Monday, February 29, 2016

Frugal Successes and Failures: Monday 2/29/16


  • 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.

  • 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  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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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

  • I don't think anything? I'm too tired to even think.

  • 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!


  1. I'll go with you on "Domestic Monday", although not this week because we were travelling to and from Toronto for most of the day. Today was another lost cause because I was out again shopping. OMG. What gives? I am rarely in the stores and now I am spending money hand over fist. Anyways, I am thinking tomorrow (Wednesday) I will be domesticated. Ha. That sounds like a strange concept to me, but I will try.

    Today I had to make two birthday cards and get them into the mail quickly. I don't know if they will arrive on time, but I have to try. One was for my youngest granddaughter in Vancouver, and the other was for my SIL near Toronto. This year I am feeling totally discombobulated where greeting cards are concerned. I haven't made up a stash in advance and I am forgetting birthdays. I guess I could make up a few belated birthday cards when I have a moment, and then I would be prepared. *laugh*

    I snorted out loud when I read your description of Greg in Publix and also finding mixes in the cupboard that had fossilized. You do have a way with words.

    Also I love what you are doing for your youngest son, locking in his tuition at today's rates. Very wise move. There will still be expenses for him to carry and this will benefit him greatly. I would definitely consider this working on an investment goal.

    1. How did the doctor visit go yesterday, Susan?

      Yes, making a stash of birthday cards might be more timely right now than Christmas cards, lol.

      Good luck with your domestic efforts tomorrow. Are you close to done with the room for your son and GF?

  2. The "bad" news is that surgery is not an option. The vessels running through the buttocks is 100% blocked. The "good" news is that he has 100% blood flow to his legs, so rehab will help him. The physio will build up his stamina. So although a disappointment, it is also a huge relief. It will get better.

    My son and I have some more sanding to do in the closet of his room, and then tomorrow he and his GF will finish the priming and painting. Once the closet is finished, the rod and shelves can go up. Then the unpacking of things can resume. I also have a huge amount of stuff to get rid of, as my son's GF emptied everything out of the main bathroom (their bathroom now) to put her stuff in. My bedroom is so full now of "decisions to be made", I can barely turn around. *laugh*

    I am off to do some domestic stuff now.

    1. So mixed news but good news. Surgery is never fun.

      Good luck with everything. Maybe the GF emptying the bathroom is a good opportunity to purge some stuff? When do they start working on the trailer? I'm so used to temps being in the 70s and 80s here that it's hard to imagine that you all might still be under snow up there!


Anything you'd like to add? Share away!