Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Ringing Out the Old...Good Riddance to 2013

I've been looking back at 2013.....both what I hoped to achieve/do/be when the year was new and contemplating how much(if any)of it came to fruition.

And I think I can safely say that I am GLAD to be kissing it's ass goodbye.

Except for a few highlights, 2013 was one of the least favorite years.
I guess almost dying will color your experience of a year that way, huh?

I never got around to posting a Grand List of Goals for 2013, frankly because I didn't get around to it early in the new year and when I did start forming them, well, I had a health crisis so that sort of(frivolous by comparison)thing just flew out the window. 8-)

I did do a monthly goal list in 2013 but I didn't keep those lists when the particular month was over.  Sometimes I rolled anything not accomplished into the next month and sometimes I just let them drop off.

Overall I can look back and see that I didn't read as much as I had hoped, didn't sew as much as I had planned(still am not sewing here!lol), and didn't see the number on the scale I wanted to by year's end.

But on the other hand, I got healthier, changed some bad habits/lifestyle choices, reached out more to others(friends AND family), appreciated my Hubs more, and cleared out things from my life.
Even with that almost dying thing happening, maybe 2013 wasn't so bad.......nah, it still sucked. lolz

I will say that we did experience some good things in 2013 so it wasn't all bad here at Chez Sluggy.

First the Personal Lowlights of 2013(bad things first, good things last, so we can end this on the positive).....

5.   How much financial "outgo" happened this year....between car repairs and replacements, dental problems, home repairs and remodels and new heating systems that don't work and college outlays, it was an expensive year.
4.  Various small crisis my kids' experienced in 2013....#2 Son's accident was the worst of those things.  Nobody died or was seriously injured physically or emotionally but I'm the mom, so I worry.
3.  Losing one of our last 2 dogs.
2.  Having a child(almost grown though)move her life 1200 miles away from us.
1.  Experiencing a health crisis that almost took me down.

And now the Highlights of 2013.....

5.  #1 Son finished college and transitioned smoothly into the working world.....not the dream job he wanted but it's a good start.
4.  #2 Son made strides toward adulthood(got license, good work ethic at school and his job, developed a passion for music, formed a plan for beyond high school and was happier socially, etc.)
3.  Keeping on track financially despite the unforeseen monetary pitfalls that had to be addressed so Hubs can retire in a few years.
2.  Did a lot more traveling and connecting in real life with friends and reconnecting with family.
1.  Made strides in turning my life around-from taking better care of my health, to cleaning out clutter and old ways that were weighing me down, to being a better steward of our money.

**At this point the hotel internet went down and took the last half of my post with it, because we had to check out so I couldn't save what I had written.  Of course, it was deep and profound but I can't remember 2 minutes ago, let alone 8 hours ago, so no one will ever see it now.
So trust me, it was awesome.....lol!**

2013 was a mixed bag of good and bad, with one really big bad.   But even the bad stuff can end up making you better if you learn the lessons it teaches. 
While I am thankful to still be among the living, having a health crisis kicked me in the ass, which is what I probably needed.  I got serious about my health and got myself out of a rut I had been in for years.  I have changed behaviors, let go of some emotional baggage, am appreciating certain people more and leading a more balanced and fuller life.

You can leave now 2013.  I appreciate the lessons you taught me but you have overstayed your welcome!
Bring on 2014!!
I still have a lot of work to do on myself but I'm taking names and I'm gonna kick ass......

Here's to all my readers, friends and family who have accompanied me on this journey through 2013.
May 2014 be brighter and better and our paths be full of opportunities!  Cherish those people in your life and keep those who have gone before you alive in your hearts.

Here's to us all......


My Mystery Giftie Revealed!

You may have seen this mystery box that was under my tree last week......

Well on Christmas morning we opened it up and revealed the contents.....

A really nice set of ceramic coffee/tea mugs that came in their own stand.  Now to figure out where to put this.....

The colors were spiffy too!
Especially this one.....

That picture was bad, here's a better one with the true color.....

And don't I look spiffy as well drinking from this awesome purple mug??

Do you see how large they actually are when they aren't stacked?
I got curious so I filled one and emptied the water into a measuring cup to see how much it holds.....

Holy Moley!!
3 Cups......

These aren't mugs, these are colorful measuring cups!

Or TANNER thanks I like to drink a lot!.......lolz

Thanks "T"!

You are awesome......

And why do I look like a cartoon turtle in this bad selfie?


Food & Toiletries Spending.....December Update & YEARLY Grand Totals

Onward to December's food spending report & closing out the 2013 Totals.....

Here are my FOOD BUDGET spending totals for DECEMBER 2013.

I have posted December's totals on the Total Grocery Savings for 2013 Page located HERE and have updated the Yearly Totals there.
I am listing subtotals for each store I purchased from in December.  If you aren't interested in that much detail, just skip to the bottom for the Totals Summary.

My spending includes Food, Toiletries/HBA, Pet Supplies, Cleaning Products, Paper Goods & tax where applicable. We are a family of 5(3 at home this month)& 1 dog. No kids under 17.

MAINE SOURCE(restaurant supply store)
OOP  $21.69
Value  $30.87
Savings  39.74%

OOP  $4.19
Qs/Ads/+Ups  $360.58
Value  $364.77
Savings  98.85%
SHURSAVE STORES(small local independent affiliated stores)
OOP  $68.08
Qs/Ads  $54.17
Value  $122.25
Savings  44.31%

OOP  $39.92
Qs/Ads  $8.00
Value  $67.08
Savings  40.50%

OOP  $151.23
Qs/Ads  $130.57
Value  $281.80
Savings  46.33%

I am no longer adding my rebates received into my food budget directly. I will use them on food on occasion and will note that when used.  I will keep track of rebates/gift cards/certs received here as before however.

TOTAL Value of Cash/Store Checks/Gift Card Rebates Received...$0.00

1 x Free Coke 12 pack Q from MyCokeRewards

My best 3 Store Savings Totals were Rite-Aid at 98.85%, Weis at 46.33% and the Shursave Market at 44.31%.  My WORST savings rate was 39.74% so I think I did exceptionally well in December on the value of what I got!
I shopped at 5 different stores this past month.

TOTAL Out of Pocket........$285.11
TOTAL Coupons & Store Sales Savings...$581.66
TOTAL Value of Items Purchased............$866.77
TOTAL Savings of...................................67.10%

This closes out the December food/toiletries spending.

THOUGHTS & COMMENTS for this month.....

I went into December wanting to cut my food/toiletries budget by $100, to $300 budgeted for ALL purchases, to make up for overspending in November by about $120.
I met that challenge.
Go me! 8-))

In December, total savings percentage for the year has gone UP 6.32% over November's year-to-date total of 60.78%, to 67.10%. 

If you add my November and December food spending together it comes to $867.89, which makes my monthly average $433.95 for those 2 months.  I am still over my $400 goal per month for Nov./Dec. but I got close.

As you can see my Savings Rate in December remained high, partly because of my Rite-Aid shopping.
Without the Rite-Aid totals added in, my December Savings Rate is 44.04%.  Achieving a savings rate in the 40's is what I strive for.  Add in Rite-Aid totals and my overall Savings Rate hits  67.10%.
We kept the food spending under $300 this month but still splurged on Prime Rib Roast for Christmas dinner(plus fresh seafood on Dec. 23rd) and ate very well otherwise all of December. 

So what is my secret to spending so little on groceries and toiletries?

I chalk this up to.....

* I buy loss leaders.

* I use a smallish assortment of coupons(to buy things I would have bought anyway).

* I use a price book, tracking to stock up when groceries where at their rock bottom price in the sales cycle.  I never pay full price for anything that will eventually go on sale....ok, maybe not never but very infrequently.

* I buy items on instant markdown and substitute them for other ingredients that are more expensive that week(or keeping those marked down goods for later in the freezer).

* I cook from scratch a good deal of the time, because it makes sense and I have to watch what I eat and have to keep my sodium intake low.

* I buy in season whenever possible.

* I have started to cook/serve/eat less food at meals so we have little to no food waste.  Sometimes I purposely cook more than we are going to eat for planned leftovers.

This is NOT to say that I don't follow/do all this all the time.  I do splurge and pay more for some things occasionally or just don't bother due to boredom or lack of energy, etc. or make mistakes.  But more often than not, these are my guidelines and how I keep more money in our pocket.

If you have other ideas or guidelines you follow please leave a comment and share yours with us all.
Here is the run down of the Grand Totals for my Food & Toiletries Spending for 2013--
2013 Total Saved $4,008.31

2013 Yearly Total Value of Items  $8,569.13

2013 Yearly Total Spent $4,560.82

2013 Yearly Savings Total of  46.77%

Yes, I saved almost HALF of what I would have spent if I just ran to the store and bought whatever/whenever I felt like buying by thinking ahead and exercising some restraint over my behavior.
The average monthly food/toiletries spending this year was $380.07.  We kept our food/toiletries spending average BELOW $400 per month in 2013.
How much did you spend on food in December?
Do you track your yearly food spending....if so how did you do this year?

Monday, December 30, 2013

Happy, Happy, Joy, Joy.....I Need a Drink!

Yes, we are stranded in a motel off an interstate today.
Like Sonya Ann we are having really miserable luck with cars lately.  Maybe she is causing this bad luck?  Ok, I need to think that because if it's not her, then this is all on me.

Anyway, in the midst of a jolly good time spending time with our #1 Son on the west coast of PA, the car decided to misbehave.  It was too bad to ignore and attempt to limp home and cross fingers that we didn't break down somewhere on the road on the way home.

So Hubs is 2 miles away sitting at a Firestone Car Repair Center with the chariot and I am stranded in a motel room by the interstate watching it snow outside......

How nice!
Wouldn't you want to spend your vacation in this way too? lolz

So keep our chariot in your prayers today that the work gets finished so we don't have to extend our stay and that the weather holds out so we can get home.

Fun, fun, fun!


Moms + Beer=Questionable Behavior

I am one gal who is all about having a good time, but let me just say that if you are 2 years old, it is cute if you stand up on a table in a restaurant and dance but it's so wrong to do this if you are 40-ish mom and your 10 year old-ish kids are with you........

Great role modeling lady!  I hope your daughter doesn't end up a pole dancing stripper....not that there is anything wrong with being one......8-)))

Hey! I've made some questionable life choices in my 50+ years, but that one?  Never.  But then again, I'd probably be buying them a new sturdier table.......



Saturday, December 28, 2013

Guess Where I Am Today?

This morning I saw gigantic lobsters and fishies!

Then it was some fashionable décor.....

With matching accessories!

A visit with a frisky pooch too......

More as it unfolds......


Friday, December 27, 2013

Is It Saturday Yet?!?

I got my errands run today.

First off, eye doctor appointments for #2 Son and I before the year ends.


I am still half blind as the doc had to dilate my pupils this time.......gak!
#2 Son had to drive us home.

What do you think of these beauties?

$200 VOGUE frames.....Verrrry Purple with rhinestones running down the side arms.

Very attractive, especially with that mad scientist hair I had going on today......

Forgot to take a pic of the frames I DID get, so y'all have to wait until next year to see them.
Yes, I am a big tease.....

After spending $137 OOP on 2 sets of lenses and frames(we gots real good vision benies!), we went next door to Ollie's(Good Stuff Cheap!)to look for this.....

Found 3 canisters(I am addicted!)and #2 Son talked me into buying a few other things too for him with some leftover Xmas money.

I didn't buy these however.....

Miniature Mr. Potato Heads.
Soccer Spud and Dancing Tater for $6.99.......really?! lolz

And yes, they were actually selling a box of rocks in the toy aisle.....

Read what is included in the box.....
6 Paints
They don't mention there are rocks in the box, but the box does say Makes 10 "Projects".
"Projects" is code for....rocks!
Believe me, there are 10 rocks in that box.
I pulled out my back picking it up and shook it.
Trust me.

I wonder how much extra you pay for buying a box of rocks with 6 paint pots inside, instead of just buying 6 paint pots and going outside and finding your own rocks?

I think anyone who buys this doesn't need the rocks since they can just shake a few out of their head.  ;-)

Next stop was Sallie's to drop off that last load of 2013 I posted pics of earlier this morning.
And as Monty Python would say, "And there was much rejoicing in the land.....rah!".

Then some Wendy's to sustain #2 Son so he had the strength enough to drive me home.

But there was a stop at the gas station to fill my car's tank and a stop at the Credit Union to fill my wallet before we pulled into the driveway. 8-)

Then a solo trip to Rite-Aid to spend those expiring +Up Rewards.

Used 5 rain checks(free cashews, free "Dream Sheets", .59¢ facial tissue, $4.37 toilet paper-after Qs and rain check-and FREE baby shampoo-after Qs/rain check), bag of Rolos and candles were 50% off, big candy bars about .40¢ each after Qs/sale, 4 bottles of spices for the pantry came out to .75¢ each and the Finesse was $1 a bottle after +Ups received.

All in, I spent $1.64 OOP(including tax)after using my $36.98 in +Up Rewards and Qs.
I received $5 in +Up Rewards back(2 x $2 wyb2 Finesse, $1 wyb2 J&J shampoo-even though the shampoo was FREE after rain check/Qs. 8-))

I put a small dry rubbed pork roast in the crockpot for #2 Son to eat off of the next few days(pulled pork sammies!) and the dog has been fed.

After I post this I am going to take a nap and do a little clear cutting(zzzzzzzzzzzzz)because I got up before 6 am. this morning.

So what did YOU get done today??



So Over This

To add to that last storage unit rental check I wrote earlier this month, here are the lovely words I received in an email this morning from Paypal.....

"inkFrog inc. canceled your automatic payments."

Say bye-bye auction management company. ;-)

Another 2013 goal achieved!


The End is Here!

No, not for this blog silly!
The end of the Great Purge of 2013!!

This is the last load I can drop at Salvation Army for 2013......

                Ty Beanie Buddies
           An entire outgrown teen's wardrobe(the stuff still in great shape).....lol

   Another, now empty storage bin

     More Beanies!

And my old guilty pleasure, Beanie cards.......more addictive than playing the lottery....lol

   A stack of fabric no one on Etsy wants and I can't use.

It's great to be rid of so much unnecessary stuff.  Not that I got all of it banished from Chez Sluggy but we made a discernible BIG dent.

Now I get to sit down with a pile of donation sheets for 2013 and add this all up.....YIKES!
If you don't hear from me for a week or two, don't worry, I'm just buried in paperwork.  8-)

Then it's onward to the dreaded FAFSA x 2.  Sorry I had to mention that one......


Thursday, December 26, 2013

Christmas Eve Decluttering Porn & Thursday's Plan

No posts this morning?
I guess everyone is out there sleeping off Christmas......at least, all MY friends are.....hehehehehe

As promised in my title, a bit of porn......

Add in two empty storage tubs I no longer need to this donation lot, that I didn't get a picture of before they headed out the door.

Hubs only had off Wednesday so he's back at work.  No lazing around the house and being slugs the rest of this week for us!  I might as well get a jump on things that need doing so here are my 5 goals for Thursday......

* Pay the last of the monthly bills and get them mailed.  DONE!

* Work on gathering 1 last donation lot for 2013 which will include some more business merchandise, some odds and ends and outgrown clothing from #2 Son as well.  He gleaned 2 garbage bags of outgrown duds from his dresser....no wonder he didn't have room in there for any of the clothes he actually wears! lolz  In Progress....an all day job

* Finish copying all my auction management/eBay listing html codes into Office so I can pull the plug on my subscription to the auction management company and that monthly fee on Dec. 27th.
Didn't even start yet.  sigh

*  Work on my December Food Budget post and Yearly Totals as I won't be spending any more $$ at the grocery store this year.  We have enough leftovers and foodstuffs in the freezer to get through the next week until New Year's Day.  DONE!

*  Lastly, figure out how to spend my expiring +Up Rewards at Rite-Aid and actually go use them before Friday night.  DONE!

* I might take a break and watch a movie too if I get enough done.  Didn't happen and I still have stuff to gather for tomorrow's trip to Sallies.  sigh


Ho Ho Ho

Go watch this film HERE about one guys journey to becoming Santa Claus.


Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas!

Dear George,
Remember no man is a failure who has friends.
Thanks for the wings,



Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Scenes from a Christmas Eve

 No duck decapitations or waiters singing this year.........

     Fortifying myself before we left......two shots please!.......

 Hubs yelled when I made bunny ears on the brother in-law......geez, ruin a girl's fun howaboutit?!

With 4 you get eggroll?

The fortune from my cookie.....how very true!......

Christmas eve selfie....ho ho ho......

Well what do you know?  We got more snow this evening!

The lights are actually red, not pink. 
Yes, Sluggy's porch is LIT......shuddup Judy, Frances and Sonya Ann!

Off to proof my rolls and hit the sheets before Santa lands in PA.  I hope he has plenty of rock salt or Sleigh Insurance! ;-)


A Little Handel on Christmas Eve

 A little seasonal Handel for your listening pleasure.......

 And although the Hallelujah Chorus is part of the Easter section, it's often performed at Christmas time.
Here is a cute version.....


My Christmas Week(Ok, Maybe 10 Days?) in Pictures

 Making the medical rounds.....

I saw a local TV Personality/Newscaster in the waiting room at this doctor's office.  He came out from over on the side where the plastic surgeons' offices are........hmmm........

Decorating the tree.....


Keeping up my strength to celebrate the Season.....

It snowed again.  Nothing is melting it is so cold.....

Late last week I went to the Dollar Store to buy some really cheap Dawn dish liquid(real cheap because of the coupons I had).
I had a weak moment in the store and bought 2 rolls of gift wrap.....ugh......I so don't need this!


But how could I say no to Thomas the Tank Engine and Justin Bieber for 1 dollar?!?
I did however, resist the TWILIGHT themed paper.......

 Then the Winter Solstice came to town.....

Followed the next day by Santa on a fire truck......

Sunday saw Hubs and I running out for necessary supplies, like Gingerbread flavored Marshmallows....

 And as we went down a depleted Christmas décor aisle I saw a stack of music CDs of Holiday tunes.
I exclaimed as I pawed through the CDs, "I wonder if they have a copy of "A James Brown Christmas"?
I really did say that, ask Hubs!

And then a Christmas Miracle happened and I pulled out this.....

I didn't even KNOW he had recorded a Christmas album! lol
Moral of this story.....Be careful what you wish for!!
Of course after that, I just had to bring Jimmy home with us.
After all, you don't want to piss off the Universe when it provides for you......plus it was 50% off to boot! ;-)

I saw this bank sign on the way home........and yes Sonya Ann, that is an adult bookstore sign next door to the bank.......

And here is what my fire pit looked like 24 hours after the Solstice.....


The After this morning......

Went out to get blood work done this morning and saw Santa walking down the highway.
Didn't get a picture unfortunately but you all know what he looks like, right?

Came home to bake some pecan pies......ALWAYS a tradition at Christmas in my home......

Next the Chocolate /Cinnamon Chip Cookies Hubs requested.....

And one big Cookie for Santa tonight.....

(For Santa=whoever goes to bed last gets to eat the cookie.)

Then Santa's helpers finally arrived with the Christmas Drawers.......it wouldn't be Christmas without new socks and drawers in this house........

Now Christmas can REALLY happen!

Off to start Aunt Lula's Rolls......