Monday, May 21, 2018

Little Ways to Save Money Part 1: Become a Product Tester

So, before I begin, please excuse any wonky text in this post.  My computer is going nuclear on me again and I'm not sure how to fix it.  I keep maxing out my CPU usage at 100% somehow and my physical memory (even though I have nothing on my laptop but a few programs) keeps maxing out as well, so I'm not sure WHAT Windows did to my computer when it reformatted it, but it sure didn't fix it.  Blah!!!!!

I was watching a program on YouTube with my husband when it popped up in the "Recommended" list, mainly for kicks as we like to watch programs like the one that popped up to see if they could give us any new insight into saving money.  "10 Ways to Save Money You Haven't Thought Of" the program proclaimed proudly, so of course we had to click on it and see what it had to offer.

Immediately I was a bit concerned as the woman started talking from her designer couch with about 300.00 worth of Pottery Barn throw pillows stacked behind her and so the program began.  Confession:  We didn't even make it half way through.  I'm sorry but advice like, "Don't buy your dog organic dog treats for 40.00, instead make them at home with organic chicken from the store" didn't seem up my alley of frugality.  I mean my cats don't SEE treats unless you count the free ones they get every once in a while from the store freebies and things.

So, after watching other advice that was just...well not what I would consider advice for the everyday person, I decided to start a series on the blog here with different SMALL ways that I've found I've saved money and hopefully it'll help someone out there come up with inspiration in their own life on saving some pennies to help them through tough times :).

So, let's begin with part 1, which is a small way you can save money, but also will cost you nothing but a bit of time to accomplish (at least if you are careful about your missions).  And that is...

Consider Becoming a Product Tester

First a disclaimer:  I am NOT posting any affiliate links in this post.  I am merely sharing this information in an attempt to help others :).

Becoming a consumer who tests products for companies is becoming easier and easier.  There are more and more online product testing outfits popping up all of the time.  And hey, your opinion on new products is worth something!  So, why not get some free groceries in exchange for you doing a bit of "product push" on social media and sharing your opinions on those products?

I know that some people out there don't want to be a part of social media and avoid it like the plague, and trust me I get it.  But, you might want to consider doing a social media account with not a lot of "friends" just so that you can share product testing things, depending on where you are financially in your life.  For instance, I don't use Twitter.  I hate Twitter.  But, I have a Twitter account just so that I can share my product testing things on Twitter and get points for the share.  I also share product testing posts to my personal Facebook account (sorry friends of mine) and to an old blog page I created on Facebook as well to gain additional share points.  If you have a legitimate Facebook page, or Instagram, or Pinterest...all of those pages can be used to share these product testing opportunities and get you points toward the mission completion. 

You also get points through these outfits for talking to people in person and writing a report on the product testing site about the experience.  I've actually struck up conversations with a cashier and other customers about products I was testing out just because they were a captive audience and I thought that the freebies were cool and wanted to pass along how they could sign up for the product testing site as well.

The product testing opportunities aren't really steady, so much as a nice bonus you get offered every once in a while that you see pop up in your e-mail.  You won't qualify for every mission, and I've been known more than once to out and out turn down missions that required me to spend money up front for a product and get "reimbursed" for said product later, or in some cases where I would be required to drive an hour to go and sit in on a product speel before getting said product to test...those I simply decline as I just don't have time or the money to mess with those things.

I might miss out on some of the "big ticket" missions by doing things the way I do, but I always hit my minimum points for missions (usually no more than that as I just don't have a lot of time to mess with things) and through the years I've tried everything from crescent rolls (a Pillsbury product testing outfit that isn't around anymore, unfortunately), to tea, to razors, to vitamins, to pain killers, to cold medicines, to pet products (including cat litter) to feminine care name it. 

The biggest thing when it comes to the missions on product testing sites is, to me, making sure you stay on top of it.  Before I even get the product, I share my first post on Facebook and Twitter just saying, "Hey, I got free stuff in exchange for this post" which immediately gains me 10 points toward my goal (which is usually somewhere around 40 points...some of the bigger ticket items, like the free razors I got recently, require you to do things like share an online review of said product and take a screen capture...look up instructions on how to do that online and away you go) and once I get the product I try it out as quickly as possible (I admit though, a few times I had to admit on reviews that I didn't get a cold and therefore couldn't review, say a cold medicine, before the mission time was up), share another post on Facebook and Twitter (which I, once again, just state I got free stuff in exchange for the post) and then fill in the actual review on the product testing field on the mission page and whatever else I need to do to get my minimum points for the mission done. 

I know this sounds like a huge time investment, but it really isn't.  The big thing is taking missions you WANT to do (and are willing to do the amount of work involved to get through said mission),  sharing about the mission and getting to your minimum amount of points to complete the mission and get your "badge" (which basically means you fulfilled your part of the product testing mission) which helps you qualify for future missions (and over time qualifies you for better missions as they realize you are dependable to get the missions done you sign up for).  There is a bit of time that you have to invest out of the gate with these outfits to fill out surveys so they can peg your demographics down a bit and make sure the mission they shoot your way is hitting the right demographics for their clients, so try to be truthful on the surveys so that your missions are geared toward what you would want to receive (versus getting offered like free bird food when you don't have a bird or something).

Will you get tons of products to try by signing up for these outfits?  No, probably not (not unless you have a lot of time to invest in getting involved in their online communities and becoming a "featured" mission completer or something), but every little bit helps and I have to say I haven't had a product freebie through these outfits yet that I didn't appreciate getting.  The free cat food I got recently really helped to stretch the dry food I had in the house, the cats and ate and liked it (which I reported on my mission that they did) and I got a 10.00 bag of cat food for free along with some free wet food and some cat treats.  None of these were things I would have bought normally, but getting them for free was appreciated.  Getting the free razors recently helped to extend the life of my regular razor heads that much more, which every little bit helps when it comes to saving money.  Over time, the little things add up!

If you are looking to sign up for a couple of product testing outfits, the ones I can recommend at the current time (since I'm a member of them...heck I've been a member of Smiley 360, from back when it was just "Smiley" and I've been a member for YEARS):

Smiley 360 (all kinds of different products) 
Generation Good (Seventh Generation products and green living topics) 
MyMagazine Sharing Network (Kroger/Fred Meyer product testing outfit)

There are some, like Amazon Vine (I believe the name of it is) that I've SEEN people's reviews mentioning being a member, but I'm not sure how you would go about signing up for them, or if they are even still available.

So, there you are folks.  One little way to save money in your life :).  I hope you found this post the least bit useful.  And hey, if you are a member of a product testing outfit, please let us know and what it's all about so we maybe can check it out.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Frugal Friday: Money Saving Weekly Recap

First, I had a couple of readers get in contact with me via Facebook and say that they couldn't see a way to contact me on the blog.  I'm not sure how Blogger appears to a lot of mobile devices, so sorry about that.  There is SUPPOSED to be a "contact" tab at the top of the page, but it appears that Blogger makes that invisible to some readers (thanks, Blogger), so if you need to contact me (or want to contact me) my e-mail is makedohomemaker (at) gmail (dot) com (put an @ at the "at" and a . at the (dot) and take out the gaps and there's my e-mail (sorry, spam bots will deluge the e-mail if I don't do it that way :).

I had one reader e-mail me and ask me if I had forgotten my monthly goals as she really liked to read them (thank you for liking to read the blog, by the way :) and I have to say that I'm planning on posting some "weekly" goals here this coming week and probably next week but monthly goals...darn it the month just kept throwing me curve balls and I just haven't even PLANNED on goals yet.

The first thing that happened requires a PSA (public service announcement), so please, take a seat and enjoy!

*Rolls reel to reel film from back of classroom*

*On screen, guy sitting at desk looking very business-like in true 1950's fashion*

"Hello!  I would like to take this opportunity to bring to light a great problem in our country that must be addressed immediately!"  *Film makes a "bong" sound and I flip the film forward after the second try*

*On film, man is standing up this time and looking very pensive*  

"The scourge that I am referring to is *dramatic pause*...people not cleaning out their pockets before doing the laundry!  This can, and does, cost families thousands of dollars every year!"

*Bong.  Film flips*

"So, remember folks, always check your pockets!"

Right, PSA over.  Well, almost.  A penny, literally, cost me 20.00 this week.  It was truly a one in a million shot that a penny would bounce out of the drum of the dryer, fly in such a way that it would land on the relay switches for the dryer, hit said relays and a piece of the dryer itself (thus making contact with ground) and my husband put it as he brought out the penny from the depths of the dryer, "Sparkin', Arcin'!"

I didn't even hear the "bang" that must have occurred when the penny  hit as the penny was definitely missing some pieces from the experience (seen up top because it came out looking kind of gnarly).  I did my husband's laundry in a hurry the day the dryer broke and I was in such a hurry I didn't check the pockets.  Next thing I knew the dryer wouldn't even call for flame.  Turns out (after my husband gave up a lot of hours of sleep the next day to tear said dryer apart and fix it) that the main thermal fuse had done its job beautifully, which saved me from a lot more costly repairs.  After the husband tightened things up and put everything back together, the dryer is actually working the best it has since we moved here, so it will hopefully help our gas bill (I was regularly having to dry clothes at least twice to get them dry and now once is good enough), but yeah...check those pockets folks!

The next curve ball I've been getting thrown is a really depressing one that is effecting all the gardeners up here this year.  The weather.  It is still awfully cold for this time of year, Spring isn't sprung so much as creeping in whether the weather likes it or not.  The trees aren't happy though, as demonstrated by the picture above.  The leaves come out green and immediately start turning yellowish.  The poor trees are not sure which season it is and I can't blame them, I'm confused too.

I've been taking soil temperatures and the soil in the garden is so cold if I plant seeds I sincerely doubt they'll germinate yet and it is still so cold at night that I'm not counting out getting snow still, so going and buying plant starts would be out even IF I had the money for them (which I don't).  Raspberry and rose bushes aren't even wanting to grow yet, so I'm not even sure if I am going to be able to supplement much foraging this year.  So, my monthly goals kept getting garden goals added and erased so much I punched holes through pieces of paper.  Not a great start on a monthly goal list.

Shopping goals have gone insane this last month as I suddenly realized how low I am getting on a bunch of things, but things are getting triaged as the kids decided to grow at the same time (hasn't happened like that in years) and so I'm going to have to start working on a higher grocery budget with summer being here and work new clothes and shoes into the equation somehow as well.  You know, mental gymnastics should be an Olympic sport *laugh*.  It'll get done, I have faith and a stubborn streak a mile wide :).  

Oh, and a side note, since a few people have asked about it, yes the new blog series is coming here.  I'm hoping to start it next week.  Just tweaking the first couple of post ideas :).

So right, now that I've bored you to death (heck, you even had to sit through a film reel ;), let's get onto the money SAVING things that happened this week!

1.  Let's start out with grocery shopping since that was the part I kind of went nuts thinking over and over again about.

I am trying to conserve what little money there is the rest of the month since the husband will need two tanks of gas before pay day (this whole "nearly three weeks between pay, two pay periods in a row" thing is getting old), so I wanted to spend as little as possible at the store this week.  I was lucky enough to receive some coupons from some friends of mine, so that definitely helped and then Carrs had an awesome sale yesterday with 5.00 Friday items, so I took advantage of that as well!  So, let's get to it!

I went to three stores this week, Fred Meyer, Carrs and Three Bears.

First up there was Fred Meyer.  My friend got in contact with me and told me that I could have her freebie Friday items from Fred Meyer for the free Yankee candle votive and the Lindt stick and she also had a friend who was moving and had given her her freebies as well, and my friend passed those onto me.  So, I got another blaze Doritos, three votive candles (these will be used in combination with some nice votive holders I found in storage that I used to keep on the mantle in our old house for decorations for teacher and therapist gifts for my son come Christmastime), and three Lindt sticks (which will be given to my husband for Father's Day...if you read this!).

I also received an envelope with some coupons and some of the coupons were for 2.00 off your next shopping trip, which equaled out to 8.00 when it was all said and done.  I stopped by customer service before I started shopping and asked if I could use them all in the same transaction and they said sure, so I went and got some potatoes (3.99), a watermelon (2.99) and a head of lettuce (1.89).

After coupons I paid out 1.14 after tax and such.

 I headed off to Carrs next.  I had some freebie coupons given to me and was able to get some freebies that day.  I got two loaves of French bread (one went onto the table and the other one into the freezer) and some more free gravy mixes.

I was happy about one thing in particular.  I was checking out and mentioned that I had some freebie coupons for aspirin and the stuff was back ordered.  The pharmacy manager was willing to give me a rain check for the aspirin, but the store won't take the coupons past the end of the month when the coupons expire, so I complained a bit.  The cashier told me that they had been given the power to substitute different items for the coupons and just told me to go back and find a similar count and price item and they'd substitute it out for me.  We are nearly out of Ibuprofen, so I went for that as it was the same price point for the same count bottle.  I was thrilled they could do that as honestly I'd prefer the Ibuprofen to the aspirin anyway :).

Later in the week I really didn't have a choice but to buy sugar and rice as I was down to empty on both, so I ran to Three Bears to pick those up.  I took one look at what they were charging for sugar and went, "Nope" but did get a 25 lb bag of long grain rice.  We go through tons of rice around here with the son, so bulk is really the only way to go.  We prefer the medium grain rice, but it was nearly twice the price point of long grain rice, so I got 25 pounds of long grain rice for 12.99.  With sugar, I went to Fred Meyer and just bought two four pound bags for like 1.86 each to see us through for a bit until I can afford to buy more sugar in bulk (I bake a lot).

Later in the week I ran to Carrs to get the son some more soda (blah) and redeemed some more Monopoly coupons that were given to me.  I was thrilled with the free frozen veggies as those can definitely be used, the bagel got frozen with the other free bagels to use for different purposes as the year goes on (they came in really handy last year :), I got one more bottle of Ibuprofen substituted out for the free aspirin coupon (yay!) and a free bottle of vitamin water (which will make a nice treat for something different to drink for the daughter as she's battling the son's cold now).

My friend also told me that I could use her Carrs coupons for pasta and the canned tomatoes and when she pointed out the 5.00 Friday part of the Carrs ad to me (honestly, I was trying to not see if there was any really great deals in there as I didn't want to spend anymore money this week), I had to go and get some stuff.

All of the above cost me 10.00 and some change.  And I also got 10 more boxes of pasta (not seen as I didn't have room on the desk) to fill out my stores for a while, which cost me 5.00.

The pasta was on sale for .50 per box as part of 5.00 Friday.  .50 folks!  And my friend gave me her 1.50/3 coupon!  So, I got three boxes of pasta 100% free!!!  Thrilling doesn't even begin to cover that!

Next up was the tomato sauce, which was also on sale for .50 per can (canned tomato products were on sale as well as canned beans.  Wish I'd had a bit of extra cash to get some beans, but the pasta was definitely more important with the son) and I have dried beans, so I'm not super out of those.  I was able to utilize my friend's 1.00/4 tomato coupon to get 4 cans for .25 each.  This was a great find as I needed canned tomato sauce and crushed tomatoes (I would have gotten all crushed tomatoes, but by the time I got to the store the pickings were slim).

They had value packs of chicken on sale for 5.00 each.  I got the biggest thing of chicken thighs I could find to add to the freezer.  I would have loved to pick up more of them, but money was tight so I stuck with one.  And the milk was on sale for 2.99 with an in-ad coupon.

So, yeah, I spent more than I wanted to on groceries this week, but minimized the damage as much as I could to the checking account by being careful and shopping sales (and by having some awesome help from friends.  Thanks!).

2.  My daughter's grade went on a train ride field trip the last day of school, which was really expensive to go on (100.00), so my daughter got the last day of school off.  We dropped my son off at school and my husband and I took my daughter to one of our local book stores.  My daughter had received a 5.00 gift card from her teacher last year as a farewell gift so we dug that out and went to see what we could find her to read this summer.  She got a free book (the first book in a series about flying horses and things...she'll love it) and I got to chat with the book store employees about what books we were reading at my daughter's age.  It was a fun outing that we finished with an ice cream cone before picking my son up from his last day of school (till summer school kicks in anyway).

3.  We obviously fixed our dryer this week when it broke.  My husband fixing it saved us a ton of money, I'm sure, and I'm grateful it was a relatively cheap fix part-wise.

4.  Despite not feeling great (I'm still trying to fight off the son's cold, I think as I keep fighting fatigue and my tonsils swelling up on me...luckily Benadryl has been helping, but it hasn't been a lot of fun) I was able to get through the week meal-wise.  Times like this I realize how much smoother things go when I have a meal plan written down to refer back to, so that's on my agenda this weekend.

Biggest hit meal-wise this week was I made a taco casserole (the recipe from the Campbell's site in case you want to look it up), but used low fat cheese (and used less than the recipe called for), the "Healthy Choice" cream of chicken soup and I doubled up on the beans to make the meat go further.  I ended up using some of the Blaze Doritos in the casserole as they were so hot none of the family liked them to eat out of hand (I just omitted the canned chilies and things in the recipe to compensate for using the Blaze Doritos).  It worked out great, made a huge 9x13 pan full (which, oops on my part for not realizing how much it would make until it was all mixed up) and I've been eating it all week for lunches and things (the husband ate his fair share too, luckily it didn't mess with his blood pressure too badly).

5.  I sewed some buttons back onto some of my son's shirts (he goes through periods where he'll eat them off).

6.  I glued a handle of a ladle back together.  Not sure if it'll last, but here's hoping.

7.  I washed and fluffed my son's pillows this week.  I've found that this not only makes him more comfortable at night (as he spills a lot of stuff on his pillows), but also helps the pillows to last a lot longer before having to either recycle them or throw them away.

8.  Through some connections my mother-in-law has we might be able to get the son in for free swimming lessons in a nice heated pool and my mother-in-law is working on getting my daughter enrolled as well, which is wonderful as I have been trying to figure out how to get my daughter swimming lessons for YEARS.

9.  We introduced my daughter to "Bewitched" this week.  My husband looked it up on the internet for her to watch and I mentioned that I had bought the 7th season (I didn't know it was the 7th season by the way...I just remember I'd bought a disk set *laugh*) on DVD at a used store, still sealed, years ago for super cheap (it was like 3.00 or less since there was a sale going on for movies at that time).  So my daughter has been having a blast watching "Bewitched".  I have to say that I've been enjoying it too as that was one of my favorite shows I used to watch the reruns of as a kid.

10.  For Mother's Day, I had my daughter draw both her grandma's a special picture (she actually thought of the idea too, which I was proud of her for),took a picture with my phone of her holding up said pictures for the grandmother's and texted my mom hers and my mother-in-law I e-mailed  copy of hers to her (she has an older phone that doesn't accept pictures).  Both grandmas loved their gift, my daughter was tickled they liked the pictures and I felt good that I was able to give both grandmothers something special for Mother's Day that I could deliver on time :).

And there you go folks.  Some of my frugal ways this week.  How about you?  How did your week go?  Well I hope!

Friday, May 11, 2018

Frugal Friday: Money Saving Weekly Recap

Bwahahaha!!!  On TIME for a change!  Dealing with a major computer lag (which doesn't bode well), but still it's Friday and this is getting done!

It's been a week for sure.  We had multiple appointment this week, including getting my daughter's spacers on her bottom teeth, but those got done (and I didn't forget any this time).

I've also been attempting to get a little blog series done for the blog here that will hopefully help people, maybe to save a few dollars here and there.  It's not much, really, but hopefully it might help to jog someone's imagination to help them in times where they need it. IF my computer ever gets done updating and things so I am not typing about fifteen words ahead of my laptop, that would help it get done a lot more quickly, but we'll see how it goes.  Hopefully I can start getting that up on the blog next week before school lets out and I have the kids to contend with 24/7.

Saving money has been really important this week due money really *laugh*, so let's get down to some ways I saved money this week.

1.  Grocery shopping in the stores went very careful this week, but I think I did pretty darn well overall, so let's break it down.

The first shopping trip I went on was Monday because we needed milk.  My mother-in-law sent me a 10.00 Fred Meyer gift card for Mother's Day, so I went armed with that.  I got two gallons of milk and some 2 liter bottles of Diet Coke (on sale 3 for 5.00) for the son.  I also picked up my bag of cat food and my free cat treats from My Magazine Sharing Network (the Kroger based product testing outfit I signed up for) and the free Doritos from freebie Friday (my friend gave me hers as well, so I grabbed those while I was there too :).  All totaled after coupons and gift card were applied I paid 1.58 out of pocket at Fred Meyer (I didn't take pictures of the milk or the soda that day, sorry to say, so imagine those if you will).

I then went to Carrs and got one 12 pack of generic store soda for the son (he goes through a "I want a can" phase every once in a while) and for the husband's lunches.  I also got some of my Monopoly freebies while I was there.  I got a free bag of chips (which were wicked hard to find as the home was empty and I finally found them on an end cap), a free gravy mix, a free Greek yogurt and a free bottle of water.  I spent 2.50 at Carrs that day (after a personalized price was applied) and got another huge stack of Monopoly tickets.  I honestly thought that the game was over, so I was thrilled to get another stack of tickets.  The gentleman behind me asked if I'd like his Monopoly tickets as well and I said, "Sure!" and so I waited until his order was done and got his huge stack to add to mine.  Overall, I ended up with a bunch of freebies and I won a 5.00 gift card from the Monopoly game as a whole.  Not the million dollars I was hoping for, but good enough *laugh*.

When the Carrs ad came out on Wednesday, I have to say I got terribly excited and dragged my poor husband to the store with me in my excitement over sales stacked with, oddly enough, some personalized coupons that Just 4 U gave me.  I had a 1.50/3 coupon for the Safeway brand of pasta and it is on sale this week for .89 per box, so you bet I jumped on .39 per box pasta!  Let me break down what I got really fast here...

  • 1 Container of apple juice:  On sale 1.50.  Had 1.00/1 personalized coupon.  Final Price:  .50.
  • 4 Cans crushed tomatoes.  On sale .79 each with a coupon.  Had a personalized coupon for 1.00/4.  Final Price:  .54 per can.
  • 1 container ice cream.  1.49 on sale with a digital coupon.
  • Angel Hair Pasta.  On sale for .89 per box.  Had personalized coupon for 1.50/3.  Final Price:  .39 per box.  Fourth box was free with a Monopoly coupon.
  • 3 small cans tomato sauce:  Free with Monopoly coupons.
  • 2 bagels:  Free with Monopoly coupons.
  • 1 box of cereal:  On sale 2.50.  Had personalized coupon for 1.50/1.  Final Price:  1.00 (I don't buy cereal for anyone other than the son for the most part, so this was actually a treat for the daughter as she loves frosted flakes).
  • 1 container Greek yogurt:  Free with Monopoly coupon.

All totaled I spent about 6.54 on groceries that day (I don't know the exact cents, sorry, as I can't find my receipt at the moment as I had to go to customer service later to get some coupons applied correctly...computers are fun).

Today I went back to Carrs for 5.00 Friday with the express purpose to use the 5.00 gift card I won to buy cat litter (on sale for 5.00 as, you guessed it, part of 5.00 Friday).  And that's what I did.  I also got three free things of gravy mix while I was there (still have some freebies to redeem yet before the contest ends at the end of the month) and I got another 12 pack of soda as the son came down with a terrible cold today and I know he's going to need the extra hydration.  All totaled I spent 3.14 on groceries today after the gift card was applied.

All totaled I spent 11.26 on groceries this week, to be fair with gift cards helping out, but still I didn't think I did too bad all things considered.

2.  I mended one of many holes in my jeans this week.  I need to un-barricade my sewing machine before I can get too far on the mending front (donations to the used store are currently taking up that corner of my den), so that is on my "to do" list this week, but in the meantime, I'm doing the best I can with plain hand sewing.

3.  I repaired my daughter's rain boots with shoe goo.

4.  When my husband realized he needed a special tool to change out a sensor in our truck he shopped around until he found the best price and quality available for what he needed.  By doing so he had to put off repairing the truck a bit longer, but was able to save over half of what he would have had to pay to find the tool locally.

5.  Despite running to the store multiple times this week, by carefully combining errands together (made one trip after an appointment so was able to save gas that way, another trip I had to take to get the son's medications refilled anyway, etc), I was able to make a half of a tank of gas go pretty far.

6.  I made a beef roast early in the week, but it was a pretty cheap cut of beef and so decently chewy.  My husband took the leftovers and put them through our meat slicer and made thin sliced roast beef deli meat out of it.  The slicer was able to cut through the connective tissue enough that the deli meat was pretty tasty!

7.  I took a survey in an ongoing autism research study that I've been a part of for years now (I am helping them to track the frame of mind of parents of autistic children as they grow up and such).  I really feel good participating in autism research, even though my part is minor, because, to me, it helps to reinforce that progress is, in fact being made :).

8.  I received a new product testing opportunity from Smiley 360 this week.  This time I get to test out razors!  Which is great, because I needed some :).  The "kit" I received is seen up top.  I am going to use the tissue paper that came with the kit (second kit in a row that came with the tissue paper, woohoo!) as wrapping paper later on.

9.  I realized that the little bit of Bisquick I had left was going out of date to the point the baking powder in it was starting to go, so I made some slightly flat pancakes (for dinner one night when I didn't have a lot of inspiration and had forgotten to defrost some meat), took some strawberries out of the freezer and some Cool Whip and made strawberry shortcakes for dessert one night (some very dense shortcake, but it still tasted good).

10.  I delivered some copy of the kid's school pictures to my mother-in-law.  Since I can't afford to get her anything for Mother's Day, I figured that pics of the grand kids would definitely fill the void.  I didn't get an opportunity to mail my mom her copies of the pics yet, so they will be late, but I know she'll appreciate them even if they are a bit late :).

11.  My daughter knows we don't have any money to really celebrate Mother's Day in any real fashion this year, so she asked me what I'd like her to make me when she realized we weren't going to be doing anything out of the ordinary for Mother's Day (I love that kid...she knows me well and knows I love home made stuff).  I asked her to just draw me a picture.  She's still working on it and I know I'll love it :).

And there you are folks.  Some of the frugal adventures that happened this week.  How about you?  How did you do?

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Frugal Friday: Money Saving Weekly Recap

Okay, I know it's Monday and the whole "Friday" thing doesn't really work this late, but I was just not up to blogging between a migraine and busy kids, so Friday was delayed till Monday.  At least tonight my head doesn't feel like it's going to explode at any moment, so that's a good step in the right direction :).

So, let's get down to the nitty gritty, since I really want to finish this up and hit the hay. 

1.  Shopping was pretty much non-existent this week due to the whole "not having money" thing, so I ended up spending a whopping 10.00 at Fred Meyer on soda for the son for last week and this week and ran to Carrs to get a few minor things (more boy food) and that was it for shopping trips, or what passes for shopping anyway.

The above were the freebies I got that day.  At Fred Meyer I got the free Miracle Gro single pour thingie that I will happily use on some flowers or whatever else I grow this year and the taco seasoning.  I had a couple of other freebies loaded onto my card, but Fred Meyer didn't have any of them (one of the big problems I have with Fred Meyer and freebie coupons).  I then went to Carrs to get the other items that were on sale there and redeemed my freebie coupons I had for a free bagel and a couple of coupons for free cans of tomato sauce.  Those freebies can be seen up top there.

The cashier handed me a big pile of Monopoly tickets since the game is going to be ending soon and I got a couple of more freebies.  When I had to run into town to get the son more Diet Coke (he protested the store generic soda this last week, surprisingly) I grabbed a small can of tomato sauce and a couple of free bagels (which the daughter was thrilled to eat for breakfast and the husband made one into a sandwich for lunch).  While checking out, again, I was handed a HUGE pile of tickets (which surprised me since I only spent like 7.00) and I got some more freebies to redeem tomorrow when I go in to get milk.

2.  I ended up rescheduling the cat's vet visit after having a chat with the vet's office about how long the cat's shots are good for (and because I had to since I had a kid home sick the same day I was supposed to go in for the vet's visit) and I am glad I did as I got the Value Pack (or however you spell it their special way) of coupons in the mail and there was a 20.00 off any medical treatment coupon to our vet.  Which makes the vaccination visit even cheaper :).

3.  Instead of making YET another trip into town to get gas in my truck, since we didn't have any gas rewards waiting for me there, I took a gamble on a gas station that is really close to our house instead.  And I ended up saving .10 per gallon of gas by going that day, so it was totally worth it AND I saved the gas going to and from town to get gas, so double win!

4.  I traded freebies with a friend.  She offered me her Doritos freebie from freebie Friday and I offered her my measuring spoons (as I do not need any, at all).  I felt good being able to offer something in exchange for someone offering me something for a change :).

5.  My husband picked up some extra work on his days off last week, which will help a bit financially. 

6.  I totally spaced my son's speech evaluation last week due to me screwing up and putting the right day on the calendar but putting the wrong day into my phone.  When I switched the calendar over a few days into May I realized that I had missed the appointment by an hour and a half.  I ended up calling for two days, basically stalking the speech therapist, as I apologized in every single way I could think of for doing that.  That is only the second appointment in my adult life I've spaced.  Not a proud moment. 

I finally got a hold of the speech therapist and rescheduled the appointment (on a day this time where my husband can go with to the evaluation, which I think is a good thing as he always feels like he should be more involved with my son's therapies and things) and while talking to her found out that the federal government expanded medicaid so regular disability medicaid (TEFRA) will now be covering ABA therapy and up to like 40 hours a week!  Since this new speech therapy place offers ABA, come July, this could be a real God send for us with trying to keep Alvah moving forward during the summertime and things.  I'm praying so hard he hits it off with the speech therapist, makes good progress there and is able to start making communication strides.  That would be priceless to me.

7.  I received my product testing kit from Kroger/My Magazine Sharing Network this week to try out a new brand of cat food.  I fed the cats the Meow Mix wet food for their wet food portion for today and they did actually like it (surprising with those two, really).  I'm praying my local store has the dry food the coupon is good for as the coupons they sent me expire next month, so I don't have a lot of time to locate these things.

Double bonus was the cool amount of tissue paper that came in the box.  I put it aside to reuse it for wrapping paper later on.

8.  I bought a crock at a yard sale a while back for like 5.00.  It actually has another family name on the back of it (Johnson) with the family's old street address on it, but I loved the crock anyway, so I bought it, brought it home, and simply turned it around.  I had my bias tape and some other sewing notions in it in my sewing area, but my son kept getting into it, so I wasn't sure what to do with the crock after that. 

Well, I found a good use for it.  The #10 (big) cans I had been using for utensil holders in my kitchen started to rust and look not great this week and I didn't really want to replace them with more empty cans for fear the new cans would rust quickly as well.  So, I emptied out the crock, cleaned it really well and now it's sitting by my stove with all of my kitchen utensils in it.  It works great!  It's BIG, but it works great :).  And my husband agreed that it looks cool, so hey double bonus there.

9.  I cleaned a bunch this week since it didn't cost me anything other than time and I worked hard on reorganizing some more stuff (I'll get more into that in the monthly goals post tomorrow).

And there you are folks.  Some of my frugal adventures this week.  How did you do? 

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Shopping Goals: May 2018

I honestly almost didn't post shopping goals this month.  I don't see much wiggle room in the budget this month, honestly, but hey, if you put it down on paper you're more likely to get it done (I'm a big believer in that), so hopefully if I put the energy out there the universe will help me find a way ;).

I have felt overwhelmed and kind of scattered the last little bit around here with all of the appointments going on that get kicked down the road, kids being sick on and off  (kicking appointments down the road because of that) the last few weeks, the end of school coming up quickly (our school year ends May 18th up here), starting to get things into transition to move my daughter from elementary to middle school next year, getting used to the husband's new schedule, trying to get the house clean (which is always a challenge with the son around), getting used to driving a truck around again (I am NOT a naturally talented driver by any stretch, so it takes me a bit to learn a new vehicle...I'm getting there), dealing with things breaking left and right, dealing with the usual budgetary concerns and just generally trying to keep my sanity in tact.  It's kind of wiped me out the last few weeks.  I'm dealing but I can't say I'm doing a spectacular job by any means.  The end of the day comes not soon enough, it seems and all I want to do is pass out before I have to get up and do it all over again.  I probably need to sit down, read a good book of gold old fashioned fiction (mental vacation), drink a cup of something not caffeinated and just not think about everything that needs to be done everywhere.  I'll put it on my list after changing the beds and getting the laundry completely done *laugh*.

When it comes to things to get this month, there's plenty I need (unfortunately and I'm not including meat in this list..that's something I'll tackle another month), but not a lot of money to get them with.    I'm hoping to get a few things from Amazon as they are just plain cheaper there, but I might have to deal with getting less (for more money per unit of course) locally just to stretch the budget a bit (like canned pineapple.  Amazon has a great price for pineapple tid bits, which work fine for me in things like cake or in teriyaki, but I might just have to let the deal pass and get a few cans here and there  locally to see me through until a later date) .  We'll see how it all goes as the month progresses (read:  how big or small the next paycheck ends up being...I'm not holding out much hope at this point since next paycheck the mortgage comes out of and there is usually not much left of it after that).  I'm figuring most to all of these goals are going to end up getting rolled over into June, but we'll see how it goes.

Regular Stores:

  • Vegetable oil (yup, still need to stock up on it)
  • Olive oil (starting to run low and I need it for the son's pasta)
  • 25 lbs Sugar (Fred Meyer has the cheapest price for bulk sugar the last time I checked, but I need to check it again.  If it's not cheaper I'll hit Three Bears for it).
  • 25 lbs all purpose flour (Three Bears or Fred Meyer, whichever one is cheaper)
  • Brown sugar (I'll get it if it comes up on sale at Carrs)
  • Rice (25 bulk sized bag, hopefully, from Carrs or Three Bears, depending which one is cheaper)
  • Black Olives (luckily I found some buried in the pantry, so I'm not as out as I feared I was, but I'd like to get a few more cans as we use them a lot during taco night and I found that they are starting to carry reduced salt black olives, which is awesome!).
  • Angel Hair Pasta (picking up a few boxes at a time)

(NOTE:  The following contains affiliate links.  If you order through these links I receive a small commission for pointing you in Amazon's direction.  You will not pay more if you order through these links and thank you for your support!)

  • Canned Pineapple
  • Bumblebee Tuna Salad (for the son to help pad out his diet over summer break.  These go for 2.00+ locally a piece, so it is definitely worth buying the 12 pack if I can afford it!).
  • No Salt Added Tomato Paste (to make salt free ketchup and BBQ sauce.  I can't find this locally at all, so to Amazon I'll have to go).

And yeah, that's about it for my shopping goals for this month.  How about you guys?  Anything you need to get this month?

Monday, April 30, 2018

Frugal Week in Review

A shot of what my laptop tried to do to me above.

Ugh!!!!  Sorry about the last "post" that happened.  My computer decided to make itself apart of the great "Breakening" around here and kicked the high hard one while I was trying to get some type of posting done.  It crashed and anytime I would try to open a program the program would crash before it would actually open all the way, system restore didn't work, etc etc.  I just felt lucky that I was able to back door in through the entrance menu thingie and back up the pictures of my kids I'd saved on my hard drive before I had to completely wipe the thing clean.  I couldn't get blogger to work on my tablet to let people know what was going on and I've spent all today trying to get my laptop to come back from the dead.  Luckily, Lazarus is revived...kind of.  I had to reformat the computer with bare bones software to fix the problems and I'm still running into tons of glitches, so I'm not really sure how long this thing is going to live or not.  Needless to say...I have a headache tonight.

Unfortunately that's what happens when you are using a 10 year old computer these days.  I did a lot of this today I have to admit...
Anyway to all those who probably wrote "Hey, I don't see anything" on my last post...yup, totally aware, it wasn't intentional and I am developing a real love-hate (going more toward the hate end of the spectrum) relationship with my computer right about now.

So, anyway, back to our regularly scheduled post.

I have no idea what I wrote last time, honestly, as my computer was running so slow and making word salad out of so much, I plain didn't want to try and read the post to see if it was even legible, so let's just start over again!

I spent last week not feeling great (and today started off REALLY well for the start of a new week) and so I didn't get much done other than not feeling great, but I did get a few money saving things done, so let's get to those (I PRAY my photos transferred from my external hard drive okay.  If not and this post cuts off in the middle it's because I lost it and tossed my computer out of a second story window).

1.  Shopping went okay last week for the most part.  I went minimal on what was bought as money was super tight (actually kind of scary tight by the end of it) and so I spent a whopping 24.00 on groceries last week.  I shopped at Fred Meyer this week and also stopped in later at Carrs and grabbed soda for the son unit (2.50 per 12 pack as part of 5.00 Friday) and some dish soap.  The shopping trip to Fred Meyer is seen above there.  So let's break it down.

The seed packets were free as part of the freebie Friday giveaways.  My friend gave me her free seeds, which was awesome, so I got a perpetual spinach (actually a type of fast and densely growing chard) and some lettuce seeds to plant.  I have to admit I was super excited for free seeds as now I have something to grow in the garden this year :).

Tic Tac gum, another freebie Friday score.

Kettle Chips.  Freebie Friday again.

A friend sent me some coupons out of the blue for some free Revolution meal kits, so I got those while I was there (with a very grateful heart) and she also sent me a coupon for a free Oreo chocolate bar, so I got that while I was there as well.

The watermelon was on sale for 2.50, so I grabbed it and we had it for dessert a couple of nights.

Fred Meyer was also having a "buy 5 products and you save so much" type of sale.  I didn't realize it was 5 of certain marked products throughout the store that you could mix and match, but I saw if you bought 5 containers of Stayfree pads you would get them for 1.99 each and I had a 2.00/2 coupon loaded onto my rewards card for the pads.  So, all totaled I got 5 packages of pads for 8.00, which was awesome because I needed them.

The generic Zyrtec was part of the "buy 5 products" sale and I didn't realize it, so I got it for 6.49 on the sale.  I honestly would have picked up two if I had known they would be that cheap, but ah well.

As mentioned above I stopped at Carrs on Friday and got some generic soda to see my son through the next little bit and I also got some dish soap.  I managed to get dish soap for 1.65, which was a GREAT deal as I like the all natural "green" dish soap that Carrs/Safeway sells and it's usually 3.00+ per bottle (I've found if you use an all natural soap that things like sponges don't stink even after you wash them in the laundry and things).  I had a personalized price on the dish soap and was able to stack a 1.50/1 E-Coupon with it to get it at that price.

2.  I mended a pair of my husband's jeans.

3.  I stopped by the used store in the hopes of finding some small cookie cutters and found some to get me through until I can order some plastic ones (I do not trust the rusting capabilities of these anymore *laugh*.  I am looking forward to being able to make animal cookies later this week, anyway :).  All totaled I spent .50 on the baggie of different little cookie cutters.

4.  My mother-in-law gifted us some small Swiss Colony mustards that she and my father-in-law didn't have any desire to try.  I put them aside as the small containers (they are teeny) will be the perfect amount to use as "fancy" dipping sauce for chicken strips one night or they could be used in tiny amounts in chicken wraps or something :).

5.  My husband changed over the tires on our truck by himself (which required him to install a new receptacle and things over at my father-in-laws to get done) and balanced them, saving us 54.00 from getting it done at the tire shop (not to mention a four hour wait).

6.  My husband found two summer tires for the car that would work through the summer and instead of buying four new tires for the car, bought two and we'll get the other two new tires next year, saving us 200.00 or more this year (pray the tires last through the summer).

7.  When I was tempted to have us eat out because I wasn't feeling well, I instead popped a few frozen pizzas in the oven and threw some toppings from the pantry and freezer on top.  It worked and saved us from having to eat out.

8.  I got a free pad of paper from a non-profit organization trying to solicit donations.  I was happy with the pad of paper as it fit perfectly in my desk drawers.  I took a picture of it with the free pen I got from...I can't remember exactly when it was some type of thing where you had to go and sit through a presentation and you got a free MP3 player and a free dinner for online marketing stuff.  I ended up knowing too much about how websites worked and gave the people there a bunch of information for free while the guy was giving them his "5000.00 a month or you'll never be successful" sales pitch.  The dinner was sandwiches that the hotel provided that weren't that great, the mp3 player barely had memory in it and was some cheapie Chinese deal, but the pens they put at the tables were nice, so I grabbed mine (probably not part of the giveaways come to think of it *laugh*).  It's a nice pen, anyway.

9.  I think I finally found a speech therapist for Alvah!  I was thrilled when I found out that there was an outfit that had opened up in town that was geared specifically toward autistic children, so I called and they had openings!  We go in Wednesday for a speech therapy eval.  Only thing that makes me nervous is that the woman running the outfit is my son's speech therapy teacher from last year at school and she was ALWAYS calling in sick to school (thus leading to a really erratic schedule), so I'm worried about how this is going to work out, but I'm hoping it all goes okay.

10.  I repaired my son's chair when he managed to break it, again.  This time the clip that the cushion spring sat in bent and popped out.  I bent the piece with some lineman's pliers from my tool bag and managed to push the bracket back into place (there was no hammering that thing into place without tearing the entire chair apart).  Here's hoping it stays put for a while as the son is HARD on his chairs (the glider rocker is really on its last legs anymore after the son has abused it tons so I'm not sure if that's going to last very much longer).

And there you go folks.  My frugal adventures for last week, again, kinda *laugh*.  How did your week go?  I hope things aren't breaking on you like they are on me (heck even my cell phone case that is what, less than six months old or so, split down the back on me last week...this is not a fun time).

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Frugal Sunday: Money Saving Weekly Recap

This was a long, exhausting and frustrating weekend.  Emphasis on frustrating.  And exhausting.  And...ahhhh never mind!

I ended up with food poisoning the first part of the weekend, which my husband and I tracked down to some sauce that came with some frozen breaded shrimp we ate (luckily I was the only one who ate the sauce so the husband didn't get sick).  Last time I consume a sauce that comes with anything frozen.  That was a very long and painful Friday and I'm still dealing with the residuals of it.  Blah!  And at the same time the son came down with a cold, so he wasn't happy about life or anything in it the day I was feeling like death warmed over.  He's started feeling better today, at least.

Yesterday, despite still feeling like my stomach had been beaten from the inside and feeling utterly exhausted (I'm still tired today), I tried to get some housework done that desperately needed to get caught up on after being down Friday and was hoping to rely on some help from the other female member of the household.  That didn't go well.  I ended up having to do the dishes three times (don't ask), the vacuum got clogged twice on things that should have been easily avoided, I had to waste a can of tuna fish getting the cat inside, after he rushed by me when I was dumping the garbage, because the daughter was determined he would get mauled by the lynx if we didn't get him into the house...and yeah...the day didn't go well.

I did finally manage (third time's the charm) to get the dishes done (which I'm so low on dish soap at the moment I was super thrilled to get that chore done), the cat was happy stuffed with tuna, the daughter finally realized she was in trouble and started doing things when I told her to (and did them the right way) and the day finally drew to a close with me falling into bed, having not been so happy to see a pillow in a long time.

Luckily, today was a bit more productive.  I got lemon sugar cookies made (for dessert, snacks and for the husband's lunch treat) and oddly enough the ones I put sprinkles on the son is actually eating, which surprised me (and thrilled me a bit honestly) as they are a pretty strong flavor.

I went to make animal cookies/crackers for school snacks this week only to find that at some point my son had gotten into the container I kept the little metal cookie cutters in and had gotten soda in the container, so the cookie cutters were one big, rusty, mass.  The entire container went into the garbage, beyond all hope, while I battled a small bout of depression over cookie cutters (I know, it's dumb, but it's just one of those things, you know?) as replacing the cookie cutters isn't going to be in the budget for a while and I was just so tired of things breaking.

Like I was a long weekend.  When wrecked cookie cutters make you to want to cry, you know it was a long weekend.

Anyway,  I'm soldiering on here.  So, let's get to the money saving things that happened this week.

1.  Let's start with shopping.  Shopping was as frugal as I could get it this week, due to the above mentioned money being tight (which hopefully that'll work out here soon once we get a few bills out of the way and once we get paid).  I scored big on freebies this week thanks to the Monopoly game, which was nice!

First, let's start with the main shopping trip.  Highlights are seen above.

  • I got half gallons of milk (whole milk, which I prefer 2%, but hey it was cheap) on reduced for 50% off, so I got a couple of gallons of milk for 2.38 per gallon.
  • Pork chops, value packs, on reduced 50% off and on sale, so got big value packs of pork chops for 5 to 6.00 a piece.  I was nearly out of pork in the freezer (I had one package of pork chops and a small pork loin and that was about it), so it was definitely a welcome thing to find.
  • One 2lb block of medium cheddar cheese on reduced 50% off and I had a personalized price on it this week, so got the block for 2.39!  This will make it so we can save the remainder of the Tilamook cheese for the son and we'll eat the other cheddar until Tilamook goes on sale (or if I can squeeze the regular priced logs of Tilamook, which are pricey, into the grocery budget).
  • Gala apples (I really like getting the bags of apples as the apples are smaller and work better with the daughter's appetite, and they fit in her lunch box easier) 2.99 (personalized price).  These are usually 5.49 per bag, so it was DEFINITELY worth getting one at that price!
  • Organic spinach salad, a small can of tomato sauce, a 100ct bottle of aspirin and a envelope of gravy mix (not pictured) free with Monopoly coupons.  I have to say the salad was the most exciting one for me to get on that trip :).

I checked out with my favorite cashier, who seems to be my good luck charm as I always seem to win more Monopoly freebies when I go through his line.  And, I hit pay dirt on the freebies with my tickets!
When we went back into town on Thursday to do a couple of errands, I stopped by the store and redeemed the other freebies I got.

  • 1 loaf of french bread (this was the most exciting one for me *laugh*)
  • 1 envelope of gravy mix (I am seriously stuffing a box full with these free gravy mixes at this point...I hope the food pantry likes them)
  • 1 cheese bagel (they didn't have any plain ones when I went in, so I grabbed it instead)
  • 1 can of tomato sauce
  • 1 can of corn

Out of like seven tickets, getting that many freebies was really nice.  When I wasn't up to making the menu plan item for dinner last night, I ended up pulling out a package of thin cut steaks from the freezer and I cut up the loaf of bread and made french dips for dinner with it.  It worked out great and there was enough left over to get my husband through lunch at work last night.  I was happy with that.

2.  I signed up for a free magazine subscription through one of the free magazine outfits (I THINK it was Mercury Magazines, but I can't remember).

3.  I signed up for a product testing thing through Kroger and am going to, hopefully, receive free pet food to try out and review.

4.  I turned off the supplemental heat in my bedroom for good until next winter.  I just threw another blanket on the bed to keep warm at night.  Between that and the two cats, I've definitely been warm enough at night.

5.  While cleaning out the garage my husband uncovered a tote full of kitchen stuff.  A LOT of it was stuff I've been searching for years to find, so it was nice finally figuring out what happened to it all (and I found my soap making crock so I can get that to Shani to make soap!).

6.  I mended one of my daughter's skirts.

7.  I continued to clean and organize things this week.  I managed to reclaim some space in my kitchen cabinets (the lazy susan cabinet is still broken) by conglomerating a couple of containers of things like corn starch together.  Yay for reclaiming  a bit of space!

8.  I took the son outside to play now that it is light outside when we get home from school in the afternoon.  He's been really enjoying it (not so much this weekend as I kept him inside to recuperate from his cold) and it doesn't cost me anything to do.

9.  With the sun starting to come back in a big way (it's finally getting dark at the moment and it's 9:44 pm) the sun is starting to super heat the upstairs of the house in the afternoon.  I've actually been able to open the deck door and let fresh air into the house (and the son likes to play around the screen door, so double bonus), which is always welcome after a long winter.

And, yeah, I'm going to call it good there as the son is refusing to go to sleep at the moment and is throwing a fit in his room because I didn't put on what he wanted to watch (I put on Thomas the Tank Engine at bedtime, so he's not happy that it's bedtime tonight from the sounds of it).

So, how did your week go?  Well, I hope?