Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Frugal...Whatever This Is...Money Saving Weekly Recap

Just to warn you, this is going to be a kind of depressing post.  I have really tried to work my mood up from "darn this sucks" but I've been finding it difficult today. I even made myself cinnamon rolls with cream cheese frosting and I'm still kind of depressed (you know it's bad when that happens as cinnamon rolls are a huge mood boost for me and always have been).

This has been a cruddy week so far.  Truly.

Things keep breaking around here (I officially passed tired of that trend about the second big thing breaking) to the point I keep wondering what universal force I stepped on the wrong side of to bring this stuff down upon the household.

This week, so far, my son's favorite glider rocker, which has taken much punishment over the years and is as old as my daughter (actually older since we bough it when I was pregnant with her) and has seen many years of rocking kiddos in it and reading bedtime stories to the kids when it was in their old bedroom, finally just out and out self destructed.  This time there really isn't any saving it.  It broke two main seat springs within a few days of each other and the back suddenly got really loose on it again and I found a cracked support on the back.  So, that just plain needs to go to the dump unless my husband can find some parts on it that he can possibly scavenge to use for other projec

Then yesterday the ice maker on the fridge just died.  No warning, no nothing.  Just kaput.  I spent most of last night and ALL of today, pretty much, trying to see if there was a way to fix it as the ice maker is one of the few appliances my husband actually out and out WANTED in our kitchen when we finally got a house and we've had one in our homes ever since.  And I have to say that they are nice to have...when they work.  I'm not having any luck fixing it (got the freezer completely defrosted, though, in an attempt to see if the water line was frozen...that didn't work either...the photo was when it was defrosting), but I did manage to get it to make a weird hissing noise and now it's leaking water into the ice cube hopper, so I might be having to turn the water off to the fridge by the end of the night.  Woot.

We are down to no money in the bank to the point just THAT would be depressing.  We should get paid tomorrow, but with all the bills that are due, my phone needing to be recharged within four days or getting shut off (glad Tracfone does stalk me about that, though) and everything else...primal scream therapy seems like a great idea as it is just frustrating (not to mention worrisome).  And in the middle of it all my son has decided that he's unhappy about life in general this week and has given me a pretty constant headache all week long (at least the Risperidone stops him from hitting himself in the face, thank goodness).

The garden is resembling a Monty Python sketch so far this year.  I planted seeds, nice cold hardy varieties that I had bought special last year and they didn't do great last year, but I figured I had the seeds I'd give it a shot.  Birds immediately ate them.  I managed to get a few seedlings popping up in my front garden bed, a moose ran over them and they just up and died after that...even my chives that I have worked so hard to nourish might be complete goners this year.  Got a few seedlings to pop up and put the pots outside to start to grow, my cat dug them up and left them for me with little cat trenches left in the flower pots (at least he brought home a dead mouse yesterday and left it outside, so my plants aren't the only things he goes after). So, yeah, I think I might build a few castles on a swamp next to see how far I get (Monty Python and the Quest for the Holy Grail reference in case anyone was wondering).  Ugh. 

I have some sprouting potatoes.  I think I'm just going to go and bury them in the garden and just walk away.  They'll either grow or they won't.  And I'm just going to throw the free seeds I got around them as they start to grow and hopefully I'll get a bit of lettuce this summer.  Past that between the pests and the weather we've already lost two really tall spruce trees to what is probably spruce beetle damage and the other spruce trees on the property are looking beat on and I'm not sure what is going to happen, but cutting down a bunch of trees is looking to be in our future this year, so goodness knows what things lurk in wait for my poor garden.

I had to upgrade our internet last night.  My husband got a warning e-mail saying we were at 75% of the usage on our plan and when I checked we were actually quite a bit above that.  I've been monitoring our usage carefully to use up all of our roll over gigs before I would have to upgrade our plan (which I knew was in the cards with how much my son streams things on various apps and things, not to mention what the rest of us in the family do) and my laptop dying and having to reinstall everything about four times before it would catch, ate up the rest of our roll over gig cushion.  The result is that the phone bill will be going up 20.00 a month, but it was cheaper than paying overages every month.  We get twice the gig amount with the new plan and will have a faster speed as well, so there's that I guess.  I was depressed having to up another bill, though, with the dental bills and everything we've had to deal with of late.

And the final icing on the cake is getting a call tonight from the fraud alert people at Visa to tell me that someone had hacked my check card number and had attempted to purchase over 400.00 at Macy's website with it, which thank goodness that it got declined.  So, now my check card doesn't work as I wait for a new card number and I have to call the bank tomorrow to order a new card (which of course my check card is the one I use for paying bills online and stuff, so I'm going to have to change card numbers with EVERYTHING here).  So. my husband gets to go shopping with me this week when we finally get paid because I'm down to my last few checks and have about three stores I'm going to need to go to.  Sigh.

Anyway, let's run down the quick list of money saving things that happened this week.

1.  When I defrosted the fridge freezer today, I realized that the freezers had gotten low enough that I really saw no point in keeping all of them running.  So, I conglomerated everything down to the fridge freezer and the downstairs freezer and I just unplugged the little block freezer in the kitchen.  I'll use it for additional counter space for the time being.  I'm hoping that this will cut our electric consumption enough that it might help us wash the increase in the phone bill to hopefully keep things somewhat balanced.

2.  I spent a whopping 23.00 on groceries this week.  I got soda for the son, milk, cheap garbage bags (we were completely out) from Three Bears (1.86 per 15 flap bags) and some chewable Benadryl for the kid's allergies.  We didn't have much money to spend, so we made it work as well as we were able.

3.  We took my son to his speech therapy evaluation and I actually enjoyed talking to his speech therapist.  Since she was Alvah's old speech therapist from school last year (and about half of the school year before that) she knew where Alvah was at on communication and knew his personality and such.  She even offered to comp ABA therapy until insurance would pick it up in July because she knew Alvah and felt like he could definitely benefit.  She was the first speech therapist we've ever had who wanted to start Alvah out multiple times a week and was talking about doing hours of therapy between speech and ABA.  We talked her into an hour twice a week for the moment to hopefully help Alvah bond and told her that she was free to do some ABA things if he burned out on speech during that hour.  She was happy with that and I'm praying that he takes off in this environment.

4.  My mother-in-law gifted us with a half sized violin this week so my daughter can take orchestra in school next year.  My sister-in-law gifted us by giving my daughter some beginning lessons on care and how to tune the violin and things while my husband and I took my son to his speech therapy eval.  My daughter, so far, loves the violin and can't wait to play it.  I am being very cautious with her playing around with it until she has a few more lessons and care instructions under her belt, but so far she really seems to be enjoying it.

5.  I cleaned the house this week and started to get some major in depth cleaning done.

6.  I redid our ratty love seat this week.  So, so much better now without all the peelies!

7.  When the son's rocker died, I took our good rocking chair upstairs to replace it (he's not overly impressed with it yet, but I'm hoping it'll grow on him) and realized that I now had a big old hole in the den where the two rockers used to sit.  I am thinking of setting up a table to cut fabric on (saving my knees crawling around on the floor) and to do sewing projects on.  At least it'll be a good functional use of the space and I have a table in my laundry room I can use for it.

I'm sure there are other things, but I have a pretty bad headache tonight and am exhausted so I'm just going to call it good here and call it a night.  How did you all do this week?  Good I hope?

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Weekly Goals Week 1: Redoing a Ratty Loveseat

Blogging is behind.  I'll readily admit it.  The main reason?  Every time I think about getting on the computer, I know my OCD will kick in and I'll try to fix the computer to work better (for instance I spent a good hour tonight cleaning up the hard drive and deactivating Windows features that I know, in the past, have messed with my computer something fierce) and then I'll get frustrated, walk away breathing deeply and trying to remain calm, and so I just kind of defeat my own motivation to blog at the moment.  I THINK I might have gotten some major malfunctions patched/fixed on this sucker though, so here's hoping.

Anyway, I was going to post up some weekly goals this last week, but ended up rethinking that instead and decided what I'm going to do, for the time being, is to work on one big goal a week and then post up the progress of how I managed to do it (if at all) at the end of the project.  Since school let out Alvah has been in a up and down type of mood, so it's been kind of hard to do multiple things at one time.  So, by focusing on ONE major project that I'm behind on a week, I figure I'll hopefully get my "big" list done (and hey if I can pound out more than one project a week, good on me!).

So, this week's project is FINALLY getting the rest of the love seat redone.  The son has taken to peeling the leather in scads of late and it was just looking so terrible I couldn't stand it.  That and I knew if Alvah managed to punch through the material under the leather upper and hit foam?  There would be no saving the love seat.  At all.  He would go to town on the foam and there would be nothing left to salvage.  So, it was definitely time as some of the material was getting pretty threadbare.

This project took two days of the week to get done, with many breaks to get the kids snacks, take the son out to play, get laundry and other household stuff done, etc.  So, let's break down the stages of development.

Sorry I don't have a great "before" picture to work from from where I actually started this go-round as the peeling problem is WAY worse than when I originally put the new back cushion cover piece on, but we'll start with that old photo since I have that one from back in January (January...dang, this project took me a long time to get completely done).

Just a quick note:  This project was done with materials I had on hand and that is all.  I didn't have the money to go out and buy anything, so yeah, be prepared for some interesting twists and turns here.

Step 1:  Remove old arm patches (the leather looking pieces that aren't peeling on the tops of the arms there) and put new arms on.

Taking the old arms off was actually harder than I thought it would be.  The old stitches I'd used to sew the leather patches on were coming apart in places (I mean the upper arm pieces moved a lot over the years), but the sheer amount of leather that had peeled UNDER the patches was extraordinary, and disgusting.  All the brown flakes on the carpet in front of the couch there?  That was after I'd swept up a huge pile of flakes as I was working on the one arm.  It was pretty gross.

Oh, in case anyone wonders about this, as I've been asked this question in the past.  No, I do not remove ANY of the original material from the furniture when I do these projects.  I just plain don't have the room, or the time to do so.  Basically, I will remove the back panel from the furniture to attach the back cushion covers (as the material would just rip apart if I didn't as that material takes a lot of pushing and pulling over time) and nail it all back together once I have the material secure, but otherwise I just carefully hand stitch each new piece to the existing material little bit by little bit until it is completely covered.  I use double thread to do these projects and use the heaviest thread I can find (in this case, carpet thread that I had in with my thread stores) so it can take punishment.  I also found that with this style of furniture that letting the material for on the back cushions and a bit of material on the side cushions hang down loose allows more give and take with the fabric itself and wears on the pieces I sewed on a lot better.  Leads to more tucking of fabric, but I'm okay with that.

Anyway, getting the new arms all sewed on destroyed my finger tips for the day and flared my bicep tendonitis, so I called it a day and went back at it the next day.

Step 2, Day 2:  Take old arm cushion leather cover patches and reuse material for new back panels.

This development came about because I came to the conclusion after doing the arms over that I plain didn't have enough material to do the back panels that were flaking to pieces too.  Since the patches for the arms matched the couch, I decided to reuse them to make new back panels.  Seen here as I was sizing up if there was enough fabric to get them done (and there was...barely).

This took FOREVER as I had to sew along the contours of the love seat and also I had to sew over onto the fabric I'd used to cover the back cushions (the material was too shoddy in places when I covered the back cushions, so I had to move fabric around to accommodate).  I also sewed the leather patches into place and then folded over the back cushion fabric and made a double seam on the back pieces so they would not only take more punishment, but also so that everything looked better in the finished product.  This was taken when I took a break to cook dinner.

Day 2, Step 3:  The cushion covers.

Then there was the cushion covers to deal with.  I was at a loss on what to use to cover the cushions with at first as I needed something I could wash a lot as the son is hard on furniture (and loves to smear things like pop tarts into cushions).  I finally, and a bit regretfully, went into my fabric stores and grabbed a nice hefty sheet that I'd been planning on using to create a fall themed quilt with.  But, at least the sacrifice was worth it.  AND I know it's completely washable.

Sorry for the not picture perfect quality of the photo, but the son kept diving onto the love seat to play and I had to do the best I could with the time I had *laugh*.

I've still got a bit of detail work to get done on this.  I need to put finishing touches on the cushion covers (there's some folds versus actual stitching that I need to fix on them), and probably a few things I need to secure on the love seat itself as things get moved around here and there, but overall, for a make do and mend type of job, I think it came out looking PRETTY decent.

So, weekly goal one, done.  We now have a working love seat that you can sit down on and not stand up with tons of little leather pieces sticking to your pants as you do so.  I'm calling this one a win.

This week's goal is going to be getting some skirts made for the daughter and HOPEFULLY starting to get my pantry rearranged.  Stay tuned for that (and yes, the money saving weekly recap is coming tomorrow...I wanted to include this project with it and didn't want to wreck the surprise by doing that one first *laugh*).

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?

Monday, May 7, 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?