Thursday, January 31, 2013

Food Waste=Lost $$

And this is just one thing wrong in this country.

I watched this segment on the national news the other night on Food Waste.
Go check it out HERE.
Go ahead.....I'll wait.

My thoughts......
First off, they seem to have no clue what they actually spend on food for a week.
I think they pulled that $300 number out of the air, because then they go on to think it extrapolates out to up to $1500 per month.

Second, the husband is a financial planner.
You work as a money professional and you don't seem to operate with a budget on a personal level, you have no clue how much money is going to your food expenses AND you are allowing on average 13 POUNDS of food to be thrown away every week?!
Would you want this guy to be advising YOU on how to take care of YOUR money? lol

 Third, have these people never heard of LEFTOVERS?
Obviously they've never had to eat them before given the amount of money they make.
How difficult is it to take Taco Meat and incorporate it into something else?....or take Squash Soup and remake it into a sauce or blend it into some kind of baked good?.....or take leftover produce and do ANYTHING with it?  Heck, she could have even just taken those greens and juiced them.

The report went on to quote that the average monthly food waste costs in the US today amount to $190 per family.  Using this figure, a family would throw away a whopping $2,280 worth of food every year and I would bet that most of that food was still perfectly edible!

Good Googley Moogley people!!

I've seen "experts" say that a family/person should be spending between 9-15% of their income on food.  They didn't say whether that was on their gross or their net income.  Somewhere in that range seems to be the accepted happy place for food spending in the US.  Is your food spending falling within this 9-15% range?
I find this method of figuring how much to allot for your food very flawed.  It might sound reasonable for a family on the lower end of the income scale. But a family with 2 wage earners making over $100K per year?  The lower end of 9% would see them spending $18,000 a year on their food needs or $30,000 if they allotted 15% of income to food expenses. 

I'm not making a judgement call on how much families spend on food here.  I get it that people on the lower socioeconomic rung of the societal ladder have to spend more of a percentage of their income on food.....that's just the way the math works.

I'm just saying that if we all were more vigilant on NOT disposing of perfectly edible food, imagine how much of the food we need to REBUY each week to feed our families wouldn't have to be purchased again, saving each of us part of our income.
Now add up that say, $20 a week we throw away, and multiple it by a year of weeks.......the weekly food we waste and don't think it's a "big deal" to our starts to really add up to serious dollars.

Serious dollars over the coarse of a year you could have spent on other priorities in your life--paying down debt, socking away into an emergency fund, beefing up a fund so that your next cars didn't have to be financed......the list goes on and on.
I'm not saying to cut down on the type or amount of food you buy.  Just use ALL of what you buy.  Don't waste anything!  It would be like found money(the money you were spending to rebuy the food you let go to waste). Found money to put toward other goals in life!

Stop overbuying food you aren't planning on preparing to save for later(canning/freezing/dehydrating).
Get a handle on portion sizes so you aren't cooking more food than you need for a meal.
If you do end up with leftovers, find ways to incorporate them into new dishes.
Clean your fridge/pantry so that you can find the foods in there that need to be used up by a certain date.
If a food does go bad on you even after all your steps to avoid it, make it do duty in your compost pile(if applicable)and grow something.  Compost is the "saving grace" for food waste.

Have a look at this TED talk too....


Wednesday, January 30, 2013

We don't Need No Stinking Licenses!

For those who asked the driver's test didn't go as hoped yesterday.  #2 is walking around like Joe Bfstplk today.

I won't go into a tirade about state government bureaucrats aka driving examiners masquerading as asshats...and their bias against kids who have their parents teach them(and actually force them to do the full 60 hours of road work)as opposed to those who pay for a driving school(where they don't actually meet the state min. road requirements but I suspect they give kickbacks to some of these examiners)....but I really could! lol

Let's just say there is no joy in Mudville today......


Wise Words

While I never cared much for Penn & Teller's act, I think Penn Jillette is a very intelligent thinking man who, at his core, gets the big issues in life right.

You may not agree with him on the religion thing(as most of mainstream America still  isn't very open minded or accepting yet when it comes to that realm), but I encourage everyone to look up some of his writings on most any other subject.
He has a lot to say and he articulates it much better than I!


Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Getting to $100 Spent at Rite-Aid Last Week

Well, I did go to Rite-Aid last week and try to get to $100 of tracking so the $20 +Up Reward would kick out.

If you remember the Daughter gave me a box of chocolates for my Birthday, using my Wellness card to pay, so the $5.99 she spent tracked toward the 50th Anniversary +Up Reward Promo and I gained a $2 +Up Reward too.

So I began last week with $13.50 in +Ups and $54.40 in tracking toward the $20 +Up Reward.

I bought....

2 x 12 pack Coke(not pictured)=$8  I had 2 Free Coke Qs from my Coke Reward Pts. left, and the cashier let me use the $1 In-Ad Coke Q as well. 8-)
2 x GE Energy Smart CFL light bulbs $3.99=$7.98 and I used 2 x $1/1 Qs.
2 x Mam bottle nipples BOGO40%=$8.46 and I used 1 x $2/1 Q.
2 x Ragu Sauce RAINCHECKS ($1.00ea.)=$2.00.
Subtotal was $26.44.

After $13 in Qs leaves me with $13.44.
I used $11.50 in +Up Rewards and put the $1.94 left on my gift card.
I received back $12 in +Ups(2 x $3 GE lightbulbs, 2 x $3 Mam nipples).

That made my +Ups total $14($12 new + $2 leftover from before).
All the items bought tracked for the Reward so $54.40 + $26.44=$80.84 toward the $100 goal.

Daughter needed bottled water so I bought 2 cases at Rite-Aid last week.
2 x 24 pack of Nestle's water=$7.98
1 x Cella cherry w/Gold discount=$.26
Total of $8.24.  I used $8 in +Ups and put the .24¢ on the gift card.

I received $2 in +Up Rewards back(2 x $1 Nestle) so my Ups+ going forward total $8.
The water counted toward the tracking so $80.84 + $7.98=$88.82 total.

So I bought some qualifying items on Saturday to put me over the $100 mark, even if I didn't have any Qs to use! lol

2 x Scott TP on sale for $3.99=$7.98
2 x Jif Peanut Butter w/RAINCHECKS($1.99 ea.)=$3.98

Total was $11.96+.12¢ tax=$12.08
I used my $8 of +Up Rewards left and put the $4.08 on my gift card...actually 2 gift cards with small amounts left on them and most of it on my "Merchandise Return Card" from a return I made some time ago.  I've got to haul out my last gift cards from 2010 pretty soon.  When they are gone it's back to spending out of pocket at Rite-Aid. sigh

$88.82 + $11.96 spent in qualifying items=$100.78
I received my $20 50th Anniversary Promo +Up Reward.....yay!

Other than the baby nipples this is all stuff we needed/can use.  I was happy to get those light bulbs as they are the right strength and size for my desk lamp, and I had just put my last replacement bulb in my lamp.  And who can't use TP and food? lol
The baby items will be given a proper home in the coming months--either in a donation to the food bank, making up a basket of baby stuff for a fundraiser locally or maybe to a Boring Blog Giveaway box in the near future. ;-)

These trips to Rite-Aid--
Value of items.....$71.66
+Ups coming into this trip....$13.50
+Ups used....$27.50
+Ups earned......$34.00
+Ups at the end.....$20.00


Out Of Pocket....$0.00  cash
Value of items bought.....$211.55
Savings Rate of  100%
Rebates due......$16.99(Neosporin 2x)
Savings Rate after Rebates.....100% +

+Ups at beginning of month...$32.50+
+Ups used....$64.50+
+Ups received...$52.00+
+Ups currently...$20.00+  


Well No Wonder!

I finally realized why I was in a bad mood all day Monday.

First off, I'm in mourning.....

R.I.P. Lady Sybil Crawley Branson

And even worse, the semi-annual car insurance bill arrived.
They couldn't even wait until February to stick that sucker in the mail to me.....

Some days it barely pays to get out of bed! ;-)


Monday, January 28, 2013

Meal Planning Feb. Week 1 & Food Spending Jan. Week 4

Our silly Beagle rolling in a recent snowfall.


And here is what actually got served last week......
Sunday--Leftovers or Fend For Yourself
Monday--Taco Bell or Fend For Yourself
Tuesday--Beef Tips in Gravy over Noodles, Ginger Carrots
Wednesday--Fish, Beets, Mashed Potatoes
Friday---Cheese Steaks, Broccoli
Saturday--Leftovers or Fend For Yourself or Birthday burger out(bday freebie for me!)
I actually served the whole menu as planned.

The food spending last week?
2 trips and $61.36 total spent.  $12.37 of that was unplanned spending, as a good deal popped up while I was in the local Shursave affiliate market.
And speaking of DEALS, here is most of what I got for that $12.37....

The store was holding an Instant Discount promo $5 off when you bought $15 worth of select house brand items.  I wasn't particularly interested in it until I went down the cereal aisle and saw that the house brand instant oatmeal packet boxes were included AND some had $1 Peelie Qs on them....squeal!!!
I bought 7 boxes of oatmeal($1.66 ea. on sale) + 3 bags of house brand frozen veggies($1.25 ea., not pictured), which subtotaled $15.37.  After 7 x $1 Qs and the $5 instant discount($12 off), I paid $3.37 for 7 oatmeals and 3 veggies(or .34¢ for each of 10 items).

While I was down the cereal aisle, store employees were changing around the coffee section located across from the oatmeal section.  By the time I was finished shopping and headed to the register, the clearance bin I walked by at the front of the store to check out was filled with bags of coffee.  I don't drink this stuff but Hubs is addicted to it so I nosed around in the bin.  New England Coffee, Starbucks and Eight O'Clock brands were marked down to $3 a bag.  Sell by/Use by dates were 2 years out.  I went back to the coffee section and it looks like the New England brand has changed the color of the bags and they were no longer carrying this particular Starbucks and the Eight O'Clock varieties(very small store with limited selections), so that explains why it was in the bin.  I also wanted to check the regular price to make sure that $3 a bag was a "deal".....I told you I don't know anything about coffee!lol
They sell for $7.95 a bag at this store.
So I "scooped" up 3 bags for Hubs and dinged my grocery budget for $9.

Now I know everyone is thinking, "Gee Sluggy, why the heck did you buy 7 boxes of oatmeal, since you won a year's supply from Price Chopper last Fall?  Isn't that enough for you??"
Actually, it's not enough.  I gave boxes to the B in-law and #1 Son, plus we've gone through a case already.  The only oatmeal we will have left when the year is out will be some of the canisters of whole oats since nobody thinks to make those for breakfast and I don't have a wide repertoire of recipes using oats.

So the food spending for January as of Saturday, sits at $261.21, leaving me $138.79 to get through the rest of the month......ok, the rest of the month would be 5 days. lol

As for leftovers rolling into this week--there are beets, ginger carrots, beef tips and gravy and noodles.  Not much to use up.


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

Sunday--KFC chicken
Monday--Pizza or Leftover KFC or Beef Tips
Tuesday--Steak dinner out(birthday meal)
Wednesday--Italian dinner out(birthday freebie)
Thursday--Chicken Fajitas
Friday--Ham and Bean Soup, homemade bread
Saturday--Not sure, leftovers, fend for yourself

Only 2 meals this week, since we are finishing the Birthday freebies this week.  The KFC is courtesy of a gift certificate for a 12 pce. meal I won at the Church auction.  Wed. dinner is courtesy of a local Italian restaurant birthday club and I get a free appetizer on Tues. when I have my Birthday dinner out.  There will be money spent but from the Entertainment budget.

Needed at the store to serve the 2 meals I am making this week?
I'll need celery, potatoes, mushrooms(Daughter bought on Sunday), and I might need more onions. 
Not much needed this week but there is a Pet Food Catalina Deal at Weis which I need to do, so there goes $30 up front after Qs(will give me a $10 Cat for later too).  I'll try to keep the spending under $50 this week.

I'll be going to my 2 grocery stores this week to note prices for the new Price Book. 

What's on your menu for the week?  Any good deals at the grocers this week?
Did you have any food waste this week?


Sunday, January 27, 2013

Week 3 Price Book Numbers & Noticing Some Trends

Here are my Price Book numbers with the Week 3 data included.

Ground Beef...2.28/3.69  3.79/3.99   2.79/2.99
Chuck Roast....3.99/3.99  2.99/3.99     3.79/3.79
Hot Dogs....4.99/5.99  4.99/5.99    4.99/3.00
Pork....3.99/3.00  3.99/2.99   3.49/2.99
Bacon....2.98/3.50  3.99/3.50   3.99/3.00
Chicken Breast....2.99/3.09  2.99/3.49    2.99/3.99
Chicken Whole.... .78/1.69  1.39/1.89    1.59/1.49
Salmon....10.00/7.99  0.00/7.99   9.99/7.99
Cheese....1.77/2.99  2.00/2.00    1.75/2.00
Butter.....3.00/3.50  3.49/3.98    2.50/2.50
Eggs....1.93/1.50  1.79/1.89     1.83/1.53
Carrots.... .90/1.00  .75/1.29    .90/1.69
Potatoes....1.48/2.50  2.99/2.99  1.50/2.00
Celery.....1.69/2.59  1.99/1.89    2.99/1.50
Onion..... .49/.75  1.69/1.00  .59/1.69
Salad Greens....2.50/1.95  2.50/1.85   2.50/1.85
Pasta..... .88/1.00  1.00/1.00   1.00/1.00
Spaghetti Sauce.... .88/1.00  1.33/1.25    1.50/2.00
Coffee....5.65 lb/5.12 lb  5.65 lb/4.16 lb   (4.00)5.65/4.85*
Soup Tomato...1.05/.75  1.05/1.00   .50/.69
Soup Cream....1.00/.75  1.29/1.39    .99/.75
Flour.....2.19/2.19  2.19/2.19   2.00/2.19
Sugar.....2.69/2.69   2.69/2.69   2.50/2.69
Brown Sugar...1.89/1.69  1.89/1.69    1.89/1.69
Honey.....4.00 lb/3.45 lb  4.00 lb/3.45 lb    4.00 lb/3.32 lb
Deli Ham...5.99/7.99  4.99/5.99   4.99/7.99
Deli Provolone...7.99/8.99  4.99/8.99   5.99/8.99
Frozen Pizza...4.49/4.99  5.00/3.33   5.00/3.33
Ice Cream...3.00/3.00  2.50/3.00   3.50/3.00
Frozen Broccoli...1.88/1.50  2.19/2.00    2.09/1.25
Soda....4.99/4.00  4.00/4.00   3.66/3.25
Chips....3.00/3.00  3.00/2.50   2.15/2.15

*I have to make a special note on the coffee prices at Store #1 this week.  The best price was still $5.65, however, they had some bags of coffee in the clearance bin @ $3 for a 12oz. bag, which came out to $4 lb.(and I bought some).  As this was a clearance special/a small quantity and not a regular sale item available at all their stores, I still used the $5.65 lb. price for my data.  Using this unique special price/opportunity only would skew the cycle prices for this item in this store's week and not have given me the real picture on the pricing trend.

Having half our data in the book now, let's take a look at our numbers.

Looking at the items you put in your book, can you see that some of them are quite volatile in terms of prices and how much they vary from week to week?  

Take the Deli Dept. cheese on my list--in 3 weeks time it's been a low of $4.99 to a high of 8.99.  That's a $4 difference for the same item!
If you are buying items when they are higher/highest in the sales cycle, you are spending money you really shouldn't have to if you just pay attention and time your purchases right.

Can you also see that some of the items' prices seem not to change(go on sale)at all or only infrequently?
My baking supplies--flour, sugars, honey prices haven't varied at all.  The flour and reg. sugar at Store #1 went on sale for .19¢ less last week and the honey at Store #2 had a .13¢ price reduction the same week.  I'll hazard a guess that these items maintain their regular prices for the next 3 weeks.

You may also notice that some of the same items at your 2 different stores go on sale during the same week.  Stores tend to keep an eye on what the other one is up to and will put the same types of foods on sale as their competition.

Another trend is the same name brands will go on sale simultaneously at both of your different stores.  This is due to special pricing and deals the manufacturers run to their clients, the grocery stores.  This trend will be very noticeable starting this week, Week #4 of our price cycle.  Party, Snacking and Finger Foods are being pushed in the Week leading up to Super Bowl.  You will notice the same items featured in the different grocery store chains at identical(or almost identical)special pricing.

Another trend you can start to notice with this many weeks charted is how one of your stores will usually be lower on the regular prices on items than the other store.  Neither of my stores have put the brown sugar on sale in the last 3 weeks, and Store #2 always has a lower regular price than Store #1.  If this trend holds true for the next 3 weeks, I can then make a note that if I need brown sugar and no stores have it on sale, I should always buy it at Store #2, because this automatically saves me .20¢ per bag.

 Now let's make a hypothetical shopping list up.....

2 x 5lb. chickens
3 x 2lb. ground beef
1 x 1lb. salmon
1 x dzn eggs
2 x bags of cheese
1 x 1lb. butter
1 x celery
1 x 2lb. onions
2 x salad greens
1 x 1lb coffee
2 x frozen broccoli
1 x potato chips

If we had bought these items at the store in the week when the prices were highest, we would have paid $77.10 for all.
If we had bought these items at the store in the week when the prices were lowest, we would have paid $41.96 for all.
That's a difference of $35.14 for one shopping list of items!

If we were to extrapolate this out and say we purchased this shopping list of items every 2 weeks for a year, if we always bought at the highest priced week for each item, we would overspend in a year to the tune of......$913.64.

This should make it crystal clear to anyone how the timing of your food purchases can either save you or cost you money.

Onward to Week #4.......


Friday, January 25, 2013

Considering Some Changes

I've been pondering some changes here at Don't Read This; It's Boring!.
New year so time to change things up and put new lipstick on the old blog, right?

I've been considering discontinuing my Savings Challenge posts.  Oh, I'll still be here saving money and putting it away, but I don't get the feeling that posting about it is interesting to anyone, let alone, helpful to anyone.
I know I only post about it once a month but still, I feel like it's become a braggy thing.
Any thoughts on this?

And my Rite-Aid posts......anybody interested in keeping these or am I doing those for my own amusement? ;-)

One of the activities I'm going to set out to do this year is to journal about my life.  I'm no professional writer(ha!)and I'm not pretentious enough to call my scribblings my autobiography, but in fact this missive will accomplish two goals--help me sort out feelings about my past and leave a legacy for my children, good or bad, to help them try to understand the path I took through life and why. 

I'm fairly sure I don't want to share this roller coaster of family emotions with the interweb at large. Some of it is not pretty but at 54 years old, it's some stuff I need to finally deal with and stop burying.

 I'll probably set this Life Journal up as another blog and set it to Private so only those invited can behold Sluggy Gone Wild. ;-)  I feel that some of what I have to say may make some folks uncomfortable and I don't want to lose readers due to content.  There may be sections I can clean up and share on the regular blog and will.

Being close to retirement age, I want to talk a little more about preparing for that stage of life.  In the next 5.5 years Hubs and I will have a totally empty nest.  Hubs is on the downward side of his job trajectory now with retirement looming within the next 3-6 years.  How long he can stick it out depends on how much longer he can continue to keep his mouth shut and not tell these asshats at work what a load of horseshit this PC stuff they do is, and not have a stroke or have blood shoot out of his ears.  What ever happened to doing your work and being evaluated on how productive you are and being pleasant in your work place?  Now they have an agenda and want you to sit around a drum circle chanting and having workshops to make everyone feel good about their self-esteem and to go volunteer in a soup kitchen on Saturdays together on their own time and if you don't, you aren't an inclusive team player.  The Nanny State is bad enough, watch out for the Nanny Employer!
But I digress.....

I'll be talking more about retirement stuff this year and how to do retirement in a frugal style. 

Would anyone have an interest in hearing about what we did as a family in the earlier stages of life?
Like how we financially kept our heads above water as newly marrieds, with small kids, etc.?  I might have a pearl of wisdom or two to share for someone in those stage of life. 

Any thoughts or suggestions about the blog are appreciated.


Thursday, January 24, 2013

Tracking My Food Spending Over the Long Term

I've kept track of my food spending for the last three full years.  I started in 2009 but don't have the full year's spending for that year.
Call me anal, that's ok.  I'm a bit nerdy when it comes to money stuff.

Here are my numbers.  This includes all food spending, as well as toiletries, pet food, all household paper products.  It does not include "eating out" monies.  And let me tell you.....we can do some bigtime eating out! lol
Keep in mind that these numbers are for a family of 5-3(number of people being fed varied as 2 kids came and went to college)and 2 dogs.  It's not more scientific than taking my receipts and writing my totals down every week in a notebook, a year at a time, and then dragging out a calculator and adding it all up.

2011--$3,080.59   Up $788.92 from 2010
2012--$4,196.36   Up $1,115.77 from 2011

I am trying to make sense of these numbers so bear with me.

On the face of it, it appears that I spent increasingly and substantially more each year on food spending.

Between the increasing inflation rate on the cost of food and the decrease in the amount of couponing from one year to the next(I've been on a downward trend with the volume of coupons I use)you could argue that these 2 conditions accounted for the rise in food spending from 2010 to 2012.

Now let's look at my Rebating Totals during these same years.
I use to send away for a fair amount of rebates, both for cash ones and others that gave back gift cards(or prepaid credit cards). 

2010--$841.73 rebate checks/ $563.99 gift cards
2011--$433.22 rebate checks/ $76.00 gift cards
2012--$67.48 rebate checks/ $5.00 gift cards

Sometimes the gift cards were used to pay for food and toiletries, sometimes not, so if we just plug in the cash rebates which were all added back into my food kitty,  my food "spending" totals after these checks looks like this.....

2011--$3,513.81    Up $380.41
2012--$4,263.84    Up $750.03

After the cash rebates, the increases from year to year in spending are much lower and easily explained away by inflation and the decrease in couponing.

It saddens me though to see how few cash rebates I was able to partake in last year, down from a high in 2010 of $841.73.    And most of that $67.48 in cash rebates in 2012 was from Rite-Aid! ;-)

Since the Recession of 2008 I am finding fewer and fewer manufacturer's offering worthwhile rebate offers in my state for products we want/need.
Given this sad state of affairs, if I continue to purchase roughly the same products in 2013, with food inflation and a continued less than stellar crop of coupon deals combined with a stingy few cash rebate offerings, I guesstimate that my Food Spending Totals for 2013 might reach $5,000+.

This increase is even more reason to redouble my efforts to keep our food costs down in any way I can.
Food spending is one of those items that can very quickly get out of hand.
It's something you can't NOT spend on, but what you buy, where and when you buy it and how much you buy can sink your budget quickly.

It's an item in your budget that can sneak up on you......buying a little better quality food or an item that's a "treat"(not something you buy every day) or buying a food even though it's not a good deal because you just want to eat it now anyway.....these are all the ways that add a few pennies here, a dollar there to your food costs, and before you know it, you are $30 over your food budget for the week or month.  And if you keep on that path from month to month, you'll be looking up a year later to see that you've overspent on the food category without a clue how.

It's important for all of us to at least consider all the tricks in the food shoppers' arsenal.

Even if you've never taken a list to shop from to the store before, or made your own convenience mixes, or meal planned, or gone in with some neighbors and started your own food co-op, or grown a garden, or used a coupon, or bought from a farmer and froze or canned inexpensive veggies, or stockpiled in good quantity something your family eats when it's on a great sale, or bought a new item and gotten a full price cash rebate back so basically you've gotten the item for free(minus postage), maybe you should consider trying one or more of these methods of bringing down your food and toiletries bill.

Don't dismiss any of these techniques out of hand!  You might just find that something you never considered before might be a great way to make your food dollar go further.
Some of these are simple ways to stretch your food dollars, some take much time and effort, and some may seem like they are difficult but once you figure it out, you'll wonder why you never tried them before.

What about you?
Do you budget your food spending?
How do you figure out what to spend?
What do you do to reduce the amount you have to spend to feed your family?
What has worked best for you in the past to keep your spending in line with your income?


Wednesday, January 23, 2013

What's Going on at Chez Sluggy Lately

I want to thank everyone who left birthday wishes on the blog for me!
Lots of old blogging buddies as well as new folks coming out of lurkdom and somewhere in between too.

It all warmed the cockles of my old, increasing grumpy heart....

Hubs took me out to Denny's at lunchtime on Monday so I could claim my free Grand Slam meal.  Then the family did the singing and cake thing Monday evening.
Daughter even got me a Whitman's Sampler box of dark chocolates.
And she put this on top of it.....

The chocies came with a $2 +Up Reward!   I think I was more excited by this than the candy.
That's my

Evidently she's been giving Rite-Aid our phone number(which gives them my Wellness #)when she buys stuff there, because I am suddenly up to $62.89 for the $100 I need to get the 50th Anniversary Reward. lolol
I told her to go buy some more stuff there before Saturday to get me to $100 in spending.

Why didn't I think of this much cheaper way to get +Up Rewards years ago? lolol

Hubs didn't give me anything yet so maybe I'll give him a list of things that qualify for the 50th Anniv. Promo that I want for my birthday at Rite-Aid. Hmmmm......

My Gas Points at Weis expire on Saturday too.  My gas tank should be pretty low by then so I hope I remember to go get gas and use that .30¢ discount.

The Daughter has changed her educational plan yet again.....sigh
She's looking to attend a different community college in the Fall so she dropped 2 courses that won't transfer and that she doesn't need for the program there.  The program she was trying to get into here isn't working out(due to high demand and her placement test scores weren't so good), so she's going to move out of state and attend another program(once she places in).  I hope this one works out.

#2 Son got a job on Friday.  Well, he sort of had a job at a different restaurant, but they hardly ever called him in.  He was like the substitute's substitute dishwasher or something.
So he finally got an application together and went up on Friday and they gave him the job on the spot.
He's already worked 2 nights and seems happier and they haven't fired him. lol
Now I don't want to hear how the 18 year old nephew can't find a job and has been looking for a year now with no luck.  He just doesn't want to have to DO anything to get paid....except sit on his ass.

Now we have the Driver's road test next week for #2 Son.  If the parallel parking doesn't sink him, he'll do fine.

I've got to make reservations for #1 Son's graduation in May.  He'll be a college graduate in just over 4 months!  Goodbye FAFSA!!!lolol  This will be a 3 day saga since it's on the other side of the state.
I told him not to count on many of the family coming to it, since nobody lives out there.  They'd all have to travel and pay for lodging/food/gas to attend and most of them don't have the extra cash to do this.

Now I get to worry about him finding a job after college in his field.  I know he'll do whatever he has to to stay afloat economically but I worry anyway.  That's my mom job after all.....

As for me?  I still haven't figured out my 2013 Goals.  Heck, I'm doing well if I can figure out a meal plan a week ahead! lol
And it's too danged cold!!!  Our most recent electric bill was $340 and $216 of that was for heat. 

Gotta get up to the grocery store and then mail some textbooks back to Amazon.

What's going on in your world lately?


Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Meal Planning January Week 4, Food Spending Week 3


And here is what actually got served last week......
Sunday--Steak, Asparagus, Potatoes & Onions
Wednesday--Chicken Pot Pie
Thursday--Rigatoni w/Meat Sauce, Brussel Sprouts, Rolls(made into Garlic bread)
Friday--Leftovers or Fend For Yourself
Saturday--Chinese take-out

I served 3 of the meals I planned.  The meals that didn't get served(Steak Tips, Cheese Steaks) get moved to next week.

The food spending last week?
2 small trips to the grocers for a grand total spent of $50.90.  Almost half of it was for lunches, juice and seltzer for Daughter.  I bought frozen and fresh veggies, fruit, some provolone cheese, a loaf of French bread and I splurged and bought 2 Cannolis for Hubs and I.  The cannoli was the only dairy I had all week and it caused me some gunkiness....but was worth it. lol
We are up to $199.85 food spending for January.  One week left and I have half of my food budget still.
I also have a $10 Catalina that expires 1/24 to use at Weis.

As for leftovers rolling into this week--1 head of cabbage, and the leftover steak.


Here is what is getting served this week.....
Sunday--Leftovers or Fend For Yourself
Monday--Taco Bell or Fend For Yourself
Tuesday--Beef Tips in Gravy over Noodles, Ginger Carrots
Wednesday--Fish, Beets, Au Gratin Potatoes
Thursday--Cheese Steaks, Broccoli
Saturday--Leftovers or Fend For Yourself

The Beef Tips are leftovers redone.  The other 3 meals are new food.  Wednesday and Friday meals will yield leftovers for Saturday eating.

Needed at the store to serve this lot?
I bought the fish and more carrots last week and had everything else already.  Depending on how much Halushki I want to make, I may need another head of cabbage.  I'll need more fresh fruit and salad greens(for lunches).  "Good" hot dogs and honey are on sale this week so I'll be stocking up on those items.  I'll try to keep the spending under $70.

I'll be going to my 2 grocery stores this week to note prices for the new Price Book.

What's on your menu for the week?  Any good deals at the grocers this week?
Did you have any food waste this week?

I've got some big changes coming in February to our diet.  I am not sure how this will affect our food budget but I suspect it will have an impact.  Stick around and see what happens.


Monday, January 21, 2013

Happy Happy Joy Joy!

Well today is my Birthday.
In the spirit of the day, I thought I'd share this with all of you....

Thanks for reading and being my friend!
Be sure to leave some love before you go......


Sunday, January 20, 2013

Price Book Update--Week 2

Just posting the Week 2 Price Book numbers for my items.  I'll try to get Week 3 numbers reported in earlier this coming week and since that gets us halfway to all our data, I'll talk about the trends that seem to be appearing.

Ground Beef...2.28/3.69  3.79/3.99
Chuck Roast....3.99/3.99  2.99/3.99
Hot Dogs....4.99/5.99  4.99/5.99
Pork....3.99/3.00  3.99/2.99
Bacon....2.98/3.50  3.99/3.50
Chicken Breast....2.99/3.09  2.99/3.49
Chicken Whole.... .78/1.69  1.39/1.89
Salmon....10.00/7.99  0/7.99
Cheese....1.77/2.99  2.00/2.00
Butter.....3.00/3.50  3.49/3.98
Eggs....1.93/1.50  1.79/1.89
Carrots.... .90/1.00  .75/1.29
Potatoes....1.48/2.50  2.99/2.99
Celery.....1.69/259  1.99/1.89
Onion..... .49/.75  1.69/1.00
Salad Greens....2.50/1.95  2.50/1.85
Pasta..... .88/1.00  1.00/1.00
Spaghetti Sauce.... .88/1.00  1.33/1.25
Coffee....5.65 lb/5.12 lb  5.65 lb/4.16 lb
Soup Tomato...1.05/.75  1.05/1.00
Soup Cream....1.00/.75  1.29/1.39
Flour.....2.19/2.19  2.19/2.19
Sugar.....2.69/2.69   2.69/2.69
Brown Sugar...1.89/1.69  1.89/1.69
Honey.....4.00 lb/3.45 lb  4.00 lb/3.45 lb
Deli Ham...5.99/7.99  4.99/5.99
Deli Provolone...7.99/8.99  4.99/8.99
Frozen Pizza...4.49/4.99  5.00/3.33
Ice Cream...3.00/3.00  2.50/3.00
Frozen Broccoli...1.88/1.50  2.19/2.00
Soda....4.99/4.00  4.00/4.00
Chips....3.00/3.00  3.00/2.50

Be sure to log in your Week 2 prices and work on collecting your Week 3 prices.


Saturday, January 19, 2013

What Do Vincent Price & Onion Soup Have In Common?

If you are like me you try to avoid eating Onion Soup at most restaurants out there.
Most restaurant pantries are stocked by food service mega-corporations like Sysco, US Foods and PFG in the US.  These corporations are the processed food suppliers to the majority of eating establishments.
Restaurants begin their French Onion Soup dishes with Onion Soup Base......a dark brown liquid or granular powder like the one pictured here.

Onion Soup based on this gives you an artificially onion flavored SALT LICK.
Yes, these soup bases have a very high sodium content.
They are nasty!

One of the more surprising cookbooks I have was given to me by my mother.
She passed it down to me from HER mother.
I find this quite hilarious since my grandmother was a country cook and cared not at all for grand living and fancy restaurants.  Why and where she would have picked up this cookbook is a mystery to me!

This cookbook is a collection of recipes from famous restaurants that Vincent and Mary Price visited in their travels around the world during their marriage, which spanned from 1949-1973.  (She was his second wife.)

Yes, this Vincent Price.....

In addition to being a famous Hollywood leading man and later, a B Movie Villain and all around "ham".....

He was a Gourmand Extraordinaire!

Or as they like to call them nowadays, he was a Foodie before there were Foodies!

This huge compendium of classic cooking recipes from the top dining spots around the world was my 1st Cookbook as a newly married woman.

While other 1980's newly marrieds were working on their meatloaves, mashed potatoes and gravy, green bean casseroles and pancakes, I was trying my hand at Coq au Vin, Steak au Poivre, Yorkshire Pudding, Haricot Verts a la Lyonnaise, Crepe Suzette and Gateaux Grand Marnier. ;-)

This book holds the best recipe for French Onion Soup bar none!
But over the years, I have made this recipe my own with changes and substitutions to make this heartier and more of a main course.
*My ingredient substitutions/changes are marked by asterisks.

From "A Treasury of Great Recipes", page 46, here is MY VARIATION....

serves 6 as a starter/4 as a meal 

3 tablespoons bacon drippings   *can use olive oil if no drippings are available
4 large onions, chopped fine    *Sliced thinly, not chopped
2 tablespoons flour
1/2 teaspoon salt     *"good" salt, like Himalayan or Sea Salt
1/8 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
1 clove garlic, smashed   *or minced or powdered
1 sprig parsley
1 pinch thyme
1 quart chicken stock  * you can sub chicken bouillon cubes or granules(cut the amount of salt you add by half), but not onion soup ones
1 cup dry white wine
1 tablespoon cognac   * I omit because I don't have any
6 slices toasted French bread   * I use croutons
1 cup grated parmesan cheese  * I use shredded mozzarella cheese


1  You will need oven safe bowls for presentation/serving.

2 Over medium temperature in a large skillet, heat a deep skillet with the olive oil.

3  Add thinly sliced onions and cook until translucent.

4 Add the flour, salt, pepper, and garlic and cook until it is golden brown (careful not to burn).

5  Add the parsley sprig, thyme, chicken stock, wine, and simmer for 45 minutes, then remove from heat.

 6 While soup simmers, try to look busy.

7  To make it Soupe à L'Oignon Gratinée: preheat your oven's broiler setting;  laden soup into each bowl being careful not to overfill.  Float croutons on top of soup.

 Sprinkle shredded mozzarella cheese over croutons.

Place bowls on baking sheet under broiler in oven until the cheese bubbles and browns.  Keep a close watch so you don't burn your cheese!

Remove the soup from the oven and eat.

Nom Nom Nom.


Friday, January 18, 2013

Did You Do Your Price Book This Week? & Newbie Grocery Store Tips

Just a reminder to get those Price Book Week 2 prices recorded before the Sales week at your store(s) is over.

I did 1 store so far this week but I still need to get the prices at Weis "PMITA" Markets recorded.

**A quick note in regard to sales cycles at the store for newbies**

As you go through these weeks jotting down prices you may notice that at your store there is 1 week per month where your store is advertising "house brands" mostly and not the name brand products.  House brands are the store brand equivalents of all those name brand products they carry.  Your store may have 1 house brand or they may have lots of house brand names they use.  For example,  my local Shursave affiliate market carries Shursave or Shurfine branded products.  These are the brands that are always lower than the identical products that they carry under a name brand.
But if I shop at Weis or Price Chopper, both of these chains feature more than 1 name for their house brand.  And then there are stores like Aldi's that only carry their house brands and Sav-A-Lot which carries their house brands and a very limited selection of name brands.

Some people can taste a difference between name branded and store branded items.  I have found the quality of house brands vs. name brands range from identical to "are you kidding me?!".  8-)
You really need to try a house brands before you dismiss it as not worth buying because it tastes bad.
House brands of basic items like canned tomato products, flour, sugar, etc. are usually on par in quality with the name brand ones.  Once you are into the higher priced coffee, frozen veggies, the ingredients in the house brand may be far below that of the name brand equivalent.  Sometimes it IS all about "you get what you pay for".

In order to get the lowest priced of identical items, and without shopping the weekly sales and/or using coupons, you are probably buying the house brand(s).  House brands don't go on sale very often usually, compared to name brands.  A store will push their house brands in their sales ad 1 week of each month.  Around here, that week is usually the 3rd week of the month.  The "house brand week" generally will fall in your area when the majority of employees who are paid monthly or twice a month are at the end of a pay period.  The assumption is that everyone runs out of money the closer to payday, so they push the less expensive brands, the house brands.  "HBW" might be the last week of the month instead, as the govt. sends out support checks at the beginning of the month.

Usually, again in my area, advertising of house brands does not mean the house brand items in the ad are on sale.
If you are trying to figure out when to buy/what to buy to get the best deal, take note of when your store pushes the house brands, and when they feature the house brands in their ads, if they are actually a better deal that week compared to the rest of the month.
A favorite "trick" of grocery stores is to feature an item in a sales ad at the regular price if they need to unload extra stock of that item.  You see the item in the ad and assume it is on sale, yet it is not.  The store will try this trick to sell items it is overloaded with first, before it reduces the price.  So when perusing your sales ads, it helps to know the regular prices of items.

I'll be back tomorrow night with my Price Book Week 2 prices.


Lackluster Rite-Aid Week

2 x Clear Men's Shampoo $7.49 w/Gold discount $5.99=$11.98
2 x Clear 3oz. Shampoo $2.49 w/Gold discount $1.99=$3.98
1 x Keri Hand Lotion (raincheck price b4 Xmas)=$.99
1 x Cella cherry w/Gold discount=$.26 *not pictured, eaten*

Coupons Used
2 x $3/1 Peelie Clear Men's Shampoo(on bottles)=$6.00
2 x Free Item Clear 3oz. Shampoo VV/AdPerksQ(deducted full $2.49 price ea.)=$4.98
1 x $2/1 Keri Lotion IPQ(from Dec. was stapled to raincheck when procured)=$2.00
Coupon Total.....$12.98


I used $4+Up Rewards and put the .23¢ on my gift card.
I received back $7+ Up Rewards for buying $15 in Clear products.

My 50th Anniversary Promo tracking is now at $48.41(only the .99¢ Keri qualified).
I am still missing my Sharpie marker spending on my total.
But I guess it really doesn't matter because I am NOT getting to $100 of spending/tracking by the 26th.

I might just use my $11.50 in +Ups tomorrow and buy 2 large packs of TP, as the Scot is on sale.  Betwwen +Ups, Sale price and 2 Qs I have, I'll have to "spend" about $1.06 on my gift card.
TP is something we can use/need and I'll be out of +Ups so I can stop Rite-Aiding for a few months.

The deals at Rite-Aid are few and far between for me lately and I am just worn out and need a break.

I know everyone will miss these R-A posts.....LOLOL

Maybe I should hold a lottery and everyone can guess how long I can go before I go back to Rite-Aid? ;-)

This trip to Rite-Aid--
Value of items.....$29.08
+Ups coming into this trip....$8.50
+Ups used....$4.00
+Ups earned......$7.00
+Ups at the end.....$11.50


Out Of Pocket....$0.00  cash
Value of items bought.....$139.89
Savings Rate of  100%
Rebates due......$16.99(Neosporin 2x)
Savings Rate after Rebates.....100 %

+Ups at beginning of month...$32.50+
+Ups used....$37.00+
+Ups received...$16.00+
+Ups currently...$11.50+  


Thursday, January 17, 2013

What Santa Brought Me.....Keeping the Costs Sensible

I know everybody is anxious to know exactly what presents Sluggy received for Christmas in 2012.
Oh come KNOW you want to know.  ;-)

Yes, we are lavish gift givers around here.
It's all about the bling.......the luxury........the decadence........
No, around here, we don't expect anyone to spend a big wad of cash on a pile of gifts for us.  We gift sensibly.  We give what someone wants/needs(within reason) and we try to get a deal if possible.

Here are a couple of gifts I got from extended family......first from my brother and his wife....

A pair of slippers and a cocktail shaker and mix

And from Hubs brother and the nephew.....

a Kitchen store gift card

We do a nuclear family Secret Santa gift exchange and #2 Son got my name.....

I got a book I wanted, "Everything You Were Taught About the Civil War Is Wrong", and a gift card to Ollie's Bargain Outlet "Good Stuff Cheap!".  #2 Son knows me too too well.....

And #2 Son gets extra credit because he bought the book from a used bookseller. ;-)

Then my older two kids, having jobs now and making a little of their own money, got some Christmas Spirit this year and decided to buy presents for each family member.  This was unexpected and yes, the thought of it was the best part of the gifts!

So #1 Son bought me....

Candles that smell like cookies and Cherry Blossom Bubble Bath

And the Daughter got me this.....
An Olive Oil Pump/Sprayer to break my addiction to PAM. lol

Then Hubs bought me a book.....Hubs considers a book the "perfect gift" so I can pretty much count on a book for

Gotta love Stonewall Jackson!

And "Santa" filled my stocking with this strange mix of goodies....

2 packs of safety pins(I asked for those!lol)
Gas treatment ?
Post-Its ?
Chocolate coins ?
a high class bottle opener ?
I am still shaking my head over most of this stuff....I think Santa either lost his mind or had too much egg nog before he got to our house.lolol

As you can see, we just live on the edge, walk on the wild side, spend money like it's going out of style!!

But here is the one thing I asked for and they & Hubs actually got for me.....

While the kids were all home at the same time for the Holidays(which doesn't happen nearly at ALL anymore), they went up to the local portrait studio and had this photo taken.  I haven't had a photo of the 3 of them together done since they were in elementary school.  And the bestest thing about it?  They are actually smiling REAL smiles, not those faked ones I get when I ask them to pose so I can take a picture!

Of course, I didn't get the portrait until late last week, but it made my Holiday.
Yes, it did.


Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Cliff Diving & When Is 2% Not 2%?

Well we got our first paycheck since falling off the cliff.
We have it direct deposited into the credit union.
My eyeballs nearly exploded when I saw a check with $300 LESS in it....$300 less for 2 weeks.
I grabbed the calculator and saw that if that $300 was 2% of our income, we'd be pulling in $390,000 a year.

Ummm, last I looked we were no where NEAR that neighborhood! lolz

BTW--someone making $390K a year is seeing $7,800 LESS in their take-home pay this year.  I am sure they are feeling the pain of that as much as all of us who make way less and are not seeing our 2%s.

Then I remembered that we have local taxes for the year, that are taken out of the 1st 2 paychecks in January, so January's pay is less anyway.
But still, that didn't cover a $300 reduction for 2 weeks of work.

And then Hubs brought home his paystub and there was a note on it.
A note explaining that the bookkeeping dept. of his company was asleep at the switch and took too much for something or other out of everyone's paycheck, and they would be adding this amount back in to the next check.

With the position we are in with the money, this "problem" was a non-problem for us.

But if we had no savings or emergency fund and needed Hubs entire check to cover our expenses for the next 2 weeks, having a $300 hole in the funds available could have been trouble.

Living paycheck to paycheck, with no savings would have meant going without things(hopefully not needs-like food or delaying paying an electric bill or mortgage payment)or putting some things on credit.
And if we had credit card debt already, it would have added to our debt load and/or added to the fees and interest we had to pay.

So my question to everyone......if your paycheck was reduced in error and you didn't have access to a significant chunk of money, could you weather that storm without financial repercussions?

Clearly $300 taken out of our paycheck in error was NOT a foreseeable problem, so there was no way to lessen it's impact.
Unless we lived below our means and made putting money aside for emergencies a priority in our financial lives BEFORE this happened.

Shit happens.
Make sure you aren't caught without a shovel.


Tuesday, January 15, 2013

It's the Middle of January Already?!?

I find it hard to believe that half of January has gone by already.
For gosh sakes, I haven't even settled on my Yearly 2013 Goals, let alone which ones to tackle in January! lol

2 Weeks+ into the year and I am already behinder.

So I'll refer to my "To Do" List posted on the sidebar for January(over there --->)
and see how I'm progressing.

*  Gather tax records  working on this one, slowly

*  Make new Price Book working on this one also, I've got 5 more weeks until it's done

*  Shutdown eBay Store  DONE!  Got it shut down and paid the bill, sort of.  I'll get a $10 credit on next month's bill, but eBay doesn't cut you a check for a, they keep a credit on your account.  As I don't want a $10 credit sitting there unused for another year or forever, I paid my last invoice minus the amount of the future credit, so that my next invoice will be a zero balance.  Makes sense right?  Oh, not to eBay!  They send me a collection email each week, with progressively more threatening language.  Ooooo!  They are going to charge me late fees(of 1.5%)and send my debt to a collection agency.  I am so scared!!  How will I ever afford that 15¢ late fee?
Get real eBay.....I don't care.

*  Clean out InkFrog files & Close Account working on this one too, trashed 300 files so far.  I need to transfer my descriptions and images back to my HD and then onto a flash drive in case I ever need them again.  I hope to get this finished before I have to pay another $9.95 a month.

*  Scan 1 scrapbook of photos Not even begun yet
I'll start this later this week.  No time limit on it but I want to get it done this month.

*  Finish reading John Lee Holt book working on this one, on page 105.  It's not an easy read.  Plus it's quite depressing, since I know the outcome and it's someone related to me.  Chronologically I am at Aug. 18, 1862.....almost to 2nd Bull Run.  I have to keep stopping every so often to refresh my memory on particular battles of the war so I don't get lost.   John is now a part of Pickett's Brigade, Longstreet's Division.  About 9 mos. before Gettysburg.....
Perhaps I should avoid reading any books concerning Lincoln's War in the Winter time. 8-)

*  Put Christmas stuff away  DONE!
Usually this takes all month or longer, but I nagged enough to get everyone cooperating enough to finish the tasks.

*  Defrost and organize Freezer  DONE!  Got the freezer de-iced last week.  Amazing amount of space once the ice was gone!lol  Filled up the new empty space last week as well with some good meat deals.

*  Drop NCP Membership  DONE!  Just waiting on the scanner to arrive back at the HQ in NY.  Gawd!  I will be so glad when this whole adventure is done!!!  What a PITA this was.  Whoever gave me the notion to join this Nielsen Home thing in the first place?  You better be glad I can't remember shit anymore because if I could, I'd be showing up on your doorstep to kick. your. ass.
If you ever see these people advertizing for Panelists, RUN in the opposite direction!  It is so not worth it unless you like doing mindless crap for NO reward.

*  Celebrate my Birthday!  Not time yet--next week  Friday kicks off Birthday Week at Chez Sluggy!  My and Martin Luther King are partying hard this year.....just no CHEESEcake! lol