We used to use different scents but mostly the olay ones because the coupons were better. I stocked up on tons for free and we had quite the stockpile which was dwindling because we weren't seeing the deals anymore. I used the last bottle until you could run water clear through it without any bubbles. My husband was looking for another bottle and he realized that there was only one left in the cupboard...sadly, I even paid at least $0.50 for it which was hard for me to do. There are so many other kinds but Dawn is the best possible one out there because it smells great and works great!!! I haven't seen the lavender one but yummy :) I will have to look out for it.

    1. It seems that Walgreens and/or CVS have the small bottles on sale for $0.99 all the time but sadly the only coupons that I ever find for them are for 25 cents only and as you know they don't double coupons in Florida. So I never get them free (unless I want to sacrifice some of my gc money for them) but after suffering through the homemade version that just isn't great and the Dollar Tree version which is awful, I'm happy enough to pay 74 cents for it. You're right, I also use it up with water added to the bottle until it runs clear. IT STILL WORKS even diluted. Love it!


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