Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Shopping Day - Tuesday, 6/14/16

It's Tuesday morning again and I have to go grocery shopping today because there are a couple of things that we are out of and that I need: fruit, brown sugar (I could make my own but it's easier to buy it!), Greg wants "real" Grape Nuts, etc...  As usual, I don't feel like going.  It was heartening, before I typed my itinerary, to think that I actually I didn't need to buy much, because I thought it would be a short trip, but since I'm still chasing the deals and trying to maximize my money and also the gas spent on running errands, my trip won't actually be any shorter than usual. Well, crap. I will buy less at each store, though.

I type an itinerary every time I go shopping so that A) I don't forget to go somewhere and B) I go in an order that makes sense and is designed to get me home as soon as possible.

My itinerary for this morning is:
1) RaceTrac: free drink refill, freebie
2) Save A Lot: check on meat clearances?
3) Vet's: pick up the cat food that hadn't come in last week
4) RaceTrac: gas, freebie
5) Target: strawberries
6) CVS: milk, Zantac, a few other things to use up a $5 ECB
7) Walmart: generic Grape Nuts for Greg (use SB gift card)
8) Murphy USA: freebie
9) Aldi:bulk of grocery shopping although there's not much on my list
10) Dollar Tree: stock up on mint tea, get pepper and other things
11) Walgreens: Lucky Charms for my son (use Register Rewards)
12) RaceTrac: free drink refills for my son and myself

I think I'll take the family car today since I don't have to buy so much anyway. It'll cost me less in gas as well than taking my large SUV.

Last night, I got strict with my youngest son, who got up at noon, volunteered for a couple of hours at the library, but otherwise did nothing else but play video games.  I feel like a total hypocrite since I myself didn't do much of anything (and certainly didn't volunteer!) but he has 2 HUGE projects to work on this summer, one of which he's known about for a couple of months already but that he has done nothing about. Plus he keeps on placating me when I ask "what are you doing about the projects today?" by telling me he's going to do "x" but it's the nth day in a row that he told me he would do "x" and hadn't done it.  So when I passed him still playing video games last night, I put my foot down, told him he was to turn off the games, do "x" right away and then be up by 10 a.m. every morning and work on the projects every day and that I would check on the progress.  Boy, he wasn't happy with me, I could tell, but he did as told and actually memorized all the countries in Africa and their location on the continent before he went to bed. Greg quizzed him on a few and he got them right. Then I tried to trick him by asking him to show me where France was on the map of Africa, which had him all confused and flustered because he started doubting that he knew his countries all that well.  He did ask me if I meant "countries that used to be French" and showed me Algeria, so another point here.  He was really relieved and laughed when he realized that I was trying to trick him and that he had passed. I know that to most adults, it's evident that France is NOT in Africa but let me tell you... my super smart kids are actually pretty ignorant when it comes to geography.  They really DON'T teach it in school and despite me having plastered several maps of the world and having a globe displayed for several years in the Entry Room where they spent/ spend most of their days, learning by osmosis didn't happen.  We studied geography when I was homeschooling him (through 2nd grade) but sadly he didn't retain any of it.  Anyhoo... one of the tasks he has to do for his AP Human Geography class in the Fall is learn the location of all the countries in the world (and their capitals, I believe) so he has a lot of work ahead of him... on top of reading the book he's selected, writing the essay, drawing the maps that are required that he needs to conceptualize from the book, etc, etc.  Oh and that's just the AP class. He also has to read a book (he's picked "The Great Gatsby") for his 9th Grade language arts class and write an essay on it, I believe.  And summer vacation is shorter than usual so yeah, he needed to get a fire lit under his butt.

Which reminds me... I need to check our book shelves to see if we own of a copy of "The Great Gatsby", BRB. Well, we don't. I'm going to see if I can get it for him on his Kindle.  Ah, it's available for free.  Since he's still sleeping, I sent him an email with the link to the book and telling him to download it. It's "text to speech" enabled so he should be able to listen to it, if he doesn't want to read it, while he and his dad drive to Ohio.

  • I packed Greg a lunch (leftovers, yogurt, hard boiled eggs) to take to work.

  • I won another prize at the M&M Movie Game IWG!  This time I got a $5 concession stand certificate. Woohoo!  

  • Greg got gas yesterday so I have a new receipt with which to get a freebie after taking the survey.  Since all of my receipts right now come from the same station, I can only take 1 survey a day.  I should ask him to gas up when he stops to get soda at night since he does it near his work.  That would allow me to take 2 surveys a day until I'm caught up.

  • I mixed some water with whole milk this morning to stretch the milk.  Later on, after I've gone shopping, I'll use some of that milk to make buttermilk (by adding vinegar to it) to use in the homemade Grape Nuts that I'll be baking.  I was going to bake them first thing this morning but I'm out of brown sugar and I didn't feel like messing with molasses to make brown sugar since I'm going shopping anyway.

  • I needed to boil more eggs and I still had the pan of water from the last night I boiled some so I reused the same water to boil today's batch.

  • I found a free Kindle version of "The Great Gatsby" for my son to download.

  • I ran out of my homemade cinnamon-flavored coffee this morning so I opened the bag of hazelnut coffee that I had won from Wawa last month. Free flavored coffee, woohoo!  I had about 1 tablespoon left of hazelnut coffee from the last bag of that flavor that I had used, so I mixed it with the new bag.

  • I wrote a huge check to the mortgage company as additional principal payment, which constitutes the bulk of the bonus that Greg earned this year.  As calculated this weekend, this should allow us to pay off the house mid 2019, crossing my fingers and my toes as I say this.

  • Greg finished a box of Lucky Charms last night so I clipped the Boxtops for Education label (I'll mail it to our former elementary school in the fall with the others), recycled the box, and saved the inner bag to reuse as a freezer bag.

  • I took a RaceTrac survey and earned a freebie code, which I will redeem this morning.

  • I earned my daily Bing Rewards credits for the day and was able to order a $5 Amazon gift card. Woohoo!

  • I also earned a few Swagbucks.  I also had a Shop & Earn award hit my account today, although it was only for a few SB.

  • I did reach the 300 team points on Swagbucks that are necessary to qualify for the Team Challenge Swag-up this week. My team is currently leading, which would give me a 40 SB award when I order my next gift card.  I'm at close to 2000 SB now (well, I probably won't reach it this week but still close!) so I'm hoping I'll be able to order a gift card in July.

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

  • My son volunteered at the library in the afternoon. They show family-friendly movies on Tuesday afternoons this summer so he helps set up the room, make the popcorn with their popcorn machine, and break down the room afterwards, plus he gets to watch the movie and eat free popcorn! They showed "Zootopia" today, which we saw last week but he gets to watch it again for free.

  • As for me, I left for my shopping trip after 10 a,m, and didn't get home until 2:30 p.m.!  It took way longer than I anticipated, and I also bought way more than I anticipated!  This week I will regale you with the details of my shopping in a separate post so I won't go on and on about it here.  Only... yes, I will, darn it!  I know you people love that :)
    • I took the family car so I would use less gas.

    • RaceTrac: got a free Diet Mountain Dew refill and a free blueberry muffin, which ended up being my noon snack since I was still shopping at noon and I didn't want to buy lunch.

    • Save A Lot: I noticed they had pulled a bunch of bananas that were spotted so I asked the manager if he would be discounting them and he said yes. So I bought 6 bananas. I had planned on getting Jennie-O ground turkey because I had read the ad that said $1.99 for 3 lbs and I had coupons... only I felt like an idiot, even though I avoided an embarrassing failure, because I realized that the ad actually said 3 lbs, $1.99 per pound, which is the regular price anyway (I hate it when they try to trick you like this!) so I left it there.  Another embarrassing failure was avoided when I did a double take at the 4 packages of ground beef on clearance that I had added to my cart.  The price was $2.84 or so per package and there was a 50% clearance sticker on them, but in my mind that meant it was going to be $1.40 per package or so.  But luckily, my clouded mind cleared and I realized that I was about to pay $2.49/lb for 93% lean ground beef so I put them all back because it was more than I wanted to pay and Greg doesn't care for 93% lean ground beef.  I had one more coupon for Butterball Smoke Sausage so I bought one more package of it.  In the dairy case, I found 2 half gallons of 1% milk priced on clearance at $0.90 each so I bought them. In retrospect, that was dumb because now I have to freeze them or the milk will be past its date and I don't have any room in the freezer because I just stuffed it with tons of other stuff (read on...).  I also bought 2 coffee cakes and a box of cinnamon rolls, all on 50% off clearance. So I don't have to bake (hence heat up the kitchen) and my son is happy because he loves those coffee cakes.  My OOP was $8.60 and I charged it to Discover (2% in Rewards).
Hey Tara,  this looks like one of your shopping trips with all the orange stickers!

    • Vet's: they had my bag of cat food and I had a nice chat with one of the front desk ladies, who used to be my youngest son's daycare teacher from birth to about age 2.  OOP was $62.99 and I'll earn 1% in Rewards on my Amex.

    • RaceTrac (another one). I filled up the Ford Focus tank. Gas was $2.23 a gallon, 6 cents per gallon cheaper than at the first RaceTrac station.  I input my loyalty program number and earned 7 points and also got another receipt with which I will earn another freebie.

    • I drove to SuperTarget just to get the strawberries. Only... none of the regular strawberries were Driscoll's!  Crap.  So I didn't buy any.  I checked their clearance shelf but there was nothing interesting. They were out of Better Than Bouillon Chicken flavor.  I did find meat items with red stickers on them and after some thinking, I decided to load up, even though it wasn't the best deals.  Let's face it: I haven't been in a cooking mood recently and having pre-marinated chicken breasts that are individually wrapped will be very convenient. I grabbed all five packages that were marked down. It would have been great to have Gold'n Plump coupons to go with those, but they didn't send me any this past month.  Then I also grabbed 3 pork tenderloins, also on clearance.  In the non-groceries section, I decided to splurge and spend $5 for some thingies that will allow me to store my earbuds more tidily in my purse (I'll keep one and give the other to my daughter) and also $5 for a back-up phone battery since I lent mine to my daughter.  My OOP was $43.20 and I paid it with the Target gift card that I had bought for 10% off at Christmas time. So the money had already been spent, really.

    • At CVS, I couldn't find the Zantac Duo Fusion that I wanted and that would have been a money maker after mail in rebate and SavingStar.  When I told the cashier about it, she checked their stock and they didn't even carry it, despite it being in this week's ad, so I couldn't get a raincheck!  I was annoyed.  I decided not to buy milk since I had gotten the 2 half gallons at Save A Lot. I did get 2 boxes of Special K, 2 cans of Campbell's chicken noodle soup, and 2 packages of Almond Joy mini candy bars.  I redeemed $5 in ECBs and some coupons for the cereal boxes and my OOP was $0.96, which I paid with one of the CVS gift cards that I had earned with our Amex Rewards program. so it was all free to me. Woohoo! Also, I will automatically earn Kellogg's Family Rewards points for the Special K thanks to my ExtraCare card.

    • I decided to drive to Walmart to get some generic Grape Nuts for Greg because I suspected that I wouldn't be in the mood to bake him some this afternoon. I had about $15 in Swagbucks gift cards, so I decided to do a bit more shopping while I was there. I did buy a box of generic Grape Nuts,  some bread flour, a box of Zing sweetener packets (rebate on Ibotta), a jar of Better than Bouillon (I had a coupon), an ear of corn (Ibotta rebate) and a bottle of toilet bowl cleaner too (I had a coupon).  The OOP was exactly $14 and I paid with the gift cards from Swagbucks so it was all free to me. Woohoo!  I did see a deli clearance section that I hadn't noticed before but all they had was sliced deli cheese, which I felt was still too expensive for what it was.

    • Since I was there, I stopped by Murphy USA (the station is off the Walmart parking lot) and redeemed an e-offer coupon for a free 20oz bottle of Lipton diet green tea and citrus.

    • Next stop was Aldi, where I ended up spending twice what I was planning on spending! Still, since it's Aldi, it means that it's not so bad.  Of particular note, I found my favorite seasonal chicken chipotle sausages in stock again so I grabbed 5 packages  of them. I also bought a bottle of white wine, to use in cooking. I picked the cheapest, a bottle of Winking Owl Pinot Grigiot priced at $2.99.  I also treated myself to a wedge of cheese with pepperoni in it because I forgot that I had NOT bought French bread at Walmart because I mistakenly grabbed a loaf that wasn't discounted and I didn't want to pay $1 for it, LOL.  My OOP was $46.64 and I charged it to Amex, so I will earn 3% in Rewards. Also, the older gentleman who handed me his cart didn't want my quarter. Woohoo :)

    • From there I went to Dollar Tree. I didn't find the mint tea or the pie filling that I wanted, but I found so much more, lol.  I bought cat toys and collars (orange for all three since apparently an orange collar means an indoor cat that managed to escape. Mine will only wear theirs when we're under hurricane warning, though). I also bought a hat for my son because I thought he would like it, 2 soup bowls because I didn't want to go to the thrift store on top of all the other stops, painter's tape for my painting project next week, black pepper, dandruff shampoo, medicated body powder, extra toothbrushes, some hooks for Greg's shed, and some acid reducing pills for Greg. My OOP was $20.12 and I charged it to Amex and will earn 1% in Rewards.

Things that I didn't know I could get /have gotten at Dollar Tree. I paid $7 for a tablet cutter at CVS a couple of months back, darn it!
    • Then I went to Walgreens and bought 3 boxes of Lucky Charms.  I used a printable coupon and $3 in Register Rewards, so my OOP was $1.64 and I charged it to my Amazon Chase Visa card for 2% in Rewards. I also earned 50 Balance Rewards points.

    • On my way home, I stopped by the Post Office to drop off the check to the mortgage company (I didn't want to leave it in my mailbox).

    • Then I went to RaceTrac to get a new free soda refill for myself and a free frozen drink for my son. I put it in the fridge for him since he had gone to the library by then.

  • After his volunteer shift, my son texted me to say he was going to stay at the library longer because there was a Wii Gaming Tournament going on. I did see him study this morning so I was OK with this. Also, it worked out great because we had a big rain storm with thunder too so he didn't get caught in it. However, he had taken my bike (with its leather seat and handles!) so I can't wait for him to get home so I can towel it off. I don't want it to rust, lol!  Update: he ended up staying even longer because he found out there were prizes, lol.  Update #2: he didn't get a prize, apparently, but he did receive a coupon for a free ice cream cone at McDonald's!  Also my bike was fine. It wasn't wet at all. 

  • After I put everything away, I warmed up the rest of the leftovers from last night and that's what I had for lunch... at 3:30 p.m.!  While I was eating, I finished watching "The Strange Calls", an Australian series on Netflix.  It's really funny and I really loved it.  I'm sad that it was only 6 episodes, though.  They didn't do a 2nd season :(

  • It rained pretty hard for a while this afternoon so no need to water the garden now, woohoo!

  • I submitted my receipts for Ibotta and SavingStar rebates, as well as to the Walmart SavingCatcher. Ibotta credited my account very promptly.  SavingStar will take a few days.

  • A couple of weeks ago UbyKotex had sent me a "oops, let's try this again" email to tell me that something had glitched during the session when I had ordered free samples so they wanted me to try it again. Only, when I did, their site glitched again. So I gave up. Today they sent me the same email and I tried again and this time it looks like it worked. Free feminine pad samples. Woo! My life is so exciting :)

  • For dinner I broiled some of those marinated chicken breasts from Target (I meant to grill them on the barbecue but it started thundering when it was time to cook) and I steamed 3 gold potatoes in the microwave so we had baked potatoes. 

  • My son downloaded the free copy of The Great Gatsby to his Kindle :)

  • I checked the Gold'n Plump promotions page on their website and I'll be able to get a free indoor/outdoor thermometer when I mail in 3 of the UPCs from the chicken I bought today, along with my receipt.  I love freebies :) I plan on putting that one on the front porch since we have another one on the back porch.

  • After dinner Greg and I put on "Snapped" on Escape TV and semi-watched an episode (well, he played on his phone and I was inputting receipts into my spreadsheets).  After all rebates, I spent $88.22 on groceries this week.  I was planning on spending about $28 so yep, I bought lots of things I wasn't planning on buying, LOL.

  • I paid several bills online tonight and balanced our checkbook.  Doing so, I realized that AT&T had automatically applied the $15 monthly discount to our bill due to Greg's iPhone being paid off as off late May. Woohoo!  I thought I was going to have to go to the AT&T store to get them to do it manually!  I guess that since he had bought his phone through AT&T directly, they knew to do it.  So I'm happy that we'll be saving $15 a month AND that it's one more thing to cross off my to-do list.

  • I took two RaceTrac surveys and earned 2 more freebies, woohoo!

  • A wedge of pepperoni cheese at Aldi ($2.99).

  • My brother from Marseille emailed me that he and his GF will be taking my mom on vacation to Corsica with them in the fall.  My mom is going to pay her own way but she lives just South of Paris so she has to go by train to meet my brother in Provence first. She lives on a small pension so I told my brother (but not my mom yet) that Greg and I would pay for half her share of the expenses since she doesn't let us celebrate Mother's Day or her birthday and I'm not going anywhere myself this summer anyway.  I'm waiting to hear from my brother about his banking information because if I have the money transferred to his bank instead of sending him cash (I use Western Union), it would save us $10 in fees.

  • I regret not picking up the half empty bottle of Powerade that I spotted on the ground between 2 cars in the CVS parking lot (Coke Rewards code), but I was driving at the time and leaving CVS actually.

  • I also regret not having the guts to stop by one of my neighbors (from the next block) recycling bin since they had already put it at the curb, even though collection isn't until tomorrow: they had a 2L bottle of Diet Coke with the cap still on it, in their bin! Once again, I was driving by and didn't want to be seen riffling through someone else's recycling bin, LOL.

  • My long shopping trip resulted in my heel starting to hurt again, even though I was wearing my plantar fasciitis insoles :(  In truth, I feel pretty beaten up all over.... oh my, I feel ancient.  A 4.5-hour shopping trip turned me into an infirm!

  • Cooked breakfast for Greg
  • Packed him a lunch
  • Worked on my shopping list and itinerary
  • Wrote the check to the mortgage company and made sure Greg hadn't changed his mind before I mailed it.
  • Took a customer satisfaction survey
  • Made my and Greg's beds
  • Collected the trash throughout the house and took it down to the curb for collection
  • Sprayed for ants on the outside perimeter of half the house
  • Went grocery shopping and to run errands
  • Called my BFF to check up on her while I was shopping
  • Documented my trip and put everything away
  • Cleaned out the family car of all the trash my daughter had left in it
  • Submitted receipts for rebates
  • Corresponded with my brother via email
  • Cooked dinner
  • Filled out rebate form
  • Backed up my phone
  • Input receipts into my spreadsheets
  • Paid bills


  1. You did so much today! Not just the shopping but a lot of other things, as well. Good for you! You got some great bargains, too! I'm so impressed with how you shop and manage to get things for free! Hope your heel feels better after you rest it a bit.

    That's a lot of memorizing your son has to do for his AP geography class! Good of him to have memorized all the countries in Africa in one evening!

    Hope you have a good day, tomorrow.

    1. I tell ya, I felt like someone had beaten me up with a stick last night. I have no idea why I felt so bad, apart from my heel! But at least I slept pretty well last night :)

      I hope you have a good day too and that you are recovering from the chemo, Bless.

  2. I think the last time we were forced to study geography was 7th grade. We had to memorize all the countries, but we only did one continent at a time. I haven't thought about it, but geography really isn't taught these days.

    I've got enough Bing points to cash in, but the address system is ridiculous at my parents and packages don't get delivered or are returned for an incorrect address, even though it's the legal address. Sucks. I have enough in gift cards there to buy some things I need, but it prob wouldn't get here.

    1. Dang, that IS crazy and it does suck! I was going to suggest having them hold the packages at the Post Office but that wouldn't help with Fedex and UPS... and renting an address from one of the package places, even if you had one in town, would cost money. Do you have a friend or relative that wouldn't mind receiving packages for you, maybe?

    2. All relatives live towards this area too and have some problems with delivery too sometimes. If it was something very important I could get it delivered to the daycare I sub at, but it's not something I would want to do often.

  3. You need to take a break from these weekly shopping marathons! Shop twice a week for a couple of hours each, rather than once a week for 4+ hours. It's too much!

    1. Well, yes, if would make sense health-wise, but frugality-wise it would be horrible... and I'd rather be gone one day and do it all, honestly. Of course I went back and ran more errands today but one of them wasn't planned until last night and the others... well, I decided to make my trip into town count by doing a bunch of other things too and also I wanted to distract myself from more horrible news today. The heat is incredible though. The car thermostat says 96 but with the humidity, it feels like over 100F. I was in a garden for a bit earlier and I had to come back in because I couldn't stand it.

      I hope you're not having the heat we're having!

  4. Great shopping! Lots of Freebies and "wins" again this week. I haven't been grocery shopping yet this month. I guess that is a good thing. I spent some of my grocery money on seeds and my veggie starts for the garden. I finally got all my planting done on Friday before my Sweetie and I went to a Collingwood timeshare for the weekend. My Dad and "Dee" rented one for a week and asked us to join them. It was a great long weekend, as we didn't get back home until Monday dinnertime. Sometimes, just a few days away is a lovely break from the same old, same old. But I need to get back to work. I have so much to do this summer.

    1. I'm so glad you got to get away for a few days! It sounds like you had a wonderful time with your dad and stepmom. How lovely. And YES, not having done any grocery shopping this month yet is a wonderful thing, kudos to you!

      I was pulling weeds earlier this afternoon and wilting in the darn heat and thinking of you working in your garden, weeding 4 hours at a time. I had to give up after only 45 minutes (during which I mostly harvested vegetables and took pictures) because I couldn't stand it anymore. Of course, stupid me was wearing a BLACK T-shirt (because it's slimming and I wasn't planning on working in the garden at all today, doh!) so that made it much worse. Your planting season is starting and ours is ending. My plants either look horrible or are dead. I'm glad, in a sense, because I plan on staying indoors for the next few months anyway!

  5. I am with you with the foot pain and I am sick of paying the foot doctor because it isn't helping. I have done shots and have all these crazy things to do but mainly I need to rest and I don't have time to do it. I can't wait for this last week of work to be over to give my plantar a break!! I hope that you rest up and feel better. My doctor said that that next option is not covered under insurance and it would be $600. UGH!!

    I certainly am not one to throw stones but what about this weather has caused us to over spend because I am there with you!! I really need to cut back. I have almost totally spent the monthly budget... It is the middle of the month and there is nothing left which means that I have to get creative but there isn't enough time in the day to even make my normal treats. I can't wait to have a few days off of work and with only two days left, I am hopeful and only one more soccer day and then we are almost at summer!!! Good luck with your spending and maybe we need to lower our expectations in the summer :)

    1. Oh Alison, that sounds so painful, I'm sorry! Rest is really the best way as we're supposed to keep the weight of our feet.

      As far as your spending, Alison, you do SO well the rest of the year, maybe you can completely relax over the summer? Do you have to keep to such a strict budget because of necessity or are you trying to save as much as possible for other goals? I've decided that I'm not going to feel guilty about spending more than you do because I think it would be impossible for me to spend as little without spending all my days on Swagbucks again. As for eating out... I'm not even going to tell you how much we spent at Red Lobster tonight. Because I didn't want to cook, even though we have tons of food in the house. Greg and I agreed it would count as Father's Day dinner but still. I think I'm going to take the summer "off" from watching every penny like a hawk and then I'll feel refreshed to start again when school starts in... mid August. Even though I have plenty of time, I have no desire to bake or cook. I dream of a personal chef :)

  6. It is so sweet of you to pay half your mom's expenses.

    1. I'm still mulling over paying for her whole trip. When I talked to Greg about it last night and told him how much it was, he said "It's really not that much!". The thing is, it's way cheaper for us to do this than to buy her a ticket to come here (which we have done in the past but she won't come anymore because she has leg issues so flying is not super great for her) and definitely cheaper than me flying over there since I also bring a kid or two, and rent a car so I can visit everyone all through the country. I haven't told her about the whole thing yet because I'm waiting for my brother to give me his banking information so I can transfer the money. I like that he's doing it this way (paying for everything up front and she was going to refund him for her share) so she can't protest and refuse. My mom has a hard time accepting presents. Last year when I was at her house with the kids, I wanted to pay for the groceries but she was adamantly against it, so my daughter would distract her at the supermarket while I moved things from her side of the cart to mine and then rush to the cash register, lol. Once she figured out what I was doing, she started buying the more expensive wine, though, HA!


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