Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Frugal Friday (Times 2): Money Saving Weekly Recap

Wow!  It's been a roller coaster of stuff going on around here!  I keep praying that the Good Lord will be nice enough to bless us with just some nice smooth sailing for a bit where we can all just catch our breath, get things done, and be healthy, but so far it's not come to pass.

First there was the daughter and school.  Ugh.  It's been insane the last two weeks.  First, I pick up Armina from school Friday before last super upset as the counselor had asked her to come down to her office and she found out that she had to go into a more basic math class than the one she's in now.  As a result of this her entire schedule was going to be changed pretty much and Armina freaked.  With an autistic brother who is his own version of walking chaos, my daughter is one who craves structure and stability.  When things happen to mess up her little universe bubble...she doesn't take it well.  She doesn't even like her dad or I to play with her as it messes up her playing scenario she had going on.  So, I dealt with a freaking out daughter all weekend long and I kept assuring her that we'd figure it out and to not panic.  It didn't work and I dealt with a lot of scared and upset tears that weekend, but I tried.

So, that Monday rolls around and the husband came home from work early so I could run into school and have a sit down with the counselor about the daughter's schedule.  Luckily, the counselor had seen how upset Armina was at the prospect of her schedule getting messed with and hadn't changed anything, so we were able to figure out a way that while the daughter would lose her elective classes (which depressed the daughter as she was looking forward to taking art this year) she wouldn't lose any of her current teachers and only the one period would be changed to accommodate the new math class.  It's a supplemental class she and others in the school have to take due to their under average standardized test scores...kind of a tutoring class on top of their regular class.  Since the daughter's shown a LOT of improvement in her reading with her having her English teacher for not only English but Advisory (kind of a more busy version of study hall where different teachers trade off the class to teach kids different things instead of the kids having actual study hall) as well...I really do feel she could benefit from this, so I didn't fight it and I hope she can get caught up math-wise and not feel so lost in her regular math class because of the extra help.

And then report cards came home as soon as we got that mess worked out and I found a less than stellar grade in Social Studies of all things.  Since she'd been making an "A" at halfway point in the quarter I was baffled.  My husband and I stopped by one afternoon to try and talk to the counselor about it, but she was busy, so she ended up calling me back.  She went through the daughter's test scores and things in the class and couldn't find anything really amiss there, but DID find the reason for the not stellar grade.  Turns out the daughter had just not been turning in assignments.  I was mad at her for DAYS after finding that out.

Since than the counselor has helped me sign up for the online parent program through the school that allows me to literally pull up all of the assignments for the daughter's different classes and figure out what she's missing and what she might need help with.  I've tried to sign up for this program since the daughter was in Kindergarten with NO luck (it would just NOT work for me no matter how much I tried), so I was thrilled when the counselor helped set me up properly and I got it all working. 

Since then my husband and I have been working our butts off with the daughter to get a few assignments done that she hadn't turned in yet THIS quarter and to help her do a country project for her Social Studies class.  She had chosen China, which turned out was a lot more involved than the daughter had thought it would be since China has been influenced by so much through it's existence and then we had to send in some traditional food for the assignment.  Being frugal, I decided to forgo Peking Duck (go figure) and went with rice (to represent Southern China) as an example of a staple (and traditional) food and went with the traditional birthday meal of noodles and peaches (which seemed to be a universal birthday dish for China as a whole) for a bit of variety.  I THINK she got a decent grade on the project (I hate it when teachers just put notes like, "Give extra credit for..." but don't give you any details on whether they included said extra credit in the grade they posted *sigh*), so we'll see if it helps to bring up her grade.

Now that the daughter knows I can stalk her academically she seems to be taking things a bit more seriously, so I'll take that improvement in attitude for sure.  MAN, I hate Junior High.  The lack of energy, the lack of focus, the "meh" attitude about everything...I remember it well and now I get to fight it all over again in my children.  All we have to do now is do charts on questions she got wrong on a science quiz to bring up that grade and I THINK we'll be back on track.  I hope.  I pray.

Between that and just fighting ill health, it's been a challenge.  With two kids in two different schools there is just SO many more germs going around that it's like we can't stay well this year.  I've been popping vitamins like mad, making sure I keep balanced meals going as much as possible and trying to make sure I get enough rest, but it's still rough.  The son is home today with cold-like symptoms where he goes into coughing fits and is just generally not well.  I woke up with a terrible sore throat and congested myself.  It might be a kind of cruddy Halloween on the health front.  I'm praying it all works out and we'll be able to go and do some Trick-or-Treating for the daughter's sake, but we'll see. 

Because, of course...we not only have the whole health issues to deal with at the moment.  Nope.  We went from this....

To this...

All at once.  We got dumped on, hard, with snow starting Sunday night.  The roads have been an absolute MESS since then.  We haven't seen a plow, or a sand truck in two days and when I went to drop the daughter off at school this morning they were still plowing out the school (the school is the responsibility of the Borough while the roads are the responsibility of the state, so it's double dropping the ball here).  I have about 18" of snow sitting on my grill and deck at the moment.  Winter came in hard and the road crews just seem to be ignoring that winter is here at all.  My poor husband has been driving to work on a glorified ice skating rink (he actually wondered if the state had sent a Zamboni out to polish the roads to a nice polished ice surface last night as he worked his way SLOWLY to work) and taking the daughter to school this morning was definitely an experience.  Thank goodness for four wheel drive on the truck.  I was definitely grateful for it today.

I kept the kids home yesterday as when I saw trucks trying to drive up my road and nearly going sideways and they had heavier vehicles than mine I said, "Um, no" and just called the kids in sick.  So, yeah, we'll see how the roads are tomorrow or we might be making loads of Halloween treats tomorrow night and just staying home.  The daughter will be disappointed as she's super thrilled with her Halloween costume (we ended up buying her one due to lack of time.  She picked it out herself and I have to say I'm glad she was able to do that as I was WAY off what I thought she wanted an enchantress costume to look like), but we'll see how it goes.

And now that you've got a basic (abridged as I know there was a bunch of other chaos going on that I just don't want to reprocess right now *laugh*) timeline of events the last two weeks, let's get to the money saving things that happened the last two weeks as well.

1.  Let's start with shopping since I posted the pic of some of my finds up top there.  Shopping went well last week.  Carrs gave me a ton of personalized price deals that were a combo of regular personalized prices and some of them were just a percentage off of a certain type of product (like 10% off frozen foods or 15% off health and beauty products).  They then gave me a 5.00 off my next shopping trip coupon (no minimum purchase required) a coupon for 5.00 off my next shopping trip of 50.00 or more and another one for 11.00 off my shopping trip of 100.00 or more (I didn't get the 11.00 thing as I figured it would have been 10.00, but whatever).  They also had a coupon for 5.00 your next shopping trip of 50.00 or more in the actual weekly ad you could use as well.  So, I stacked all of my personalized prices.  I stocked up on toothbrushes (which we were in desperate need of), got the husband some frozen dinners (I was able to stack a monthly personalized price of 1.54 per meal with my coupon code to get the meals for a little over 1.00 a piece) and other things.  The coolest find, for me, was actually the chicken (seen above).

I had a personalized price of .94 lb for the value packs of chicken and a personalized price of 1.11 lb on skinless chicken breasts.  I was kind of "meh" about it as while it was a good deal I didn't really NEED chicken that badly, but when I ran across a bunch of chicken on reduced I did the math and picked it up.  I was able to get thin cut chicken breasts for about .80 per package (score!) and I got big value packs of chicken drumsticks for 2.00 and some change after personalized price and discount.  I can ALWAYS use chicken at that price!

The pork chops after discount and a personalized price on pork I had ended up being around 2.00 and some change, which was totally worth it for a quick and easy dinner (the husband even brought the last pork chop with him to work that night for lunch, so it worked out doubly well).

I was able to get toothbrushes for about 1.00 a piece for decent ones, got the kids new battery operated toothbrushes (I ended up getting them adult toothbrushes versus the throw away kid ones as the interchangeable heads moved in two directions versus just spinning on the one part, was only 1.00 more than the kids toothbrushes and I can change the heads and the batteries in the new toothbrushes and keep some battery powered toothbrushes out of the landfill...works for me :) and got other groceries we needed and walked away feeling good about what I paid.  After all of the discounts were taken, various money coupons were taken off and everything I ended up spending about 90.00 for everything I bought and I got meat, produce, dairy...you name it (and we needed a lot of boy food, so the fact that I was able to get off that cheap made me feel good :).

2.  Speaking of shopping we have been working hard to get our Shop Your Way points redeemed at Sears as quickly as we can when they come in.  We went and spent about 30.00 in points a few weeks ago and got my son new shoes in the next size up (they were on clearance, which was cool), an 8' extension cord that was marked down to 1.00, some shoe insoles for my husband and we felt pretty good about what we were able to get.  This weekend we had to go and run and use up another 27.00 (around) worth of points before they expired (we get them and they expire FAST it seems) so on Saturday we went and saw what we could find.  They didn't have jeans in my husband's size in, so instead we looked around.  I, being me, immediately headed to the clearance racks.  I was able to get my daughter a nice cross body leather purse that was small enough to be practical but large enough to hold her cell phone (we got her a prepaid cell when dividends came in so she'll be able to get a hold of us during concerts and things if she needs to, so we don't get separated from one another and wander around aimlessly) for super cheap and I went and hit the men's clearance racks and was able to find my husband four shirts on clearance for a little less than 5.00 a piece to wear to work (which was good as the ones he has at home are getting holey).  With the Shop Your Way points to redeem we left spending about 5.00 for everything.

3.  I also stopped by the used store this week as we got the dress code for the daughter's school in and if kids wear leggings they were supposed to wear shirts that went down to cover their behinds.  The daughter LOVES to wear leggings and I was worried some of her shirts weren't going to be quite long enough (as she's growing again), so I went and got some shirts that I knew would work with the dress code and the daughter can continue to wear her beloved leggings to school.  While there I also picked up four pillow cases, two pairs of matching colors, to embroider some pillow cases for the kids for Christmas.  The daughter has already made her embroidery request known (purple foxes...go figure) and I'll figure out something cool to embroider for the son's cases.  I was happy though as the pillow cases were only .50 each.

4.  My daughter and I are continuing to watch Bob Ross at night before she goes to bed.  I've found this is actually working really well to keep her nightly stomach aches at bay, so it's been totally worth it to go to bed a bit later than I had planned us to to stop her from having to take medication.

5.  I ended up using the 10.00 Amazon credit from the whole lemon bar debacle to buy the husband another pair of shoe inserts (he goes through a LOT of them with the amount of walking around he does at his job).  Glad I used it up as it started out as 10.00 when I got it but when we actually got a chance to use it, it was already down to around 8.00 and some change.  I wasn't impressed that there was a time limit to use the credit before it went away after everything that happened.  I've not been impressed with Amazon this last year for sure.  It's like I finally invest in a year of Prime and that's when my customer service experiences with Amazon went through the floor.  I'm actually PAYING to be treated poorly.  Makes me feel great.  Grumble.

6.  I signed up for a new product testing mission with "My Magazine Sharing Network" to try out cold and flu medicines.  Considering how this year is shaping up health-wise, I was super thrilled to get that mission!

7.  I took advantage of a free mug code from Shutterfly to order my husband a new tank mug.  I had gotten him a white mug with the design on it earlier in the year to replace the one he really loved that was black because it had come in at a good time to get it (right after the other one broke), but this one I was able to get in black again so I'll be able to replace his favorite mug with a direct replacement.  I'm going to put it under the tree for him, so it also takes care of a Christmas gift at the same time.

8.  I had ordered school pictures for the kids but only the daughter's had come in.  I waited a few days and then, figuring something was wrong, I called Life Touch.  It turns out the order hadn't been shipped for some reason so the gal re-ordered the item to be sent out.  Hopefully this time it comes.

9.  Scheduled a lifetime oil change on my husband's car, so he'll be able to go in and get his oil changed for free.

10.  When the daughter needed a notebook for her new math class and needed some new glue sticks I went into the small school supply stockpile I have and got her the things she needed.  She was happy to get the stuff right away and I was happy that I didn't need to go and spend money to get the supplies.

11.  I used Brandy's (The Prudent Homemaker) recipe for carrot cake as the daughter had been BEGGING me to make one.  Despite a fiasco with dumping twice as much pineapple into the cake as it was supposed to have as the daughter was not wanting to help and in a panicked rush to get the cake in the oven after she didn't do what she was supposed to I just dumped the entire can of pineapple into the batter instead of reading the directions.  I ended up baking the cake for about an hour longer than the recipe called for (reduced the heat to 325 for 45 minutes and then back to 350 for the last 15 minutes) to bake off all of the extra moisture the cake turned out pretty good.  It was an interesting combo of a good carrot cake until you hit the pockets of pineapple in the cake and then it tasted like a pineapple upside down cake.  It got eaten at any rate :).

12.  I made rice and noodles for the daughter's school project instead of going for more expensive traditional fair.

13.  My daughter's boyfriend made her a pretty necklace, but he didn't wind the wire around the crystal well enough and the crystal fell out of the cage he'd made.  I took some jewelry wire I had around the house and fixed the necklace for her as she was upset at the idea of it being broken.  I didn't have the right color wire so she ended up with a combo of gold and silver wire holding the crystal cage closed, but she really liked how the necklace turned out, so I was happy with that.

14.  We watched Halloween themed cartoons and shows that we had put aside to watch at Halloween while the husband was home on his nights off.  The husband and I would then go down in our bedroom and watch the horror movies we wanted to watch for Halloween fare after the kids were in bed for the night.  This way the daughter doesn't have nightmares and we can still enjoy the more scary parts of Halloween that we enjoy :).

15.  Speaking of Halloween I was able to find the son a used Halloween costume that the package had just been opened on it.  I was able to get it for 5.00 versus nearly 30.00 and all the parts were included with it!  I washed it carefully to make sure nothing weird might be on it, but I was happy :).

16.  One of the mom's whose kids are in the same swim class as my kids was nice enough to gift everyone in the class some Christmas ornaments she and her daughter's made to congratulate the kids on a great job in swimming.  The daughter got a pink butterfly ornament so she wants to hang it up in her bedroom as part of her decor instead of hanging it up on the tree.  The mom was thrilled and I thought it was really cute and nice of her to do that.

17.  I signed up for some free samples the last couple of weeks.  I am still on some of the old coupon newsletters from my coupon blogging days and found a couple that were actually really up my alley, so I was thrilled to request them.  Now to hope they come *laugh*.

18.  I went and looked up online resources to help me help my daughter with her homework.  It's amazing to me how much great information is available online. 

19.  I asked my mother-in-law, who home schooled a bunch of her kids if she had any old text books I could borrow to help with social studies and math and she said she did!  So, hopefully I'll be able to borrow some books that might give a new, and better, perspective on things for the daughter to grasp.  Here's hoping!

20.  One of my husband's co-workers is retiring and had a going away party last night.  My husband looked at the sign up list for the pot luck dinner and figured out they were lacking in the desserts, so I asked him to sign us up to bring in brownies.  I used a free brownie mix I'd gotten from Fred Meyer earlier to make the brownies.  They were a big hit, nothing came back home, and they were nearly free for me to make (since they required cooking oil and eggs they weren't completely free, but close enough :).

And, yeah, I am going to call it good there as the son is getting cranky, I'm getting hungry and my back is starting to ache after sitting in one spot typing for so long *laugh*.

How about you all?  How did you do these past two weeks?  Well, I hope?


  1. The not turning homework in at this age is a developmental thing that so many kids go through. My always conscientious, straight A kid did it and I was just completely flabbergasted. Teachers explained its common, developmental, and wouldn’t last and it didn’t. Still so frustrating while it’s happening though!

  2. Oh Erika, there's never a dull moment for you, is there?!

    Earlier this month, our weather changed from very hot to quite cool and fall-like all in the course of a day or two. But your snow situation sounds awful. DH has a 4WD truck, and mine is a rear wheel drive S10, so I am home to stay if we get a big snow. And our area is one of the last to be plowed.

    I've been trying to work on Christmas (and birthdays - our family has quite a few in December - February). The older grandchildren get, the harder and more expensive, the gifting task becomes...

    I hope you'll all feel better soon.
    Enjoy those Halloween movies with your hubby : )

    Your money saving list was impressive - hopefully it helps to make up for all the junior high troubles. I had to grin when you said you can now stalk your daughter academically and how it has amazingly made her shape up!

    I was able to get a small reduced price roast and turn it into at least 4 meals for us. Kroger has had a good price on bags of organic apples, and some other halfway decent sales on things that I buy, for once.

  3. I wish that you would get a bit of a break in life and have a couple of nice, relaxing weeks with NO surprises - but it just doesn't seem to be your lot in life at the moment. But I am always impressed with how you cope and eventually just get on with things.
    It's been an odd couple of weeks for me - on the one hand I feel as though I've accomplished a fair bit - switched over to a new locker space in the basement of my apt. and since the new space is smaller (but more accessible) it meant a lot more purging and resorting - which has been a good thing and I'm pleased with the results.
    I have also done a good cleaning in my apt. so this week I'm concentrating on just keeping it up - today is dark & gloomy so I'm going to dust & vacuum, put away some odds & ends that have accumulated and do a bit of laundry. Then I can enjoy the next few days with friends.
    But I have also been procrastinating - in doing some homework for my language class and in sending in resumes for some part-time work. I get stuck like this every now and again - not sure why - once I get started I'm fine and it usually takes no time at all but it's the getting started bit that is tough.
    I have started looking at Christmas needs - and I have decided on the colour scheme for decorating using what I have on hand and discovered that I only need to buy some cards - I have enough of everything else for gift wrapping. Now I just have to decide what I am making - my friends and I tend to just give small items or consumables these days - everyone is in purging mode so no one wants a lot of "stuff" added to their homes.
    It has been cold enough a few mornings for snow flurries but so far nothing in southern Ontario. The weather is supposed to dry out for Halloween this evening and temperatures should be around 50F as the kids go out so not too bad at all. I'm going to go out and have a walk around to see all the house decorations and the kids in their costumes. I live in a small apt. building with only 1 or 2 kids so we don't really do anything here as all the buildings around us are the same - very few little ones so parents take them over to the adjacent neighbourhoods for Trick or Treating. I hope things improve so your kids can get out and I hope that you and your hubby enjoy those scary movies!

  4. I have to agree with you on Amazon going downhill, and I live in the lower 48, so there's no excuse for them here at all. I had a package get returned to Amazon before I even received it, and when I tried to get a refund I was only refunded part of the amount. I chatted with them and was told the partial refund was because they charged a restocking fee - I pointed out that I had never recieved the package, and was told, VERY rudely, that it was a "return by customer". After a bit of back and forth, and a demand by me for an attitude adjustment on the part of the rep, I was credited the full amount, but that, plus a few other frustrating mistakes on their part, has made me loath to order from them ever again.
    Anyway, hope things calm down some for you! You are an inspiration to be able to be frugal despite all the obstacles, and I enjoy your blog~

  5. Oh the fun of junior high students! My daughter worried too much about getting good grades and would stress so much. She was always on the B or A honor role. My oldest son however, just did not care. I would sit down with him every night and make sure the homework was done. I spent time and money on new file folders and getting him organized according to classes so he would have no trouble turning homework in. Still he would have failing grades. He was getting As on all his tests, would know all the answers if he was asked to respond in class but still not turning in homework. We found all his finished homework at the bottom of his locker :( So, my husband resorted to going to school with him every morning and walking him from class to class and watching him hand in every piece of homework that was due that day. Then my son would cheerily say, "Thanks Dad," and go on with his day. It didn't phase him a bit to have his dad do this. We ended up doing what the teachers suggested and totally backed off. He ended up failing a class and had to take summer school. From that point on he did as little as he had to do to not get a failing grade. To prove to his sister that he could do it in high school, he was on the A honor role for one semester and then his grades went back down to just passing. School was just not his thing. He never enjoyed any aspect of it and he just didn't care about grades. It was hard on this mom at the time to know he had the potential of being a great student but not being able to get him do it. But he's now a happy productive adult living on his own in a neighboring town, holding down a managerial position at his place of work. It all worked out for the good!

    1. I love that your husband walked him around school. That's great. And most kids would be mortified so it's even funnier that he didn't mind. I am a junior high teacher so can totally appreciate you having to go that that extreme. :)

  6. Oh man, my son, who used to cry if he forgot a worksheet at school, completely shut down and stopped doing schoolwork at all in sixth grade. It's like aliens descended one night and left with his brain in tow. He's 16 now and still not completely back, although he's gotten a little better over the years. I keep telling my husband that I'm moving out when my daughter turns that age...

    Your snow looks really pretty, but I hope they plow for you soon!!!