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Archive for January, 2018

Question for those of you that freeze food...

January 25th, 2018 at 03:58 am

OK, so when we purchased our house, we inherited a deep freezer. I began freezing leftover meals, some meats, etc. Over the course of three really busy years, it has sat relatively untouched. What's the statute of limitations on frozen foods? I mean, I may not even know how long some of those items have sat down there. The CDC's recommendations I find to be really short.

Any and all advice is welcome! I am hoping to not have to heartbreakingly throw a whole lot of stuff out (but have a feeling I may have no other choice).

Rough week

January 21st, 2018 at 08:12 am

It seems murphy has decided to pay me a visit. Had an unexpected phone call regarding a bill to a doctor. Also was told by Firestone my tires need to be replaced. Ugh! Top that off with a rumor going around those in higher level positions might not get a raise. Haven't heard a word about a raise from upper level administration. Assuming its true. Once that's confirmed, I will need to rearrange my goals.

Just had a great run to CVS. Spent $8.67. Got 2 bottles of body wash, 2 bottles of dishsoap, 5 deoderants, 2 bottles of babywash and 1 baby lotion. Have been doing a much better job of paying attention to prices at Target and CVS so I can make more informed purchasing. It's been good. I know to buy Tide at CVS, but Dove is better at Target. Interesting how stores mark-up their prices. I like to calculate price per load, price per ounce, etc to help make more informed decisions about when to purchase and when to say pass.

Meal planning has been hit or miss. Have had some really busy days that have messed up my plans. This week I'm looking at the following:

Sunday: chicken thighs, green beans, au gratin potatoes (all in house)
Monday: Slow cooker sweet and sour pork with rice
Tuesday: Leftover sweet and sour pork with rice
Wednesday: Breakfast for dinner (all in house)
Thursday: Grilled cheese sandwiches and soup

I've been packing leftovers or stuff we have in the house for lunches. I'm trying to reduce food waste as much as possible. That said, I certainly haven't been perfect. I am purchasing less groceries weekly so that's good. Trying to pare down the pantry, reduce waste and reign in spending.

Sunday Funday

January 7th, 2018 at 06:38 am

Went for my weekly trip to CVS. Some good coupons matched with a good sale. Got products on which I usually spend a bundle for significantly reduced cost. I purchased $69.22 worth of product for a total of (including tax) $13.90 out of pocket. Got free toothpaste, a free toothbrush and seriously reduced Cerave and Aquaphor. I am left with $10 in ECBs. Pretty happy with that.

Opened a box this morning that I received yesterday and I got my suit two days early! It is super cute and gave me pause...but it's getting returned today! I willed myself not to try it on, not even give it a second glance. My Sunday activity for this afternoon is predetermined. To Macy's I go!

Wishing you all an amazing and relaxing day. Or amazing and productive. Whichever you need Smile

Hoping for a good start to the week...

January 6th, 2018 at 06:05 am

Well, I'm rolling into this week for the first time in a long, long time without panic as to how I will pay for things. Usually, I overspend in the first week because I haven't tracked my spending. This is a big win. Yesterday I engaged in cleaning up bad spending behavior. I returned two pumps I didn't need to Ultra ($4.12) and two pairs of pajamas purchased on clearance to Target ($12.88). I'm hoping that by forcing myself to return things, it will dissuade me from purchasing in the first place. Going to the store and returning stuff is a pain in the #$$. I will return the shell and suit when I receive the suit Monday.

I'm also learning pretty quickly how small amounts of money add up quickly too! My Christmas snowflake fund is pretty padded. And that's with $5 here, $10 there, $3 everywhere. Amazing! I will need to monitor my spending like a hawk. Just a simple stop for a bottle of water or coffee can have a huge affect. I always have dismissed it as a small purchase. I have an app on my phone that I've been using all week to track purchases. Again, it's the first time I've followed through with it.

I spent $74 on groceries for this week. When telling my husband of my ham plans, he whole heartedly loved all meal ideas. We should have a great, inexpensive week of eating. Just to give some context, we live in a relatively high cost of living area near a large urban epicenter. Taxes are pretty high as are grocery prices. I coupon and look for sales as much as possible. A grocery bill below $100 means I'm trying to utilize food in the pantry. Aldi is great for us in this area when I can get over there.

Looking ahead to next week, I've noticed one of our couches is losing its cushion. In fact, the seat cushions are almost pancake like. I googled replacing couch cushions yourself and found some great information on doing it myself. I'm hoping to spend $50 or so next paycheck so I can restuff the couch cushions. DIY baby! Next week, I also need an oil change and will need to get the car washed when it warms up. It's been so cold, I haven't been able to get it washed for fear of the doors freezing. If it gets above 30 tomorrow, that is probably what I will need to do.

Nice Day Off

January 5th, 2018 at 08:37 am

So I have a nice day off today. All offices at work are closed. Yesterday, I sold another item from the local virtual garage sale. That's another $5 to the total for the week. I also earned $5 from Smart Panel for the month of December. I joined this app called Achievement that gives you points for being active. It uses my fitness apps to track progress and give points. I'm 12% on my way to a $10 reward and I just signed up on Monday!

I need to return two items to Macy's. One is a shell that I do not need (and upon opening, do not like it anyway). The other is a suit I purchased at a reduced price, but it's not a need. I may need a new suit if I get offered a position for which I'm interviewing. There are multiple hurdle interviews to get through and of course, a board meeting for approval. I will purchase closer to if I actually make it onward. So that will be a total of $105 back to my account.

I went through and updated the balances of a few accounts whose payments hit and new statements were generated. I noticed an error in my formula and fixed the student loan total. It's significantly less than what I had listed! Whew! Both balances went down. I'm going to love watching those continue to shrink. Glad I ripped the bandaid off and was honest with myself. Now I can truly track it and think, "do I really NEED this? " The answer is almost always no. I'm clicking hide ads and unsubscribing to emails as much as possible too. Trying to reduce the temptation of online purchases.

I recently had to purchase more heavy duty permanent shopping bags and while at it, also purchased reusable produce bags. My municipality is now charging 10 cents per bag (paper and plastic). When I went to our local grocery store yesterday, there were no bags out at the self check-out lines. I hate those bags anyway and usually recycle them, but had forgotten to bring a bag. Luckily, it was only a few items and I was able to carry them to my car. This morning, I viewed an NPR article on garbage in our oceans. Maybe another challenge will be to utilize reusable containers as much as possible. I will work on that too.


January 2nd, 2018 at 03:59 pm

I had a very productive day on the Christmas challenge front. One of my unused gift cards sold on Raise. I also worked on decluttering and posted a number of items on a local virtual garage sale site. It's local so it's pretty quick turnaround. I earned $58 from selling items. I also received an unexpected refund for $29 from my hospital for a payment made through insurance. While decluttering, I found an unused $15 Target gift card. All have been added to the Christmas challenge total.

I also found a $50 gift card to a dry cleaner that I never used after I had my wedding dress preserved. I need to have a few items dry cleaned so while it's far, I'm going to make the trek over there to have them cleaned there for free. The day was full of fun surprises!

I made a pot pie out of the leftover prime rib roast that should last us two days. Ate leftover mashed potatoes with it. All told, I'm calculating the cost of the roast at $2.20 per serving (I purchased it for $17.94). I froze the rest of the meat and bones to throw in and make gravy (pasta sauce) next week. I'm going to make chicken taco meat that should last us through Saturday. I will then make the ham Sunday and use it to make some creative meals throughout the week. The ham was $9 so that's pretty good.

I did some rough calculating and I know for sure I can reduce my debt by about $17K by January 2019. It will be more than that just with regular payments, but I only calculated debts paid off in full by then. Here's to sticking to goals and keeping eyes on the prize!

Coupon Nerdery

January 2nd, 2018 at 07:07 am

A few years ago, a very good friend of mine got into couponing while trying to pay off debt. She was amazingly good at it. The beauty of couponing now is that there are tons of web sites now where they do the work for you. All you have to do is visit them regularly (sometimes deals can be posted daily) and voila! Savings opportunity identified.

There are varying methods and philosophies in the community. Mine is to only coupon for what I need. Sometimes, there will be opportunities for free items that I may not necessarily need but they're great for donating. My philosophy is to look out for deals on things and brands we use regularly, stock up at the reduced prices and keep ahead of having to spend at full price.

CVS is by far the best pasture for couponing. They are generous in their extra care bucks, coupons and you can stack manufacturer and CVS coupons which makes it easy to score deals. When items are on sale, receive ECBS and have manufacturer coupons, it's the best deal. I get everything from deoderant, bodywash, razors, Cerave (my dermatologist recommended it and it's expensive!), Tide, dish soap, Windex, dental care, over the counter meds (only what we actually currently need because these expire), sometimes even groceries.

That being said, my favorite shopping experience is Target. This is a double edged sword because it's super easy to overspend here. The old adage of stick to the perimeter is true here. Stay away from the middle of the store! I love the Cartwheel app. I scored a prime rib roast at 50% off for our New Year's Even dinner and a ham for $9 which should feed us all of next week with meal planning and creative recipes. In fact, when the checker scanned my Cartwheel code on Sunday it reduced my bill by $45.

One of my favorite things about Target is when they offer gift cards back. Like the 52 week challenge, I have in the past tried to save these gift cards for Christmas but then bunk up my finances and end up using them for groceries. This year, I intend to stick to it!

So here's an example of why it's better to buy cheap. Tide pods (I know, a luxury item) are usually $8.99 at Jewel. On sale at CVS, they will be 4.94, sometimes with a deal of spend $30, receive $10 ECBs. I will pair that up with other items that I need to buy within the spend $30 category. Usually this coincides with a coupon that comes out. So this week, I scored this:

Tide pods (12CT) $4.94/$10 WYS $30

16% of $10=$1.60

$4.94-$2 coupon-$1.60 ECBs=Total cost of $1.34

I bought one pack, went in my stash and helps me avoid spending more on something I could buy for $1.34. And when you roll those ECBs you then have less cash to actually pay out. Anyway, that's what I do and why I do what I do. I monitor what is actually a good deal and what is actually needed in our stash. My stash is big enough that I can wait until things are free to close to free.

Welcoming myself back!

January 1st, 2018 at 08:11 am

Happy new year everyone! I've been lurking for years, every now and again touching base with your blogs and refreshing myself on best frugal practices. It comes and goes, wanes and waxes. I start afresh, then throw it all away when the chips are down. Decided that my old username was too identifiable and also, a name from an era to which I no longer identify. I'm remarried, have much more lucrative, stable employment and know that I have a spending problem.

That's right, I said it. I have a spending problem. I budget, I pay my bills, I know what I need to do but I spend on things for which I do not have the money. Similar to my discarded smoking habit just with credit cards and such. I've identified it's a problem and now I seek to fix it.

There is no reason for me to be here. I make excellent money and have few financial obligations other than my debt. I am well taken care of by my husband. I've been working on my come to Jesus moments throughout the past few months and recently listed all of my debts for myself. Recently, we had a contract settlement at work and I'm hoping to finally get my raise in arrears. I will put that immediately into savings as my 1K emergency fund. I will then begin hammering that debt.

A few years ago, I was heavily into couponing. Like extreme hoarding couponing. I'm gravitating back to it...a bit. Looking at free or almost free items and stocking up on things I know we will need or use at at a reduced cost. I'll post some pictures of my "treasures" as my husband calls them. I'm also looking at snowflaking a Christmas challenge account where I deposit rebates, rewards, pinecones, garage sale revenue....list is endless. So far I'm up to a projected $215 (payout for rebates and rewards in the coming couple of months). I'm also doing the 52 month challenge. I want to finally succeed at that this year!

The fact that many of you are still on here provides warmth and welcome. Amber, Ceejay74...I'm always happy to see you here. I'll be working on updating my horrifying stats in my sidebar soon. Happy to be back.