Thursday, December 31, 2015

Greetings from Virginia!

Hey there everyone!
Greetings from cloudy, rainy Fredericksburg Virginia!

Here's the view from our room door.  Too bad it's gray and cloudy or those skylights would be nice.
By paying in advance and booking out of season I got a room at this more upscale hotel.

We've already had breakfast and a swim and will be heading out soon to spend the day with Eldest son and his GF(until she has to go to work)and then ringing in the new year tonight together.

Then it's back to the grind in PA on the 1st and I'll be finishing up the finances on 2015 and will post anon about the Savings Challenge End of Year Recap, calculating the Net Worth snapshot for January 1st 2016, going over the December To-Do List and going over what/how we did on the 2015 Goals and tying up some loose ends on the blog.

This has turned out to be a very low key trip which is fine by me!
Of course 2 trips to Rite-Aid were involved............ ;-)

Here's hoping everyone parties safely tonight.  I myself have a date with a bottle of Prosecco. 8-)))

Let's start thinking on those 2016 Yearly Goals too!
And if anyone has any thoughts or ideas for the direction this blog should take in the new year just drop me a note or leave a comment.

See y'all in the new year,


Wednesday, December 30, 2015

2015 Food & Toiletries Spending......December Update & Year End TOTALS

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

Here are my FOOD BUDGET spending totals for DECEMBER 2015.

I have posted December's totals on the Total Grocery Savings for 2015 Page located HERE and have updated the Yearly Totals there.  I am listing subtotals for each store I purchased from in November.  If you aren't interested in that much detail, just skip to the bottom for the Totals Sum.  My spending includes Food, Toiletries/HBA, Cleaning Products, Paper Goods & tax where applicable. We are a family of 3(2-3 at home this month). No kids under 19.


OOP  $4.75
Value  $20.45
Savings  76.77%

OOP  $8.00
Value  $19.82
Savings  59.63%%

OOP  $35.88
Qs/Ads/gift card $59.59
Value  $95.47
Savings 62.41%

OOP  $0.00
Qs/Ads/gift card  $549.00
Value  $549.00
Savings  100%

OOP  $57.24
Qs/Ads $33.98
Value  $91.22
Savings  37.25%

OOP  $19.04
Value  $32.90
Savings  42.13%

OOP  $0.00
Value  $14.38
Savings  100%

OOP  $278.76
Qs/Ads  $336.79
Value  $615.55
Savings  54.71%

My best 3 Store Savings Totals were Target and Rite-Aid at 100%,  Bakery Outlet at 76.77% and  Price Chopper at 62.41%.  My WORST savings rate was Shursave Markets at 37.25%.  Besides Shursave all my savings precentages were at Least in the 40's.  8-)

I shopped at 8 different stores this past month.

** My TOTAL out of pocket for December food/toiletries was $403.67.
However I cahsed out my Saving Star account(where some of my electronic coupons savings are deposited-I don't count these coupon savings in my monthly totals until it's cashed out)and was able to deposit $84.17 for 2015 into our bank account, thus offsetting $84.17 of food spending.  This brought my OOP spending from $403.67 down to $319.50.

TOTAL Out of Pocket........ $319.50**
TOTAL Coupons & Store Sales Savings...$1119.29
TOTAL Value of Items Purchased............$1438.79
TOTAL Savings of...................................77.79%
TOTAL Savings without Rite-Aid...........64.09%

This closes out the December food/toiletries spending.

THOUGHTS & COMMENTS for this month.....
I went into December wanting to do a $350 food budget for the month and I went over by $53.67 due to last minute Holiday temptations.  8-(  The only thing that saved the month was the cashing out and banking of my SavingStar rebates and I had almost forgotten to do that before year's end.  This deposit brought my food spending in December down to $319.50 so I finished the month under budget.

The monthly savings percentage went down by 1.2% in December to 77.79% compared to November's 78.99% savings average.  This is mainly due to all that free stuff I got at Rite-Aid in November Black Friday weekend and then I got less free stuff in December.  Still way over the 40% savings rate I like to see each month.


2015 YEARLY OOP SPENDING on Food/Toiletries........$4,338.87
2015 YEARLY VALUE OF ITEMS BOUGHT.........$11,975.45
2015 YEARLY SAVINGS of................$7,636.58
2015 SAVINGS PERCENTAGE on SPENDING..........63.77%

I have spent a total of $4,338.87 on food/toiletries in 2015. That averages out to $361.57 per month. We came in at a monthly average of under $400 for the year which pleases me.  By strategic shopping we were able to eat well AND save money. 8-)

LOOKING AHEAD To January 2016.........
As we are packed to the gills with food/toiletries I think we'll be eating down our stores at the house and not grocery shopping much in January.  I am thinking $200 in food spending for January and perhaps another $100 to stock up College Boy with provisions for the upcoming semester.

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

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

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


Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Sluggy's 2015 in Review

It was a hell of a ride in 2015 here at Chez Sluggy!

Let's recap the year a month at a time, shall we?

*January--Lots of snow later in the month.  Lots of dark too.
Highlights were my birthday and visiting my brother in Virginia for a couple of weeks.
Of course I brought the bad weather with me to Southern Virginia.........

* February--We met our medical insurance deductible this month due to expen$ive drugs plus assorted medical tests.  Good news came that the spot on my lung detected 2 years ago is not a tumor.
This month we also finished up those nasty tax return forms and the dreaded FAFSA.  Glad that was over for another year!
The snow continued in drips and drabs but the worst thing was the EXTREME COLD the Winter of 2015!
I started genealogy research on my paternal side in earnest, solving a long standing family mystery in the process.

* March--There was great sadness in Sluggyland here when Rite-Aid did away with their +Up Rewards Program late in the month.
We bought a "new to us" car this month paying it in full using most of Hubs yearly bonus.  I used my credit card to pay(and paid that off 2 days later)to get $250 in free gift cards.  Truly I am always working the deal.

I started the ball rolling on joining one of the many genealogical societies I qualify for due to my illustrious maternal ancestry.  The ball didn't roll very far however as I lost interested in doing this.

March was also the beginning of the Cataract Surgery Saga when I went for my initial consultation.
It was a full month after that before I actually got the first surgery.
I also began an exercise routine this month, riding a recumbent exercise bike my daughter left here when she moved away to Louisiana.

* April--My eye surgery went well but now I needed the other eye done to see like a normal person again.  They made me wait 11 weeks for the second surgery which put a big crimp into my traveling plans for 2015.

The end of this month I got my new Rite-Aid Plenti Program Card.  It's been a mixed bag of good and bad this new program but at least I no longer have to run to R-A to use a Wellness Reward within 2 weeks.  The new program points don't expire for 2 years upon issue.

* April--I began to record short shopping trips in vlog form, but alas my readership numbers did NOT soar.
This month also saw the formation of the Bloggers United Federation.  Boy, that didn't last long did it? lolz
We also made a trip to Allentown in April to visit a Meadery which was one of Hubs Christmas presents.

And the yearly de-cluttering began with the first yearly trip to Salvation Army.

* May--The highlight of this month was our road trip to Louisiana.  Lots of interesting sights and good local food.  Oh, and a tornado.....such fun!!

My first eye was cleared and the eye doctor scheduled my second surgery on the other eye for TWO MONTHS after this date.  There went any traveling plans for this Summer as I wasn't cleared for all normal eyeball activity until late July.

Hubs and I finished our yard project-a rock bed/garden with a bench.
I also broke down and bought a chest freezer, after being freezer-free for 1.5 years.
We got the garden planted(mostly)right before our road trip.

* June--This month I bought a metric ton of cheese for little money during the Weis Markets Kraft Promotion.
Hubs had a health issue come up which we are still working on 7 months later with no end in sight.
Eldest son got a teaching job offer this month 2 years after graduating with his degree.
We got the front flower beds planted.

* July--This month was spent driving back and forth to Fredericksburg Virginia to find Eldest son an apartment and then moving Eldest son into that apartment.  That was in between another cataract surgery and follow up appointments.

Another highlight was meeting a fellow blogger on the way down to Fredericksburg and having dinner with another blogger I have met before.
The lowlight of this month was experiencing the "shit hole" apartment. lolz

* August--Before August started really, we had company at Chez Sluggy when Lorraine and Hubs Chris stopped for a visit on the way home from their NY trip, giving us just long enough to throw some gang signs............

The rest of August was all about just keeping my head down and plowing forward with the usual chores and getting College Boy provisioned and then sending him back for his second year of college.
Then I prayed for lower electric bills with CB gone.

I also found an old newspaper account of what so far is my most notorious ancestor, Abner Redmond, "The worst man who ever lived in Charlotte County".

I organized the stockpile this month and the garden turned out to be pretty much a washout, except for yellow Summer squash and Collards, which we were practically buried in!

* September--This month saw more visitors to Chez Sluggy when Kim and Joel stopped by while touring the East Coast.........

Hubs and I sat down and solidify our retirement financial plans in September.

 This month was also when a friend/fellow blogger took his life.  I still feel unbalanced over that event.

We also went to my Family Reunion and brought Eldest son with us since we had to pass right by where he now lives.

I also thought I had developed a blood clot in my foot in September and after the doctors and tests could find nothing medically wrong with me they sent me to physical therapy, which did NOTHING for me, but drain dollars away from my wallet.  I took a hiatus from the exercise bike until the PT was finished.

My daughter came home to visit for the first time since leaving home 2+ years early.  Since I was bedridden for a week with that foot injury(that medically didn't exist)we didn't spend a lot of time together but we did manage to squeeze in a couple of visits to brewpubs in the area.  It was a good visit anyway.

I also found two of my cousins(I only have 3)on Facebook after trying to get information out of my Aunt(their mother)for 2+ years.  Hopefully we can reconnect on a broader level at some point but this is a start.

Koolickles also happened here in September.  Need I say more? ;-)

* October--The highlight this month was another road trip to Illinois to see Sonya Ann and Den.  I always enjoy my time with SA and we really don't have to do anything for the time to be special. 8-)

Sonya Ann and I crashed a Drumming Circle in IL.

Of course, Den decided to be the center of attention this trip but we'll give him a pass anyway.

Then we had lunch with Hubs sister on the way home........

Hubs and I had an outing one weekend South of here to a Chinese Auction.  We also had our annual outing to a Church fundraiser auction this month.  Lots of entertainment spending in October.

I also got the bulk of my Christmas shopping finished this month.

October began the quite unseasonably warm Fall weather in our region.  The benefit of this trend kept my heating/electric bills unusually low.

* November-- I was able to make a large food bank donation of goods this month by working the grocery store deals.

I also took myself to the movies this month.  I hadn't been to the movies in over a year I think.

I tried something new for Thanksgiving-a different preparation for my turkey, and it turned out well.

I did my Black Friday Weekend shopping at Rite-Aid.  $500 worth of goodies for .05¢ OOP.

* December--The good deals at Rite-Aid continued into this month.
More time was spent in December on getting ready for celebrating the Winter Holidays and I ramped up the de-cluttering again and made 6 more donations of said clutter to charity stores.

Throughout 2015 I saved, spent and reported in on how I did.  Hubs and I re-examined our retirement goals at various points in the year.
I held 6 blog giveaways throughout the year.

And I was able to save a nice chunk of our take-home pay for retirement.

2015 was a good year despite the ups and downs.

Bring on 2016!


Monday, December 28, 2015

This Week on the Dining Table

It's the "Can You Believe This Weather?!?" Edition--

We went to Virginia yesterday(though CB stayed home as his band has a gig in PA for NYE).  The temp while driving through Delaware hit what is in the photo above.  Once we got to Maryland further South we hit 76F degrees.  Yooza!  My brother said it was a tad warmer than that at his house earlier, before we arrived after dark.
Crazy crazy weather for the end of December this year.........

Onward to the meal planning!

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

1. Sunday--Rigatoni w/(leftover)Meat Sauce, Salad
2. Monday--Bourbon Glazed Salmon, (leftover)Cole Slaw, Olive Oil Potatoes
3. Tuesday--Chicken and Dumplings or Pot Pie(using leftover roast chicken meat)
4. Wednesday-Leftovers(this will mean fish, stuffed shells and/or rigatoni w/sauce + a veggie)
5. Thursday--Traditional Chinese Dinner out Xmas Eve
6. Friday--Beef Roast, Mac and Cheese, Ginger Carrots, Rolls, a green Veggie TBD
7. Saturday--Leftovers or a Subway sammich or Fend for Yourself

And this is what actually happened--

1. Sunday--Rigatoni w/(leftover)Meat Sauce, Salad
2. Monday--Bourbon Glazed Salmon, (leftover)Cole Slaw, Olive Oil Gratin Potatoes
3. Tuesday--Pot Pie(using leftover roast chicken meat)
4. Wednesday-Assorted Leftovers
5. Thursday--Traditional Chinese Dinner out Xmas Eve
6. Friday--Beef Roast, Mac and Cheese, Ginger Carrots, Rolls, Salad
7. Saturday--I had a Roast Beef sammich and Salad

Pretty much everything planned was prepared last week.

As for my grocery spending last week...... multiple trips to the grocery stores with last minute holiday splurges put me over my $350 food budget for December by $53 and change.

Leftovers going into this week.....Meat Sauce, Stuffed Shells, partial Chicken Pot Pie, Prime Rib Roast, Baked Mac and Cheese, Rolls, Olive Oil Gratin Potatoes.  I also made up a big container of Taco Meat Filling for College Boy to munch on while we are gone.  The freezer is also packed with a pizza for one, frozen cauliflower, chili and chicken strips so he won't starve this week.

Here is this week's "food plan" for Hubs and I--

1. Sunday--Roast Chicken, Collards
2. Monday--?
3. Tuesday--?
4. Wednesday--?
5. Thursday--?
6. Friday--?
7. Saturday--Leftovers

This week will see 0 new meals cooked and 1 meal of leftovers consumed plus 5 night Eating Out.
We are traveling and in Virginia most of this week so a break from cooking for me....yay!

There will be no food shopping this week so my December food spending is in the books and I'll post my End of the Month/Yearly Update for 2015 on our food budget later this week if I can remain sober for that long.  8-)

What is getting fixed and served at your house this week?
Are you making something special for Christmas Eve or Christmas Day?

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

Any great deals on food at your stores this week?


Saturday, December 26, 2015

Well I Blew It! Oh Well......HoHoHo

Right after I published the post earlier this week about how I am such a careful shopper and spend so little on our food budget, wouldn't you know....I went out and let the Siren Song of Christmas lead me into temptation and overspending.

Yes, bought a few things and then a few more........

It started with this---

a Standing Rib Roast at $6.99 lb.
Then a Cheesecake.
At least that was 50% off-$7.49.

Then while I was at it, I bought a port wine cheese ball for Xmas appetizers to go with the crackers I already have.

And while in the store they announced that all Christmas candy/confections were 50% off.
Some York Peppermint Patties, miniature Reese's cups and dark chocolate covered cherries jumped into my shopping cart.

And then marked down to .99¢ lb.spiral hams, even though I don't really eat ham anymore, well one of those landed in my cart too, to shove into the freezer for Easter dinner in 2016.

I have just finished doing the numbers and I am now at $403.67 spent for December foodstuffs.
Over for December by $53.67.

Not too bad really but I had so wanted to stay on budget at $350 this month.....sigh.
Oh well.
Life happens and none of us is perfect.
But I'd much rather grab a deal(like that ham)now to avoid paying full price in March.

I am still at less food spending in 2015 than in the last two years since I've kept track of this sort of thing so no worries.
And that Christmas prime rib dinner tasted oh so good! 8-)


Friday, December 25, 2015

Merry Christmas!

From Chez Sluggy to all of you out there in Blog Reader Land I hope your day is filled with whom and what you love most.  And if your loved ones are not near, keep them near in your heart.

Be kind to each other and make the world a better place for you being in it.



Thursday, December 24, 2015

Throwback Thursday....Christmas!

First off here is a photo from Christmas Eve of 1960............

This is one of my earliest memories in life. It was taken at my maternal grandparent's house in front of their Christmas tree.  Note all that lovely tinsel! lolz

Growing up my parents let me and my brothers each open up one gift on Christmas Eve night.  I don't recall what I had unwrapped that year but each of my brothers had opened up gift watches.

Then my mom told us to sit in our pjs in front of the tree for a photo.
And she had my brothers hold their gift they had opened.
She told me I couldn't hold what I had opened and I got quite upset.

You will notice that while I am not bawling out my eyes I don't look very happy either.  ;-)  I think I was on the verge of tears when my father snapped that photo.
I was 1 month short of being 2 years old in that picture.

And for the other TBT photo(s) here is a shot of our Christmas tree for 2015........

We only put up the small tabletop tree this year again.
And most of the ornaments are old handmade ones.

This is from a set of Santas I made my brother in the 1980's.  When he passed away in 2009 I was sure to retrieve these to keep to put on my tree in remembrance of him.......

This is another handmade felt Santa my mother made when I was in elementary school.

Another handmade doll ornie made by my mother.  She was a homeroom mom and the school had a big Christmas bazaar/fundraiser and all the moms made ornaments to sell.

This is a ceramic camel ornie I made back in the early 1990's when I had a craft business.  This was an ornie I gave my mother back then and after she passed in 2000 I inherited it back......

Another of the felt ornies made by my mom......

Hubs favorite ornament, a barrel of George Dickel

Another homemade by my mom.  It's hard to make out from this angle but it's a drum a la the Little Drummer Boy......

Either my mother or I painted this wooden ornament back in the 1960's or early 1970's.  It was from a kit she bought...

This is a tiny, 2 inch long plastic Nativity scene ornament.  It was what I got as a reward for selling crap for my school/class for Christmas in 2nd or 3rd grade.  I sold enough to "buy" a few of these as my reward.

This is a sand dollar I painted, put a ribbon on and made into a Christmas ornament back in the late 1980's.

And this is my version of the lace doll above that my mom had made.  I made these in the late 1980's to sell at craft shows before I started doing ceramics.........

And that's it from me for TBT.

College Boy and I ran to the grocery store again today for a whole mess of stuff, mostly a ham for cheap to stick into the freezer and a whole bunch of foodstuffs for CB to take back to college in January.

I hope everyone has a quiet and peaceful Christmas Eve and if I don't pop back on here to post before tomorrow I wish you a Merry Christmas celebrating the way in which you choice.