Saturday, September 12, 2015

Last Weeks Frugal Accomplishments as I Strive for Financial Fitness

September 5 - 12

Saturday:  Just last night I was thinking that I would like a milk crate to put in the back of the Jeep to corral my nature study group supplies so that I will always have them available.  These supplies must include binoculars, hand lens, and field guides.  I will also have a backpack devoted to nature study and can pack it with items in the milk crate based on the activities that we have planned for the group for that day.  I found several milk crates in the garage while cleaning it.  For a split moment  I felt guilty about my decision to have them hauled way but I know that I made the right decision.  I NEEDED the stuff out of the garage - stuff had to go and in a timely fashion.   Well, serendipitously, I found these boxes on the curb today.  There are two nice milk crates and the super cool wooden crate.  What a blessing.

The crates were found on the same block as this sweet little garden.  Isn't it amazing?  I got a small handful of small tomatoes that I munched on the drive home.  I also picked two larger tomatoes that I will greatly enjoy when they have fully ripened.

I worked diligently at uploading photos to Shutterfly so that I can take the fullest advantage of the Labor Day special that they are offering.  The offer is 40% off of everything and 101 free photos.  I also have a code for a free card.  I have been giving some thought about which photos should be printed and have decided that I will pick photos that are representative of our year to be included in Christmas cards to grandparents and such.

Maceo ate with friends today but Bishop and I, for lunch, had leftovers.  Bishop had the roast and horseradish grilled sandwich.  I had the lentils for lunch and muffins as a snack.  While I was eating muffins I got to thinking that next time I make them I will bake them with a dollop of jam in them, as I have a lot of blackberry jam that needs to be used.

I spent most of the day doing some work outside; sorting through things in the garage and organizing. It was tiring but satisfying work.  I now know what I have and can now find things that I need when I need them.  This most certainly saves money.

The other day I saw a friend using a lotion bar; it looked divinely decadent and got me to thinking that I should learn how to make these then gift them to friends and family for Christmas.  This really got me to thinking about Christmas.  I want to make some sort of gift that will work for many of those on my list and encourage me to make something that I have been intending on making.  I could wood burn cutting boards and include a knife or wood burn spoons and gift along with one of Bishop's pottery bowls or I could make lotion bars (like these or these) along with sugar scrub bars.  Oh, I love all of the options and, of course, I could include cookies, my specialty.

Sunday:  My day didn't start quite as planned but I will just roll with it.  I had intended on mowing the lawn early in the day prior to treating myself to a tea at Panera.  I own three lawnmowers and failed to get a single one to start.  The lawn is very nearly getting out of control.  Sigh!

I went to Panera and was given a free iced tea by the management there.  It was such a nice gesture.  While drinking my tea and refilling and drinking again I managed to upload the last of my photos from my trip to Korea to Shutterfly.  Later today I will start putting the books together.  If all goes well I will complete the final seven books of my series and order them using the 40% off code.

I had to make a quick run to the grocery store for a couple of items.  I went tot he closest one and was, once again, alarmed at how high their prices are.  However, while there I did manage to get a couple of bargains.  I purchased spaghetti sauce for 88 cents a can and ground beef for $2.49 per pound.  Even with the continuously rising prices on groceries I try to spend no more than $2 per pound for meat.  Of course, this means that I rarely buy ground beef but at $2.49 per pound I decided to buy 10 pounds.  I feel good about that decision.

For dinner I baked the larger potatoes that I held back the other night when frying up potatoes.  I made a batch of chili some of the ground beef and leftover pinto beans.  I am running low on tomato products in the house so in addition to a can of crushed tomatoes I added a small can of tomato juice to the chili.  I make my own chili seasoning but found that I was out of a critical ingredient, cumin.  I found some ground chipotle chili powder pushed to the back of my spice cabinet and used it in addition to my regular chili powder to try to deepen the flavor.  It worked and was very satisfying.  A chili stuffed baked potato is very filling.

Monday:  I had a slow start to my day as I stayed up way too late last night.  I did go by my favorite bakey this morning for an iced tea (hey, it's my version of Cheers) and was blessed with three free souffles.  Breakfast was ending, they usually toss them but decided to send them home with me to give to the boys.  Isn't that sweet of them?

I went by Lowe's wanting to pick up some weed killer and paint.  I had started painting the stairwell and upstairs hallway but found that the color just appeared too dark in that space.  There is no natural lighting in that space.  I was very dissatisfied, unfortunately.  However, I was able to purchase a far more suitable color today and will be receiving a $10 rebate.  I also used my military id to receive a further discount.  After getting home I made huge progress on painting that area.  I hope to finish it tomorrow.

I also swung by Pier 1 to scout their furniture options.  I am looking for some new furniture for out living room and our master bedroom that is getting a major redo.  I found a shelf that is deeply discounted as it has a little damage to the surface, some small scratches and nicks.  I have decided that it would be great in the upstairs hallway but that I could only purchase it if I got that area painted and if it were still there when I return.  I painted that area this evening.  What time does Pier 1 open in the morning?!?

I did it!  I got my Shutterfly order in.  I only managed to get one book completed and I ordered 195 4x6 prints.  I used a promo code to get 40% off of everything.  Another promo code for 101 free prints was used and yet a third one was used for free shipping.  I am definitely satisfied!

I checked my email and found that I had a coupon for $10 off of a $30 purchase at Kohl's that was set to expire today.  Bishop and I had selected a jacket for him last time we were at Kohl's but they didn't have his size so I knew that I was going to make this purchase online.  I decided that I must purchase it today.  It turned out that it was on sale so I had to purchase an additional item to get up over $30.  I had been yearning for a silicone potholder and found one that will match my kitchen for $6 so I purchased it as well.  Then I discovered that I also had $30 in Yes 2 You rewards which, after deducting the $10 coupon, covered my purchase and I still have rewards cash left.  Another good purchase, glad I caught that email.

I submitted my rebate for the paint that I purchased at Kohl's via online submission.  Done!

Tuesday:  On our way to the work at the food pantry Bishop and I stopped at a local bakery that has absolutely divine pastries.  I have a gift certificate to this bakery that I got through a silent auction.  I paid $12.50 for a $25 gift certificate.  We purchased some breakfast goodies with this gift certificate and I still have plenty left on the certificate, maybe the boys and I will go to lunch there one day.

Sonic was a block away from the bakery so we stopped there for some beverages prior to going to the food pantry.  We ordered ice waters and large beverages.  I would normally order a Route 44 iced tea but large beverages are 99 cents in the morning so I ordered two large iced teas.  These two teas cost less then one Route 44 yet gave me more ounces of tea.

At the food pantry one of our duties is to check the expiration dates on donated goods.  Those that have expired are not allowed to be put on the shelves.  We are allowed to bring home expired items if we wish.  We came home with two packages of pasta, a bag of rice, a can of salsa, a can of enchilada sauce, and two (recently expired) cans of chicken.

We eat lunch while at the food pantry.  I packed some microwaveable macaroni and cheese that I had inexplicably in the pantry.  I also packed some salami and crackers.  I ate the meat and crackers.  Bishop, on the other hand, added the salami to the macaroni and cheese.  He said that it was fantastic.  We finished it off with some expresso cookies that we got at the bakery with our gift certificate.

On our return trip home we passed right by the feed store so I stopped and picked up a bag of laying crumble for my hens.  This fifty pound bag only cost $9.95.  This bag will last at least a month and I couldn't help but think how feeding the hens is so much cheaper then eggs that I could purchase at the store.

I made tuna salad sandwiches for dinner.   I used tuna that I had purchased on sale, mayonnaise that my mom gave me and egg that a friend gifted me.  As I had had the eggs for a bit I opted to do the float test.  I found a couple that were beginning to float, those I will scramble for the hens enjoyment and I decided to boil all of the remaining eggs before they go bad.  Maybe I will have deviled eggs in the morning...yum.

Wednesday:  Bishop and I joined friends for lunch.  We met them at 11 and since we got out of bed late (9am) we opted to skip breakfast.  Lunch was definitely enough!

Bishop and I had history group today and, afterwards, we had a small window of opportunity for dinner before Maceo had to be at rehearsal so we ate at Panera.  More of a frugal fail instead of a frugal success.  It is a reminder to me that I need to PLAN for Wednesdays.  Maybe a crockpot meal would be best for Wednesdays..hmmm...

I knew that the dog had some fleas on her but today she was just scratching incessantly, the poor thing, so I scoured the storage closet for flea medicine of any kind.  I actually found one vial of flea medication for the dog and one for the cat.  Finding these keeps me from having to go to the store and allows me to resist temptation...yessss!

After eating out due to poor planning I really felt like I needed to focus on some frugal tasks yet I was also feeling a bit fatigued.  I opted to try to pace myself.  I did sit a bit watching some tv programs.  I did some swagbucks tasks while watching tv.  I earned 36 swagbucks.  I have nearly enough points for a $25 amazon gift card.

I fed pizza crusts and leftovers to my hen ladies.  They love it and I love that those items don't fully go to waste.

Otherwise, the only frugal steps that I was able to take this evening were to get the kitchen in order so that I could get back in to some sort of groove in the kitchen, I looked at the sales ads for two stores, and began to make menus for the week.  Also, I began to make my shopping list and my to-do list.

Thursday:  On Monday I mentioned that I had found a piece of furniture that I could envision using in the upstairs hallway and it was deeply discounted.  Today I managed to go by the store to get it.  Not only was it still there (yay!) the discount was even better than before.  The shelf was originally $450.  On Monday it was marked down to $145.  Today it was marked $112 but they rung it up at $102.  Isn't that exciting?!?

I did a little grocery shopping this morning.  I am really trying to get back into the swing of things. I was able to get some good deals.  For instance, I purchased ten pounds of pork chops at 99 cents per pound and some chicken things at 79 cents per pound.  I also purchased about eight pounds of gala apples paying only 77 cents per pound.

I did my swagbucks tasks today.  I also noted that points from shop and earn, purchasing Bishop's tennis shoes at Footlocker, were credited to my account.  I now have more than enough swagbucks for a $25 Amazon gift card.  I will be having quite a few more shop and earn points credited to the account in the near future.  When I made Kohl's purchases earlier I used the shop and earn feature. And today I purchased some items from Pier 1 online and utilized the shop and earn feature.

The other night I ordered pizza for the boys and friends.  The pizza receipt had a survey opportunity on it.  I took that survey today and should receive a coupon for $10.

After reading this article I signed up with JC Penneys for coupons via email.

I cleaned out the refrigerator.   I found that I have a significant amount of milk that has begun to go sour.  (We just don't go through it as quickly with Christian, my cereal eater,  not here).  Obviously I need to do some baking - chocolate cake, pancakes, and biscuits.  I also found that I have too many opened jars of jam.  So, once again, biscuits would be a good thing to make.  I will also be looking to this amazing post by The Bluebirds are Nesting for some inspiration on how to use the jams.

Friday:  I can't say that I did much that was frugal today.  In fact, I spent way too much on eating out instead of working the menu.  Maceo's show opened this evening and he really wanted Five Guys as an opening day gift - what's a mom to do?  I do want to note, however, that I didn't eat at Five Guys. I ate leftover bean dip.  The chips had gone a bit stale but I revived them by crisping them up in the oven a bit.

I did have an AMAZING evening of entertainment last night and it didn't cost me a dime, not even a penny.  I used Maceo's two comps to get tickets to the opening performance of Grease.  Originally the second ticket was for Herb but as he has yet to make it back state-side I invited a friend.  Because I provided the tickets to the show she took me out to dinner.  I experienced bacon jam fo' free - score!

Saturday:  I had a coupon for a free beverage that I used to get me an iced tea this morning.  Maceo had to be at the theatre this morning at 9 to warm-up for a 10 am performance.  While he was warming up I drank that free tea then got to view his performance.  It was a delightful way to start the day.

I meant to put a roasting hen in the slow-cooker yesterday and failed.  Instead I put it in the oven today and given the fact that the house was actually chilly this morning it was nice to have the warmth of the oven.

I made hearty pinwheel sandwiches for lunch using ham sandwich meat that I got at a discounted price.  They were marked down to two dollars a pop so I purchased all they had left.  I put some of it in the freezer yet I definitely want to ensure that I get it used and it doesn't go bad.  (A deal is only a deal if it is actually used).  That is why I put these sandwiches on the menu.

I had originally planned to go to a community event today but I decided to stay home, in part, because I am tired and also so that I could get some work done at home.  Staying home probably saved me forty to fifty dollars and I made significant progress on painting the stairwell.

Staying home also inspired me to get in the kitchen and get some baking done.  I made a batch of bran muffins and added blueberries to some of them.  I also made this blueberry crisp.  I have a lot of frozen berries in the freezer that I would really like to use.  Also, the muffins utilize the milk that is beginning to go sour.

Bishop and I end the week with an activity that cost us nothing but contributed to our education and our sense of community.  We joined our local Audubon Society in counting the chimney swifts at a single location in our area.  It was fascinating.  We learned so much.  I did spend some money afterwards, however, as we learned that having ice cream together after the count is a tradition.

It has really been a pretty productive week.

Christmas Jar O' Change:  The previous balance was $134.83.  I will add $5.74 for a new balance of $140.57.

Home Emergency Fund:  The balance remains at $9.

52-Week Savings Plan:  The balance remains at $984.

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