Friday, April 26, 2019

Frugal Friday: Money Saving Weekly Recap for the Second 1/2 of April

Man, this month has gone by so crazy it's a miracle I'm getting any blogging done NOW. 

Good, bad or indifferent, here's a short list of things that has happened this month.

1.  We got the disaster loan finalized and now have the funds available to finally fix the house and yard up (yay!).  We had to run back to the FEMA center to do the closing documents one day and then last week I had to call Alvah in sick to therapy because we had a final walk through inspection by the Small Business Association (the ones who give out the disaster loans) to confirm damage to the property.  The guy who walked us through the damage was actually thinking we might need more money and was thinking of requesting more, but we told him we'd be okay with what we got.  If you go up over 25,000.00 in a disaster loan they require you to put a lien on your property to protect their end of the bargain, but since we borrowed less than 25,000.00 the loan process was a lot easier and had a lot less steps to go through before you could have funds released to you.

Which it turned out we needed to get the loan in as soon as possible because....

2.  The oven stopped working right again and was just acting crazy and defying the laws of thermodynamics.  After a week of avoiding using the oven unless I absolutely had to we went in to our local appliance store (Allen and Peterson for those in the Valley and Anchorage area) and I found a really good deal on the oven I'd had my eye on for quite a while but always figured was out of my price range.  They were running a special on appliances as part of an Easter sale and the gal who helped us was nice enough to give me a quote on the stove to lock in the price for 30 days for us.  Found out that night that the loan had gone through, so we went back the next day and bought the oven and it got delivered this week (a shot of it after the husband had managed to struggle it up the stairs with me helping on the last leg of the journey and had gotten it into its new home is up top).  We finally got it all hooked up and ready to go yesterday.  I'm so insanely excited to start using it!  I am so happy that part of the loan they gave us was to cover personal property loss due to the quake, because the oven was definitely a tragedy of the earthquake and I feel really blessed that the old girl lasted, or limped along depending how you look at it, until we had the loan and could afford to replace her.

The new oven pops out more than the old one (since that's the style for ovens now) and so I ended up losing use of my knife drawer because you can't get it open now.  The husband has plans to redo the kitchen and is trying to figure out the best way to do it (the counters got gouged and beat up in the quake, the linoleum has holes and slashes in it, the drawers got bent by stuff falling into them...the kitchen survived, but definitely has some problems)  so we'll see how that goes in the following months.

3.  The husband hasn't had time to work on much of anything this month, which is upsetting since we finally got the money to try and get the chimney fixed ASAP.  He's been working on his days off for other people, so he gave up trying to get the chimney done by himself and called a general contractor he knows and likes to come and help get it done.  They are hoping to start next week (the husband is working overtime this week and the general contractor is trying to finish up another job), so fingers and toes crossed on this one as my electric bill is giving me hives every month.

4.  The son's eczema flared bad the last bit and he ended up with really messed up feet as a result.  He's been a walking pile of band aids the last week or so as I've really fought to keep his feet from getting infected and him having to go on oral antibiotics.  And, I PRAY it has worked.  He's still got a couple nasty fissures on a few toes, but old skin is starting to peel off and new healthy skin is starting to shine through.  He's been limping around and pretty miserable, the poor thing, so I'm so happy he's starting to feel better.

5.  Speaking of the son his sleeping medication just out and out stopped working last week, which was a whole lot of not fun for anyone involved.  Between that and the fact that the Risperidone generic switched from a white pill that Alvah had taken for the last couple of years and done fine with to a orange pill that he could barely get down (gagging, vomiting it back up on you...the whole nine yards) and he was a mess behavioral-wise.  I took him to him in to see his doctor and she started trouble shooting the problem and we PRAY we're on the right track.  We go in next month to see how he's doing, so pray with me that the new format of Risperidone (higher dose pill so we only have to get one pill versus two down him, which doubles my odds and upping his Clonodine dose as well) and things work out well and he's back to fighting fit by then.

6.  It's kind of Spring here (we keep getting snow in the mornings but it'll be melted by the afternoon, which is pretty typical for Alaska this time of year) and as a result the darned larder beetles are invading again.  I've been busy Spring cleaning and fighting them taking hold in the meantime, so it's been hectic and frustrating.  I think I'm making progress getting rid of them, though, before they can really spread like mad, so hopefully I'm not being overly optimistic and it's going okay this year before I end up in an out and out war with the suckers again.

7.  We've been fighting colds and other sickies as well as just seasonal allergies around here, so it's been a battle not feeling exhausted all the time.  I just feel plain worn out and I think a lot of that is because we haven't been WELL all school year...I think I'm feeling worn out because I am.  I'm really looking forward to summer break and us being able to get and stay well for a while.  Luckily we're in the final countdown as school ends toward the end of May, so yay for that.

8.  The blogging is late due to all of the above and the daughter horking my computer the last couple of weeks getting caught up on school work that she didn't bother to get done until midterm grades came home and we had a long, LONG talk about getting work done on time and how there is no excuse for getting bad grades like this a month and a half after being on the honor roll at school...none.  She's getting there on getting the school work caught up, which is good, but this weekend we have to get a book report done that is due early next week, so I figured I'd betting grab the computer while I still could to get blogging done and assure you all that I am, indeed, still alive :).

9.  I'm still fighting with the hospital to get my money refunded to me.  Supposedly they were supposed to get a check out to me March 18th and they told me to give it a few weeks.  I gave it a month, called the guy back and told him that I hadn't gotten it.  He told me he didn't know what happened to it, he'd get a hold of the check writing company and blah blah blah.  He told me he'd give me a call in a few days and if I didn't hear from him to call him back.  I didn't hear from him so I called him back Wednesday.  Still didn't hear back from him.  Called him back today and left a message asking the serious question of do I have to sue them to get my 99.00 back.  I also told them that all I wanted was my money back and it would be beyond ridiculous if I had to sue to get that type of money back.  So, we'll see if I hear back from him after this or if I have to go and find a lawyer.  Not only a pain, but kind of insane that it has had to get to this point.

And, yeah, now that I think you're mainly up to speed on things (I swear I'm forgetting a few things, but I think that's enough really), let's get to the money saving recap, shall we?

1.  Grocery shopping has gone pretty well the last little bit.  I have to say that the second chance Monopoly game has been a real benefit for the most part, although the last leg of it here has been really disappointing.  I had been saving up tokens (you win tokens by imputing codes online from the Monopoly game pieces and then you can redeem them for prizes) to get a 10.00 grocery gift card only to find that there is a maximum amount that the Safeway franchise would put into certain prize categories and the maximum (I think it was like two million dollars nationwide) had been reached, so I was out of luck there.  I finally decided to redeem the tokens I had for free products as that was really the only option left, but I assumed that you could redeem the codes for free grocery products more than once.  Nope.  You can get one of each food prize and that's it.  So, I took what I had from my tokens last week and just got every product that I thought was worthwhile off of the list and than I'll redeem the codes I have in my  newest Monopoly stack (a lady in front of me at the store gave me a big pile of them when she saw I was playing) and see if I can get the rest of the food and grocery items.  After that I'm probably going to just stop doing the second chance contest...not that there is much time left in the game anyway...I think it ends in a few weeks time. 

I also redeemed a few bonus fuel rewards for free products as well this last week, so I got a free dozen eggs for one fuel reward and two boxes of pasta with another fuel reward. 

The other box of pasta, the french bread, the sour cream and the aluminum foil were all from the second chance Monopoly game redemption.  The aspirin, the bagel and the hot dog buns were wins from the printed Monopoly instant win game prizes. 

Oh and I forgot these...
That was another second chance token redemption with the Monopoly game.  This week, after all of the freebies and coupons I had loaded onto my card I spent less than 50.00 on groceries.  I was happy with that.

Last week I also had some freebies to redeem, so here you go.  I redeemed a few bonus fuel rewards to get a free thing of ice cream and to get 3.00 off of produce (which I spent to get a cantaloupe for .99 after coupon) and also redeemed some printed Monopoly coupons (I had actually gotten a small stack of game pieces on the previous visit, so was shocked to find so many instant win tickets in them :) to get some freebies.  The big one was I had a coupon for a free thing of Frenches yellow mustard, but it was 20 oz.  I looked and looked through the mustard on the shelves and finally found the 20 oz bonus container and also found that the mustard was buy one get one free.  So, after coupon I got two containers of mustard for free (which was pretty awesome).  I also got a coupon for a free can of vegetables, so I got a free can of green beans and I also got a free 10 ct box of waffles, so that was a nice little bonus as well.

I also had a couple of coupons for other freebies, but I took a different picture of those since these items went upstairs while the others stayed downstairs (I was lazy what can I say).  I was online one day and found that they had a coupon I could load to my card for a free one pound bag of shredded Lucerne cheese.  I was thrilled to load that and redeem it for sure!  I also had some printed coupons for a free thing of macaroni salad, a free thing of sour cream and a free bottle of water, which were also welcome. 

Overall, I was happy with grocery shopping the last few weeks if nothing else :).

2.  With the larder beetles coming back I became a bit obsessed with getting things like towels and blankets into protected areas where larder beetles couldn't go.  I decided to order the cabinet I had talked about earlier off of Amazon for the hallway, but they were sold out of it and didn't know if, or when, it might be back in stock,

I looked around Amazon and finally settled on this cabinet (associate link) as it would fit in the spot I had depthwise and it seemed like it looked nice online.  My mom even sent me a small Amazon gift card to help me pay for it.

I have to say that when I put it together I was impressed.  The cabinet is actual real wood, not particle board and even the back, while thin wood, is actually wood, not cardboard.  It looks nice and does what I needed it to.  I wish it was about twice as tall, but at the same time that would probably make it tippy since it's decently shallow, but I'm happy with it overall.  A shot of it while I was in the middle of stocking it with towels and bathroom supplies is seen above.

3.  I signed up for a free magazine subscription to "Real Simple" magazine and got my first issue in the mail this week.

4.  I watched a lot of different free things on the internet lately, usually late at night while the son isn't sleeping (see the whole his medication stopped working thing). 

5.  I found I needed a word processing program for my computer and didn't have the money to spend on Microsoft products (and really I didn't want to spend the money anyway).  I went and downloaded Open Office, which is some really nice freeware that does basically the same thing as Microsoft products, but for a lot less money :).

6.  As I said earlier I've done a lot of Spring cleaning of late.  I still have a bunch to go, but I'm slowly but surely getting there.  Doesn't cost much money, just time and is super rewarding when you get this or that done.  I rearranged the son's room this week to not only deep clean his room, but also to make it easier to battle larder beetles by freeing up the edges of his room.  It was a pretty nasty couple of days until he got used to the new layout, but he seems to have finally gotten over it and is actually enjoying the new layout to his room, so I'm calling it a win (I'll try to take a picture later when I'm more with it and thinking of such things).

7.  I mended a few holes in my bedroom comforters.  Unfortunately I still have more to go, but progress is at least being made :).

8.  Darned a few of my son's socks to make them last a little bit longer (he drags his feet along the floor when they itch and so he just wears holes in his socks SO fast).

9.  I signed my husband up for the Dollar Shave Club a while ago, but they raised their prices on pretty much everything this last month and I decided to look at other options as they weren't really cheap anymore and I found some cheaper solutions.  I ordered some for the husband to try and cancelled his subscription.  I figure if it doesn't work out I can always sign him up for it again or we can still buy products as we need them, just not at as good of a discount (whatever that means) if need be, so we'll give it a shot.

And there you go folks a quick look at what's been going on around here of late.  How are you all doing?  I know my blogging schedule has been horribly erratic for a bit here, but I'm hoping that I can get back onto an even keel and back to regular blogging here soon.  If nothing else I'm thinking I'll be able to do that once school is over for the summer since I won't be running around like mad every day and hopefully we'll be able to get some major repairs done on the house here soon as well, which would help alleviate not only stress but craziness in my general life.

So, let me know how you are all doing in your lives!  I hope everything has been going well for you all!

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Money Saving Recap for the First Part of April

Honestly, I couldn't remember if it had been two or three weeks since I posted last, so I just punted on the subject line.

Thanks to those who e-mailed me to make sure I was okay.  I just didn't want to post up an update until I had something good to post about.  I had depressing things to post about and I just didn't want to come across as too depressing, so I waited until some good things came around as well to post about.

The biggest bad thing that happened the last couple of weeks was getting a phone call and finding out that a really good friend of ours had died tragically.  We know his parents and we really like them too, so its doubly sad for us knowing what they are going through as well.  You always feel so helpless in situations like this, wishing you could help and make things better and knowing that it's too late for that and nothing you can do, or say, is going to help.  And you have to deal with those feelings on top of your own sadness.  It's rough.

Got the electric bill in the mail and I drained our personal savings down to nothing paying it and I still owe nearly 300.00 by the end of the month to keep caught up on the bill.  That was, and is, depressing to say the least.

Then the daughter brought home another cold, this one really nasty, and I ended up nursing the daughter a good portion of last week, the son through the weekend and I'm still nursing my husband and myself through it.  I even took the daughter to the doctor to make sure she didn't have strep as her tonsils swelled up pretty bad on her.  Bright side is she didn't have strep, bad side is that now I have two medical bills I can look forward to getting between the husband's doctor's visit earlier last month and the daughter's doctor visit last week.  I blame the son for spreading this one as he wasn't happy unless he was sneezing or coughing directly into mine and my husband's eyeballs when he was really sick. 

So, yeah, "sick and depressing" pretty much covered our lives the last little bit.  BUT, there is some good to report now, which is a relief.

The Small Business Association called and we have an appointment on Friday to go in and sign the closing documents on the loan they are giving us.  Knowing that we'll have funds available to get fix things and get the house back up and running more normally is a huge upper for sure. 

I also, in between everything going on, managed to get things done around here, so let's get to that.

1.  I have been trying to make dessert a couple of times a week for a treat and I found a recipe on Pinterest for a strawberry jello concoction with basically chocolate jello layered on top of the strawberry jello, but they called it "strawberry chocolate mousse".  I though that the title sounded better than the recipe they made, so I made strawberry jello and then layered it in some glasses and made actual chocolate mousse and put it on top of the jello in the cups.  It was actually decently tasty and looked neat in the glasses and the daughter absolutely loved it, so I'm calling it a success (seen up top).

2.  When I was at the used store trying to find some new table cloths as ours are starting to die on us, I was looking around and found a bag with some home made place mats in it for 1.50 for the bag.  The place mats were well made and I really liked the look of them, but they were too small to really use as place mats.  I looked at them and realized that if I sewed them together they would make a really nice table runner as the place mats were thick enough that it would be like having a pot holder type of mat all the way down the center of the table.  So, I bought the place mats, went home, took some embroidery floss from my stash and got to work sewing the place mats together by hand.  The table runner came out awesome and it works really well, saving me from having to put pot holders under every hot thing that I put on the table :).

I also like that the design is nice and Spring-like as our weather this Spring has actually been...well...Spring-like!

3.  Shopping has gone okay the last bit.  I redeemed a bunch of bonus fuel rewards last month to get some food items for free and I redeemed those along with some Monopoly freebies I won (the Monopoly freebies seen above).

With the fuel rewards I redeemed some bonus fuel rewards to get some free butter and some free sparkling water.  I was also online one day and found they had a coupon for a free thing of Organic mustard, which I took advantage of.

The tortillas were on sale for 1.49 each one week and I had coupons my mom had sent me for 1.00/2, so I got them for .99 per package, which was a good find.  And the wet wipes I had a personalized price on them for cheap and then had a coupon loaded onto my card for them as well, so I ended up paying a whopping 1.49 for the package of wet wipes (which I needed them, so that was pretty awesome).

I also went online and imputed all of my "Second chance" codes for Monopoly and got enough to get a 15.00 grocery giftcard (which I picked up and used toward shopping) and then I redeemed enough for a fuel reward, which I used to get the sparkling water (which was nice).  I can still redeem points for a 10.00 grocery gift card before the contest ends, which I'm hoping to do, as that will help a bit with shopping and every little bit helps right now.

3.  I ended up cancelling my order for a comforter from Amazon as I sat and thought hard about it and decided that if I was going to put that type of money on my Amazon card, I'd better use it for something we really REALLY needed, so I ordered some laundry soap pods instead.  Not as nice or exciting as getting a new comforter, but I repaired a few more holes that had developed in our old ones and I figure it'll work out in the end.  At least our clothes will be clean this way.

4.  I decided one thing I could do that wouldn't take a lot of money was to start Spring cleaning the last bit.  One thing I decided that needed to be done was getting the china cabinet finished, so I cleaned the bottom out, reorganized it and managed to put a bunch of sheets and pillow cases down underneath and then I put the extra towels in a Rubbermaid tote for the time being and placed it in the hallway.  And then I pulled out my pretty things that hadn't been broken or destroyed in the earthquake, polished the silver and the pewter items and made the china cabinet pretty.  I have to say I get a thrill whenever I walk by it right now.  It's nice having something look organized and pretty after everything that has happened.  I was surprised and thrilled to find that my tea and coffee sets had actually survived the quake on top of my kitchen cabinets (how, I have NO idea, but I was still thrilled none the less), so I cleaned those well and put them away in the china cabinet as well.  With everything more accessible this way I'm looking forward to using the dishes more instead of them just sitting stored out of sight and out of mind.  The shots above and below are actually while the cabinet was in progress as the top shelf looks more "complete" now.  I did keep some things in the cabinet that just plain need to be in there, like the wet wipes and the prescriptions for the kids, but for the most part I thought it turned out looking really nice.

I polished the silver ware in the silver ware chest for the first time in forever and determined that we were actually going to start using it for special occasions and things.  My husband's grandfather gave us the silver ware years ago as a late wedding gift.  He and his wife had run a small antique shop and the silver ware he gave us was odds and ends of not complete sets that he had gotten throughout the years and he had put into the chest.  He was all apologetic for not giving us a proper set, but we've always been thrilled with what we were given as it was nice that someone thought of us and wanted to help us start up a "proper household" when we got married.  It was fun for me when I was polishing and cleaning everything as it made me research something I'd never researched before.  What different kinds of silver ware were used for.  For the first time I learned that there was such a thing as a tomato spoon and that we'd been using the wrong spoon for soup all of these years *laugh*.  I'm a huge domestic arts nerd, so I've been having a tremendous amount of fun reading up on all of the different place settings for formal and casual dining, what all of the different type of silver ware and serving pieces are used for, heck what kinds of different glasses you should use for different things and all kinds of fun stuff.  I've been thoroughly enjoying myself educating myself on all of it.

I cleaned up a bunch of stuff that was sitting on top of the cabinets in the kitchen and had gotten coated in grease and grime (since the kitchen doesn't have a proper hood to vent things, it's just a forgone conclusion that things on the cabinets are going to get coated, no matter how hard you try) and have been systematically working through the house cleaning out of the normal things and making them look nice again.  I polished the silver plated bowl/basket I had in the den when I noticed that it was getting tarnished and grimy looking and it's looking much better.  I started pulling books off of shelves and dusting them and trying to put them back into the book cases so that they don't look like they were just shoved back onto the shelves (which they were after the earthquake) and make it so people can find things again.  Tackling one small thing at a time has been working really well, honestly and it's giving me a sense of control over my surroundings again, which is a good feeling as I've felt like I've been living in this state of unreal flux and stress since the quake.  Part of the settling is due to the aftershocks getting slowly but surely less, the assistance money getting figured out so we can move forward and then the cleaning and organizing.  It's nice not to feel like I'm on the verge of a panic attack at any moment anymore, although I definitely have stress due to the electric bill and things, but I know we'll get through it one way or the other and that helps.

5.  Despite being sick I've somehow managed to put dinner on the table most days, which was definitely an accomplishment considering how cruddy we've all felt and it saved us money by saving us from eating out.

6.  I realized that Easter was quick approaching and I don't really have money in the budget to do much of anything for Easter candy and things.  Luckily, I had some things that a friend had gifted to me that I put aside for Easter presents and then I dug out the clearance Easter candy I had bought last year after the holiday and a couple of packages of Andes Mints that I had put away in a secret box in the pantry from previous holidays (the kids love the mints, but they seem to only be on sale for the Christmas holiday through Easter and then they disappear for the rest of the year, so I try to grab a couple of them and put them up for later on).  Complete the look with whatever basket I can find that survived the quake and voila!  Easter stuff is done for the year.

7.  I have been stalking our phone bill since we ended up upgrading to Smart TV's and things and I realized that with all of the things I'd ended up getting in digital format for the son we were eating up our bandwidth for the month EVERY month and eating into roll over gigs we had from ages ago.  When the gigs this month were getting low in the roll over category, I decided to upgrade us to unlimited bandwidth.  The cheapest unlimited plan was 10.00 more per month than our bill now, but I noticed that it was also slower than our current plan was.  I decided to take the chance anyway as most of our digital media things we buy I always buy in SD anyway (because I'm cheap like that) and see what happened as to upgrade to unlimited on our current plan would be nearly 60.00 more per month and there was NO WAY I was going to be able to afford that.  So far it's been working fine and when I called the phone company to see what kind of pro-rate I would have to pay for the upgrade, because I waited until the last day of the month when our bill was normally due with the credit we got for cancelling our old plan and then the pro-rate for the new plan kicked in we would only be paying an extra .33 for the coming month over what our normal bill would be.  I was very happy with that result for sure.

8.  With the warmer weather and the light coming back I was finally able to stop warming up my truck every morning before dropping the kids off at school (since it's and older truck it doesn't like to run cold in cold weather), which is saving me gas.

9.  With the warmer weather we've been having and the coming of more sunlight the upstairs in the house gets decently warm in the afternoons and evenings, so I have found myself being able to turn off a bunch of the electric heaters until late at night.  I'm praying this makes a difference in the electric bill this coming month as I need a break on it, I really REALLY do.

10.  I found a soup tureen at the used store for 1.50 "as is".  I looked it over and over again looking for cracks as the "as is" thing really worried me, but the body of the soup tureen was perfectly fine.  I took it up to the counter and it turned out that the "as is" was because the handle on the lid had popped it's threading component so the lid handle wasn't safe to use in it's current state.  I bought it as it even came with a ladle (honestly it's not my dream soup tureen, but it had a nice small profile on it and the ladle itself that it came with was worth more than the 1.50 as most nice tureens I've found at the used stores are always sans ladle) and when I got home I took my tack hammer and some cardboard (to use as a buffer between the wooden handle and the hammer) and with some precise and careful hammering I got the threading component nice and tight back into the handle of the soup tureen, screwed the entire handle back on and voila!  I now have a nice soup tureen to use for fancy dinners around here (or honestly just to serve soup from so that the ladle doesn't fall into the mixing bowl as I'm trying to serve soup for dinner *laugh*) and for 1.50 and a little work I sure am not going to complain.  I even managed to pay for it with pocket change, so that was also an upper.

11.  I started serious work on a more longer term menu plan, which is nice as it's giving me an opportunity to find sales to match up with things I want to make and/or give me time to find the things I might need in the freezer or pantry and it also gives me things to look forward to making in weeks to come.

And there you are folks.  Some of the happenings and goings ons around here.  Here's hoping things start to look up here soon in a big way.  I could use the break from worry and depressing news for sure.