Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Frugal Successes and Failures: Wednesday 2/24/16

Ah dang it, I did it again and published this too early.  Here is the "full" version :)

  • Ooh boy, the sky was yellow this morning and we have pretty much a whole day of rain forecasted for our area.  Kind of makes you wish you HAD put in a vegetable garden, lol.

  • I slept great last night, finally. I think fatigue caught up with me.  My daughter did the dishes, 2 days' worth, so I woke up to a clean kitchen and she finished earning the money for her share of the March car insurance payment.  I was thinking this morning that maybe I should forget all my other goals and just try to do a "Do the dishes every night in March" challenge because, darn it, it IS nice to wake up to a clean kitchen.  I'm doing so poorly in all the other goal areas anyway...

  • So last night my youngest son and I were totally into Fargo, Season 2 and Greg wasn't so much, but we ended up watching 2 episodes back to back.  I'm glad I stuck with it, but it really took until episode 5 for me to like it more.

  • My middle son's email started sending spam messages (or viruses, I'm not sure, I know better than to open those!) to everyone overnight. Ohh, fun. I texted him since he's not answering his phone. It's the email address he uses for his professional contacts too so that's gonna piss off someone.  I emailed him the Yahoo Help link for that subject.  I sure hope he wasn't hacked!

  • In other middle son news, he showed me portraits he took of some skateboarders he approached downtown, as well as some of an elderly friend (and co-student!) of his, and they're fantastic. Oh my, I have seriously talented kids. Where the heck did they get it from? Not from me.  If he lives closer and I wanted to monetize my blog, I'd hire him to take the normally crappy pictures that you see here, lol. He's in talks with being used as a photography assistant on some local production shoots and was also hired by an actor to do his headshots so that could be another line of work for him.  In greater news (in my view), he is so far ahead in his studies that his professors have allowed him to skip a whole semester ahead so he should be able to graduate with his 2-year degree sooner than he thought. (well, I should suggest that he checks that the State College as a whole agrees with that and credits him with all the credit hours that he actually needs to graduate, including the year he spent at Valencia State College).  At this point he thinks that he might take a semester off after getting his A.A. to earn money and then go back to do the 2 years in the UCF program and get the B.A. He's also staying on top of keeping up his work status with Universal Studios (he has to take an "Don't Serve Alcohol to Minors" class every 3 months to be able to keep on working at the restaurant where he usually has shifts) so that's good.

  • My oldest son's upcoming gigs with Josh Groban are being publicized locally (not my doing, I swear!) and UCF put out a PR News Release which was picked up by the Orlando Sentinel yesterday and apparently the news is spreading on Facebook as well (I'm not on FB so I wouldn't know). Oh I hope everything goes well for him, lol. The reporter from the Orlando Sentinel said that he "rocks the bowtie", lol.  Yes, he does!

  • I'm planning on attending a seminar conducted by a UF staff member on personal investing this morning. I don't really want to go but I should, I'm hoping it'll kickstart me on trying to be better with this whole thing.  I'm thinking it's going rehash the basic stuff that I already know, but obviously it hasn't sunk in so I really should go.  I'll run a couple of errands at the same time.

  • My daughter is in Physics Honors this year but her teacher told her she's doing so well that she could take the AP Physics exam if she wanted.  She thought of it and was really tempted because if she got a 3 or higher on it, it would mean free college credit AND help her as far as her graduation schedule ambitions, but, even though she is flattered, she's smart enough to recognize her limitations: science isn't something that comes naturally to her, she has to work very hard at it.  She get excellent grades but there is an important time investment to consider and she already has a very full plate. So she declined the offer. Smart girl. Again... where do my kids get their talents?!  I suck at everything but at managing my grocery budget, it seems (and even... I just checked my totals for the month and I'm unhappy with them).  My problem is a lack of motivation right now.  Ah, to be a teen again!

  • The kids packed their lunches to take to school.

  • SavingStar credited me for the rebates that I claimed yesterday but it looks like there might be a bug that caused me to claim all the Advil rebates that are available and not just the one that I submitted for? That would be awesome if there was, lol.

  • I was able to claim 2 free samples on very late last night. I hadn't gotten an email from them about the new "Free Sample Day" and I didn't check Feedly until the very end of the evening so I didn't know about it. Their site is buggy, I filled out surveys and feedback and even though they looked like they were being submitted, on my dashboard they still looked it they hadn't been, which might kick me out of the program if they're not submitted by 2/29/.  Arrgh.

  • Realized that the AC on the kitchen side of the house had been running at 74F. Since the kids are at school, I changed the thermostat to 76F.

  • I completed my Bing Rewards activities for the day and I'm up to 433 credits out of 475 (91%).  My "Maintain Goal" counter still hasn't been fixed.

  • Swagbucks goal of 90 SB. I'm at 16 SB at 9:30 a.m. so we'll see what happens since I'm about to leave for a few hours...

  • I packed a bottle of water and some peanut butter crackers in my purse since the seminar was 2-hours long.

  • I drove to Clermont for the Personal Investing seminar at the library, which was free.  I made a list of errands to run while I was there to maximize my return on the gas I was using.

  • The seminar was OK.  I didn't really expect to learn anything new, my goal was to kick-start myself into getting interesting in this whole subject again.  It's hard for me because that stuff puts me in a coma!  The facilitator was the extension agent from UF.  I'm going to be a little rude here, but she was a terrible speaker.  She looked for her train of thought, was pretty much all over the place, used the wrong words (contribution instead of distribution, stock instead of mutual fund, etc, etc). In her defense, it was a lot of material to cover in just 90 minutes (she ended it at 11:30 a.m.) but they should have written in the description that you needed to already have a grasp of what a mutual fund was and some investing experience otherwise, I don't think this would be of much help in trying to understand everything.  I could follow along because I already knew pretty much everything that she discussed, but if you were new to investing, forget it.  There were 6 of us attending and only a couple of us asked questions. Everybody was sitting behind me so I'm not sure if they were all too busy taking notes or if everyone was thinking what I was thinking.  The good news is that she gave us a printout of the presentation (and other handouts) to follow along (which was great because I had completely forgotten to bring a notepad to write notes so I was able to write some notes on the printout) and she is also going to email it to us so we can follow the links she put in there.  Another good take-away where a couple of free online calculators and comparison sites that she mentioned so I'll be looking into that.  But the overall result is that investing is very complicated and I probably should let an expert take care of it for me. She's also going to research resources that discuss what we should expect to pay a financial planner as a basic rule of thumb. She seemed to think it was under 1.5% of the assets they're asked to manage, but she was way off on other things that she discussed so I'll wait to see what resources she recommends.

  • After the seminar, I stopped by the library's circulation desk to ask what teen programs they had in that new "creative lab" that they had opened to much fanfare last summer. I couldn't find any information about it online.  They gave me a flyer that says that the kids can call up and schedule a free 30 minute information/training session on crafting, robotics, 3D printing, vinyl cutting, video editing, and photo editing and then they can use the resources for those in the lab for free.  I'll have to see if my daughter can schedule a session with my youngest son. He's more likely to show some interest if she goes too, I think.

  • I also picked up a brochure that shows some programs they will be holding in the next few weeks. They're having a Couponing Class in April (well, I don't need THAT, lol), a beginning photography session in March which I think I will attend (it's on my list of skills to learn this year!), and a "Coloring for Adults" session in April where they'll provide all the materials.  Honestly, I could be coloring at home if I wanted to but it could be a fun evening outing?  You have to pre-register and I'm tempted.  I think it would be more fun if I had a friend to go with, but my BFF is too busy with her kids and other responsibilities and my other friend... she's busy too and I'm not sure that she'd want to go to the library to color, honestly.  Maybe my daughter will come. She has her own coloring books though. We could go out to dinner right after it.  I'm going to ask her.

  • Then the frustration started: I was hungry since it was lunchtime so I figured I would go to Panera's. Woa, hold on there, don't get excited: I have a $10 voucher for free food there.  However, the parking lot was completely full so I was thwarted.

  • More frustration: I had planned on going to Home Depot to pick up a bulb for the microwave but I forgot to bring the other bulb with me. Arrgh!  I decided to go anyway.  So I found a bulb that I thought would work (interestingly NOT branded G.E.).  I should have just taken the information to take home and also to price at other stores since it was $4 for a single bulb (gulp) but I was stupid and thought that if I got the bulb today it'd be one less thing on my to do list so I went to buy it.  Only, when I pulled up my Paypal app, it wouldn't find Home Depot on it and I needed to select it to produce the code needed to pay with my account.  No matter what I tried, no Home Depot.  The location was enabled and if I changed the zip code, it wouldn't find anything at all.  Grrr. It worked at home! I just tried it again at home and it's not working again.  So at that point I really should have put the bulb back on the shelf but I paid for it with Amex.  Only.... I got home and it wouldn't fit in the socket (which is in an awkward location) and when I tried unscrewing the one bulb that was in the other socket to compare them, that one won't come out at all.  Also, a bunch of weird brown crunchy stuff came out of the empty socket, like dried up chocolate, only I think it might be parts of the socket itself?  So now I have to return the bulb to get a refund, and hope that the one good one doesn't go bad because I don't think I'll be able to replace it without damaging the socket.  I'm going to see if I can use an old reading light and affix it to the bottom of my microwave with a magnet or something so I can have some light over my cook top!  I need to keep on reminding myself that the microwave only cost me $25 so I don't get too frustrated about this!

  • I had planned on going to Aldi to get chicken breasts for $1.49/lb and the new produce deals for the week starting today but when I looked at my Food Expenses for the month this morning, I was already over budget so I scratched Aldi off my errands list.

  • My son had warned me that we were almost out of cat food (already?!?!?! I just bought a 6.6-lb bag 2 weeks ago!) so I had called the vet's office to order a large bag that will come in on Tuesday next week and asked them to set aside a smaller bag for me to pick up today. So I stopped by the vet's and paid $35.50 for the "small" bag of cat food. Hot damn. (side note: I don't think I'm going to get New Kitty's urine tested again, to be honest. She completed her 2 cycles of antibiotics for the UTI, which also seems to have helped with that cat acne problem she was having, and I could use the $50 for the lab test on something else, quite honestly.)

  • Lastly, I stopped by RaceTrac to redeem another survey reward code for a free bag of Macho Cheese chips for my son.  I was still hungry and we didn't have any leftovers at home so I treated myself to a Chicken HabaƱero Tamale.  It was priced at $1.49, which isn't bad.  Well when I went to pay, the station manager asked me whether I had a coupon for the tamale too (it's the freebie of the month with the RaceTrac Insider but I had already redeemed my coupon for it) so I make a puppy face (as much as a middle aged woman can look like a puppy, lol!) and said "no...." so he said I could pay for the chips ($0.99) and he would use the survey reward code to give me the tamale for free which saved me 50 cents.  Woohoo!  Thanks, manager! Also, I got a receipt with which I'll take a survey and earn a freebie.

  • Once I got home, I brewed myself a cup of tea by reusing the tea bag from Greg's breakfast.

  • So my lunch was the chicken tamale, a hard-boiled egg, a slice of Everything French bread, and a Navel orange.  I also had a donut after that.  I had it while updating this post and watching an episode of Law & Order on over the air TV. And then I watched another one. And then another one... Oh my, it's past 6 p.m. now and I haven't done anything!

  • I started a new jar of orange cleaner by putting the orange peels from yesterday and today in a large mason jar and covering them with white vinegar. I will keep on adding peels until it's very full and let it sit for several weeks.

  • My daughter texted me that she was going to gas up the family car in Clermont today, which is cheaper for us. She will charge it to Discover so we'll get 5% back in Rewards and I'll get another receipt to take a RaceTrac survey in exchange for a freebie.

  • I took the survey on my Subway receipt from last night and earned a survey reward code for a free cookie.

  • I took surveys from 2 different RaceTrac receipts and earned 2 more survey reward codes for free bags of chips.

  • I checked the mail and found an offer from the Orlando Sentinel for me to get a year-long Thursday and Sunday subscription for just 1 PENNY.  Then it'll go up to $13 per year.  One penny to get coupon inserts delivered to my driveway?  Yeah, I think I could swing that, I guess.  I'd have to remember to cancel it before the end of the year, but that's easy to do with a reminder on my calendar, although I'll have to call them to cancel and you all know how much I hate calling people, and also they'll try to upsell me so I'm already annoyed just thinking about it. Grrr. So I may save myself a penny. It's crazy, right? I have a month to decide.  I don't have to give a credit card number, just mail them a penny. Not a check, an actual penny.

  • I wasn't making much progress with SB (only halfway to my goal by 5 p.m. so I attempted a survey and qualified.  I earned 50 SB and met my goal. Woo!

  • For dinner I made spaghetti and tuna patties. I served it with slices of the "Everything" French bread from the Walmart bakery clearance rack.  We have leftovers for tomorrow's lunch.

  • Greg got gas for his truck at RaceTrac tonight and charged it to Discover, earning us 5% in Rewards and giving me another receipt with which to earn a freebie via their survey.

  • Greg is having lunch with a friend today.  I received an alert that Greg had charged his lunch to our Amazon Visa (2% back!) and it was a reasonable $12 and change (plus tip, I'm sure). I like getting all the emails for charges over $1 because now I won't miss something because he didn't turn in a receipt.

  • Drove my son to school since the sky had gotten very dark. He had declined a ride but I reminded him that the last 2 times he declined a ride, he got wet before he made it to school. With that reminder, he promptly agreed, lol.

  • I was thinking that my new-to-me G.E. over-the-range microwave wasn't giving much light over my cooktop and realized this morning that there is a bulb on each end but one of them is missing.  I got a G.E. branded appliance bulb from my stash but lo and behold, this G.E. microwave isn't designed for that type of universal appliance bulb. Oh no, it wants a rectangular-shaped bulb. WTF?! My ancient wall oven (that thing has to be 40 years old at least) and my 14-year old fridge take the universal kind of bulb.  So I'll stop by Home Depot to try to find a bulb that fits (and hopefully I can cover the cost with my MobiSave deposits in Paypal!) this morning.

  • Looking at my food expenses total for the month and when I factor in eating out and school lunch, we're over budget... by almost the same amount we were under budget last month so it's a wash for the year so far.  Which isn't good because I was really trying to SAVE money and so far I really haven't, I guess. And the month isn't over yet. So I scratched going to Aldi this morning to load up on the new offers. 

  • I'm listing this as a failure because I think it was an unnecessary expense.  So last night Greg got on his new fandangle scale because he's got it into his mind that he wants to track exactly how much muscle he's building (whatever, some of us are happy with blubber, Greg! It keeps you warm in the winter and you want to move to Montana... blubber is what you need, not muscle, Greg!).  Well, the scale told him that he had more muscle than fat.  Duh, I could have told him that, we didn't need a special scale!  lol.

  • Cooked Greg's breakfast
  • Set the breakfast table for the kids
  • Collected the recycling throughout the house and took it down the curb for collection
  • Ran the dehumidifier in the bathroom
  • Drove my son to school
  • Brought the empty recycling bins back inside the house
  • Called the vet's to order more cat food
  • Attended the Personal Investing Seminar at the library
  • Went to Home Depot to buy a bulb
  • Got a freebie at RaceTrac
  • Brought the recycling bins back home
  • Cooked more hard boiled eggs for Greg's snacks
  • Didn't do much this afternoon: caught up on blog comments and caught up on other people's blogs.
  • Cooked dinner
  • Watched "Snapped" with Greg
  • Watched an episode of "Fargo, Season 2" with Greg and our son

  • Attended a free Personal Investing seminar, which wasn't that interesting, but that provided me with some useful websites that I can use for free to do research on various investments and financial planners.

  • Liquids:
    • 2 cups coffee
    • 1 cup water
    • 1 cup tea
  • Food:
    • Breakfast:
      • 3 muffins
    • Mid Morning Snack:
      • peanut butter crackers
    • Lunch:
      • hard boiled egg, tamale, slice of French bread, navel orange, donut
    • Mid Afternoon Snack:
      • 2 candy bars, 1 slice of bread
    • Dinner:
      • Spaghetti, 2 tuna patties, a slice French bread
    • Evening Snack:
      • Sour Skittles
  • Weight/Exercise: nothing to report.
Did you have any frugal successes or failures today? Please do tell!


  1. Great news about all your kids' accomplishments -- that's pretty exciting. :) Just wanted to let you know that I moved from a Yahoo account to Gmail for anything professional because Yahoo accounts are notorious for the kind of spamming you describe. I've never had any trouble with my Gmail accounts at all.

    The Extension programs can be so hit or miss -- usually the curriculum is very good, but the presenter is not always (or even often) the person who put the curriculum together, so that can be a problem. In fairness to the Extension staff, though, we have a series of programs every year where CPAs and other financial types volunteer to offer programs at the library and other sites around the city, and they are often terrible. I think they have to do so many hours or maybe their firm signs up and they get assigned? Whatever it is, they can really suck.

    Hope you enjoy the coloring night!!

    1. I switched from Yahoo to Gmail several years ago after being a die-hard Yahoo customer for years because their products had already severely deteriorated and I've never had a problem with Gmail either. As a matter of fact, I still use my Yahoo address for most newsletters and things that could create spam and I have my Yahoo Mail permanently forwarded to Gmail. I never get spam in Gmail (only the few several spammy emails the Yahoo filters don't catch) but I get TONS of spam in Yahoo. I think my son is like Greg: they both remain on Yahoo because they've used it for so long and everybody has it as their email addresses. I also think that a gmail address SOUNDS more professional than a Yahoo address, but maybe I'm being a bit snobbish :)

      I agree with you as far as the Extension. It's really a good resource (I had my own short-lived 4H club through them at some point) but it really all depends on the presenter. Maybe she was having an off-day. Also, I really think that the program should have been more in depth and taken longer (maybe turned into a series of presentations to allow deeper exploration) or renamed as a refresher course. I think you're right, the for-profit presenters probably have to do it so their firms get credit for community involvement through their professional organizations. Greg said I got my money's worth, and he's right, of course, lol. Still, she had a couple of good online resources to share, of which I wasn't aware, so I did profit from the seminar anyway. I really need to stop by the library and get their brochure once a month. I dislike the online calendar because if the title of the seminar doesn't grab me, I don't look for more information whereas a brochure grabs me because of the graphics used and I can see the course description right away. I forgot to talk to my daughter about the Coloring for Adults night. She's 17.5 so I think she'd be OK attending. I just texted her so thanks for the reminder, Laura!

  2. A couple of weeks ago I made the comment that you had really nice kids. Well now I know that they are really talented as well. You must be a very proud mom.


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