Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Frugal Failures and Successes: Tuesday 3/8/26


  • Another lovely, sunny, high-pollen count day in store for us in Central Florida today!  Unfortunately it's the day I've decided to go grocery shopping. I'd much rather stay home. Susan had surmised, due to my large shopping trip last week, that I might not need to go grocery shopping at all this week, but my shopping list is ready and somehow I still show that I'll spend about $50 and that's even after using a gift card at Walmart.  Ugh.  I looked at my list and aside from 2 items I need to restock my pantry (sugar, oil), most everything else I'll be buying is produce (fruit, actually).

  • Greg and I reviewed the taxes last night.  I just gave him the broad strokes, which took less an a minute and then he looked at me and joked "and THAT took you 2 days to figure out?!?"  Grrr.  Anyhoo, I had forgotten to prepare the "real" forms so I need to do that today and then get him to sign them. No I haven't looked at amending our 2014 taxes yet.  

  • Single tasks accomplished today:
    • Reaching out to someone:  emailed several customer service departments re: my apps that weren't working properly
    • Household chore:  took the laundry off the laundry racks
    • Investing: 
    • Tax-related: filled out final copy of tax return and got Greg to sign it
    • General finances: input receipts in my spreadsheets
    • Saving money:  I used a gift card, coupons and rebate apps to save on my groceries and toiletries
    • Gardening: I bought more thyme seeds
    • Health: Got on the scale again: 1.2 lbs lighter than yesterday but still way over where I should be. WAY OVER.
    • Cooking: baked the pizza for dinner
    • Indulging myself: I bought myself a bag of Haribo Gold Bears and a cookbook I had really wanted :)

  • Packed leftovers for Greg's lunch.

  • The kids packed their lunches to take to school today.

  • My daughter won't be going to the gym today so that'll save us some money on gas.

  • Laugh with me: Swagbucks gave me a 1st goal of (drumroll...) 120 SB.  They.are.insane.  I'm not playing that game anymore.  I earned a little above 50 SB yesterday, mostly thanks to SBTV and other apps that can run on my phone without me doing anything.  At this rate it'll take me forever to get another gift card.  My expression of the day is "Oh well".

  • Bing Rewards: completed activities and I'm at 65% of my goal.

  • I checked Ibotta and unlocked a new offer.

  • I saved another mesh bag, this time from the mandarins, to make a pot scrubber. It might be time to stop saving those for a while because now I feel like a hoarder: I have so many of them and my homemade pot scrubber is lasting me forever. I started making those in the Fall of 2014 and I'm only on my 2nd one!

  • I renewed a library book that was due via my library's online account, thus avoiding late fees.  I will return the other 2 books that are due today.

  • I collected water in the shower and used it to flush the toilet.

  • I poured my coffee in a travel mug and brought it along with some peanut butter crackers when I went shopping.

  • As usual, I batched my errands when I went shopping and planned my route so I would waste the least amount of gas. Here is what I did:
    • RaceTrac #1: I redeemed a survey reward code for a free bag of Macho Cheese chips (for my 14 year old).

    • Save A Lot: they were out of everything that had been advertised and that I was planning on buying!  So I didn't get any potatoes, cantaloupe or portabella mushrooms.  The bananas had gone up in price so I decided to get them from Walmart.  They did have the Domino's sugar for $1.99 a bag BUT... my $0.75/2 coupon was sitting on the living room table because I forgot to file it in my organizer.  Arrgh.  I did buy the ginger ale that I needed but it's gone up $0.21!  I also spotted a 2-pack of hand sanitizer when I was at the register, which reminded me that I meant to buy some so clean my hands after touching the handles of the shopping carts.  It was only $0.99.  I charged my $3.67 OOP to my Amazon Visa card and I should get 2% back in Rewards.
oops, it's empty because I put one in my purse and the other in my SUV.
    • RaceTrac #2: I added gas to my tank at $1.78/gallon (I read that gas has gone up because the refineries have switched to "summer gas" and it's more expensive.  What a load of crap, if you ask me!).  I redeemed a survey reward code for another bag of chips for my 14-year old and the RaceTrac Insider monthly freebie coupon for a can of Left Hook energy drink.  That one I'll keep for myself as I don't think teens should be drinking that.  The cashier was very nice and gave me a receipt for each (free) item (I didn't ask him to!) so I left the station with 3 receipts... which means 3 more freebies. Yay!

    • I was going to stop by Staples only to turn in an empty ink cartridge but then I decided  I might as well buy some color ink since, despite saying last week that I didn't need any, I realized that I didn't have any spare cartridges for a couple of colors.  However, they were completely out of the packs that I wanted to buy, so I ended up only turning in the depleted cartridge, which will earn me $2.00 in Rewards.  In the parking lot, I spotted a large paperclip... how appropriate for an office supply parking lot, eh?  Well, yes, I did pick it up and brought it home!

    • I drove to Kohl's.  Once again, I had free money to spend there and no clue of what to get!  They had sent me a $5 promotional gift voucher and I had the two $10 "Kohl's Cash" offers on my app that came from the Discover Deal offers that were worded as being $10 off $30 (but once scanned into my app, they became $20 in Kohl's cash for me to use as I pleased!). So I had a total of $25 to spend and a 30% discount code.  I thought I might get some kitchen gadget for my daughter for when she finally lives on her own since I really didn't need anything but then I came across a display for the Crockpot-branded cookbooks.  I had wanted the "Dump Meals" cookbook for several months and they had it.  I grabbed it, along with the "Quick & Easy Dump Dinners" cookbook and went to check the price: they were both on sale for $9.99 each. Yay!  I know, I know, I don't need any more cookbooks but lalalalalalala, I can't hear you! 

    • Then I headed to the clearance section and found a bunch of Valentine's Day-themed kitchen towels.  I know I bought some recently but I can always use new kitchen towels so I got a 2-pack marked down to $5.49.  
I like that they're not overly V-day themed so I can use them
every day
    • My OOP ended up being $0.00!!!  There was $0.55 left on the $5.00 promotional gift (I thought it was a coupon but it was considered a Kohl's Cash voucher too) but it expired tomorrow so I told the cashier not to bother with it.  I love it that for once, I didn't have to pay anything to use my free vouchers!

    • Next stop was Walmart. I got one of those squeaky carts (arrgh) and first headed to the toiletries section.  I bought some Dial soap and resisted buying hand soap because even though it would have been just $.58 after MobiSave rebate, I can make it for free with the supplies that I already have at home.  I also wanted a new toothbrush but guess who had forgotten to pack the $0.75 coupon for an Oral-B toothbrush in her organizer?  Ugh. Sometimes I'm frugal but a lot of times I'm just cheap... and so I decided to take my chance on a 6-pack of generic toothbrushes that sold for just $1.00 (so half the price of what I had spent at the Dollar Tree for toothbrushes a couple of weeks ago!).  I don't have much hope but 6 brushes for $1 as opposed to $2+ for 1 toothbrush... I couldn't resist!  I had $1.00 coupons for the Dial bar soap and I paid for the $5.43 OOP with my Amex (not sure if it's coded as a grocery store or not so I might get 3% in Rewards or just 1%!). I got $0.30 back from MobiSave.

    • For the groceries portion of the Walmart shopping trip, I had the cashier price match the Publix ad to get 2 rolls of Pillsbury crescent dough for just $1.00 each. I used a $1.00/2 manufacturer coupon too and I should get $1.00 back from SavingStar, making them free.  I was going to buy frozen spinach for my meatloaf but decided to get a can of no salt added leaf spinach instead since I didn't have room in my freezers anyway. Nutella was on sale and I had (2) $1.50/1 coupons so I bought a couple of jars for the kids. I bought French bread from the bakery clearance rack for just $0.50 and a loaf of wheat bread for $1.12.  I chose a smaller jar of Better Than Bouillon chicken base instead of a larger jar from a different brand since it had less sodium and I had a $0.75 coupon, bought some mini marshmallows because I want to make rice krispies for the kids, and also bought bananas, apple juice and vegetable oil. My OOP was $17.13 and since I paid with a Swagbucks gift card, it was completely FREE to me!

    • On my way out, I stopped by Auntie Anne's and redeemed a BOGO offer on my app to get (2) cinnamon pretzels that I gave to the kids for their afternoon snack.  My OOP was $3.18 and I charged it to my Amazon Visa to get 2% back in Rewards.

    • The Murphy USA gas station is located right in front of Walmart so I stopped there to redeem one of the monthly freebie coupons for a can of Classic Murphy soda (I picked the cherry limeade version).

    • Next on the list of stops was Aldi.  This is where I did most of my shopping. Since I had been frustrated not to find anything on sale at Save A Lot, I made up for it at Aldi.  I also added some items that I had forgotten to put on my list so I will be over my $50 goal for the week. Oh well. My OOP included about $13.00 in toilet paper and trash bags and was $62.98.  I charged it to my Amex so I'll earn 3% back in Rewards.  Woohoo! 

    • I drove across the street to Dollar Tree.  I wanted to get more thyme seeds and some clothes pins and I found both.  I spent $3.14 and charged it to Amex (1% in Rewards, I think).
I hope those pins aren't too flimsy, we'll see.   I'm going to start the thyme seeds indoors, this time.
    • While I was browsing, I saw that they had Ortega-branded packages of 12 flour tortillas for $1.00. I had left my coupon organizer in the car so when I went back to drop off the seeds and clothes pins, I looked through it and found a coupon for $1.00 off 3 Ortega products.  I had just bought a 20-ct package of tortillas at Aldi for $1.99 but this was a better deal!  So I went back inside and bought 3 packages (so 36 tortillas) and paid just $2.00.  I'll store them in the fridge and we'll have lots of quesadillas and tacos over the next couple of weeks!

    • My last stop was the library. I dropped off the 2 books that were due and a magazine in the donation pile.  However, from the donation pile, I received:
      • 3 copies of Taste of Home (for me)

      • 2 copies of Men's Health (for Greg)

      • and a couple of coupon inserts.

    • and despite my best intentions of not checking out another book until I finished the one that I have at home, and my prior pledge to never read another Patricia Cornwell book again!), I checked out the latest book by Patricia Cornwell.
I hope it's interesting enough for me to read the
whole thing!
  • Back home, I put everything away and brewed myself a cup of black tea by reusing the teabag from Greg's breakfast.

  • For lunch I had a ham sandwich on some of the French bread bought on clearance, some potato salad from Publix (part of our Saturday night dinner splurge), some string cheese and a delicious navel orange from Aldi.

  • Then I had a hellacious time trying to submit my rebates to the various apps.  MobiSave and SavingStar were particularly problematic. Thankfully, MobiSave did end up working and refunded me the money they owed me.  I just hope that SavingStar will refund me too. I hate the new SavingStar app interface, it's horrible. They took an app that was easy to use, had a good layout and was intuitive, and turned it into something that is the complete opposite of all of that and takes much longer to use without providing any confidence that everything has been submitted as it should.  Then they take "5 to 10 business days" to reply to inquiries.  It's bad customer service all around.
  • And Ibotta refunded me the $0.50 that I had claimed.
  • I submitted both my Walmart receipts to their SavingsCatcher, just in case. 

  • For dinner we had the extra large Five Cheese pizza from Aldi.  We all really love it, and I love that, by choosing the cheese pizza, I'm able to customize each slice according to everyone's preference. My daughter just likes it plain, my son and I like ham and pineapple, and tonight Greg had ham and pepperoni on his.  I was supposed to make a side salad with it, according to my menu, but I didn't bother with it and no one missed it.

  • And now, to tease my northern friends who are still experiencing snow, some pictures of the garden:

How hot is it in Central Florida right now?  Well, the broccoli went directly from plant that didn't
produce any broccoli this winter to plants that are going to seed!

I'd better harvest this one before it's too late. I am making broccoli soup later on this week, after all. The problem is... it's only about 1/2 an inch across!

I had an hibiscus flower blooming today! This is from the cutting that I took of our neighbor's
huge hibiscus bush a couple of years ago.
The one vinca plant that keeps reseeding itself has one pretty bright pink flower.  The original mother plant had been a $0.25 clearance plant from Lowe's 3-4 years ago, I think.
I harvested a Roma tomato from a completely bedraggled tomato plant.
The lettuce that had reseeded

I never harvested the serrano peppers (I just liked the pop of color in the backyard when nothing was blooming, it was like a little Christmas tree!) and now they're all dried up and going bad. Oh well.  I wonder if the plant will reseed itself if I let the peppers fall into the bin.

This was a "guest" radish that grew over the winter in one of the tomato bins.  Last week it was puny and now it's split:(

  • I bought myself a small bag of gummy bears and I bought pretzels from Auntie Anne's for the kids (although I used a BOGO coupon for that).

  • I didn't get the taxes on the final paperwork last night, which means that Greg didn't sign the return, which means that I can't mail it today, which means that I'll have to drive to the post office tomorrow morning to mail it, which is a waste of gas when I could have just stopped there today on my way to the library.  Oh well.

  • I was too tired to sort and file my new coupons in my organizer last night, which means that I'll probably be in a store today cursing that I know that I have a coupon for such and such but that it's on the coffee table.  Again: oh well.  I don't know that is wrong with me these days but I'm not motivated to do anything.  I'm not feeling depressed, just... tired. Update:  Yep, that's exactly what happened!  I was cursing that I didn't sort my coupons or at least made sure that I had the coupons that I knew I needed, as I just assumed that somehow they had magically gotten into my organizer! Argh.

  • Cooked breakfast for Greg
  • Packed his lunch
  • Set the breakfast table for the kids
  • Collected trash throughout the house and took it down to the curb for collection
  • Took the yard waste down to the curb for collection
  • Ran errands/Went grocery shopping
  • Submitted receipts for rebates
  • I tried training the cats on how to fold the laundry... it didn't work.
Here, New Kitty is trying to fold a cloth napkin and studying
the best way to fold Greg's undies. Needless to say, not much
actual folding happened.  I think she's confused between folding and ironing.
  • Took down the laundry from the laundry racks
  • Cooked dinner
  • Filled out final tax papers and obtained Greg's signature

  • Tracked our food expenses.
Did you have any frugal successes or failures today? Please do tell!


  1. Yay for the free gifts from Kohl's. Are you feeling guilty? Love the towels. The crock pot dump meals cook books were free. You wanted them and they will save time (which is worth money), so by all means...go for it. Some of us may benefit from the recipes you will share. Thank you for taking one for the team.

    And yay for free groceries, or almost free. I am looking at 36 Ortega tortillas for $2. Why WOULD you make them at that price? As usual, you did great with sales, price matching, coupons, gift cards and rebates. A little bit of everything.

    So the cats won't earn their keep by helping out with the laundry? They maybe figure they can get by with their good looks and overall cuteness. And they are probably right because it has worked so far for them. You can keep trying but they are excellent at expressing helplessness and adorability. (That's a word. People understand its meaning)

    Notice that I have neglected to comment on your garden photos. I know my short summer season will start someday in May (hopefully) I will be able to post some garden photos as well. In the meantime, I will enjoy the crisp temperatures and the lovely white stuff that is melting all around us. (It is actually quite dirty and disgusting) Some sunshine would be nice. OH WELL.

    1. Dear Susan, you are so witty! I so enjoy reading your comments. Thanks for all the thoughtfulness and humor that goes into them. I chuckled at your "OH WELL." And adorability should be a word if it isn't. I'll have to remember it!

      I can't wait to see pictures of your garden again. You had gorgeous flowers last year!

  2. Yeah that you got MobiSave to work. I used it the other day and got the money immediately. I got your email but you answered your email before I could even respond. I was amazed by your Kohl's haul. We went when I got something for my birthday and my son picked out some Minecraft toy which still cost me a lot of money but at least he enjoyed the splurge. I turned in a saving star receipt so I was a little worried but I checked and I got it. Hope yours is processed too. I did it all on the phone so hopefully yours will work too. I know that when I took all the pictures that it didn't show right away but it shows processed now and it is in my account!! I barely ever do a receipt so that was only my third one :)

    Sadly I was laughing at the coupon thing because I didn't go to the store last week because I hadn't printed the coupons so I went home to print them. Went to the store the next day and the coupons were sitting next to the computer. I was so irritated that I didn't go on the day the easier because I had to print coupons that I didn't even use!!!!! AHHH!!!!!! Love our life :) But I couldn't buy items without some coupons but I still got a lot of things with the coupons that I had. Just like you :)

    1. Yes, eventually everything worked and I did get the money (and more than I expected) from SavingStar today but it took me about an hour to get my receipts submitted and I still wasn't sure they had been submitted properly. It used to take me 10 minutes tops before so I was very annoyed by all the wasted time.

      I can't believe that you forgot your coupons at home too! Everytime it happens I swear that the next time I WILL put the coupons away as soon as I clip them, NO MATTER HOW TIRED I am, but you know what? Tonight they're still sitting there and I haven't put them away, lol. But I know that I'm not going shopping again until Tuesday so I have time... I was wondering if you had made it to the last Super Doubles event at your store, I hope that you'll let us know what you scored!

  3. Hey Nathalie! I had tried leaving a comment this morning on your post but for some reason I don't think it took, so I'm sorry if this is a repeat of my earlier one.
    I really like your garden pictures! :)
    I've been hearing and seeing a lot lately about "Dump Meals" so I am intrigued by the cookbooks you bought. Please let us know if you find any good recipes in them! :)
    Pretty kitchen towels! I'd use them year round.... just because they are so cute! :)

    1. Hi Dawn! No, I didn't get another comment from you, Blogger must be giving you problems. Sorry about that! I just flipped through both cooking books and commented on tonight's post that I'm really stoked about the Crockpot Dump Meals cookbook because all the recipes sound pretty good to me... and super easy since they each only use about 5 ingredients. I want to try them all! It's a lot of chicken recipes but we love chicken so I don't think it would be a problem. I just love that I could possibly use the crockpot for most of our meals, since I have more energy in the morning to get it all set up (I usually have to drag myself to the kitchen to cook while Greg drives home!) AND it would be much fewer dishes to wash too! The only problem with my plan is that I would need to make sure to wash the insert every day. I'm so allergic to doing the dishes that I'm dreaming of finding a spare crockpot insert at the thrift store, hahaha.

      The Quick & Easy Dump Dinners cookbook is a larger collection of recipes to be cooked in the oven or on the stove (so not in the crockpot). The appeal is that they use few ingredients and that the author has included her favorite time saver methods (for instance pre-cooking various meats and freezing them so she can them "dump" them with other ingredients when she gets ready to cook dinner), as well as recipes for such things as onion soup mix, etc. None of this is news to me, but I do like that everything is contained in ONE recipe book. I just wish that one had more photos. I will share any recipes that I try from either book. After all, they're not dishes that I've never heard of that she'd thought up, but rather regular, crowd-pleasing fare that she's simplified by using various mixes or canned soups to limit the list of ingredients. None of those are particularly healthy, though, and I wonder about the sodium content of all the dishes, but I'll probably substitute my own ingredients and just use her combinations as inspiration.


Anything you'd like to add? Share away!