Monday, December 31, 2012

Sluggy Gets Reflective on Debt Freedom as 2012 Leaves the Building

First off, I want to express my gratitude to everyone who comes to this little blog and reads my humble(usually ranting)remarks and the ever-so-dry financial calculations and scratchings I make.

And an extra dose of gratefulness to those who read and comment!

Though I may be quite lax in replying at times(most times!), I do read every single word of comments left on the posts and they are most welcomed.
They leave me with a sense of "I'm not just shouting into a big black void" and the comments either validate me/what I do OR they let me know when I am in serious need of getting my head out of my own ass and returning to something resembling reality.
Hopefully, it's the previous and not the latter situation that prompts your comments left. ;-)

I see my blog, firstly as a LIFE BLOG.  I talk about almost anything I have a mind to, from finances, to my family, to genealogy and my other interests in life.
A big part of my blog is's not the only thing that goes on here, but it's a big one.

Most frugal blogs also encompass debt and debt repayment.
If you haven't realized it yet, you won't find that component here at DON'T READ THIS; IT'S BORING.
Hubs and I escaped the whole Debt thing for good in March of 2007, when we paid off the mortgage.
We only put as much in purchases on the credit card that we can pay off each month and we don't finance cars.  We are onto cash flowing college for the kids and building up our retirement savings.  We just don't do debt anymore.

You won't be able to come here to cheer us on when we kill a debt.  I know.....I just take all the fun out of life sometimes, don't I?
I do, however, love to leave comments for others who are still struggling with debt, when they vanquish a foe.  It makes me smile when all of you I visit take another big step toward living the dream of Debt Freedom.

What you WILL be able to come here to see is how much better life can be once you get to be debt-free.
You can see that once you aren't dissipating your income to this debt or that one AND giving the bulk of your income to a mortgage company, how quickly that money you use to give to debts can pile up and stay in YOUR bank account instead and then fund other goals, like college for the kids, house remodels, vacations, house repairs and retirement.

You'll also see how we struggle to avoid lifestyle inflation, what I feel is the greatest threat to living below your means.
It's so easy when you get a raise in income or a windfall of some unexpected money to use it to upgrade your life.  Instead of keeping what was before, a perfectly reasonable lifestyle, suddenly that extra cash needs to buy you more things or higher quality/quantity of food/drink/car/home, or more nights out being entertained.  So the extra cash gets spent on frivolity(wants) instead of being held for emergencies both big and small that will come around.
Shit happens.  You may not want to face that fact, but it does.  So don't spend all your money.  Keep some.  Invest some.  You never know when you'll need some extra for.....Needs!

People often ask me how we did we got to this place.
It's complicated and what worked for us might not work for anyone else.

We saw 2 paths to debt freedom.
There is the "intense/short" path or the "little pain felt/long" path.

We could get very serious about being in debt.  Debt could become the focus of our lives and every penny spent, every decision made would be ruled by the debt.  We could make debt so vile in our minds that the most important thing in our lives would be to extract from it's talons, even if some decisions made our lives uncomfortable for the short term.


We could be more casual about rooting out the debt.  Debt would be paid off slowly, without it disrupting our lifestyle much.  We wouldn't feel the pain of making do without this or that, and the debt would be hanging around longer.

Since we didn't have piles of debt(credit cards, medical, car, etc.)other than a mortgage, it was easy to pick the short, intense path to freedom.  We could knuckle down for a couple of years and delay gratification in so many other things to get the debt gone.

I know some may feel that getting intense for 2 years is extreme.  Heck I know people who can't delay wants for 2 MONTHS.
We thought 2 years of full frontal deprivation was pushing it, but the benefits of getting the debt over with outweighed the sacrifices we had to make.

But you know......where you are with your finances now is because of a long long line of choices you have made with your money through the years.
No single decision brought you to where your money stands today.
There have been literally thousands of decisions you have made over the course of your life and each one put you either on a better path or a worse path, and every subsequent decision you made, either made that path better again or even worse.
All those choices, either good or bad, you have made through your life is why you are where you are today.

But with that being said, it is NEVER too late to take control of your finances and your life.
If you've just been drifting along for 10 months or 10 years, don't worry about what's past.
Make today the day you take the reins of your money and live intentionally!
You can't change the past, but you can certainly change your future.

It is your life and your money.
No one has THE correct way to get out of debt and no one has THE correct way to save and spend your money.
This is something you have to figure out for yourself.

Yes, you can follow the path someone else took to freedom and it might or might not work for you as well.
But more importantly,  you need to take the lessons from how they approached their finances.
Learn why they did X, Y or Z.
Learn a new attitude about and toward your money.

Money is a great tool.  IT is not the end all and be all and the point of your life is NOT to end it with the biggest pile of cash.  It's a means to an end...... being able to live your life without stress from money worries, surrounded by the people you value and who value you.

Take the time and effort to learn how best to use the tool to craft the life you want to live.


Food Spending December Week 4/Meal Planning January Week 1

And this is what happens to you if you fall asleep while the family is opening presents on Christmas morning.  You become the most festive beagle on the block! lol
We reuse the bows from one year to the next, so we need a place to put them aside so they don't end up in the trash bag........

As for meals?
Here is what actually got served last week....

Sunday--Chicken Enchiladas
Monday--Christmas Eve dinner at Chinese Restaurant
Tuesday--Ravioli w/Marinara Sauce, Standing Rib Roast, Roasted Vegetables, Green Beans, Rolls, Pies
Thursday--Pork Chops, homemade Mac and Cheese, Broccoli
Friday--Pizza, a green veggie from the freezer

The food spending last week(the 24th to the 30th)came in at $110.70 for 7 days.  This includes the rib roast that cost, as one astute reader noted, "as much as a coat".
As I have finished food shopping for December(no food buying today, the 31st)I spent $439.11 in total for the month.  Pretty good considering the stocking up and the Holiday food excess.

Going into this week, I have these leftovers--ravioli, rolls(not to mention fudge and pie).


Here is what is getting served this week.....

Sunday--Kielbasa on Rolls, Caramelized Onions,Potato Salad
Monday--Date Lunch Out w/Hubs, then leftovers and appetizers for New Years at home
Tuesday--Tacos, Corn
Wednesday--Baked Salmon, leftover P. Salad, Caesar Salad, leftover rolls
Thursday--Cheesesteaks, Green Beans
Friday--Fried Shrimp, French Fries, Beets, any leftover veggies
Saturday--Leftovers or Fend for Yourself or Breakfast for Dinner

I have everything here already to make these meals.....ground beef for tacos, salmon, roast beef for cheesesteaks, shrimp are all in the freezer.  I might treat Hubs to country ham rolls tomorrow morning since we still have a plethora of rolls.  I used that last $5 voucher to buy romaine lettuce and some ground beef on Sunday, so we have all foodstuffs to make this menu now.
There will only be 3 at home this coming week to cook for.


Sunday, December 30, 2012

My Last Rite-Aid Update for 2012

Can you believe I had another $5 in +Up Rewards expiring Sunday?

So up to Rite-Aid I went this afternoon.....

1 x Breathe Right strips w/Gold discount=$5.35
1 x Blistex on sale=$1.50
2 x Ziploc bags on sale $2=$4.00

Coupons Used
1 x $2/1 Breathe Right(coupons dotcom)=$2.00
1 x $2/1 Breathe Right VV/AdPerks IPQ=$2.00
1 x $1/2 Ziploc bags ManuQ(12/2 SS insert)=$1.00
Coupon Total.....$5.00

$10.85-$5.00=$5.85+.06¢ tax=$5.91

I used my $5 +Up Reward and put the .91¢ on my gift card(which is below $2 now).
I received back $2.50 in +Up Rewards($1 wyb2 Ziplocs, $1.50 Blistex).
I also can submit the Breathe Right purchase for SCRebate #10, which will net me $2 in cash.
So in the end, I "spent down" .50¢ of my +Ups after Qs, +Ups gained and the cash rebate.

And since this is my last purchase of 2012 at Rite-Aid, here is my update on Totals and the End of December Rite-Aid Total.....

This trip to Rite-Aid--
Value of items.....$17.26
+Ups coming into this trip....$35.00
+Ups used....$5.00
+Ups earned......$2.50
+Ups at the end.....$32.50


Out Of Pocket....$0.00  cash
Value of items bought.....$785.79
Savings Rate of  100%
Single Check Rebate due....$16.00
Other Rebates due......$3.00
After SCR applied, Out of Pocket.... $0.00
Savings Rate.....102.42 %

+Ups at beginning of month...$47.00+
+Ups used....$271.00+
+Ups received...$256.50+
+Ups currently...$32.50+   

 In the end, for December, I got $785.79 in goodies for FREE and I will get back $19.00 in cash for various rebates for buying all this stuff.


Saturday, December 29, 2012

$10 +Ups + Snow = Mission Accomplished

Well I thought I could get up, dressed and out to Rite-Aid to use those expiring today +Ups before the snow started.
And I was wrong. 8-P

So I sat here watching the live Weather Channel online map to see when the precipitation would let up a bit and rushed out when the dry spot hit my town.
Mission accomplished and I am home and we are in for the day.
It's nasty out there!

2 x Nivea Body Wash on sale=$8.00
1 x Nivea Renewal Body Scrub on sale-$4.00

I used 1 x $2/1 Nivea Renewal IPQ, making my Total after Qs $10.00
I paid with my expiring $10 +Up Reward.
I received a $10 +Up Reward for "Spending $20 on Nivea items" Deal.

Rolling that $10 +Ups out for another 2 weeks, waiting for a good deal on something I need.

These Body Washes are BLUEBERRY.
I guess I'll smell like a fruit salad or a pie after using these. lol

This trip to Rite-Aid--
Value of items.....$21.87
+Ups coming into this trip....$35.00
+Ups used....$10.00
+Ups earned......$10.00
+Ups at the end.....$35.00

*And here are my MONTHLY TOTALS*

Out Of Pocket....$0.00  cash
Value of items bought.....$768.53
Savings Rate of  100%
Single Check Rebate due....$14.00
Other Rebates due......$3.00
After SCR applied, Out of Pocket.... $0.00
Savings Rate.....102.79 %

+Ups at beginning of month...$47.00+
+Ups used....$266.00+
+Ups received...$254.00+
+Ups currently...$35.00+   

The daughter came home early from work and has been sick with a cold and some chest gunk.  I took that chicken stock I made last Sunday when I cooked the chicken for the Enchiladas and put some chicken, onions, celery, carrots and garlic and made a pot of Chicken Soup.  I'm waiting on her to see which she wants--noodles, potatoes or rice in it.
Or she might want to turn this into Chicken and Dumplings.

Stay warm and dry where you are today! 8-)


How the 2012 Goals Turned Out....

Readers might remember that I set up a List of personal Hopes/Goals for 2012 back in January.
This post is my End of the Year Check-In for my list and to see how I did(or didn't do) on the Goals I set out to accomplish 12 months ago.

Sluggy's Personal List of Goals for 2012

1.  Get all the tax and college Paperwork completed and filed by the end of February. of the few things I can totally cross off the list until next year...which starts in less than a WEEK.  LOLOL

2.  Convert all my vinyl LPs to CDs and purge the LPs from my life.
FAIL on the record digitizing.
Six months into the year, I changed that Goal to Digitizing all my photographs, since I purchased a handheld scanner with a gift card I received for Christmas in 2011.  I have stacks of scrapbooks from my mother plus a stack of scrapbooks from when my kids were small to digitize.  In the last 6 months I scanned 2 whole books worth of photos.  I am VERY far behind but I "AM" working on this project.  I didn't realize it was such a large project and I misjudged the amount of time involved.  
This "new" Goal goes onto the list of Projects for 2013.

3.  Continue to Declutter everywhere.  Finish the garage and move what's in the living room into the garage so that the house is 100% done by April.  Be out of the storage unit by December.
FAIL--well, the house is NOT 100% done yet so that's a fail.   
I have continued to declutter in 2012 but it hasn't been nearly what I did in 2011 and it's not done yet.  I didn't reopen the eBay store until November, so I didn't sell off all the sellable items yet.  I still have things in the storage unit.  
I need to throw this Goal onto 2013 as well.

4.  Complete 4 house projects in 2012.  2 inside/2 outside
FAIL.  Projects identified and the cash is there, but we haven't pulled the trigger yet on any of them.  I need to sit down with Hubs and set up a step-by-step process for getting these projects done in 2013.

5.  Read 20 books this year.
FAIL.  I read 6 books.  Most years I read much more.  I just wasn't feeling it in 2012.

6.  Rework the stockpile.  Make it healthier and more compact.
PASS.  I reorganized and thinned it twice in 2012.  I loaded up Oldest son Thursday evening with stockpile items to take back to school and I'll make a pass through the stockpile on Sunday again and glean some more items to give to the B-I-L.  

7.  Finish up the eBay sales by May.
I shut down eBay before Christmas 2011 and didn't do any eBay sales this year until November.  I will sell for 3 more months(Jan-Mar. 2013) and then shut it down for good.

8.  Get the sewing going again.  Go through projects in-progress and alterations pile and get rid of stuff.  Sew clothes for myself for a change!
I did nothing except hems some pants for Hubs and daughter, and finish some pj pants for daughter. 

9.  Get the Etsy Store up and running. 
Just didn't get to that one at all.

10.  Spend more time with family, especially Hubs.
PASS  Have taken a couple of vacations with Hubs alone in 2012.  Have tried to spend time with the kids with mixed results.  Oldest has been home a total of 9 days in 2012.  Daughter moved home in May so we've been working on our relationship and I think it is better.  Youngest tries to spend as little time as possible with us, since he's almost 17. lol

I need to face the fact that our "kids" are now past the ages of doing things together as a family.  Oldest moved out basically when he left for college in 2009 and has only come home for brief visits since.  Summers he spent living/working at summer camp so he wasn't home when school ended for the year.  Daughter is living at home this school year but is wanting to move out into an apartment as soon as it's feasible.  At least she'll be nearby.  #2 Son is busy with school, band, driving, trying to get a 'real' job and his girlfriend so he's about to fly from the nest too.

11.  Lose 40 lbs...there, I said it!  Now I have to do it!!
FAIL.  I lost 7 lbs.  At least I didn't gain.....ugh.  I need to get more serious with this one in 2013.

12.  Continue the Savings Challenge with a goal of $20K for 2012.
PASS.  We hit the goal and then some!  We have $26,000.00+ saved right now and I haven't added in December's money yet.

13.  Continue to be Frugal whenever possible and live well below our means!
PASS.  We spend way below our means each month generally.  In a bad/expensive month, we still spend less than we make, though sometimes with not a lot of room to spare.
I know we could have been more frugal sometimes, but I'm happy with our general level of frugality.

14.  Take at least 1 REAL vacation and ENJOY IT!
PASS.  Hubs and I took 2 short vacations.  They were short, but not jam packed and we just did what we felt like doing at the moment.  They were low stress trips.

So, in the end, 2012 was a real mixed bag of result for me.
I Failed more than I Passed this 8 to 6 ratio.

 I was just not as ambitious as I thought I'd be and bit off more than I could finish.  
As I look ahead to my Goals for 2013 this weekend, I'll mull over how realistic my expectations were in 2012.

 How did you do on your Goals for the 2012?

Friday, December 28, 2012

Expiring Rewards Again

Just a boring old report on what I got at Rite-Aid Friday with my expiring +Up Rewards.
While I couldn't find any deals that truly rolled my +Ups for another 2 weeks, I did find a few deals that gave me back some +Ups and were items I could use.  I had $20 expiring Friday so here is what I found to "buy".  It's all about the hair, the skin, the toilets and the chocolate.....

2 x L'Oreal EverPure Shampoo BOGO50%=$11.08
2 x Simple Pleasures chocolate on sale $3=$6.00
2 x Nivea Renewal Scrub on sale $4=$8.00
2 x Scrubbing Bubble Toilet Gel on sale(Wellness discount lower $3.83=$7.66

Coupons Used
1 x $3/2 L'Oreal items IPQ=$3.00
2 x $1.50/1 Simple Pleasures IPQ=$3.00
2 x Nivea Renewal Scrub IPQ=$4.00
1 x $2/2 Scrubbing Bubbles Toilet Gel Load2Card=$2.00
Coupon Total.....$12.00


I used $20 in +Up Rewards and put the .76¢ on my gift card.
I received $8 in +Ups($3 wyb $10 L'Oreal, $2 wyb 2 Simple Pleasures, $3 wyb 2 Scrubbing Bubbles).
I also have tracking $8 of products toward a "Spend $20, Get $10 Nivea" Deal.
(I'll buy 3 more $4 on sale Nivea items tomorrow for $12, use another $2/1 Q for a total OOP of $10, use a $10 +Ups to pay and get another $10 +Ups back.)

I need to call CS since I had a $2/1 L'Oreal item Load2Card that did NOT come off!  I had to take off a $2 item after all my Qs were applied to keep my total at $20.  Hopefully I'll be getting a $2 +Ups for that Q in the mail in a week or so.

Starting on Sunday with the new weekly ad for 12/30-1/5, Rite-Aid is having a new Promotion.  Buy items in the store identified by a red price tag icon and they count toward a $20 +Up Reward once you have bought $100 worth of items.  And then for every increment of $50 spent of these select products, you will earn another $5 +Up Reward to a total of $250 in products and $50 in +Up Rewards.
It's all explained on page 4 of the Sales ad for next week that starts on Sunday.

This trip to Rite-Aid--
Value of items.....$47.92
+Ups coming into this trip....$47.00
+Ups used....$20.00
+Ups earned......$8.00
+Ups at the end.....$35.00

*And here are my MONTHLY TOTALS*

Out Of Pocket....$0.00  cash
Value of items bought.....$746.66
Savings Rate of  100%
Single Check Rebate due....$14.00
Other Rebates due......$3.00
After SCR applied, Out of Pocket.... $0.00
Savings Rate.....102.73 %

+Ups at beginning of month...$47.00+
+Ups used....$256.00+
+Ups received...$244.00+
+Ups currently...$35.00+   


Neither Snow Nor Dark of Night will Keep My +Ups from Expriring!

The crazy woman who went out in a snowstorm to use expiring +Up Rewards on the Day after Christmas......

3 x Holiday M&Ms 50% off($2.14)=$6.42

I used $6($5 expiring that day)in +Ups and put the .42¢ on my Rite-Aid gift card.

And I have to run out again today for MORE expiring +Ups.  At least it isn't snowing....yet! lol

This trip to Rite-Aid--
Value of items.....$12.87
+Ups coming into this trip....$53.00
+Ups used....$6.00
+Ups earned......$0.00
+Ups at the end.....$47.00

*And here are my MONTHLY TOTALS*

Out Of Pocket....$0.00  cash
Value of items bought.....$698.74
Savings Rate of  100%
Single Check Rebate due....$14.00
Other Rebates due......$3.00
After SCR applied, Out of Pocket.... $0.00
Savings Rate.....102.57 %

+Ups at beginning of month...$47.00+
+Ups used....$236.00+
+Ups received...$236.00+
+Ups currently...$47.00+   


Monday Food Spending/Meal Planning on Friday...Who Cares!?

Time to get back to the mundane tasks of my life, like food spending and meal planning.

And here is what actually got served last week.... 

Sunday--Burger King Whoppers(BOGO 55cents Deal), Broccoli
Monday--Beef Pie leftovers
Tuesday--Salmon(Crab Cakes for #2 son),Green Beans
Wednesday--Stuffed Shells, Tossed Salad
Thursday--Hot Dogs, Beans, Potato Salad
Friday--Leftovers or Fend for Yourself Night
Saturday--Hubs bought take-out Pizza
I don't recall the Potato Salad happening tho.

Between the Bread/Bakery Outlet load up and 3 small trips to the local grocery stores, the food spending last week(through the 22nd)came in at $92.37 for 8 days.  The big honking rib roast trip will be on this coming Monday's post.
As of the 22nd, food spending for December was at $328.41, leaving $71.59 of my $400 food budget for the month.
As of 12/24, I am $11.66 over for December.


Here is what got/is getting served this week.....
Sunday--Chicken Enchiladas
Monday--Christmas Eve dinner at Chinese Restaurant
Tuesday--Ravioli w/Marinara Sauce, Standing Rib Roast, Roasted Vegetables, Green Beans, Rolls, Pies
Thursday--Pork Chops, homemade Mac and Cheese, Broccoli
Friday--Pizza, a green veggie from the freezer
Saturday--Kielbasa on Rolls, Caramelized Onions, Beets

I had made up Sunday through Tuesday's meals beforehand. Add in that the day after Christmas is always Leftover Day here, so I was good through Wednesday.  The one item that didn't get mostly consumed on Christmas was a bowl of green beans, so I took the leftovers of that and made a green bean casserole on Wed. and we now have no more green beans. lol

#1 Son wanted Thursday's meal that was served and I was able to cobble the ingredients together from items I already had here.  I used a bunch of partial blocks, shredded bags of cheese that were opened for the mac and cheese and an opened can of evaporated milk from making pies got thrown in with the fresh milk too.  After making the mac/cheese I have a container of cheese/bechamel sauce extra for the freezer. That sauce will make a dinner for two of more mac/cheese, or pasta alfredo or carbonara style noodles.
I also boiled down the carcass/skin on Sunday when I made chicken filling for the Enchiladas and have 2 containers of chicken stock in the freezer ready for Chicken and Dumplings or Chicken Soup sometime this Winter.

I've spent $83.25 to get this menu pulled together, though not all of that spending was used for this menu.  There were some seasonal stock-ups included.  I've got a $5 voucher to spend before Jan 1 at the local market so I'll pick up a few things before the month is out like eggs, pineapple, milk.

#1 son left this morning so the food cooking/spending should return to the humdrum, boring stuff soon.

January will be belt-tightening time(like everyone else I see online!)so we will be cleaning out and using up stuff lurking in the dark corners of the pantry and freezer that have been hanging around much too long.
I'll also be re-evaluating, in the coming weeks, my food budget and what and how much I've been cooking(or not)this past year.

Is 2013 going to be the year you start planning your meals out ahead?  How about food budgeting.....are you going to put one into place and try to stick to the plan?


Wednesday, December 26, 2012

6 Things About Our Merry Little (Non)Frugal Christmas

Well I guess I could call our Christmas celebration frugal, if I couched it in terms of what we didn't do,  like.....
"We didn't fly the entire family to Vegas and spend Christmas wantonly gambling away our savings."
"We didn't hit the local Mercedes dealership and there was no new car with a big bow on top in my driveway on Christmas morning."

Yes, compared to those two scenarios, ours was a very frugal Christmas. 8-)

Here is the main offender to our frugal celebration.....

A standing rib roast.
And here is why I have never bought one of these before, in my entire 53 years on this planet....

I about fainted after I saw the price in the grocery store! lol
And THAT was the "on sale" price.  Look above the yellow sticker part for the regular price for a 7lb hunk of this steer.....Geez!

It did look purty though, nekkid and going into the oven....

Unfortunately I don't have an "after" photo as I was too busy to snap a photo before serving it to my ravenous crowd......and there were no leftovers.
We almost had fist fights breaking out over second helpings.....

Now here are the Frugal Points to our Christmas Celebration.

1.  We stayed home and cooked.

2.  No relatives here that required anyone to fly cross country or drive further than 5 minutes away to get here. (Excepting #1 Son, who arrived on Sat. night, driving and he was in PA anyway.)

3.  Other than the roast, we made our meal from items in the stockpile(except for a couple of cans of whipped cream and a bag of carrots).

4.  Entertainment consisted of voyeurism like
Watching family members opening gifts.....

Tormenting the family dog......

Tormenting the children and spouse too by making them smile and pose for a photo.....

5.  Making food from scratch or buying complicated desserts from the Bread/Bakery outlet.
We had 5 desserts Christmas evening.....a cheesecake and Stollen from the Bakery Outlet, 2 kinds of pie and fudge(all made from scratch)

And scratch made rolls from my Great Aunt Lula's recipe.  I made a double batch of rolls actually, since they are quite popular and we hardly ever have leftovers.  So I saved myself some time and energy by making double to throw into the freezer for later.....IF they all don't get eaten in the next few days.....which they probably will.....
I made 11 pans of rolls, and I had 6 pans leftover when the clock struck midnight on Christmas night.

6.  We give sensible gifts mostly.  Though #2 Son's Christmas Wish list consisted of 1-a 2 thousand $ flute and 2-a $400 smartphone(which he can't afford to pay the plan for anyway), he received neither.
And he KNEW he wasn't getting them because this Santa mom doesn't roll that way.
We spend sensibly on children, even teenaged and almost grown ones.

When Hubs and I married, and thus marrying our vastly different Christmas traditions, gifts and spending were at opposite ends of the spectrum from what each other had experienced.  His family, which struggled financially for many years, didn't lavish money/gifts on the kids.  1 present was their norm.
My family, which had struggled early on but grew to be upper middle class and had parents who enjoyed spending their wealth and going into debt, thought nothing of dropping serious money on kids at Christmas.  In our family, there were many many gifts under the tree for each of us kids and usually 1 big(and expensive) present too.

So compared to Hubs parents, we are spendthrifts at Christmas, but compared to my parents, well, just call us Scrooge and a very Merry Hum-bug to you all. ;-)

We have a monetary limit for spending on gifts.  I try to get deals to make the spending seem like it's more than it really is.  I try not to buy mindlessly.....buying "things" just for the sake of buying stuff.  If it's a "thing" I buy, it's a thing that was asked for or a thing that is needed.  While I prefer to give services and consumables, it's very hard to do that with teens and almost adult children who don't live around here to buy services.  Since 1 is 21 now, buying consumables for him at least, adds a whole new dimension.

With my crowd now, MONEY is the most popular gift.  It always fits. lol

Now you will excuse me because I have $5 in +Up Rewards expiring today so I need to get up to Rite-Aid before the roads get any worse.
Yes, we are having a White Day-After Christmas here. 8-)

Merry Christmas!


Monday, December 24, 2012

Almost Snug in Our Beds Awaiting the Man in Red!

A last trip to the grocery store this morning since I finally settled on a Christmas Day menu.
I decided on a Standing Rib Roast.  I about fainted when I saw the price on the one I got.
A second mortgage may be in order to pay for it. lol

Then it was off to Rite-Aid to deliver some Fudge to my friends there.

Then pie baking happened here today!
Here a pie.....

 There a pie......

Everywhere a pie!

Then it was off for our Christmas Eve tradition--Chinese Food!

Everybody sing along in "A Christmas Story" style....

Deck the Hars wif boughs of horry, fa ra ra ra raaaa, ra ra ra ra.

#2 Son got a Christmas present from his girlfriend.....

A nice watch!

A couple of bottles of sake later and it was letting the "kids" open a present Christmas eve....

My Christmas Eve glass of  hot sake has me doing a little dancing before hitting the sack......


One More Sleep Til The Big Guy Comes!

I finally got #1 Son to put some ornies on the tree.
And I even got evidence that he did....

Of course he put on His ornaments only!
Like this one.....

Hubs finally put a couple on.....

Yah, we can't celebrate Christmas without the Mets.

And he put the beagle on the tree.
Not this beagle....

But this one.....

The Real Life beagle had to guard the tree.....though I did hear more snoring noises out of her than guarding noises....

I think she's worried I haven't put her stocking up yet.

And here's an ornie that tell's you a child of the 1960's lives here....

And here's an ornie that tells you a child of the South lives here....

I was shocked to learn at 19 that not every Christmas tree has a watermelon ornie on it!

It's finally looking a bit fuller in the decoration department.
Maybe now I can get the room cleared out of Xmas tubs.....

I am off to the grocery store, as I have finally decided on what to cook for tomorrow's repast.

Enjoy this while I am gone fighting the food shopping crowds!


Sunday, December 23, 2012

Tunes in the Key of Christmas

This music video is Faaaaabulous!


Out & About on Saturday

Hubs and I went out Saturday....he had Christmas shopping to do(he drives me nuts waiting until the last minute!) and I had a Fashion Bug gift card to use up since the stores are going out of business.  I wanted to get into that store before everything good got bought up.  I found a couple of things and used up my gift card and waited in the car for Hubs to emerge from Walmart.  No way I was setting foot in Walmart during the weekend before Christmas! lol

Then we hit the bread store to stock up on bread products since I haven't been back since Nov. 24th.  I may have gone overboard with the Holidays here, buying things like doughnuts, cakes, Stollen too.....I LOVE Entenmann's Stollen!
$22 later and 7 loaves of bread, 3 packages of rolls, 2 Stollen, 2 packages doughnuts, 1 cheesecake, 1 pecan danish ring and 2 cheese buns, we left the store.
This should get us through the rest of December AND well into January.

I had to pick up 2 prescriptions at Rite-Aid too, so while I was in the store, I "bought" a couple of other things......

3 x Pretty Woman Magnetix Nail Polish clearanced colors $1.99=$5.97
1 x Cepacol drops on sale=$3.99
1 x Russel Stover large box of Candy on sale=$8.99
1 x Cella cherry w/Gold discount=$.26

Coupons Used
1 x $1/1 Cepacol IPQ=$1.00
1 x $3/1 Rite-Aid Cepacol FacebookQ=$3.00
Coupon Total.....$4.00

$19.21-$4.00=$15.21+.06¢ tax=$15.27
I used $15 in +Up Rewards and put the .27¢ on my gift card.

I received back $5 in +Up Rewards($2 Cepacol, $3 Russell Stover big box of candy).
I can submit for SCRebate #3--$6 wyb 3 Pretty Woman Magnetix nail polish (Limit 2 rebates).
I "spent" $15 in +Ups  and got back $5 in +Ups and $6  in +Ups converted to cash, meaning this transaction "cost" me $4.
The Cepacol was a $2.01 moneymaker, the Magnetix polish was a .03¢ moneymaker and the RS Candy box cost me $5.99 after sale/+Ups.

This trip to Rite-Aid--
Value of items.....$47.58
+Ups coming into this trip....$63.00
+Ups used....$15.00
+Ups earned......$5.00
+Ups at the end.....$53.00
SCR earned....$6.00

*And here are my MONTHLY TOTALS*

Out Of Pocket....$0.00  cash
Value of items bought.....$685.87
Savings Rate of  100%
Single Check Rebate due....$14.00
Other Rebates due......$3.00
After SCR applied, Out of Pocket.... $0.00
Savings Rate.....102.48 %

+Ups at beginning of month...$47.00+
+Ups used....$230.00+
+Ups received...$236.00+
+Ups currently...$53.00+    

The Oldest son arrived home safely late afternoon on Saturday.
And my Holiday miracle--an item I ordered in November from overseas arrived BEFORE Christmas!  I had given up hope on it getting here in time for present unwrapping time.
It's wrapped up and under the tree.

Now I am one contented mama.

And we got a light dusting of snow which made the snow-crazed beagle happy.....

I actually got a shot of her standing still for once.  Usually when she sees snow, she's jumping all over the place or rolling around on her back in it. 
Silly dog.....

 And I still don't know what I'm cooking for Christmas dinner......sigh.....


Friday, December 21, 2012

Getting Ready To Celebrate

I went back to Dollar General yesterday since I had another $2/1 Axe Gift Set Dollar General Q and a $3.75/1 Axe set ManuQ.  I also took along a couple of $2/1 Dana fragrances Qs and $2/1 Playboy fragrances Qs since the DG ad noted that they carried the small bottles of Dana brands for $2 and Playboy body sprays were on sale for $3.50 this week.

I ended up finding the last one of each of these products at this particular store!

1 x Axe Gift Set=$10.00
1 x Dana fragrance=$2.00
1 x Playboy spray=$3.50

Coupons Used
1 x $2/1 DG Axe gift set Q(don't remember dotcom?)=$2.00
1 x $3.75/1 Axe gift set ManuQ=$3.75
1 x $2/1 Dana brands IPQ(dana website)=$2.00
1 x $2/1 Playboy brands IPQ(redplum dotcom)=$2.00
Coupon Total....$9.75

$15.50-$9.75=$5.75+.34¢ tax=$6.09 for all

After Qs, the Tabu was free, the Playboy was $1.50 and the Axe set was $ tax.

Then Daughter and I did some Holiday baking yesterday as well.
We did 3 batches of fudge.
Then we had a take-out lunch.
Then we lost the motivation to do anymore baking and napped.

But here is what we got done before lunch....

Chocolate Nut Fudge
Butterscotch Nut Fudge
Salted Butterscotch Fudge

Then I went and used our hotel points to make a donation of $40 to Rebuilding Together.  The membership company doubled the donation to $80.

A large box of gifties arrived today from my brother and sis-in-law.  The tree is looking quite grand and bountiful now.....

That old Christmas rug by the way has been in my family since before I was born.  It is a bit of tradition that makes the Holidays feel like home to me. ;-)

I also hung a few more ornies on the tree.....

Celebrate in Maxine style!.....

And everyone's tree needs other kinds of crabbiness as well.....

And really, if you have kids that grew up in the 1990's, it's not Christmas without cartoon characters like this one.....

And mom get's equal time on the tree for her childhood.....


Gift Wrapping 101...Just in Time for Christmas

Are you in the present wrapping weeds?
I know I have been the last few days.
Going into the Weekend before Christmas, we could all use some help, couldn't we?

We could all learn a lot from Aunt Chippy.....


Thursday, December 20, 2012

A Close Shave

I printed off 3 $10/1 Norelco shaver IPQs at the end of November(before they changed the wording to only specific models).

There is a monthly +Ups Deal at Rite-Aid for December....Spend $30 on Norelco products, Get a $10 +Up Rewards.  There is a limit of 2 Offers per Wellness account/card.

I bought this on Tuesday...

2 x Norelco Groomer/Razor Sets reg. $20.99 w/Gold discount $16.79=$33.58

I used 2 x $10/1 Norelco Razor IPQs=$20.00

I paid with $13 in +Up Rewards and put the $1.39 on my Rite-Aid gift card.

I received back $10 +Up Reward for spending $30 on Norelco products.(With $3.58 in tracking toward my next $30 spent.)

Then I used two Rainchecks I got on Black Friday weekend and bought all this last night......

1 x Norelco Shaver reg. $50.99 raincheck=$29.99
1 x Nivea Shave gel reg. $3.99 raincheck=$1.99
2 x Waggin' Tails dog treats on sale $2.99=$5.98
1 x Bayer Aspirin low dose 32 ct. w/Gold discount=$2.79
3 x 3 Musketeers candy bars B2G1Free sale=$1.98

Coupons Used
1 x $10/1 Norelco Razor IPQ=$10.00
1 x $1/1 Nivea Shave gel In-Ad Q from Black Friday weekend(stapled to raincheck)=$1.00*
1 x BOGO Waggin' Tails ManuQ=$2.99 (automatically deducted $2.99)
1 x $2/1 Bayer/Aleve product under 36 ct. R-A Q HERE=$2.00
1 x $1/1 Bayer product IPQ HERE=$1.00
1 x B2G1FREE 3Musketeers IPQ (was available on coupons dotcom)=$.99
Coupon Total....$17.98

I paid with $24 in +Up Rewards and put the $.92 on my Rite-Aid gift card.

I received back $10 +Up Reward for spending $30 on Norelco products.(The $29.99 spent this transaction added to the $3.58 tracking from my last transaction put me over $30 spent again, and triggered the Reward.)

* If you get a raincheck at Rite-Aid for an item that has an In-ad Q that week that makes it a good deal, be sure to cut that Q out of the sales ad and have the cashier staple it to your raincheck, so you get the sale price AND you get to use the Q you would have used IF they had had the item available the week of the sale.  Many stores will also let you staple a ManuQ or IPQ that is valid when you get the raincheck but may expire before the rainchecked item comes in again to the store.  Like on Sunday, I had a ManuQ for $1 off 2 Post cereals that was expiring that day! and the cereal was on sale 2 for $5.  If the store had been out of Post cereal, I would have gotten a raincheck for the cereal AND had them staple the then valid ManuQ to the raincheck so that when they got more cereal the following week and went to use my raincheck, they know I had the ManuQ ready to use during the dates it was valid, so they would accept it.

When in doubt, staple that Q to the raincheck!  If you find a better deal elsewhere before the Q expires, you can always remove it from the raincheck and use it somewhere else too.

$92.97 in Razors and $20.93 in other goodies, I am out $2.31 on my gift card and I am "down" $17 in +Ups or out $19.31 total.
Take out the cost of non-razor goodies and divide my total spent(with tax comes to $15.30) and each razor cost me $5.10.
$5.10 each for 3 nice Christmas gifts for the men in my life.

And I've used/rolled ALL my +Up Rewards that are expiring before Dec. 26th.

This trip to Rite-Aid--
Value of items.....$113.90
+Ups coming into this trip....$80.00
+Ups used....$37.00
+Ups earned.....20.00
+Ups at the end.....$63.00

*And here are my MONTHLY TOTALS*

Out Of Pocket....$0.00  cash
Value of items bought.....$638.29
Savings Rate of  100%
Single Check Rebate due....$8.00
Other Rebates due......$3.00
After SCR applied, Out of Pocket.... $0.00
Savings Rate.....102.28 %

+Ups at beginning of month...$47.00+
+Ups used....$215.00+
+Ups received...$231.00+
+Ups currently...$63.00+    


Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Tying a Knot & Hanging Onto 2012

What is it with all you people posting your goal results for 2012 and posting your 2013 Goals?

2012 is not over yet.
And I am just trying to get through December and everyone already has their 2013 shit together?!
Should I just throw in the cyber-towel now and call Game Over?
I'm sorry but I can't even "go there" with Goals for this year OR next year yet.  Plenty of time for that once the calendar rolls over into January.

I am still trying to get our Christmas tree ornamented.  The kids seem to have no interest in what is ON the tree, just what is UNDER the tree.

My time in eBay HELL is over for now.
I closed it down on Tuesday.  Better to shut down a week before Christmas than to leave myself open to dealing with panicking last minute gift buyers.
I already had one of them screw me over on Tuesday......asking questions(which I answered promptly), then buying something, then sending me a "I can't afford that, never mind" email a few minutes later when they actually looked at the shipping costs for the item.
On second thought, I should have closed it down a day sooner and would have avoided this asshat.

At least eBay HELL helped pay for Christmas and got some more things out of the house.

Now I get to clean the dining room aka "eBay shipping & packing central" and stack up the eBay storage tubs in the corner until after Christmas.  Now if only Hubs would stack the Christmas tubs somewhere other than the living room, things would look a bit neater in here.

I've got most everything wrapped at this point.  One gift has still not arrived and the chances are it won't get here before the 25th, but I knew that was a possibility when I ordered it back in November.  It's all good.....
Speaking of wrapping paper......I don't think I can ever use up what's here if I live to be 92.  90 maybe, but 92?....unlikely.
If I try to buy wrapping paper the week after Christmas, please come here and wrap my knuckles, willya?

I accomplished the gifting without stepping foot into a mall and most big box stores.
I did venture into Target with Hubs a couple of weeks ago with a $10 off $50 purchase Q but didn't see a thing worth buying.  It did give me some claustrophobic feelings and upped my stress level a notch or two.  Damn you Target Q!
And just for the record, my last trip before this one into a Target was about 2 years ago.  I do not "heart" Target.....

The only stores I've been in this month, besides that Target misadventure, are Rite-Aid(of course!lol), the Grocery stores, Ollie's, the Dollar Tree Store, KMart, Dollar General, and Bed Bath & Beyond.  Oh, and Sears to pick up an online order.  Gee, maybe I DID step foot in alot of store after all. ;-)

I am not looking forward to the Band Concert on Thursday.  Don't get me wrong, I LOVE listening to my youngest playing for an audience.  It's the audience that I can't stand.
People around here make very bad audiences.  The grownups talk incessantly while the kids are performing and play with their phones.  They let their young kids wander and run about the auditorium unsupervised while they pretend to listen and play with their phones.
It's so rude and disrespectful of the performers!  And then they wonder why their kids grow up to be rude and disrespectful?

Give me my days back in the Opera world where you had to wait for an intermission to be seated if you came in late and there was no getting up and down to get a drink or use the rest room.
Maybe if they started charging for these recitals people would value the performance more and not bring their "too young to sit still" brats and stop texting long enough to pay attention?
Probably not.....

#1 Son is due home on Saturday.
He may look like this.....

But he'll always be this to me......

 I miss him so much because he hardly ever comes home and we don't see him much.  Of course, after he's been here 5 days I'm ready to send him back.  I like to think that it's because we are both strong personalities and so alike in many ways.   Or he's just a

Every time I turn on the AMC Channel, they are playing one of the various movie productions of  "A Christmas Carol".  I've seen the Reginald Owens(original one), the George C. Scott and the Albert Finney(titled SCROOGE) versions so far.  No Alistair Sim Version yet....

I have also watched BAD SANTA about 4 times since Thanksgiving.....on Spike TV I think.
Haven't caught "It's A Wonderful Life" yet though.

I really could use "two, tree bottles" of hard cider and a date night with George Bailey about now.

12 more days.....12 more days.......