Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Food & Toiletries Spending......January 2018 Report

* I am done food shopping for January so am posting this a day early.*

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

Here are my FOOD BUDGET spending totals for JANUARY 2018.

I have posted January's totals on the Total Grocery Savings Page located HERE and have updated the Totals there.
I am listing subtotals for each store I purchased from in January.  If you aren't interested in that much detail, just skip to the bottom for the Totals Sum.  My spending includes Food, Toiletries/HBA, Cleaning Products, Paper Goods & tax where applicable. We are a family of 3-5(4 at home this month). No kids under 21.


OOP  $45.90
Value  $84.96
Savings  45.97%

OOP  $3.75
Value  $16.76
Savings  77.63%

OOP  $10.00
Value  $16.33
Savings  38.76%

OOP  $0.00
Qs/Ads/PP/BC  $1234.48
Value  $1234.48
Savings  100%

OOP  $44.66
Qs/Ads  $61.84
Value  $106.50
Savings  58.07%

OOP  $348.38
Qs/Ads  $408.16
Value  $756.54
Savings  53.95%

My best 3 Store Savings Totals were Rite-Aid at 100%, the Bread Outlet at 77.63% and Shursave at 58.07%.  My WORST savings rate was at Dollar Tree at 38.76%.

I shopped at 6 different stores this past month.  

TOTAL Out of Pocket..........$452.69
TOTAL Coupons/Store Sales...$528.40
TOTAL Value of Items Purchased............$981.09
TOTAL Savings of ..................................53.86%

TOTAL Out of Pocket for Dec.....$452,69
TOTAL Value of Items Purchased w/Rite-Aid....$2215.57
TOTAL Coupons/Store Sales.....$1762.88
TOTAL Savings with Rite-Aid items..........79.57%

This closes out the January food/toiletries spending.

THOUGHTS & COMMENTS for this month.....
I didn't set a food budget limit going into January because I know the sales cycle here and I knew I'd miss out on some "deals" if my budget was too low.  I hoped to come in between $400 and $500 spending($400 would have been better)and I just about hit that right in the middle. ;-)

The monthly food spending savings percentage went DOWN by 2.85% in January 2018to 79.57% compared to December 2017's 82.42% savings average.

With 1 month accounted for, I have spent a Grand Total of $452.69 on food/toiletries in 2018 which is a 79.57gsavings rate for the year so far and averages out to $452.69 spent per month in 2018.

LOOKING AHEAD To February........
I am going to try for a low food spending month in February.  I really need to use up some things in the freezer and do a proper clean out.  I'll set out to spend as little as possible and go from there, with hopes of staying under $200 for the month.

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

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

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


Tuesday, January 30, 2018

More Rite-Aid on Monday

Had to run an errand on the other side of the river in the Big City down the mountain so I made a quick trip into a Rite-Aid there to see if they were stocked better on the freebies of razor blades and they were.

4 x Playtex tampons on sale=$14.00
2 x Daylogic razor blades on sale=$16.00
1 x Remfresh on sale but Wellness disc. better=$7.99
2 x Prego sauce on sale=$3.00

Coupons Used
4 x $2/1 Playtex tampons IPQ(coupons dotcom)=$8.00
1 x $5/1 Remfresh IPQ(HERE)=$5.00
1 x $1/2 Prego sauce IPQ(NLA)=$1.00
Coupon Total.......$14.00

$40.99-$14.00=$26.99 + .50¢=$27.49

I used $20 BC so $27.49-$20=$7.49 OOP
I paid with Plenti Points
I earned back $26 in new Bonus Cash(2 x $3 Playtex, 2 x $8 Daylogic, $3 Remfresh, $1 wyb2 Prego)

Until Rite-Aid implements being able to use partial BC for the larger amounts I need to keep track of what amounts I have available on each card and when each expires.  This is a colossal PITA for one card/account, let alone three!

If anyone is looking for cheap razors do this deal at Rite-Aid this week..............

Schick razors are on sale for $5.99 at Rite-Aid this week.
There is a $3/1 Schick razor Q on coupons dotcom currently.
Print off 2, take them to R-A and buy 2 Schick razors.
2 x $5.99=$11.98-2 x $3/1 Qs($6)=$5.98(plus tax is applicable).
Use Bonus Cash if you have it.
After you received back $4 in Bonus Cash($2 for each razor bought)you'll effective price paid will be .99 per razor(or $1.98 for two)plus any sales tax due.
Not quite free but an awfully good/low price if you need razors. 8-)


Monday, January 29, 2018

This Week on the Dining Table

The "Birthday Week is Over" Edition--

Well another birthday has come and gone.  The roses Hubs gave me are dead and composed.  We still haven't found the time to go out to eat together as everyone is on a different schedule.  We may need to just go and leave someone out.

Here is Chester from last Sunday.  He has removed the fleece blanket from his crate and created a "porch" for himself.  He's chewing on a rawhide stick and using his pink piggy toy as a "table" to hold it. lolz

Moving On....

Onward to the meal planning!

1. Sunday--Tempura Shrimp, Sweet Potato Fries
2. Monday--Beef Shepherd's Pie(my version w/Cornbread not Mashed Taters on top)
3. Tuesday--Birthday Dinner Out?
4. Wednesday--leftover Ham Slices, leftover sides
5. Thursday--Hungarian Goulash, Rice
6. Friday--Tuna Noodle Casserole
7. Saturday--Leftovers

And this is what actually happened--
1. Sunday--Tempura Shrimp, Sweet Potato Fries
2. Monday--Beef Shepherd's Pie(my version w/Cornbread not Mashed Taters on top)
3. Tuesday--Leftovers
4. Wednesday--leftover Ham Slices, leftover sides
5. Thursday--Hungarian Goulash, Egg Noodles
6. Friday--Leftovers
7. Saturday--Steak, Pear Gorgonzola Salad

Last week saw 4 nights of home cooked dinners, 3 nights of leftovers/fend for yourself, 0 night of take-out and 0 night of Eating out.  Mostly everything happened but not when planned always.  We ate lots of leftovers so the Tuna Casserole didn't happen....that goes onto this week's menu.  I used up all the peppers in the freezer on the Goulash.  I found discounted Steaks on Wed. so Hubs and I had a special Sat. dinner alone. ;-)

2 Trips to Weis, 1 trip to the Bread Outlet and 1 trip to Big Lots(that one blew up my plans by having their 20% everything in the store sale last Sunday) brought the shopping last week to $137.95 for all.  That brought January's food spending total to $452.69.  Ouch
There are 2 days left in my shopping month which means I am done spending for January.

My savings percentages last week was 53.40% and the monthly savings so far ends up at 53.86%(without Rite-Aid trips added in).

Leftovers going into this week....... goulash, egg noodles and ham.  Not much leftover here.

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

1. Sunday--Take-Out(Hubs and I only)
2. Monday--leftover Goulash, Harvard Beets
3. Tuesday--Tuna Noodle Casserole, Salad or Beets
4. Wednesday--Ham & Cheese Quiche, Brussels Sprouts
5. Thursday--Tacos
6. Friday--Ham & Cheese Omlettes
7. Saturday--Leftovers

This week will see 4 new meals cooked, 2 nights of leftovers, 1 night of Take-out/Eat-Out.

The only thing I need to buy to make these meals is pie crust or I'll use Bisquick and make a "crustless" quiche.

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

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

Any great deals on food at your stores this week?


Sunday, January 28, 2018

Sunday at Rite-Aid, Rolling BC and Converting PPS

First off after last week's wacky deals I had the cashier check my Wellness accounts/coupons and Bonus Cash loaded to them.
"Supposedly" your Bonus Cash should be visible online when you log into your Wellness account at the Rite-Aid site, along with your Load2Card coupons.
I checked all three accounts online at home and NO BC is showing on my card, and only 1 x $20 BC on each of the other cards.  My card should have 1 x $20 BC, daughter's card and son's card each should have 2 x $20 BC attached.  I know that most of the $20 BCs I earned the first week of January when buying diapers on all 3 cards never showed in the online Load2Card place.

So I had the cashier(since she wasn't busy)check each of my card's L2C info and yes, all $100 in BC I had earned are on each of the cards they were earned on.
*Big sigh of relief that I don't have to argue with Corporate on the phone due to missing BC.*

With everything as it should be on my cards in "Bonus Cash Land", here's what I got at Rite-Aid today.

First on the Daughter's card...........

2 x Remfresh on sale but 20% off price better=$15.98
2 x Daylogic razor blades on sale=$16.00
2 x Tic Tacs(clearanced flavor)=$1.68*

Coupons Used
2 x $5/1 Remfresh(1 ManuQ/1 IPQ)=$10.00

$33.66-$10.00=$23.66 + .28¢tax=$23.94

$20 in BC came off making it $3.94 OOP.
I paid with $3.94 in Plenti Points.
I earned back $22 in new Bonus Cash(2 x $8 razor blades, 2 x $3 Remfresh)

I used $20 BC and earned back $22 BC and spent down PPs by $3.94

*I bought the Tic Tacs because they are part of a BC deal this week-Altoids or Tic Tac are 2 for $3 and earn $1 in BC wyb2.  Evidently the clearanced Tic Tacs don't count for this deal.  Oh well, it was worth a try.  I can either keep these(still a good price)or return them.

Then I bought this lot on my son's card...........

1 x Remfresh on sale but 20% off price better=$7.99
2 x Daylogic razor blades on sale=$16.00
2 x Playtex tampons on sale=$7.00
2 x Prego sauce on sale=$3.00

Coupons Used
1 x $5/1 Remfresh IPQ=$5.00
2 x $2/1 Playtex tampons IPQ=$4.00
1 x $1/2 Prego IPQ=$1.00
Coupon Total......$10.00

$33.99-$10.00=$23.99 + .40¢tax=$24.39

A $20 Bonus Cash came off so $4.39 OOP.
I paid $4.39 with Plenti Points.
I earned back $23 back in new BC(2 x $8 razor blades, $3 Remfresh, $3 Playtex, $1 Prego).

I used $20 BC and earned back $23 BC and spent down PPs by $4.39.

After coupons and BC earned, the tampons, razor blades and Remfresh are free this week(besides sales tax if that applies in your state-limit 2 deals per card).

The razor blades are straight up $8/Get $8 back in BC.

The tampons are on sale for 2/$7, there are $2/1 Qs on coupons dotcom and they give back $3 in BC when you two 2,(limit 2 deals per card so you can get up to 4 packages)so free after all is applied.

The Remfresh are on sale for $8(or $7.99 if you have Gold Wellness discount), there is a $5 Q available online and this gives back $3 in BC(limit 2 deals per card).

The Prego(using IPQs I've been holding onto for a couple of months now so no longer available to print)was .50¢ per jar after sale/Q/$1 BC wyb2.

I wanted to go up Sunday morning since the Remfresh and razor blades are usually in short supply around here.  I'll go back later in the week for more tampons and sauce probably.

Now I am off to go organize the toiletry stockpile some more and work on February's giveaway box.
Anybody have any requests for specific goodies for the next Giveaway??


Saturday, January 27, 2018

What a Frickin' Disaster.....But In a Good Way!

Ok, I spent a LOT of time in Rite-Aid on Friday.  It's all good though because I  brought home lots of items and spent no money OOP(I did spend Bonus Cash, Catalinas and Plenti Points but not as many as I should have evidently).

I can't even begin to detail how the transactions went down got real messy. lolz

A-an employee put the wrong signage on a shelf so 1 Tide I bought didn't qualify for sale or BC which messed up that transaction and there was a return/rebuy and then I didn't have the Load2CardQ to spend again, yadda, yadda, yadda.
B-I tried to use a 30% off email but the items I bought in that transaction that were on sale for BOGO50% didn't give me the better 30% off on them, evidently because the register/computer saw "50% off" and decided that the BOGO50% off(which is effectively 25% off all item involved)was a better deal than a straight 30% off email sale.  So there was more return/rebuy and price modifying and I believe the cashier returned two items I didn't actually buy(bought 4, he returned 6?)so how do we go about fixing that problem inside of another problem?, yadda, yadda, yadda.

In the end I did two transactions on my Daughter's card/account and FIVE transactions on my Son's card/account(two actual transactions, THREE return/rebuys to fix the problems in the actual transactions).
In the returns/rebuys I did end up with another $9.81 in  I seriously don't know what happened here. lolz

Let me just tell you that if you got a 30% off on Friday or Saturday email only attempt to use it once.  If you try to do two transactions and use it both times, the computer system won't take it the second time.
Though the coupon in the email you get is the same number for everyone, it only becomes valid/active with your card is swiped/read and it will only work once with your card.  Ask me how I know this? ;-)

Let me just show you the photos of what I got on Friday and then show you a list of everything I got this week at Rite-Aid total and what it all "cost" me, ok?

Friday's haul.......

Oops, I almost forgot these two.....

And the paper products........

List of items bought at Rite-Aid the Week of January 21st--among 3 accounts/cards

*  2 cases H2O
*  4 12 roll packs Scott tp
*  5  18 roll packs Scott tp
*  4 6-pack Scott paper towels
*  4 6-packs Klenex tissue
*  1 18-pack Cottonelle tp
*  3 Irish Spring body wash
*  3 Soft Soap body wash
*  2 packs U-Kotex tampons
*  8 Hershey candy bars
*  2 Tide detergent
*  1 Gain detergent
*  2 L'Oreal shampoo
*  9 Right Guard extreme deodorant
*  4 Dial liquid hand soap
*  4 Neutrogena facial cleanser
*  6 Muscle Milk protein bars

I started the week with $120 in Bonus Cash and $303.71 in Plenti Points.
I ended the week with $100 in Bonus Cash and $265.06 in Plenti Points and $37.67 in cash monies.

In total I spent down $38.65 in Plenti Points, spent down $20 in Bonus Cash, spent $25 in Catalinas earned this week(5 x $5 Cats earned on 5 paper products transactions).

I now have $20 BC on my card(new), $40 BC on son's card(2 new) and $40 BC(1 old, 1 new)on daughter's card so $100 in BC between the 3 cards/accounts, $265.06 Plenti Points left to spend between the 3 cards/accounts, $37.67 in new cash(which went into the postQ/refund envelope) and $398.37 worth of reg. retail value goods I brought home.

Plus I'll be getting another $5.99 in cash rebates($4.99 for buying 3 of the Right Guards AND $1 for buying 2 of the Dial liquid hand soaps)from SavingStar when they get around to posting it to my account there(making it $43.66 back in cash refunds/rebates total for Rite-Aid this week).

Didn't I tell you it's a glorious mess!  8-)))


Friday, January 26, 2018

Frugal Friday.....the January 26th Edition

So here is are frugal things we did last week.........

*  On Wednesday I hit up Weis and did the Mix and Match Buy 6 Items/Get $3 off Instantly Deal.....

4 x MM OJ on sale($2.49)=$9.96
1 x Salad kit on sale=$3.49
1 x Ben and Jerry's ice cream slices on sale=$3.99

I used 4 x .55¢/1 MM OJ Qs which doubled fully to $1.10=$4.40 and got $3 off this lot---$17.44-$7.40=$10.04 for all 6 items.
Then I received a cash rebate on Ibotta for $1.75 back on the ice cream so $8.29 OOP for all.

I also bought this.........

Furmano's and Hunts tomato products as well as Bumble Bee chicken were .77¢ each if you bought in lots of 7 items.
7 x .77¢=$5.39 and I used 2 x $1/3 Furmano's IPQs so $3.39 for all the items on the left in the photo.
Contadina tomato products were $1 each last week(reg. $2 each).  I printed out 8 .50¢/1 IPQs from 4 different computers here.  These Qs doubled to $1 off each so all 8 cans of tomatoes were FREE!
Everything in this photo cost me $3.39 or .23¢ per item.  9-)

*  Besides the $1.75 cash rebate for the ice cream I bought this week I also earned $1.25 rebate on this........
A Zero artificial sweeteners Light & Fit Greek yogurt cup.  They were on sale for $1 each plus I had a .50¢ IPQ that doubled to $1 so I paid Zero for it and then I got $1.25 cash back for "buying" it.  lolz

*  I went to the PO last Saturday and bought 100 stamps before they went up in price again.

This lot should see us through another year or two of mailing letters.  It's only a penny savings per stamp but every penny counts, right? ;-)

*  I blogged about what I got at Rite-Aid(so far)this week already.........

 The Kleenex purchase also earned me another $13.98 toward the $20 Allergy Reward spending($75 in spending needed to earn that reward).

In addition to all this I also got 2 cases of water and two more Scott tp packs.  I've spent down my Plenti Points(plus converted $20+ of them to cash), spent a $20 Bonus Cash.  I have $15 in Catalinas and a $20 Bonus Cash left on this Wellness card.

*  I took my free $10 Birthday voucher up to Kohl's and got this........

A Springweight nightgown in lavender.
It was a discontinued style and on sale for $16.00.

I also had a 30% off coupon so ended up paying $4.20.
The best news is it's a size smaller than I use to wear. 8-)))

So that's about it for me.
What did you do that was frugal this past week?


Thursday, January 25, 2018

Adjusting the Rite-Aid Plan.....Part 2

Just to refresh, I need to reach $34.65 in participating Bonus Cash items to get the second $20 BC on my card.

So I went to Rite-Aid and grabbed the last 4 packages of Scott xtra soft tp(they were out of all the other items that were part of the BC and the Kimberly-Clark Catalina deal--reg. Scott, the towels, the Cottonelle and the Kleenex)............

4 x Scott tp on sale=$27.96
1 x Irish Spring body wash on sale=$3.99
1 x Softsoap body wash on sale=$3.99

Coupons Used
4 x .55¢/1 Scott xtra soft tp packs IPQ=$2.20
1 x $1/1 Irish Spring body wash IPQ=$1.00
1 x $1/1 Softsoap body wash ManuQ=$1.00
2 x $2/1 In-AdQ Irish Spring or Softsoap item=$4.00
Coupon Total.....$8.20

$35.94 +.22¢tax=$36.16-$8.20=$27.96-$20 Bonus Cash already earned=$7.96 OOP using PPs.

But......I had a new cashier who doesn't know what to do evidently. lolz
She scanned my items, my loyalty card and then the $20 in BC attached to my card came off automatically and she didn't even try to put my coupons through!

So $36.16-$20 Bonus Cash=$16.16 OOP using PPs.

She totaled my transaction out and did a "post coupon" and handed me $8.20 cash(the value of my Qs).

Whatever god is smiling down on me when I go to Rite-Aid needs to continue because that's the second time this week I've gone to Rite-Aid and came away with cash in my pocket....$12.61 on Monday and $8.20 on Wednesday, which means I've cashed out PPs to the tune of $20.81 this week.

I'd hazard a guess that cash in my pocket that I can spent anywhere is better than Plenti Points I can only spend at Rite-Aid/Macy's/Exxon(of those 3, I only go to Rite-Aid).

But I digress......
I also earned the second $20 Bonus Cash on this card for the week and a third $5 Catalina for buying the tp.

Going forward I only have 1 $20 BC on this card now and $15 in Catalinas that I can use on any transaction in the next two weeks on any of our Wellness cards.

So now I need to decide if I want to do the Spend $50 on participating items/Get $20 Bonus Cash Deal on one of our other cards.

Maybe once on 1 card--
I'll buy 4 of the participating paper products again, use a $20 BC and get a 4th $5 Catalina.  Then I can buy another $22.04 in other participating items, use all 4 of the $5 Catalinas to pay(putting a couple of dollars over the $20 in Cats I have on PPs)and earn another $20 BC on that card.

Come back on Friday or Saturday to see what happens......same Bat Channel, same Bat Station...... ;-)


Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Adjusting My Rite-Aid Plan

Well we plan and God laughs, right?  And I have proved that old saying this week with my Rite-Aid trip.

Here is what I planned to get and how it "should" have gone.........

2 x Hershey Gold candy bars on sale=$1.00
2 x Irish Spring Body Wash on sale=$7.98
2 x Big Win 24 pack of H2O on sale=$5.00
2 x U Kotex tampons BOGO50%=$9.43
2 x Scott TP packs on sale=$13.98
2 x Cottonelle TP packs on sale=$13.98*

* I wanted to get 2 x 6 packs of Kleenex but they were out so I got the Cottonelle.

Coupons Used
1 x $1/2 Hershey Gold candy bars L2CQ=$1.00
2 x $2/1 Irish Spring body wash In-AdQ=$4.00
2 x $1/1 Irish Spring body wash IPQ=$2.00
2 x $2/1 U-Kotex tampons ManuQ=$4.00
2 x $1/1 Scott TP ManuQ=$2.00
2 x $1/1 Cottonelle TP ManuQ=$2.00
Coupon Total.......$15.00

$20 in Bonus Cash came off so we are at $16.37
I used a $5 Visa prepaid card to pay for the H2O so we are at $11.37 and my $10 Catalina came off so we are at $1.37 OOP put on a R-A gift card.
And I should have gotten another $20 Bonus Cash back because my total before Qs was over $50 of qualifying BC items and received a $5 Catalina for buying over $25 worth of Kimberly-Clark items.

I bought the wrong Cottonelle(the shelf was marked incorrectly and they were out of the Cottonelle packs on sale for $6.99 that were participating items for the BC deal. 8-(
So my order looked like this instead.........

2 x Hershey Gold candy bars on sale=$1.00
2 x Irish Spring Body Wash on sale=$7.98
2 x Big Win 24 pack of H2O on sale=$5.00 *not pictured*
2 x U Kotex tampons BOGO50%=$9.43
2 x Scott TP packs on sale=$13.98 *not pictured*
2 x Cottonelle TP packs 20% Wellness disc.=$19.66 *not pictured*

Coupons Used
1 x $1/2 Hershey Gold candy bars L2CQ=$1.00
2 x $2/1 Irish Spring body wash In-AdQ=$4.00
2 x $1/1 Irish Spring body wash IPQ=$2.00
2 x $2/1 U-Kotex tampons ManuQ=$4.00
2 x $1/1 Scott TP ManuQ=$2.00
2 x $1/1 Cottonelle TP ManuQ=$2.00
Coupon Total.......$15.00

$20 in Bonus Cash came off so we are at $22.05
I used a $5 Visa prepaid card to pay for the H2O so we are at $17.05 and my $10 Catalina came off so we are at $7.05 OOP with PPs.

I didn't get a $20 Bonus Cash back because my total before Qs was $37.39 of qualifying BC items but I did receive a $5 Catalina for buying over $25 worth of Kimberly-Clark items.

So I returned the 2 x Cottonelle packs, $7.05 of what I paid in PPs went back on my PPs and the balance, $12.61, I received back in cash.  Instead of turning around and spending this cash I got for the return, I'll spend more PPs and put this cash into my post coupon/cash rebate envelope for 2018.  (Between the lettuce I was overcharge for(so I got the full price back AND the lettuce)earlier this month and 2 instances where my $3 instantly discounted for buying 6 Mix and Match items didn't come off(so I got cash back both times), with this refund I'm already up to $20.20 to dump back into the grocery spending budget come December.)  ;-)

So now I have to spend another $12.61 in participating items to get my $20 Bonus Cash.

So I bopped downtown on Tuesday to the big Rite-Aid store to see if they had any of the qualifying Kleenex 6 packs...........

2 x Kleenex 6 packs on sale=$13.98
2 x Scott TP 12 packs on sale=$13.98

Coupons Used
2 x $1/1 Kleenex bundle pack ManuQ=$2.00
2 x $1/1 Scott 12 IPQ=$2.00
Coupon Total......$4.00

$27.96-$4=$23.96-$20 Bonus Cash(my second $20 BC from the diaper score early Jan.)=$3.96 OOP which I paid with Plenti Points.

I earned 1 x $20 Bonus Cash and another $5 Catalina for spending $25+ in one transaction on Kimberly-Clark products.

I now have $15.35 toward earning my second $20 Bonus Cash for this week.  I need to "spend" another $34.65 on participating items this week.

I am working on scenarios for what to get to reach that $34.65 goal.
If I buy 4 more tp packs and 2 Irish Spring body wash that gets me to $35.94-$8.60 in Qs=$27.34.  I'd use yesterday's earned $20 BC and pay $7.34 OOP in PPs plus I'd earn another $5 Catalina and $20 in new Bonus Cash, ending with $20 in Cats(which I can use on another account)and $20 BC carrying forward on this card.

Off to finish planning......


Tuesday, January 23, 2018

This Week on the Dining Table

The "Birthday" Edition--

If you hadn't heard, Sunday was my birthday.  Hubs got me flowers that morning and I had received 2 cards in the mail(and 1 from Hubs in person).  Amended-I received another card in yesterday's mail.  8-)
4 family members called on the phone, Daughter made me the dinner I requested(tempura shrimp and sweet potato wedges)and Hubs made me a carrot cake(also my request)from scratch.  THUD!  The man will be 60 in less than 3 months and this was the very first cake he ever made from scratch.  And it was down right tasty too! ;-)

Moving On....

Onward to the meal planning!

Here's what was planned last week--
1. Sunday--Turkey Breast, leftover Stuffing, Gravy, Butternut Squash, Sweet Potatoes
2. Monday--Lasagna
3. Tuesday--Turkey Casserole or Pot Pie(using leftover Sunday turkey)
4. Wednesday--Tuna Noodle Casserole
5. Thursday--Leftovers
6. Friday--Baked Ham, Rolls, Corn Casserole, Cabbage
7. Saturday--Leftovers

And this is what actually happened--
1. Sunday--Turkey Breast, leftover Stuffing, Gravy, Butternut Squash, Sweet Potatoes
2. Monday--Lasagna
3. Tuesday--Chicken Pot Pie(using chicken from the freezer)
4. Wednesday--Leftovers
5. Thursday--Chicken Quesadillas, Spanish Rice, Refried Beans
6. Friday--Baked Ham, Corn Casserole, Cabbage
7. Saturday--Leftovers

Last week saw 5 nights of home cooked dinners, 2 nights of leftovers/fend for yourself, 0 night of take-out and 0 night of Eating out.  Mostly everything happened but not when planned always.  We ate lots of leftovers so the Tuna Casserole didn't happen....that goes onto this week's menu.

2 Trips to Weis and 1 trip to the Shursave Market was the extent of the shopping last week and the bills came to $132.74 for all.  That brought January's food spending total to $314.74
There are 9 days left in my shopping month.  

I didn't set a food budget for January when I did my wrap up of December's food budget/spending.   
The reason being is there are often good deals/loss leaders in January here and I didn't want to do a low spend and miss out on them.

If I had I would have not gotten--
6 large bags of Lindt truffles for $2, 6 boxes of .67¢ pasta, 8 cans of .60¢  Campbell's soup, 3/4 lb. of fresh flounder for $3.55, 2 boxes of .97¢ Raisin Bran, 6 cans of crushed tomatoes for FREE, a cup of Greek Yogurt for FREE(plus I got a $1.25 cash rebate for buying this), 4 MM OJ for .89¢ each, 8 cans of .62¢ Progresso soup, 1 lb. pack of Mozzarella(after instant $2 off/sale/doubled .50¢Q)for $1.99, 4 cans of  good chili for $4.47 total(rain check/doubled Qs) and $25.52 worth of Clorox products after sale/instant $5 off/$3Qs for $12.98.  These were all things I didn't necessarily "need" this month, but are items we will use eventually.
Since I don't have to keep a set budget for food I can buy when it's low and not buy when items are high in the price cycle.  Down the road this will mean less food spending/shopping in Feb. or Mar. or beyond.

Seeing as I am over $300 spent for January I'll be more mindful of picking up "wants"(ie-things I don't "need" right now but will need later)over the last 9 days in January.  If I come in under $500 in January it will all be good. 8-))

My savings percentages last week was 55.93% and the monthly savings so far ends up at 54.06%(without Rite-Aid trips added in).

Leftovers going into this week....... lasagna, ham, cabbage, corn casserole. There isn't enough lasagna for a whole meal so that will be lunches for Hubs for a couple of days.

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

1. Sunday--Tempura Shrimp, Sweet Potato Fries
2. Monday--Beef Shepherd's Pie(my version w/Cornbread not Mashed Taters on top)
3. Tuesday--Birthday Dinner Out?
4. Wednesday--leftover Ham Slices, leftover sides
5. Thursday--Beef Goulash, Rice
6. Friday--Tuna Noodle Casserole
7. Saturday--Leftovers

This week will see 4 new meals cooked, 2 nights of leftovers, 1 night of Take-out/Eat-Out unless we need to eat more leftovers to use them up then 1 of the new meals will get pushed back into next week.

The only thing I need to buy to make these meals is nothing.  I stocked up on ground beef plus bought 2 bags of frozen veggies last week so the Shepherd's Pie was done last night.  Peppers and London Broil for the Goulash is in the freezer and I have everything for the Tuna Casserole.

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

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

Any great deals on food at your stores this week?


Monday, January 22, 2018

1st Giveaway of 2018 Winner

There were 82 valid comments so I plugged them into Random(dot)Org and they picked comment #3 as the winner and that was...........


It's 8 degrees here with a windchill of -5 in SE MN up from -11/-21 early this morning. Not sure which is calling my name more, the Nivea or the CHOCOLATE!
vesta8xstitch at gmail dot com

Congratulations Jean!  You now have 48 hours from the time stamp of this post to email me your complete snail mail mailing address so I can get this box of goodies on it's way to you.
If I don't hear from you by then I'll have to pick a second winner.

Thanks to everyone for entering and look for another giveaway coming up in February.  8-)


Sunday, January 21, 2018

Last Chance to Enter the Giveaway!

This first Giveaway of 2018 is almost over!

The entry period ends tonight at 11:59 PM Eastern Time.

Go HERE to get your last entry in before the "witching hour".  And make sure your entry/user name is linked to a valid email addy or you can email me your email addy directly to arcure(at)ptdprolog(dot)net. (If you've emailed me your email addy for a past giveaway there is no need to send it again as I have it already.)  If I don't have an email addy your entry is not valid.

The winner will be drawn tomorrow so Good Luck to everyone!
And now I am off for the day to celebrate my birthday....... 8-)))


Saturday, January 20, 2018

Corn Casserole Recipe

Someone in the comments asked me about my corn casserole recipe.
I use this one HERE.  It's a Paula Deen recipe except there is controversy about whether the "real" recipe calls for a 1/2 stick of butter or a 1/2 cup of butter(which is 1 whole stick).  You are either in the 1/2 stick or 1/2 cup camp.

There are two differences to my version of this recipe.......
1-I don't top with cheddar cheese.  It really does not "need" it and when I've put the cheese it you really get more cheese than corn flavor.
2-When mixing up the batter I reserve the water in the can of whole corn, and add 1/2 of what is in there to the batter, making it soupier.  I find that this extra liquid gives a texture that is more corn pudding(ie, a corn spoon bread)than corn bread to the finished product.  You should be able to spoon the finished product out of the casserole.

It's an easy recipe with only 5 ingredients(plus the water from the whole corn)and doesn't use eggs like most corn spoon bread recipes.

Corn Casserole from Sluggy

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. 
In a large bowl, stir together the 2 cans of corn, 1/2 the corn "water", corn muffin mix, sour cream, and melted butter. Pour into a greased 9 by 13-inch casserole dish. Bake for 45 minutes, or until golden brown. Let stand for at least 5 minutes and then serve warm.

Let me know if you try this recipe and what you think.


Friday, January 19, 2018

Frugal Friday.......the January 19th Edition

Since I didn't leave the house much last week there isn't much to report in on, out of the ordinary(cooking meals, free entertainment at home, etc.)but here goes anyway.........

*  I finally went to Weis on Wednesday and got a couple of grocery store deals.......

Weis now doubles all coupons up to .99¢(so anything .99¢ or less doubles fully).  I got 8 cans of Campbell's soup, on sale for $1 a can.  I used 2 x .80¢/4 Qs(which doubled fully to $1.60 off each).
8 x $1=$8.00-$3.20 in Qs=$4.80 for all or .60¢ a can.
Of course I had a problem with the cashier(she usually works in the pharmacy and doesn't now how to deal with coupons when they don't scan, so we had to get a manager involved so I got my full value on those Qs). lolz

The other good deal was San Giorgio pasta was on sale $1 a box.  I paired 2 x $1/3 Qs and got 6 boxes of assorted pasta for .67¢ each.

* I did the Mix and Match/Buy 6 Items, Get $3 off Instantly Deal once, buying 2 bottles of dish soap, 2 bags of frozen veggies and 2 packs of Klondike bars(we were out of ice cream).  On sale that all came to $12.94.  The $3 didn't come off so I had to go to CS and get $3 cash.  Then I got $1.25 back from Ibotta for these 6 items so $12.94-$4.25=$8.69 OOP or $1.45 each.

*  But the best deal I got this week was this...........

Leftover bags of Xmas Lindt Truffles at Weis(PMITA)Markets.  Reg. price of $6.59 each.  The sign in the bin said $3.09 each.  I had printed off $1/1 Lindt truffles bags coupons from Coupons dotcom(NLA)and had them with me.
I got two and figured $2.09 per bag of 20 truffles was a decent price for something I could tuck into a giveaway box or two.
The cashier rang them up and $6.09 came off, making them .50¢ a bag OOP!!!
I rang back and got the other 6 bags in the bin.
$6.59 x 8=$52.72-$48.72=$4.00-$2 in Qs=$2.00 for all 8 bags or .25¢ per bag.

* I dug 2 old whole chicken breasts out of the chest freezer this week.  After sauteing them up I diced up the meat and split the resulting amount for two meals.  I also found an old bag of mixed frozen veggies in the freezer as well as a 2 pack of store bought leftover pie shells, both of which needed to be used asap.

I used 1 of the pie shells, the frozen veggies and the diced chicken(along with 2 cans of chicken soup, an onion, some spices and a hand rolled second pie crust to make a big chicken pot pie.  There was a serving of veggie/soup/spices/chicken filling leftover but into the fridge that Hubs will most likely have over rice for a lunch this weekend.

The other pie crust was used to bake a sweet potato/pumpkin pie, using extra filling mix from Thanksgiving that I had put into the freezer, as the recipe I had used made more filling than usual because I added in canned sweet potatoes that I wanted to use up.
I was going to make College Boy this pie at Christmas but we had so many other treat foods I decided to wait.  An extra pie during the Winter doldrums is a pleasant surprise, right?  ;-)

* On Thursday Hubs and I went to have my Free birthday burger at Red Robin.

I had an old Red Robin gift card to use for Hubs meal.  Between the burger and the steak fries it was enough food for me and I had water to drink so no charge for that either.  I couldn't believe how much the price of the burger I usually get there has gone up!  It was over $11.  I remember when this area got a RR and that burger was under $8.
Hubs decided to get a large expensive beer with his burger. Hmmmm  I am such a frugal hard-ass that I made him pay me $5 out of his WAM to reimburse me partially for that beer as I didn't want to spend more than 1/4 of my gift card on a beer and it wasn't HIS birthday after all! lolz  Unless we are specifically going out to drink alcohol I don't "spring" for drinks.  Buying liquor at a restaurant is so pricey and goes against my grain, ya know? ;-)

*  Tonight's dinner is that free ham I got at Christmas time from Weis(PMITA)Markets.

I'm going to put it into the slow cooker before I go out to Weis for a few groceries.  This 10 lbs. of ham will give us more than one dinner.  Sliced again into ham steaks for meal #2, diced into quiche meal #3, into omelettes meal #4, etc.  The bone will go into soup eventually too.
I don't buy/serve ham often(maybe twice a year since the sodium content is so high)but every now and again it's on the menu.  That being said, if I spy a leftover ham shank on clearance this time of year I'll pick it up for cheap and throw it into the freezer.  8-)))

That's about all this week at Chez Sluggy.
What frugal things have happened at your house lately?


Thursday, January 18, 2018

Winter Wonderland

Except for the two days of 55F+ weather last weekend, it's been cold, colder, coldest here 24/7.
This morning it was -2F(not wind chill temp mind you, REGULAR TEMP!).

But this guy here, he don't care!
Chester is enjoying marking the snow and romping through the drifts like a porpoise.....until his paws get cold then he wants in!

We got a bit more than expected.....say, about 4-5 inches more than expected. lolz

The sun came out yesterday as we were shoveling out.  I caught the sun peeking through the clouds and the branches of the snow covered trees by my garden bench.

  A couple of shots of the giant pine tree where Chester does his "business".......

I didn't leave the house from last Thursday until yesterday.....well I went outside but didn't go anywhere in the car.

I've been watching Wrestlemania bouts in the den.  Daughter's dog lays down and Chester crawls all over her and they play for 30 minutes at a clip.

I received this in the mail earlier this month..........

It's a thank you card from my December Giveaway Box winner.
Often times I'll get a thank you email from a winner letting me know the box got there ok(and sometimes I have to nag the winner to let me know)lol.
This is the first winner who sent me a real honest to goodness snail mail card!  I was shocked and touched to get it.  8-)))

6 days and no shopping or errands for this gal.
This means we'll be going out today for meds, hit the bread store, Walmart(maybe)and..........

a free Birthday Burger at Red Robin!
Yep, Sunday is my birthday.  Time to cash in those Birthday Freebies!
Too bad nobody hands out free birthday trips to Cancun or magnums of Champagne tho........8-)

What's going on in your life lately?


Wednesday, January 17, 2018

My Goals in 2018...Not 18 Though

Everyone and their brother seems to be doing an "18 Goals in 2018" deal.  For the life of me I can't come up with 18 Goals but here are the areas I want to concentrate on this year so far.......

*  Sewing-I want to get 5 sewing projects completed.  I have identified 2 of them.....1 is finishing some canvas tote bags.  I bought canvas and webbing many many years ago to make tote bags.  It's sitting by the bedroom door staring at me every time I go in that room so they need to get made.
2 is to make a table runner for the top of my new dining room buffet.  I had Fall and Christmas ones but now it's nekkid.  For now I've got a quilted hexagonal topper on it that was gifted to me on the road trip this past Summer.
I've got quite a few pieces of batik cotton fabrics so I am going to make a table runner(or buffet runner rather).

*  Continue to drop some weight.  I've gotten back into some bad eating habits(it's Winter and the only thing I want to eat is comfort food)so I need to make it a point to keep the comfort foods to a minimum now and get back to more veggie eating.  I really don't want to eat salad when it's -2F outside but I can roast root veggies, right?

*  Cull more of my toiletries stockpile.  This shouldn't be too difficult a goal but will take most of the year to make a big change in what I have.  I have already started--I spent last Monday in the toiletries stockpile stored in Hubs man cave/the spare room.  I went through every Rubbermaid tub(and all the stuff from the last 3 months of 2017 that hadn't made it into the tubs yet)and made decisions about every single item.  Some things already got pitched, other things got separated into either a food bank pile or a "fill a year's worth of Giveaway boxes" pile or give to relatives during 2018 when we see them.  With the next system at Rite-Aid I don't foresee me pillaging there as much so once my Plenti Points are used up I won't be bringing home as much goodies as before.

*  Make a new Passwords/Log In Book and a new Address Book.  I keep a small spiral bound notebook with all my computer account information.  It, along with my physical address book are so old and out of date and have so many items scratched out it's getting hard to find the current information in them.  I picked up a new spiral bound notebook so I need to cull all the current info and copy it into the new notebook.  I also need to find a new address book that doesn't cost much money and put all the current addys/phone numbers into it.

*  Deal with the house in Louisiana.  Now Daughter says she may move back to NW Lousiana/NE Texas.  Her BF got a raise and a promotion and it looks like he's going to stay at his current employer long term so once she gets her degree so now we are thinking about keeping the house for them to rent from us.  We are going to have to dump money into this house to get it sold otherwise.(BF and his father redid HALF the kitchen when Daughter owned the house and now this is the main reason we aren't getting offers on it because nobody wants a half done kitchen. lol)  So we keep and rent it out in a year to Daughter and BF(on the condition they don't move his parents back in with them and 9 cats)or we finish fixing it up and move into the house ourselves once we sell the house in PA.
We at least need to make a decision on the LA house this year and start implementing a plan.

*  Sell more stuff.  I got a few things sold on eBay and through the local Yard Sale site  in 2017.  I just need to ramp that up more and get a minimum of 4 Rubbermaid tubs of items sold.  I also need to earmark what I make from those sales toward something.  At this point I am thinking of putting it toward work on the PA house.  Which leads into the next goal...........

*  Start putting together a punch list of things to address in the PA house in preparation for putting it on the market after next Spring once Daughter graduates.  We still need to figure out where we are going to live once we leave here but we need to start the plan for getting this house ready to sell. sigh.

*  I need to put all my genealogy stuff into a family tree software program.  Other than the few things I have printed off and stored in my computer my extensive family tree is on Ancestry dotcom.  I don't like that if they ever go away(not likely to happen as they make money hand over fist with that site)or for some reason I can't access the site I don't have most of my info.  If anyone out there does genealogy and uses a family tree software program that you like, let me know about it.  Thanks!

*  Other areas we need to ponder are gardening and traveling.  Not sure yet what is going to happen in those arenas for 2018 as it's still early.

That's all I have so far.  I'll keep pondering goals to add.

Have you got any lofty goals to accomplish in 2018.
Tell us about it, won't you?


Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Rejiggering the Budget & Spending in Retirement-2018

We had our budget meeting for 2018.  That's our discussion on how much money we'd have for 2018 and where we are going to spend that money.

Just to recap, our income is derived from an annuity payment each month, and once we access it, our 401K account.  We also have additional regular savings that I've socked away since 2009 which we can access if needed(but I hope we don't need it this year).
We have a RMSA to reimburse for healthcare premiums in 2018 and I'll be starting to use our HSA account starting in 2018 for medical co-pays/payments.
So this discussion is just about how/where to spend the annuity income and how much 401K cash we need to withdraw in 2018.

First thing was to figure out how much money we spent in 2017.  This will help us figure out what we'll need to spend in 2018.  Using that as a base we can add/subtract due to changes we want to make in 2018.
After tallying it all up I found that we actually spent just shy of $60K last year.  That's a lot of money!  Some of that spending won't be happening going forward, like College Boy's tuition and living expenses at the apartment up at college.  And hopefully all the expenses associated with the Louisiana house will be going away this year too.  Other expenses we stopped paying in 2017 once Hubs retired were commuting costs, dry cleaning costs, and other costs associated with him working.  If the stars all align I believe we'll have expenses about $10K less than what we spent in 2017.

Last year we had a foot in both the regular income world and the retired income world so it was a hard year to balance spending.  This year it's Retirement 24/7 at Chez Sluggy. ;-)

Going forward our annuity comes to just over $38K per year net.  I don't know with the new tax legislation if the tax withholding will change so I'll go with what we've been getting so far.

First order of business was to figure out how much we actually "need" to withdraw from the 401K to supplement the annuity income in 2018.  We were able to hold off withdrawing from the 401K the last Quarter of 2017 but that won't cut it going forward as Hubs wants to spend more on "fun" in 2018.

* Hubs' plan going into retirement was that he wanted to withdraw $36K a year from the 401K($9K per quarter).  Even at this rate, once we stop needing to withdraw the 401K $ to live on in 7+ years, when Hubs hits full Social Security age, we'll have over 75% of what we had when he retired in that account. So it's in no danger of being depleted withdrawing at that rate.
$36K after tax withholding would be $30,600 net.
$38K+$30,600 is $68,600 net income a year.

Now I know if we take out that much Hubs will set about spending that much! lol  I really don't think, at least for now, we need to withdraw $9K every quarter to supplement the annuity and live a comfortable life.
Call me the "stick in the mud" in this relationship but starting in 2019, for the following 4 years and 3 months(4 years and 11 months for me)we are on our own with regard to healthcare insurance and who even knows what health insurance will look like/cost after 2018.  Yes we have a medical savings account but there isn't enough in there to pay for almost 5 more years on insurance premiums out of pocket.  I am staying cautious when it comes to spending money on "fun".  I pointed out to Hubs that we already spent over $8K in discretionary or fun in 2017 so we really don't need to withdraw lots more $ for that purpose.   ;-)

Withdrawing $6K a quarter gives us $20,613.24 per year after tax withholding which bumps our income up to $58,690.80 net per year.
It's about $1500 less per year than what we spent in all of 2017.  I'd like to try to keep the withdrawals to this amount per quarter, at least for now.

* Next order of business was the "Walking Around Money" or WAM.
Since retiring we've been allotting $100 each per month for each of us.
In the last 6 months I've found I can stay under $100 per month easy.  Hubs?....not so much.
He doesn't feel comfortable getting down to his last dollar.  He had a "situation" where he went out for Chinese take-out at the other place in our town because our usual place decided to close on Mondays(and it was a Monday).  This other place only takes cash or local checks, no credit cards.  We didn't think about that when he went and of course, being the end of the month, he didn't have enough cash to pay.  Ever since that incident he's been antsy about running out of cash.

Now I don't think it's "fair" that he gets more WAM than me to throw about anyway he wants and he doesn't think it's "fair" that he can't spend what he wants on what he wants.  It's the old "I work hard so I deserve it" gambit, right?

I asked him to make a list of things he might want to buy in 2018 and we can set this much aside for him to blow.  But he refuses to be pinned down or give me any inkling on what he WANTS to spend on in 2018.  This makes me nervous since I am sure between buying coffee drinks, trips to McDonald's, books at retail price, alcohol, spending money on chess(software and entering tournaments)and on his new beer brewing hobby(the equipment can be pricey!)during all this free time he now has, he could blow through his WAM plus another $10K in short order and have no clue he's blown through that much.

We came to a compromise on the WAM--we still only get $100 per month each BUT he gets an extra $50 in January ONLY.  He's going to keep that $50 as an emergency WAM back-up amount so "if" he runs out of WAM before the month is over he won't "feel" broke. lolz  I just keeping wondering how long until he spends that extra $50 and wants it replaced?...Hmmm.....

* Then it was on to the Sinking Fund to pay irregular bills out of.  Hubs didn't like the idea of pulling $650(or more if costs go up on those bills)off the top of the annuity payment each month.  I went through the IBs(irregular bills)per quarter and showed him how much we need each quarter to pay those in full. 
1st Quarter-$2558.51(Garbage, Sewage, R/E Taxes, LTC(Long Term Care Policy))
2nd Quarter-$1383.24(Car Insurance, LTC)
3rd Quarter-$3220.29(House Insurance, School Taxes, LTC)
4th Quarter-$1383.24(Car Insurance, LTC)

So I am taking the corresponding amounts in Jan., Apr., Jul. and Oct. off the top of the 401K withdrawals in each of these months to cover the IBs and putting it into a designated account out of which the IBs will be paid.
I really don't see what difference it makes if I take it out of the 401K withdrawals or $650 out of the monthly annuity payment but if doing it this way makes Hubs happy, I'm good with it.  8-)

For the 1st quarter after deducting the $ for the IBs into the Sinking Fund, we have $2,594.80 left in the 401K withdrawal to add to our income this quarter, or $86493 each month to add to the annuity income for Jan., Feb. and Mar. 
For the 2nd and 4th Quarters we'll have $3770.07 left in the 401K withdrawals to add to our income, or $1256.69 each month as the IBs aren't so much in those quarters.
For the 3rd Quarter we'll only have $1933.02 left in the 401K withdrawal to add to our income, or $644.34 each month.

So after taking the IBs dedicated amounts off the top of the 401K withdrawals here is what our net "income" will look like per month--
Jan. $4038.06
Feb. $4038.06
Mar. $4038.06
Apr. $4429.82
May $4429.82
Jun. $4429.82
Jul.  $3817.47
Aug. $3817.47
Sep. $3817.47
Oct. $4429.82
Nov. $4429.82
Dec. $4429.82
$50,145.51 Total for 2018 to pay all the variable bills per year.
(Plus $8,545.29 tucked away to pay the IBs for the year.)

So this is the financial game plan heading into 2018.