Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Frugal Successes and Failures: Wednesday 2/3/16

  • I'm so relieved that I don't have to go shopping today (Famous last words... I went shopping anyway!) I'm sore from all the cleaning I did yesterday and I still need to finish that so it's a good day to be home :)  Spoiler alert, avert your eyes if you don't want to know: I didn't finish my cleaning.  I completely ran out of steam today.

  • I might need to turn the AC on today so my daughter doesn't get too hot in her upstairs bedroom.  Yesterday it got to 76 downstairs, which usually makes for stuffy bedrooms upstairs but she didn't complain about it. Today is supposed to be warmer, still.

  • New Kitty is being my buddy this morning. She woke me up by walking all over me and meowing because she wanted breakfast.  Thankfully it was only a couple of minutes before my alarm rang.  She had to wait for my son to get up anyway because feeding the cats is part of his responsibilities.  Then, after he'd gone to school, she came to lie down on the couch next to me and I mean she was stuck to my thigh. I've just noticed how warm she was keeping me once she left! I was thankful for the cuddle since she completely ignored me yesterday. I think she didn't like me holding her head still when I was trying to put the witch hazel on her.

  • Last night I noticed that my Swagbucks January Bonuses were ready to be claimed. I had completely forgotten that you have to claim them nowadays instead of them being applied to your account automatically so don't forget to claim yours. Even if you think you didn't earn any, go check! You only have 2 weeks to claim it. Then it'll be forfeited! Click on the drop down arrow next to your daily goal and you'll see a section about the January bonus. Click on that and then they'll tell you how much you earned and don't forget to click on the "claim it" button!  Anyhoo, I earned 724 SB!
  • So this morning I only needed to earn a few more SB in order to get to the 2,200 SB needed to order my 1st $25 gift card of the month.  Encouraged by KJP to order the Target gift card even though you can't print it to use in the store, I ordered a $25 Target gift card. I really do like the idea that I can further reduce my bill by combining the Cartwheel offers.  My plan is to print the gift card so I can cross off the previous balance and write the new one, as I use the card so it's a visual reminder for me   1) to use the gift card and 2) of how much I have left on it. But I'll take a screenshot of the bar code when I redeem it on my phone, "favorite" it (so it's easier to find at checkout time) and have them scan that. It worked just fine the last time.  Want to join Swagbucks? Please consider using my referral code!  (and thanks a lot if you do!)
  • Speaking of Swagbucks, my 1st daily goal was 115 SB once again. I was able to complete 2 small surveys, which helped a lot, especially when Ngage quit on me quite early.  I reached my 1st daily goal @ about 9:45 a.m. so now I don't have an excuse to stay on the laptop the whole day, lol.

  • A Slickdeals user posted a bonus KFR code (although it was mispelled, originally!) so I entered the corrected version in Kellogg's Family Rewards and earned 25 bonus points (CELEBRATEGAMEDAY).  I also entered the code from the box of Krave that I bought on Monday and earned another 80 KFR points.  Then, I got an email from them with hidden bonus codes: 25PTBIGGAMEBONUS (25 pts), and the one that I had seen on Slickdeals.

  • SavingStar credited my account with $1 for the 2 General Mills cereals that I bought on Monday at CVS.

  • Ace Hardware emailed me a $10 off $75 coupon to thank me for ordering from their website.  Yeah, fat chance that I'll use it!  Never ordering from their website again.

  • RaceTrac emailed me the RaceTrac Insider coupon freebie of the month: a free Chicken HabaƱero Tamale (I don't know how to eat those things... do you eat the corn envelope too? Update: my daughter looked it up for me and apparently you do not eat the corn husk.  That doesn't sound like something very easy to eat, then...).  I forwarded the email to my middle son to remind him to sign up for the RaceTrac Insider if he wants monthly freebies.

  • Speaking of my middle son, when I had last seen him he had asked me if I had a spare blender to give him because he wanted to make smoothies. I didn't, but I told him I'd look for one at the thrift store.  But I didn't go to any.  A couple of days ago, I was tempted to purchase one on because there was a deal with a rebate where I could have gotten one for $9.99 but I thought I could do better at a thrift store.  I'm glad I didn't buy it because when I spoke with my son yesterday, he said his roommate's mother had given them a blender. And then his dad gave him a rice cooker. Which reminds me that I wanted to find him a recipe book for rice cooker.  I'm going to try to find one online for free.  Now I'm going to look for a waffle iron for him, at the thrift store, of course!

  • I found lots of rice cooker recipes (289 pages!) on Aroma's website (it's a brand of rice cookers) so I'm emailing him the link.

  • LOL, my daughter just texted me from school saying that she had found a quarter on the floor!  I asked her to text me a photo so I could share it here.  All she needs to do now is sign up for Swagbucks and Bing Rewards and she can be Mini Nathalie.  I'm sure she would recoil in horror at the thought (because what 17 year-old girl wants to be her middle-aged mother, right?).

  • I washed some bedding on cold/cold and I dried it in the sun on the back porch. It smelled so good when I brought it back in at the end of the day!

  • I noticed this morning that I didn't have to enter CAPCHA codes for the Swagbucks search awards!  Yay!  I hated having to do that, especially when I got distracted by something and the the CAPCHA would expire.  Update: and just about 10 minutes after I typed that, I did a search, got distracted, forgot about it and when I finally went back to that screen, I had been awarded 25 SB for it.  Phew!  So glad that dumb CAPCHA is gone :)
  • Oh and then I realized that they credited me with 20 SB for coupon redemptions. Yay!

  • Aaargh, I wasn't going to go anywhere today BUT: Save A Lot has a great sale that starts today ($0.29/lb for chicken leg quarters... damn it, I just paid $0.69/lb for the thighs just on Monday!) and I could swing by Publix to see if I can get 2 more packages of the ham for $0.29.  Sigh. I guess I'm going out after all.  I'll stop by the ReStore thrift store as well, see if they have  a waffle iron.
That's 15# of Russet potatoes for $3.49, not 5!

  • If Publix is out of the Smithfield cubed ham, I'll just wait for next week because starting tomorrow, they're having the Smithfield Ham Steak Boneless, Maple Flavored, Smoked, Fully Cooked, 8 oz,  slices on unadvertised BOGO for $3.59, according to IHeartPublix.

  • I also emailed my middle son to let him know that SAL is having the Cocoa Pebbles on sale at $1.99. along with the link to the $0.55/1 coupon from  He shops at SAL and likes that cereal so this is the perfect opportunity to get him to start using coupons on his own, lol.

  • Not sure what's going on with the Aldi website but I can't see any of their brochures, it just brings up a blank screen. I emailed their Customer Service to give them a heads up.  I checked again tonight and I still see... nothing!  I can't bring them up on my phone either so it's not my PC, for sure.

  • I had several new offers on Ibotta this morning and I'm really excited about them even though most of them are just for $0.25! The $4.50 My Goodness soup rebate that's only good at Target is back, and I hope my store decided to stock that soup since last week!  The Zing and Post cereal rebates are back, woop, woop!
Oh wait, I messed up, there's only 1 milk rebate offer :(

  • Whaaaat?!  And then the CVS Beauty Club sent me a very belated birthday present (my b'day was 2 months ago!) in the form of a $3.00 off any purchase coupon.  Yay!  I should be able to use that towards groceries since the exclusions listed include milk but not groceries... it does say any.

  • Lunch was a ham sub that I made with one of the Cuban hoagie rolls bought on clearance (12 cents a roll), some smoked ham from Aldi, a little bit of Fit & Active Light Mayo from Aldi and homemade zesty refrigerator pickles.  I treated myself to a ginger ale soda.

  • How nice of Swagbucks but I didn't have any problems with their site on those days... had I known they would do that to help members, I wouldn't have put much effort into reaching my goal on my own, LOL.

  • After cleaning up my son's computer of all the malware (see "failures"), I printed a few more coupons from his PC.

  • I split the packages of chicken thighs and boneless chicken breasts that I had bought on Monday, to make sure that I would have room in the freezer for the meat I intended to buy at Save A Lot.  I used cereal bags and masking tape to package them: 4 things to a bag (I got 4 bags) and 1 breast to a bag (because they were very large breasts!) and I got 4 bags of breasts as well. I'm keeping a breast to cook it tonight and slice it for my daughter's lunches. 

  • As I was pondering how best to arrange them in the freezer to judge how much room I would have left, I remembered that we are cooking the turkey on Sunday so I got it out of the freezer to let it defrost on the counter for a while (I'll stick it in the fridge tonight). Yay!  An instant "hole" of 14 lbs in my freezer!

  • You know me, I try to batch my errands. I did want to go to Save A Lot today instead of waiting until tomorrow (because I'm driving that way tomorrow too!) because I was afraid that they would be out of the pork chops and chicken leg quarters by then so off, I went:
    • First, I stopped by RaceTrac and redeemed the RaceTrac Insider freebie coupon for a chicken habaƱero tamale and a survey reward code for a bag of TasteWorks chips.  The person checking out in front of me was from a lower socio-economic background and buying snacks and drinks, paying cash.  As he turned away, I noticed that he had missed a penny of his change on the counter so I stopped him and told him he had forgotten part of his change. He shrugged and left!  This always floors me.  Dude, you obviously have no money, PICK UP  YOUR CHANGE!  Well, I wasn't going to take it since it was on the counter so I left it there.  I'm guessing the cashier just put it in the till.  Incredible.

    • Then I drove to Save  A Lot.  I was disappointed that there weren't any strawberries in the produce case.  My favorite cashier was walking around so I asked her if they had any strawberries left and she said they had never gotten them. Apparently there's a supply problem (echoes of Aldi!) because they're not ripe yet.  Well, these are supposed to be Florida strawberries, they're grown in greenhouses for the most part, and it's been mostly pretty warm for the whole season so what the heck? She also said they hadn't received the 15-lb bags of Russet potatoes that were advertised for $3.49. Oh well, because I really wanted the 5-lb bag of Klondike Gold for $1.99 and they had 3 left.  I took the one with the medium potatoes (they won't spoil as fast as the small ones and the large ones might not suit my purposes).  I couldn't find the 10-lb packages of boneless sirloin chops for $1.39/lb so I asked the manager who pointed them out to me. There were only 2 left. I had thought they were ribs!  So I got the smaller package that was 12.33 lbs. I got 4 large cans of Pillsbury Grands! Flaky Layers biscuits, on sale for $0.79 a can and I had (2) $1.00/2 printable coupons so they were just $0.29 each! There's a $1.00 rebate on SavingStar for those but SavingStar doesn't work with Save A Lot.  Lastly, I got one of the last 10-lb bags of chicken legs for $0.29/lb.  I really wanted to buy 2 but I would have a hard time fitting that in the freezer!  I handed my 2 coupons to the cashier and I don't know what she did but she keyed in $2.00 off and then scanned 1 coupon so that took off another $1.  She realized her mistake right away and said "I don't know what I did or why I did it, but forget about it!" and so I got an extra dollar off my bill!  Yay!  I thanked her :) My OOP was $22.19 and I charged it to my Amazon Visa card to get 2% back in Rewards.  On my way out I picked up a free copy of the local paper. No coupons in it for anything this week.

    • I stopped at Publix.  I should have bought the diced ham on Monday because someone must have misunderstood how BOGO deals work in Florida (you pay full price for the first item and get the 2nd one for free) and bought 1 out of the 2 packages left.  So there was only 1 package on the shelf, which didn't help me so I left it there.  I did see that they had the big bottles of Mississipi Mud, Greg's favorite beer, so I figured I would treat him for Superbowl Sunday. OOP was $4.27 and I charged it to Amex to get the 3% in Rewards.

    • I went to the Habitat for Humanity ReStore thrift store, to see if I could find a waffle iron for my son. They didn't have any. I looked around a bit and saw a microwave cart for $25 that might work for as a printer stand for his large photo printer. I took a picture and measurements and emailed him to ask if that might work. If he says yes, I'll go back to see if they still have it.

    • I had meant to stop by the library to check the donation pile, but it was a little bit out of my way and I wanted to go home so I skipped it.

    • When I got home and unloaded the bags, I realized that the beer had fallen on its side in my bag (which I had put in a cardboard box so it wouldn't roll around in my trunk) and somehow the cap had leaked so I had beer in the cardboard box and the bag. Not a lot, but enough that the beer would probably be flat by Sunday!  I was so aggravated. The cap was intact on the bottle so obviously it was a bottling problem. 

    • So I sighed, got my purse again, and drove all the way back to Publix. I asked for a refund instead of an exchange because I didn't know if the whole batch would have the same problem.  The cashier refunded me the money and asked if I wanted to speak with a manager "about the situation in my trunk".  I said "no, unless you think there's a reason that I should.." so she shrugged and called a manager over.  I explained what had happened, told her I just wanted a refund so she said "sure" but I had already gotten it so I really didn't know what else to tell her. So then she said "I guess I'll tell the supplier, in case there's a problem with the others."  I said "yes, you probably should..." and then I left.   I still don't know why the cashier called a manager.  I'm thinking that she thought that maybe the manager would offer me something to compensate me for having spilled beer in my trunk?  I did think that I'd better not get stopped by the cops because they would smell beer in my car and I'd get a DUI!  The box and the bag are being aired out as we speak. I'll wash the bag, actually.

  • So I updated my Weekly Grocery Shopping Post.  I still have about $45 in my budget for the week, which works out great since the kids and I will be eating out on Friday evening.

  • My son also received a belated birthday package from his paternal grand-parents.  In it was three T-shirts that he really likes. This will save us money since we won't have to buy him new T-shirts for a while :)

  • I reused 9 cereal bags to repackage the pork chops that I bought today. Each bag contains a little more meat than we would usually eat for a meal, but since I try to cook an extra portion for Greg's lunch the next day, it worked out great.

  • For dinner, I cooked half a bag of Celentano cheese ravioli and the rest of a bag of Italian-style meatballs.  I added Italian sausage-flavored pasta sauce and baked a can of Pillsbury Grands!  biscuits to go with it since I hadn't made the potato rolls that I had planned on making.  We each had a biscuit and I put the rest in a Ziploc bag (that had been previously washed, of course!) in the fridge.

  • I helped my daughter figure out why she had made mistakes on her French assignment.  Honestly, I knew what the correct answers were but not WHY they were correct.  So I had to look it up and I couldn't understand the explanations, lol!  Finally I found explanations that made sense  on so she and I went through all of her assignment and made sure we understood why the answers had to be the way they were. French grammar is very complicated.  The best way to learn French (or any language, for that matter) is to immerse yourself by living in a country where they (and you) speak that language all.the.time.  Still, despite never wanting to practice with me (she says I'm too strict), she has made tremendous progress since this past summer and I wish she and I were going back there this summer just so I can get her to practice some more (Ok, I should send her on her own so she doesn't have me to speak English to!).

  • She said something at some point that reminded me of the Flight of the Conchords song "Foux de fa fa" and since we love that song so much, we brought it up on YouTube so we could laugh all over again. Do you know Flight of the Conchords?  I love, love, love their series. Anyhoo, here is the "Foux de fa fa" song if you care to listen to it. It kind of makes fun of French people and of non-native speakers trying to speak French, but in a funny way.

  • Alison, I read a blog post on A Few Short Cuts about 4 benefits of molasses. Since you just bought 4 jars of it, you might be interested in learning how you can use it beyond just cooking/baking!  I might try the constipation relief trick next time I need it!

  • A 5-min phone call from Greg tonight.  I suggested we Skype but he wasn't feeling good and just wanted to go to bed so he called instead. He's still sick and I guess the trip has gotten political so now he's embroiled into something that's awkward.  He should be home convalescing and not gallivanting in Vancouver!  Anyway, the call will be billed at $1 per minute so that's $5 for him to tell me he has a fever and me to tell him that I got chicken legs for $0.29/lb.  But I guess he wanted to hear my voice?  More than likely he didn't want to fiddle with Skype, LOL.

  • I didn't have any dishes to do this morning because it's a new month and my daughter needs to earn the $30 that I ask her to contribute towards the cost of having her on our car insurance (it actually costs us over $100 to have her on there).  So she did the dishes last night. However, she decided to run them through the dishwasher even though there was only 3 plates, 3 cups, 3 sets of silverware and a couple of bowls to wash!  I was annoyed at her for wasting water and electricity like this and told her that the next time there wasn't a full load, she needed to wash them by hand (I mean, she already rinses and scrubs them why not just add liquid soap and call it a night, then?  Put them in the dishwasher to dry!).  Ugh.

  • I logged in to my son's computer to print extra coupons. I had just noticed one of those fake blinking error messages that tells you that you're having windows problems so you should click to fix them and was writing him a note NOT to click on those when Chrome crashed and would crash every time I tried to reload it.  So I ran Malwarebytes and within minutes, it had already found over 200 "objects" that shouldn't have been there.  Arrgh. I'm letting it run for the afternoon but we're going to have to reinstall AVG or something else on that PC, it's ridiculous.

  • I had to run the AC starting at 12:30 p.m., it was just too hot and muggy :(

  • Oh, I keep on forgetting to talk about the problem with the "Tailgate/Liftgate Open" message and beeps on my SUV!  So the WD-40 seemed to work at first... I mean, it would still beep once in a while, but I could go over "big" bumps and it wouldn't beep. The frequency of the beeps had greatly decreased.  That was back when it was pretty cool down here, in the 40s or 50s.  When I went shopping on Monday, it was warmer and I had to turn the AC on and I noticed that the beeps were coming back more frequently, but also that the autolock on my car doors won't work anymore.  When I drive over 10 miles an hour after starting the SUV, all the doors lock automatically.  Now they just pop back unlocked right away. Using the "Lock all doors" button on my driver side door doesn't work because they lock and popped back unlocked right away.  It pissed me off because I don't want to be driving with my doors unlocked, that's how you get carjacked or robbed at traffic lights!  Since my remote still seems to be able to lock my car up alright, I hit the "lock" button on the remote while I was in the car and it seems to be doing the trick.  Just to be safe, I also keep the cabin lights switch on the OFF position (the little wheel that controls the intensity of the lights and also of the radio display) because a few times the lights would stay on in the cabin after I had stopped the car and locked all the doors.  I have to drive at night with the kids in a densely populated area on Friday night so all those little annoyances are going to become much bigger annoyances.  But the alternative is going to the Ford dealership and having to pay hundreds of dollars for new sensors, which in some cases don't even fix the problem according to the Expedition Forum that I have been reading.  I don't want to have to get a new car either so I'll learn to live with it. Hopefully the remote solution for locking the doors won't stop working because then, I would be in a pickle as we do not have a garage... and then I couldn't drive my car anywhere anyway because who wants to leave an unlocked car in a parking lot, right?  Ugh, ugh, ugh, give me a car without ANY electronics any day. I don't even care if I have to roll down my own windows, damn it.

  • Having to waste time and gas to go back to Publix because of the spilled beer situation.

  • I didn't call the FSA Administrator back today. Plainly, I just didn't want to deal with it.  Then tonight I get an email newsletter from them touting "all" the things I could claim on my FSA like knee braces, etc.  Yeah, what they don't say in their newsletter is that you have to go through hoops to get a prescription for them even though they're OTC and then they'll probably deny you the claim anyway.  I wish I could reply to that newsletter with sarcasm but it's one of those that you can't reply to.  

  • Set the breakfast table for the kids
  • Aired out my son's bedroom
  • Washed some bedding
  • Called to confirm our car insurance policy data
  • Corresponded with my daughter and Greg via texts and my middle son via email
  • Uploaded new offers to Ibotta
  • Went to run some errands and get more groceries
  • Returned the beer for a refund
  • Repackaged the pork chops into smaller portions
  • Watched my son play with the cats
  • Cooked dinner
  • Helped my daughter with her French
  • Put witch hazel on New Kitty's acne
  • Gave my middle son some feedback about his photography website
  • Spoke with Greg on the phone

  • One of my goals for this year was to call USAA to see about reducing the cost of our car insurance policy.  USAA contracts with an outside company that calls us once a year to verify the information on our policy and it so happened that they mailed us a postcard this week asking us to call them to do that (we don't answer calls from numbers we don't know).  Since Greg is out of the country, I called and I'm hoping that our policy will end up being cheaper because they asked me to estimate the amount of miles we each drive and I gave 5,200 for my daughter,  5,200 for me (which is too high,I drive less than that right now but I'll start driving my son to school next year so my mileage will go up) and 20,000 for Greg. I **think** that those numbers are lower than what we currently have on our policy, so I hope that we'll see a decrease in price, especially since the latest news that I read said that policies across the board are going up since more people are driving more because of the low gas prices so there are more accidents and insurance companies have to pay more claims.  I'm not sure when I would see a price change in our policy. The new 6-month policy starts in April so I'm guessing we'll see it then.  I do carry extra liability on my vehicle because once in a while I volunteer to drive my daughter's FFA teams to their competitions and the school board required me to carry a certain level of insurance.  I haven't done that this past year but with my son starting high school, I figured I should keep it although it is very unlikely that he will join any group activities unless I force him to.  Come next year, I'll probably cancel that and also the collision damage on my car because since it's a 2007, I'm thinking its value might be lower than my deductible, I'd have to check.

  • Liquids:
    • 2 cups coffee
    • 1 can ginger ale
    • 1 cup instant decaf coffee
  • Food:
    • Breakfast:
      • 1/2 cup granola with a banana and 1/3 cup of ~2% milk
    • Mid Morning Snack:
      • nothing
    • Lunch:
      • Ham sub with light mayo and homemade pickles
    • Mid Afternoon Snack:
      • air popped popcorn with coconut oil and sugar
    • Dinner:
      • Cheese ravioli with red sauce, 3 meatballs, 1 Pillsbury Grands! biscuit.
    • Evening Snack:
      • Small slice of Marzipan Stollen cake
      • cup of no fat yogurt
  • Weight:
    • 218.6 lbs but it was after breakfast.  I did remember to bring the scale downstairs!
  • Exercise:
    • Didn't exercise today again.  I'm in a slump!
Did you have any frugal successes or failures today? Please do tell!


  1. Poor Greg. Nothing is worse than being sick away from home. Mix in the office politics and you have a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad time in Vancouver. I bet you both will be very happy when he gets home.

    I wouldn't feel badly about taking a break from all that exercise. Your days have been very full lately. You had another great grocery shop and you really raked in those KFR points today. I did another grocery shop today as well. AND, I did not do any of the housework I said I would do. Tomorrow.

    1. I told him I'd drive him to the airport on Monday morning so I'd pick him up tomorrow night and he wouldn't have to drive (it's horrible to have to drive for an hour after you've been on a plane for over 10 hours and you're sick on top of it) but he didn't want me to. Now I really wish I had just gone anyway. Of course, I would have had to miss my oldest son's concert since Greg is supposed to be landing smack in the middle of the concert, but still...

      I still have to clean my downstairs bathroom but everything else has been done. Phew! Now I need to concentrate on the financial stuff (ugh). We'll see if I make a dent in that today.

      How did your flu shot appointment go? I should get one too.


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