Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Frugal Failures and Successes: Wednesday 3/9/16




HAPPENINGS AROUND HERE TODAY:

  • I don't know about you but I'm not looking forward to losing an hour of sleep starting on Sunday morning since it seems that I wake up already tired every morning lately. No, I don't have sleep apnea.  I just think that premenopause crap and the fact that I'm out of shape is all resulting in poor quality of sleep.  I need to get back on the bike to I'm actually physically tired and not just mentally tired, you know?

  • So you know what?  My day just opened up because the dermatologist's office called to reschedule today's appointment.  Not that I ever have any excuses to not get on the bike, but since I was planning on not being here for an hour or more this afternoon, I guess now I really don't have an excuse.  I need to use that hour to get on the bike.  Groan. Oh and hey, there should be several episodes of "Finding Your Roots" on the PBS app that I haven't seen so now I really don't have an excuse times two.  Double groan.  Let's end the suspense now: NO, I didn't get on the bike. Figuring out what to do with our 2014 Tax Return took me way longer than I thought it would (plus, I forgot I had said I might get on the bike anyway, lol!)

  • Lifehacker today has a very good article on how Couponing and Deal Hunting Actually Make You Spend More Money.  In the past those types of articles really irked me because I used to think that I was very frugal since I saved a lot of money with coupons and I drove all over the place to get deals.  I have come to my senses since and I now fully agree with the author. Note that she's not against using coupons but she urges us to do it lucidly.  I only need to remind myself that I spent a good 2 minutes talking myself out of buying a bottle of liquid hand soap at Walmart yesterday.  I didn't need it and I make my own with supplies that I bought years ago.  However, there was a 30 or 40 cent MobiSave rebate (I can't remember which!) and the Walmart brand was only $0.88 a bottle so it sounded like a great deal.  Well, it's not a great deal if you're spending money you weren't planning on spending, on something that you don't need in the first place, right?  So yeah, if you're not self-aware and vigilant, it's easy to fall in the "I would have saved more but I ran out" frame of mind.  Do you find yourself buying items that you don't need, all things considered, because you had a coupon or something was on sale?  I think we all do that from time to time and it's OK if you have the money but if you're in debt and if you do that over and over again, it's time to make a change and put down the coupons!

  • GRRR: the folks that collect the recycling just drove down my street, emptied my bin... and now the street is strewn with trash.  I tried taking a picture but I'm still in my PJs so I didn't get too close and so my photo only captures part of the trash that's there.  I called the collection company to report it and the lady said she was going to try to get a hold of the driver to get him to drive back. Seriously, there is no way that the guy emptying the bin wouldn't have noticed that half of it ended up spread all over the road.  Yes, I could collect it myself but you know what?  We PAY for those guys to do their job. I'm not doing it for them, damn it.  Update: they came back about 30 minutes later but still left 4 plastic bottles on the ground.  I should have called again but you know what?  I didn't.  I really should have, darn it.  
This is just part of the mess that they left.
  • I spent the whole afternoon figuring out what I needed to do/not do to amend our 2014 return. The good news, I guess, is that what I needed to do didn't affect our return as far as more money being owed by us or to us. It's purely a matter of bookkeeping records for our IRAs. What is it, really, is a pain in the ass.  And, people, forget keeping only 7 or 9 years or whatever is the commonly bandied about number of years that you need to keep your paperwork: I needed to refer to my 2003 tax return!  Good thing I keep all that stuff.  Also, apparently not many people contribute to Roth IRAs and then later on realize that they shouldn't have and then later on need to amend their tax return, because the instructions were unclear and never really addressed our situation.  So I hope that I did the right thing but I did what I felt made sense, to the best of my abilities.  The result of all this is more work in store for me: I think that I probably start keeping track of the main gist of each tax return in a spreadsheet so next time I don't have to go back and flip through all this paperwork to get the information that I need. Might as well be my own TurboTax.

  • Since my son's dermatologist appointment was cancelled in the afternoon, he decided to go to the library to talk to the new Teen Programs coordinator about his Dungeons and Dragons Club. It was a fruitful discussion, apparently, and he'll probably start it after Spring Break. The library will promote it.
  • Single tasks accomplished today:
    • Reaching out to someone: emailed my sister to wish her a happy birthday
    • Household chore:  scrubbed the upstairs toilet
    • Investing: 
    • Tax-related:  mailed our tax return and figured out the 2014 amendment
    • General finances:  organized some financial paperwork
    • Saving money:  used a survey reward code and a coupon to get freebies
    • Gardening: 
    • Health: 
    • Cooking:  tried a new bread recipe
    • Indulging myself:  Wednesday is the day when Ion Television runs a marathon of Law & Order so I "watched" that all afternoon while working on the 2014 tax return.

FRUGAL SUCCESSES:
  • Since we had pizza last night, I didn't have any leftovers for Greg to take to work. I gave him the option of packing some of the grilled chicken breast that I had cooked for my daughter's lunches or for him to buy himself an entrĂ©e. My frugal husband picked the chicken option, woop woop.  I also gave him a tortilla, a cup of yogurt and 2 hard boiled eggs.

  • That just reminded me that we're out of hard boiled eggs so I set about cooking some more... since my daughter forgot to do the dishes last night, I still had the pan full of water from boiling eggs a couple of days ago and I reused it to boil today's eggs. Yay!

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

  • I had half a cup of coffee left in yesterday's coffee pot so I nuked it and had it for breakfast (but I still brewed myself a new pot because I need all the caffeine that I can get these days!).


  • For today's dinner I made a beef roast in the crockpot, using a cut of beef bottom roast that I had gotten on 50% clearance at Save A Lot last week, some Klondike Gold potatoes, carrots and a few Brussels sprouts.  I used a packet of Southwest beef marinade mix that I had bought at Save A Lot several years ago and that had fossilized!  The instructions, to use it as marinade, was to add 1/4 cup of oil and a couple of tablespoons of water but instead I added 1 cup of water and a couple of tablespoons of oil and added all that to the crockpot. I'm cooking all that on low for 10 hours so it should be ready for dinner.  Update: it ended up being very spicy but good!

  • I'm also baking some bread in the breadmaker to go with dinner. I picked a recipe that I haven't tried before: Carrot Ginger Bread.  Sounds intriguing, don't you think?!  It uses grated carrots and since I had 4 or 5 lbs of them in my fridge, it was nice to be able to use some of them for that. I don't keep fresh ginger since it always goes bad for me and if I freeze it, I can never find it again PLUS I'm hopeless when it comes to grating it, which results in all of it becoming food waste.  So now I buy the Gourmet Garden ginger paste.  I don't pay attention to the expiration date, I keep it in the fridge and use it MONTHS past the expiration date and we haven't died yet.  So I used that in the bread today too, along with some onion flakes.  I hope the bread is yummy.  I think I'll freeze half the load otherwise I'll end up eating it by myself.  However, I really don't have room in either of the freezers so I didn't plan that part very well!   The bread is good but I'm not convinced that it was worth the trouble of peeling and shredding the carrots. I can't taste the onion at all. The ginger taste is subtle.  Greg liked it.

  • I collected the carrot peels and Brussels sprouts ends and froze them to use next time I make stock.

  • Swagbucks' first goal for me today is 110 SB so that's getting ignored again.  I'm running SBTV and I'll run whatever other apps don't crash on me today.  They did credit me with 30 SB for coupon redemption yesterday but even with that I didn't reach my 1st goal.  Today was the day that my Staples online shopping order from 2/29 was suppose to show as "pending" in my "Shop & Earn" ledger but it's not and I've noticed that they've changed the date of my visit to 3/3 (the day after I actually received my order from Staples) so I'll have to check again in 3-4 days, I guess. They're pissing me off, seriously.

  • Bing Rewards sent me a "real quick" survey to take in exchange for which they promised me 5 credits. Well, the survey wasn't "real quick" and, of course, I didn't get the 5 credits.  So I emailed them.  What's really annoying about Bing Rewards is that they don't provide a detailed ledger showing you what you've earned and when so now I don't want to work on today's credits until either I get an answer from them or I noticed that I suddenly have 324 credits in my account.

  • SavingStar did credit me with the 2 rebates that I tried redeeming yesterday BUT, they also credited me with that 2nd Dial rebate.  Note that I didn't choose that rebate. You don't choose the rebates anymore: when you scan the bar code of the items that you bought, the app assigns the rebate(s) that you're claiming automatically.  It did that with the Advil that I bought a couple of weeks ago and now it did it again with the Dial soap.  I had already emailed them explaining the problem yesterday and their crappy response time is 5-10 business days so you know what? I'm not contacting them again. I notified them of the problem and it's up to them to fix it.  In the meantime, I have an extra $1 in my account (and I think $7 extra in my account from the Advil deal).  What a mess.


  • I checked my local Aldi ad for the week that starts today and the navel oranges will still be on sale but also 20 cents cheaper, woot!  So I'm planning on buying a couple more bags when I go shopping next Monday or Tuesday.  The Save A Lot ad hasn't changed (it lasts 2 weeks) so I left all the produce that I couldn't find yesterday on my list for next week and hopefully they will have restocked by then. Both Aldi and Save A Lot have skinless, boneless chicken breasts on sale for $1.49/lb this week. I know that Aldi will be out of them by the end of today and won't get any more (which sucks because if you show that something is on sale all week, then you should provide that item all week, IMO, otherwise just say that it's on sale on Wednesday only!)  and Save A Lot's stocking is sporadic.  I'd love to get more but I did verify that Walmart still has theirs for $1.99/lb so if I run out, I'll just get it at Walmart.  

  • I thought I'd have to go to Family Dollar to buy a pack of manila envelopes to mail but I looked through my office supplies stash again and found an old one that I had repurposed. I made labels that I placed over the old information so I was able to reuse it to mail our tax return. However I realized later on that I'm going to have to get some tomorrow since I'll need to mail our amended 2014 return.  I wanted to go to Dollar General and use my MobiSave money via Paypal but I can't figure out how to use their buggy app and driving there would cost me way more in gas than just buying their envelopes at Family Dollar so I guess I'll be going to the latter tomorrow anyway!

  • I drove to the Post Office to mail the tax return.  While there, I picked up a free issue of The South Lake Press since there's a box right in front of the post office.  No coupons in it but it's good to read up up local events and check if there are any local coupons I could use. (but there were none!).


  • Since I was out and about, I drove to RaceTrac in town and redeemed Greg's RaceTrac Insider coupon for a free can of Left Hook energy drink and a survey reward code for a free bag of Macho Cheese chips for my 14 y/o son.

  • For lunch, I had the leftover salad from a couple of nights ago, a chunk of  French bread (Walmart clearance) with the rest of the White Stilton with Apricots bought at Trader Joe's last month, the rest of the can of pineapple I had opened last night and the energy drink I got for free at RaceTrac this morning.


  • My daughter bought herself some chocolate at Walgreens but ended up not liking it so she gave it to me, yay!


  • I filled out a RaceTrac survey and earned a survey reward code for a free bag of TasteWorks chips (old receipt from last month, I have a small back log of them!) and another one with which I earned a survey reward code for a free bakery item (Greg filled up his truck tonight so I used that receipt).


  • I loaded an offer to each of our Amex cards to get $10 off $25 at Carraba's.


  • I checked our Amex Rewards and we earned another $31.45, although they won't be credited to our account until our payment clears later on this month.  


  • Tonight I flipped through my "5 Ingredients or Less Crockpot Dump Meals" cookbook that I got for free at Kohl's yesterday and I have to say that I'm excited for the weeks ahead.  It's mostly chicken recipes, though, so if you don't like chicken, skip buying the book.  But it's not ALL chicken either. There are a bunch of recipes using pork, and a few using beef or various kinds of sausages. Even dessert recipes, which are making me hungry right now :)  I think I'm going to be using the crockpot a lot more... and I might need to have more than one, lol.


  • I also looked at the "Quick & Easy Dump Dinners" cookbook that I also got for free from Kohl's yesterday. It's from the same author (Cathy Mitchell) but those recipes aren't for crockpots. Still, they have very few ingredients. The first section explains several time saver techniques she uses such as cooking her ground beef in large quantities in water, then draining and freezing it as is, cooking several chicken breasts in water and then shredding them by using the paddle attachment in her stand mixer, etc. All of those are techniques I had read about on several blogs before, but I like that they're all in one book. She also has recipes for making your own Onion Soup Mix, Ranch dressing mix, etc., which is great since she uses those things a lot in her recipes so you might as well make your own, right?  Again, I have printed recipes for those before but it's nice to have everything in the same cookbook.  This book doesn't have a lot of pictures, which is a shame because the photos are usually what hooks me when I look for a recipe. Still,  I saw several things that I could be making right now since I have all the ingredients already.  It'll be a good cookbook to pass on to one of the kids (my daughter, for instance!) when they have their own apartment because they're really easy recipes to make.



WE SPLURGED ON:
  • Gas for my daughter to drive to the gym.

  • Gas for me to drive to the post office to mail the tax return paperwork.

  • Priority Postage at the post office. Still cheaper than using TurboTax :) also: book of stamps.  Pretty flowers!

  • My daughter will be doing an 8-hour volunteer shift at Pig on the Pond on Friday so I gave her $10 for her to buy drinks and dinner.

  • Greg wanted a new air riffle so we ordered one on Amazon and got a $10 discount. I'll also earn 3% back on the purchase.

  • The A/C  is set at 76F but it kicked in at 12:30 p.m. on the east side of the house :(


HOWEVER, WE FAILED IN THE FOLLOWING WAYS, BUT LEARNED SOME LESSONS:
  • I was hoping that SuperWalmart would be considered a grocery store by Amex but I just checked my latest statement and that was indeed wishful... the category is "discount store" so I only earn 1% there, and not the 3% for buying groceries.

  • I still can't get the darn Paypal app to give me access to any other stores than the ones located near my home, nor can I get any detailed explanations of how to pay in store at Dollar General anywhere (since it seems that it is my only option) so I posted a message on the Paypal Community board. I hate it that most companies nowadays (like Google!) use those because they're too cheap to pay for Customer Service staff.  You usually end up getting people who try to guess what the proper answer is instead of knowledgeable people who can actually help you, but since it seems to be my only option, I had to use it.

TASKS ACCOMPLISHED TODAY:
  • Cooked Greg's breakfast

  • Packed his lunch
  • Set breakfast table for the kids


  • Collected the recycling throughout the house and took it down the curb for collection

  • Started dinner in the crockpot
  • Baked bread in the breadmaker
  • Cooked hard-boiled eggs for Greg's snacks
  • Ran the dehumidifier in the bathroom
  • Worked on my shopping list for next week
  • Scrubbed the upstairs toilet
  • Mailed our tax return
  • Cleaned out my receipt bucket
  • Created new files
  • Played with New Kitty
  • Worked on amending our 2014 tax return
  • Input receipts in my spreadsheets
  • Took customer satisfaction surveys

PROGRESS TOWARDS MY 2016 GOALS TODAY:
  • Continued to be a good steward of our money.
Did you have any frugal successes or failures today? Please do tell!

6 comments:

  1. I try not to buy things just because they are on sale/have a coupon, but sometimes I do if it's a good deal. Which I know isn't saving money, but I never buy a product I know I won't use (unless it's free and then I'll give it to someone who will) or if it is still more expensive than generics.

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  2. Holy Cow. Just look at that list of the day's accomplishments. That energy drink must be working. I should give it a go.

    Good for you to call the collection company to bring those "workers" back to the scene of the crime. They left a disgusting mess. If they don't like the job, there are others waiting in line to take their jobs from them. I hope they got their wrists slapped.

    Carrot ginger bread. It does sound delightful. I wonder how it would taste toasted. I also like the new postage stamps. Very pretty and Spring-like.

    Thanks again Nathalie for helping me out with posting blogs with my Blackberry. I couldn't have figured it out. I am just hoping now that I will have internet access while I am away. I have since discovered that I cannot reply to your comments, so I will direct my replies directly to you in my blog posts. Got that?

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  3. Take your Aldi or Save A Lot ad to Walmart and you can price match the chicken. :)

    ~Rosie

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    Replies
    1. I can't believe that I didn't think of THAT! Thanks for the tip, Rosie!

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