Thursday, February 18, 2016

Frugal Successes and Failures: Thursday 2/18/16

  • So have you ever had one of those days when you think "Ugh, I just don't feel like doing anything today!"?!  Well, yes, it's pretty much every day for me but that's besides the point, thankyouverymuch.  It's 10 a.m. and my house is a mess and I really don't want to do anything about it. So I'm typing this here so I can start feeling guilty and shame myself into springing into action, lol.

  • I stayed up very late last night because I didn't finish writing my grocery post until late and then I caught up on Feedly and email and THEN it occurred to me that I had scheduled that 8 a.m. meeting with the 9th grade Guidance counselor at the high school but I hadn't actually prepared a list of questions for the meeting. Ugh.  Since my daughter has been so proactive on her own and my middle son who graduated before her didn't want me involved in his business (!), I haven't been on the up and up as to what's going on with graduation requirements, what classes they can take online, when they can start, what counts for what, what AP classes can they take as freshmen, etc, etc.  Things change from year to year too, which doesn't help!  So I found the high school graduation requirements online, looked for and finally found the list of online classes offered via Florida Virtual School (they have to take at least 1 class online as a graduation requirement), looked for the Bright Futures Scholarships requirements, etc. and printed it all. Highlighted what I thought my son might be interested in taking online and wrote out my list of questions.  Then this morning I went over everything with him over breakfast, including the list of questions so he could have input (he really didn't have any, surprise, surprise!) and know what "our" questions were going to be prior to heading into the meeting.  My daughter also suggested another question about the new Personalized Learning initiative that they started for 9th graders last year so I added that to the list too.  Boy, am I glad I took the time to do all this because we had a very successful meeting with the Guidance counselor and both my son and I agreed that we felt much more confident about this whole "he's going to high school next year" thing since we kind of have a road map ahead of time.  The counselor was super nice and very knowledgeable, which was awesome.Quite frankly, I didn't expect her to be so good, based on prior experiences with other counselors. She was very encouraging and had suggestions for my son, which is exactly what we were looking for!  He and I are going to regroup tonight to discuss the plan of action moving forward. He has the opportunity to get started with at least one of the required classes online right now and I would like him to do it. He wants to wait until the summer but if he does, he won't be done before 9th grade starts so I'm going to push him to start now. It's a fitness and health class so not something very strenuous but something that he could definitely get out of the way now so he has more time to take more useful classes while officially in high school, you know?  The "good" thing that he found out today is that if I pushed him into JROTC, the sergeant interviews each prospective student prior to enrolling them and asks whether it's something the student wants to do or it's something their parent(s) wants them to do and if the student doesn't want to do it of their own accord, then the sergeant won't allow them to enroll.  My son doesn't want to do JROTC but I was hoping that he would only because I think he would benefit from the program (2 of our older kids did it) and also he would be part of a group of students all working towards the same goal. He's very much a loner, which worries me to some extent. So he was elated to find out he wouldn't be accepted anyway, lol.

  • Our meeting ended at 8:25 a.m. and the road construction going back to the middle school had been wrapped up so we had at least 30 minutes before he had to be at school.  I offered to take him to McDonald's to get him a treat and kill some time, so we did that.  Well, killing time was really just waiting for our order to be ready, which took forever and then they must have forgotten about us because people who had ordered after us got their food before us... so I had to ask and they apologized but didn't offer us anything to make up for it.  Honestly, I was kind of disappointed in them.  He ate his food in the car and then I dropped him off at school and came home.

  • I was able to finally do the dishes at 2 p.m. when my daughter came home and we got talking about our trip to France last summer. She was saying that she had forgotten about some things that we had done so I directed her to my blog since I had journaled the whole trip here... and then we spent 3 hours reading the French trip posts and reminiscing.  We had just a great time doing this :)  We came across the photo of a street sign in Marseille that I had snapped right as we were leaving Marseille because we had realized that one of the Google Earth cars was 2 cars ahead of us and I wanted to record where we were so we could go on Google Earth and see if we could see ourselves.  However, I had forgotten about it so today my daughter went on Google Earth and sure enough, we found ourselves, which was confirmed by my brother because he was leading us out of Marseille with his own car and the blue car in the photo below is him (we're the car behind him) and the fact that the photo was taken in June 2015.  So funny!
What you can't see: the kids and I acting like idiots waving at the Google car, lol!
  • I was about to brew coffee this morning when I realized that I had a free XL Dunkin' Donuts coffee waiting for me in the fridge from Tuesday morning so I drank that instead.

  • Then I was about to get a new tea bag for Greg's breakfast but I never brewed myself a cup of tea with his morning tea bag from yesterday, so I reused that tea bag to brew his morning tea today (he didn't notice). Ah the frugal wonders of not doing the dishes, lol.  And later on this morning, I brewed a 3rd cup of tea with the same tea bag.

  • The kids packed their lunches to take to school.

  • My daughter has a lot of studying to do and no college class to attend in Clermont today so she's going to skip going to the gym, which saves us money on gas and saves her time too.

  • I took my son to McDonald's after our meeting but we used a BOGO coupon. I first had to go home to get my coupon organizer because I had forgotten it again!  I really need to just leave it in the car! Thankfully our house is not that far from it so we swung back home and I grabbed it as well as my coffee. He chose a coupon with which he could get a free hashbrown with the purchase of an egg McMuffin.  It shows that I haven't gotten breakfast at McDonald's in years because I remember the egg McMuffins being 99 cents and this morning I was charged... $4.48. HELLO?!? I charged it to my Amazon Visa card so I should get 2% back in Rewards but man... those BOGO coupons aren't necessarily a good deal!  Also, our restaurant has a sign that says "only 1 free refill per person".  What kind of cheap ass franchise restaurant is this?  They make tons of money off their fountain drink so for them to limit the refills to just 1 per person is kind of ridiculous in view of the prices they charge.  It's a good thing that we rarely ever eat McDonald's.  However, they renovated the inside of the restaurant and it really looks nice and it's not far from the middle school and the library so I suggested to my son that he might want to come get a snack or drink with his friends after school one day... he looked doubtful. I'm trying to clip his wings and he's such a home-boy!  Going out into town with my friends to pretend we were grown up at the knock-off fast food place when I was his age was a big deal, especially if my mom funded it!  He couldn't care less!

  • Bing Rewards... I haven't started, will work on it this afternoon.

  • Swagbucks.  Ugh. Jess commented that it looks like a massive PITA and she's glad she's not bothering with it and honestly, I wish I could quit you, Swagbucks.  You suck up too much of my time. But those gift caaaaaaaaaards! So my 1st goal today has inched up to 90 SB. It's 10:40 a.m. and I'm only up to 12 so I guess I should start flexing my SB muscles.  Ugh. I need to make it to 21 days and then I'll take a break (I know, I say this every month!), so just 3 more days, Nathalie.You can do it!

  • I renewed my "Bogleheads' Guide to Investing" library book online for the 2nd time. No, I still haven't read past the first couple of chapters, it's ridiculous. I'm ridiculous.  I have got to read the darn thing dang it!  And make the appointment to go talk to the financial planning firm!  Argh will someone please give me a good kick in the pants?! Maybe going to that Personal Investing program at the library next week will give me the impetus that I need to get that goal accomplished.  In the meantime, I avoided a library fine :)

  • My son is still talking about starting a Dungeons & Dragons club at the library but he hasn't actually done anything about it.  I had told him he needed to go talk to the librarians about the possibility of using the community room for this and their help to recruit other players by advertising it and he agreed to do it but I have to push him to actually go.  So today when I go over there, I might mention something to my Children Librarian friend to find out if she's the one he ought to approach at first and also find out what her schedule is so she's actually there when he goes.

  • I reused water collected in the shower to flush the toilet.

  • Ooooh my basil cuttings have finally started developing roots!  I was just thinking yesterday that maybe I ought to throw them away, lol. Free basil plants, yay!

  • The 2nd pineapple top is well on its way too!  Another free pineapple plant!  I'd better be getting pineapples, damn it.

  • I went to the library. It was a very productive visit:
    • I paid the $2 dues for my son's Jr. Friends of the Library membership 
    • I collected the Community Service recommendation letter that the Youth Director left for my son's Jr. NHS application. She wrote such a nice letter :)  
    • I was able to pick up many back issues of Women's World magazine from the donation pile (more recipe ideas for future menus!)

    • I also picked up another McDonald's coupon flyer, mostly for that "free small fries without purchase required" coupon :)
    • I spoke with my friend the children's librarian about my son's idea to start a Dungeons & Dragons club at the library and she was very enthusiastic about it so I will bring him back so he can set it up with her and they will advertise it.
    • She knows all the kids who frequent the library, of course, and knows my son's personality so she had a lot of great ideas of who he could partner with to work on this year Teen Video Challenge so I want her to talk to him about it because she'll get him on board with this :)
    • She also told me that the branch manager had mentioned to her on Tuesday after I left that she liked my son (he's very quiet and polite and gets the work done) and whether she thought that he might be interested in volunteering with them outside of the summer by shelving books.  Technically the volunteers have to be 18 now, which I was crushed to hear last year because if he could volunteer at the library, he can walk there on his own and it's an activity you do on your own too.  But if he agreed to do it, they would arrange for him to do it through the Jr. Friends of the Library program, which would circumvent the age requirement.  So that would be awesome.  

    • Then we were interrupted when a person who has a balloon making act came to talk to her about booking his act for the Summer Reading Program and she said "Oh good timing, I'm in the middle of booking acts right now". I had to leave but I got thinking that maybe my Jazz trumpet player son might be able to book an act with them too, even if the money wasn't great, it'd be something, and she remembers him from when he and my middle son volunteered to play Christmas carol songs at the library back when they were in high school and always recollects this with great warmth so I think he kind of already has an "in". Anyhoo, I emailed my son asking if he would be interested (and available) at all and if he would like me to approach her about it. We'll see what he says.
    • They did hire a new person to take care of the Teen programs and both she and I are hoping that this person stays on for a while and actually offers activities that the teens like because they've gone through 4 staff members in 2 years and the program is kind of dead in the water for now.

  • My lunch was some Chinese Pork Roast leftovers with a thick slice of "Everything" French bread (bought on clearance from Walmart at 50 cent a loaf) and an orange (@ $1.99 for 9 oranges = $0.22 per orange at Aldi on Monday)  Simple and filling and frugal :)

  • I'm thinking about approaching the library and getting their approval to have an information session about being frugal when grocery shopping and sharing my techniques.  It'd be like talking on this blog only talking to a live audience, which I don't mind. Weirdly, even though I don't like IRL interaction all that much, I don't mind public speaking at all.  I'm kind of getting excited about helping people find ways, within their limits, to save money on their grocery shopping without trying to sell them a coupon organizing system or getting them to be extreme couponers, you know? I'll have to think about it some more.

  • I was able to request a free sample of Plenti yogurt from Betty Crocker :)

  • I unlocked a bunch of new offers on Ibotta.

  • I received a bottle of Dove Renew Shampoo and a bottle of Dove Renew Conditioner in the mail.  Those were samples from Walmart. I gave them to my daughter.

  • I finally was able to qualify for a Swagbucks survey for 60 SB and met my first goal, late in the afternoon.

  • I also completed my Bing Rewards activities late in the day.

  • Dinner was Mock Zuppa Toscana: I used smoked turkey sausage and the rest of the collard greens bought on clearance at Save A Lot last week but it was still good.  I also baked some Pillsbury Grands! Flaky Layers biscuits.

  • Swagbucks emailed me the $25 Walmart gift card that I had ordered a couple of days ago.

  • CVS emailed me the $5.00 ECB coupon that I earned for taking a CVS Advisor Panel a few days ago.

  • Greg bought lunch today :)
  • McDonald's second breakfast for my son
  • I had to run errands in town a couple of times today: first to go to the high school for our meeting and then to go to the library to drop off the Jr. Friends of the Library dues and pick up the Community Service letter for my son since the library wasn't opened when I was out for the meeting first thing in the morning.
  • $2 for the Jr. Friends of the Library dues

  • Since we had pizza last night, I hadn't prepped leftovers for Greg's lunch and then this morning I was groggy so I forgot to even think about his lunch.  Finally when he asked me if he had a lunch to take to work, it was only 2 minutes before I had to leave and we had pork roast leftovers but no rice or side item so he decided that he would buy lunch.  Again, he could have taken a few minutes to put a sandwich together!  I warned him that he would go in the Failures section but he said "Well, I pretty much live there, don't I?!"  lol. Poor Greg :) So I'm listing it as a splurge but also a failure.

  • I was planning on stopping by RaceTrac to pick up a freebie after my library visit but I got so distracted with all the stuff we talked about that I drove home on auto-pilot instead!

  • Cooked breakfast for Greg
  • Set breakfast table for the kids
  • Took my youngest son to meeting with high school guidance counselor
  • Took my son to McDonald's and then school
  • Gave New Kitty her medicine
  • Watered indoor plants
  • Uploaded new offers to Ibotta
  • Ran the dehumidifier in the bathroom
  • Went to the library
  • Cooked the chicken breast that my daughter had requested
  • Spent time with my daughter this afternoon
  • Did the dishes
  • Fake-mopped the kitchen
  • Cooked dinner
  • Gave New Kitty her tapeworm medicine

  • Uh, I renewed my investing library book :)

  • Liquids:
    • XL coffee from Dunkin' Donuts
    • 1 cup black tea
    • 1 cup water
  • Food:
    • Breakfast:
      • cherry coffee cake (I know...)
    • Mid Morning Snack:
      • nothing
    • Lunch:
      • Chinese pork roast, "everything" French bread, navel orange
    • Mid Afternoon Snack:
      • pretzels
    • Dinner:
      • Mock Zuppa Toscana, Pillsbury Grands! biscuit, navel orange
    • Evening Snack:
      • nothing
  • Weight:
    • didn't weigh myself
  • Exercise:
    • didn't exercise... again
Did you have any frugal successes or failures today? Please do tell!


  1. I really did laugh at the living in the failures section that was just so funny. Wow your library does so much stuff that's amazing ours you borrow a book and take it back three weeks later.

    Also I think its amazing that you have counsellors that advise you on your kids options for the future. Here you go to school and then you go to college or get a job there is no advise along the way.

    That's so lovely that your older boys volunteered to play Christmas carols at the library. It sounds like you have such a lovely family xxx

    1. The thing is the counselors used to be called "Guidance" counselors and I always thought that their primary function was in fact to advise the students. In reality, I'm not sure how much of that is actually their primary function anymore. At our school they just renamed that department "Student Services" which is soooooo descriptive, right? Most of the time Guidance ends up doing a lot of discipline. They're also the ones putting the students' schedules together, which should lend itself to guiding the students but I think that the reality of life gives everyone the short end of the stick there. Parents aren't really told anything and if you want to get involved, YOU have to ask the questions and even know which questions to ask. So it's very easy for parents not to be involved and then the schools bemoan that there isn't any parental involvement. But they don't make it easy for parents TO be involved. There's very little information for parents on websites or it's dispersed among various state or federal websites and with so much "school speak" that it's almost impossible to understand if you don't work within that realm. Back when I was in France, we had an "orientation counselor" at my high school (can't remember if we had one in middle or elementary school) and yes, he did some discipline but he organized campus tours for us in high school and was available to help plan your life after school. Do you not have such a function in your high schools? It might be that you do but, as I said, like most parents you might not even be aware that it exists.

      That is sad that your library doesn't do anything else beyond the book borrowing. Do you think it's because it's not funded to do this? Libraries in the 21st century, over here, have become the hubs of the communities, especially in small communities such as ours because there is really nothing else for people to do (no movie theater, no theater, no pool... no nothing in my little town!). So we have computers that people can use to go online, books/magazines/newspapers/videogames/CDs, e-books/e-magazines/books on tape or downloadable audio books, kid activities, community programs such as financial education, job search, etc. Ours is very tiny so it doesn't even have a fraction of the activities that Clermont, much less Orlando offer. I'm a huge supporter of libraries! I was so excited when we moved into our house because it was just down the street so I was going to be able to walk there but then they moved to their current location just a couple of weeks later! It's still only 1 mile away from my house so I'm really happy about that!

    2. Your 'student services' sounds very similar to our pastoral care, you don't tend to here from them unless your child is in trouble. I needed to use ours once when my eldest was at school and his dad was very poorly and there was the possibility that he would have to leave for the hospital at any time and instead of making him work in the normal classes they put him in an office where he could take phone calls at any time and leave immediately if required.

      I think that's it exactly we don't get the funding here. Everything is being squeezed, we do have a local pool and ice rink but it looks like that's being closed down. I do love a good library but ours is quite a way away so I don't tend to use it very often. Xx

    3. Oh no, they're closing the pool and the ice rink?! See, this is why I'm glad we live in Florida. We don't have state income tax, which means that we don't have the infrastructure that other states have such as public pools, etc. But then there's nothing to close down when funds run out either. Well, I lie. When that happens they actually start talking about closing down our libraries (nooooooo!), cutting back on emergency services, cutting the police budget, etc. So that's not good either. A few years back they were seriously talking about closing down our local library because our area is small and Clermont is larger and they have a bigger one. So I campaigned, along with other people, for them to keep it open and we won! However, back then we didn't have a bus route to Clermont, which helped justify keeping ours open since that's the only place for people who don't have internet access or computers at home to come apply for jobs, etc. However, they just started a bus route a couple of months ago so it might go against us next time they talk about cutting library budgets. The bus only runs once an hour so it's really inconvenient, but they won't care about that.

  2. OMG. You are thinking about offering an information session on being frugal while shopping for groceries? What's to think about? The librarian should completely go for it. I would attend. Even though I consider myself mostly frugal, I am always learning new things. You could use the library's photocopier to make hand-outs for the participants. You have lots of terrific ideas to share. I will encourage you to think seriously about this.

    1. Ah yes, a hand-out. I hadn't thought of that, LOL. I'm still mulling it over. My daughter kind of took the winds out of my sails by reminding me that I don't like dealing with people, etc, etc and then Greg said the same thing. It's kind of annoying when your family isn't your cheerleader but then again they do know me so maybe they're being my cheerleaders in a more realistic way? I was only thinking about a one-time session, not a whole series or even doing in more than once.

      So thanks for the enthusiasm, Susan! You're like my honorary big sister. I noticed that the Clermont library is going to offer a Couponing Class in April. I don't need to attend that and my session would not focus so much on the coupons as the other stuff that we all do to lower our food costs and expenses so I'm kind of excited about that.


Anything you'd like to add? Share away!