Saturday, January 30, 2016

Rite-Aid and Weis.....What Else Were You Expecting? lolz

A quick run into Rite-Aid on Friday and they still didn't have any Subway gift cards.
I'll have to hit up a different store today I am thinking.
But I did get this while I was there..........



On sale BOGO50% this week and I have 1 $2/1 Nexxus Q left from that Unilever booklet from Walmart.
$7.29 + $3.69=$11.08-$2Q=$9.08+.54¢tax=$9.62 using Plenti points.
I earned $10 in new Plenti points making this a .38¢ moneymaker.

I also bought some IHop and Applebee's gift cards(using Eating Out monies)and earned another $20 in Plenti points.

Then I ran into Weis(PMITA)Markets for food bank mayo plus a few other things for us.
I made a short video of that trip........



52% savings rate on the items I am keeping to use from that trip.
I'll go back on Monday to finish getting my weekly Deals at Weis and for the rest of my food bank donations.

Sluggy

Friday, January 29, 2016

2016 Food & Toiletries Spending....January Update

**I am posting this a few days early as I am done with my food spending.  The mayo I am picking up on special later today is for the food bank so not coming out of the food budget $.

Onward to January's food spending report.......



Here are my FOOD BUDGET spending totals for JANUARY 2016.

I have posted January's totals on the Total Grocery Savings for 2016 Page located HERE and have updated the Yearly Totals there.  I am listing subtotals for each store I purchased from in January.  If you aren't interested in that much detail, just skip to the bottom for the Totals Sum.  My spending includes Food, Toiletries/HBA, Cleaning Products, Paper Goods & tax where applicable. We are a family of 3(2-3 at home this month). No kids under 19.

******************

BAKERY OUTLET
OOP  $9.00
Value  $31.64
Savings  71.55%

BOYER'S
OOP  $40.36
Qs/Sales  $28.72
Value  $69.08
Savings 42%

CVS
OOP  $11.96
Sales/Qs  $12.38
Value  $24.34
Savings 50.86%

MAINE SOURCE
OOP  $60.82
Sales  $36.71
Value  $97.53
Savings 37.64%

RITE-AID
OOP  $0.00
Qs/Ads/gift card  $717,24
Value  $717.24
Savings  100%

SHURSAVE MARKET
OOP  $18.54
Qs/Ads $6.48
Value  $25.02
Savings  25.90%

WALMART
OOP  $19.01
Value  $26.61
Savings 28.56%

WEIS MARKETS
OOP  $202.24
Qs/Ads  $260.56
Value  $462.80
Savings  56.30%

*********************
My best 3 Store Savings Totals were Rite-Aid at 100%, the Bakery Outlet at 71.55% and Weis at 56.30%.  My WORST savings rate was Shursave Market at 25.90%.

I shopped at 8 different stores this past month.

** My TOTAL out of pocket for January food/toiletries was $373.30.
After I deduct the items I paid for that I am donating to the local Food Bank my OOP spending stands at $349.97.


TOTAL Out of Pocket........ **$349.97
TOTAL Coupons & Store Sales Savings...$1079.95
TOTAL Value of Items Purchased............$1,429.92
TOTAL Savings of...................................75.52%
TOTAL Savings without Rite-Aid...........50.89%

Value of items excluding Rite-Aid bought ones was $712.68.
Rite-Aid goods brought home totaled $717.24

This closes out the January food/toiletries spending.

THOUGHTS & COMMENTS for this month.....
I went into January wanting to do a $300 food budget for the month($200 for family spending and $100 to restock College Boy on food to take back to school with him).
After deducting what was spent on food bank purchases I spent $349.97 this month.
I didn't meet that $300 goal this month.  There were just too many deals and after the Holidays markdowns to stick to only $300 in January.  Approximately $50 over isn't terrible so I am happy with how things turned out.

The monthly savings percentage went down by 2.47% in January to 75.52% compared to December's 77.99% savings average.
While saving 3/4 on food every month is unsustainable I'll take it while it lasts. lolz

I have spent a total of $349.97 on food/toiletries so far in 2016.

LOOKING AHEAD To February 2016.........
Ok, since College Boy won't be home this month and we have no traveling plans and are hunkered down for the duration of this Winter and the freezer is still pretty full,  I will try for a $250 food month for February.  If deals on food come around this month I'll give myself an extra $50 and try to come in under $300.  This seems like the right amount as I tend to end up around $300 most months with food purchases.

If you have other ideas or guidelines you follow please leave a comment and share yours with us all.
Here's hoping y'all had a great year for spending less on food in 2015.

*  How much did you spend on food/toiletries in January?
*  Do you track your yearly food spending?
*  What was your savings percentage buying on sale and/or with coupons vs. buying at regular retail price last month, if you track that sort of thing?
*  What are your methods for keeping your food spending in check?

Now let's start 2016 off right by tracking where your money goes on food/toiletries/HBA/paper goods/pet needs.
Is anyone out there up for tracking expenditures and trying to spend less but still eat well?


Sluggy

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Big Change on the Horizon

It has officially begun.

Remember that bathroom remodel/renovation we were suppose to have done in 2015, that we put the money away for, but never got around to "pulling the trigger" on, as they say?

Well, it is happening.
And happening soon I think.

The project manager and the general contractor came to the house on Tuesday to measure and talk about the job.
I've picked out most of the stuff we need to buy......making decisions like this went quickly for me.





Besides flooring(tile)and wallboard and various unseen screws, nails, spackle, paint and trim,  etc. we are looking at $1800 for fixtures, cabinets, mirrors, tub, surround, toilet, doors......and it could easily top $3000 for all this other stuff combined.
Then there is the cost of all that labor......ick.
It's a small job he says though.

Even with all the spackling and waiting and sanding and spackling again and waiting again they should be in and out within 10 days if there are no back ordered parts or supplies.
And this might begin as soon as the middle of February.

While standing in the bathroom on Tuesday with the contractor as I was rattling off what needed to be done in there, he asked me if anything was going to stay in the room.  I replied, "Maybe the window valance." lolz
Yep, it's a total redo from the wall studs up.

I'll try to remember to take some BEFORE photos to compare to the AFTER ones.
I am just waiting now to get the call about the estimate and to go down to sign the contract so we can be put onto his work calendar and get a start date for the big Sluggy's Bathroom Project to begin.

We have had a mixed bag of results over our years of home improvement jobs, but mostly have been dissatisfied with the outcomes we get.  Except for the back deck we had built....those guys did a FABULOUS job!

I hope this job goes well and the money is well spent.

Unfortunately Hubs doesn't have a handy bone in his body so we pay through the nose in labor for every repair/renovation we undertake this is part of the reason why I am always reticent to spend money on renovations.
I don't mind paying well for it I just want it done correctly and I want the results to last more than a week before it all goes to hell.

And it will be soooooo nice to finally be able to take a shower in MY bathroom again!
And not to have to sit on a very pale minty green toilet EVER again....not even a nice vintage mint green one.  8-)



Sluggy

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Rite-Aid Quickie

I went up to Rite-Aid on Tuesday, even though I said I wasn't buying anything there this week to get some Subway gift card(as they are giving Plenti points with purchase this week but the store was out of cards).
I also saw this in the sales ad at home before I left to go........


Spend $15 on select P&G items, Get $5 back in Plenti Points.
Between the $2/1 Tide Q in the coupon insert on Sunday and the 2 x $2/1 Tide Qs I printed at coupons dotcom this makes for some very cheap Tide.

I also had a $3 off wyb $15 on cleaning and/or laundry items Q that Rite-Aid sent me via snail mail to combine with this Deal.

3 x Tide on sale $5.34=$16.02

1 x $3 off $15 R-A Q=$13.02

3 x $2/1 Tide Qs=$7.02 + .78¢ tax=$7.80 OOP

I paid with Plenti points and received $5 new Plenti points so these 3 jugs of Tide cost me $2.80 in Plenti points.


Tide for less than $1 a jug.....who's gonna walk away from that!?!  ;-)

There is a limit of 1 of this Spend $15/Get $5 Tide/Bounty/Duracell Deal per card.

Sluggy

Weis Shopping & Future Mayo

I went to Weis(PMITA)Markets on Tuesday to get a few things.
Today is the last day of the sales flyer in which they have assorted items for .88¢ each when you purchase in increments of 8.  I did that deal yesterday and also got a few other deals......


The 9 Barilla pasta boxes, the 4 Knorr noodle bags, the 2 Powerade Zeros and the box of Scotties tissue were all .88¢ ea.
I had $5.25 in coupons of this stuff--3 x $1/3 Barilla, 2 x $1/2 Knorr and a store generated Catalina Q for .25¢ Scotties tissues--so $8.83 for all 16 items.  Most of that pasta and those noodles will be going to the food bank.

I had a $1/2 Pillsbury refrigerated items(coupons dotcom)IPA and those were on sale for $1 each, making the biscuits .50¢ a tube.....with the cost of flour and butter, I can't make biscuits for that cheap! lol
I also found this flavor of G2 Gatorade bottles on clearance for .50¢ each so I picked up 4.


I found a bag of onion rolls 50% in the Bakery Dept. for $1.64 and this package of almost 1 lb. of Angus cube steaks marked down AND with a $2 Instant Discount sticker, making it $2.92. (The beef goes in the freezer awaiting College Boy's return for Spring Break as he loves Chicken Fried Steak.)

I spent $16.65(w/tax) on $41.68 worth of regular retail groceries, giving me a 60% savings rate for these purchases.

Just a note--
This Friday when Weis(PMITA)Markets holds their Friday Sale they are going to have Hellman's mayonnaise on sale for 50% off.  That's a good deal to begin with and if you can combine the $1/2 Hellman's in the 1/3 inserts that would make it $1.50 per jar which is an even better price.

Better still for me, I can combine that sale with a coupon in that Unilever NYE Party booklet I got at Walmart while shopping with my Eldest son down in F'burg at the end of December..........



Reg. price of $3.99, on sale for $1.99, use $1/1 Q=.99¢ mayo.
Sweet!

Of course these Qs say only 2 identical Qs in a shopping trip and I have 5 of them so I'll have to do 3 transactions.  I'll go to the self-checkout registers so this won't be a problem and I wouldn't have to keep getting back in line to get all my mayo.

Mayo for the food bank, here we come!! lolz

Thursday in the new ad at Weis and there is Purex laundry detergent for $1.97 per jug.  I plan to get 8-10 of those and this, along with everything else I bought this month and the toiletries I got for free at Rite-Aid recently will give me a full food bank donation to take in next week.
I'll pile it all together for a photo before I haul it off.  8-)))

And I'll deduct everything I've spent on food bank goodies from my food budget for January as it's not goods we will keep and use.  While this will bring down my food spending total for Jan. it won't get me under budget by a long shot since I wheel and deal to get this stuff for free or very inexpensively, just like the food I buy that we do eat.  ;-)

Sluggy

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

January Giveaway......Sluggy's Favorite Things

Ok Folks, this is the first Sluggy's Boring Blog Box Giveaway for 2016.

Since it's My Birthday,  it's a special giveaway box a la Oprah, full of Things Sluggy Loves!
Besides the things I love there are special things I have gathered in my various travels in the last couple of years.

Here is what you can win if your entry is picked---


1 Bag of Hershey's Dark Chocolate Pieces
1 Christmas Tin of Lindt Truffles
1 Jar of my Homemade Pepper Relish
1 Plastic Commemorative Cup from the Mudbug Madness Festival in Shreveport, LA
1 Box of Apple Candy from Western VA
1 Duck Call from DC Ducks Amphibious Boat Tours Washington DC
1 Pencil from Moundville Archealogical Park Moundville, AL
1 Magnetic Shopping List Pad
1 Slimey Glue Slug from UC Santa Cruz, CA
1 Postcard from Big Walker Lookout in Wytheville VA
1 Pair of Wild Bryde Wolf Pierced Earrings
1 2000 Olympic Keychain from Australia Summer Games(sent to me in 2000 by a friend from New Zealand)
1 Root Beer flavored Sprecher's Brewery Lip Balm from Milwaukee, WI
1 Package of Root Beer Fizzies Drink Tablets from Hoover, AL
1 Hand Painted Ceramic Bunny pulling a Wagon of Easter Eggs trinket box made by me








I'll leave this giveaway open until Sunday, February 7th, at 11:59pm Eastern Time, so that gives everyone a full week+ to enter this one.  The next day I'll put all the valid entries into a container and draw out a name and that person wins.


You may get ONE ENTRY every day by leaving a comment on this blog post until the Giveaway ends.
Tell me what here is the things you most want to win in your comment or tell me what you think about the upcoming US presidential election(that one should be good for a laugh or two, right?lol).

  Disclaimer--This giveaway is open to those with mailing addresses within the US or Canada only.
If you are in Canada, you will receive a smaller box of goodies, as the shipping rates internationally are ridiculous and I am not taking out a mortgage on my house to pay to ship this stuff.  ;-)

**
If you need this shipped to Canada, I'll have to change the box and it's contents a bit.  I can ship a plain box weighing up to 3lbs. via 1st class mail, which, while much more than the flat rate Priority to US addys, is still affordable.  These prize boxes usually weigh 7 or more lbs. when full, so if the winner is in Canada, I'll let them pick and choose which of the items they prefer sent in their box, until the box weighs 3lbs.  I hate to have to do this(not ship ALL prizes to them)but I would hate it even more to exclude them totally from entering the giveaway.

***NOTE***
Please make sure there is a way for me to contact you in your comment.  If you're not a registered Blogger User with your contact information on your User page, please put your email addy in your comment or email me your email addy privately when you leave a comment so I can get ahold of you if you win. If your Blogger associated user profile is a GOOGLE one with those Google Circles nonsense I CAN NOT CONTACT YOU as Google Circles doesn't show your contact info.  I again had to disqualify some entrants in the last giveaway because their profile is linked through Google and not Blogger.  Please check your profile!  And if you ARE entering through a Blogger profile PLEASE have contact info(email addy)in that profile.  If I can't access your email addy I can't contact you so email me your email addy or add your email address to your User Profile.

If I can't contact you then you can't win.  I have had to disqualify more readers than I care to due to this issue and I sure don't want it to happen again.  Thanks!

So let's get this started!

Sluggy

Monday, January 25, 2016

This Week on the Dining Table

It's the "We Finally Got a Proper Snow" Edition--



24 hours after the storm we have bare pavement again!  Having a nice sunny day on Sunday helped with this.

Onward to the meal planning!

Here's what was planned last week.......

1. Sunday--Meatball Subs, Veggies
2. Monday--Turkey Sandwiches(using up leftovers)
3. Tuesday--Butternut Squash Soup, Salad
4. Wednesday--Orange Chicken, Rice, Veggies
5. Thursday--Birthday Dinner Out
6. Friday--Leftovers
7. Saturday--Pizza or Leftovers

And this is what actually happened--

1. Sunday--Meatball Subs, Brussels Sprouts
2. Monday--Turkey Sandwiches(using up leftovers)
3. Tuesday--Sesame Chicken, Rice, Stir-Fry Veggie Mix
4. Wednesday--Leftovers of Chicken Enchiladas, Corn Casserole, Brussels Sprouts
5. Thursday--Birthday Dinner Out(Steak, Salad and Grilled Veggies)
6. Friday--Stromboli(using gift card)
7. Saturday--Halushki

5 meals cooked at home(3 new meals and 2 using up leftovers) and 2 meals out/take-out.
The Turkey sandwiches used some of the Turkey Roulade and stock from the freezer.  Butternut soup didn't happen as we ate the leftover Butternut Squash. We ate all the leftovers in the house except for 2 meatballs last week.  The Sesame chicken was a frozen dinner in a bag which I added more stir-fry and roasted chicken strips to.  Hubs finished the leftovers of that meal for Lunch on Sunday. I had gotten a large head of cabbage sometime last week so Saturday with the snow storm I made a large batch of Halushki with it.  I had to cook the cabbage down in 2 batches as I didn't have a pan large enough to do it all at once. lol  Lots of cooking on the weekend as electric rates are lower then.

As for my grocery spending last week......$63.89.    I have spent $352.65 so far this month and have -$52.65 left in the January food budget. lolz
Going over budget on food for us isn't a crisis.  We have plenty more to spend on food but I do like to keep close tabs on what is actually leaving the wallet.  This helps me stay accountable with spending, using up leftovers and not wasting food.

Leftovers going into this week......Halushki and 2 meatballs.  The Halushki will be 1 leftover meal and probably a few lunches for me this coming week.  The meatballs I'll cut up and add to Hubs serving of Lasagna tonight.  8-)

I cooked off 3 lbs. of ground beef bought on discount the week before(plus made up 2 small, uncooked, meatloaves for the freezer with the other 3 lbs. of beef bought).  I used half of the cooked off beef to make the meat sauce on Sunday for the lasagna I made and the other half will be for our Taco night on Wednesday.  I have a new bag of taters and everything else on the menu is in the freezer and/or pantry.

Here is this week's "food plan"--

1. Sunday--Spinach Salad
2. Monday--Lasagna, Tossed Salad or Cooked Green Veggie
3. Tuesday--Salmon or Rock fish(freezer), Potato Salad(pantry), Green Beans(freezer)
4. Wednesday--Tacos or Taco Salad
5. Thursday--Leftovers
6. Friday--Roast Chicken(freezer), Mac and Cheese(pantry), Collards(freezer)
7. Saturday--Leftovers

This week will see 5 new meals cooked and  2 meals of leftovers(repurposed into new dishes or not).
The spinach salad was because I got a 50% bag of it last week.  I cooked off the lasagna on Sunday as electric is cheaper on weekends here and we will reheat in the toaster oven tonight.  I plan to make Chicken and Dumplings next Sunday with the leftover Roast Chicken too, again rates are cheaper on Sunday.  I may also make a pot of Broccoli Cheddar Soup next Sunday too.  It's truly soup weather lately.  ;-)

What I need to buy for this menu? Lettuce.  I might also get some more food bank items(mayo, pasta)and stock up on G2 Gatorade as I am almost out.  Last week of the January food budget and I have busted it already so why not?! ;-)
The local Shursave market in the town west of us has Eggs for .99¢ dozen on Tuesday.  I have to go there to get to CVS(and I have a $5 EB to use)plus they have a Weis Market, so I might hit all those on Tuesday if the weather cooperates.

What is getting fixed and served at your house this week?

Was last week's plan successful, did you go off plan or did you not even plan what was going to be eaten last week?

Any great deals on food at your stores this week?

Sluggy

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Rite-Aid Last Week

Well the snow storm thwarted my evil plan as I wasn't able to get to Rite-Aid on Saturday to finish the deals I wanted to do last week.
Rats.

I shared what I bought on my son's card last Sunday(which was a $14.59 moneymaker)but here is what I bought on my card later on this past week.........


I actually did 5 transactions--2 of the cosmetic items in 1, the other cosmetic in a another 1, the air fresheners in 1, 2 x Kleenex with the Vitamints in another 1 and 2 x Kleenex and dish soaps in the last 1.

Each 2 boxes of Kleenex 4-packs generated a $2 OYNO Catalina Q so that's why I broke up those purchases into 2 orders.  2 of the Physician's Formula items have mail-in rebates so that's why I bought those 2 in separate orders.  And the air fresheners where bought first on another day because the store's truck order hadn't come in that week yet so I couldn't do the Kleenex purchases yet as they were out of stock.
See?....there really is a method to my madness.  lolz

Altogether this all came to $64.96 w/tax.
Coupons came to $13.29
$64.96-$16.30=$48.66

I used $48.66 in Plenti points to pay and earned another $32 in new Plenti points(2x $10 wyb $15 Physician's Formula, $10 Bonus Starting Points wyb $30, $2 Kleenex wyb $15), received $3.30 in cash at SavingStar(Renuzit) and will receive $15 in mail-in cash rebates for the cosmetics(Physician's Formula), making this a $1.64 moneymaker AND I still have a $2 OYNO Catalina to spend too.
Deducting the cost of the stamps to mail for the cosmetic rebates and it's still a .74¢ moneymaker.  ;-)

I had plans to do the P&G Deal(earning $20 in Plenti points)on Saturday.  I had to wait a day for the new Plenti points I earned to go "live" from Friday's purchases and when the snow happened well, I didn't get to the store on Saturday.
Rats.
If I had my 2 x Pampers, 2 x Cover Girl eye shadow and 1 Charmin TP pack would have "cost" me $1.90 + tax after sales/Qs/new Plenti points.
Oh well.......

Let's recap all our purchases of last week--

I "bought".....
6 x 12-packs Coke products
2 x 12-packs Charmin
2 x Vitamints
2 x Cover Girl eye shadow
2 x Cover Girl mascara
2 x Palmolive dish soap
4 x Kleenex 4-pack bundles
6 x Renuzit air fresheners
3 x PFormula cosmetic items

And after sales/coupons/rebates/taxes/cost of stamps I "made" $15.33(and a $2 Catalina too)to bring this all home for FREE! 8-)

I'll be laying off of Rite-Aid this week as the Starting Points Bonus Deals are finished for January and the next promo for February doesn't start until next Sunday 1/31.  I'm not real crazy about the next promo as you have to "spend" $100 before the first reward of $20 kicks in.  This promo will be harder to work the deal so that I don't "spend" anything to get my free stuff. 8-)))

Other than buying some gift cards that generate Plenti points this week there isn't anything for me to buy at Rite-Aid until next week.

Sluggy

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Snowmageddon Jonas.......Not Bad Here

We got a mere 9.5 inches by the time the snow stopped flying around 4 pm......


I measured 8" at 2 pm on the back deck.....


So what do you do when you can't go to Rite-Aid because the roads are a mess?

In NE PA you make a big pot of Halushki......


And you brew some beer........


....though Hubs Session IPA won't be ready for a few weeks yet.

And then you send Hubs out to shovel down by the road before the plows come through again and pile it all up at the base of your driveway and it freezes overnight........



About an hour South of here got 2.5 feet.
College Boy who's an hour west and then an hour north of us didn't get a single snowflake!
Eldest son checked in at 6 pm with 2 feet and it's still coming down there in F'burg, VA.  I do believe at this point his school WILL be out of session for about a week. lolz

Sluggy

Friday, January 22, 2016

Friday at Chez Sluggy

Sorry for the radio silence yesterday on the blog.
It was my birthday.
I'd like to say that I was too busy partying and carousing with friends to write yesterday.
But the reality was quite different and I was holding a little pity party for myself.

Some folks on Facebook did send me some Happy Birthday messages which I appreciated.
But I am so bad about remembering other people's birthdays I am not surprised, nor should I be, that most folks don't make a fuse for mine.
Plus not having any friends in "real life" living around here doesn't help.

So I just got wild and crazy yesterday and went up to Rite-Aid and picked up a prescription, bought some air fresheners(will be a .30¢ moneymaker after Saving Star Rebate(lolz), then I went to Weis(PMITA)Markets and spent 33.43, saving 58% over regular retail.  I then got some soup for lunch at the Chinese restaurant and laid down and took a nap.

Hubs took me out for a Birthday dinner at a local steak place that evening and I splurged and got a flight of Long Island Iced Teas......


What's with that face I am making? lolz
And I don't even remember actually eating dinner after drinking those little tiny drinks.
I am a lightweight when it comes to drinking.....

This weekend Hubs will get a cake and sing to me, after I stuff cotton balls in my ears of course......yah, he can't sing.  ;-)

As of now it looks like the Jonas Snowmageddon will miss us mostly.  Only 2-5 inches of snow in these parts on Saturday.  We can do that standing on our heads!  Eldest says they are predicting 2 feet+ down in F'burg and they called school off for Friday on Thursday.  Scuttlebutt by other teachers in his building is that school will be out for all of next week there too if they get as much as what they think is coming.

As for the good "deals" I picked up at Weis yesterday........

4 cans of Pillsbury Grands! biscuits after sale/Qs were .50¢ each.  At this price I don't mind using some of them to make dumplings for chicken 'n dumplings next week because they are as cheap as the store brand whack biscuits I use for this dish usually.
 
4 packs of chewing gum for free after sale/Qs.

2 jars of peanut butter for $1 each after sale/Qs.

6 boxes of whole grain Barilla spaghetti for .55¢ each after sale/Qs. (These are headed to the food bank.)

1.04 lb. of steak for $2.67 after sale/instant $2 off sticker.

1 bottle of ketchup for .79¢ after sale/Q.

4 cans of Hormel chili for .75¢ a can after sale/Qs.

1 bag of fresh spinach $1.24 after 50% off sticker.

4 bags of Oreos(for CB)$1.99 bag after sale/Qs (I'll also get a $2 rebate from Checkout51 for buying these so they'll turn out to be $1.49 a bag in the end.)


College Boy likes Golden Oreos but I just had to get a bag of this one I haven't seen before, Cinnamon Bun.  I may have to actually try one of these before he gets home for break as I love anything Cinnamon......lolz

I'll be going back to Rite-Aid today to do some deals on my Plenti card(I already did some deals on Eldest son's card last Sunday).  I have $5.94 spending tracking toward #1 $30 Bonus Plenti points Reward from those air fresheners I bought Thursday.  I couldn't finish off the deal I wanted to do yesterday because they were out of some of the products so I have reformulated a plan and will go back later today to "work it".  After all is said and done I'll spend $43.96 in Plenti points, get back $40 in new Plenti points AND qualify for $15 in cash Rebates so another moneymaking opportunity!  8-)

Eating out this month...We have only gone out twice--for my birthday dinner last night and for breakfast on Monday(Hubs was home and I had a dr. appointment so he came with me and we hit Denny's for some eggs) and my take-out Birthday soup.  We have spent $75.99 on only 2 meals out/1 take-out meal.  I don't foresee anymore eating out this month so we will stay under $100 on that tally.

All the bills for the month are in and paid for January.  It's only been about a week since the credit card bill cut and we already have $500+ more on that one which will be due in February.  Half of that is for 1 drug refill(medical high deductible)so it's really not so bad.  We had a car that needed it's yearly inspection, another car needed an oil change/etc., CB needed a black shirt for symphonic band performances, we spent $75 at Lowe's and another $75 on CB's books for the semester and then CB's new glasses didn't come in until after he went back to school so I had to mail them to him yesterday so postage was put on the credit card.
The costs of just living your life do add up, don't they?  8-)))

I tried to work on a Giveaway to post yesterday but didn't get very far with it and certainly didn't get it all sorted so I could post it.  Maybe this weekend I'll finish that up and it will go "live" as they say.

Not much else new going on here that I can talk about yet.  I'll have something to share after next Tuesday so stay tuned..........

What's going on in your world?

Sluggy










Wednesday, January 20, 2016

You Just Never Know

Now and again I'll send for product samples.  I don't really seek them out as much anymore since I get most of my toiletries for free after deals/coupons/sales/points at Rite-Aid.
But if I see on one of the Deal blogs that I get emails from a sample that we can use I will send for it.

Usually, if the item is one we use, the accompanying high value coupon that is sent along with the sample is worth more to me than the actual product sample.

Well it was a pleasant surprise when this Axe Deodorant sample arrived...............


Not a sample but a full sized bottle!
No coupon but this was even better.......

So send for those samples because you just never know when that sample will be a free full sized item!

Sluggy

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

14 Goals for 2016

I have finally come up with my Yearly Goals for this Year.

Most of them are similar to or a continuation of 2015's Goals.



FINANCIAL

*  Save $40K of our income this year.  I did it last year so I am going to try to get to this amount in 2016.  Unless Hubs ups and retires during the year or we get hit with some other financial catastrophe this should be feasible.....a stretch and not easy but possible.  I just have to resist spending on "wants".  Easier said than done, right?  ;-)

*  Attempt to sell some stuff we need to get rid of.  There are some items we need to let go off that are like new or in very good shape that could bring in a few dollars so I need to get back into selling mode.  This could bring in potentially enough to fund a few months of groceries and I will earmark anything sold for that.

*  Take care of all the paperwork/bills/financial stuff in a timely manner this year.
Track spending monthly so we can adjust/correct any overspending/bad decisions asap and not come out the other end of 2016 with financial messes to clean up.

HEALTH

*  Continue with my exercise program, add to it, and do it every month.  It's a well ingrained habit, in that, even on days when I don't feel so well I still get on that bike and pedal way.  I need to add other components to this.  Maybe I'll see about paying a trainer to push me if it's not too expensive?  Because left to my own devices I will slack off if not held accountable to someone. 8-(

*  Do more Gardening than in 2015.   I think we will dig up where the pool use to be and use that as gardening space this year.  It's already cleared and it's in the middle of the backyard so gets sun most of the day making it perfect if we can fence it off from the rabbits.  More produce grown=more produce eaten=better health.

*  Do some canning.  Other than making some peach jam last year I didn't do any other canning.  I had no tomato crop so I couldn't make my relish(thankfully I still had enough so we won't run out before I can make some this coming Fall)or can any tomatoes.  I have plenty of jars so I just need to get the produce and do this....no excuses.

*  Lose 20 pounds.   While I am exercising on a regular basis since last March and we are eating better/less and feeling better overall I still need to drop some weight.  I have various health issues that keep me from doing more and medications that keep me from losing but I need to do something to make this happen. sigh.  Perhaps at my next dr. check-up I'l pick his brain on what I can try that is alluding me.

PERSONAL

*  Paint 12 Items in my Ceramic Stash.  After ignoring the basement for so many years I am facing up to all the unfinished product down there now.  If I don't get anything else done this year I NEED TO PAINT this stuff!!!  And after I do I get to have to problem of doing something with all this newly painted stuff.  Unless I can talk 12 friends into coming to see me this year and then I will have presents for all of them to take home. ;-)

*  Sew and COMPLETE 6 Projects.  I completed 8 sewing projects on my plate last year.  I still have a couple "already started" ones and I will start some new projects to get my 6 done.

*  Complete 1 crochet project.   I have the yarn and the hook I just need to sit down and do this.  Last year with the cataract surgery and all the eye problems this wasn't even feasible so it's back on the list for this year.

TRAVEL

*  Go on at least 2 trips for pleasure.   I am feeling like more of a homebody at the beginning of this year so I am not feeling that travel bug as much so I am thinking of ramping back the travel plans for 2016.  Only time will tell if I keep to this smaller amount of travel.   Perhaps no Family Reunion Trip this year and there will be no trips to find a kid an apartment and then back to move them.....so that's 3 less trips to make in 2016.   Maybe no trip to LA this year or we will fly out?  We have talked about going back to Maine this year as we haven't been in quite a few years and I really love Maine.  Perhaps I can stop in MA on the way and visit some family?
And then of course there is the invite to come see Kim in ID.  If Hubs retires unexpectedly this year we'll have the time to do that trip.  8-)

HOUSE STUFF

*  Have 2 House Repair/Improvement Projects completed. 
There is still the bathroom redo/repair on our plate that we put money aside to complete this last year but never got around to doing it.  Plus we need to figure out which other Project we can tackle in 2016.  I am thinking window glass replacement as we have at least 5 glass seals that have broken.  Plus we need new window screens for most of our windows.  Not things we can do ourselves but things we can put money toward and get ticked off the repair list.  We just need to wait and see how much Hub's bonus will be this year to see how much we have to work with to pay for the 2nd project.

*  Get rid of 6 boxes of possessions plus some larger items that need disposing of.  I still have some "stuff" to get rid of in the house, even after sending 11 loads to Salvation Army last year.   I need to figure out how to dispose of most of my ceramic molds from when I had a ceramic business.  And I need to help Hubs go through the shed this Spring/Summer too.  I don't usually go in there but I took a peak back in the Fall and I can easily see many items we don't need to hang onto like old pool stuff and bicycles from when the kids were smaller.  I am sure there are many more things we can pitch or recycle in there too.

BLOGGING

*  I will try to blog 6 days a week as this is pretty much how much I do now.  I have my regular weekly and/or monthly posts--Monday's Weekly Meal plans/results, End of month Savings Challenge.  Food Spending/Budget, and Monthly Goal Update posts.  



So that's my list of 14 action areas for 2016.
Now to turn these Goals into Reality, how do we proceed?
After all, a Goal without a Plan is just a Wish.

You can't hit a target if you don't name that target first.

Make a plan to reach your goals.  I plan to incorporate my Goals into my Monthly To-Do List which is posted on my blog side bar to the right.  


Wish me luck! 8-)

Sluggy

Monday, January 18, 2016

This Week on the Dining Table

It's the "College Boy left home again" Edition--


Well we finally got rid of him sent him off again to finish off his Sophmore year of college.


I must have said something funny right before I took this shot. lolz


Onward to the meal planning!

Here's what was planned last week.......

1. Sunday--Cod Loins(fish), Cole Slaw, Mandarin Blend Veggies
2. Monday--Leftovers
3. Tuesday--Chicken TBA, Veggies TBA(not sure exactly what dishes yet)
4. Wednesday--Chili(from freezeer)(I'll have leftovers or soup)
5. Thursday--Turkey Roulade and Stuffing(from freezer), Butternut Squash
6. Friday--Fried Shrimp(from freezer), Cole Slaw, Steak Fries, Corn
7. Saturday--Leftovers or Take-Out

And this is what actually happened--

1. Sunday--Cod Loins(fish), Cole Slaw, Mandarin Blend Veggies
2. Monday--Leftovers(I had spaghetti w/meatballs)
3. Tuesday--Turkey Roulade and Stuffing(from freezer), Butternut Squash
4. Wednesday--Leftovers
5. Thursday--Fried Shrimp(from freezer), Cole Slaw, Corn Casserole
6. Friday--Chicken Enchiladas
7. Saturday--Leftovers(I had a large Salad.)

6 meals cooked at home(3 new meals and 1 using up leftovers)and 2 nights of boring old leftover leftovers.
I also made 2 pumpkin pies and after the Pumpkin Pie Monster aka CB attacked them we are down to half of 1 pie.

Everything planned was served, except for no Chili since we had ample leftovers without thawing that out.
I also have been having leftover cod sandwiches most days this past week for lunch.

As for my grocery spending last week......$134.72.  This includes 3 smallish trips to Weis, 1 trip to the Bread Outlet for 3 packages of rolls and 3 Danishes and 1 trip to Maine Source for eggs, onions and tomatoes and some meats(beef, shrimp).  I have spent $288.76 so far this month and have $11.24 left in the January food budget.  I anticipate I will go over my $300 food spending limit this month.
Not quite $100 of what I spent this month went to restock College Boy's emergency school food supplies and snacks so I've already spent my $200 on the regular food shopping here.
Yeah, I suck at this this month.

Leftovers going into this week......beef stew, turkey and stuffing, butternut squash, meatballs and Italian sausage, chicken enchiladas.

Here is this week's "food plan"--

1. Sunday--Meatball Subs, Veggies
2. Monday--Turkey Sandwiches(using up leftovers)
3. Tuesday--Butternut Squash Soup, Salad
4. Wednesday--Orange Chicken, Rice, Veggies
5. Thursday--Birthday Dinner Out
6. Friday--Leftovers
7. Saturday--Pizza or Leftovers

This week will see 3 new meals cooked and  3 meals of leftovers(repurposed into new dishes) and 1 meal out.

What I need to buy for this menu?  Not a thing.  But this probably won't keep me from grocery shopping the next 13 days of the month. lolz


What is getting fixed and served at your house this week?

Was last week's plan successful, did you go off plan or did you not even plan what was going to be eaten last week?

Any great deals on food at your stores this week?

Sluggy

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Keeping Costs Lower Where You Can

I was out already this morning to run two errands.
First to Weis(PMITA)Markets........


6 x Dinty Moore stew on sale $1.87 ea.=$11.22
2 x Whack Biscuits on sale $1=$2.00
1 x Smart Balance spread on sale=$2.50
1 x Bakery rolls 50% off=$1.64
4 x StarKist tuna on sale .77¢=$3.08
SubTotal.......$20.44

Coupons Used
3 x $1/2 Dinty Moore ManuQ=$3.00
1 x $1/2 Pillsbury fridge goods IPQ=$1.00
1 x .75¢/1 Smart Balance IPQ(doubled to $1)=$1.00
2 x $1/2 StarKist IPQ=$2.00
Coupon Total.......$7.00

$20.44-$7=$13.44 OOP
$32.35 in reg. retail so I saved 50.45% on this order.

I also have a $1/2 Pillsbury biscuits Rebate clipped on my SavingStar account so I'll be getting $1 back there too, making this $12.44 OOP.
(I am up to $21.00 in rebates on SavingStar and it's only January!)

The canned stew will go into College Boy's emergency food stash and the tuna may be headed for the food bank.  Rolls, biscuits and spread are for us.

While I was at Weis I dropped off a rx to transfer.
Since we have a $3K deductible at the beginning of each new year for our medical insurance I have 2 different scripts for my high cost prescription.  Same medicine but different delivery system means the Usual and Customary for one if $355+ and the other same drug/diff. brand/system's Usual and Customary price is $250+.
So when we have to pay the full U&C before we satisfy the deductible and are then only charged the co-pay price of $45, I have the lower U&C cost drug refilled.

So I transferred this lower cost drug rx to Weis' pharmacy today.......


Yes, that's $251.69 for 1 rx refill!  But it could have been $350+!
At least I also earned 60 gas points for this purchase.
I am trying to look at this as the glass is half full here...... lolz

But why transfer the rx to Weis?
Well, this week when you have them transfer or fill a new rx you can get a $20 Weis gift card(as well as all those gas points).
So that's what I did and got.......


Hey, I figure I have to pay the same price for this medicine no matter where I have it filled so why not have it filled at Weis this week and get $20 of free groceries?  ;-)
Rite-Aid only gives me a piddly 25 Wellness points per rx so I get more of a perk at Weis even if it's just gas points.

Just working the system to keep my food spending costs down for 2016.

Then I went up to Rite-Aid for this stuff........


2 x Charmin TP on sale=$13.88
6 x Coke 12 packs on sale 3/$11=$22.00
2 x Cover Girl eye shadow BOGO50%=$5.08
2 x Cover Girl plumpify mascara BOGO50%=$14.98
1 x Centrum Vitamints on sale=$6.99
SubTotal.......$62.93

Coupons Used
2 x $1/1 Charmin IPQ=$2.00
6 x MyCokeRewards Free Q=$22.00
1 x $2/2 Cover Girl eye or lip ManuQ=$2.00
2 x $3/1 CG Plumpify mascara ManuQ=$6.00
1 x $4/1 Vitamints IPQ=$4.00
2 x $3 OYNO CatalinaQ(from Friday's trip)=$6.00
Coupon Total......$42.00

Except a $4 Load2Card for Vitamints also came off that I had forgotten about and the cashier didn't notice(nor did I until I was in the car)so he manually forced the paper Vitamints Q through and I got an extra $4 off my order.

If you also clipped the $4 Vitamints Rebate on SavingStar you can make the vitamin purchase a $1.01 moneymaker after Q and Rebate(unfortunately I didn't clip that one a couple of weeks ago before they ran out of offers).

$62.93-$46.00=$16.93 + .48¢ tax=$17.41 OOP.
I used $17.41 in Plenti points to pay so no cash spent.
I earned $32.00 in new Plenti points for the order..........


$10 in Plenti points for spending over $30 on P&G items
$10 in Plenti points for #1 Bonus spending over $30.
$10 in Plenti points for #2 Bonus spending over $30($62.93 total spent before Qs).
$2 in Plenti points for buying 6 packs of Coke items($1 per 3 packs x 2).

$32 in new points, spent $17.41 in old points which makes this a $14.59 moneymaker on this card.  8-)))

So I spent $13.44 cash and got $32.35 in reg. retail of groceries, $20 in free potential groceries, $97.67 in reg. retail of toiletries, drinks and paper goods and $14.59 in more new points than I spent down.  The rx refill is a wash as I had to have that filled somewhere anyway but the .60¢ additional off my next gas fill-up is a nice little bonus.

But that $251.69 spent for meds still hurts......lolz

Have you ever moved prescriptions to gain perks like free gift cards or rebates?
I did this 2 times last year at Weis for $40 in free gift cards there and I also moved rxs to Kmart's pharmacy last Spring for $60 in free gift cards there and also earned $10 in free stuff after having my 5th refill purchased there.  That's $110 in free gift cards just for filling prescriptions that have to be filled anyway.  Why not get something else I can use as a bonus, right?

Sluggy

Saturday, January 16, 2016

What I Bought at Rite-Aid This Week

Well I resisted going to Rite-Aid until Friday and then I gave in.
Since I really didn't NEED anything I tried my best to stay home.

But the siren song of really cheap stuff that I could potentially sell for a profit got the better of me. lolz

This week Huggies diapers were on sale for $7.99 and you received $3 in Plenti points for every 2 packs you bought.
Limit of 2 offers per card so potentially you could earn $6 in points, plus another $10 in points since buying 4 on your card meant you "spent" $31.96, so you qualified for the $10 in Bonus points as you spent over $30 on "Starting Points" items.
Using 4 x $2/1 Huggies IPQ your total before tax came down to $23.96 so after new Points earned of $16.00 you are out $7.96 + tax.
But if you bought 4 packs of Huggies in the same transaction you also earned a $10 Catalina from Huggies which is good on your next order!
This makes this deal before taxes a $2.04 moneymaker.

I went to do this deal on each of our two household cards except things didn't go quite as planned.
I meant to roll the first $10 Catalina I got and use it in my second diaper order on the second card.


First order--
4 x Huggies=$31.96
4 x $2/1 Qs used=$8.00
$31.96-$8=$23.96 use Plenti Points.
Earned $16.00 in new Plenti Points and a $10 Catalina.

Second order--
4 x Huggies=$31.96
4 x $2/1 Qs used=$8.00
1 x $10 Cat used=$10.00
$31.96-$18=$13.96 use Plenti Points.
Earned $16.00 in new Plenti Points and a $10 Catalina.

$37.92 in Plenti Points spent.
$32.00 in new Plenti Points earned and 1 $10 Catalina.

But the cashier finished the 2nd transaction before I handed her the $10 Catalina so I ended up spending $47.92 Plenti Points, getting $32 in new Plenti Points and having 2 x $10 Catalinas when I was done.
Well, I also bought a bottle of Vaseline in the first diaper transaction too....$2.99, used a $2/1 ManuQ and got $1 in Plenti points back so this on it's own was a .01¢ moneymaker.

Since I had 2 $10 Cats when I was done  buying the diapers I bought......
2 x Viva paper towel 6 packs on sale BOGO so $12.79 for both
I used a $1/1 Viva ManuQ making my total $11.79.
I used a $10 Catalina making my total $1.79 + tax.
I earned a $3 Catalina for buying 2 Vivas in a single transaction(even though 1 is free it still counts toward your total items bought).



I had $1.96 tracking on the card from buying the 4 packs of diapers toward a second $10 Bonus Plenti pts. wyb $30, add in the $12.79 and my tracking is at $14.75.

So I rinsed and repeated the Viva transaction and added 3 boxes of protein/cereal bars.
Special K bars and cereals were 3/$8 at Rite-Aid.  There was an in-ad Q for $3 off wyb 3, making them $5, plus I found a $1/2 IPQ Special K bars and activated a $1/2 Special K bars rebate offer on my SavingStar account.
The second Viva transaction was $20.79-$5 in Qs=$15.79-$10 Cat=$5.79 + tax.
I earned another $3 Catalina for buying 2 Viva and another $10 Bonus Plenti points Offer for spending over $30 total this week.
Plus I'll get another $1 in my SavingStar account later this week.

Total spent in Plenti Points w/tax....$57.90
Total earned in new Points...........$43.00
Total Catalinas remaining...............$6.00
Total SavingStar Rebates earned.....$1.00

So after all my rebates/cats/new points I "spent down" my Plenti points by $7.90.
Or 8 packs of diapers, 4 packs of paper towels, 1 bottle of lotion and 3 boxes of protein bars cost me $7.90.

As for what the plans are the all those diapers?
Either I'll hold onto them in the hopes that one of my older kids gets pregnant in the near future(Hey! I can hope, right?)or I can be sensible and either give them to the food bank or sell them via the town's online marketplace.  I sold a bunch of packs of diapers a few years ago that I had gotten for free at Rite-Aid so I figure I can make about $32-$40 that way off of the diapers, which would make all this a nice big fat moneymaker.  8-)))

I may go back later today and get 3 more bottles of Vaseline lotion as I have 3 more ManuQs and each one is a .01¢ moneymaker so why not?
I can add them to the food bank donation I am gathering this month.

Sluggy

Lottery Fever....Get a Grip People!




Ok, after I heard about the woman who started a GOFUNDME campaign because she spent all her savings on Powerball Tickets(and didn't win anything of course)and wanted complete strangers to send her money because she was broke, and people were actually giving her money!!! before the site shut her down,  I just had to write something.

Yeah, me keep my big mouth shut?  Who didn't see THAT happening?! lolz

Lotteries are bad ideas for the most part.
True they do fund some government programs and fill the state's coffers.
But the percentage of ticket sales that actually go into winner's pockets and the odds of winning, especially a multi-state super lottery drawing like Powerball, are so not weighted in your favor.
While playing games of chance at casinos are always in favor of the house and against you, the odds of winning a state or multi-state lottery are almost nil.
The jig is up, it's a highly rigged game!

A guy named James Walsh wrote a book back in 1996 called "True Odds".  It's about how risk affects your everyday life.  It's an interesting read especially if you are a statistics fan or numbers geek.

Mr. Walsh named one of the chapters, "Lotteries are a tax on the stupid".
That sounds a bit harsh(if not ultimately true), but I'd change it to "Lotteries are a tax on the foolish and the poor.".

The people most likely to play the lottery are the ones who can least afford to lose money on them, the poor.  People who think of themselves as poor seem to play the lottery often if not weekly.  I guess if you have so little money and have little to no hope of ever rising up on the socioeconomic ladder that you feel that your best, if not only, shot at being economically advantages is to hit a lottery.  The dream of winning big gives people with the least hope something to grab onto, if not just for a moment or two.

I have heard it said by more than one person I know, that a large part of their retirement plan is to play and hit the lottery.  Some people might say this as a joke but my mother truly believed that her numbers would come in one day and for a time she played religiously with the little income she had.  She even went so far as to keep track of the odds of which numbers were "due to hit" in a notebook and studied it frequently before picking her lottery numbers.
I'll let you know that her numbers never came in. Gee, aren't you shocked? ;-)  She was able to keep her gambling "in check" and didn't lose every dollar she had, unlike some addictive personality folks out there who lose it all betting in casinos, racetracks, football pools and/or state lotteries.

While winning the big prize in a lottery is akin to the odds of a modern day person being eaten by a dinosaur I am always happy for the folks who actually win(and equally sorry for all those who pissed away lots of money buying the losing tickets too).

But this go around, I saw spiteful people who threw money away on loosing tickets making terrible comments on social media about the holders of those 3 winning tickets.  There was a rumour making the rounds that the person who bought a winning ticket in Callifornia was a 27 year old hedge fund manager, who may have purchased $20K in tickets.  Once that story made the rounds the vitriol was flying!
"Must be nice to be able to spend $20K on lottery tickets?!"
"Someone like this doesn't 'deserve' to win!"
"There needs to be laws so that rich people can't play the lottery!"
Wow.
Just wow.
What do these reactions say about us as a culture?
Sour grapes is one thing but this is ridiculous!

Let's get a grip people.
Gambling is not a long term financial plan so don't count on it as such.
If you want to waste a couple of bucks playing the lottery be my guest and have your little "if I was rich fantasy".
But don't come crying to me(or any social programs our government runs funded by tax dollars)when you piss away all your economic wealth on highly risky games of chance, asking for us to bail you out.
And for gosh sakes, get your heads out of your asses and don't go grumbling and getting pissed at the people who do beat the astronomical odds and win.

Sluggy

Thursday, January 14, 2016

The Plan for Food Spending in 2016



Food Spending.
The bane of my existence. 8-)

Here is a list of what I have spent since 2010(the year I started fully tracking where all the food/toiletries monies went).  Not too scientific as the number of persons being fed varied during these years from 5 to 2, depending on kids at college or not, and kids moving out or not.


2009--$6,254.84 +(I didn't track rebates and gift cards received that year)
2010--$2,291.67 + ($841.73 rebate checks/ $563.99 gift cards received)
2011--$3,080.59 + ($433.22 rebate checks/ $76.00 gift cards received)
2012--$4,196.36 +($67.48 rebate checks/ $5.00 gift cards received)
2013--$4,560.82 +($80.99 rebate checks/ $15.00 gift cards received)
2014--$4,989.49 +($44.54 rebate checks/ $10 gift cards received)
2015--$4,338.87(including $103.17 in rebates/$110 in free grocery store/drugstore gift cards)

A little explanation of these figures--
I started couponing and deal hounding seriously in Feb. of  2009 so my full year's spending in food was even more than shown that year.  Yikes!
Obviously 2009 was the year I started stockpiling and learning how to coupon in earnest and by 2010 I had a system and ramped up the rebating.

As you can see a combination of rising food prices, a dearth of rebate deals/gift card deals in each succeeding year and a bit of "food lifestyle inflation" and even though I am feeding less people now than in 2010 my food costs have inched up every year until I started bringing them down in 2015.

LOOKING AHEAD for 2016.........
My Goals are much the same as they were in 2015.

With some planning and watching the pennies better we should be able to keep the food/toiletries/paper goods/cleaning products spending at $4000.00 or less in 2016.  Last year we brought the spending down to $4,333 so I am cutting this a bit more to bring it down some more.

Here's how I am going to accomplish that---

*  Buy Less.  Since we are looking at selling this house and moving within the next 2+ years I will start reducing the size of our stockpile.  This means using up more of it in 2016 so I'll need to buy less.  Less $ spent + Less stuff to move=Success!

*  Seek out the best deals I can find on what I need to buy.  Stick to my price book principles and think twice before splurging on items I "want" but don't "need".  Make better decisions with the food dollars.

*  Preserve our garden harvest.  We did preserve what little we harvested last year.  I'll garden again this year and hope we have a larger yield in 2016.

*   Only buy seasonally and when possible more locally. 
We pretty much buy seasonally now so it's just keeping on, keeping on in this area.

*  Food Waste.  While we have minimal food waste most months I could do better.  I will do better.  Successful meal planning goes hand in hand with food waste(or the lack thereof).  By planning you are halfway to eliminating the waste.  8-)

*  Utilize any savings I can find.  This will take the form of shopping ONLY sale items, pairing sales with coupons(if applicable), sending for rebates when applicable, using offers of free gift cards to purchase needed foods(cashing in c/c points, transferring RXs for free gift cards, etc.).  These are all ways to bring down the out of pocket costs to us for our groceries.

*  Cooking from Scratch more.  I already make most of our meals so this means making more items(components of our meals)from scratch myself rather than buying ready-made foods.  I am talking about dried beans rather than canned beans, making tortillas from masa and flour rather than buying already made ones(unless I can get the tortillas for less than hand making them would cost), etc.

I am hoping that with these measures I can get the spending down below $4000 out of pocket for the entire year in 2016.
$4K a year on food/toiletries/paper goods/HBA is roughly $333.34 per month.
I spent less than $333.34 in 7 out of 12 of the months of 2015.  If I can get those other 5 months under that mark this is very doable.

Of course all of this goes without saying that I won't compromise the level of the quality of the food I buy now to save more on food purchases.  Sure I could just buy more processed foods for cheaper and save money at the expense of our health but that's not an option for me.

So what do you spend on food/toiletries a year if you track those expenses?
What measures do you take to keep your food/toiletry costs down?

Sluggy

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Why I Don't Do Spending Fasts

With 2016 a bright and shiny new year it's time for all those frugal blogs out there to hold or participate in what's called A Spending Fast or a No Spend Month.




While I can applaud the theory behind the idea I don't participate in them.

I find them pointless really and here is why.....

1. No Spends cause undue stress in your life.  Most people have enough stress just living their lives.  Between, spouse's demands, kid demands, work demands and extended family's demands everyone's stress levels are filled to capacity already.  So putting yet another demand-of not spending in the face of times when you really need to spend money-on oneself just adds to your anxiety level and when/if you fail at it to your guilt load.

2.   No Spending/Low Spending can cause overspending.
Many people who undergo a No Spend/Low Spend Month will be required to stock up so they can go without buying ANYTHING for a month.  You have to go into a No Spend Month with a full pantry and fridge stocked in order to get through the month.  This means the month before your NSM you have to spend more to lay in the required food/toiletries/paper goods/etc. for a full 30/31 days.

Add to this that most people who go through an extended period of time in which they are Not allowed to spend money tend to go off the deep end and overspend once that period is over.  It's only natural that people who are deprived of something want it even more once the period of deprivation is over. It's the same reason you shouldn't skip meals or go on restricted diets.......it leads to overeating once you can eat again.

3. No Spends or Month long Fiscal Fasts are artificial.
Picking an arbitrary time frame in which to avoid spending is in no way organic to how your life runs.
While the idea of a Fiscal Fast is a good idea I'll venture to say that they never give you long lasting results.
This is born out because people keep going on them year after year.  If the behaviors they purported to change really came to pass there would be no need to continue to do these No Spending Months over and over again.

4.  No Spends/Low Spends don't change the underlying Spending Behaviors.
Let say that one again......No Spends/Low Spends don't change the underlying Spending Behaviors.
A NSM is just a temporary state.  Once the month is over most people go right back to spending at the rate they usually do.  It's only a temporary behavior and doesn't last long enough to become a permanent habit.
Devotees of Spending Fast say they "reset your spending". Yes, they may lower your spending but it's only a temporary fix since you don't actually change your money habits.
While studies have shown that it takes 21 days to FORM a new habit it takes over 60 days, 2 MONTHS, of a behavior to make that habit part of your routine.

 The only way you will change your spending habits is to make it a permanent behavior.  Not spending for a month and then releasing yourself form the challenge and going back to your regular spending habits changes nothing about your life in the end.

5.  Most people don't really learn anything from doing a No Spend Month.  Well, except that at the end of that month that they don't want to be doing a No Spend Month anymore.  lolz


The ONLY way to change your relationship with your money permanently is to....

1.  Track your spending religiously over a long enough period to get a true sense of how you use money.  A month is not long enough to get the broader view of how you use money.  6 months to a year is much more helpful.  Anybody can change their spending habits for a few weeks but by tracking a year or so it will show you where your money truly goes.

2.  Analyze that tracked spending you did to see how much, of what, goes where, and actually learn about how you interact with money.  There are no shortcuts.  You must take the time to study how/why/what/where you spend and then ask the hard questions of yourself.

3.  Put these newly discovered perceptions about how you use money into action and permanently change those behaviors with money that are keeping you from overspending/wasting your income.

I spent an entire year not shopping for "things" back in 2008 while part of The Compact.  We pledged to not buy anything new for an entire year.
Yes, there were exceptions like food, medicine, paying bills, etc.  And I allowed myself to purchase underwear and footwear new, but only if truly needed.  Other than that I bought nothing in a store for an entire year, except for 1 photo album.  That photo album was my only "want" purchase all year.  At the end of the year was a "Jubilee" day during which you could go and buy ANYTHING you wanted to and that you were prevented from being during that Compact Year.  But since my money habits had changed and taken root over the course of that year there was very little I did buy once I was released from my no shopping year.  "Things" I had lusted after during that year when I wasn't allowed to buy them held little interest to me once I was no longer Not Buying Anything.

Not spending for an entire year showed me where my weaknesses were and I was able to change my behaviors involving money.
Before, I shopped when I was bored or wanted something to do, thus I stopped shopping for entertainment and found other ways to spend my free time.
Before, I carried around multiple credit cards and had no second thoughts about pulling one out at the drop of a hat to buy anything that struck my fancy, thus I cancelled cards and kept them in a box at home unless I purposely had a need to buy something.

If you really want to spend less money(and save more)I'd say don't do a No Spending Month.

Instead, analyze how/where/why you spend after tracking that spending for an extended period of time and see what behaviors you have with money you need to change.

Then make yourself change them over a period of time until they become routine.

This will take much longer than 30 days but in the end it will be worth the effort it takes.

And as for the spending you "have to do", the needs,(ie-bills)go and study how and if you can reduce them too.

New money habits and lowering your required bills will reap you benefits with your money for the rest of your life.

Sluggy


Tuesday, January 12, 2016

First Grocery Shopping Video of 2016

While it's not my first grocery shopping trip of 2016 it is the first one where I thought to video record it.

I didn't pick up the eggs or onions yet this week as that would take me down the mountain and across the valley and the weather is questionable this week.....maybe I can have Hubs pick those up at Maine Source on his way home later this week?

But I did get the other things I wanted this week AND some stuff for College Boy.
$70 set out to spend for all our needs/wants this week and I actually spent $30.67 OOP.



What are you buying this week at the grocery stores?

Sluggy

2016's Savings Challenge Goal

$28K Savings Challenge Updates & 2016's Savings Challenge Goal





So this Savings Challenge I do every year, well, since 2009 at least........I use the previous year's SC $ saved as an emergency fund for the following year.

IE-the money saved in 2012 was used to fund emergencies & irregular expenses in 2013 when regular income didn't cover everything.
Then at the end of following year, when all the emergencies that were going to take place had, I took whatever was left in that SC and put it into an interest bearing non-retirement account of some sort and it became "permanent". And hopefully when we retire it will be added to our sack o' money/retirement funds.

I started my personal Savings Challenge in 2009 when I was on a Yahoo group called "The Compact".  I was younger and pretty na├»ve about how much I could save from our income then and challenged myself to put away 60 THOUSAND DOLLARS!  Yes, 6 with 4 Zeroes after it. lolz

I didn't even get halfway there.
But you know what?
It didn't matter that I failed at my goal.
What mattered is that I had a concrete number goal and I saved something even if I didn't achieve that goal number!

They say it's hard to save money if you don't have a target so figure out your target.  Then you can set about figuring out how to reach it.

In 2009 I saved $23,865.36
We used $13,460.81 of that money in 2010 for unexpected expenses, sending the remaining $10,404.55 to permanent savings.

In 2010 I saved $34,019.88
We used $427.81 of that money in 2011, sending the remaining $33,592.07 to permanent savings.

In 2011 I saved $34,461.31
We used $2,627.16 of that money in 2012, sending the remaining $31,834.15 to permanent savings.

In 2012 I saved $28,907.08
We used $23,611.66 of that money in 2013, sending the remaining $5,295.42 to permanent savings.

In 2013 I saved $24,033.60
We used $0.00 of that money in 2014, sending the full $24,033.60 to permanent savings.

In 2014 I saved $27,427.06
We used $0.00 of that money in 2015 sending the full $27,427.06 to permanent savings.

In 2015 I saved $40,000.00 and this will be the pot of money we draw from for any emergencies/irregular expenses in 2016 that we can't cash flow, before sending whatever remains to permanent savings when the year ends.

You can see from above that some years we had many unexpected expenses and most years we had few.....what we spent from the previous year's savings varied from $23,611.66 in 2012 to using $0 in 2015.
I am just thankful I DID save money because if there hadn't been that pot of money sitting in the bank in 2012, we would have had to delay or worse, put some of those expenses on a credit card!

So with 6 full years of my Savings Challenges(2009-2014) tucked away for our retirement years my total is sitting at $132,586.85.

Again when 2016 is over and everything is paid for, whatever is left from that $40K I saved in 2015 will go into permanent savings for our retirement years.
************

Now I need to settle on a savings goal amount for 2016.
Since we actually saved $40K in 2015(without the bonus $), I think I'll keep the goal at that level for 2016.

$40K is possibly doable for a second year, given our income level, but it's not a given.  If I keep my frugal nose to the grindstone and no big expenses wallop us this year we could make that number again.

$40K averages out to saving $3,333.33 per month.

Now how do I plan to get to this goal?

I'll remain frugal in my spending, keeping our living expenses as low as possible.

* We'll keep food spending in check.
* Utility bills will be monitored and usage adjusted if it gets too high.
* Gift giving costs and Christmas spending will be tracked.
* We don't foresee any larger car bills this year(as 2 of the 3 cars are newish), our housing is basically sound and HVAC systems are running well so those expenses shouldn't be a factor in 2016, just gas for cars and regular maintenance on cars and house systems.
Entertainment will be sought out that is inexpensive or free.
* Travel will be done on the cheap if possible.
* Clothing spending will be low this year.  Last year much of College Boy's wardrobe was replaced and I also bought clothes for the Daughter but those costs won't be duplicated in 2016.  I'll try to do some sewing when I need clothing items replaced and Hubs is good to go with his wardrobe.

Items that may hijack my saving goal--
* We will have some extra expenses in 2016 with home repairs(getting things ready to sell in a couple of years).
* Hubs current medical issue with no resolution in sight yet, so the medical co-pays are a wild card in the spending plan.  Also any unforeseen medical issues that may crop up during the year.
* 1 child still in college and dependent on us and another child still on our medical insurance will mean higher spending than if we didn't have dependents at this point in our lives.

So who wants to play along and save some of their income in 2016?
Figure out what you can reasonably live on and put the rest away for your retirement....or if you still have debt(and why do you still have debt at this point in your life?!?)put something extra this year toward that goal and get yourself DEBT-FREE and/or MORTGAGE-FREE before you retire.

Set whatever goal feels right for your life.  Experts have said that people who set goals do better with their money overall.  Set a goal to keep yourself accountable.  Better yet, post a goal on your blog or in a community forum online and let other people's eyes help keep you more accountable.  8-)

Yah, it might not be fun to track your expenses but if you don't know where your money is going(and with most folks the money DOES GO!)how can you know if you keep any and how much you keep?

Tell us your savings goal for this year and how you plan to go about achieving that number.


Sluggy