Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Frugal Failures and Successes: Wednesday 3/2/16


  • Back when the kids were little, they would have "Wonderful Wednesday" at school once a month, whereby one of their periods would become an elective period so the regular teachers could have some planning time.  They did cool things like having activities at the nearby lake, etc. I was reminded of that this morning when I greeted Greg downstairs this morning.  So I declare to be "Wonderful Wednesday"!  What fun activity should I do today?  Oh, I know: let's work on my taxes!  Sigh.... OK, maybe I'll call is "No So Wonderful Wednesday"!

  • I really wasn't feeling well last night right before dinner, like I was getting feverish and sick so Greg made me take a pill... and I took an Advil.  Well I don't know if there is caffeine in Advil but I ended up having enough energy to do the dishes at 10:30 p.m. so yay!  The downside, though, is that then I just couldn't sleep. I was still up at 2:30 a.m. and then I tossed and turned all night. Yes, I did the trick with putting Frasier on my KindleFire, closing the cover and just having the audio on through my earbuds and it did do the trick of letting me fall asleep but it was an uneasy sleep. I think I was unconsciously worried about my daughter taking the SAT this morning. She's in the thick of it now and I hope it's going really well for her. She said she got a 1480 on the practice test she took this past weekend so she's hoping to score a 1500 today.  See? She's optimistic and I'm pessimistic. I'm worried that she will be very disappointed if she doesn't make it all the while admiring her drive, lol. Update:she seems very happy with her performance so that's good. Now we need to wait until May to get the results. She's already scheduled to take it a 2nd time in June, in case she needs to try to improve her results.

  • Speaking of education, I ran across this article on NPR about a book from a university professor who doesn't believe that everyone should be required to do advanced math to graduate. You know what?  I completely agree.  I agree with the premise that it's hindering a lot of people from graduating either from high school or college. It's certainly hindering me from going back to college. I don't consider myself a dummy but I suck at math. I hate it, and I hate everything about it.  I do not have a head for figures.  Arithmetics is my limit.  We readily agree that various people have different abilities in real life that I would think that most people would agree that it is smarter to play to people's strengths, not their weaknesses or deficiencies.  Would you force a blind person to drive a bus because we're facing a critical shortage of school bus drivers?  Of course not. And yes, you can have a productive life without advanced math.  How did I graduate high school if I was so bad?  In France we had "majors" in high school.  I chose the Foreign Languages/Humanities track whereby I had 8 hours of philosophy classes per week, 30 hours of foreign languages a week (you had to be studying 3 foreign languages at once and mine were English, Spanish and Latin), 10 hours of French, some history/geography and 1 hour of math a week.  I graduated with some honors, went to college, got my 2 year degree, interviewed for and was selected to spend a year studying in an American university for free, and would have gone on to earn my 4 year degree had I not fallen in love with an American and gotten married.  Hence I worked my way up at Walt Disney World to the title of Executive Secretary and I earned over $40,000 a year with excellent benefits by the time I was laid off 11 years ago. Was that a lot?  Well, for someone with just a 2-year degree and basically minimal math education, it was.  Did I ever have to use advanced math?  Nope.  Do I have to use advanced math now?  Nope.  I'm not trying to dumb down the curriculum, I'm saying stop trying to fit square pegs into round holes and then despairing that kids aren't graduating!  STEM careers aren't the only alternatives out there nor should they be.  Instead of promoting math, you're making kids hate it and I don't see how it's making the USA more competitive on the job market.  And if it's true that we have a glut of engineers that can't find jobs because companies would rather hire low-wage workers from overseas (and are allowed to do this with our current rules, ugh), then I fear for my daughter's future (assuming that she does become a computer engineer or something akin to it).

  • My middle son said that he would come with me to the Flight of the Conchords concert if I manage to get tickets this morning so I have my computer ready to go.  I'm not quite sure how I can access the American Express presale area on TicketMaster although I did print out instructions last night that included screen shots but my screen doesn't look like what they have on there so we'll see... the tickets go on sale at 10 a.m.  Greg thinks it's a waste of money. Well, dear, I think your hunting squirrels and playing video games is a waste of money but you don't hear me nagging you about it :)  And spending time having fun with one of my kids is never a waste of money.

  • I spoke with my oldest son on his way to his concert in Orlando tonight. Last night's concert in Clearwater went very well. He's going to get paid for all 3 concerts tonight and they will also give him some money for the gas he used by driving to Sarasota and Clearwater and back.  Oh yes, not only did he get great exposure by playing with Josh Groban, but he also made some money.  Yay!  He said he asked the booking agent if there was any chance of getting tickets for a family member but was told no :(  Tonight's concert is in a much larger auditorium (5 levels) in a brand new facility where he has played before so he feels good about it. He's going to try to get a photo with Josh Groban too :)

  • Single tasks accomplished today:
    • Reaching out to someone: texted my oldest sons
    • Household chore: swept the kitchen
    • Investing: 
    • Tax-related: 
    • General finances: recorded receipts in my spreadsheets
    • Saving money:  printed coupons
    • Gardening: I want to go outside to check on my thyme seeds and also to plant some spinach and lettuce seeds,but allergy levels are at their highest today and my eyes are already bothering me just by staying indoors so I'm not sure that it would be wise to go outside. I should have thought about all that oak pollen floating around (my car is covered in it!) before I decided to dry my laundry outdoors yesterday, darn it. I'm not used to suffering from allergies.
    • Health: 
    • Cooking: baked cookies
    • Indulging myself: bought tickets to Flight of the Conchords concert. So there. Oh and I just realized that it's Wednesday so Law & Order is playing on OTA TV all day. Woohoo!

  • Greg took leftovers for lunch.

  • The kids packed their lunches to take to school.  My daughter used her new lunch bag, yay!

  • Swagbucks is really annoying me and I'm seriously considering dropping out.  "What?! Why would you give up the free gift cards?!",  I can hear some people wonder. Well it's like this: 
    1. it takes a lot of my time and I could be doing other things. 
    2. they apparently changed the layout of the whole site over the last couple of days and made it specifically for portable devices.  Those of us using laptops or desktops don't matter.  The Coupons page is horrible because 1/3 of the page has disappeared and if you don't have a touch screen to scroll to the right to access the coupons on that side of the page and the print button, you're almost screwed (yes, you can scroll with your mouse and right arrow but what a waste of time compared to just having it laid out properly on the screen!). Meanwhile, you get huge amounts of blank space on each margin. Ugh.
    3. they keep on making it harder to reach the 1st daily goal. First, I get what I consider to be high goals.  90 SB+ every day. It gets tiresome.  Then their surveys almost never credit properly so I have to waste more time and resources taking screenshots of everything "just in case", and emailing Customer Service. Now, they don't even have Ngage available in the morning, which is what I run all day, usually. I don't even know if it'll be available later on today but I know something for sure: I'm tired of spending all day on Swagbucks. 
    4. so last night I emailed Customer Service about the Coupons page (before realizing that the whole site was like that now, although the other pages don't affect me as much as the Coupons page) and if their answer is what I suspect it's going to be which is "tough luck, that's the way the cookie crumbles", then I'm going to quit once I get the gift card that I should be able to order today hopefully.  I might regret my decision and come back because I'm a little addicted to the gift cards, but when I think of the freedom to not click on some green button every 20 to 40 seconds like a Pavlov creature and the lack of stress over "OMZ I need to get 90+ SB today no matter what!", I'm at peace with it. Even if that means foregoing $600 to $900 a year in gift cards for my groceries - she says between clenched teeth and while her eyes twitching!  If you haven't started Swagbucks yet, don't.  Quitting it is like going on a diet, something that I never seem to be able to do successfully!

  • Bing Rewards, on the other hand, is easy.  I don't foresee stopping that.

  • Hey!  Apparently there's a  Little Free Library downtown Clermont!  I was there yesterday, I wish I had known this because I would have checked it out :)  Years ago the Clermont library was located downtown and it was awesome. My kids attended one of the elementary schools nearby so after I picked them up from school, we'd go to Cooper Memorial Library to borrow books, read the newspaper, etc.  Our own library is only 1 mile away from our house, but Cooper Memorial always had way more resources.  Then they built the Lake Sumter Community College extension on the East side of town and built a new and much larger Cooper Memorial Library next to it. While I think it's a great resource because it serves as a public library and a college library, I really wish they had kept a library branch downtown too.  So having a Little Free Library doesn't replace that but hey, it's something!  Do you know of a Little Free Library near you?

  • The RaceTrac Insider freebie of the month is a free can of energy drink. Groan.  You know I'll still get it and drink it, though, right? Because if I'm gonna quit Swagbucks, I need all the freebies I can get, lol.

  • I checked the new online ads for Aldi and Save A Lot and started a new shopping list for next week. Aldi is having the 4-lb bags of navel oranges for $1.99 again, yay!  This week they were $3.29 at my Aldi so I didn't buy any.  They're also having 3-lb bags of clementines for $2.49, 1 lb of Roma tomatoes for $0.89, avocados for $0.49, and corned beef tips for $2.99/lb (they'll probably be out of that by the time I go back to Aldi, though).  Save A Lot is offering cantaloupes for $0.99 each (limit of 2), $0.49/lb chicken drumsticks or thighs (I have plenty so I won't be buying that), Domino's sugar for $1.79 per 4-lb bag (I think I printed a coupon for that), 10 lbs of Idaho potatoes for $2.49, 8 oz mushrooms for $0.99, among other offers. Most of those things were added to my list.

  • As my son left for school I asked if he wanted me to make him cookies for his snack today. He said yes so we agreed I'd make Waffle Iron Cookies. They're easy to make and delicious.  So I guess I'm having cookies for lunch (not! or... am I?!).

  • We have shredded pork left over from last night.  I can't remember if I had mentioned it but it was a huge roast and I only added 1/2 a bottle of Smoky BBQ sauce to it and then added water to the bottle, shook it to get the rest of the sauce and added that to the crockpot. So it has a little bit of BBQ flavor but not much.  I'm thinking I'll make shredded pork quesadillas for dinner tonight and serve a mixed can of black beans and corn as a side, with some steamed broccoli.  Well, dinner is planned. Yay!  I need to work on a menu for the rest of the week. 5 minutes later... done! Well, that was easy!

  • I defrosted a chicken breast that I'll cook later on today because my daughter likes having grilled chicken strips for her lunches.  In looking for it, I was annoyed at the large bag of "hard rolls" that I had bought on clearance from the Walmart bakery recently because it takes a lot of space.  I think they were mislabeled because they're pretty large round rolls that are not hard (when they're not frozen). I think I'll use some of them as bread bowls next week and I'll make the Slow-Cooker Three Cheese Broccoli Soup from a recipe that Betty Crocker emailed me last week.

  • My son finished a box of cereal this morning so I recycled it, rinsed and dried the inner bag so I can reuse it, and clipped the Boxtop label to turn it in to a school at some point (not in this particular order!).

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

  • I still had some of the egg/milk mixture from my daughter's breakfast this morning so I cooked myself a couple slices of French toast as a mid-morning snack (I knew I would do that so I had a small cup of granola for breakfast earlier today). I sliced a couple of strawberries on top of it.

  • I was out of minced garlic but wanted to use the jarred garlic cloves that I had bought in desperation at Dollar Tree when they were out of diced garlic for so much weeks.  I used my mini food chopper to mince it in a pinch and put it back into its jar, stored in the fridge, for future use.  I have to admit, though, that it doesn't smell like garlic at all (it was packed in brine) so I'm not sure this will be useful in cooking...

  • I reused water collected after boiling eggs last week to water my indoor plants.

  • UPS delivered the trapper keeper from Staples that was supposed to come in yesterday.  I put the empty box on the ground and it took all but 10 seconds for my male cat to jump off his perch and into the box.  Free cat entertainment. He thinks he's a WWII pilot.

  • I printed a bunch of coupons from my son's desktop computer.  I don't have the problem with the Swagbucks coupons being truncated on his PC.  Uh.

  • I also uploaded new digital coupons to my Publix digital wallet.

  • I cut 4 of the 2-lb chubs of ground beef that I bought on clearance yesterday into 8 1-lb chubs and reused 8 cereal bags to freeze them.  I swear, my chest freezer is miraculous...  even when I think there is no way I'm going to fit anything else in there, I end up fitting a bunch of stuff in there. The problem is going to be the next time that I need to get something out because nothing will fit properly again!  As my daughter said "it's like the best jigsaw puzzle in there!".  Yes, it is.

  • For my lunch I heated up some rice and pulled pork leftovers that I had set aside for myself and I had a navel orange.  Oh and I had some bread with White Stilton with Apricots cheese.

  • A 15 SB Search award put me over 2,200 SB so I ordered a $25 Walmart gift card.  I guess I'm gonna have to wait to quit since I have the February bonuses due to hit my account in a few days... would be a shame to have done all that work for nothing. 

  • Update: the February bonuses became available this afternoon (don't forget that you have to claim yours or you'll lose them!) and I earned 647 SB.

  • I had forgotten that ordering a gift card would trigger the 100 SB Birthday Bash Swag-Up that I had earned last week... yay.

  • I unlocked new Ibotta offers.

  • I attached a penny to the Orlando Sentinel's subscription form and mailed it. I should get the Thursday and Sunday paper for a year and I've resigned myself to calling them in a year to cancel the subscription.

  • I took 2 RaceTrac surveys and earned 2 new Survey Reward Codes for free bags of TasteWorks chips.

  • I entered 3 KFR codes into my Kellogg's Family Rewards account and earned 240 KFR points.

  • I made Waffle Iron Cookies and used a stick of margarine instead of butter. The cookies are still delicious :)  I saved the wrapper by freezing it so I can reuse it to grease a baking pan in the future.

  • I signed up both of our Discover cards for the 5% Bonus Rewards offer for April - June (5% off movies and restaurants) since the "activate" button came on line today. If you got an email to activate it without signing in, beware. I did that and it did NOT work for me. When I signed in to my account, the offer was NOT activated so I did it manually.

  • For dinner I made quesadillas by using 8 small tortillas, some of the shredded pork leftover from last night, and some shredded cheese. I mixed a can of black beans and a can of corn for the side dish (I decided not to make the broccoli tonight so I have plenty for the soup I want to make next week).  It was plentiful and I was able to save a portion for Greg's lunch tomorrow and I'll even have a little bit of meat left over for my own lunch.

  • Greg downloaded a free e-book to his Kindle.

  • 2 tickets to the Flight of the Conchords concert in St Augustine.  Yes, I did get them with the American Express presale thingie.  Woohoo!  TicketMaster piles on the charges though, so even though the tickets I picked was the $55 tickets (in the pit, that might have been a mistake?), my total was $131.20. Gulp. Oh well, I'll only live once, right?  The last time I was in a pit during a concert, I was 19 and it was at a U2 concert in... I want to say Daytona Beach. Or maybe Jacksonville. I don't recall, actually. But I had camped overnight to get the tickets so I'm glad I didn't have to do this this time around.  I had to charge them to Amex so I'll earn 1% back in Rewards.

  • I don't think we had any failures today!

  • Made French toast for my daughter's breakfast
  • Cooked breakfast for Greg
  • Set the breakfast table for the kids
  • Packed Greg's lunch
  • Swept the kitchen and "mopped" several icky spots on the tiled floor
  • Took the recycling bin down to the curb for collection and brought it back later on
  • Designed a dinner menu for the rest of the week
  • Bought concert tickets online
  • Printed coupons and uploaded digital coupons
  • Made our bed
  • Clipped all coupons
  • Mailed Orlando Sentinel subscription form
  • Recorded receipts in my spreadsheets
  • Recorded events in my calendar
  • Bake cookies for our snack
  • Updated the Kitchen Wall Family Calendar
  • Cooked dinner
  • Made tea for Greg

  • I don't really know. I need to look over my goals again so i can see if I'm making any progress in any area!

  • Liquids:
    • 2 cups coffee
    • 1 cup tea
    • 1 cup water
    • 1 cup decaf coffee
  • Food:
    • Breakfast:
      • small bowl of granola, whole milk
    • Mid Morning Snack:
      • 2 slices French toast with 2 strawberries and light syrup
    • Lunch:
      • rice and shredded pork, 2 slices bread and Stilton cheese, 1 navel orange
    • Mid Afternoon Snack:
      • several waffle iron cookies, 4 mandarins
    • Dinner:
      • shredded pork quesadilla, corn & black beans
    • Evening Snack:
      • banana
Did you have any frugal successes or failures today? Please do tell!


  1. So we were graced with TWO rants this morning. How exciting! I love hearing your rants. Firstly, the one against Swagbucks.....I have heard this one before and I am sure I will hear it again. I cannot see you stopping SB cold turkey. It won't happen, but I will listen to you rail against them.
    Then there was the rant against the higher maths pre-requisite, and I am completely in agreement with you on that one. Some people, like yours truly, could barely add 2+2 without experiencing a panic attack. Without higher maths, I could not get a Science degree. So I took Humanities and Social Sciences to get my BA and BEd degrees. Because I could not do math, it turned out that Math was my strongest teaching subject. Easy enough to explain though. I took baby steps and assumed all my students had problems with math, so I taught it like I would have wanted to be taught. But I totally agree with you. Students should be allowed to follow their own strengths and talents.

    As usual, you accomplished a lot again today in the planning and organizing department. You have next week's menu and shopping list already made up? Coupons are cut and filed. Way to go. Homemade broccoli soup in bread bowls? Yes please.

    1. I had to re-read my post to see if I had lied and said I had filed the coupons... because I had thought of doing just that but then I didn't. I need to do that tonight.

      You make me laugh, thanks for this! I'll bet you were a GREAT math teacher precisely, as you said, because you had had such a terrible time learning it yourself. Alas, I wasn't. I homeschooled my youngest until he was in 3rd grade without any problems but I always knew that even if we went on homeschooling, I'd have to farm out the math part of it to someone else. What grade(s) did you teach, Susan?

  2. I only taught for four years in Elementary School, and always had grade three. Sometimes it was a split 2-3 or a split 3-4, but always grade three. I loved that age group. When we moved to the Kingston area, and after my kids were in school, I became a substitute teacher. I hated that. I remember once teaching a grade eight class in the morning in one school, and having a Kindergarten class in the afternoon of the same day, at an entirely different school in our county. When I was asked to work temporarily at the University Library, I jumped at the chance. And the rest, as they say, was history.


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