Just an average Gal, older mom, trying to live a simple life & what happens along the way.
Tuesday, March 31, 2009
WAGS For BEGINNERS Spend $4, Get $13 of Stuff
March Food Budget....torpedoed by Heinz & Kraft & Hormel
Monday, March 30, 2009
$60K $AVING$ CHALLENGE-March Update
If I happen to spend any money between now and April, I'll shake down #1 son for some cash since he has a real job. All those months of puking up everything I ate and carrying his lardass fetus around should be good for a 20 spot, right?lolol
Down to business.....
After the disasterous February Total(negative gain), I am happy to report that we finished March in THE BLACK!
We lowered our MasterCard bill(which is paid off each month-NO BALANCE EVER!) to under $1K(last month it was over $2.3K). Usually when the MC bill goes down, hubby's Cash Withdrawals go up. We did Not see an increase in Cash Withdrawals this time.
We had a bit of rolled coins as usual, but you will notice there is NO eBay income for March. I have been so preoccupied with getting a food/toiletries stockpile up and organized, along with other stuff related to the kids that I let my eBay store sit vacant for almost the entire month. I am kicking myself because of the waste of money paying a store fee to eBay & an auction managemnt/photo storage fee to InkFrog for the month for NOTHING. But I find it difficult to keep myself on task w/eBay lately, since the sales when I was keeping up with it this winter were so disappointing. The economic crunch is hitting even eBay shoppers and the sellers there are feeling it. It figures in a recession-like economy I would see a large falling off of sales, since I don't sell 'needs' type items.
Back on point....
A large part of the glorious NET GAIN for March you see is the Income Tax Refund we received last week. Without that added into our Income column, we still eeked out a Gain for March of about $1K.
This $AVING$ CHALLENGE is 'my thing'.
Only 1/2 the refund is mine technically.
Hubby needs to be consulted about any potential plans for his part of that money. For now, I'm leaving it all in the $aving$ Column. I'll update after a final decision on the refund.
I was happy to see that we could still $ave this month, even though we had approx. $1400 in unusual expenses-Municipal taxes, state taxes due & Dental bills out of the ordinary.
Next month I am looking for the electric bill to decrease(less heating costs)& I'm going to look into lowering the cable costs and consolidating phone services.
I'm still spending too much on the food/household budget. I'll be updating those costs for March in an upcoming post.
It's the End of the 1st Quarter of 2009. So far we have a Savings Total of $7409.53 for the year. If we keep this up, we'll be able to $ave ALMOST $30K this year! It's not $60K like I had planned, but I'll consider it a very good result.
March had a positive outcome & I'm planning some changes to give us a better gain in April.....unless MURPHY shows up on the doorstep while my back is turned!
Meal Plan Monday March 30th Edition
Last week's menu went as planned except for the CrabCakes. Those poor crabcakes....seems like they will NEVER get made! We ended up last week having leftovers 2 nights but #1 son worked alot and daughter had play rehearsal until 9 every night, so we still have some leftovers. I'll do my best to eat for lunch what I can, but the doggies will have to help me out this week so we can avoid the dreaded FOOD WASTE! Somehow I don't think the dogs will mind having to eat leftovers.lolol
Sunday is Hubby's birthday so I don't have to cook that day.
I've linked to the Crab Cake recipe I use. Being from Virginia Beach originally, I loves me some seafood. I like a light hand when making crab cake batter/filler. You don't want to spend all that money on crab and then not be able to taste it. This recipe is one of the best.
Again this week's menu is mostly Eating from the Pantry/Freezer. Last week, I only needed to buy 3 items to make that menu. This week I only need 4 items for the menu(salad greens, fresh mushrooms, cubed stuffing/breading & eggs).
Here's what is on the Menu at Sluggy's house this week.
MONDAY-Meatloaf, Potato Salad(leftover), Green & Wax Bean Melange
TUESDAY-Quiche & Garden Greens Salad
WEDNESDAY-Roasted Chicken w/Veggies, Stuffing, Cranberry Sauce
THURSDAY-Rigatoni w/Meat Sauce, Spinach Soufle
FRIDAY-Crab Cakes, Fries, Harvard Beets
SATURDAY-Quesadillas(using leftover roasted chicken), Rice, Corn
SUNDAY-Birthday Dinner Out
Desserts for the Week-Apple Pie, Brownies,
My Bargain Meal this week is the Rigatoni w/Sauce & Spinach Souffle.
Rigatoni.... .50¢ box
Sauce....leftover from last week's Lasagna meal $1.50
Meat in Sauce....used 1/3lb. from ground beef chunk for Monday's Meatloaf .56¢
Spinach Souffle.... $4.00
$9.80 OR $1.64 a serving(6 Generous Servings)
The largest expenses are the Salad Greens and the Spinach Souffles(2 boxes of Stouffer's side dish). I can't wait until I can plant my own salad greens and not have to pay through the nose for those until next winter! I also have a dilemna on the Spinah Souffles. I was down to ONE STORE locally that carries this particular Stouffer's item. We like this item and it's sooo convenient to buy already made up....but now that 1 store has stopped carrying it. I have made spinach souffle before from scratch(it isn't that difficult) so I'll have to start making it again. I hate not having the option to buy it instead but at the price it had risen too, every frugal bone in my body has been screaming at me to MAKE IT and NOT SPEND THAT MONEY ON CONVENIENCE! Now I have to listen to my frugal bones....lol
Organizing Junkie is the home to Menu Plan Monday. Go see what's on her and many other Home Cooks' Menus for the week at Organizing Junkie's website.
Saturday, March 28, 2009
Absolute Power Corrupts...
But today, I am veering off from that course.
You see, the County that my Teeny Tiny Town is located in garnered some unwanted National attention last night.
A bigtime corruption scandal was a subject on the ABC Prime Time show "20/20".
If you haven't heard, here is the basic gist of the story.
My county, Luzerne County in Pennsylvania, is well known within the state for being one of the most corrupt places to live....outside of some major league corruption places out-of-state, like Chicago & Boston. We aren't quite up in that league...yet. But Luzerne County politics has taken a page from those Gangsters of the 1920's.
Backdoor & shady deals have always been the way around here, is what people who have lived here their entire lives tell me. You have to be related to someone who's connected to get a government job, get a permit or license, etc. for anything around here. Nepotism is the name of the game in the public schools too. Outsiders need not apply. Having moved here 8 years ago, we are outsiders.
It turns out that 2 of our county judges took this shadiness just one step too far with a little scheme they hatched about 10 yrs. ago.
Micheal Conahan was the President Judge of Luzerne County back then. Mark Ciavarella was a judge under him, and eventually when Conahan retired, Ciavarella was chosen to take over as the President Judge. Ciavarella was also the judge who ruled over the Juvenile Court cases in the County Courthouse, 5 miles from my home.
C&C had the local state's juvenile facility closed down and then threw govt. contracts to their croonies in the construction business, awarding them millions to build a privately run new juvenile detention center. Then Ciavarella ran roughshod over Justice when kids in trouble were brought before him in court. He handed down stiff sentences to EVERY SINGLE KID brought up on charges, no matter how minor the charge or the fact that for many it was a 1st offense.
Every child who went before him ended up in the new juvenile jail, for months or even years.
1 kid hit his father with a piece of meat during a family argument.
1 kid was in a fight at school(the other kid started it). No one was hurt.
1 kid made a myspace page mocking a school administrator.
All of these were 1st offenses.
All these kids, ranging from 12-16 yr. old, went to jail.
Often times these kids were taken directly from their schools into custody, without their parents being contacted first or given the opportunity to speak with their child before being carted off to juvenile detention. Allowing law enforcement into the schools without legal notice or representation for the parents, made the Schools and their Administrators duplicit in the aggregious offenses that befell these kids!
These Adminstrators also should be held accountable for their part in wreeking havoc in these families lives.
Ciavarella took all of 4 minutes with each case before sentencing kids to jail. Often the kids weren't allowed to state their case or say anything.
These kids & their parents were not informed of their right to have a lawyer. They were told by court personnel that they didn't need a lawyer.
If they brought a lawyer to court, they were told by Ciavarella that they would not be allowed to represent the kid/parents.
Ciavarella IGNORED recommendations from the Parole Dept. personnel when they advised kids should NOT be incarcerated and be remanded to their parents and put on probation & community service.
Ciavarella was God and took NO recommendations under advisement from the mere mortals who worked with him.
Conahan & Ciavarella were getting kickbacks....kickbacks from their cronies the builders and kickbacks from the people running the Detention Center for filling the beds by sending all those kids there.
$300 a day per kid for months.....years......
They admitted to taking 2.6 MILLION.
I have a feeling it was MUCH higher.
It's thoroughly disgusting that this happened. What's worse is that it was ALLOWED to happen and CONTINUE for 5 YEARS!
Why did it continue for so long?
Because everyone in that CourtHouse.....all the employees and other judges were either on the take with them or indebted to them, or pressured into staying silent or face losing their jobs. No one stood up to these two, except one judge-Ann Lokuta. She was a no-nonsense, brusk woman judge(the ONLY woman judge in Luzerne County) and not part of the Old Boy's Club down at the courthouse.
A couple of years ago, Lokuta started making noises about the goings on at the Courthouse. Last year Ciavarella brought her up on dereliction of duty charges. He got other Courthouse employees to testify against Lokuta and she was disbarred, stripped of her Judicial seat and any pension she had earned.
After her hearing, Lokuta was contacted by the FBI. Seems someone at the behest of some of the parents of those kids wrongly jailed contacted an outsider, the Philadelphia Juvenile Justice Center, and they filed papers that got the FBI investigating what was going on in Luzerne County.
Feb. 12th of this year, the FBI swept into Luzerne County to announce charges against Judges C&C. Ciavarella resigned from the bench immediately and both Conahan & Ciavarella arranged for plea agreements for a reduced sentence of 7.5 yrs. each.
Yesterday it was announced that all the records of the kids tried by Ciavaralla from 2003-2008 would be expunged and all sentences adjudicated. A large group of the parents & kids he tried are filing a massive civil lawsuit as well.
I hope the kid's families leave Conahan & Ciavarella and their families penniless.
Money won't make it better but at least these people can get therapy and put their lives back together.
There is still more corruption in Luzerne County at the Courthouse. The Court Adminstrator has pleaded guilty to stealing money from illegal slot machines seized for evidence in cases....$70,000. Turns out this guy, William Sharkey, is the nephew of ex Judge Conahan. Our County's Prothonotary, Jill Moran, has stepped down from that position and is cooperating with authorities in exchange for leniency on her part in this scandal. She is a local lawyer & the business partner also of Bob Powell. Bob Powell is one of the people involved with the building & running of the Juvenile Detention Center. Jill Moran is also accused of falsifying documents for Powell in regard to some real estate tax issues. Sandra Brulo, of the Probation Dept., was fired and is facing charges of obstruction of justice. She tampered with files for Ciavarella.
Every week a new festering sore is exposed as the Putrid Stinking Corruption here is unearthed and a new player faces criminal charges.
On the bright side, Ann Lokuta may get her Judgeship back. The ruling against her was overturned and her seat on the bench was taken off the ballot for the upcoming election of judges in May.
If you want to see the piece 20/20 did, go Here. Under WATCH VIDEO, on the right side of the page, click on the clip entitled, "KIDS JAILED FOR CASH?"
I was going through some files from 2008 this morning and found this letter I received last Feb. thanking me for my service on Jury Duty in Luzerne County. I don't know if you can see it but it's signed by Mark Ciavarella.
I don't know whether to put this letter on eBay or have it exorcized and drive the 2.5 miles over to Ciavarella's house and return it to him.
Yes, it seems this Monster Ciavarella lives here in Teeny Tiny Town with me.
Just another reason to not want to live here in the Armpit of Pennsylvania.
Evil & corruption will spread if given half a chance. When you notice corruption, keep speaking out against it until someone hears you.
Friday, March 27, 2009
Hounding Ends, March Money Totaling Beings
Yah, I am kinda burnt out on the Deal Seeking for awhile. I seriously need to take some time this weekend and straighten the storage of the stockpile. My freezer is also so full STILL, that I am continuing my moratorium on buying any food product that needs refridgeration, outside of milk. The freezer in the garage needs a BIGTIME defrosting so we are going to eat down what's in there until I can transfer it all into the lil' freezer on the fridge and defrost the entire unit.
And it's almost the end of the Month, which means it's almost time for
Tuesday WAGS Trip...Clearance Heaven
The WAGS closest to my house is right smack dab in the middle of a big city.....well, big for our part of the state. It's also open 24/7 and right near 2 large Universities. No matter the time you go in there, the joint is hopping. There is ALOT of traffic through that store and I can never find anything in the Clearance Section that is worth bringing home(unless I go in right after they put stuff on clearance and that hardly ever happens.)
This WAGS out in the boonies was a Clearance DREAM! I'm so glad I brought all my Qs in the store.
Here is what I got.....first the clearance items.
2 x Natural Dentist Toothpaste @ $1.29 ea. Used 1 $2 Q
2 x Viactive Chews @ $3.49 ea. Used 2 $2 Qs
2 x Mocha Mints @ $.50 ea.
Tom's of Maine Mouth Rinse @ $1.69
4 x Crest Pro-Health Toothpaste @ $.95 ea. Used 3 $1 Qs
Oral B Toothbrush Double Pk. @ $1.89 Used 1 $2 Q
Oral B Toothbrush Double Pk. @ $2.49 Used 1 $2 Q
3 x Oral B Single Toothbrush @ $1.29 ea. Used 3 $1 Qs
2 x Reach Toothbrush @ $.75 ea. Used 2 $1 Qs
Now the regular stuff.....
2 x Sambucol Tabs @ $12.99 ea. Used 2 $10 WQ & 2 $3 Q
Soleil Disposable Razors @ $5.99 Used $2 WQ & $2 Q
2 x SC johnson Cleaners @ $3.00 ea. Used 2 $1 Qs
Excedrin Menstrual @ $5.99 Used $4 WQ & $1 Q
Colgate Toothpaste @ $3.49 Used $2.50 WQ & $1 Q
5 x Hunt's Sauce @ $4/5 Used $2.05 WQ
2 x Butterbal Broth @ $.79 ea.
SUBTOTAL $78.83+$.35 tax=$79.18 Coupons Used $60.55
6 x Hunt's Sauce @ $4/5 & $.80/1 Used $2.46 WQ
Colgate Toothpaste @ $3.49 Used $2.50 WQ & $1 Q
2 x Sambucol Tabs @ $12.99 Used 2 $10 WQ & 2 $3 Q
SUBTOTAL $34.27 Coupons Used $31.96
OOP $2.31Combined SUBTOTALS....
Total RRs Used....$13.50
GRAND TOTAL $7.44 OOP
And I will get $7.70 back for the Conagra Foods($5)& the SC Johnson Cleaners($2) in ESR($7 + 10% bonus for taking a Gift Card rebate rather than a check).
I was able to use 1 $2 Q on the 2 Natural Dentist on clearance for $1.29, so I paid $.58 for both tubes.
I was able to use 3 $1 Qs on the 4 boxes of Crest for $.95, so I paid $.80 for 4 tubes of that.
All 5 of the Oral B Toothbrushes came to $8.25 on clearance so I was able to use $7 in Qs(I could have used an 8th $1 Q if I had one) and get all 5 brushes for $1.25 total.
Both Reach Toothbrushes for 75¢ ea. let me use $1 Qs on them without beeping at the register, even though it took off more than they were priced. But a 2nd Natural Dentist AND a 4th $1 off Crest Q did beep, so the cashier wouldn't let me use them.
Oh well.If you are looking to buy Soleil Disposable Razors at WAGS, look for the packages with the 2 BONUS Razors free. You might as well get the 6 pack for what you'd spend on the 4 pack, right?
Be sure and look for the Raspberry flavoured Viactiv on Clearance. It was NOT in the Clearance section but still on the shelf where the Viactiv is located with an orange shelf tag. This stuff is usually in the $7 range but marked down to $3.49 and with the current $2 Viactiv Q out there, this is a very nice $1.49 price!
Thursday, March 26, 2009
KMART Super Doubles March 22nd Eh...
I printed out a $5/$50 Kmart Q, & had gotten a $10 Gift Card offer to transfer a perscription to Kmart's pharmacy in the mail. I took both Qs and 1 of my meds that needed refilling with me. I stopped at the pharmacy first thing, then shopped until the rx was ready and picked up my FREE Gift Card before heading to the check-out.
Here is what I bought....
2 Vaseline Lotions @ $3.89 ea. 2Q x $1.25 doubled= -$5.00
4 Secrest Flawless Deodorants @ $4.49 ea. 4Q x $2 doubled= -$16.00
2 Satincare Shaving Cream @ $2.69 ea. 2Q x $1 doubled= -$4.00
2 Toothbrushes on sale @ $2.50 ea. 2Q x $1 doubled= -$4.00
1 Twin Pak Toothbrushes on sale @ $4.99 1Q x $2 doubled= -$4.00
4 Sure Deodorants on sale @ $1.99 ea. 4Q x $1 doubled/adjust= -$7.96
2 Cat Food @ $5.49 ea. 2Q x $2 doubled= -$8.00
4 Bonz Dog Treats on sale @ $2.99 ea. 2Q x $1.50/2 doubled= -$6.00
1 Lipton Dry Soup Mix @ $1.79 ea. 1Q x $1/2 doubled= -$2.00
2 Quaker Rice Snacks @ $2.99 ea. 2Q x $1 doubled= -$4.00
2 Sobe Waters on sale @ $1.00 ea. (#2 son loves this flavor.) no Qs
1 Little Debbie Snacks on sale @ $3.00 no Qs
That's what the coupons should have totaled, but....the cashier misread the Lipton Q, instead of my full $2 off 2 boxes, she gave me $1.79 off 1 box. Each box was $1.79 and she adjusted the Q down erroneously, so I paid $.895 for each box. Not a great price. I might have to return those.
Anyway, the actual Q total was $60.75.
Tax was $2.10.
Subtract the $5/$50 Kmart Q.....$27.92-$5=$22.92.
Subtract the FREE $10 Kmart Pharmacy Gift Card....
Savings of $73.65(before tax).
That's 83%....I'll take it!lol
I think I did fairly well. Nothing was FREE, except the Sure Deodorant. Most things were 50¢-$1 & the cat/dog food was $1.49. I also got some things without Qs that we just wanted, and the Vaseline was mismarked on the shelf. Had I known that, I wouldn't have purchased it here for what it cost me.
Considering that we don't have a Super Kmart, just a Big Kmart it was an ok total. The entire grocery dept. is 2 aisles long and 1 entire aisle is just chips & sodas. And the toiletries dept. is larger BUT I find that their reg. retail price on items is quite high! And very little was on sale in the toiletries this week. You KNOW they don't put stuff on sale when they are planning on a Super Doubles Coupon Sale!lol
I don't do alot of cleaning products and the paper product deals were nothing to write home about. Add that to the lack of 'real' food & there wasn't that much left for me to choose from to buy.
I am dumbfounded to think that when I look at this little bit of products I purchased, if I had just bought it all without using Qs, I would have had to pay almost $90!
I was happy I could use some of my pet food Qs before they expired. I've got a new donation started already for April to the Animal Shelter.
While shopping this sale, I passed a couple of women going down different aisles who had coupon binders opened up in the seat area of their carts. It was nice to see some kindred spirits in there working the sale alongside of me. We gave each other a knowing nod of the head when we recognized a Serious Couponin' Sistah....
CVS & the Scary Mean Old Cashier
GREEN & THRIFTY THURSDAY-Being Frugal AND Environmental TIP #2
GREEN AND THRIFTY THURSDAY!
And that means it's time for another small tip on things you can do to save money AND help the environment. After all, being frugal is great but saving money & time is not so good, at the expense of our Planet!
This week's Tip is about newspaper.
We Couponer-istas love us some Sunday newspaper!
After we lovingly extract all those wonderful Coupon Inserts, & we read the actual comics/news/articles in the 1st copy of the paper, we are left with a big old pile of newspaper.
NOT very green to just dispose of it, even if we take it to the recycling bin.
Let's put the power of the newspaper to work for us.
But where & how, you say?
WHERE....In the garden!
Spring is here and many frugal folks turn to thoughts of gardening. What better way, if you have the outside space, to save money on food than to grow your own!
Sure you can buy plants in a few weeks and just transplant them into the ground, so why not start your own plants from seed Now?
Because it costs less for seeds than for seedlings ready to transplant, that's why.
Before you go off to the local Home Gardening Store and buy little plastic seedling pots(plastic=not green) to start your seeds in, use what you have at home to Make Seedling Pots for FREE!
That is where the leftover Newspaper comes in.
HOW.....Here's how I make them.
1. Get a muffin pan. If you don't have one, try using a styrofoam-y egg carton from the grocery store.
Get a large bowl. Put some water in it.
2. Get some newspaper & cut it into strips or small squares. I use squares about 5"x5".
4. Take wet newspape and line your muffin pan/egg carton with the paper, pressing it against the indentation. I use 3 thicknesses of newspaper per hole.
Do this for each muffin/egg hole.
5. After each indentation is filled, take the edges of the paper that extends over the top of the muffin hole and fold it down so that the newspaper edge is even with the muffin hole. If the newspaper edges have dried out and won't stick, wet your fingers to make the newspaper moist again and press these folded parts into the newspaper cup you have made. Doing this makes the pots look nicer but also make the edges sturdier when you start filling them with soil and wetting that soil.
6. Put muffin pan/egg carton in a sunny spot. If you don't have a sunny spot, put it in a warm spot in your house until thoroughly dry.
You now have 12 seedling pots!
You can also use that pile of newspaper in your flower beds too. Instead of buying landscaping fabric for $8 a roll, use newspaper! Just lay it down to cover where you don't want weeds to grow, overlapping each sheet of paper. (I generally use 2 thickness of newspaper.) When done, soak the paper with a hose set of a gentle mist or spray. Cover the area with mulch. With any luck, you'll have no weeds to pull wherever you do this for the entire growing season!
If you still have leftover newspaper, try shredding it and using it in your compost pile. Newspaper qualifies as a 'brown' material for this purpose. To keep your compost in balance, make sure you have 'green' material to add to it too.
Any other ideas? Please leave them in the comments section below.
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
Whatever You Do Unto One of the Least...
I was raised Catholic.
Because of some experiences in that faith, & then in a Protestant faith, I have serious personal issues with organized religion.
This does NOT make me a bad person or a non-spiritual person.
I have as many morals or ethics as the next person, in some cases I'd dare to say I have more?
I just don't spend my time studying or professing my spirituality in a church or temple.
There are many paths to god, or enlightenment, or whatever you wish to call it. Everyone needs to find their own way.
And other people need to respect every one else's beliefs and pathways.
At the root of all religion(or should be) is the directive to love one another. To put it in the current vernacular, People trump things.
I think anyone would agree with that.
That's a basic tenets no matter your religion.
Things are not inherently bad or good.
The way in which we use things give those things either label.
We should use things to HELP people or any of
Which brings me to Stockpiling.
Getting things we need in our lives for free through legitimate channels(like rebating/couponing) is good.
We save money on the things and can use that money for other meaningful purposes in our lives.
Acquiring A LOT of things....like more tubes of toothpaste than we will ever use in a lifetime, or so many boxes of cereal that we can't eat them all before the expiration date....that kind of acquiring is not so good.
That is putting things first.
So what should we do when the Stockpile gets unwieldy?
We sell stuff. If your family needs cash to pay bills and you have an excess of food &/or toiletries in your stockpile, have a yard sale or put items on eBay/Craigslist/local trading post.
We donate stuff. If you know a family who is struggling, load up a bag of goodies. If you have a local food bank, load up a bag of food for it. If you have a local medical clinic, load up all those free glucose meters for it. If you have a local women's shelter/homeless shelter/senior community center, load up a bag of toiletries & snacks for them.
This post was inspired by someone I know on my yahoo newsgroup called The COMPACT. Most of us started over on The Compact group not buying new for a year with varying degrees of success, in an effort to re-examine our shopping lives. Those who choose to stay past that 1st year have modified their pledge a bit but in general choose to not buy new when avoidable and are much more conscious consumers with a heavy dose of being truly green and protecting our environment.
Anyway, this friend has been spending this Lenten time trying to do RAOK(Random Acts of Kindness)via Feeding Hungry People.
I think it's a noble cause!
I look up to this person for her efforts in this, especially given the load of responsibilities she bears in her daily life besides this Feeding People Cause.
A recent post about her FTH Challenge got me thinking about my stockpile of stuff & how I should help too. Then I read an article in our local newspaper about a local animal shelter that gave direction to my plan.
The economy has been very bad for not only people but for Pets too. People can't seem to find the money now to feed or otherwise take care of their pets. They also can't afford the Surrender Fees that most shelter's charge to give up a pet.
The article said that the personnel at this shelter arrive every morning to find dogs tied up to their chainlink fence and cats inside the 10 ft. high fence. (There is no exterior door in this fence. People are literally throwing their cats over this fence into the shelter's outdoor enclosure.)
As I have undertaken a 60K Savings Challenge this year, I don't have much left in the budget $ to give to the shelter.
But I do have a way to make my small sum of cash go much further.
Over the last 10 days, while shopping for my family's needs, I incorporated some pet food shopping with high value dog & cat food coupons I had.
I was able to stretch my $20 cash into $68 worth of dog/cat food using coupons. Both sons assisted me with some of this shopping.
On Saturday we were able to take 12 bags of food up to the shelter.
#2 Son with the Pet Food for the Shelter.
I know it's only a drop in the bucket but it's a start.
Doing Unto the Least of God's Creatures.
Feeding the Hungry Animals.
We will continue to keep this as our Pledge.
Monday, March 23, 2009
Organics Have Left the Building
At the end of the Produce Dept. in the store, they had a small Organic Foods section. It was about 3 short sections of shelving set up at the end of the produce counters, across from the Bakery Dept. with stuff like Annie's and DeBoles Pasta, Glen Muir Tomatoes, Hodgson's Mill grains, Various Soy and Rice Milks, & other boxed/canned/jarred Organic foods.
I guess when money gets tight for consumers, the higher priced organic version of foods don't sell. And Grocery Stores need to maximize profits and only carry was sells, right? At least that is how it is in my Teeny Tiny Town.
It made me sad to see the Organics leave my store. But I too am guilty of not choosing the organic products sometimes when given a choice. Since I am saving money in other areas of my life, perhaps I should consciously choose to earmark a percentage of my food spending toward organic? It's something I'm going to mull over.
I do buy from local farmer's or grow my own veggies organically in season & freeze it for use in the winter, but I do confess I have a problem spending $2.50 on a box of organic packaged pasta when I can get a reg. version for $1.
Here's a list I found online at CNN MONEY of fruits & veggies where it's recommended to buy organic rather than conventional....
Likewise, if you buy boxed/jarred/canned items containing these foods, instead of fresh produce, make sure they are the organic versions as well.
Meal Plan Monday March 23rd Edition
Here's what is on the Menu at Sluggy's house this week.
Desserts for the Week-Grapes, Cantaloupe, Carrot Cake
My shopping list for this week's menu(besides milk & bread)is 3 items long.....salad greens & ricotta cheese(for Wed. meal) & 1 tomato(for the club sandwiches). Everything else is on hand.
I'll be posting a recipe for my Chicken, Rice & Broccoli Casserole, later today or Tuesday, so check back. This dish is a homemade cheaper version of a Schwan's Readymade Dinner-Chicken & Broccoli with Cheesy Rice Meal Kit. I use to buy this, back when I wasn't as careful with my money. My family loved it! 1 bag of it wasn't enough for our 5 mouths, so I had to buy 2 bags at a time, at a cost of $10.50 a bag, so $21 for 1 meal! (This same item is now up to $11.49 a bag!) My cost analysis for the homemade version(using my actual costs for the ingredients that go into this batch of the recipe) is $10.08 for 8 generous servings or $1.26 a serving. That's less than 1/2 what the Schwan's item cost, is very easy to make AND it tastes just as good, if not better!
Organizing Junkie is the home to Menu Plan Monday. Go see what's on her and many other Home Cooks' Menus for the week at Organizing Junkie's website.
Saturday, March 21, 2009
Returning Merchandise leads to Saving More Money!
After getting my refund, I just HAD to check the clearance section.....I found some bags of Lifesavers marked down to $1.00. Then I remembered I had a couple of Hershey BOGO Qs in the envelope in my purse and WAGS had that Wag Q for 49¢ candy bars that I could stack on it, so I had to grab those. While in the candy aisle, I saw that 1 flavor of 5 Gum was marked down to 75¢ so I picked up some for my #2 son's Easter basket as it's his favorite kind of gum(sshhhh, don't tell him!).
Once I looked in my envie for the Hershey's Q, I found the Glucerna Q(wasn't Glucerna producing a RR this week?), then the Reach/Listerine Qs.....Colgate Qs.......at that point we were off to the races again, on a full fledged Hound!lolol
Here's what I picked up......just a quickie!
I have put in RED next to the item what it actually cost me out of pocket after coupons. And as always, it's all consumable goods(except the toothbrushes which fall under buying new for sanitary health reasons)so I am keeping to my COMPACT pledge.
3 x Duncan Hines Brownie Mix @$1=$3.00 $2/3 or .66¢ ea.
4 x 5 Gum @ .75¢ ea.=$3.00 $3 no Q just clearance
2 x Lifesavers @ $1.00=$2.00 $2 no Q just clearance
1 Glucerna Cereal @ $4.99=$4.99 FREE
1 Glucerna Bars @ $5.49=$5.49 .48¢
2 Hershey's @ .79¢ ea.=$1.58 FREE
2 Hershey's @ .80¢ ea.=$1.60 .98¢
2 Listerine @ $3.00 ea.=$6.00 $3.34 before RRs/Made .66¢ after RRs
1 Reach Toothbrushes @ $3.00=$3.00 $1.67 before RRs/Made .34¢ after RRs
2 x Colgate Total Toothpaste @ $3.49 ea.=$6.98 FREE
1 Axe Shampoo @ $5.99=$5.99 FREE after ESR rebate
$1/3 Duncan Hines Mixes MQ=$1
$10/2 Glucerna Products IP Q=$10
2 x BOGO Hershey's Candy Bars .49¢/2 MQ=.98¢
4 x .49¢ Hershey's Bars WAG Q(stacked with previous MQ)=$1.22
$3/2 Listerine/Reach Products MQ=$3
$1/1 Listerine/Reach Product MQ=$1
2 x $1/1 Colgate MQ=$2
2 x $2.50/1 WAG Q from ESR book(stacked with previous MQ)=$5
WAGS RR Used
$10 from Dove Deal
$5 don't remember what this one was from
$2 from Vaseline a couple of weeks ago
Earned $8.50 in RRs($2.50 Glucerna & $6 Reach/Listerine)
Samy Conditioner $5.99 FREE after SAMY Rebate
Samy Treatment $1.99 clearanced FREE after SAMY Rebate
SUBTOTAL $8.46 w/tax
Used $6RR from Reach/Listerine deal earlier in the week
I found the Conditioning Treatment on the clearance endcap. I can send for a full refund/rebate on both, so I'm out of pocket just the tax on this. The rebate is why I had to do this in a separate transaction. I need the other receipt to send away for the rebate on the Glucerna to the Caregivers Marketplace.
GRAND TOTAL NUMBERS....
$64.53 Savings (coupons, rrs, sales)
$8.50 RR earned for Glucerna(2.50)& Reach/Listerine(6)
$15.97 Cash refunded for Glucerna(2 at Caregivers Mrktpl.), Axe(5.99 in ESR) & Samy Products(7.98)
After I send for & receive the Rebates, I am OOP MINUS $18.86!
Can you say MONEYMAKER!?!? 8-)
Don't you love going into a store & walking out with FREE stuff and having them send you money for taking the stuff?
Basically this store said, "Give us $3 now and take all this stuff home and then we & our products' manufacturers will send you a total of about $19 cash in about 6 weeks".
Friday, March 20, 2009
A Busy Friday on my 2 Good Feet
Not much time for playing on the computer today. I have been to the dr. this morning and my foot is aok again....yah!
Since the foot is on the mend, I have a list of things to get accomplished today.
1. Packing up items to take to the Salvation Army & sorting the recycling to drop off tomorrow. It will feel good to get all this stuff done and gone! The clutter it caused was driving me bonkers.
2. I also need to put back all the stuff back under the kitchen sink that was pulled out & boxed almost 2 WEEKS AGO from when my favorite Countertop Installer was here putting in my new Countertops.
Have I mentioned lately how in love I am with my new Countertops?? ;-))
3. After that chore, I need to go through the toiletries box from the upstairs linen closet. I have a box on the floor of that closet up there with my spare toiletries. Since beginning the hounding, my box runneth over....literally!lol
I need to find a storage method for my ever-expanding stockpile of HBA. I think I'll keep the small box upstairs in the linen closet where I'll keep an immediate supply of restocking supplies(ie, 1 tube of toothpaste, 1 shampoo, 2 bars of soap, a package of razors, t.p., etc.)
I need to find a much larger area for the bulk of the stockpile....the garage perhaps?
4. After I get all of the HBA Stockpile cleared off my dining room table, I can get more items listed on eBay. I actually got a phone call from eBay yesterday!lol They really miss me....er, that is to say, they really miss the money I pay out in fees over there.
I really need to get back to selling stuff. I just let the eBay thing slide this month while I concentrated on bringing my Food/HBA Budget down, and now my March Savings Challenge totals will suffer for it. Well, yes and no....the food savings will help keep more of our income but the lack of selling will not grow additional income. In a perfect world, I need the discipline to achieve both.
Ok, I am off to get some things done now that I am cleared to use the foot again. If I have time leftover I may hit the store to return a couple of things.
I figured I'm going to be wiped out by day's end, so all bets are off for the Friday Menu Plan today. I'll see what creative meal I can pull out of the pantry tonight or just say the Heck-With-It and order a pizza. That's so not like me but change is good, right?lol
Here's a funny photo I snapped the other day. #1 son has become addicted to those Mickey D's Shamrock Shakes they sell every March. He drank one and left the cup in the wastebasket by my computer desk. That's a big no-no with 3 dogs who love to get into food garbage. I came into the room and found the chihuahua had jammed her head so far into the cup trying to lick that minty green goodness left in the bottom of said cup, that she had gotten the cup stuck on her face & couldn't extract herself!LOL
Thursday, March 19, 2009
GREEN & THRIFTY THURSDAY-Being Frugal AND Green
I'm starting a Series of Thursday Posts here on "Don't Read This; It's Boring!", called GREEN & THRIFTY THURSDAY.
It will be a Post with a small tip on things you can do to save money AND help the environment. After all, being frugal is great but saving money & time is not so good, at the expense of our Planet!
The 1st Tip is about ink, paper and waste.
Since I've been printing coupons from the Internet, I found that I've had ALOT of paper waste and I run through ink like I'm bathing in it sometimes. I do use recycled printer paper as that's better for our world, or the Green Option, but it's NOT the Thrifty Option. Not having to use as much paper & ink IS both the Green & Thrifty thing to do.
Some sites print 1 coupon per page, some sites fill up the page with recipes or ads for the product below the coupon, & some sites will print multiple coupons on each sheet of paper. I like the last kind of coupon site, not so much the first two. But sometimes you just don't have a choice if you want certain coupons.
Here's what I do to save some paper and ink.
Most coupons/sites let you hit the back button and print each coupon twice. If I am only printing 1 coupon on a sheet of paper, after it prints, I put the sheet back in the printer turned upside down, so I can print another coupon on the blank bottom of the page. That way, I get 2 coupons on 1 page.
I also watch as the coupon is printing. If the printing process gets to the point where you can tell that the actual coupon has finished printing, but the printer is still now printing an ad(using all your expen$ive colored ink!)below the coupon or a recipe you have no desire for, hit the CANCEL PRINTING button to stop the printer. Your paper should immediately come out and you've saved both the bottom of the page to print another coupon and you've saved all that precious ink!
If all else fails and you find you can't avoid ads or recipes & waste of partial sheets of paper when printing coupons, don't throw those scraps of paper away after cutting the coupons out.
Here are some ideas for reusing those leftover paper pieces.
*Tear or shred paper scraps to compost with your kitchen scraps.
*Use it to make homemade paper if you are crafty. Google 'making homemade paper' to find some instructions.
*Shred it and use for small pet bedding(like hamsters, mice, etc.)
*Cut the paper scraps into notepad size sheets and use the clean backside for writing notes.
*Give paper scraps to your small kids for coloring or doodling.
*Any other ideas? Please leave them in the comments section below.
WAG-ing on Sat. March 14th Oy! The Pain
Everything in pictured together from all Transactions, except 1 Coffee-Mate. Daughter polished it off before I could take a photo.lol
I went into the Store with $21 in RRs to spend.
4 x Grape Nuts Cereal(I love this in yogurt!)@ $2.50 box
2 x Blue Diamond Nuts BOGO @ $3.49 for 2
2 x Coffee mate BOGO @ $2.48 for 2
1 Sambucol @ $12.99
2 x Smart Balance Butter Spread BOGO @ $2.99 for 2
6 x Dove Travel Size Deodorant @ $.99 ea.
Dr. Pepper Freezer Pops @ $2.00 (Just HAD to try these)
2 x Colgate Total Toothpaste @ $3.49 ea.
2 x Folding Travel Toothbrush 2 packs Clearance @ $.75 ea.
4 x Garnier 'Poo & Styling Products @ $2.99 ea.
1 Irish Spring Body Wash @ $4.49
Blue Diamond MQ $1/2
2 x $1.50/1 Coffee Mate IP Q -$3/2
Sambucol WAG Q -$10/1
Sambucol IP Q -$4/1
Smart Balance MQ -$1/2
3 x $1.50/2 Dove MQ -$4.50
2 x $1/1 Colgate MQ -$2/2
2 x $2.50 Colgate WQ -$5.00
4 x $1/1 Garnier MQ -$4/4
4 x $2.00 Garnier WQ -$8.00
WAGs RR Used....
7 x $2 RRs -$14.00
TOTAL $64.82-$42.50-$14+$.87 tax=$9.19 OOP
The Irish Spring Body Wash generated a FREE IS BODY WASH, the Grape Nuts Cereal generated a $4RR & the Dove Deodorants generated a $1.50/2 Q.
2 x Grape Nuts Cereal @ $2.50 box
2 x Smart Balance Butter Spread BOGO @ $2.99 for 2
Colgate Toothpaste @ $3.49
Irish Spring Body Wash @ $4.49
2 x Coffee Mate BOGO @ $2.48 for 2
Free Irish Spring RR -$4.49
Total Coupons $11.99
The Irish Spring Body Wash generated a FREE IS BODY WASH, the Grape Nuts Cereal generated a $2RR + a $1.50/2 Q for Grape Nuts.
This transaction was a mess!
So I think I got overcharged on this transaction BUT to complicate things even more....
After I got out into the car, I noticed all 4 Coffee Mates weren't sale priced on my register receipt. I had gotten the WRONG ONES! ugh The LIQUID were on sale, I got the POWDERED. So back into the store I went and exchanged them for the correct items. Now they owed me money back, as the Powdered were $4.49 & the liquid ones on sale were 2 for $2.48. So I got $8.04 back(4x $2.01 each). I have had to reconstruct the Transaction #2 receipt(and #1 to an extent)....this is why I come out with a negative OOP for #2.
Irish Spring Body Wash @ $4.49
Free Irish Spring Body Wash $4.49
TOTAL $4.49-$4.49 +$.27(tax)=$.27 OOP
The Catalina Machine stopped spitting out FREE Irish Spring RRs on this purchase. I think I wore it out.lol
GRAND TOTAL all 3 Transactions...$8.92 OOP
Value of Items.....$126.79
Savings of 92%
This post has been an ordeal to straighten out. Thank goodness it's over.lol
I need to go take a walk and clear my head now....
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
I won a Giveaway! And I Love my Tucker Bag!
I entered a Giveaway over on Lindsay's Blog, FRUGAL & FABULOUS, last month.
And I won!
The prize was a TUCKER BAG. The bag arrived in a teeny tiny envelope. Here's what was in the envelope.
The bag was all folded up, contained in a neat little pouch. I undid the snap & opened it up and wow!....the bag was large.
The pouch is attached to the bag and besides being a pouch to hold it when folded up, you can use the pouch inside the bag as a pocket to hold your car keys and such. There is also an outside pocket.
I took the bag for a test drive right away to the grocery store and it sure holds more than you would think. the fabric is lightweight ripstop nylon and the bag holds up to 35 lbs. of weight.
This should last me for many many years of grocery shopping. Think of all those 5 cent "use your own bag" credits I'll be getting. This TUCKER BAG might end up saving me money as well as the planet!
Plus the fabric design is pretty. I love dragonflies and green is my second favorite color.
But if green isn't your thing, they have a wide array of fabric designs and colors.
Check them out at TUCKER BAGS.
Thanks again Lindsay for the Giveaway!
Weekend CVS-ing OOP $8.55/2 Transactions
$1/1 Crest from March Inserts
Plus she gave me the full Suave coupon value even though the item rang $1.99.
$1.50 Colgate IP Q
$4/20 CVS CRT
COUPON TOTAL $15.98
ECB TOTAL $.99
$25.27-$15.98-$.99=$8.30 TOTAL OOP
Please leave me a comment if you get the chance. I appreciate all ya'll who read my Boring Blog.
Boston Baked Beans Recipe
If preparing in a crockpot, I find you don't need as much of the reserved bean water poured over the beans before baking/simmering either, as the oven dries out food & a crockpot doesn't.
This recipe is great as a side dish or can stand alone as a main dish, especially on those cold, cold days of winter. Serve with fresh homemade bread, biscuits or rolls.
Boston Baked Beans
2 cups navy beans(can use other similar type beans-navy, great northern)
1/2 lb. bacon
1 onion, diced
3 Tablespoons molasses
2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon dry mustard
1/2 cup ketchup
1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup brown sugar
*Soak beans overnight in cold water. Simmer beans in the same water until tender, approx. 1-2 hrs. Drain and reserve the liquid. (For a shortcut, you can use canned beans too. If doing so, skip this soaking & simmering step but still reserve the "juice" from the cans for later.)
*Preheat overn the 325 degrees F.
*Brown bacon. Remove from pan. Add diced onions to the bacon grease & cook about 3 min., until soft.
*Arrange the beans in a 2 Quart bean pot/casserole/dutch oven(or crockpot if using a crockpot)by placing a portion of the beans in the bottom of dish, and layering them with bacon and onion.(I cut or tear the bacon into 1 inch pieces.)
*In a saucepan, combine molasses, salt, pepper, dry mustard, ketchup, Worcestershire sauce & brown sugar. Bring the mixture to a boil and pour over the beans.
*Pour in just enough of the reserved bean water to cover the beans.(If using a crockpot, pour about 1/2 cup of that water in.) Cover the dish/pot with a lid(or aluminum foil if it has no lid).
*Bake for 3-4 hours in the oven, until beans are tender(the crockpot may take longer). Remove the lid about halfway through cooking & add more liquid if necessary to prevent the beans from getting too dry.
*Serve & enjoy. Makes 6 generous main dish portions. This dish can be doubled.
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
Utilizing Sales, Your Pantry & Leftovers AND a Trip to Target
Now what to do with all that Meat....
I repacked about half of the 12 lbs. of it into 1.5lbs. portions in foil and froze it. That is enough to make most any recipe I have that calls for ground beef, or in some cases a double batch of a recipe. These packs will be used for Tacos, Sloppy Joes, Chilli, Meat Spaghetti Sauce, etc.
Some more of it was used to make last night's dinner, Beef Pie. Beef Pie is my version of Shepherd's Pie. You substitute Cornbread topping for Mashed Potatoes.
I made 4 packages of precooked Meatballs for the freezer with 2 portions of the meat, so hubby or the kids can just make up a quick Spaghetti & Meatballs fare when I can't be here to cook dinner.
I debated with myself what to do with the last portion of meat. I looked around the kitchen pantry/fridge to see what I had that needed to be used up soon. You have to keep an eye out for Food Waste, don't you?
There was some leftover spanish rice and tortillas from last friday's Chicken Enchildas.
Use these 3 ingredients plus a can of refried beans(purchased on sale for 99 cents)to make Burritos for the freezer.
We love us some burritos in this house, usually buying the El Monterey brand, as it's the only brand available in the store here.
They hardly go on sale anymore, so that's $4.49 per bag we have to pay. The burritos also seem to have gotten smaller AND they have shrunk the number of burritos in the bag from 10 to 8! Of course, they didn't shrink the price you pay accordingly. grrrrrr
I just cook the ground beef up with garlic, onions, cumin, taco spices and some tomato paste. Take your tortilla, put some rice, some beans, some cheese(jack &/or cheddar, queso) & some beef in the middle and fold it up. I wrap each one in a piece of foil so it stays together until it hardens in the freezer.
I got to use up leftovers & make something I KNOW will be eaten by the kids, from ingredients that I bought inexpensively.
The cost analysis on this dish...
$4.53 for the ingredients
Made 8 large Burritos
So that comes out to $.56 per serving.
Basically, it cost me about the same to make these 8 Large Burritos as to buy the bag of El Monterey's, so in essence, mine cost half the price of the store bought ones.
That works for me!
I hurt my foot on wednesday trying to reach for those boxes of Green Giant veggies I bought for 50 cents a box.
I haven't been able to drive since then, as driving aggravates the foot. I spent Friday at the dr. office, getting x-rays and getting medicine. Luckily DH was home and could drive me around. He drove me to Target for the meds and I was able to pick up a few things for real cheap while there. ;-)
At TARGET I got...
4 x Mott's Applesauce for $.09 a package (reg. $1.66 -Target Q $1+IP Q $.55=$.09)
4 x The Good Life Cat Food for $.99 package (sale price $3.99 - MQ $3=$.99)
2 x Huggies Wipe Refill for $.99 (reg. $5.99 - IP Q $5=$.99)
1 x Glucerna Cereal for -$.51 (reg. $4.49-IP Q $5= -$.51)
2 x Deerfield Shredded Mozz. Cheese for $1.25 ea. (sale price $1.75-Target Q $1.00/2=$1.25 ea.)
Total cost OOP=$6.43
Value of Items with tax=$43.72
Savings of $37.29 or OVER 84%!
Then we bought 2 new printer cartridges. All this coupon printing just sucks up the printer ink, doesn't it? There went all my great coupon savings.lolol