30 December 2008

Welcome to (the new!) Grati-Tuesday!



I wish I could take credit for it, but Gratituesday is hosted by Laura at Heavenly Homemakers. I stumbled upon her brilliance via a Tell All Tuesday link from The Happy Housewife which was in a Mr. Linky on a post at The Lazy Organizer. Whew! Quite the rabbit hole, eh? As a blogger that loveloveLOVES the concept of living with gratitude, I feel like I have come out from under a rock in the discovery of Laura's Gratituesday.

(SIDE BAR: I finally got my in text links to work rather than trying to just post the pure (and aesthetically unpleasing) link ... I hope. Blogger and I are not always friends, so keep your fingers crossed that it keeps working.)

Soooooo, let me be the first (obviously) to welcome you to the new Tuesday feature here at GSF. I was going to hold the new features until after the new year, but I got so blasted excited about this concept that I had to run over and post about it right.this.second. I've never so much been a plan ahead blogger, so why start now? It's 2am! What better time to be grateful?!

Gratituesday: Great in 2008!
I would be remiss if I tried to tell you all about how amazing 2008 was. It was not our best year, by far, which makes it difficult to be grateful for on face. We spent a fair amount of time trying to tame the chaos, and less time than I'd like laughing about it. 2008 was good to us in one most specific and crucial way, though. It has served to teach us a handful of life lessons, 8 of them in fact. For that, I am grateful.

January and February taught me patience.

March was spent reinforcing the real meaning of loyalty.

April and May were all about humility.

June taught me to value integrity and character.

July and August reinforced the need for persistence in doing good works, persistence in doing the right thing, and persistence in making right the things we do not always do right the first time around.

September and October were largely an examination of privilege ... mine, yours, ours, and otherwise.

November helped me see the importance of compromise, most especially in long term partnerships.

December has been entirely about being flexible. Life changes, whether we prefer it to or not, and being inflexible leads to heartbreak and disappointment in those circumstances that you can't change. Hand it over, and let those with higher pay grades take care of it.

Until next year, I am ...



29 December 2008

Attitude is Simply Everything.

The Saturday before the holiday, we were doing laundry and preparing some snacks for a handful of friends intending to brave the blizzard to hang out in our basement for the annual gathering of our friends from college. Less than 10 minutes after rebooting the laundry (read: switching loads, for those non-household productivity nerds out there), the mud room grew intensely quiet. The washer was still running, but the dryer stood silent. I figured perhaps someone had set the timer to the air dry or fluff cycle mistakenly, but of course no such luck. Be fiddled with it for awhile, but without a brand new motor, there likely isn't hope for the old beast.

This is not the end of the world. Sure, we had a washer full of clothes that needed to be dried. Sure, Be was leaving in 2 days for a week of holiday festivities 4 states from here. Sure, we have 5 people's worth of laundry to do every week, but still ... not at all the end of the world. The easy solution would be to put the washer through an extra spin cycle and then hang the damp clothes on the line in the bathroom. (Yes, really, we have a clothesline in our bathroom ... it's kind of huge ... I love it.) Easy peasy, really. We have another dryer in the basement of the garage which needs a part from the appliance store to convert it from natural gas to propane, but that's easy enough to order. Be is mechanically inclined, and I wouldn't even have to call the appliance company. Easy enough, right?

Right. The story should be over. Girl's dryer breaks, boy orders part, girl hangs laundry on the already established laundry line in interim, boy replaces part, girl resumes using dryer. That's not so complicated is it? Or, in my world, it could go something like girl's dryer breaks, girl's family has giant fit, boy neglects to order part, girl continues to suggest hanging laundry on line, girl's family throws tantrum about stiff jeans and scratchy towels and high tails it to the laundromat to PAY for both washing AND drying.

Ugh. I, in turn, am protesting. I live with all adults. They make adult decisions, no matter how I try to influence them. 3/5 of them are at this very moment at the laundromat pumping what will likely equal a wee fortune in quarters into the machines because they insist that line drying is either impossible, impractical, or the root cause of several contagious diseases (work and effort are on the list). Add that pile of quarters to the cost of snacks and sodas that inevitably comes with sitting bored in a laundromat attached to a gas station watching your clothes spin around, and my frustration only grows.


I, the grateful, simple, and frugal blogger will not profess to perfection. I have not always been all three of those things. I will confess to crimes of ingratitude, intense complexity, and frivolity with both money and resources in my past (and occasionally my present ... but I'm trying, I swear!). What I don't understand, though, is throwing away money when there are easy, simple, and FREE options available. Sure, line dried clothes are not Snuggle-brand soft, but neither are the clothes that come out of our regular dryer. Today, although I am ever grateful for the people that make up my family, I am having a hard time understanding them.

Why is it so impossible to consider just making do with what you have?

Likely because we no longer live in a society that values making do, thriftiness, or resource ingenuity. They are products (as am I, really) of a "right-now-I-must-have-everything-I-want-and-more" generation full of clutter, unending advertisement, and ever faster standards of production and efficiency. Can I blame them, then, for wanting to continue using the modern conveniences they're so used to? Sure I can. The environment one is a product of may well be an influence, but it is not the only one. The attitude with which one approaches life, and the things that make it life (inconveniences, curves in the road, stumbling blocks all come to mind) is really the key.

That attitude is what makes automatic and unconditional gratitude different than ingratitude. It's what makes simplicity different from clutter and chaos. That attitude is what makes frugality different from wastefulness, and what breeds contentment from the have rather than the have not. I am more committed to that attitude than ever as we begin this new year, and you can look forward to GSF continuing to be a haven for the like-minded.

In the meantime, I'm going to be grateful I'm not sitting on some hard formica benches paying money to watch my clothes dry. Until next time, I'm ...



27 December 2008

Instant Gratitude ... just add water.

I am not a fan of snow, never have been and likely never will be. It's cold and slickery. It keeps me bound up in the house for months at a time, it drives away the sunshine, and it makes me keep all the windows shut (thus preventing fresh breezes ... one of my favorite things). Never, really, are you likely to hear me say that I'm grateful for snow (no, not even for a white xmas ... bah humbug).

Today, is different.

After 7+ hours spent in the basement mopping up bucket upon bucket of water as the 50 degree temperatures melted the 4 foot drifts of snow in front of our house, I am on the brink of a change of heart. Our basement (where I keep my shelves and shelves of stockpiles by the way), has been attacked by the puddling and pooling liquid horror that is an unseasonal (and massive) snow melt. We have a tiny pump sunken in a hole under the floor that attempts to prevent the water from spilling out into the main room, but it's not so much doing the trick today with 2 months worth of snow melting like magic in a matter of hours.

Today, I would be very grateful if it were to snow ... or freeze ... subarctic style freezing, please. I am grateful for a (mostly) willing family of moppers, and for the water problem being in the basement rather than say ... falling from the ceiling.

I sure wish it would snow, though ...



25 December 2008

It's Beginning to Look Like a Link-tastic Xmas ...

Still recovering from my automotive disaster a few weeks ago, I have not spent more than a few minutes at a time online in the last 3 or so weeks. Today I'm feeling pretty 'ok', and with a super quiet house to (nearly) myself, I thought I would share some of the gems from my reader in recent weeks (and a few random links I've acquired along the way). I am hoping to be back to regular blogging soon, as my brain (the thing I hurt the most in said automotive disaster) heals and allows. Oh, and happy holidays!

If you're looking to boost your income in the new year, check out 5 Cent Nickel's top 36 suggestions for adding some extra cash to your budget at ... http://www.fivecentnickel.com/2008/12/15/33-money-making-ideas-ways-how-to-earn-extra-money/.

A really solid 12 step program can be good for anyone. If your vice is debt or overspending or even just paying less attention to your finances than you'd like to, then the 12 step written @ Being Frugal is for you. You can find it at ... http://beingfrugal.net/2008/12/12/finances-in-the-new-year/.

As the tuition bills arrive for yet another semester of college, I was particularly struck by the article at Tough Money Love about the part US colleges and universities play in the student loan/debt load racket. It points to a number of problems I see first hand at my own university, and likely links to some discussion about university corporatization that could be had. I like it, and anyone with or thinking of getting student loans should give it a read at ... http://toughmoneylove.com/2008/12/08/the-college-student-debt-machine-a-national-disgrace/#comment-1884.

I am a list maker by nature. I make lists about lists sometimes, and only those who are naturally compulsed to do the same will really understand that kind of organizational insanity. Since the recent demise of my favorite-est (not a word, for shame) technologically saavy list-o-matic, I have been searching for a new one. I've not reviewed this new possibility in its entirity, but it is showing some potential for sure. It's a new year soon ... don't you want to make a list about it? If so, check out Spring Pad at ... http://www.springpadit.com/.

Also for the list maker at heart, a few months ago the No Credit Needed Network posted a sweet list of free resources for financial planning and debt management. Having your debts, goals, budgets (and whatever else) on paper can be helpful for keeping everything on track. It is also quite motivating to check things off or strike through them as you complete them. If you haven't created your own personal finance materials yet, check out these freebies at ... http://www.ncnblog.com/2008/10/14/free-spreadsheets-tools-and-resources-for-managing-finances/

This time of year always inspires people to charitable giving. I won't fault anyone for being moved to charitable giving, but I will suggest that there is more room for generosity throughout the remainder of the year. Times are rough in our national economy, and I know that, but there is likely room to give something (if not money, time or skills or the like) regardless. Trent at the Simple Dollar has some solid ideas at ... http://www.thesimpledollar.com/2008/10/23/giving-outside-the-box-generosity-on-a-limited-budget/. Check it out.

On a similar note, JD at Get Rich Slowly did a piece in October about world poverty. Take a look and then try to convince me you aren't feeling ready to save the world ... or at least carve out a little more of your resources to do good for others. If nothing else, take it as a chance to reflect on your own privilege this holiday season. The piece can be seen at ... http://www.getrichslowly.org/blog/2008/10/15/faces-of-world-poverty-20-arresting-photographs/.

In the new year, I am going to try to improve my menu planning follow through. I make menus (sometimes ... well, a lot of the time), but they often fall by the way side because of poor planning or food-related moodiness amongst my family. We have this fancy schmancy 'smart' crockpot that I'm hoping will help remedy the menu failings we have been experiencing, and the fabulously creative blogging over at A Year of Crockpotting will hopefully help. You should check it out at ... http://crockpot365.blogspot.com/.

There are more fabulous articles and web resources to post about, not to mention all of the wonderful things I have fallen in love with on Etsy, but they will have to wait for another link-tastic post. I wish you and your families a happy, healthy, simple, frugal, and most wonderfully grateful holiday season. Check back for new features in the new year.



02 December 2008

Top 'O The Month: The End of a Long Hiatus Edition.

Two months.

It has been nearly 2 full months without a new post, and for that I apologize. I have had 8 weeks worth of long and complicated to do lists, and between staying up all night writing 15 page papers on theoretical frameworking while reading 300+ pages every week, and trying to find time to sleep I've simply had my hands full. Until last week, I hadn't grocery shopped for more than a loaf or two of bread since early October. It's a good thing we have a stockpile of food and household goods that allows for such laxity, eh? While I'm not out of the paper-writing woods quite yet, I've missed blogging here and am going to try to fit in more time to post in the coming weeks. I do apologize for leaving you hanging, and appreciate all of you that are still here reading along. You rock!

Now, for the numbers ...

EFund ... $1000. We used to have 2 EFunds, one in each of our accounts ... at least for a little while we did. We're back down to one, but we're still holding strong at $1000. We used the other one to pay some things down rather than keeping it in an account that was barely making any interest.

Dream Savings ... $400. That's less than it was earlier in this year, but more than it was 2 months ago. This savings account is in a bit of limbo because of the no income situation we're currently dealing with. I would reallyreallyreallyreally like to keep saving, but not at the cost of keeping the lights on so we'll see what happens in the coming months.

Jeep ... $235! That's right, just ONE payment left (I think, haha). Really, there's the next payment and then another one that will be smaller to clear the end balance of the loan since it didn't break up perfectly into equal monthly payments. I don't know how much that payment will be since I can't see the balance for this one online, but I am S.T.O.K.E.D. (!!!) that it's almost gone. Hooray!

GP ... 4731.63.

C1 ... $387.13. This one just never seems to move, which is not all that motivating. The good news, though, is that they recently cut my interest rate 3% so hopefully I'll get to see some more change in the near future.

AV ... $0! PAID OFF! Yay!

VSA ... $0! PAID OFF! Yay!

So the good news, during my time away, is that we still made progress on our debt totals. The bad news is that when I get busy I tend to pay less attention to the budget. That is possibly the exacty opposite of what someone should do. The budget is supposed to be there so that the thinking is done for you, so that your money goes where it is supposed to go without any effort. This doesn't work when your willpower is compromised by exhaustion or paper writing delirium, unfortunately. I have been letting the strictness of our budget slide because I have been too distracted to put up much of a protest against slip ups. *sigh* The road to debt freedom is never easy or perfect. We just have to tighten the reigns a little bit going forward.

Has your road to debt freedom has a couple bumps and bobbles along the way? How do you stay on track? More importantly, how do you recover from the slip ups? Feel free to add your thoughts in the comment section.

Simply (good to be back),


05 October 2008

Goodbye, Garden.

We did indeed frantically pull the best of the remaining bell pepper plants with blossoms as I mentioned in my last post. They are potted and doing swimmingly. Hooray! Since then we have been covering the entire garden with bed sheets to keep the frost off the fruit and leaves in hopes of holding on just a little longer. It indeed got cold enough to harm, though, since the frost spots were evident on what remained of the herb garden (which we did not cover).

All weekend, we have been busy putting things up at record speed in an attempt to save the garden from the frost monster. The dehydrator has been working triple time drying the entire contents of our well stocked herb garden in shifts. We now have dried sage, rosemary, lemon thyme, oregano, greek oregano, marjoram, chives, mint, and basil. There is another batch of marjoram going right now, and then the last of the basil will go in once it's done. There are probably some more chives that could be cut and dried. We'll see how they survive the night, though. We also have an entire patchouli plant that I'm trying to decide what to do with. We used part of it to make herbed olive oil for winter candle making, but I cannot think of anything else we could possibly do with it if I save it by means of the dehydrator.

Today, we made the final decision to pick the mountain of still green tomatoes and pull the remaining plants for composting. The threat of frost and super cold nights is simply too great to warrant leaving them outside anymore, even with a circus tent of bed sheets to shield them. We pulled two tomato plants up whole, one red cherry and one yellow pear, and potted them in containers because they're still blossoming and I am somehow convinced that you can grow them inside with enough love and sunlight. The tomatoes themselves, from the remaining plants, are now in paper grocery bags, hibernating in the mud room, with hopes that they will ripen. We pulled the summer squash, which was dead once and then resurrected itself, and potted it in a hanging pot to add to the mildly gigantic indoor greenhouse we seem to be building. I won't lie, it was a little sad seeing our monsterous garden dismantled, but the stakes are out for the newer, larger, next year garden to be rototilled before the ground freezes. That helps, I think.

I pretty much love the idea of gardening. I love fresh produce in my backyard. I love eating food that we grew, that we know what went on and into, and that is not trucked in from who knows where after being harvested early so that it didn't rot on the way to the market. I love knowing that we don't contribute as heavily to the carbon output of the food industry because we can grow our own produce. I really enjoy supporting local agriculture ... even when the pumpkins don't grow, even when the box elder bugs ate all the cherry tomato blossoms, even when the only watermelon that survived was smaller than a baseball. Ok, I love it a lot.

Summer is over, the garden is now compost, and hopefully we have enough produce to make it through winter. I'll be getting orchard apples this week, squash from the farmers down the road, and pumpkins in two or three weeks. Keep your fingers crossed that the indoor (circus) greenhouse works out so that we have fresh tomatoes and bell peppers for the months to come. Goodbye, garden, we'll miss you.



03 October 2008

Warning: Frost Ahead!

The National Weather Service where we live has issued a frost advisory for tonight, meaning the possibility of the evil frost monster, killer of all remaining garden plants is particularly high. I am not thrilled about this. I suppose it's the natural order of things, and kind of required to keep the climate working, but I probably have 5 pounds of tomatoes still green on the vine, green beans still blossoming, bell peppers with blossoms, summer squash with blossoms, and a baby watermelon that could really use some more time. Ugh. Sad day.

So, what's a frugal fanatic to do? Ah yes, frantically dig up all the plants she thinks she can make grow in the house (the bell peppers, specifically) and re-pot them in containers tonight before it gets cold enough to kill. I hate this part. I have no idea how the garden's timing is always so off around here, how everyone else has pumpkins and I only have blossoms, how my tomatoes will not turn red to save my life. One could suppose that I plant things too late, but really, we planted in May and had to make a circus tent of sheets and clothespins and lawn chairs more than once because it threatened to frost again after we thought we were clear to plant.

Darn you, winter, won't you hold off just a little? I still a garden to harvest, apples to put up, herbs to dry. Why must you be so impatient, winter? Don't you think 5 months of you are good enough? Do you really need 6?



Super Doubles!

Now, I am not one to rah rah advocate for hitting up the local KMart. We are not friends, KMart and I. We had a bit of a spat a little over a year ago, and the resolution to that was me not going there anymore to preserve my sanity at their random policy changes.


From 10/1 to 10/5, KMart stores nationally are offering SUPER DOUBLES. That means that any and all coupons up to and including $2 will be doubled (meaning $2 now equals $4!). There's a limit of 4 like and 75 total per day per customer. This could mean some really rocking deals, and they ran this promo probably a month ago at a very limited number of stores. This time, they are including a much larger service area. You can check out whether your local store is included by looking online. Go check out MoneySavingMom for a link to a list of participating stores (I linked it before, but the link was dead here. Boo.) Mine is not. Again. Boooo for that, but yours might be! Check it out and go find some great deals. There are bound to be a number of freebies or nearly freebies to be had with super doubles. Check with your local stores for any other restrictions, like whether or not they take and double printables or not.




30 September 2008

Frugal Ingenuity

The boys (Be and my brother) have long wanted gym/exercise equipment at our house, or a gym membership. Neither of these things are in our budget, nor will they likely ever be. Instead of resigning themselves to be gym equipment-less for life, they went about creating their own while home together last weekend.

One roll of high strength rope, 2 very basic pulleys, a piece of PVC pipe, and a concrete block later, they have created an entire exercise regimen based on basic leverage and strengthening systems. We already had the concrete block and the PVC pipe, the rope and pulleys were picked up at Tractor Supply for $29. They also used the rope to make jump ropes, and have a ton leftover for future endeavors of frugal creativity. I haven't been so impressed since they built an entire wall of shelves in the basement from only the scrap wood from a set of box springs.

They often think that my frugal grocery shopping, meal planning, wacky food combos, and preserving efforts are a little crazy. To be quite honest, if I let the boys have their way, I think we would eat $4-5 frozen pizzas and $18 steaks. It would seem, though, even amid their bawking and doubt they have caught the frugal bug themselves. It may be that they've simply resigned themselves to us not having money for excesses, but I like to believe from the excitement and pride on their faces that maybe they are starting to think frugality is cool. I'm grateful for their ingenuity and spirit regardless.

Now, off to dehydrate more tomatoes. Keep your fingers crossed that the 40 or so green as grass in my garden will turn before it freezes.



13 September 2008

The Warm Smell of Frugality


I so wish there were a way to scratch and sniff your computer screen so that I could share the smells of yummy goodness wafting through our main floor right now. A weekend ago (or so), I acquired some fruit from a friend's family's orchard (thanks again!). We picked peaches, pears, and apples that were a little north of perfectly ripe. This morning, my sous chef (which is what my mother likes to refer to herself as) and I went to work putting up fruit. Oh. My. Goodness. Is there really any commercial air freshener better than cooking fruit in your house? Amazingly good smells are coming from my kitchen right now, unreplecatable by chemicals for sure, and FREE!

So, what to do with an IKEA bag (huge recycled boat tarp grocery bags) full of not quite ripe apples? Applesauce, of course! We peeled, cored, and cubed 25 cups of apples. I added some cinnamon, vanilla, a little sugar to take the edge off the tart and a dash of salt to enhance the sweetness, and put the caldera on to simmer. It wasn't ten minutes before the whole house started smelling like apple-y pie heaven. I just let it cook until I like the consistency it's at.

Then, we peeled, pitted, and thin sliced peaches for the dehydrator. We use all kinds of dried fruits for adding to homemade oatmeal packets, cold cereal, trail mix, or for snacking on straight out of the jar. The dehydrator lives in our mud room off the kitchen because of counter space, but even so the smell of warming peach goodness is travelling all over the main level. You would think you had stumbled into a 100 year old pie bakery if you happened by right now.

Mmmmm. Yum! It smells fabulous in here. Who needs Glade candles when you can permeate the air with yummy goodness for basically free (except the electricity I was going to use anyway)? Best of all, we will wind up with an entire jar of dried peaches and a giant vat of homemade applesauce for free. Add those to the bags of asparagus, bags of green beans, and two jars of dried cherry and pear tomatoes I finished up this morning before the fruit bonanza, and we are well on our way to a local, frugal, organic produce stash that will hopefully hold off our mid-winter urges to buy pineapples that were tracked across the planet.

Do you garden? Do you put up produce for the winter? If not yet, check it out. Buying in season produce from local vendors (which often means it wasn't sprayed with scary gross chemicals) and then storing it creatively for use throughout the scarce months is at the core of our collective homemaking history. Our grandparents did it. Their grandparents did it. Their grandparents likely did too. It's sustainable, responsible, better tasting, healthier, and cheap. What's better, really?



10 September 2008

Shopping List!

There are still great deals abounding around here between Meijer, Walgreens, and Target.

I hit up the Target Kellogg's giftcard deal pretty hard last week (on the last day ... ha) so I have a stash of $5 GCs to roll on, which is a bonus. I may even make the trek over to the nicer Target to see what's on clearance since my usual one was kind of sparse in the orange tag department.

Also, check out the Kashi giftcard deal this week. I hear the Go Lean! frozen waffles may be included, making for some amazingly cheap frozen to toaster goodness, even without coupons. There are some online printables if you can find them (and have ink ... I don't as of right now).

And, check out the Febreeze Noticables. I hear they're on sale for $5.99. Matched up with the Proctor and Gamble coupon insert could make for some mighty cheap Febreeze goodness.

Do they just really like to give things away for free? Get to the store and partake. Grab an Easy Saver Rebate booklet if you don't have one already. You'll need it. Check through and match the coupons in that book with the items I've listed. Most of them match up and since you can use a Walgreens coupon with a Manufacturer's coupon, you're good to go on the road to FREE(!!) goods.

Check out ... Visine! Dove Chocolates (2 bars at a time)! Chex Mix (needs internet coupon)! Oust! Colgate Freshmax Toothbrushes! Crest ProHealth Mouthwash (free after Register Reward, will have to pay upfront)! SC Johnson Cleaning Supplies (select varieties, check coupons from inserts for best matches)! Robitussin or Dimetapp (also, will need internet coupon)!

I also found a solid clearance selection of all the Kiwi brand shoe shining products at my local Walgreens. The whole kit (reg. $12) was on clearance for $2. Brushes (reg. $3-4) for 82c, polish tins for 75c, shoelaces for 25-30c. It was like magic! I'm in the market for more if anyone spots any. Be has a T-O-N of shine-necessary shoes.

There's a 10/10 11th free this week. Many good deals with coupon matchups (even more if you have doubles, which I don't). There are also a number of catalina and money off promotions still running. Now would be a good time to get Chef BoyADee or Snack Packs, for example, especially if you have the cooler lunch box mail in rebate from a few weeks ago's insert, though I don't remember the ending promo date. My favorite, of course, is the Breyer's ice cream pints. We are down to our last 3 from the last time they were included. I'll pay $1 (well, 90c) for Breyer's pints any day of the week! Oh! And Lysol is on sale 1/2 off!

Land O Lakes Buttery Spread: Buy 2, Get 75c.
Glade Scented Oil Warmers: Buy 1, Get $2 (no limit per transaction!).
Glade Gel Plugin Refills: Buy 1, Get $2 (also no limit, and these are regular priced under $2 normally).
Colgate/Speedstick/Softsoap: Buy 5 items, Get $5 (no travels this time, try the Softsoap as it's likely the best deal unless you need/find clearanced toothpaste).
Powerade Zero: Buy 6, Get $4.
Green Giant Veggies (includes PLAIN Steamers): Buy 3, Get $1 (some have reported being able to do 2 of these in one transaction, but not 3 ... I cannot confirm either yet).

Money Offs:
Pepsi: Buy $10 Pepsi products, Get $10 off Denim ($10.99 Falls Creek jeans this week = 99c pants! And, 2 liters are in the 10/10!).
Coke: Buy $10 Coke products (of which Powerade Zero is one!), Get $10 off Athletic Shoes (clearance shoes are still out there, especially if you need kids' sneakers).
Nabisco: Buy $10 Nabisco cookies or crackers, Get $10 off 3 Fruit of the Loom Basics (an even better deal since socks and underwear are both on sale this week in addition).
Kellogg's: Buy $10 Kellogg's products, Get $10 off a backpack (many clearance backpacks under $10 out there!).

Goodness, gracious, I think my head is spinning. Now, off to file away this week's coupons in my book for easy access tomorrow on what I fear may become an all afternoon affair. I hope my trunk is empty ...



09 September 2008

Top 'O The Month: The Delayed September Edition

I have the most difficult time posting this every month because it seems like our numbers don't so much change that much in 30 days. Two months' progress, that at least looks like something, I guess.

EFund ... $1000.42! Yay! We are back on track EFund wise. It was down to under $400, which I hate, so we worked primarily on building that back up.

Dream Savings ... $0.72. Booo! We're in income limbo right now, and rather than deplete the EFund in case of a real emergency, we decided to liquidate the Dream Savings for the time being so that we could stay on budget until this income limbo thing gets resolved. It's not a nice feeling, and I nearly cried when it happened, but I'm moving forward.

Jeep ... $940. Yay for being under a grand. This is slated for pay off somewhere around December or January depending on the remaining principle to clear the loan. I hate those weird end of loan pay off amounts. They make my calculating tricky, and I don't have the payment book next to me so I can't be positive.

GP ... $5392.68.

C1 ... $394.10. Finally under $400. I swore it wasn't moving at all, but since it's now on the top of the snowball list, things are picking up for sure.

AV ... $0! PAID OFF! Yay!

VSA ... $0! PAID OFF! Yay!

That's $1345.24 worth of progress from the last TOTM post (July). Yay! I'm pretty happy with the progress since we're on a bare bones budget until this income thing is fixed (which won't be for quite awhile, I fear). Let's keep our fingers crossed that prices stay at least somewhat reasonable in the interim so we can continue to make rockin' progress.



02 September 2008

Deals, deals, deals.

There are many a deal to be had this week. I simply haven't gotten around to writing them down yet. Try Target for the Kellogg's gift card deal (it's in the ad), especially if you still have Kellogg's insert coupons left. Try Meijer for the Capril Sun catalina, $3 OYNO when you buy 4. I hear they're made by Kraft ... if you have All You coupons left.

Sidebar ... is it awful if I am tempted to get my hands on more of those amazing little buggers? Haha.

The long and the short of it, no superb list of deal scenarios to be had here today. I have dinner to make, homework to do, a mild world war to contain, and a disagreement to remedy. I do highly encourage you to check out the handful of other deal specific sites out there, or HCW for more info. They are out there, these great deals. You just have to go looking for them.



27 August 2008

It's a DAVE Sale!

This is all over the interwebs, but in case you haven't heard, Dave Ramsey is having an online sale through Sept. 2nd. Most of his books, audios, and a few other items (including the envelope system) are on sale. The books and audios are down to $10 from a regular price of $24+. If you've been at all considering checking out the D.R. program, now is the time to go for it. That is, assuming you have $10 to spend on a book. If you don't, do not (DO NOT) run over and charge it on your credit card instead. Bad plan.

I have to say that the D.R. program has had a huge (and I mean HUGE) impact on our lives in the last few years. I give thanks every day for that man, his philosophy, his straight forward no-nonsense writing, and his PR people. I am so so so so grateful to have found him online one early morning when I couldn't sleep because I was up nursing awful heartburn from the stress of nearing our financial rock bottom. He is no savior, no miracle worker, no magic man, but he is everything you need to hear if you have debt and have any inkling you should probably do something about it. It is only because of him (well, his books specifically ... and the radio podcasts ... they're FREE on iTunes!) that we have been able to turn around the terrible course we were on with money.

We make less today than we did a year ago, by a quite large margin ... 75%+ less, actually, and even so, we still make it alright. We still have debt (just less than $8K in consumer plus the student loans), but have been able to pay off just over $20,000 in two years on less than a $20,000 combined income. We have seen the light, and every day is better because of it. If you have debt, if you hate it, if you're struggling, even if you aren't struggling yet, check this out. You will never think about money the same way, and it's all for the better!



23 August 2008

Super Saturday!

Have you done your grocery shopping for the week yet? I haven't. I haven't even really looked at the ad that well, though I have a pretty solid idea from last week's preview as to the mega deals floating around out there. More specifically ...

If you didn't know yet, Walgreens has a $5/$20 coupon printable online right now that is good on Saturday. The bummer is your total purchase has to be $20 after coupons and before tax to use it, but if you were going to get stuff there anyway and your out of pocket (OOP) was going to be $20 anyway, you might as well save a fiver on the whole endeavor.

Coke Shoe Deal ...
... is still going strong. Coke isn't so much on sale this week (2 liters might be, don't quote me, check the ad), but you can still score some fab deals on clearanced shoes if you were buying coke already. Heck, if you were buying shoes already, you might as well get the coke as a bonus. Either way it works like this: Buy $10 Coke products, get $10 off athletic shoes. Look for clearance ones. I scored a pair of Reeboks (reg. $50+) for $17 on clearance, minus the coupon from last week's Super Sat. and the Coke Deal promo for a grand total of $4/pair.

Nabisco Underwear Deal ...
... has changed a little, but is also still in swing. Now you purchase $10 in Nabisco and get $10 off 3 Fruit of the Loom items rather than Hanes items. If you are back to school shopping, in need of underpants, or just in the market for a great deal there is for sure one to be had here. The deal is even better if you still have the Wheat Thins wyb (When You Buy) coupons from All You.

Pepsi Denim Deal ...
... is new this week. If you purchase $10 worth of Pepsi products, you get $10 off a pair of jeans. I have no idea on the clearance jean selection, but there is for sure some potential for a great find. Pepsi 6pk 20oz bottles (I think it's 20oz ... maybe 16 ... check it out in the Sat. ad) are on sale 4/$11 plus a free 5th on Saturday. Spend $11, get 5 packs of bottles and $10 off a pair of jeans ... sounds like it could be a good one.

J-E-LL-O ...
... is also on sale this week ... and made by Kraft (if you were curious). Get out your treasure trove of All You WYB coupons and get to work. This replaces the Kool Aid deal from last week for those of you who know have enough Kool Aid to keep the family thirst quenched for several years.

Post Cereal/Milk
... is new. Post Cereals are on sale 3/$7 (specific varieties) and you get a free gallon of milk when you buy 3 of them. There is some talk about the cereal bars that are also listed at 3/$7 qualifying for the freebie milk, but I haven't seen this confirmed anywhere, nor have I done it so proceed at your own risk. This could be an ok deal if you have coupons to bring down the cereal's $7 total. If you can get it down to $5 or so it's not looking bad. If you have the freebie Post Cereal coupons from the MIR (mail in rebate) a few months ago, then it could be even better. Hmmm ... I must go find my coupons! OH! AND! Post Cereal is made by Kraft ... soooooo .... All You coupons, anyone?!

Kellogg's and Backpacks
... is also still on (until TOMORROW!!). Use the on sale items this week (Pop Tarts and Eggo Waffles) with the coupons from this month's Kellogg's insert. Buy 10 items, which will add up to $10+. You will qualify for $10 off any backpack. I always pick the cheapest ones and donate them. Then, send in your receipt for the Kellogg's $10 rebate. The key is you have to buy 10 items in one transaction to qualify, so make sure you keep track.

Oscar Mayer and Kraft Cheese
Buy cheese, get lunch meat for free. There are some good coupons to match with this if you have them. It's the good OM deli meat and the high class deli Kraft slices, so if you can get the price down it's a heck of a deal. Coupons required, though, to really make it good.

Is your head spinning yet? Mine kind of is. I will attempt to re-organize my thoughts and hit the store tomorrow. I'll let you know how that goes, of course. Enjoy your weekend!



19 August 2008

I'm Back! (And do I have deals to prove it!)

I was out of town last weekend and the weekend before, in a land of places that double coupons. Can we talk about excitement? I mean, we hear about doubles all the time, about great deals because of them, about freebies, what is there not to be excited about when visiting an area that enjoys this mystical and magical phenonemon?

Before we go any further, this doubles excitement got me thinking I'm possibly a little crazier than usual. This couponer thing will eat your brain, me thinks. Second, it wasn't that awesome. All that build up and I ended up with one 25c coupon doubled up to 50c and not a single other double the whole time. I had far too many high dollar face value coupons for them to qualify anyway, so I was really no better off than had I been shopping at home. Ah well. Next time, maybe?

Ok, ok, come on lady, bring on the deals, right?

1 3pk Hanes Men's Medium TShirts: $6.99
1 3pk Hanes Men's XL TShirts: $6.99
1 6pk Hanes Women's Underwear (with bonus 7th pair!): $7.99 on price drop to $6.99
1 pair Reebok Women's Tennis Shoes: $17.99 (on clearance from $59.99)

2 24pk Diet Coke: $3.99 each + $4.80 return deposit
3 bottles PowerAde: $69c each
4 boxes Wheat Thins: $2.50 each
75 pkts Kool Aid Drink Mix: 20c each
7 boxes Crystal Light On The Go: $3.99 each
14 bottles Kraft Salad Dressing: $2.18 each
1 bowl Melon Chunks: $91c
2 Cucumbers: $1
3 Kiwi: $1
1 bowl Pineapple Chunks: $3.04
1/2 lb of Plums: 73c
1 lb Black Cherries: $3.26
1 quart Strawberries: $2
2 cans Mighty Dog Wet Food: 57c
5 bags Frisky Party Mix Cat Treats: $1.69 each


- $10 Meijer Shoe Deal
- $3 Super Saturday General Merchandise Coupon (making the shoes $4!)
- $10 Nabisco/Hanes Deal
- 75c Power Ade
- $1.00 Power Ade
- $1.69 FREE Friskie's Cat Treats (x 5!)
- $2.18 FREE Kraft Salad Dressing (x 14!)
- $2.16 FREE Produce when you buy 2 Kraft Dressings (x 7!)
- $2.50 FREE Wheat Thins (x 4!)
- 57c FREE Mighty Dog Wet Dog Food (x 2!)
- $3.99 FREE Crystal Light (x 7!)
- $5 Meijer OYNO from last week
- $4 Meijer OYNO from last week

TOTAL SAVED: $149.44

Yay! I was going to go even bigger and use up my FREE Kraft Singles and FREE Oscar Mayer Hot Dogs coupons as well, but I was kind of tired, it was hot as the dickens in the store, I already knew I had a giant stack of coupons to scan, the Kool Aid selection was pretty slim, and I knew I had to be back to the apartment in 15 minutes to watch Michael Phelps swim in the 400 relay. I also already knew that the Fruit of the Loom and Denim deals were coming out this week, and that Jello was going to be on sale. So, I held back some. Haha. The shoe promo is also still going on, fyi.

It was grand fun shopping, really. I got a nice cashier, and the only one that ended up annoyed was the lady behind me with her two bags of bird seed at ten in the evening. She can get irritated all she wants to. I don't interrupt other people's time with the cashier with huffing and sighing and foot stomping, and I don't expect others to interrupt mine.



15 August 2008

Great Deal Alerts!

Have you all picked up a thousand copies of the 8/31 All You Magazine? If not, go out TODAY and do so ... ok, well maybe not a thousand, but you get my drift. In that issue is a strip of coupons for FREE items when you buy 3 Kraft or Nabisco products. There are about a million scenarios for how to use them, especially if you have a Meijer.

For example ...
* Nabisco Underwear Deal
If you happen to buy $10 worth of Nabsico in your three items to qualify for the Kraft coupon, then you will also automatically qualify for $10 off three packages of Hanes Basics underwear, socks, or undershirts. This is fabulous if you have back to school clothing shopping needs. First, buy some cookies for lunches in a couple weeks, then get some freebies using your Kraft coupon (salad dressing, Kraft singles, Oscar Mayer hot dogs, Wheat Thins, or Crystal Light), and then get $10 off your necessary underclothes purchase. Talk about a double dip! Yay!

* There are also FREE Milk when you buy Nabisco Cookies (Oreos, I think) coupons floating around grocery stores. Keep your eyes peeled, and make it an even better deal.

* Coke 24 packs are on sale this week for $3.99 (when you buy 2) if you also purchase 2 Nabisco snack crackers (INCLUDING Wheat Thins!!). If you were to also purchase some additional Coke products (Powerade, Coke 2 liters, etc), you would qualify at checkout for $10 off any pair of athletic shoes. I hear this could potentially mean some relatively cheap pop, some free Wheat Thins, and some nearly free tennis shoes. Super yay!

* Finally, if you don't need underroos or tennis shoes, check out the Kool Aid 20/$2 sale. Read the back of the package, near the bottom, then smile to yourself and proceed to dancing in the aisles.

I'm out of town for the weekend (to a place that by chance doubles coupons!), but I'll be back with bells on. There is much to discuss.



04 August 2008


I'm so very sorry, GSF readers. I have all but abandoned you the last week or so. I have tons of great ideas for posting, more menus, and a Top of the Month post for August, but I've been swamped with work, finals, house stuff, and coaching. For a girl who blogs about simplicity, I sure do have a lot going on. I will be back very shortly, just as soon as I finish up this 40 page paper and take my last final on Tuesday. Look for new posts on Wednesday! There's much to discuss, but for now, back to the drudgery of 50 year old psychological theories.

Ever so simply,


28 July 2008


Tortilla Pizzas. So fast. So good.

Lasagne-esque Casserole with Rotini. Green Salad. Garden Veggie.

Turkey and Veggie Dirty Rice. Green Salad.

Sweet Meatballs. Mashed Potatoes. Corn. Another Veggie. Homemade Bread.

Toasted Chicken Panini BLTs. Cheddar Fries.

Find Your Own Food or Starve Day.

Leftover Buffet, or I may change my mind mid-week depending on what we have leftover. We'll see.

Enjoy the week! It's going to be busy, busy, busy here.



24 July 2008

Dehyrating Cherries ... Take Two

After the recent death of my beloved 11 year old dehydrator, I didn't know what I was going to do. We did manage to rescue the cherries it was trying to speed-rot and they're safely in the freezer for some cold winter day when I want fruit cobbler or cafloutie or something. Since then, though, I've been a bit distressed over the possible non-existance of cherry oatmeal cookies in December and cherry oatmeal and about a million other uses I could think of for dried cherries (plus the ones I eat straight out of the jar in the pantry, when no one is looking). I thought we were doomed to a cherry-less year. Booooo.

Then! Miracle!

Be's dad happens to also own a food dehydrator (and a much cooler one than mine, I must say), and has managed to acquire it for the time being. There is hope! I was a little anxious when I pulled the fresh cherries from the back of the fridge (where I put them before the 4th of July ... eek!). I was afraid they would all be soft and moldy and the like. Much to my surprise, they are still absolutely perfect. There were a few in the smaller (older) bag that were a little challenged with soft spots and I believe one with a bit of fuzz. The larger bag (we're talking 10+ pounds of cherries) are still beautiful, sweet, crisp, like they just came off the tree perfect. Since I buy my cherries from a local orchard, I know what I'm experiencing is luck rather than chemical or radiation induced longevity. I'm so stoked!

So, this afternoon, I covered my knees with a ratty towel, donned a pair of vinyl gloves (because it makes the hand scrubbing so so so so much easier), and went about pitting my gorgeous cherries. I was planning on doing the whole lot, figuring on softies that I'd have to compensate for, but I decided to put the brakes on somewhere in the middle of the large bag. I put what I had in the borrowed dehydrator and slipped the rest back in the fridge for this weekend's snacky cravings. I now wait with baited breath for the signs that the dehydrator is working correctly. The tricky part is that you don't know it's screwing up until several hot air filled hours have passed. I will be monitoring closely in a determined attempt to salvage what I can of my cherry drying adventures.

Keep your fingers crossed this works. The world is just not the same without cherry oatmeal cookies, and I refuse to pay $4.99/lb for them.



Instant Gratitude ...

Today, I'm grateful for ...

... sunshiney skies with puffy clouds. I swear, pretty clouds are like insta-Prozac.
... the enormous chocolate muffin I just devoured.
... fresh peas and beans from our garden today.
... Be, who adores me, no matter my flaws or shortcomings.
... that ah ha moment when it feels like you better understand something.
... closeness to the divine, in an attempt to find my center.
... a unique and eclectic living situation that allows our family to be close always.
... great night's sleep.
... emerging equilibrium.

What are you grateful for today? Gratitude lifts the mood almost instantly. Try it.



22 July 2008

An Open Letter To The Coupon Using Community

Dear Fellow Coupon Lovers,

I'm beginning to get a little annoyed with a small handful of you who have lost your darn marbles when it comes to shopping and deal finding. It would seem that on more than one occasion during the last two weeks, near riots have broken out at local Meijer stores over freebie cut pasta and spaghetti. I understand that free things are amazing. I like them a whole lot myself. However, is there ever *really* a need for you to fill two entire carts with a shelf full of noodles and use 70 million coupons all at the same time? Is that polite, do you think? Fair? Just? Sane? I vote no to all.

Please, don't get me wrong, I love to find deals. I love to stock up. I once bought 40 cans of tuna fish for 9cents a piece, but I didn't do it all at once. I did not roll into a store, guns blazing, and clean the place out. I was not obnoxious about how the cashier 'better know how to ring these up'. There's something to be said for acting like a normal, rational, non-possessed human being while shopping, and I think there are a handful in this community of ours who have recently gotten out of control. I'm ashamed of them, honestly. I continue to use deals to feed my family for less, but I cringe whenever someone associates me with 'those other coupon ladies' because I hear horror story after horror story from cashiers about rude, arrogant, spiteful people trying to hoard an entire store's worth of merchandise in one lousy trip.

If you really think you *need* two full carts of noodlies, how about breaking it up a bit? You can always grab a few now and a few later. Or, if you can't get back later, you can just settle for the few that you were able to get. Be grateful, dear couponers, for the chance at saving money at all, and remember, it only takes a few to ruin something wonderful for a grand many people (for example, see previous post about coupon wording changes after the onslaught of attention began).

Mostly, calm down sometimes. Take a breath. Enjoy life. Enjoy the thrill of finding a great deal, and try to stop shoving it all into your cart so that maybe, possibly someone else in the world can share that thrill with you. I'm not at all saying we should stop everything, but instead that we should tone it down a bit, reel it in, and try to shop like normal people once in awhile.



An Open Letter to Meijer

Dear Meijer (because I know you're reading ... ),

I first want to congratulate you on the fabulous service I received on Saturday. Everything was still in stock, even though I didn't make it there until after closing at work. My cashier was amazing; friendly, cheerful, helpful, you name it. She deserves a raise, and you should cut her a break on not being "fast enough" per your ring rate standards. She's a rockin' cashier regardless of whether you think she gets it done fast enough or not. I was pleased as a peach with the entire event after some pretty awful customer service experiences at your stores in the recent past (read: evil Coke Vendor ... wait, you already did). Kudos to you this time for sure.

On the other hand, I do want to add that I'm a wee bit annoyed with the entire Mealbox coupon operation. I think it's great that Meijer is offering store brand printables online since many, many other branded stores have been doing it for quite awhile. As well, although it takes some getting used to, the Mealbox widget isn't the worst device ever.

My annoyance comes from your recent change of the wording to include the awful "One coupon per transaction". I know why you did it. I get that the Mealbox pasta deals got way too much PR and far too many crazies went out and raided the place of free spaghetti. They have a stern talking to coming as well, but do you honestly think one per transaction is a realistic expectation? Do you know of anyone who only needs ONE box of spaghetti, ONE pound of meat, ONE bottle of marinade? In houses like mine, where SEVEN people currently eat dinner each night, it would be nearly impossible to feed them within your restrictions. Do you not encourage people to buy things from you? Or, instead, are you really interested in wasting mine (and your cashier's) time ringing through individual orders so that the letter of the law is followed? My preference, of course, is to not do 12 transactions every time I go to Meijer, but you better bet your bubble gum that I will, and so will many, many others. For a company so darn determined to meet ring rates and quotas, that's not efficient or logical planning at all.

In closing, I will continue to love you on whole, dear Meijer. I am merely temporarily annoyed with your mid-stream wording changes (like switching the pasta coupon wording in the middle of a week ... crafty, crafty) and mixed messages. You either want me to buy things, or you don't. You can't have it both ways.

And that cashier still needs a raise.



21 July 2008

Menu Monday!

Venison Helper with Knotted Rolls I found on the day old bread rack at Meijer for less than $1.

Walking Tacos (Meijer has ground beef on sale ... we've been out for weeks ... finally, tacos, yay!)

BBQ Chicken Leg Quarters with French Fries

Spaghetti with Meatballs and Homemade Garlic Bread

Marinaded Grilled Tilapia with Veggie Variety Rice

Homemade Stromboli with Raw Veggies

HAM! We must eat this stinking ham one of these days. I continue to forget to take the blasted thing out of the freezer. I'm beginning to have a personal vendetta against it. It will be eaten this week or I may throw it out the blasted window.

That's what we're eating, you?



15 July 2008

Good Deal Alerts a la Meijer

Chicken Leg Quarters ... 79c/lb, not amazingly awesome, but still pretty darn good if you're in need. We turn Chicken Leg Quarters into a million things. We BBQ them on the grill. We roast them in the oven. We pick the bones and make soup, quesadillas, chicken casseroles, chicken fried rice, and on and on. Leg Quarters are amazingly versatile.

Frozen Tilapia Filets ... Buy 2, Get 2 FREE! There is also a coupon on the Mealbox site that can be used, making them super cost effective. Buy a bunch, throw them in the freezer and you can have basically fresh fish anytime. The filets are flash frozen so they defrost really quickly and grill fabulously. Contemplate some marinades, throw on a pot of rice, and it's dinner in no time.

Nabisco Chips Ahoy! Cookies ... 2/$5. This isn't the most amazing price. When you buy two, though, you get a FREE 1/2 gallon on Meijer brand ice cream. Pair that with the $1/1 Any Nabisco tearpad coupons if you have them and it's $3 for 2 packages of cookies and a 1/2 gallon of ice cream. Good enough for me!

Family Size Salty Snacks ... 2/$5. Again, not the best price, though not awful since the bags are practically big enough to feed an army. There are coupons on Mealbox that net you $1 off each one for a final price of 2/$3. Now, that's pretty sweet. We actually tried these for the first time yesterday (I bought them last week in preparation for yesterday's pot luck), and they're pretty fabulous. We tried the white corn tortillas and the yellow corn scoops (like Fritos). Both were equally as wonderful as name brands, I'm happy to report. I even heard a few times that the scoops were better than the name brand. Yay!

Meijer Specialty Cut Pasta ... 3/$2. Pair this with the Mealbox coupon for 50c/1 and you're looking at 17c pasta. It's not free like last week's spaghetti, but still pretty darn smokin' good if you ask me.

Kraft Salad Dressing/Mayo/Miracle Whip Catalina ... I haven't done the scenarios, but I think there's some potential here if you have the right coupons. I haven't gone through mine for possibilities yet so I'm not much help, but check it out for sure.

There's word that the Meijer brand olive oil (8oz) can be had with the Mealbox coupon for $1. I haven't tried it yet, but I'll update if I do.

Have a great week scoring deals!



14 July 2008

Menu Monday!


Venison Helper ... think Hamburger Helper, but with Bambi. Thank you freebie deer for feeding my family while I am at work.

Grilled Chicken Breasts with ItaiSoy Marinade, Misc. Veggie Rice, Green Salad.

Sausage and Potato Hash with Eggs.

Crockpot Pork Roast with Roasted Potatoes and Carrots.

Pulled Pork BBQ from leftover Roast, Chips.

Every other Saturday, I work 12 hours and leave my family to fend for themselves. This is one such Saturday. They shall make themselves something to eat, or they shall starve.

HAM! We must defrost and eat this darn ham that I keep talking about. Maybe if I take it out of the freezer right now. Maybe then it will be ok in time.



09 July 2008

Dehydrating Disaster

In general, we like to only buy fruit in season. So, we try to find creative ways to store and package it to last us through the long, cold, fruit-less winter months of Michigan. We live in cherry country, and since we all adore sweet cherries, I try to dry a couple (well, more than a couple) pounds of them every summer for long term use.

Until now.

Yesterday, I went to check on my precious dehydrating cherries and discovered that my beloved dehydrator had breathed it's last breath. It was still on, and hot, and trying to cook/rot my cherries at record speed.


We quick pulled the cherries and tossed them in the freezer. They'll make a nice cobbler eventually, but now what will I do about my dried cherry shortage? No cherry oatmeal cookies? No cherries in granola? No cherries in homemade oatmeal packets?! Ahhhh! I could try the oven, but I'm afraid that my non-central air conditioned dwelling would get warm enough to cause a mutiny if I did. I could air dry them, but I'm kind of afraid of the fruit fly problem. Boo. Hmpf. I can't just run out and buy a new one. How very unfrugal that would be.

Any ideas?



07 July 2008

Menu (and on Monday even)!

Turkey Shepard's Pie with crescent rolls

Homemade Pizza

Marinaded Chicken Breasts with Rice and Veggies

Box Lunch style dinners because we're headed to the local baseball game. Now, to decide what I'm putting in them ...

Venison Helper with Broccoli

Grilled Sausages and Hot Dogs with French Fries

Ham! I will cook this devil ham eventually. Au Gratin Potates, Roasted Carrots.

Sounds like a yummy week. If you have any great box dinner ideas, send 'em my way.



06 July 2008

Top 'o the Month!

Ok, it's the 5th ... but there was a holiday and work and school and I got all discombobulated. Alas, bring on the numbers!

EFund ... $909.26, but it's a little misleading. We're supplementing from the EFund as needed because someone isn't getting a paycheck anymore from the big, bad, evil employer. I think we're doing relatively well since I make jack squat per hour in comparison.

Dream Savings ... $460.64. This is in limbo as well since we'll use it to cover the EFund if it gets dramatically low in the upcoming months. I will be sad about it, but if there are no other options, we'll do what we must.

Jeep ... $1410 and some misc. change to clear the loan at the end of the period. That's SIX more payments. Holy YAY, Batman!

GP ... $5833.38.

C1 ... $430.69.

AV ... $397.95 ... check out that progress. Yes! This is the current top of the snowball list debt, so hopefully it will be gone forever in the near future. We're trying to be careful between conserving cash in case of emergency since we're down to one paultry income and still working the plan to be debt free ASAP. I find myself doing littler bits. I won't drop a $100, but I will drop $20 here and then $20 there and end up in the same place. It's just more comfortable knowing I could change mid-course if need be.

VSA ... $0.00!! DONE! Yay!

It would seem we're down $1548 and change since the last TOTM post (in May). How, I have no idea, but I'm loving it regardless.



30 June 2008


Tortilla Pizzas. We love these. So good. Soooooo easy.

Fried Chicken Salads and Pitas

Leftover Night ... lots of little leftovers in the fridge need eating.

Thursday Lunch (we have people coming over)
Chicken Nuggets and French Fries, Cheesecake

Thursday Dinner
BLTs! Yum.

Grilled Hot Dogs and Sausages, Homemade Mac and Cheese, Veggies, Watermelon!

Someone else cooks something day, since I'll be working 12 hours.

Marinaded Grilled Chicken, Grilled White and Sweet Potatoes

23 June 2008


I love budgeting. I will not lie to you. I am entirely nerdy and I dig on putting all the numbers in the right spots. I've tried about 103 different ways to do a budget, track a budget, evaluate the effeciency of a budget. My favorite pick so far, the tried and true one that always gets me through is the Zero Based method where all your pluses equal out to your minuses by the end of the month. I like to have all of that figured out long before the month begins so I never have to worry about "losing" money (ie spending it somewhere I shouldn't) again.

Tonight I stumbled on a great primer on Zero Based budgeting at Simple Mom (via Paid Twice's Sunday Link Love). You can check out her post here ...



While I was there, I noticed she's doing a rockin' giveaway. It ends Wednesday the 25th, so get on over there and check out what she has in the works. Her other content, from what I've seen so far, is also pretty rock star. Yay for frugal (and practical) personal finance bloggers! Yay Yay Yay! Check out her giveaway post here ...



Frugal Dad posted an awesome list of tips to survive the down trodden (recessive?) economy that we're living in. I think they're pretty solid ideas for any economy, so that we can be good stewards of our resources. You can check out his post here ...



My Dollar Plan wrote an interesting piece on irregular paychecks. As a small business girl, I'm still struggling with this one on a regular basis. Trying to build a business and keep the lights on is an interesting battle in these financial times we currently live in. I'll take a few points from this piece for sure on making the lean times a little less close to the bone. You can read it for yourself here ...


And! (finally)

Jane4girls posted a nice pictorial on the utilization of rain barrels. We use a system much simpler (and less effective) than this one currently. I love rain catchment for two reasons ... it's good for the planet ... and it's basically free! (Em loves FREE things, always) If you're looking for some great step by steps on creating your own system, check out her post here ...


And! (haha, you thought there wouldn't be any more exclamation points ...)

That's all the link love I have for today, dolls. There are other great posts out this week as well, I just haven't found them in my Reader yet. I'm behind, I think. Have a great start to the week and enjoy the reading.



22 June 2008

Set Up Sunday!

Yay! Two in a row, and on the right day, even!

Leftover Night! We have a ton of random bits of leftovers in the fridge, and I need the room cleaned out. So, while I'm working Monday night, the plan will be to heat up the leftover bits and have a bit of a buffet.

Breakfast for dinner, specifically eggs and pancakes. Yum.

Chicken parma with spaghetti.

Firehouse tortilla pizzas.

BLTs and fries.

Whatever Night. I'll be working, some of the family will be out of town. It's leftovers or cereal or whatever whomever is home feels like eating.

Beef roast in the crockpot, cubed potatoes, carrots.

Here's to a great week!



19 June 2008


I don't often cross post links from my Reader (or where ever I stumble upon them), but sometimes they're of incredible import.

First, check out this post by Jennifer at Personal Finance Advice.

I think it's a pretty crucial read, especially the distinction she makes between the *real* frugality of previous generations and the "frugality" we pretend to qualify for simply by cutting a couple dollars off our convenience food budget. Kudos!

Second, go check out Meredith's posts at Like Merchant Ships.

She is a gem for sure. Simply living, making things beautiful, enjoying little pleasures. I adore her blog. And! Today she's blogging about pecans. I don't necessarily adore them, but I have a craving for baklava. Pecans might just do it.

Go check them both out if you haven't already. They're bloggy rockstars for sure.



15 June 2008

Sunday Set Up Returns!

We've been off menu for longer than I'd like to admit while we've been transitioning back to a crazy schedule. It's been a bit of a disaster, honestly. I'm a big advocate of menus as a tool of frugality. When you have a menu you can shop from a list, take things out ahead of time, and not have that spastic freak out moment after work when you consider pizza or take out rather than the labor of thinking up something to then spend time cooking. I can always tell you what I want for dinner sometime around 2pm, but never ever does anyone have any idea what they'd like to eat at dinner time if there's no menu. It's like I've forgotten how to cook everything, ever.

Menus are my saving grace when my brain vacates my head immediately before dinner, and we've been without one for weeks now. It's killing me. We're eating randomly. It's not healthy. It's not good for one's sanity, and it's super bad for the budget a la "Oh, sure, I'll run down and get syrup for $3.49 so we can have pancakes".

My family has also missed the menu, something I never thought I'd hear. They apparently prefer to look at the menu board and know what is on the line up than wonder if they'll ever eat again. Be would like the menu to return so he can help out by starting dinner before I get home. (awwwww, shucks!) Also, we're trying to dwindle down the deep freeze a bit so we can have room for the new piggie in the fall, so I'm gearing my menu toward things in my freezer already.

Here it is ...

MONDAY: BBQ Chopped Pork Sandwiches, French Fries

TUESDAY: Pepperoni Pizza Rotini Crescent Bake, Green Salad, Green Beans

WEDNESDAY: Whole Roasted Garlic Chicken, Rice and Corn Side, Broccoli

THURSDAY: London Broil, Diced Potatoes, Carrots

FRIDAY: BBQ Chicken Quarters, Cheesy Sour Cream Potatoes, Grilled Asparagus

SATURDAY: Chicken and Cheese Quesadillas

SUNDAY: Oven Glazed Ham, Au Gratin Potatoes, Green Bean Casserole, Cake!

Ah, that feels better.



11 June 2008

Frugal Melancholy

Very soon, our monthly income will be going from just over $1500 (*gasp*, I know!) to something closer to $450 a month. It will stay that way until one of the following happens ...

1. Someone settles with someone else and someone finally gets paid again (note the intentional vaguity ... haha). The time frame on which is 14+ months from now.

2. My job decides to start paying me something closer to real money.

3. I add an additional or different job. This will happen in late August when I start coaching again, but that only bumps us up to something approximating $650 a month. Boo.

4. We add another roommate who will chip in toward bills. There's only one person I'm ok with this roommate being, and she can't move here until fall, if she decides officially to move here at all.

5. We win the lotto, which we don't play.

Now, the frugal challenge begins, I suppose. I thought we did mighty well on less than $1550 a month, but it's time to tighten the purse strings even more and start cutting things at record speed.

Any suggestions, my frugal friends?



08 June 2008

Top 'O The Month ... Decision

I'm going to hold the Top 'O The Month post until July's info is ready. There wasn't a lot of progress this month, and most of the info isn't really available yet anyway. July will look even cooler, I suppose.

Good news, though! We finally paid off the VSA account balance. Yay! Also, one of the cards in my GP agreement is gone. It's the first one, a year and a half later. I'm quite excited about it.



05 June 2008

Good Deal Alert ...

Run, do not walk, to Meijer.

They're running a 10 for 10 (11th free) sale, of course. That's not entirely amazing or unusual. What's awesome is that Breyer's Ice Cream (pints) are included! A pint of some pretty fab ice cream for 90cents when it's all said and done. Yay! I already stuffed my freezer with them this afternoon, and B has already polished off a solid portion of the Butter Pecan collection.

In other news, I'm still running behind. I haven't done the Top 'O the Month post yet, or the picture posts about our gardening adventure, or the menu, or the recaps ... ugh. We've been eating on the fly here. I've been working like a crazy person and doing a great deal of chauffering when not working, so I'm spending almost no time online these days. I don't mean to neglect you, dear frugal blog readers. I'm trying to manage my time a bit better in the upcoming weeks, but there are new and ever changing challenges to that goal on a daily basis. Things are ridiculous sometimes.

Ah well, there's always ice cream. Mmmmm, black cherry.



26 May 2008

Is it Monday already?!


I'm way behind.

There are reasons, of course.

Stay tuned. I'll be back shortly.

22 May 2008

Good Deal Alerts.

At Target ...
Buy 2 Perfect 10 hair color kits. They're $10.99 each. Use the Buy One, Get One coupon from this month's Proctor and Gamble coupon insert. Then, get a $5 Target gift card for buying them. Yay!

At Meijer ...
There's a mid-week ad out good from 5/21 to 5/26 in addition to the regular ad, fyi.

* CHEAP Coke again. This time, 24 packs are 2 for $8.88 (or $9, as you may have read previously). There are $2/2 peelies on some of the cases. Keep your eyes peeled, because 2 24 packs for $6.88 is a steal.

* CHEAP ground beef from the meat counter. It's $1.69 per pound this week, and my good ole price book says that's almost as cheap as it's been in the last 3 or so years. If you're in need, now is the time. There will likely be similar sales throughout the summer, up to about $1.89 per pound. It may go down to $1.59, but no one can really be sure. Also, keep your eyes peeled late Saturday/Sunday for pre-packaged ground beef to be price dropped if they under sell what they expected to. They won't be orange tagged, just price dropped without other signage, so pay close attention to the price stickers on the packages for per pound pricing differences.

* CHEAP Chi Chi Salsa, especially if you have the recent coupons from this past week's inserts. The deal is even sweeter if your Meijer doubles. It's on sale for $1.

* CHEAP Pepsi 2 liters. It's pop sale time, folks. Pepsi 2 liters are 80 cents each. 8 cents cheaper than the Super Saturday Coke deal last week. Lipton 1 liter Green Tea is also included.

* CHEAP RC/7UP 12 packs. They're on sale 4 for $11, but you get a FREE one when you buy 4. This deal is also limit ONE per transaction, rather than customer, as is the case with the Coke deal. There have been rumors of peelies on the 12 packs for money off, so keep those eyes open. I know there are still $1/1 peelies for diet varieties for sure.

* CHEAP Hershey candy bars, especially if you have the 50c/1 gas station tear pad coupons. I think the candy bars are Buy 2, Get 3 Free (B2G3). They're normally 69(ish) cents each. That could be some super cheap candy when all is said and done. Who doesn't love cheap candy?!

* CHEAP Ballpark hot dogs. They're on sale Buy 1, Get 2 Free (B1G2). You pay for one and leave with three. What's bad about that? Plus, Meijer brand hot dog buns are 69c each. I forsee a lot of grilling in our future.

* CHEAP Snyder Tortilla Chips. They're on sale Buy 1, Get 1 (BOGO), but almost all of them have peelies on them for FREE salsa when you buy 2. Yay!

At Walgreens ...
Remember the May Easy Saver is ending soon, and it overlaps with June so you can use the coupons interchangably on those overlap days. There aren't awesome amazing rebates this month, so I'm not too excited. Check it out either way, so you don't miss out on something you're otherwise interested in.

And, a final note ... there will be NO coupons this weekend in the newspaper because of the holiday. If you have delivery, call and suspend it for a week to save the money. If you buy it from a box, don't.



21 May 2008

Good Meijer, Bad Meijer.

On the way home yesterday, we stopped by Meijer to get 2 24 packs of Coke for $6.88 (because I snagged awesome peelies last week). While driving down the aisle to find a parking spot, my eye was drawn to something on the ground. I made a very confused Be get out of the car and investigate, and I was right! On the ground, a $20 bill and two $1 bills!! Yay! Thank you, universe.

Then, during our weekly trip to our home town, we stopped by the new Meijer there. I am currently obsessed with stockpiling dirt cheap pop because I can't get out of buying it anyway (might as well be cheap), so I was going to pop in to grab another two 24 packs for $6.88. The Coke vendor (the guy that stocks cases and whatever else) was standing in front of the display when we came around the corner. I noticed immediately that the sale there was 2 for $9, not 2 for $8.88 (slightly annoying, but not world ending), and made a comment about it to my brother (who was with me). The Coke man immediately included himself in our conversation and informed me that no where was it ever at the price I said it was (2/$8.88). I politely said it was indeed, as I had seen it earlier that morning 45 minutes from that Meijer. Now, I know sometimes the different Meijers have different prices. Not a huge deal. On any other day, in any other circumstance, I probably would have just gone with it. Then I heard the horribly rude Coke Man again.

"It is only 12 cents." (include eye rolling and disgusting tone of voice)

Excuse me?!

If it's not a huge deal, how about your discount your prices 12c? Or, how about when I get to the register and am 12c short of paying my full grocery tab, how about Meijer just writes it off since it is only 12 cents. What about 13 cents? A quarter? A dollar?

I'm sorry, dear Coke Man, but 12 cents is 12 cents to me. I'm the girl that picks up money on the ground, even if it's only a penny. I am the girl that compares per ounce prices in the middle of the grocery aisle. I stop sometimes on the drive home and snatch up cans that can be returned for deposit that others have carelessly discarded on the side of the road. Most importantly, it's MY 12 cents, and I will do with it what I please.

Any other day, I would have swallowed hard and bought them anyway. I was ok with parting with an extra 12 cents for each one. It really wasn't that big a deal. Yesterday, however, I promptly pushed my empty cart to the front of the store. I was not giving money to those not grateful for my business. I don't deserve to be treated poorly because I don't like unnecessarily giving away my money (no matter how much it was). If Coke Man had kept his idiot mouth shut, his company would have made another $9 that day. Call me crazy, but I refuse to do business with rude people. No, thank you.



18 May 2008

A Shopping We Will Go ...

Meijer, 9am.
Returned $71.70 worth of empty pop cans. My records keeping is a little lax, because I wasn't working alone ... a huge bonus as the job of taking in that many returnables is a pain by yourself.

Meijer, 949am.
4 Coke 2 liters @ 88c each
6 Country Time Lemonade Mix @ $2.19 each
Total: $4.30
Saved: $22.04

Meijer, 950am.
4 Coke 2 liters @ 88c each
6 Country Time Lemonade Mix @ $2.19 each
Total: $4.30
Saved: $22.04

Meijer, 1035am.
26 Coke 2 liters @ 88c each
Total: $24.48
Saved: $19.48

Meijer, 1038am.
28 Coke 2 liters @ 88c each
Total: $27.44
Saved: $19.88

Meijer, 1208pm.
1 Purina Healthy Cat Chow $1.89 (FREE!)
2 Aunt Millie's Bread (BOGO) $3.19
9 lbs Boneless Chicken Breasts $17.92
2 Ortega Taco Seasoning 88c (FREE with coupon!)
1 can Meijer Organic Baked Beans (FREE with coupon!)
4 2 liters Coke Products $3.92
1 Snyder's Pretzels 2.19
2 French's Honey Mustard $5.38
6 Ekrich Hot Dogs $4.98 (B1G2!)
3 Ekrich Bologna $2.99 (B1G2!)
2 Aunt Millie's Hot Dog Buns $2.99 (BOGO!)
2 Johnsonville Brats $4.99 (BOGO!)
3 French's Spicy Brown Mustard $3
2 French's Yellow Mustard $2 (FREE with coupon!)
6 Cattleman's BBQ Sauce $6
2 jars of Vlasic Pickles $2.34
2 24 packs Pepsi products $12.40
1 12 pack Pepsi product $4.87 (FREE!)
44 lbs Purina Dog Chow $15.99

Total: $78.64
Savings: $74.26

Meijer, 1210pm.
1 can Meijer Organics Baked Beans 94c (FREE with coupon!)
4 2 liters Coke products $3.92
2 24 pack Pepsi products $12.40
1 12 pack Pepsi products $4.87 (FREE!)

Total: $17.26
Savings: $12.25

Walgreens, 1248pm.
21 Soy Joy bars clearanced to 35c each
2 Palmolive Dish Soap
1 Gillette Body Wash $3.49

Total: $3.95 (all paid with FREE gift card cash!)
Savings: $26.35

((We came home and unloaded. I went to work. Others continued shopping on my behalf.))

Meijer, 526pm, 527pm, and 528pm.
12 2 liters Coke products $3.92
6 24 pack Pepsi products $12.40
3 12 pack Pepsi products $4.87 (FREE!)

Total: $52.56
Savings: $37.11

((Then, after I got out of work, I kept shopping ... because I am a lunatic.))

Meijer, 859pm
4 2 liters Coke products $3.92
13 bags Meijer frozen veggies $13 (Yay! Mealbox coupons!)
2 24 packs Pepsi products $12.40
1 12 pack Pepsi products $$4.87 (FREE!)

Total: $26.50
Savings: $24.20

Walgreens, 922pm
1 Gillette Body Wash $3.49 (FREE with coupon!)
1 20oz Mt. Dew $1.59 (long day, I was getting a little ragged)

Total: $1.80 (paid with FREE gift card cash!)
Savings: $4.99

Meijer, 954pm.
4 2 liters Coke products $3.92
6 Country Time Lemonade (B1G2!) $4.38

Total: $4.30
Savings: $16.04

Meijer, 956pm.
2 lbs Hard Salami $2.55 (thank you closed up leftover deli bags!)
6 Country Time Lemonade $4.38

Total: $3.02
Savings: $18.44

Family Fare, 1049pm.
6 Hamburger Helper at $2.19 (BOGO)
10 Campbell Select Soups at $2.29 (B5G5)
2 1 liter bottle Lipton Green Tea at $1.34 each (FREE with coupon!)
2 LiteHouse salad dressings at $2.99 (BOGO)
4 12 packs Pepsi products at $5.89 each (BOGO)
2 El Matidor Tortilla Chips at $3.19 each (BOGO)
4 Jays Potato Chips at $3.29 each (BOGO)

Total: $38.95
Savings: $49.85

Total for the Day: $281.75
Minus Bottle Return Money: $210.05

Saved for the Day: $346.93!

Plus, I'll get $49.90 back when I take these empties in. Meaning, really, I only spent $160.15. We now have an entire basement full of pop at what is usually the rock bottom price here. Yay! I also have another $70+ worth of empties that didn't make it to the store yesterday, and a raincheck for basically free Country Time.

Who's up for a store run?

After yesterday, I don't know that I am.



16 May 2008

Good Deal Alerts

If you're going to be out and about shopping tomorrow (like I am), check out the following ...

* FREE Gilette Body Wash at Walgreens. You buy the first one, then it prints cats for the freebies on and on into oblivion. They were not highly overstocked for this promo, though, so you may be out of luck this late in the week.

* CHEAP Country Time Lemonade at Meijer. They're Buy 1, Get 2 (B1G2) Free this week. That's a pretty solid deal in and of itself. Buy 6, get a catalina for $4 On Your Next Order (ONYO). That means, you actually pay for 2, get four of them free, and get paid $4 to do it.

* CHEAP Cattleman's BBQ Sauce at Meijer. They're on sale for $1, and there were 75c/1 coupons out not that long ago. If you're somewhere that doubles, use the 50c/1 and get it doubled to make it free. If you're not, like me, pay 25c. My family loves this stuff, and we're out. Perfect timing!

* CHEAP Coke 2 Liters at Meijer. Friday and Saturday, 88c Coke product 2 liters. With the deposit, they're cheaper than the regular Meijer "Sale" price here. Limit 4, of course. I'll be in and out of Meijer all day if you're looking for someone to hang out with.

There are other deals out there, I promise. That's just my top four for this week. I probably shouldn't have waited until Saturday to go shopping, but I hate the Meijer by work after dark. I'll be out and about, scoring deals all day Saturday. Care to join me?

Frugal Friday

I wish I had a great breakdown for you this week. My transition back to work has thrown a bit of a rock into the gears, but we're getting it worked out.

Sunday, Mother's Day, we had Be's family over. I made chicken bowtie alfredo with carrots and broccoli, garlic bread, salad, and a strawberry jello shortcake dessert. Yum. It ran about $23, served 7 people dinner that night.

Monday, we ate leftovers.

Tuesday, we ate leftovers and pizza rolls ... adding an extra $3 to the week.

Wednesday, we ate leftovers and hard boiled eggs ... an additional $1.50.

Thursday, Be finished the leftovers at lunch and I made chicken fried rice for dinner. Total cost for that was $5.

Tonight, we'll be eating left over chicken fried rice for sure.

That brings my total for the week to $27.50. Yay!

13 May 2008

Are you kidding me?

A couple days ago, I posted about the TV news and their Super Saver program featuring "savings services". I just popped by the TV news website to check out a headline I missed part of on the noon news, and what do I see?

The one program they specifically targeted are advertising sponsors on their website. Ick. Way to go news station, way to pretend for a second that you weren't just furthering the needs of your advertising department. I wonder how much this company had to pay for that segment? I'm even more convinced they're scheisters now.

Now I'm crabby.



Instant Gratitude!

Thank you world, for ...

... gorgeous sunset tonight, wispy clouds with pink and orange highlights.
... quick and steady night at work, not too rushed nor too painfully snow.
... great leftover strawberry shortcake jello dessert from last night. Yum!
... reruns of Jon and Kate Plus 8 on TLC right now. I adore this show for some reason I am yet to comprehend.
... my adorable Be and his smiling face.
... cuddly kitty making me feel like the only human in the world that matters.
... apple tree blossoms and the promise of fresh produce soon.
... my worn in but not worn out birkenstocks.
... peanut m&ms from a machine for 25c, a perfect handful to satisfy the otherwise insatiable desire to eat nothing but peanut m&ms.
... my hilariously precious niece in her XL Hulk tshirt and baby pants, sleepy eyes, messy hair.



09 May 2008

Frugal Friday: Scheister Edition

The early evening news last night had a segment about saving money at the grocery store. The anchor met with two women, armed with coupons and magical lists. They spoke of rock bottom prices and stockpiling. I was stoked, for a split second, to see someone validating the adventure that is frugality.

And then I got annoyed ...

Apparently, the only way to be frugal and save money on groceries, is to enroll in one of the unfortunately popular online ad/savings services, and PAY THEM to tell you what to buy or not buy at the grocery store. The program that was most highlighted in the segment runs $19.95 for a month of database and list access. The other runs $10 for 8 weeks for one store, an additional $5 for every store after that.

Now, on face, I can see how these services could seem appealing. It's awesomely easy and brainless to just print off lists and buy what you're told. The time saving factor is probably the biggest draw. Americans like to talk about not having enough time on a regular basis, though I'll be slow to agree with the reality of their assertions while the average amount of TV hours per week is still so astronomical. We probably all have an hour somewhere in our week to take care of grocery saving business, and that's all it takes once you get the hang of it.

I also understand that deal finding can initially be a contrary way of thinking about shopping. What do you mean I only buy one can of soup? or 32 boxes of pasta?! It would make sense to pay for the training or knowledge of deal finding if you wanted to get started. There are tons of free resources on the internet, though, and neither of these services actually teach you to figure these things out yourself in the future. You're beholden to their databases and lists and color codes forever, and since it keeps you writing a check, they like it that way.

I am all for responsible consumerism, deal finding, stockpiling, and paying the lowest possible price or scoring goods for free (even better!). I am not, however, at all a fan of people capitalizing on that endeavor through 'communities' of dutiful check writers. It's entirely contrary and makes my heart hurt a little. Like ... if someone would just show them, they'd save so much more money. Creating a pricebook is probably the best way to get started, and all it takes is a spiral notebook and a pile of receipts.

I suppose scheisters and con-men exist in every arena. They will until people stop paying them to. Don't help them out. Don't pay for advice that it otherwise provided free in the same medium, and is almost always better advice in the first place. Find a free community online. I suggest http://www.hotcouponworld.com/ for starters. Lurk there awhile, learn something.



06 May 2008

Instant Gratitude!

... fabulous Hershey's Kisses from holiday clearance, tucked away in my desk drawer, just waiting to make my day.
... whomever did the dishes last night while I was sleeping. Yay dish fairy!
... a freshly cleaned house, and the fabulous smell of citrus and bleach.
... sunshine!
... a day off work to get stuff done I was otherwise ignoring.
... my adorable Be.
... tiny gestures, difficult to catch, but oh so meaningful.
... every single day I get to wake up a piece in this crazy mystery.



05 May 2008

FF and Set Up delayed ... again.

Friday was a crazy busy day here, and I didn't even turn on my computer but to see the radar for the storms we were expecting. It was nutso.

Soooo, first, the recap.

Monday we had shepard's pie as planned. I made a huge pan of it so it would carry over a few days. Three pounds of ground beef was $3 from my freezer stash of clearance meats. Assorted veggies were either from remnants left in the fridge (celery, carrots, onions), or from cans (tomatoes, kernel corn) for a grand total of $2.30. The mashed potatoes were probably 50c or so since I had to use such an enormous quantity to top the entire pan. All that for $5.80. Yay!

Tuesday was leftover shepard's pie because I was a bit on the lazy side as far as putting the chicken in the crock pot. Oops. Oh well, total cost? $0

Wednesday was chili as ordered. I started it in the morning before I left for work, and it simmered all day. Oh how I adore the crockpot for chili making. The house smelled great even before I left for work. Mmmmmm. The ground beef was $2 (the rest of my freezer tube from Monday). The black beans, tomatoes (diced and crushed), and whole kernel corn were $2.47. We didn't have cornbread. Total, $4.47, which also served another couple lunches and leftovers.

Thursday was supposed to be all leftovers. The shepard's pie was gone by Thursday, and we were down to a single bowl of chili, which Be wanted. So, begrudgingly (ha!) I swung by the chinese take out and got myself veggie lo mein. Twist my arm, right? I also got Be some crab rangoons, which I think are inherently disgusting. Total, $13.18.

Friday was grill night. We hit the meat counter in the afternoon and nothing looked good, so I had the meat cutter lady cut down a bigger hunk into 1inch steaks. They wound up running me $26 ... which is not the best, but a pretty darn good deal for 7 giant steaks. We also grilled up some sliced new potatoes with butter and garlic ... an entire 5lbs if you can believe it. What's better? That 5lb bag only cost me $1. There were also grilled red and green peppers, though more green ones than red by the time they were done because a certain someone kept stealing the red ones while raw. They were about $4 total. There was also garlic bread made on the grill, using Italian loaves we found on the day old rack for $1.34. Grand total, not including the new thing of propane we had to go get immediately after we put the steaks on, $32.34. Find a steak house with that kind of deal for 6 people! Ha.

Total for the week, $55.79. Pretty darn good, considering there was steak involved.

As for the menu, I have no idea. Nothing. I'm tired. I won't be home most nights this week. I may see if the boys can figure it out in favor of starving. The menu will be back next week for sure.



04 May 2008

Silly Mistake

"Hey, let's go to Walgreens, I have this Register Reward that's expiring."

(wander around Wags for 40 minutes trying to find a way to roll it, and finding none, then attempting to find something to blow it on)

Cashier Boy: "You saved pretty well on this."

"Well, yea, I had to use my RR before it expired."

"Oh, that coupon didn't expire until the 7th."


I was crushed. It could have been the perfect start to rolling the Crest RR. Grrrr. I am a sad, sad, girl.



01 May 2008

Top 'o the Month!

It's our first Top 'o the Month on this blog. Yay! Basically, I like to keep an ongoing progress report on the first of each month to see how far we got toward our goals (primarily: debt pay off) in the preceeding 30ish days. It's not always a giant improvement from month to month, but we're on this mission for the long haul. We'll get there eventually.

Is under $1000. Boo. I had to cover a gap student loan payment, plus it was already down from waiting on stupid reimbursement checks from Be's company. They should be here by the 5th, lest they start paying penalties on the amount owed, and that should bump us back up to where it's supposed to be.

Dream Savings:
Per the ticker today, is at $124.63. I cannot tell you what it's for yet. It's a secret.

Jeep ... 9 payments and the misc. amount to clear the loan to go. We won't get to this on the snowball before it's paid off regularly anyway. Ah well.

GP ... $6158.50. This actually includes 5 cards, one of which is under $40. Yay!

C1 ... $465.29.

AV ... $800 and change. I don't have the exact amount because we just cleared our special financing account with them (It was at $$1900 last month. Ick!), but we're getting there.

VSA ... $82.xx. This should be gone already, but someone keeps forgetting to pay it. Oops.

Fix the VSA account, which should be paid off already.
Keep rolling the snowball, adding in as much as possible through snowflakes and the like.
Pay everyone on time.

More next month!



29 April 2008

Set Up Sunday via Tuesday morning ...

I have to work M-Thur this week. Yesterday was 8am-3pm. Today through Thursday will be 130pm to 815pm.
Be has PT on Tuesday and Thursday at 230pm.
At some point I think I have to go to campus and fix my schedule, to the grocery store, and I have a work meeting/thing Friday afternoon.


Monday: Shepard's Pie.

Tuesday: Whole chicken in the crockpot, noodle side, and veggies (I hope).

Wednesday: Black bean chili in the crockpot, corn bread muffins.

Thursday: Leftovers. (Shepard's Pie, Chili)

Friday: Grill Night ... this is our weekly theme night, which we can't seem to have on the same day every week. We're doing burgers or steaks (depending on how rich I'm feeling on Thursday ... haha), grilled tin foil potatoes, maybe roasted corn and peppers. Yay!

Saturday: Pizza ... of what variety, I don't know.

Sunday: Baked Ham? Maybe? I'm not locked into that just yet.

Ah, now I feel better.