Saturday, October 7, 2017

Frugal Friday: Money Saving Weekly Recap

This was a week of high highs and a pretty hard disappointment.

I'll get to the highs in a moment, but today was a pretty crushing blow to the good mood I was in.  I went and checked the mail to get a package pick up slip I knew would be there to go and get the peanut free spread variety pack that was sighted to be in today.  And in with that mail was a bill.  A bill from my husband's doctor's office.

Sure, I knew a bill was coming because I figured out the whole deductible thing was off from what I thought it was, but I was expecting  a bill for about 100.00, which sucked, I figured, but doable.  But nope.  It was worse then I figured because the doctor's office charged my husband the not right amount for his Urgent Care visit when he went and that ended up being 150.00 more than they charged us at the time.  I called them today (luckily someone was in, which is rare on a weekend) and asked them to adjust down the return visit that same week since he was definitely an established patient and, I argued logically enough, that it would be classified as a follow up visit, not to mention it was kind of weird that an Urgent Care visit would cost as much as a regular doctor's visit.  They refused and basically informed me that if I didn't pay the bill by the end of the month the computer would send me automatically to collections (which I've dealt with that fiasco before).  The two office visits, mind you, ran us up nearly a grand.  For TWO TRIPS to the doctor's.  With no additional testing.  That's insane!  I informed them of as much and told them that they had managed to cost themselves out of our business as we were not going to pay nearly 400.00 to see a doctor, let alone a nurse practitioner at their office.  They seemed unimpressed with losing our business, which was fine, and she said they'd be happy to transfer our records to a new doctor when we found one.

I will call them Monday, pay the bill (the person who takes the actual payments isn't in till then), which will hurt as I was hoping to use part of the 261.00 hit they nailed us with to pay to get some home maintenance done, and I'll go searching for another doctor's office.  We found the union my husband joined when he got his job has a health clinic they run in Anchorage that is MUCH MUCH cheaper to go to, so that is going to be probably where we go from now on, but I am hoping to find a back up plan (in case of really bad weather or someone being too out of it to drive for a hour to see a doctor) closer to home that won't require me to take out a loan from the bank to pay for (kidding...but not by much).

But yeah, we get money in with dividends and just as soon start to bleed it out.  Frustrating to say the least.  I do at least feel grateful that we had the money to bleed as the idea of coughing up 261.00 a couple of weeks ago...I don't know how we would have done it in one chunk.

Right, okay, so now that I did the downturn in my week (I still feel a need for chocolate after dealing with that), let's get to the upbeats as there were some this week :).

1.  Dividends came in like I said above, so one of the first things I did was pay off the chunk of dental bills that were due by next month.  It felt good getting those crossed off our debt list, although it was sad watching the checking account go up and then back down again in the same day.

2.  My husband and I went Wednesday to get our flu shots this week as the kids got theirs done on Tuesday and while there I got all of my boosters updated (we have a mumps outbreak in Anchorage right now and I wanted to help shore up herd immunity as much as I could for the sake of pregnant women, immune compromised and other "at risk" people).  I hadn't had boosters done since college for the MMR and the last DTAP I had was...well a long time ago when I was pregnant with my first (I got attacked and bit by a dog, on Halloween, in a grocery store parking was not a fun night).

The store normally gives you a 10% off coupon for the next shopping trip of your choice when you get a flu shot, but it turns out that they also gave one out for each booster you got, so between my husband and I getting boosters and flu shots...I was a happy camper!  Especially when the insurance covered the vaccinations 100% which was no out of pocket expense for me (honestly, I was expecting some) and the pharmacy doing them also saved me an over priced doctor's visit to get the vaccinations done too. 

I had gone to Carrs on Tuesday as well to get one thing.  Butter.  They had butter on a three day sale for 2.50 per lb (along with other things, but the butter was all I cared about), which is about as low as butter gets around here.  Also if you bought things on those days you also got a 10.00 off a 50.00 purchase coupon that printed off when you checked out.  I got my butter and the 10.00 off coupon that day.  This also comes into play *laugh*.

So, Thursday I went to Carrs armed with my coupons and the weekly ad, which had some awesome sales in it (like Honeycrisp apples for 1.88 lb this week!!!) and went to see what I could find.

And I hit pay dirt.  In a big, BIG way!

Welcome to Pork-a-Palooza at the Make Do Homemaker!

I made a bee line for the reduced meat before going to look for the apples that were on sale and found a TON of pork chops marked down 50% off...they worked out to be between 4 and 6 dollars per value pack of pork chops.  I grabbed all they had, which was probably about 7 or more packages.  I got a picnic ham that was marked 30% off and worked out to be about 12.00 for it.  I got fish (not on sale but because I just wanted to get some) and EVEN a really fancy beef roast (standing rib roast type of fancy) as they are on sale for 5.77 lb this week and I had a personalized deal of 5.00 off a 30.00 purchase in the meat department (personalized E-Coupon thingie).  I got breakfast sausages.  I got name brand shampoo instead of super cheap shampoo for the daughter (to help cut down on super frizzy hair...poor thing takes after me on fine hair, but she has a lot thicker hair than me, so she can get some serious mats going if not careful) and the husband (sales combined with E-Coupons and things to make them cheap enough for my "cheapskate gene" to not throw them aside *laugh*).  I got a bunch of Honeycrisp apples.  I got black olives (on sale with a coupon of course).  All said and done I had a HUGE heaping cart of groceries when I went up to the registers to check out.

I also planned how to check out, so I broke down what I was doing with the cashier before we started.  I put meat up first because the 10.00 off of 50.00 coupon I had said it couldn't be combined with other offers, so I was worried that the computer wouldn't let me stack the 10% off your purchase coupons with it.  I had it worked out in my head to go over 50.00 with the meat, but I forgot the 5.00 off of 30.00 E-Coupon that would come off and I also didn't realize that the pork chops that were marked 50% off were now also on sale.  So I kept having to hand the cashier meat packages until the total was at 52.00 and then I got it down to 42.00 with the coupon and paid.  At this point, funny enough, the morning cashiers (whom I know pretty well by now) were all impressed and standing there to see how it all went down after that.

I then got everything else rung up and they hit total and we waited, no joke, about five minutes for all the E-Coupons that I had stacked and other deals to process through the system.  And then I handed them my paper coupons and the 10% off coupon (the 10% off had to be taken off last, which was sad, but I could see why they did it that way).  My total started up around 400.00.  By the time the discounts and coupons were taken off, all totaled WITH MEAT and all, I spent 140.00 on groceries.  AND I walked away with .80 off per gallon fuel rewards because of bonus coupons I had on Just 4 U combined with a fuel reward thing they had going on at the store this week and things.  Life was good that day!

I had 200.00 set aside to stock up on meat and produce out of dividends.  Let's just was a good day :).  A pic of my new small block freezer, currently home to the meat from that trip (I'm still working on getting the big freezer defrosted...I was hoping to do it to today, but life intervened again) is seen up top there.

The funniest part was after SHOVING everything into my trunk (and it wasn't easy, happily) and standing back, all I could think of was, "How in the Heck did I used to spend 150.00 a week on groceries?  Where did it go?  I mean LOOK at this!"  I'm still trying to work that one out, although I think it's going to be one of those, "What is the sound of one hand clapping" types of deals *laugh*.

I ran back to the store yesterday to get a few minor things that I hadn't picked up Thursday (and to pick up a script that had to be ordered and took a bit to come in for the son).  They had strawberries on sale for 2.50 per container, which is cheap for up here and they actually looked pretty good, so I got a container for my daughter for snacks.  It turned out to be "snack" as she gorged herself on strawberries this afternoon, but ah least they didn't go to waste.

2.  I have been planning on how to make a fall themed quilt for a while.  I can actually SHOW you what I want to recreate here.  See, my daughter has had the book, "Froggy Goes to School" since she was really little and reading it to her a lot, I immediately fell in love with the quilt Froggy has on his bed when he wakes up from his nightmare.  Here's a shot of it...

I just thought that was the prettiest quilt and would be pretty easy to recreate (Note:  I admit readily that I'm weird and draw inspiration from odd places ;).  IF I could find the right fabrics to make it so it looked good.  I was missing a good brown fabric and black fabric (see the pillow I had to fill in the eyes with fabric marker as a demonstration of how I don't have black fabric  around here *laugh*).  I've been continually looking at the used stores for a black sheet, hoping I could find something that would work and this week I found a flat black sheet for 1.50!  I was so happy to mark that off of my list.  I have a tan sheet and a dark blue sheet I can use for a backer.  Now I just need to find some light yellow fabric for the yellow blocks and I think I can find some decent fabrics for the leaves (I mean they might have patterns on the fabric, but it will look just fine I think) and I MIGHT need to find some dark grey or other contrasting fabric to rotate with the black.  But, yay for progress to getting this quilt started officially :).

3.  By watching Amazon carefully every day on my Subscribe and Save items, I was able to cancel some of my items and reorder them at lower prices, saving me a total of 12.40 on all the items I had on order so far.  Prices fluctuate a lot on Amazon and with Subscribe and Save you can "lock in" a low price if you order an item at that, so it's worth watching and then cancelling and reordering at the lower price before the price jumps back up a LOT of the time. 

4.  I contacted my son's care coordinator this week and made sure that everything was running along for the yearly renewal for his insurance.  Since this is a long process, I always make sure that we're on the same track to get the renewal trucking along to avoid problems.  Definitely saves money to keep that stuff straightened out and on time.

5.  My daughter has gone back and forth for, oh, about a year *laugh* about what she wants to be for Halloween this year.  She first wanted to be a swan (which that one was baffling me trying to figure that one out), then a couple of other things, and finally settled on an artist this week.

THAT I could do!

I already have the paint brushes and I knew I could easily make a palette out of cardboard, so that got us down to a beret and an apron of some type.

I started thinking and dug one of my everyday aprons out of the closet.  It's stained, it's old, and oh was also completely free when I got it ages ago *laugh*.  I had appliqued a quickie frog image over the top of the original logo.  The frog had come off of a favorite t-shirt that had died of mine YEARS ago (I like frogs :), but I knew that the image would never work for an artist apron for a costume and well...weapon images in school...even those in the hands of a frog...would probably NOT be appreciated.

So, I did some quick surgery today.  Off with the frog...

And back to the old logo underneath...

I'm going to take some unbleached muslin that I have in my stores and maybe some Craft Bond (if I have enough left) and just adhere the plain colors over the logo.  Then I'll dig out my paint and take my daughter and the apron and the paint outside on a drop cloth and let her splatter the apron with paint all over and voila!  Artist apron!

Tuck the paint brushes in one of the pockets (not my good ones mind you...I know I have some cheaper ones around here) and a cardboard palette in another and complete it with a beret we found at the used store today for 1.49 (I was actually kind of bummed that we found one so cheap as I had found some patterns on how to make one on Pinterest and figured I could make her one pretty easy) and voila!  Artist!  Hopefully it turns out well!  Stay tuned for progress reports.

6.  I fixed a loose sole on my shoe with Shoe Goo.

7.  I wanted to restock some soups to eat when well...I felt like soup or wasn't feeling well...and I wasn't impressed with what I saw at the stores for options.  So, I went and looked up some recipes online to make different types of soup and will start work on making those hopefully this coming week (AFTER I defrost the big freezer *laugh*).

8.  I worked on a reorganizing plan for the pantry this week to try and figure out if there was a way to put everything into the pantry that needed to go there and still be able to find everything.  I MIGHT have a plan and am hoping to give it a trial run this week.

9.  A blog reader earlier gave me the advice to maybe up Alvah's water intake to see if it would help his skin.  I knew that lack of water was definitely a problem in his diet (since he won't touch the stuff) but between his comment and some follow up suggestions via e-mail and blog I got an idea.  As part of shopping this week I actually BOUGHT seltzer water and today I started adding a TEENY TINY splash of water to the bottom of the son's soda glass before filling it with soda.  This way the fizz doesn't go out of the soda like regular water and if it works and I can get him up to even 40% seltzer to 60% cola...that can't do anything but help him with hydrating his skin.  So far, so good!  He actually drank the water/soda mixture (trust me baby steps are the ONLY way to work with this kid or he turns on your efforts and they're all for naught).  So, thank you for the advice and suggestions.  Including the Vitamin E suggestion for helping his skin.  I'm going to go to our local bulk store (which Three Bears also sells things singularly) and see what price they charge for vitamin E and I'll add it to the other oils I'm hoping to get him to take and slather on his skin.  So, once again, thank you, everyone!  I appreciate the advice and the input.  It helps me think and improve and HOPEFULLY something works!!!

And yeah...I'm really wearing down energy-wise and still have a few things to do before bed, so I'm calling it good for this week's recap.  How about you?  How did you do?


  1. I am so pleased for you with your grocery shopping wins this week!
    I have a disabled daughter who has been a lifelong water refuser. In the past she would refuse to drink rather than drink water. Raspberry cordial was the only drink she found acceptable. This year I decided to gradually dilute her cordial and we are now able to get her to drink plain water on occasion. She still prefers cordial, but I am thrilled she will actually drink water (some bribing is sometimes necessary). We have also found that having some colour in her water makes a big difference to her receptiveness of drinking it. I personally think ultra weak cordial tastes disgusting, but my daughters prefers that over plain water, which I am happy about. The less sugar she consumes in her drinks, the better.

    Sorry to hear about the doctor's bill. I am Australian and cannot even begin to understand how your medical system works. $400 for a doctor's visit seems unjustifiable to me.

    1. Good on you to get her to drink water! Yeah the amount of sugar, carbs and bad stuff the son consumes worries the Heck out of me. I can't believe how pleased I am that the seltzer water, so far, is working. Fingers crossed there!

  2. Wow what a grocery haul! I am so happy for you!

    Flu shots... I am so torn on those. My kids and I have never had them, but they did get the flu last year. I'm just nervous about side effects, because if there is one to be had, my boys get it.

    Thats insane on the urgent care bill. Ridiculous. Our insurance charges same as a hospital visit, so we never use unless its really urgent. I think thats silly, because most people if they are badly hurt go to the hospital, not a walk in clinic. I hope you can find another place soon.

    Today is my first day in Relief Society and not primary. Its also raining, seems appropriate lol!

    1. We get the flu shots to try and protect Alvah from it. He's had the flu a couple of times and it was awful for him. 21 DAYS of misery, vomiting, high fever, etc. With side effects, if it makes you feel any better, my dad was one of those 1% crowd that would develop side effects to medications (some nearly killed him) and he got the flu shot every year. He never seemed to get any weird effects from it other than feeling run down and cold-symptom-like for a few days (which is normal as your body combats the dead flu and build up antibodies). For me, and you can believe I don't like to do anything unnecessary in the way of medicine and things with poor Alvah, it is worth it just because the idea of Alvah getting the flu scares the crud out of me. Each time he's had it we ended up in the ER to bring down his fever...I honestly worry about the flu killing him he gets it so bad. Nope, flu shots for us!

  3. Awesome grocery haul! Don't you just love it when the deals, clearance, coupons, etc... all come together like that. Feels so good to get that much in groceries and not pay through the nose for it. I feel your pain on Dr. and health care visits. Just got a bill for around 2000.00 from having my pacemaker / defibrillator changed out two months ago. This is AFTER Insurance has paid. The hospital charges crazy prices but then Nevada is one of the highest healthcare states. Lucky us - not! I am disputing some of the charges with the hospital but don't hold out much luck for that. Oh well, we must try and this wasn't an elective surgery. Here's to a great week for all of us. Take care.

    1. Ouch! I swear healthcare costs have quadrupled in the last four years. Just a few years ago, being self pay, A doctor's visit with tests was less than what the same office is charging now and it was significantly cheaper! So sorry about your bill. That stinks :(.

  4. I am so loving your grocery trip! Way to tear up that cash register! Get it girl! 😁

    1. By the should've strutted out of that grocery store lol!

  5. Way to go at the grocery! I thought I was doing good this week when I got $17 off of $41 at Dollar General by stacking coupons. You win! I would prefer pork chops over aluminum foil, laundry detergent and toilet cleaner any day.

    My week has been spent working frantically trying to get the fall/winter garden out before Hurricane Nate blew in. I almost made it.

    Today I am catching up on blogs and resting my sore body. Whew!
    Jeannie @

  6. Here in PA when we go to urgent care the cost is the same as a specialist $35.00. That is with the insurance we have. Regular doctor visits are $25.00 Can you complain to your insurance company? Seems like cost gouging to me.

    1. The insurance gave us a discount for going in network for the regular doctor appointment, but they don't do anything for Urgent Care. I am going to file a complaint, though as it is nuts how much they are charging.

  7. That's a wonderful haul on all the meats! I have started to scout out the reduced meats now (usually available first thing in the mornings) and have managed some good deals myself. But -- there's just me to buy for (with only the freezer on top of my fridge) so I don't go overboard. But still, I love a bargain.
    I'm Canadian and just cannot imagine paying to visit a doctor. I'm seeing my cardiologist next week (second visit in a month) and then I'll be popping next door to book my yearly check up with my GP and at the same time they will be booking me in to a sleep disorder clinic - and I'll never see a bill. Yes, we pay through our taxes - but I don't know of anyone who would want to change this way of doing things. In the past year I've had knee surgery, (with pre and post visits with the surgeon) a visit with a Nutritionist, and an MRI and again, I've never seen a bill. I hope that you find a new doctor quickly.

  8. Good job on the grocery shopping.
    Suggestion for the quilt: Check regular clothing for the colors you need at the thrift shop.


  9. How fun to do a big grocery shopping trip! Where I used to live before, the only store in the town nearest to us was Safeway, where I would try to do those kind of trips, too. There were $10 off $50 coupons there too, at the beginning of every month. My favorite shopping trips are when I use lots of coupons.

    I've never gone to urgent care. I sure won't now if they are that expensive. I'm not sure why I thought they were cheaper than the emergency room. Yikes! My husband has really, really good insurance through his work at his new job and we are very grateful. There is a deductible but it isn't huge. Our doctors are a distance from where we live now, because we kept the same ones when we moved. We will slowly change over through time to doctors that are closer to our new home, but that works for now. It's not super convenient, but it is certainly do-able. We drive around 45 minutes-1 hour for our primary care physician, 30 minutes for the ADHD/pediatricians, 1-1/2 hours (1 way) to my diabetic specialist, 1 hour to our dentist (had him since high school--will never change unless he quits!), 20 minutes to therapy, and (drum roll, please) 5-10 minutes to the orthodontist! It's crazy, but I'm learning that it can take me 30-45 minutes to get from one end of the city to the other--this country girl is still not used to traffic!!! So, it all works for us. I hope it works for you--it sure sounds less expensive and that's worth a few minutes in the car.

  10. Loved reading about your grocery deals. Good work!!! The quilt is a great idea too. Looking forward to hearing how that project goes.

  11. Your grocery deal was so exciting to read about, I can only imagine what it felt like in person! I'm so happy for you.

  12. Great haul from the grocery store. There is nothing bettering than a bargain. Not quite as good as you, but my family recently starting stopping at Aldi's, and have seen our bills go down.
    Also, I know from experience med bills can be tough. Stay strong. Cheers. Tom