Wednesday, March 30, 2016

2016 Food & Toiletries Spending.....March Update

* I've closed out the March books a couple of days early as I am done shopping.  Anything bought in the next 2 days will come out of April's funds. *

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

Here are my FOOD BUDGET spending totals for MARCH 2016.

I have posted March'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 March.  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 20.


OOP  $6.00
Value  $27.25
Savings 78%

OOP  $0.00
Value  $3.96
Savings  100%

OOP  $34.47
Value  $62.78
Savings  45.09%

OOP  $6.22
Value  $22.77
Savings  72.68%

OOP  $0.00
Qs/Ads/gift card  $484.06
Value  $484.06
Savings 100%

OOP  $43.55
Qs/Ads $29.71
Value  $73.26
Savings  40.55%

OOP  $18.96
Qs/Ads  $65.98
Value  $84.94
Savings  77.68%

OOP  $1.48
Qs/Ads  $2.01
Value  $3.49
Savings  57.59 %

OOP  $121.46
Qs/Ads  $103.35
Value  $224.81
Savings  45.97%

My best 3 Store Savings Totals were Rite-Aid at 100%, CVS at 100% and the Bakery Outlet at 78%.  My WORST savings rate was The local Shursave grocery at 40.55%.
I'll take it. ;-)

I shopped at 9 different stores this past month.

TOTAL Out of Pocket..........$232.14
TOTAL Coupons & Store Sales Savings...$755.18
TOTAL Value of Items Purchased............$987.32
TOTAL Savings of...................................76.48%
TOTAL Savings without Rite-Aid...........53.87%

Value of items excluding Rite-Aid bought ones was $503.26.
Rite-Aid goods brought home totaled $484.06

This closes out the March food/toiletries spending.

THOUGHTS & COMMENTS for this month.....
I went into March wanting to do a $250-$300 food budget for the month.  I ended up staying under the low end of my goal.  This was surprising to come in under $250 as I figured I'd be somewhere between that and $300 spent in March.  But I did manage to eat down what was here a bit and didn't do a lot of stocking up besides.

Of course if you look at our Eating-Out Totals for March they are up while the food shopping totals are down.  The Eating Out is up more than the food shopping is down however since we had an expensive for us Birthday meal out in March and Hubs and I did a fair amount of lunch type eating out around Easter time as well as lunchtime cooking fatigue for myself some days where I got some fast food out(mostly Subway)which is something I usually don't do most months.  Eating Out totals got a bit pricey in March.  It's nothing we can't handle in our budget but might help to explain how I can spend so little on groceries.  Even so we spent way less than most Americans on Eating Out in March and way less than those same Americans for food shopping so I am good with what we spent.

The monthly food spending savings percentage went up by 3.13% in March to 76.48% compared to February's 73.35% savings average.
If you delete the items bought at Rite-Aid in March our savings percentage goes down to 53.87% which is still well above the 40% savings rate threshold I like to stay over.

While saving 3/4 on food every month is unsustainable it's nice to see and better yet is the over 50% percentage saved not including the bulk of the toiletries spending, so we got over 50% savings on food alone.

With 3 months accounted for, I have spent a total of $941.20 on food/toiletries so far in 2016 which averages out to $313.73 per month spent.  The average in February stood at $354.53 per month spent to that point in 2016 so we are down $40.80 spent per month from last month.  I can't believe I am still under $1K spend on food and toiletries with a quarter of the year behind us!  If all things go at this pace for the rest of the year we could end the year spending UNDER $4K for 2016.  We haven't been under $4K for the year in food/toiletries spending since 2011, back when there were lots of rebate offers and better coupons and I heavily into that sort of shopping.

It would be so nice to continue this less spending trend back down below $4K for the year.  Though I am not prepared to buy lesser foods and processed foods just to get my spending to that level but if I can get down there and still maintain the level of quality we enjoy now, all's the better.
It's still very early in the year so I am not getting my hopes up that this trend will continue, especially if certain events materialize later in the year which are planned(more on that later).

LOOKING AHEAD To April 2016.........
No College Boy visits this month and no Holiday spending should make for a low outlay in April for food/toiletries.
I will continue with my usual shopping ways in loss leaders or great deals which we can use.  I will try to empty some more freezer space and eat down from the pantry as well this month.
I am going to try for another $250 food/toiletries spending month in April.

If you have other ideas or guidelines you follow please leave a comment and share yours with us all.

*  How much did you spend on food/toiletries in March?
*  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?

Is anyone out there up for tracking expenditures and trying to spend less but still eat well?


Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Did Someone Say Giveaway!?!

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

Spring has started to spring here so I am in the mood to give stuff away!

Here is what you can win if your entry is picked(the flowers are just decoration).......

1 x Dove Shampoo
1 x Arm & Hammer Toothpaste
1 x Tresemme Dry Shampoo(trial size)
1 x Bath Sponge
1 x Centrum Vitamints
1 x Lubriderm Lotion
1 x Zinn's Max Freeze topical pain reliever
1 x Eucerin calming Lotion(trial size)
2 x Russel Stover's mini Chocolate boxes
1 x Oral-B Toothbrush
1 x Simply Venus disposable Razors
1 x Conair ColorVibes Hairbrush
1 x Scunci Kids Barrettes
1 x Maybelline Mascara(brownish black)
2 x Nivea hand Cream tins
4 x Sinful Nail Polish(Blue Persuasion, Dawn, Love Bite, Dumpling, )
2 x Wet n' Wild Lip Sticks(Cashmere, Cherry Frost)
1 x Listerine Dental Floss
1 xPhysician's Formula Super BB+ Powder(Light Medium 7836)

Over $75 in regular retail of toiletries(and chocolate).

Here are close-up photos of the potential winnings.............

I'll leave this giveaway open until Sunday, April 10th, at 11:59pm Eastern Daylight Savings Time, so that gives everyone a full 12+ days to enter this one.  On the 11th 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 thing you most want to win in your comment or tell me what your travel plans are for this year or tell me if you are going to plant a garden this year and/or what you plan to grow.
Or tell me whatever you feel like telling me in your comment.  8-)

You can also get 3 BONUS ENTRIES by posting this Giveaway on your own Blog or Facebook or Twitter with a link to the giveaway.  Just perform this action and then leave 3 comments/entries on this post along with a link to your post on your blog OR Facebook OR Twitter to receive your Bonus Entries.

  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.

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 you have sent me your email addy privately for a previous giveaway I still have it on file so no need to resend it for this giveaway.

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!


Monday, March 28, 2016

This Week on the Dining Table

It's the "Spring is Springing" Edition......

Over the last 4 days the Forsythia bush has budded and is blooming as of Sunday.  It's rainy and cold today and we are still getting nights in the 30's so I don't have high hopes that these blossoms will remain much longer.
I suppose this seems that yardwork for 2016 isn't far off. lolz

Onward to the meal planning!

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

1. Sunday--Leftovers
2. Monday--Subway Sandwiches
3. Tuesday--Leftover Corned Beef meal
4. Wednesday--Salmon, Asparagus, Noodles
5. Thursday---Spaghetti and Meatballs, Caesar Salad, Garlic Bread
6. Friday--Steak, Salad, leftover Asparagus
7. Saturday--Take-out?  Will be cooking for Sunday.

And this is what actually happened--

1. Sunday--Leftovers(Don't remember what)
2. Monday--Leftovers(I have Beef Bourguignon)
3. Tuesday--Leftover Corned Beef meal
4. Wednesday--Salmon, Asparagus, Noodles
5. Thursday---Spaghetti and Meatballs, Garlic Bread
6. Friday--Marinated London Broil, Salad, Baked Potato
7. Saturday--Leftovers or Whatever you can make(Don't remember what)

6 meals cooked at home.
3 new meals and 4 nights of leftovers in some form or another.  We just had whatever on Saturday but we did go out to Eat for Lunch both Friday and Saturday.  Hubs was home both days from work and we ran errands both days so we splurged on eating out.

As for my grocery spending......Two trips last week and I spent $31.90 total.
Trip to Target added another $18.96.
I have spent $241.52 in all for March so far.
Between $9.48 and $59.48 of the potential $250-$300 March food budget left to spend with 4 days left in the month.

Leftovers going into this week...... 2-3 helpings of Spaghetti and Meatballs, a small piece of Steak.

We did have a bit of food waste this past week unfortunately.  Some hamburger rolls got moldy and had to be tossed.  If it's just a spot I'll remove it and still use them but a few were "eat up" with mold. bleh.

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

1. Sunday--Baked Ham, Corn Casserole, Monte Carlo Veggie Blend, Deviled Eggs, Dinner Rolls
2. Monday--Subway Sandwiches(Iz tired of cooking!lol)
3. Tuesday--Leftover Spaghetti and Meatballs, Salad
4. Wednesday--Cod, Baked Potatoes, Corn on cob(freezer), Leftover Asparagus
5. Thursday---Chicken Thighs(some way), Veggies-maybe leftover Sunday veggies?
6. Friday--Pork Chops w/Apricot Glaze, Sugar Snap Peas
7. Saturday--Leftover Chicken Thighs(if we have any) or Fish, Potato Salad, Veggies of some kind

This week will see 4 new meals cooked and 2 meals of leftovers(re-purposed into new dishes or not) and 1 meal Out/Take-out.

What I need to buy for this menu?  Salad Greens is all.  I bought the chicken thighs and potatoes last week.  Hubs will use the leftover ham from Easter dinner this week for lunch sandwiches and I'll use the little steak to make a steak sammich for lunch 1 day.  I sent more ham and all the leftover corn casserole with BIL so I didn't eat it. lolz
No Eating out this week just Subway tonight using my points on my Loyalty card to get them for free. 8-)

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?


Sunday, March 27, 2016

Late Week Rite-Aid Moneymaker

I made a late week trip to Rite-Aid on Saturday.

I wanted to figure out a way to use that $3 off $15 Hair care products Q that printed on my receipt last week.
Plus I still had a Tresemme $3/2 Q from last Sunday's inserts and I got a $5/1 Nexxus Rite-Aid Q in the mail on Friday.........

I activated a partner offer for $10 in points wyb 2 Sundown products on my Plenti card  and I printed off a $2/1 Sundown vitamin Q before we left to run errands and then I got this stuff.........

2 x Tresemme Beauty-full 'poos on sale=$10.00
1 x Nexxus 'poo 20% wellness discount=$5.91
1 x Sundown gummie viatamins on clearance=$5.14
1 x Sundown Lutein on clearance=$3.49

Coupons Used
1 x $3/$15 hair care products ReceiptQ=$3.00
1 x $3/2 Tresemme items ManuQ=$3.00
1 x $5/1 Nexxus item MailedQ=$5.00
1 x $2/1 Sundown vitamin IPQ=$2.00
Coupon Total.......$13.00

$24.54-$13.00=$11.54 + .44¢tax=$11.98 Total

I paid with $11.98 in Plenti Points.
I earned $4 in new Plenti Points(the Tresemme and Nexxus qualified for the $4 on $12 weekly Deal), $3.99 in activated Plenti Points(buy 2 Beauty-full Tresemme items)and $10.00 in partner activated Offers Points(Buy 2 Sundown items) for a total of $17.99 back in points.
$11.98-$17.99=$6.01 "moneymaker".


Saturday, March 26, 2016

The Good & the Not-So Good at Target Yesterday

Well Hubs and I made it up to Target on Friday.  It was crowded as I thought, though it would be not nearly what it will be on Saturday. lol

I went with 2 previous gift cards earned for free on "Buy something and get a free Target gift card" that amounted to $15(a $5 and a $10).
I also took a loaded Target gift card I got for free with credit card points, which had $18.37 left on it.

A fistful of Manufacturer/IPQ coupons and a Spend $50 on food/beverage & earn a $10 Target gift card coupon as well.

This is what I bought........

2 x Kraft parmesan cheese 1lb. containers on sale=$6.82
2 x Bear Naked granola=$7.98
2 x Snapple teas=$2.98
1 x Goldn'Plump chicken legs $2.99 w/instant $1 off sticker on them=$1.99
1 x Lay's chips on sale=$2.00
2 x Ice sparkling drinks on sale=$2.00
2 x Hawaiian rolls on sale=$6.00
1 x MC pie on sale=$5.99
1 x Ortega steak kits clearance=$1.94
1 x Ortega green chiles clearance=.86¢
2 x large eggs on sale=$1.98
1 x Swirl bread=$2.69
2 x MC pot pies on sale=$4.50
2 x Minute Rice on sale=$3.58
So we made it to $50+ on food/drink and earned that $10 Target gift card

I also bought this in the same transaction.......partly in honor of Sonya Ann and partly in honor of the release of the new "My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2" movie....lolz

4 x Windex=$12.56

New SubTotal........$63.87
I earned another $5 Target gift card for buying the Windex AND earned a $3 OYNO Target Catalina Q.

Coupons Used
2 x .75¢/1 Kraft parmesan cheese IPQ=$1.50
1 x $1/2 Bear Naked granola IPQ=$1.00
1 x BOGO Snapple tea hangtag Q=$1.49
1 x $1/1 Goldn'Plump chicken IPQ=$1.00
1 x BOGO Ice sparkling drinks IPQ=$1.00
1 x .55¢/1 MC pie IPQ=.55¢
1 x $1/2 any Ortega items IPQ=$1.00
1 x $1/1 PF Swirl bread=$1.00
1 x $1/2 Minute Rice ManuQ=$1.00
2 x $1/2 Windex IPQ=$2.00
Coupon Total.....$11.54

$63.87-$11.54=$52.33-$15 in Target gift cards=$37.33-$18.37 Target gift card balance=$18.96 OOP.

When I got home I submitted for $2.25 in cash rebates($1 for the Minute Rice, .75¢ for the MC pie and .50¢ for 1 of the Ice drinks)through Ibotta and Checkout51.
So after that my OOP becomes $16.71 and I earned $3 Catalina and $15 in new Target gift cards.

The Not-So Good was I mistakenly bought the wrong brand of swirl bread and didn't realize it until I got home and Ibotta wouldn't take my rebate for that. doh!

I bought Thomas' instead of Pepperidge Farm but on the good side of this, the cashier pushed the $1 PFQ I gave her through. lolz
So I got a loaf of bread that was .30¢ cheaper to begin with, saved $1 off of it by mistake and didn't get my .75¢ rebate, so it's only a .45¢ "win".  I can live with that.  ;-)

Unfortunately I didn't print out the King's Hawaiian rolls IPQs in time or that would have been cheaper.  I still wanted them for Easter dinner as I really didn't want to have to make my handmade rolls.  I prefer my family recipe but I guess I am just getting old and tired.....why kill myself to make everything at home, right?  It's not like the brother in-law will notice they are store bought. lolz
I am going to whip some butter with honey though to serve with these...not like they aren't sweet enough, right?  8-)  But it will be a nice extra touch to make up for that they aren't homemade.

And those 1lb. containers of parmesan cheese are twice the size of the little canisters you see at the store and buy and THEY WERE THE SAME PRICE AS THE LITTLE CANISTERS!  Why not get twice as much for the same price, right?  And the coupon made them $2.66 each....can't beat that with a stick!

Sometimes when I go to Target to do these deals I end up buying filler junk.  I really wanted to avoid that this trip.  Why spend $50 if half of it is stuff you didn't go to get anyway, right?  The pie is for Easter(again, I am being the chips are for Easter for the pre-dinner snacks and veggie tray(and Hubs will eat whatever is left later). The Swirl bread is for making French Toast Easter morning for Hubs and I....a little treat for us.

I am happy overall for once with a Target trip.  I don't often say that. ;-)
Used $33.37 in gift cards, $11.54 in Qs and $18.96 in cash.
Got back $15 in gift cards, $2.25 in cash rebates and $3 in CatQs.
And that $18.96 OOP cash didn't bust my march food budget either.  8-)


Friday, March 25, 2016

Grocery Shopping This Week

Nothing too exciting here on the food front this week.
I went to Maine Source Tuesday after my mammogram and picked up a few things--

* 2 lb. asparagus @ $1.79 lb.
* 5 lb. russet potatoes $2.49
* 4 dozen eggs @ $1.29 doz.
* 1 lb. butter $2.49
* 5 lb. bag frozen veggies blend $5.99
I spent $19.84 total.

Some of the eggs and the frozen veggie blend is for Easter dinner.  I'm also going to whip some of the butter with honey to serve with the rolls for that dinner.
I made the asparagus Wednesday night for dinner and we'll eat on the leftovers later this week.....I love asparagus in season!
No plans yet for the taters but they'll get used eventually.

I also hit Weis(PMITA)Markets on Wednesday and bought this stuff...

* 6 lb. chicken thighs @.98¢ lb.
* 2.71 lb. ground beef @ $3.99 lb.
* 1 Roma tomato for .46¢
 There are a $3 discount sticker on the beef and a $2 discount sticker on the chicken so my $17.06 bills turned into a $12.06 bill which gave over a 40% savings rate over regular retail.
So I am $31.90 OOP for all groceries so far this week.

I had planned to go to Target Thursday on one of my rare trips to that store but something came up that kept me from going so I might have Hubs take me today as he is off from work.
There's a $10 Target gift card off wyspend $50 on food/beverage purchase Deal.  I have a $10 Target gift card to use(which was gotten free on another deal)plus I have another loaded Target gift card with $18+ left on it plus I plan on getting stuff that's on sale and I have my trusty coupons so this trip won't cost me anywhere near $50.  Some of what I want there is for serving for Easter(rolls, a pie, etc.)so I need to get there before Sunday.

I am at $222.56 for March so may squeak by under budget at the $300 level for food this month.  I don't have any hopes of coming in under my lower end $250 level however.

Ok, I want to ask y'all how do you prepare chicken thighs?
I have a few reccipes I regularly utilize for this cut of the bird.......a lemon peppered thighs with a zuke in tomato sauce dish, grill it with or without some kind of marinade first, grilled and barbecue sauced, or boil and break down into pieces for soups/stews/fajita filling.
I suppose I could fry them up too....that is, if everyone here liked dark meat fried chicken. lolz

Do you often cook chicken thighs and how do you prepare it/in what dish?

Send me some ideas folks!  I am getting rather tired of what I do with this cut.


Thursday, March 24, 2016

Rite-Aid This Week...Moneymakers!

If you got the coupon inserts on Sunday in the paper and activate additional Plenti Offers online on your card(s) it's a good week to get free toiletries at Rite-Aid!
That is why I am methodically laying out what I bought on Wednesday.....there is still plenty of time and stock to do these deals.

First off my store was totally out of weekly flyers so we couldn't use the $3 off Colgate toothpaste coupon in said flyer.  I guess enough people complained about it so my store is price modifying that toothpaste from the sale price of $3.50 to .50¢, so you can still combine the toothpaste on sale with a manufacturer's coupon from the inserts to get it for free(or in my case since the Q was $1 off 2 tubes, get 2 tubes free). 8-)

I did this transaction on my son's card first but before I did it I bought a charity balloon for the Children's Miracle Network for $1 since you got 4 nice coupons attached to your balloon to use..........

1 x Suave Gold 'Poo on sale=$2.99
2 x Tresemme 'Poo on sale=$10.00
2 x Dove 'Poo on sale=$6.00
1 x Axe men's shower gel on sale=$3.99
1 x Dove men's 'Poo on sale $3.99
1 x Dove men's Body Wash on sale=$3.99
2 x Cheerios cereal BOGO sale=$4.99
2 x Colgate toothpaste on sale & price modified=$1.00

Coupons Used
1 x $1.50/1 Suave Gold 'Poo ManuQ=$1.50
1 x BOGO Tressemme ManuQ=$5.00
1 x $2/1 Tresemme CMNBalloon Q=$2.00
1 x $3/2 Dove 'Poo ManuQ=$3.00
1 x $1/1 Axe shower gel ManuQ=$1.00
1 x $2/1 Dove men's 'Poo ManuQ=$2.00
1 x $1/1 Dove men's Body Wash ManuQ=$1.00
1 x $1/2 Cheerios cereal ManuQ=$1.00
1 x $1/2 Colgate toothpaste ManuQ=$1.00
Coupon Total........$17.50

$36.95-$17.50=$19.45 + $1.15 tax=$20.60

I paid with $20.60 in Plenti Points and earned $11.00 in new Plenti Points making my transaction $9.60(spending down $9.60 in points).
Points earned were $4 for Suave/Tresseme purchases, $3 for the Dove/Axe men's products, $3 wyb2 Dove women's 'Poo, and $1 wyb2 Cheerios.
BUT......I also activated additional offers on this Plenti card before heading to the store--

$1 Suave gold 'poo purchase
$1 Tresemme purchase
$3 Dove 'poo wyb2 purchase
$1 Axe shower gel purchase
$2 Dove men's 'poo purchase
$1 Dove men's body wash purchase
That's an additional $9 in Plenti points back on my card making this $9.60 purchase a .60¢ purchase.

$20.60-$11 in PPs-$9 in additional PPs=.60¢ + the $1 for the additional Tresemme CMN balloon Q makes this transaction cost $1.60.

I actually screwed this transaction up!  I meant to buy 1 'poo and 1 conditioner in the Tresemme as there was a Plenti Points offer online for $3.99 back in PPs which double dipped with the other buy 1 any Tresemme/get $1 back in PPs offer online.
So this transaction should have been a $3.39 moneymaker instead of costing me a whole .60¢ in points. ugh.
**I could go back and return and rebuy the correct Tresemme items I suppose since that would turn both transactions into a $2.78 total moneymaker.
I also had a $3/$15 hair care coupons that I meant to/could have used on this transaction I could do a "post coupon" thing and get $3 cash after the fact......ugh. ugh.
So yes, for $5.78 moneymaker I will do that. ;-)

Then I did this on my card...........after activating additional Plenti offers for this card.............

1 x Axe spray deo on sale=$5.49
1 x Degree men's spray deo on sale=$5.49
1 x Dove men's spray deo on sale=$5.49
1 x Axe men's 'Poo on sale=$3.99
1 x Dove Body Wash on sale=$6.99
1 x Dove deo on sale=$5.27 *Wellness discount was less than sale*
1 x Dove 6 pack soap on sale=$6.49
1 x Dove spray deo on sale=$5.49

Coupons Used
1 x $2/1 Axe spray deo ManuQ=$2.00
1 x $2/1 Degree men's spray deo ManuQ=$2.00
1 x $2/1 Dove men's spray deo ManuQ=$2.00
1 x $2/1 Axe men's 'Poo ManuQ=$2.00
1 x $1/1 Dove Body Wash ManuQ=$1.00
1 x $2/1 Dove deo ManuQ=$2.00
1 x $1/1 Dove soap 6-pack ManuQ=$1.00
1 x $2/1 Dove spray deo ManuQ=$2.00
Coupon Total..........$43.00

$44.70-$14.00=$30.70 + $1.91 tax=$32.61

I paid with $32.61 in Plenti Points and earned $22.00 in new Plenti Points making my transaction $10.61(spending down $10.61 in points).
The 4 men's products on the left in the photo earned me 2 x $3 on a monthly Dove/Degree/Axe men's Deal.
The 4 women's products on the right in the photo earned me 2 x $4 on a monthly Dove Beauty Care Deal.
The same 4 women's products also earned me 2 x $4 this week's Unilever Hair and Skin Care Deal.
The women's Dove products I bought double dipped for both a monthly and a weekly offer earning me $16 in points on just those 4 items.
Add the other $6 for the men's items and you get $22 in Plenti Points.

BUT.......I also will get additional Plenti Points back for the additional offers I activated on this card online--
.50¢ Axe spray purchase
$1.50 Degree spray purchase
$2.00 Dove men's spray purchase
$1.00 Axe 'poo purchase
$1.00 Dove body wash purchase
$1.50 Dove deo purchase
$1.00 Dove soap purchase
$1.50 Dove spray deo purchase

$10 more in Plenti Points earned so now my $10.61 purchase is a .61¢ purchase.  It would have been a moneymaker if not for having to pay the tax.

$32.61-$22 new PPs-$10 additional PPs=.61¢

So after I go back and correct that error in my 1st transaction here's where things stand--
$116.71 in reg. retail products brought home
$2.78 "moneymaker" meaning I spent less point than I earned
$3 cash post coupons refund, deduct $1 CMN balloon cost and I am also $2 cash monies richer.



Wednesday, March 23, 2016

John Redfern...My Wandering Ancestor

* This is a multi-part story about two branches of my Family Tree, the Bowmans and the Redferns. I have broken it into separate blog posts as the whole story is quite long.
I hope you enjoy it.

So let's talk about my 4 x Great Grandfather, John Redfern.

That's him looking very much the dapper Western gentleman in a photo he posed for in a photographer's studio somewhere out West.  This was probably taken in the late 1870's or 1880's in Montana.

Born in County Derry, Ireland in 1805 we know his father was also named John and his mother was Margaret, though we don't know her maiden name.

John Redfern married Sarah Elizabeth O'Neil(or O'Neal).  We have very little information about Sarah.  She was born about 1810.  I haven't found a marriage record for these two yet, but we do know that they had the following children.....
* Sarah Redfern in April of 1826
* William John Redfern on 12 June of 1831
* James Redfern on 18 June of 1833
* There may have been a fourth child named Mathilda born in 1829(as other trees have it)but we can find no records of her going forward.  The spacing of the children looks good for a couple very much living in a Catholic country in the 1800's without any notion of birth control so we'll leave it at 4 children by the time Sarah reached her early 20's.

Sarah died in 1833, most probably as a result of childbirth complications of her last child, James.

John disappears from the records in Ireland for 4 years, as do these children, until 1837 when we find that he makes two bold moves.

First John remarries in 1837 in County Derry, Ireland to Mary J. Hagen(Hagan).  Mary's birth date is believed to be 1810 so she is a few years younger than John but still very much in her prime childbearing years at around 27 years old.
Second John decides to flee Ireland and immigrate to America with his new bride.

The newly married Redferns boarded a ship for America and arrived in New YorkCity harbor on 18 June 1837.

The next time we find them, they are listed in the 1840 Federal Census living in Philadelphia Pennsylvania as a family unit of 4.  No names in that year's census, just listing the age range and gender of each inhabitant of the home.
We find.....
1 male between 30-39
1 female between 20-29
1 male under 5
1 female under 5

When we try to match the members of the Redfern family to these statistics using later records we get........

John Redfern-born 1805  1 male between 30-39
Mary J. Hagen Redfern-born 1810  1 female between 20-29
Barnabas Redfern-born 1839  1 male under 5
Girl Redfern 1 female under 5*

* The female child probably died young as she does not appear in the 1850 census.  We may never know her name.

Barnabas is John and Mary's first child of record, born in Philadelphia PA.

So what of the other older Redfern children of John and his first wife Sarah?
By 1840 they would have be....

Sarah age 13-14
William John age 8-9
James age 6-7

Obviously none of them went in 1837 to America with their father John and his new bride as none of them were under age 5 in 1840 when that census was taken.
Their mother was dead and buried as well and we have no indication who their mother's parents were and if they were living in 1833 or beyond.

We have to stoop to some conjecturing here and say that the three older children of John Redfern were most probably left in Ireland in the care of other family members.  This might have been a sibling of their mother, Sarah O'Neil Redfern, or one of her parents(or both)or a sibling or parent of John Redfern, their father.  It might have been a family friend who took the 3 children in.  Or they may have been left in an orphanage.  At this point we don't know.

Destitute children with no parents were often left in orphanages unless there were family members who had the means to support them.  There were many orphanages in Ireland at this time, supported by either the government or the Church.  Most support came in the form of "outside relief" meaning that these institutions paid money to families or local parishes to pay for supporting the destitute.

We do know that in 1838 Parliament enacted the Poor Law Act, which created a system of poor relief in Ireland that relied on a vast system of "inside relief".  This system established workhouses(and turned many orphanages into workhouses) where the poor and orphaned were sent to live.  These Workhouses started springing up all over Ireland by the early 1840's and continued in some form until Ireland gained it's freedom from English rule in the 1920's.

This was far from an easy life involving children put to laboring tasks to "earn" their daily food rations, rags to wear, and a place to lay their head at night.  It was a system that didn't coddle and wasn't easy.  Adults were free to leave these workhouses at any time but take into consideration that economic conditions of late 1840's Ireland were dire.  The Great Famine was well on it's way to driving a large percentage of the country's poor into workhouses were you had a chance of not starving and living another day.

By age 13 though, Sarah would have been a prime candidate to farm out to someone who could pay her way as a servant.  She had economic value as a young female that her younger brothers didn't have yet.
Escaping a life in the workhouse wasn't easy.  Many children who entered that system didn't survive long and if they did, they never left.  It was all they knew until they were carried off into the grave as adults.
The 1840's was also the time frame in Ireland where the Government in cahoots with the Catholic Church implemented the "Earl Grey Scheme"(yes, named for the Earl Grey of tea fame)to deport healthy teenage girls in Ireland to the penal colony of Australia as indentured servants who usually have to work off their passage costs once they were given over to an adult in Australia.  Many young girls were either drafted into this life or took the Poor Relief System up on this "offer" as an opportunity to escape a life in a poor backwards country for a life that they hoped wouldn't be so destitute and dire.  Many of these deported young women went to Australia.  In later years there was also a program set up to deport the young and poor Irish to Canada.
Some of these young women became known as the "Potato Orphans".  These were Irish orphans who were sent to Australia not to be servants but to be married off to convicts in the Australian Penal Colony.
Go here to read more and click on the video link too..... Potato Orphans .
There but for the grace of God this could have been my ancestors life.

Had Sarah been selected to go to Australia I either wouldn't be here now or I might be watching out for dingo and cassowary attacks on vacations while throwing some chook and shrimp on my barbie.  ;-)

Later on, about 100 years later, between the 1930's and 1970's, the British government deported British children to Australia that were a burden to the government much as they had done with the Irish children.  Many of these children were not even orphans and their parents were lied to about where and why their children went.  Many of these children were abused once in Australia and/or died. The truth came out in the early part of the 21st century about this scandal and has ongoing consequences today.
But I digress.

Back to John Redfern, Sarah's father.........

In the 1850 US Federal Census we find the John Redfern household has moved out of Philadelphia PA to Harrison Township, in Bedford County PA,  a western journey of just over 200 miles.
Bedford county borders the state line with Maryland to the South, the city of Altoona is due North and the city of Johnstown is located NorthWest of the area and Harrisburg is due East.
In 1850 the population in Bedford was just over 23,000.  It rose dramatically in the 1810's after it became a safe place to live(due to the native Indians being driven off).  Among other things this area was a main travel route for people heading West into the interior of the country.  The current day Interstate-76 runs right along the top of Harrison Township.

The Redfern Household in 1850 consists of....

*John aged 45
*Mary aged 40
*Barnabas aged 11
*Margaret aged 9
*Alice aged 7
*Francis aged 5
*Mary J aged 3

John is employed as a mason(someone who does building/stone work).
Also while living in Bedford County PA John Redfern applied to become a naturalized citizen of the USA.  We get his arrival date and place in American from those papers.

Why this move for John and his expanding family?
Perhaps it was in his plan all along and he didn't want to live out his life in Philadelphia?
By 1840 Philly was the fourth largest city in America with a population approaching 95,000 inhabitants.  I am sure John saw more opportunity by heading west and the dream of owning land.
After all, having escaped the squalor and destitution of Potato Famine Era Ireland, why limit yourself to remaining in one of the largest at the time Eastern US cities?  The whole country with opportunities unknown was laid out before him.  Anyone who moved across an ocean for a better life probably had no qualms about moving across a continent, right?

By 1840 John Redfern had been in America for about 13 years.  I am sure a good part of that time was spent earning money to support his family but also to finance a move out into western PA.  There was transport to buy, tools for a farming way of life, animals, and also a small cash stake to take to pay for setting up a life once they all arrived at their new destination.  It would take a lot of years to save up enough to resettle your family.

Meanwhile, back in Ireland.......
Sarah Redfern survived her poverty filled life in Ireland and by 1847 there is happy news to report.
She has married!  Either for love or for survival(probably a little of both)she has become the wife of fellow Irishman Robert Spencer Bowman in County Derry.

So what of William John and James, John Redfern's other two children by his first wife?
From later census records we have information that William John and James came to America in either 1849 or 1850 where they self-reported their arrivals.
I found records of a William John Redfern and a James Redfern both having arrived on the ship "Wyoming" in 1850 to Philadelphia.

William John going by his middle name, 15 years old.......

And James, aged 16 years......

These records were most probably the arrival of the brothers of Sarah Redfern, my ancestor.
Since James and William John obviously kept in contact with their father after he remarried and left for America it just makes sense that Sarah was also still in contact with her father in some way.

In the 1880's William John Redfern applied to the Montana Pioneers Society for admission. Hi application states that he arrived in Montana in August of 1868, having departed from Denver Colorado.  This does not mention his arrival in America nor where he was for the 13 years between landing in Philly and having been in Denver.

From a Redfern family narrative we know that William John and James traveled to be with their father in Bedford PA once they got to America.  It's probable that they do not appear in the 1850 Census with their father's 2nd wife and their children in Bedford PA because they arrived in November of 1850 in Philadelphia, and it was after that year's federal census was taken on 9 October 1850 in Bedford PA before they made their way to Bedford PA.

So by 1850, John Redfern, his second wife, Mary Hagen, and their children Barnabas, Margaret, Alice, Francis and Mary J, as well as John's 2 sons William John and James Redfern by his deceased first wife are all in Bedford County PA.

The only person missing from this family who was alive in 1850 is my direct ancestor, John Redfern's daughter, Sarah, by his first wife.  Sarah had been separated from her father at this point for 13 years(or more if he had handed her off to relatives in Ireland when her mother died in 1833).
By 1850 she was married and still living in Ireland however and had given birth to two children-an unnamed infant that died soon after birth and a son, whom they named Matthew Bowman, after her husband's father, Matthew Bowman.  The baby Matthew was born in Ireland in 1849.

While her older brothers William John and James Redfern were sailing across the ocean to America in the Autumn of 1850, Sarah was a wife to Robert Spencer Bowman and new mother to Matthew Bowman in County Derry Ireland.

The years between 1850 and 1860 would mean big changes to all of the Redfern/Bowman Clan.

More on this story later.....


Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Sicilian Names & Rules or Those Crazy Italians!

I've been trying to fill out Hubs family tree using information someone on Ancestry posted to their tree.  I don't have access to International records but they have posted photos of birth/marriage/death records from Sicily that I am trying to get copied down.

If you have Italian ancestry you'll often find that there are very strict "rules" within a family for naming your children.  This can make for ease in building your tree but it can also lead to confusion.
Let me explain by using Hubs family as an example.

Hub's grandmother was named Paola Di Giorgi.  Once she came to America she went by Pauline or Paulina.....these being an anglicized version of Paola.
Paola's father's name was Saverio Di Giorgi.
Saverio's mother was named Carmela.
Saverio and his wife, Dominica, named their first daughter Carmela, after the father's mother.
When the second daughter came she was named Paola after Saverio's mother's sister, Paola.

So first son's are named after father's father, first daughter's named after father's mother, next son is named after mother's father, next daughter named after mother's mother.
If one generation is prolific in reproducing this can lead to many boy and girl grandchildren with the same names among the children below that one generation.
This has led to a LOT of Anthony Arcure's in Hubs family over the years. lolz

Now let's look in depth at Saverio's parents, Stefano Di Giorgi and Carmela Coniglio and what they named their children.

They named their first son, born in 1835, Saverio Di Giorgi after Stefano's father. I will refer to this Saverio as Saverio #1 henceforth.

Then they had their first daughter, born in 1837, and named her Paula after Stefano's mother(also the name of his wife, Carmela's sister, Paola Coniglio).  I will refer to this Paola as Paola #1 henceforth.

In 1838 Paola #1 dies at the age of 1 year and they are down to 1 living child, Saverio #1-age 3.

In 1839 they have another son, whom they name Giovanni.  Three months later in 1839, Saverio #1 dies at age 4.  They end 1839 with 1 living child(Giovanni-infant under 1).

In 1842 they have another son, whom they also name Saverio.  I will refer to him as Saverio #2 henceforth.  They end 1842 with 2 living children(Giovanni-3 yrs., Saverio #2-infant).

In 1844 they have another son, whom they name Salvadore.  They end 1844 with 3 living children(Giovanni-5 yrs., Saverio #2-2 yrs., Savadore-infant).

In 1845 Saverio #2 dies at the age of 3.  They end 1845 with 2 living children(Giovanni-6 yrs., Salvadore-1 yr.).

In 1846 they have another son, whom they name Guiseppe.  One month later he also dies.
They end 1846 with 2 living children(Giovanni-7 yrs., Salvadore-2 yr.).

In 1847 they have another daughter, whom they name Guiseppa.  They end 1847 with 3 living children(Giovanni-8 yrs., Salvadore-3 yrs., Guiseppa-infant).

In 1849 they have another daughter, whom they name Paola whom I refer to as Paola #2.
They end 1849 with 4 living children(Giovanni-10 yrs., Salvadore-5 yrs., Guiseppa-1 yr., Paola #2-infant).

In 1852 they have another son, whom they also name Saverio whom I refer to as Saverio #3.
This Saverio lives a good long time, fathering 2 daughters and dying sometime before 1900.
Stefano's father, however, dies soon after Saverio is born, in 1852.
They end 1852 with 5 living children(Giovanni-13 yrs., Salvadore-8 yrs., Guiseppa-5 yrs., Paola #2-3 yrs., Saverio #3-infant)but Carmela is now a widow so there are no additional children.

In 1854 Paola #2 dies at 4 & 1/2 years, 2 years after her mother, Carmela Coniglio Di Giorgi becomes a widow.
Carmela ends 1854 with  4 living children(Giovanni-15 yrs., Salvadore-10 yrs., Guiseppa-7 yrs., Saverio #3-2 yrs.)

In 1858 Carmela remarries to Guiseppe Schifani Giglio but there are no children from this union.

I have found this habit of giving a dead child's name to a subsequent sibling in my own tree a couple of times, but it's always been in the 18th century not the 19th century among my ancestors.  And none of them sent so far as to name 3 children the exact same name.  I wonder if the boxer George Foreman has any Italian ancestry as he has 5 sons all named George Foreman.  Of course he didn't wait for one George to die in childhood before naming another one George too.  That's a whole other level of creepy, isn't it? lolz

Since the Sicilians have a creepy habit of reusing names of children that have died I am assuming that the 3 children besides Saverio #3(who is Hubs direct ancestor)-Giovanni, Salvadore and Guiseppa all lived to adulthood since they didn't reuse those first names.
Guiseppa lived at least long enough to get married in 1863(at the age of 16+ years)to Gioacchino Vincenza Di Giorgi. (I assume from his surname that they are cousins of some sort.)  I don't know how long she lived past that year and/or if any children were born from this couple.

But imagine giving birth to 9 children and outliving 5 or 6 of them.  Infant mortality was quite high in Sicily due to poverty, sanitation, lack of medical care and let's not forget all the civil unrest in the mid 1800's there.

I have to give them kudos for continuing to live life and producing more babies.  Well of course I do because if they had stopped at Saverio #1 or Saverio #2, Hubs wouldn't be here.  8-)


Monday, March 21, 2016

This Week on the Dining Table

** Edited to include a link to the post in 2009 when I made this dish HERE.
And the recipe I use is HERE.

It's the "Sometimes a Work Intense Meal is Worth It" Edition......

I made my version of Beef Bourguignon last Thursday.  I don't fix this dish hardly ever since it is so labor intense, even with the shortcuts I take.
But when I do make it I forget about all the work once I take a bite of it....sigh!

And yes it is pretty sad that dinner on Thursday was the highlight of my week. 8-)

Onward to the meal planning!

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

1. Sunday--Corned Beef, Cabbage/Halushki, Carrots
2. Monday--Tuna Casserole, Caesar Salad
3. Tuesday--Beef Bourguignon
4. Wednesday--BLT Sandwiches Tacos using leftover taco meat
5. Thursday---Salmon or Cod, Brussels Sprouts
6. Friday--Kielbasa on Rolls w/Onions, Corn
7. Saturday--Leftovers

And this is what actually happened--

1. Sunday--Corned Beef, Cabbage, Carrots
2. Monday--Tuna Casserole, Caesar Salad
3. Tuesday--Tacos using leftover taco beef
4. Wednesday--Kielbasa on Rolls, leftover Hash Browns
5. Thursday---Beef Bourguignon
6. Friday--Leftovers(Hubs had lasagna/I had tuna casserole)
7. Saturday--Leftovers(I had Beef Bourguignon/Hubs had Chicken Stew-I think)

7 meals cooked at home.
4 new meals and 3 nights of leftovers in some form or another.

I did indeed use the assorted leftover veggies and roasted chicken meat in a soup/stew and have been eating on that for some lunches.  Corn was planned w/the Kielbasa but there were leftover hash browns(from CB)that needed using up instead.  The consumption of veggies did not happen much last week unfortunately.  We shall try to rectify that this coming week.

As for my grocery spending......Hubs went to the store for me early in the week and spent $9.25.
I have spent $190.66 in all for March so far.
Between $59.34 and $109.34 of the potential $250-$300 March food budget left to spend with 10 days left in the month.

Leftovers going into this week......2 helpings of Chicken Stew, 1 helping of Halushki, a small hunk of Corned Beef, Cabbage, Carrots, 1 helping of Beef Bourguignon, and Mashed Potatoes, Taco Beef, and I helping of Kielbasa

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

1. Sunday--Leftovers
2. Monday--Subway Sandwiches
3. Tuesday--Leftover Corned Beef meal
4. Wednesday--Salmon, Asparagus, Noodles
5. Thursday---Spaghetti and Meatballs, Caesar Salad, Garlic Bread
6. Friday--Steak, Salad, leftover Asparagus
7. Saturday--Take-out?  Will be cooking for Sunday.

This week will see 3 new meals cooked and 2 meal of leftovers(re-purposed into new dishes or not) and 2 meals Out/Take-out.

What I need to buy for this menu?  Asparagus and Salad Greens.  I have everything else for the fish meal and everything for the pasta dinner already.  I'll probably pick up eggs and milk as well.
Unless there are some smoking hot grocery store deals I won't be buying much this week either.

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?


Friday, March 18, 2016

What's Going on at Chez Sluggy Lately

*  We are well half over March now and the money is looking good.
Looking good despite having real estate taxes and the yearly sewage bill due this month. 8-)

To help offset these bills we had additional income this month----

2 stock dividend checks came in.
Our electric bill will be lower than usual for March due to this wacky warmer weather(though it is due to snow here this weekend).
A refund of a $314 medical bill for the Daughter we paid in February.  The doctor over billed so we got that money back.  Since I deducted it from February's income I get to add it back to March's income. 8-)
We also received our Federal tax refund this month.

*  Here is the extent of my shopping trips this week.  A trip to Rite-Aid for prescriptions led to this haul too......

Sale prices and/or 20% Wellness disccount combined with coupons and Plenti points earned back and rebates meant every single product was a moneymaker.

This all came to $23.02 with tax and I used Plenti Points to pay.
It also earned $27.00 in new Plenti Points.

I also got back the .67¢ I paid for the Cadbury Chocolate Egg in my Saving Star account, making this a $4.65 moneymaker.  8-)))

*  I brought a load from the toiletries stash down to the dining room to go through them and make up
another Giveaway Box.

Stay tuned for another giveaway coming up soon!

*  Hubs made a run to the local Shursave market this week for some groceries.  $9.25 was all that was spent so far this week.  I might actually stay under the food budget this month despite College Boy being home for a week and eating us out of house and home.

And that's about everything worth mentioning.  It's been a low key, quite(boring), stay-at-home kind of week.


Thursday, March 17, 2016

The Bowmans/Redferns of Ireland & New York

When I first started digging into my genealogy I had a clue to my Bowman ancdestry from a letter my paternal grandfather had written to me when I was a teen.
My grandfather has spent some years exploring his ancestry after he retired back when you had to travel to dusty old archives in courthouses and libraries.
Back when we found out about him and met him, he gave each of us grand kids a mimeographed(look that up if you are too young to know what this means lolz) booklet he had printed up of his paternal genealogy.
Of course when I was 15 I had NO interest in this booklet and it disappeared from my life a long, long time ago.
I wish this booklet was one of the things my mother squirreled away over the years but it wasn't.

But I had that old letter still where my grandfather named my 3 x great grandparents so let me introduce y'all to them now.

Robert Spencer Bowman was born in March of 1825 in Ireland, we suspect somewhere in a northern county.
Sarah Redfern was born in April of 1826 in Ireland, we suspect in County Derry.

They wed on 10 December 1847 in Ireland according to the records.
The marriage record gives us both of their fathers' names--Robert's father was Matthew Bowman and Sarah's father was John Redfern.
The year of their wedding is smack dab in the middle of the "Great Irish Hunger" or what many call the Great Potato Famine.

They had 4 children together before fleeing Ireland in 1855(3 lived past infancy).  After coming to America, they went on to have 7 more children.

Robert and Sarah aren't that interesting, not when compared to Sarah Redfern's father, her siblings and half-siblings.

The Redfern saga started in County Derry, Northern Ireland when John Redfern was born in 1805 and spans across America to the Pacific Coast.
It has taken me years to track the movements of this Redfern family down.

More tomorrow on my Redfern ancestors.

I am off to have a pint.....


Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Working on the Travel Plans

I got the green light to attempt to plan some of our travel for 2016.
Hubs had his time off in May approved so it looks like another trip to Louisiana is in the offering...maybe.

Instead of driving there I wanted to look at other "options" for travel.  Hubs does all the driving on this trip and I think it's unfair that he drives almost the whole time we are on the road and then at our destination.
Plus we are always up for a new experience/adventure.

So I considered taking Amtrak as the "Crescent" Train runs from NYC to New Orleans daily.  We'd get on in Philly and leave the train at Meridian MS.  Of course we'd have to take the bus to Philly and from Meridian to Shreveport(Amtrak has a connector bus that goes from Meridian MS to Dallas TX.).
I am a bit reticent about train travel as both of my experiences have not been very happy.

Here is what is involved to get there via train---

Take a bus to Philly  $150
Take the train to Meridian MS  $583
Take another bus from Meridian to Shreveport LA  $76
Rent a car for 8 days while in Shreveport  $228.04
8 Nights of hotel stays  $850.51
Take a bus to Meridian  $76
Take the train to Philly  $583
Take a bus to Wilkes-Barre  $150

And this doesn't include meals(other than 8 breakfasts at the hotel in Shreveport).
Now if we tack on an excursion to New Orleans for 2 nights......

Bus to NO and back to Shreveport  $152
2 Nights in Downtown hotel New Orleans  $400 approx.
2 Taxi Rides(from Union Station to hotel and back)$25 + tip

$572 + $2696.55=$3268.55 Total plus meals

Going this route also means we can't stop and see people along the way or back, we can't bring anything with us or bring anything home that won't fit into our suitcases.

So then I looked at flying down............

Round Trip Flight for 2(2 Layovers going, 1 Layover coming back)  $1800
Car Rental while in Shreveport  $228.04
8 Hotel Nights  $850.51

Add in an excursion to New Orleans($572)and we have a total of $3450.55 plus meals

So going by train is slightly cheaper than flying by about $200.
But both are still quite high compared to driving.

But by train you get there in about 30 hours. and 7-8 hours by plane.


Decisions, decisions..........

Is anybody out there reading who lives between Wilkes-Barre PA and Shreveport LA who would like a visit from me?
The trip is still very much up in the air(due to some other issues)but I am continuing to ponder it.

How do you prefer to travel for pleasure?
Road trips and stopping for the unexpected experience?
Flying quickly and spending your time at a destination?
Have you ever taken a long train trip?


Tuesday, March 15, 2016

The Great Bathroom Remodel of 2016.....Part Four

Ok, so the crew finished up on Monday(they stayed until 5:30 pm to get it done).  I had fallen asleep in the spare bedroom so Hubs, who took the day off from work, did the final walk through with the crew.  Let's just say that Hubs is not very observant at time. lolz

When I awoke and walked into the bathroom it was beautiful but I did immediately see two things............

The ledge on the bottom of the mirror frame had a ding......

And the heater which was NOT replaced was missing a side panel which had been there before the crew removed it.  It's that black space next to/behind the toilet..........


The next day the contractor called to speak with us/talk about any issues remaining.  He spoke up and said he realized that the mirror had a defect(was present on it when the crew took it out of the box)but they hung it anyway so we'd have a mirror while they reordered a new one.
So Hubs brought up the missing panel on the heater and the contractor said that his crew chief said that it wasn't there when they started.
Sluggy to the rescue......I emailed him this shot of the "Before" Bathroom taken the day before they gutted the room.

Yes, the heater panel WAS there!
So the crew either lost or just threw out the old heater panel(they did keep the panel on the other side, weird?).
The contractor will replace the panel(this heater is from 1986)and if he can't match it(and he can't) he'll be buying us a new heater unit(in white to match the room).

This is why it is important to DOCUMENT folks!  Without the photos I took we'd be paying for a new heater unit and install along with everything else we bought for this reno.

So with all that out of the way, here are the reno porn shots of Sluggy's brand spanking new bathroom.....

It's not a fancy bathroom with fancy fittings and fixtures but it all matches and is clean and functional.
That's what is important to me.  8-)
We went with a gray neutral on the floor and walls(doors, ceiling and trim in white), clean white appliances(sink/toilet/tub), a dark brown mirror and cabinet/vanity, fixtures in brushed nickel and a mounted shower rod.

I hung the shower curtain last weekend.
After Hubs puts the shelves back into the closet there I'll restock that.

Now I just have to lay down some grout sealer, then get some hand towels, a toothbrush holder and a bath mat/rug that matches and pick up a squeegee to clean water off the tub surround walls with after use.

Oh, and some shelf paper for the drawers and under the sink in the cabinet and a new blind for the window.
And hang my art back on the wall.

So that's mostly done.
Now we had to address the issues in the main/hallway bathroom. It isn't nearly as bad as the master bathroom was but there are things to be done in there--new vanity/sink, new lights, new toilet, new drywall on one wall, new vinyl flooring and massive amounts of painting.  At least the sink drain in now up to code in there.  The only "surprise" will be the subfloor being replaced around the toilet I think.
Not as labor intensive a job(no tiling and no replacing all the sheet rock)but it will still cost a fair amount.  We still have a few thousand left from Hubs bonus from 2015 which should go a long way to paying for what needs to be done in that bathroom(if we do all the painting ourselves).

But maybe we need to sit down first and prioritize all the rest of the house projects that need doing before launching into this other bathroom situation.

I am just thankful we didn't go into debt to get this bathroom ticked off the list and I can "enjoy the go" again in there.  ;-)


Monday, March 14, 2016

This Week on the Dining Table

It's the "You Really Need All This Food?" Edition......

This is what College Boy "insisted" on taking back to school with him(well except for the baking trays and that pen).  All this extra food plus the case of water I dropped off in his room when I went to pick him up a week ago and 2 containers of peanut butter cookies and assorted sodas.....and the Easter candy I gave him before he left so I didn't have to mail it in a week's time.

This is the boy who we are paying for a full meal plan for as well, at the school!
He only has 6 weeks left until the semester ends.  I would have hated to see what he felt he needed if he had had to slog it out longer than that. lolz

I am just enjoying the relative peace and quiet reigning in the house now that he is safely ensconced back at school.  8-)

Onward to the meal planning!

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

1. Sunday--Roasted Chicken, Stuffing, Deviled Eggs and Roasted Carrots and Cauliflower
2. Monday--CB's Birthday Meal out
3. Tuesday--Philly Cheese Steaks(I'll have Halushki), leftover Veggies
4. Wednesday--White Chicken Chili, Biscuits, Salad
5. Thursday--Tacos or Taco Salads
6. Friday--Crab Cakes and Shrimp, Coleslaw, Steak Fries or add to leftover Roasted Potatoes(for Hubs and CB)
7. Saturday--Leftovers or Take-out

And this is what actually happened--

1. Sunday--Roasted Chicken, Stuffing, Deviled Eggs and Roasted Carrots and Cauliflower
2. Monday--Subway Sandwiches
3. Tuesday--CB's Birthday Meal out
4. Wednesday--CB made Tacos, I had Leftover Halushki
5. Thursday--Fend For Yourself(I had a spinach and cheese Hot Pocket, Hubs had leftover Lasagna, CB had Tacos, I think?)
6. Friday--Crab Cakes and Shrimp, Coleslaw, Leftover Roasted Potatoes(for Hubs and CB)
7. Saturday--Philly Cheese Steaks

5 meals cooked at home.
3 new meals and 2 nights of leftovers in some form or another and 2 nights of Take-Out/Eating Out.

As for my grocery spending......3 tiny  trips that came to $19.47 combined and a larger shop at Weis which was $64.65, making my weekly total $84.12.
I have spent $181.41 in all for March so far.
Between $68.59 and $118.59 of the potential $250-$300 March food budget left to spend with 17 days left in the month.

Leftovers going into this week......Halushki, Assorted Veggies, Breaded Fish, Taco filling(CB made this), Coleslaw, and Roasted Chicken meat.
I'll make Chicken soup from the leftover chicken and throw some of the leftover roasted veggies into that.  Fish will become a fish sandwich for 1 lunch.

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

1. Sunday--Corned Beef, Cabbage/Halushki, Carrots
2. Monday--Tuna Casserole, Caesar Salad
3. Tuesday--Beef Bourguignon
4. Wednesday--BLT Sandwiches Tacos using leftover taco meat
5. Thursday---Salmon or Cod, Brussels Sprouts
6. Friday--Kielbasa on Rolls w/Onions, Corn
7. Saturday--Leftovers

This week will see 6 new meals cooked and 1 meal of leftovers(re-purposed into new dishes or not) and 0 meals Out.

What I need to buy for this menu?  Nothing at all. I bought the corned beef, mushrooms, cabbage, tomatoes last week.  Roast, tuna, bacon, fish and kielbasa are in the freezer or pantry, as are bread products, noodles and veggies.  I am going to try to NOT go to the grocery store this week.
Yah....famous last words. 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?


Saturday, March 12, 2016

The Last Couple of Days

First off my grocery shopping trip to Weis(PMITA)Markets on Friday.........

I also wanted to mention that I did use that $2 ExtraCare bucks I had that expired last Saturday March 5th.
The town College Boy goes to school in has a CVS so we swung by and use it before leaving town.
Arizona Teas were 2/$1 so we bought 4 iced teas and spent $0 OOP.

I am done with CVS now until Rite-Aid turns into a Wags. lolz

We got our tax refund on Friday.
Automatic direct bank deposits rock!
Of course our water heater has decided to give up the ghost this week so we know exactly where that windfall will be going.
I swear the appliances around here just know when we get a little extra money, don't they?

And I hopped up to Rite-Aid this morning and did the rest of the March Pain Deals on my son's card........

After 20% wellness discount that Absorbine Jr. was $8.79($9 sale price), the Stopain was $9.59($10 sale price), the Simisan was $8.79($10 sale price)and the Vivarin was $7.99($9 sale price).  Each of these gave $9 back in Plenti Points.
I also got 2 x Irish Spring Body Wash, on sale for $6/2, used 2 x $1/1 Qs and got back $3 in Plenti Points for the purhase.

I spent down $36.40 in Plenti Points and earned $39.00 in new Plenti Points, making this transaction a $2.60 moneymaker.

I am off today to do some cleaning.  The weather is beautiful so I might just do some organizing/decluttering in the garage.  There is also a fine layer of dust(from spackle and contruction)on everything in the bedroom so I'll be having a go in there as well.
I need to pick up some things for the new bathroom(hand towels, rug/bathmat, blinds)but as my foot is painful today(pulled something on the side of the right one)I am not up to walking around stores so that can wait until next week sometime.

Hubs takes College Boy back to school tomorrow so I'll have the house to myself for awhile.  I think a nice long nap is in order then. 8-)

What are you up to this weekend?
Any plans?


Friday, March 11, 2016

Places We Are Considering Retiring To-The Financials

Here are some places we are mulling over moving to eventually in retirement.
Along with the state are the various financial implications which led us to include these 11 states on our "short list".

I thought this might be of interest to some of my readers out there who are starting to look at retirement and whether to relocate or not.  This is just what we consider the major financial repercussions for each state that will affect us and our situation.
Sometimes it can be enlightening to see "what is what" if you lay it all down together.

While we didn't include Estate Taxes(since we don't plan on leaving anything when we die), Cigarette taxes(since we don't smoke), etc., we did include 4 types of taxes that would affect our day to day existence while living in that particular place.

Sales Tax--Because you have to buy stuff in retirement.
Gasoline Tax--Because you have to go places in your car in retirement.
State Income Tax--Because you have to pay this if you live in certain states.
Property Tax--Because we will own a home in retirement.
Federal Income Tax isn't talked about in this post since it affects you the same no matter what part of the country you live in.  We are just talking about the tax variables from state to state here.

First though, here is the financial scorecard if we were to stay in PA(in this location)for comparison purposes---


*State Sales Taxes-6%(food, clothing, heating fuels, drugs both prescription and OTC are exempt)

*Gasoline Taxes-68.9¢ per gallon(very high)

*Personal State Income Taxes-flat rate of 3.07%
No exemptions, no deductions, no federal deductions on state taxes
Retirement Income Taxes-Retirement income not taxed for state tax purposes.
Social Security benefits are not taxed.

*Property Taxes
Property taxes are levied by local governments (counties, municipalities and school districts).  The tax cannot exceed 30 mills on the assessed valuation of the property without special permission from the courts.
County taxes here are currently 5.7456% of assessed value of the property.
The municipality taxes are .2600 of assessed value of the property.
The school taxes are 9.637 mills and I suspect they will go up in 2017 as the school budget is operating in a deficit currently.
We currently pay under $4,000 a yr. in a semi-rural location(read No services)for a home valued at approx. $230,000.
Effective property tax rate is 1.51%($2,484), thirty ninth lowest of all states.**

**I have included this property tax rate ranking from highest to lowest of 51 places(50 states and Washington D.C.) as a snapshot of each places property tax.  However, this ranking can't be relied on solely since it ranks the states using the median home/property value of each state, and each state has a different median cost for homes.  This means that while the property tax rate may be low and the rate may rank lower, if the median home price/value is a lot higher, it skews the actual property tax amount.

Now here are our potential new states to move to in retirement.
They are listed in no particular order and ONLY take into considerations the financial aspect of retirement for us.
There also may be other factors(non-financial)why some of these states made the cut too and why other financially less expensive locations did not.


*State Sales Taxes-7%(prescription drugs exempt)and 6% on food and food ingredients.  Counties and cities are allowed to add another 1.5% to 2.75% to these rates.

*Gasoline taxes are 39.8¢ per gallon.

*Personal State Income Taxes-not levied on salaries, wages, Social Security benefits, IRAs and pension income.  A 6% tax is levied on stock dividends and interst from bonds.  The first $2,500 of these incomes are exempt for joint filers.
Retirement Income Taxes-After age 65 the first $37K of this class of income is exempt for joint filers.
Social Security income is not taxed.

*Property Taxes
Property taxes are assessed and collected by the local governments.  County assessors of property appraise real estate for assessment purposes.  In addition, they assess tangible personal property used or held for use in a business.  The county commission and city governing bodies determine local property tax rates.  The property taxes are collected by county trustees and city collecting officials.
Tennessee does not have a homestead exemption.  However, there is a property tax relief program for the elderly, disabled and veterans.
The assessed valuation of a property is based on 25% of its fair market value.  Depending on the location of the residence, homeowners will be assessed property taxes from the city only, the city and county, or the city, county, and a special school/fire district rate. A local government may authorize (at their option) a person who is 65 years of age or older to defer payment of tax up to $60,000 of the appraised fair market value of the homeowner’s residence if the combined income is not more than $12,000.  Local option could increase it to $25,000.
Effective property tax rate is .75%($1,046), thirteenth lowest of all states.


*State Sales Tax-No sales taxes. There are however specific sales taxes on certain goods: 9% on restaurants, prepared foods, hotel rooms and car rentals; .55¢ per megawatt hour on electricity, 7% on telecommunication services, plus additional taxes on real estate transfers and alcohol(liquor stores are state run in NH--uh oh!)

*Gasoline Taxes are 42.23¢ per gallon.

*Personal State Income Taxes-None per se though NH does tax dividend and interest income of more than $4,800 per couple at a rate of 5%.  At age 65 there is a $1,200 exemption above and beyond the $4,800 amount.
Social Security income is not taxed.

*Property Taxes
Property Taxes are assessed/levied/collected by each municipality and vary widely.  Total taxes vary from under 9% to over 32%.  We don't have a locality picked out yet so can't evaluate accurately until we decide on the area/town.
These tax rates includes a statewide education rate of $2.350 per $1K of valuation.
Effective property tax rate is 2.10%($4,996), forty ninth lowest of all states.


*State Sales Tax-4%  Food for home consumption and home utilities are Not taxed. Prescription drugs are taxed.

*Gasoline Taxes are 38.41¢ per gallon.

*Personal State Income Tax-Depending on your income bracket, we would be in the highest bracket of 6%.
Personal Exemptions on State Income Tax would offset income to the tune of  $10,000 a year and Federal Taxes are fully deductible at the state level, which won't in all probablity lower our tax bracket.
Retirement income is taxable, though after age 65 we will get a $6,000 exemption on it.
Social Security income is not taxed.

*Property Taxes
These are assessed and collected and the parish level(like a county).  Homeowners receive a homestead exemption of $7,500.  This is applied against the assessed value of the home(which is equal to 10% of the FMV), therefore you only pay property taxes if your home's FMV is over $75,000.  This exemption does not generally apply to municipal taxes so those are still due.
Effective property tax rate is .48%($672), third lowest of all states.


*State Sales Tax-6.5% though prescription drugs are exempt.  Food taxed at 2% and city/county sales taxes could add another 5.5% depending on where you live/shop.

*Gasoline Taxes are 40.20¢ per gallon.

*Personal State Income Tax-Brackets for our income level would be 7% tax.
Tax Credits and Deductions would offset income to the tune of $4,046 a year plus another whole $26 when we hit 65 years of age. lolz  Large Medical and Dental costs per year can be deducted the same as on Federal taxes.
Social Security income is exempt from state taxes as is the first $6,000 of private pension/retirement plan income.

*Property Taxes
Property taxes are levied by counties, municipalities and school districts.  All households are eligible for a homestead tax credit of up to $350 regardless of income/age.  Taxes collected on real estae and personal property(cars/boats/rvs/etc.)and are assessed at 20% of true market value.
The tax assessment value of residents 65 or older are capped at the previous year's value(unless improvements are made or the property is sold.
Effective property tax rate is .62%($673), tied for eighth lowest of all states.


*State Sales Tax-none.

*Gasoline Taxes are 41.4¢ per gallon.

*Personal State Income Taxes-Depending on your income bracket, we would be in the highest bracket of 6.6%.
Tax Credits and Standard Deductions on State Income Tax would offset income to the tune of  $6830 a year which "might" lower our tax bracket.  We can also exempt $12,500 of pension/qualified investment income which would definitely lower our tax bracket 1% or so, so effective state income tax rate would be in the 5% range.
Social Security income is not taxed.

*Property Taxes
All real property is subject to county, school district, vocational school district and municipal property taxes. Tax relief programs for residents 65 or older up to $500.  Delaware boosts it has the fourth lowest property tax rates in the nation and will depend on which area of the state you are in.
We are looking at a more rural area where it is currently .66% of appraised value.
Effective property tax rate is .53%($1,231), fourth lowest of all states.


*State Sales Tax-4.30%  An additional 0.7% imposed in Northern VA and Hampton Roads localities making the rate in these areas 6%.  Eligible food items are subject to a reduced tax rate of 2.5%.

*Gasoline Taxes are 40.78¢ per gallon.

*Personal State Income Tax-Brackets which place us at the 5.75% level.
Personal exemptions and deductions lower our taxable income by $7,860.
Long-term care premiums are deductible from income as long as they have not been deducted for federal income tax purposes.  The year before you turn 65 you can claim a $6,000 deduction and when you reach 65 a $12,000 deduction.
Social Security is exempt from state taxation.

*Property Taxes
Real Estate is taxed at 100% of FMV and rates vary from town to town. Tangible personal property(cars, boats, RVs, etc.)is also taxed at the local level and based on the percentage of the original cost so your rates can vary from town to town.

   RE Tax rate in the town I am from(Va BCH) is $1.1494 per each $100 of FMV.
   Personal Property rate in the town I am from is $4 per each $100(cars only, other are $1.50 per            $100)of assessed value.
   RE Tax rate in the town my mother is from(Brookneal) is $.52 per each $100 of FMV.
   Personal Property rate in the town my mother is from is $4.45 per each $100 of assessed value.

There are exemptions at age 65 but we may have too much retirement income to qualify for those.
Effective property tax rate is .80%($1,941), sixteenth lowest of all states.


*State Sales Tax-6.25% Exemptions are food(not prepared), prescription and OTC drugs.  Localities can tack on another up to 2% to this rate.

*Gasoline Taxes are 38.4¢ per gallon.

*Personal State Income Tax-None.
Retirement Income is not taxed.

*Property Taxes
No State instituted property taxes but the local municipality/county sets and levies property taxes.
Texas on average has some of the highest property taxes in the country.  They range from under $400 yr. in Terrell County to over $5,000 yr. in King County.
There are also School Taxes levied in Texas.  All homeowners get a $15,000 exemption on your property value and after age 65 you can apply for another $10,000 in exemptions and your school taxes get "frozen" at that level and can't be increased as long as you own that home.
Effective property tax rate is 1.93%($2,537), forty seventh lowest of all states.


*State Sales Taxes-6% though prescription drugs are exempt.  Food is taxed at 1%.  Seniors 60 and over are eligibile for a discount card for pharmaceutical, retail and professional discounts.
Municipalities can add a local sales tax up to 1%.

*Gasoline Taxes are .53¢ per gallon.

*Personal State Income Taxes-Brackets put us at the 6.5% rate.
Personal exemptions would reduce our liability by $4,000 of income and medical deductions would allow 33.4% of whatever we paid for medical care insurance(supposedly until we were Medicare eligible at 65).
Social Security income is taxable only to the extent that the income is includable in your FAGI.
At age 65 you can exclude the first $16,000 of retirement income for calculating state income purposes.  (This is the only state on the short list that does tax Social Security on the state level.)

*Property Taxes
Property taxes are levied at the county level and each county and municipality can impose its own rate within limits set by the WV constitution. Property is assessed at 60% of FMV.  Due to excess levies the rates can vary from county to county. Rates vary from a high average in Jeffeson Co. of $1,379 to $235 in Webster Co.
WV has homestead and other exemptions for those 65 and older which we will probably not qualify for because of our income.
Effective property tax rate is .59%($590), seventh lowest of all states.


*State Sales Taxes-7% though prescription drugs, residential utilities and healthcare are exempt.

*Gasoline Taxes are 37.18¢ per gallon

*Personal State Income Taxes-Bracket depending on income and we would be in the 5% one. 
Personal exemptions and deductions would offset income to the tune of $16,600 and once we  hit age 65 that would increase another $1,500 each.  Qualified retirement income is not taxed at the state level.

*Property Taxes
Both cars and real estate are taxed. Residential single family property taxed at 10% of assessed value, cars at 30% of assessed value. All other personal property is assessed at 15% of its value(not sure what they include in personal property).
Homestead exemption has to be applied for and up to age 65 is $300 per year. At age 65 there is an exemption of the first $75,000 of true value which will lower your property taxes some.
Effective property tax rate is .78%($790), fifteenth lowest of all states.


*State Sales Tax-4% though prescription drugs and food for home consumption are exempt.  Counties can add up to 4% in additional tax.

*Gasoline Taxes are 42.4¢ per gallon.

*Personal State Income Taxes-None.
Retirement Income is not taxed.

*Property Taxes
Property taxes are set by various legal entities.
Property tax applies to only a fraction of FMV, most places that is 9.5% of FMV.  Counties are limited to assessing property to 8 mills(.8%)of value for their taxation purposes.
There are various tax relief/credit/deferral programs that are income based as well as a Tax Relief program for those age 65 and up.  We would most probably not qualify for any of those perks.
Effective property tax rate is .62%($1,179), tied for eighth lowest of all states.


*State Sales Tax-4.750% Prescription drugs, medical equipment are exempt, while food is subject to an additional 2% county tax.  Counties may add an additional 2-3% of tax depending on locality.

*Gasoline taxes are 56.5¢ per gallon.

*Personal State Income Taxes-Brackets which would place us in the 7.75% rate.
Personal exemptions and deductions would lower our taxable income by $8,500 and once reaching age 65 we would see another small deduction in taxable income.
Medical/Dental deductions of the federal amount claimed as well.  Up to $350 credit for premiums paid on long-term care insurance too.
Social Security is exempt from state taxes.  In retirement savings up to $2,000 of qualified private pensions and IRAs are also exempt from state taxes.

*Property Taxes
All real and personal property is taxed at 100% of appraised value and collected by cities and counties.  Combined effective rates range from .3144% to 1.6491% which is quite a range.
There is an elderly exclusion at age 65 but we will have too much income to be eligible for that.
Effective property tax rate is .85%($1,313), twentieth lowest of all states.

More next time a bit on our retirement location picking process.

Did you move in retirement?
What were the criteria that led you to move to the location you did?
Did the financial aspects of your life have a hand in where you relocated to?
Where you satisfied with the move and why?