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Home > Archive: January, 2011

Archive for January, 2011

Safeway debacle

January 31st, 2011 at 11:35 am

I really hate when a planned grocery trip goes wrong and you get a cashier that really messes you up. Went to Safeway this morning and the plan was to get free soup, cheap peanut butter and cheap hamburger and I guess I succeeded to an extent...

I had a Safeway coupon to make the Skippy peanut butter 1.49 only he said he couldn't use the Safeway coupon with the manufacture coupon, which is totally bogus. Anyways there were a million people in the store so didn't argue too much right then, said I would talk to the manager. I had 4 $1 coupons for the Skippy, which would have made them .49 each. He only rang up 3, even though he kept all 4. I didn't find that out till I was in the car trying to figure out what just happened.

The soup was .99 wyb 4. I had 4 .50 internet coupons, which would have made them free after doubling. He took 3 and told me he couldn't take the other one. No reason and there's no restrictions in their coupon policy. Again I just said fine since I planned to talk to the manager.

I got a pound of hamburger for 2.49 and he did take my $2.00 coupon so paid .49/lb.

And finally he forgot to give me a bag credit.

I talked to the manager and he said yes, they do take Safeway coupons and manufacture coupons and yes there is no restrictions on the internet coupons. So he gave me back 4.40 for the peanut butter and .50 for the coupon. I still ended up paying an extra $1 for the peanut butter since the cashier didn't actually ring it up. So 4 jars for 2.96 instead of 1.96. And I paid an extra .50 for the soup since it would have doubled if he had scanned it instead of just opening the door and giving me the face value. So .50 for 4 cans of soup instead of free. I wasn't going to argue any more at that point since I needed to meet my mom at Walmart to walk. But the whole thing was very aggravating. I sometimes think cashier's just make up the rules as they go.

I finished reading my book Forget Me Not by Marliss Melton. Mystery - pretty good.

free salad dressing, candy, eye drops and pain gel

January 30th, 2011 at 12:46 pm

Went into town to meet parents for lunch. We ate and Zios. Had a buy one get one free coupon, split 3 ways it saved me $3. Spent $8

I went to Walgreens and got the following

5.99 - Arnica pain gel
-2.00 q
3.99 - got back a $6 RR

7.99 - Blink eye drops
-1.00 q
6.99 - got back an $8 RR

3.56 - 4 Butterfingers Snackers
-1.78 - 2 BOGO q's
-2.00 - Walgreen ad q
.22 - money maker

Did the Blink and Arnica twice. One Blink will keep, one goes to parents, 1 Arnica goes to niece and one will be donated. Paid for all using Walgreens gift card bought with RRs, so no out of pocket. Have $28 in RRs from today will put on gift card later.

Next stop was Albertson's were I got 2 doz eggs for .89/each. I gave one to my parents. I also got 2 bottles of Ken's salad dressing for free. I'll keep one and give one to my niece.

I finished reading the library book The Emperor's Tomb by Steve Berry. Adventure - very good.

free ink, pens and pencils

January 29th, 2011 at 03:30 pm

I got my Staples rewards in the mail today from buying ink and batteries last month. I was glad to see it since I had a coupon for 15% off at Staples that expired today. Staples also had pens and pencils on 100% rebate sale.

I have an Epson printer and I always look for the ink with the chair on it. They don't make it anymore. I was looking and looking. Fortunately I had 3 ink cartridges with me to recycle and could see the numbers I needed. I eventually figured out they changed the picture to vases instead of a chair. Not sure what the purpose of the change is, other than to make people nuts.

Anyways I got the following

21.49 - 1 Black ink cartridge
3.99 - Bic manual pencils - 5 ct
5.99 - Zebra Sarasa gel pens - 5 ct
-3.82 - 15% off q - on pencil and ink - not pens?
-2.00 - Zebra q - was right in front of pens
-25.65 - Staples rewards check
.85 - they printed out a coupon and gave me .85 cents back. Don't appear to have charged taxes. Weird. I paid nothing out of pocket and since I paid less than the check I got for the batteries I call it all free.

Anyways I will get a check back for the pens and pencils for 9.98 even though I only 'paid' 7.38 a profit of $1.60. I'll donate these to the food pantry, they collect school supplies too. I'll also get a check for $6 for recycling 3 ink cartridges. Enough to get one of the color cartridges next time.

I finished reading my book The MasterHarper of Pern by Anne McCaffrey. Sci/Fi - very good.

Rice e Fagioli soup

January 28th, 2011 at 11:41 am

Last night I made this recipe. It's a takeoff on my Pasta e Fagioli soup recipe which was supposed to be a copy of Olive Garden's recipe. I've found I like it better with rice than pasta. To me the pasta gets gummy the next day or so, the rice stays good and even makes the soup better the next day. I make the recipe up to the rice part and then freeze half the soup. I add 1/2 the rice and eat the rest over 3/4 days. Very good with a slice of bread and butter.

Rice E Fagioli soup


1 lb ground beef
1 small onion diced
1 large carrot small diced
2 stalks celery small diced
3 cloves garlic - garlic press
1 15 oz can diced tomatoes with basil and garlic
1 15 oz can white beans
1 15 oz can kidney beans
1 10 oz can chicken broth
1 10 oz can condensed tomato soup
1 cup long grain and wild rice
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried basil
teaspoon pepper
teaspoon dried thyme


1. Brown the ground beef in large skillet - season with garlic powder, salt and pepper
2. Add cut up veggies to hamburger and season with salt and pepper. Saute for 10 - 15 min until softened
3. Add all ingredients to large crock pot and cook on high for at least 1 hour.

I finished reading the library book The High King of Montival by S.M. Stirling. Sci/Fi - very good.

free butter, rice and RoTel

January 27th, 2011 at 04:26 pm

King Soopers is having another of their mega sales, buy 10 save $5. I did 2 deals, saving $10. I used my RX coupon and other coupons to get $22.35 in free groceries - 13.63 in manufacture coupons and 8.72 in the RX coupon.

Here's some of the highlights

4.47 - 3 boxes I can't believe it's not butter
-1.50 - mega deal
-3.00 - 3 $1 q's
.03 profit

3.68 - 4 cans RoTel
-2.00 - mega sale
-1.20 - 2 .30 q's doubled
-.92 - 1 free wyb 3 q
.44 profit - donated to food pantry

2.98 - 2 Uncle Ben's rice
-1.00 - mega deal
-2.00 - 2 .75 q's doubled
.02 profit - kept one, gave one to niece

1.98 - 2 Mahatma saffron yellow rice
-2.00 - 2 .75 q's doubled
.02 profit - donated to food pantry

2.79 - French's honey mustard dipping sauce
-1.00 - q
- .50 - mega deal

3.68 - 4 cans Hunts tomatoes
-2.00 - mega deal
-1.00 - .75 q doubled
.68 - .23/each - donated to food pantry

2.97 - 3 cans Del Monte green beans
-1.50 - mega deal
-1.00 - .75 q doubled
.47 - .16/each

3.87 - 3 cans Hormel chili
-1.50 - mega deal
-1.50 - $1.5/3 q
.87 - .29/each - goes to food pantry

Also bought milk, potatoes and 2 cans Kuner's white beans. Got some more hamburger at Safeway - spent .66 for a pound and a bit. Got 3 more bags of free Chex Mix at Walgreens for the food pantry. Dropped 4 sacks of food at the food pantry.

I finished reading my book Water Bound by Christine Feehan. Paranormal - excellent.

cheap hamburger

January 26th, 2011 at 01:32 pm

I went to Safeway this morning and got a pound of 80% lean hamburger for .49. Safeway has it on sale for $2.49/lb. Thier Joy of Football coupon book has a coupon for $2 off Rancher's Reserve beef. So only .49 cents after coupon. I have some more of these so will get a few more pounds to stock up the next month.

I also used 3 more $1 off Chex Mix coupons to get 3 more bags free at Walgreens. I'll donate these.

I went to GiftCard Rescue and got a $100 Sonic gift card for $81 and a $50 Wendy's gift card for $45. I used a promotion code from Hip 2 Saves' website to get an extra $9 off the Sonic gift card - HIP2SAVE10

I finished reading my book Mountain Vengence by Jason Manning - Western - ok.

My boring investment style.

January 25th, 2011 at 12:14 pm

Back in my early 20's when I made the goal to retire early I realized I had to figure out how. I had to make my small amount of money work for me. My dad made his money in real estate, but he was able to do all the hands on work needed to keep the properties up and he liked dealing with people. I didn't have those abilities, nor wanted to learn them, so I knew I needed a different way. I read a ton of books and financial magazines on investing and came up with my personal investment style. I was not a financial guru, buying and selling individual stocks. I was a patient best pratices investor.

My first investment was stocks from the company I worked for. Employees could buy them at 15% off using up to 15% of your salary. I started small about 5% and then after a year I sold them. I made a profit. That was good so I reinvested and did it every year after that I worked for that company, maxing out what I could invest. Company stocks are the only individual stocks I ever bought and sold.

So here are the basic rules I used for my investment style.

1. Invest NOW! At the same time I was buying the company stocks I deliberately decided not to invest in the company 401K even though they matched 100% up to 6% of your salary. The reasons were because it locked up your money until you were 59 1/2, (which was an eternity for a 23 year old), and it took 5 years to become fully vested. You vested at a rate of 20%/year. I did not think I would work at that company for 5 years. 3 years later I finally woke up and realized that it didn't matter it I only worked there a year. I got 20% of the company money in a year, I got all of my money, plus interest, dividends etc and if I had started 3 years ago when I could have I would be 60% invested by now. So I started investing.

That's one of the things I've learned is Invest Now. There is never a perfect time to invest. The market may be going up, it may be going down, it doesn't matter if you are investing for the long term. Invest it now and in 10 years you will make money. Even if it's only in interest/dividends/capital gains.

2. Reinvest. The second thing I always did until I retired was reinvest all my dividends, interest and capital gains. Now that I'm retired I don't reinvest the money from my after tax accounts, since it doesn't make sense to pay taxes on that, reinvest, then turn around and take money from those accounts and pay more taxes on it as income. Money in my pre-tax accounts is still reinvested. I also made sure while I was working to pick tax-advantaged accounts to put after tax investments in, so the dividends and capital gains taxes weren't too high each year.

3. Diversify. I almost always invested in index funds. Generally I invested 50% in large cap funds, 25% in small cap funds, 20% in foreign funds and 5% in health care and 5% in REITs. The health care fund was the only one that wasn't an index fund.

4. Cost control. I couldn't control the costs of the funds invested in my 401K plans, but for plans I picked, I picked ones with low costs. Another reason for choosing index funds. I also picked funds with tax advantages to lower the cost of taxes. I fully invested in 401Ks and Roth IRAs as much as possible to take advantage of tax deductions and company matches.

5. Don't panic. I invested through at least 7 recessions or major downturns. I didn't panic and withdraw or quit monthly investing. I knew that stocks would rise again and I would regain the losses and so far I always have. Sometimes it takes 3 years, but usually I'm buying during (dollar-cost averaging) those 3 years so the average cost of shares remains good and I make money over the long term. When I started investing the DOW was somewhere around 400.

6. Automatic investment. I invested thru company plans as much as possible where they automatically took the money out of my paycheck and I never saw it. I also increased my investments every time I got a raise. I was already living on that income and managing so before I could get used to living on more income I would increase my investments and never notice the difference. Once I maxed out the company options it was harder to save and invest that money in funds each month. I usually reserved the funds each month in my tracking spreadsheet and once I got to a $1000 or so I would write a check and send it off.

The biggest thing was I started investing early and had 25 years for my investments to grow using compound interest.

That's basically it, all the boring things the investment books tell you to do. Buy high, sell low, invest for the long term, dollar-cost averaging, tax advantage funds, low investment costs, automatic investing. Boring, but it worked.

In the last 10 years I've met a lot of people who do day-trading and they always tell you about the huge amounts of money they made on a deal. But you never see any signs of that money long term, to me it's like gambling. I know 2 who used to tell me how much they made and both had to refinance their houses because they ended up losing so much. Refinancing when you are 50/60 is a bad deal.

I finished reading the library book Longeye by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller. Sci/Fi - pretty good.

a year's supply of olive oil for free

January 24th, 2011 at 12:57 pm

I got my latest $5 Amazon gift card posted on swagbucks today, which made my total of free gift card credits almost $30. I bought 2 44 oz bottles of extra virgin olive oil for $17.67. That's at least a year's supply - I hope. I have been using it a lot more in cooking. The original price was $20.79 + $8.18 for shipping. By signing up for the subscribe and save feature I get free shipping and a 15% discount. I can cancel the subscribe and ship before they send me another order in 6 months. I have been buying it in the store for about $6/16 ozs or $33 so 'saved' $15.33 or almost half.

I finished reading the library book Port Mortuary by Patricia Cornwell. Mystery - very good. I had a hard time putting this down.

lazy Sunday

January 23rd, 2011 at 01:23 pm

Safeway has a new coupon book out called something like the Joy of Football. Anyways it has some really good coupons, one of which is $1 off Chex Mix. Walgreens has a Chex Mix deal that makes this a money maker.

3.99 - 3 bags Chex Mix - I got the ones that said 33% more so they were the 12 oz bags.
-3.00 - 3 $1 q's from Safeway book
- .99 - .99/3 WAG q from their January book
FREE plus got a $1.50 RR back. If you buy 4 you get $2.50 and 5 gives you a $3.50 RR. These will all be donated to the food pantry.

I also got 2 boxes of 10 ct Old El Paso taco shells on sale for .99 each. I had 2 .50 cent coupons so .98 for 2. Will donate these also.

Spent about an hour on the phone with older niece. She's taking an anthropology class this semester and likes it so much, wants to change her minor to it. Now wants to see if their are any jobs that combine anthropology and psychology. I couldn't think of any, but who knows. I'm really enjoying the Great Courses DVDs I got on Existentialism and we talked about that for a while.

It's nice enough here that mom and I can walk outside after awhile. Looks like most of the rest of the country is getting our snow this year.

I finished reading my book Dragonseye by Anne McCaffrey. Sci/Fi - pretty good.

swagbucks for coupons

January 21st, 2011 at 02:09 pm

Swagbucks recently started giving you 10 points for each coupon you clip and use from their site. It takes 6 - 8 weeks to show up. I got my first post of 20 swagbucks today. Must have used 2 coupons somewhere. Just another way of stretching savings a little bit more. Save on a sale, save with the coupons and save by clipping the coupon from swagbucks Smile When I use 45 coupons, it will mean another $5 gift card from Amazon.

I got a $20 check in the mail for the Olay moisturizer I got last month. Also got a free sample of Slim Fast peanut butter bar, which got donated to the food pantry. I dropped about 10 bags of stuff off yesterday, it's been awhile because of either snow or I've been busy on the days they are open. They had a ton of food which was good to see.

I finished reading Crystal Dragon by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller. Sci/Fi - very good.

I haven't had a bath in more than 5 years

January 19th, 2011 at 12:08 pm

I love long hot showers, especially with the massager beating down on my shoulders and head. The last time I was in an actual bathtub was when we went to Canada and I used the whirlpool tub in one of the hotel rooms I stayed in. However, because I take a shower everyday, my brain skips when it comes to wondering if I already shampoo'd or not. This morning I was wondering if I shampoo'd and I thought I had, but couldn't remember for sure. A few minutes later I started wondering again if I had shampoo'd. I'm pretty sure I did between the first wonder and the second wonder, but can't really remember Smile Old age, or just poor memory? The problem is I shampoo every morning so am I remembering this morning's shampoo or some other morning's shampoo? My hair looks ok, so I must have shampoo's at some point today. Who knows how many times Smile

I got gas at $2.86/gal today - total $30.44 and I picked up a prescription for $5.50. I'm out of prescription coupons so no free groceries Frown

I got a free slim fast peanut butter bar in the mail. I'll donate it to the food pantry.

I finished reading the library book The White Road by Lynn Flewelling. Sci/Fi - good.


January 17th, 2011 at 06:46 pm

I took my youngest niece to see Narnia today. It was worth seeing, but not as good as the first two, in my opinion. Spent $12 on tickets - at least it wasn't 3-D this time. Really tired of that trend.

We went to Wendy's for lunch beforehand. Niece was telling me about their new fries and how good they are. I agree they are pretty good. I haven't been there in months. Spent $13.18

After the movie we went to Cold Stone for ice cream. I brought half of mine home since I was still full. Spent $8.18

Had a good time with niece. Talked about several things including early retirement and how saving your money gets you good things in life. Also talked about college and how so many kids end up spending so much for college and then get a job that doesn't pay the loans and basic living expenses. Her new plan is to become a surgeon, but only in 10th grade so lots of time to decide for sure.

When I brought her back home her mom had locked her out. Good thing I always wait to make sure they get in the house safe. They live out in the middle of nowhere. I took her to my mom's since they have an extra key and then drove her back home.

I finished reading my book Raven's Strike by Patricia Briggs. Sci/Fi - very good.

cheap mac n' cheese

January 16th, 2011 at 12:50 pm

Went to Walgreens this morning. They have Kraft Homestyle mac n' cheese on sale for $1.67/each. I got 2 and used 2 $1 manufacture coupons and 1 $1/2 Walgreen coupon to get them for .17/each. I'll give them to my niece.

I also got 2 packs of 2 ct Sharpie pens. On sale with Walgreens in-add coupon for .99/each. Saving $2.00/each. I used one of the $2 RRs I got last week from buying cereal to pay for them. These have been on my list for awhile so was glad to finally find them for a good price.

I finished reading the library book Side Jobs by Jim Butcher. Sci/Fi - very good.

tempting fate

January 15th, 2011 at 01:14 pm

As we grow up we often hear cautionary tales from the greeks and the bible about being too happy, or enjoying a possession too much. If you express your happiness it attracts the gods who then take away the object of your happiness. We often turn away compliments on things, or actions buy saying something to lessen the compliment, we even tell them about the flaws so they know it's not as good as they think it is. In many cultures artists deliberately introduce something to mar their creations so they are not perfect, thus turning away jealousy from the gods. We knock on wood when we say something is particularly good.

We are allowed to complain, and often do, about our lot in life, but people who state too often how happy they are, or how much they enjoy thier things are accused of bragging, or showing off. I wonder why our society puts more emphasis on being unhappy than happy. It's more socially acceptable to complain about things in your life than to say how happy you are about your life. The majority of advertising is about telling us how unhappy we are, or should be, with our lives and how if only we would buy xyz, we would be happy. However the accumulation of all the ads constantly telling us what is wrong with our lives adds up to an overall feeling of not being happy, of discontent with our lives or possessions.

Subconsciously we feel if we are too happy, or enjoy something too much we are tempting fate. If I compliment my mom on how healthy she is at 71, she always says something like, as far as we know, or there might be something bad we don't know about going on inside. I asked why and she said it's a way of not tempting fate so she becomes really sick. Like if the gods hear she is healty and she knows it and enjoys it, something will happen to her.

I frequently walk thru my house or sit in my chair reading and think about how happy I am with my life. How much I enjoy what I am doing or feeling. How much I like one of my things, like my comfy chair, or a picture on the wall. How I feel good as I'm walking, no pain, how pretty the day is, etc. I don't feel like I can say these things very often though, since it feels like bragging or unnecessarily bringing notice to the fact that I have something someone else might not. That's not to say my life is perfect, because it's not. I have days when I don't feel so well, or am just generally out of sorts with the world. But they are few and far between since I retired.

However, even though I am consciously happy much of the time, the things I talk about or blog about are often the complaints in life. Maybe the complaints are more interesting, but I think there's a kind of societal pressure not to be too happy, or if you are, not to talk about it much. Possibly because it makes others feel bad about whatever is wrong in their lives, possibly because it brings unwanted attention from the fates to see if they can make you unhappy once you've had a taste of happiness. Regardless of whether it tempts the fates or not, I want to acknowledge my happiness with my life. From the everyday small things, like the taste of an egg sandwich or how much I enjoy my reading chair, to the bigger things like how proud and pleased I am by the people my nieces are turning into or walking with my mom each day.

I finished reading my book The Girl Who Heard Dragons by Anne McCaffrey. Sci/Fi - ok

lots of free stuff yesterday and today

January 14th, 2011 at 02:02 pm

I had to go in town for a dr appt yesterday and took the opportunity to run errands. I had 5 Border's bucks at Borders and used a 33% off coupon to get a book for .33, which I paid for using a free gift card for my credit card reward. Free book

I stopped at Albertson's where they had a buy 8 get $4 off sale. As part of the sale I got:

2.98 - 2 tubs I can't believe it's not butter
-1.00 - wyb 8 sale discount
-2.00 - 2 $1 q's
.02 profit

2.00 - loaf of whole wheat bread on sale
-2.00 - free wyb 2 I can't believe it's not butter

4.47 - 3 jars Ragu spaghetti sauce
-1.50 - wyb 8 discount
2.97 - got back a $1 RR making them .66/each

5.97 - 3 boxes Frosted Flakes
-1.50 - wyb 8 discount
-1.10 - wyb 2 q
3.37 - these go to the food pantry

I got a car wash to get the big chunks of ice and crud off the car - $7. I miss the days of free car washes when you filled your tank.

At the Dr's he told me my kidney is leaking calcium. Calcium is what is causing my kidney stones. Based on my tests I have the second highest calcium retention number in my urine that he's ever seen. I've always been an over-achiever Smile Anyways I now have a new medicine to take to stop this and I also have to take 1200 mg of fish oil/day.

I met my mom at Red Robin for my free bday burger. It was 9.44 before the coupon discount so I chipped in a $1.50 in tip for my meal. She wasn't feeling very good, so I felt bad she thought she had to meet me. My youngest niece has mono and strep throat and she breathed all over mom and me on Sunday when we met for lunch. Fortunately I didn't get sick yet. Mom was feeling much better today so not sure if she had the strep throat or what. She had a very sore throat and felt tired/achy, but feels really good now. Don't know if only lasts one day.

After lunch I went to Target. I had a coupon for $10 gift card when you get a new prescription filled and I used it when I got my new med filled. It cost $2.44. I spent $9.83 on the stuff I bought at Target so that was all free with the $10 gift card and I have .17 whole pennies left to splurge with Smile

While waiting for the prescription to be filled I was checking out the fish oil. Target had 60 ct 1200 mg Nature Made fish oil on sale for half price $5 and I had $5 coupons. So I got 4 bottles for free, or almost if you don't count taxes Smile When I got home I added the points to my Nature Made Wellness account and I had enough to order a $7 coupon.

I also got 2 free trial sizes of Tide at Target and they had deal of Ponds cleaning cloths wyb 30 get 10 free and I used a $1 Target q to get 40 for 3.96 - good price.

Today I went to King Soopers for groceries. I needed stuff I didn't have coupons for like milk, veggies and meat. I only had 3 coupons for which I got 1 lb of baby carrots free and 2 large tubes of Colgate toothpaste free. The toothpaste goes to the food pantry. The rest of my groceries added up to 30.11. I used my pharmacy RX coupons to pay for all of it - so more free groceries.

To summarize in the last 2 days I got the following for free:

1 book
2 tubs butter
1 loaf bread
1 burger at Red Robin
1 lb mini carrots
2 tubes of Colgate toothpaste
4 bottles Nature Made fish oil pills
2 trial size Tide
10 Ponds cleasning cloths
$10 of stuff at Target
$30 groceries at King Soopers

I finished reading my book Embrace the Night by Karen Chance. Paranormal - ok.

Social Security math geek

January 12th, 2011 at 11:31 am

Social Security sends out Your Social Security Statement 2 months before your bday every year. I am just now getting around to filing mine. I love this document, it tells me so many interesting things.

For example between my employers and me, we've paid $134,834.00 into social security over 30 years of working. If I could have had that money to invest directly I'm sure it would be close to $300,000. According to the form if I start collecting benefits at 62 it would take 8 years to use up that money. If I start at 67 it would take 5 years and 5 months to use it up. If I wait till 70, I would use it up in only 4 years.

My employer and I have paid $31,642 towards medicare. I could use that up in 3 days in the hospital. No wonder that program is going broke.

I started paying SS in 1979 and finished in 2008. My first full year of working was 1981 and I made $6,617. My last full year of working was 2007 and I made $89,105. My salary increased 13 1/2 times in 30 years.

Over the 30 working years I earned a total of $1,099,097.00. More than a million dollars. An average of $36,636.56/year. However I didn't start making $36K a year until 1998. It was only the last 10 years I worked that I started making really good money.

If I start collecting SS at 62 I will get $1,414/month. That's more than 2/3rds of what I need each month to live on based on today's prices. Who knows what it will cover in 12 years, if I even make it that long.

I finished reading my book To Kiss in the Shadows by Lynn Kurland. Romance - very good, very sweet.

overseas coupons

January 11th, 2011 at 12:34 pm

One of my goals this year is to increase things I do for charity. One of the things I decided to do was send my expired coupons to the military families overseas.

I get 3 coupon inserts each week. I buy 2 Denver Post subscriptions and my parents give me the coupons from the local paper that they don't want, usually all of them. I cut out the coupons I think I will use, if there is a good sale. Usually only a dozen or so a week. I file these in a plastic check file folder that I carry with me to the store.

The rest of the inserts I save in a file folder with the date on the front. Then if I read about a good sale on something I could get for the food pantry or a money maker, I go to the file and clip the coupons I need that week.

So each month I go through the coupons in my plastic check file and get rid of the expired ones. Then I have about 10 weeks of inserts filed by date in a drawer. Each week I take the oldest file and take out the coupon inserts and put the new inserts in the file. I cross out the date on the front and put the new date on and the file goes to the top of the pile.

I used to just throw the old inserts away, but now I am clipping every coupon in the old file to send to the military. It takes quite a bit of time, even combining inserts so I cut 2 - 3 at a time. Then the coupons have to be sorted by food and non-food and placed in a baggie to keep them seperate. I've been clipping them while eating breakfast.

I sent my first batch off to a place in the U.S. that will then send them overseas, so I didn't have to deal with filling out custom forms, etc. The coupons were about 4" thick, it weighed 11.7 oz and cost $3.09 to mail.

My mom sent me an email with my birth stats yesterday. I was born at 5:07 am, weighed 7# 2oz, was 20 inches long. I was a 10 month old baby so I was born with a 3" ponytail hanging down my back, you can see it in a lot of my baby pictures.

I finished reading the library book Out of the Dark by David Weber. Sci/Fi - very good.

half a century

January 10th, 2011 at 01:18 pm

Well I made it to half a century, and with any luck I might make another half a century Smile It was a little iffy for a while last year on if I would make the half century mark. My brother died at 44 and didn't make it. The way I feel now though, you wouldn't know I was so sick last year. The only way to tell is by all the scars on my stomach from the surgeries.

Periodically I ask myself if you had a million dollars or if you knew you only had 6 months to live what would you change? The only thing I could think of last night was if I knew I only had 6 months to live I would try to get rid of a lot of my stuff to save my relatives from having to deal with it. I'm going to try to do some of that anyways this year. I want most of my stuff, but need to weed out the files and get rid of some of the things I don't use anymore.

But my life is pretty good the way it is. I just always feel so happy about the way I'm living now.

For my birthday I got 50 swagbucks. I also got a really nice jigsaw puzzle that looks challenging and a surge protector that automatically shuts appliances off when not in use, and a really cool space heater. It's a ceramic tower with a remote control. I can sit in my chair and turn it on/off, make it move back and forth, set it on a timer for 1 - 4 hours, and change the heat from 65 - 95 degrees. I really like it. My philosophy has always been to heat me and not the whole house.

After walking today mom and dad took me out to Village Inn for lunch, even though they already paid for lunch yesterday. Mom felt really bad that I didn't want a celebration for my birthday and have cake. I told her I didn't want a celebration and I would rather have pie than cake anyways. So she was bound and determined I would have a piece of pie. She wanted dad to go get it to give it to me after our walk, but he said lets just eat lunch there and get it then. So that's what we did. I got a piece of lemon supreme pie to go. That's my favorite.

I finished reading my book The Mage's Daughter by Lynn Kurland. Sci/Fi - very good.

food pantry shopping and bday freebies

January 9th, 2011 at 01:37 pm

I hit 4 Walgreens on the way to meet my parents, sister and youngest niece at Red Lobster for lunch today. My parents bought us all lunch to celebrate my 50th bday, which is tomorrow.

On the way I got a free bowl of Spaghetti and meatballs and a chiabatta roll at Noodles and Company, which I will eat tomorrow or the next day. Free when you sign up for their bday club. I got a chicken alfredo dinner for $5 off at Jason's deli, also a bday deal. I spent $3.68 on this so not free, but good deal. Will eat in the next couple of days. I still have a free burger at Red Robin. I didn't get as many free bday deals this year as I did last year.

I also went to Barnes and Noble and got 3 free books using a $25 gift card I got for xmas. My sister gave me another $50 gift card for my bday at lunch.

At Walgreens I got a lot of stuff for the food pantry, I used gift cards bought with RRs so no out of pocket costs. Ended up with $8 in new RRs.

4 packages 48 ct Stayfree
8 boxes Kellogs Special K cereal
3 boxes Quaker oatmeal
4 Reach toothbrushes

27.16 - 4 Stayfree
2.00 - taxes
-2.00 - 2 $1 q's
-12.00 - 2 BOGO q's up to $6
-12.00 - Walgreens in-ad q's takes $3 off each one

20.00 - 4 boxes cereal
-10.00 - 4 BOGO q's
10.00 - got back $2 RR for every 2 bought. Reason why there was 4 transactions. So got back $8 in RRs making it .25/box

5.98 - 2 Reach toothbrushes on clearance 2.99
7.98 - 2 Reach toothbrushes on clearance 3.99
1.03 - taxes
-4.00 - 2 $2 q's
-2.99 - 1 bogo q
-3.99 - 1 bogo q
-8.00 - Walgreen q $2 off each toothbrush
3.99 profit - when you have overage you need to make sure you buy something else to soak it up. In this case I used the Kelloggs cereal. This was done in 2 different transactions. I store had the brushes on sale for 2.99 and one for 3.99

9.00 - 3 boxes Quaker oatmeal
-3.00 - 3 $1 q's
-4.50 - Walgreen q takes off 1.50/box
1.50 - .50/each

Last stop on the way home was King Soopers.

15.26 - 7 Lean Cuisine Market Creations
-4.36 - 2 free wyb 5
-3.00 - 3 $1/2 q's
7.90 or 1.13/each - used my RX coupons to pay, so free.

I finished reading library book The Freedom Manifesto by Tom Hodgkinson. Non-Fiction. This was a very interesting book with a lot of interesting ideas, some good, some not, but it made you think about things like debt, thrift, work etc. I like it.

New chair and a fall

January 7th, 2011 at 02:47 pm

I bought my chair at the grocery store. It was regularly priced at 499.99 and on sale for 249.00. I got 5% back using my credit card and 249 gas points. I paid almost $20 in taxes.

My dad fell on the ice bringing it in. I felt so bad. He hit his head and shoulder. I'm sure he's hurting, but he shrugs it off. I'm really glad he didn't break anything. The chair was in two pieces so it wasn't that hard to bring in and they loaded it at the store. It fits well although it is 6" wider than my last one. Very comfy though. It's a dark brown.

He took my old chair and plans to see if the Goodwill will take it. I can't imagine anyone wanting it. It's got cuts in the leather and major sections of it are worn off. I think it would be better to just get rid of it. I don't care to have strangers come to my house, since I live alone, so I'm not interested in freecycle or craigslist. If the goodwill doesn't take it he plans to take it to the place I found that will charge $12.

I took him and mom to lunch at Texas Roadhouse as thanks for the help.

I finished reading the library book Shadows Return by Lynn Flewelling. Sci/Fi - pretty good.

buying furniture at the grocery store

January 6th, 2011 at 02:05 pm

I went to King Soopers this morning to pick up my prescription and get a few groceries. My prescription was $7.32 and I had another coupon for $25 in groceries when you transfer your prescription. It was a refill, but they always let me use them anyways because they know I will just take the coupon over to Safeway and use it there if they don't. So another $25 in free groceries. After buying about $16 in groceries today I still have a balance of over $50 on my card for more free groceries, plus I have 2 more coupons that my mom and sister saved for me.

While in the store I saw 2 really nice leather looking recliners. My recliner is over 4 years old and looking very bad, the faux leather is wearing off and there are actual slits in the seat. I have to buy new recliners about every 4 years, because that's all they last for me. I've bought expensive $800 real leather chairs to cheaper $400 chairs and none of them last more than 4 years. So since they all last the same amount of time the last couple of times I've bought the cheaper $300 - $400 chairs.

The ones I saw at the grocery store are $250 and they are exactly my style and color. Beautiful. So now I have to figure out how to get rid of my existing chair and how to get the new one to my house. I usually have them delivered when I buy from a furniture store and they take the old one away. I called a local trash place and if I drop my chair off it will only cost $12. That's a good deal. I'm going to ask my dad if he can help me get the chair in his truck. I hate to ask him to lift heavy things and I don't particularly like to either, but I really like this chair.

If I buy it, I will use my credit card getting 5% back or $12.50 and I will get 250 gas points saving me another $5.

I finished reading my book Mountain Courage by Jason Manning. Western - ok

the great courses

January 5th, 2011 at 01:35 pm

My mom gave me a catalog called The Great Courses and a sample CD that she got in the mail. It has college lectures on various subjects such as math, music, history, philosophy, great books etc. I have always liked to learn and have been thinking about taking some college classes. However, I didn't particularly want to do homework or take tests.

These courses are on sale at 70% off. They are originally $200+ but after looking thru the catalog I found most of the ones I was interested in were under $70. I checked the library and they have some of the courses so I plan to get some of them from there. I picked out one to purchase called No Excuses: Existentialism and the Meaning of Life. It was $39.95 marked down from $254.95. They added $10 shipping. Before checking out I did a search on coupon codes and found one that took $10 off. So final price $39.95. These should be great for listening to in the car.

I started a new jigwas puzzle today. It's a duplicate of a picture I have in my second bedroom. I really like it. You can see it here


I made another trip to Walgreens this morning on the way to walk at Walmart with mom. I read about 2 more deals that I thought were worth stopping for.

Target.com has $2 coupons on Splenda. They are manufacture coupons so can be used anywhere. Walgreens has 80ct boxes of Spenda on sale for $2.99. After coupon they were .99 each.

Walgreens has a deal on 60 ct Omega 3 Factor pills. Buy 1 bottle for $10 get $10 back in a register reward. Inside the box is a coupon for $3 off. I got the coupon from the box and used it to make the purchase. After taxes I made $2.29.

I got a $5 rebate in the mail today for the heating pad I Purchases last month. I also got a Ritz crackerfull sample, which I will give to my niece.

I finished reading the library book Cryoburn by Lois McMaster Bujold. Sci/Fi - very good.

more free candy bars - like I needed them :)

January 4th, 2011 at 01:27 pm

I got my $50 reward check from my Chase credit card in the mail today. Went back to Walgreens and got 2 more flue medicine and 1 more dishwashing detergent. I also picked up another box of free Wheat Thins for the food pantry.

I had 2 $9 RRs and 2 $1.50 RRs. So I got 3 cans of Hunts tomato sauce and a $20 Walgreens gift card. At Walgreens they consider OYNO RRs to be manufacturer coupons and they only allow 1 manufacture coupon per item. I had 4 RRs so the gift card counts as 1 item and the 3 cans of tomato sauce = 4 items. I also used an in-ad Walgreens coupon that made the tomato sauce 3/$1. You can stack Walgreens coupons with manufacture coupons. So the total was $21 and I gave the cashier my 4 RRs and the Walgreens coupon so the final was $0.

I find it better to put RRs on gift cards when I can. They will do it in increments of $5. That way I have longer to use the money than the normal 2 weeks of the RR and I don't have to spend $21 on stuff I don't need, I can wait till there is something I want. Plus it's sometimes hard to find items that add up to what your RR equals.

I went to Safeway and got 6 Reese's peanut butter cups for free. They had them on sale buy 3 get 3 free and I had 3 buy 1 get 1 free coupons. So by buying 6 the sale paid for 3 and the coupons paid for 3 and I got 6 for free.

I finished reading my book Belladonna by Anne Bishop. Sci/Fi - very good.

Cut your grocery bill in half - book review

January 3rd, 2011 at 12:45 pm

I got this book from the library. It's written by Steve and Annette Economides - the so called America's Cheapest Family. I thought it was pretty good. Especially for people who haven't already tried a lot of different ways to cut their grocery spending. But there are even ideas for people who have been frugal for a long time. Worth reading at least and if you are new to frugal living very worth while.

I went to Walgreens again today and got 2 more flu and dishwashing detergent deals. I also got the following deal on Boost.

24.00 - 4 6-packs of Boost @ 2/12
-12.00 - 4 $3 coupon
12.00 - got back a $5 RR, wyb $20 in certain products get $5 back. So I ended up paying $7 for the 4 6-packs, which is the normal price for 1.

I'm starting to get my birthday freebies in my email. My birthday is next week and I sign up for a lot of freebies. Today I got email for a free gourmet burger at Red Robin, a free bowl of noodles at Noodles and Company and $5 off at Jason's Deli.

2011 goals

January 2nd, 2011 at 01:25 pm

I used to have alot of financial goals every year, not so much anymore. Here's the total list for 2011, financial and non.

1. Buy new carpet for whole house.

2. Outside of the carpet purchase only spend $20K for the year.

3. Increase my charity donations. Includes cash and other.

3a. Increase pantry buying from $20/month to $25/month

3b. Increase toy buying from $75 to $100

3c. Donate blood. During all the medical things I had going on last year, I found out I had B positive blood type. Only 9% of the population has that type of blood, so it would be good to donate it.

3d. Donate expired coupons to military

3e. Continue donating to goodwill and library

3f. Continue saving box tops for educations for friends school.

3g. Donate at least $500 in cash to various organizations. Last year I gave around $300 in cash.

3h. Be open to other things I can do, maybe find somewhere I would like to volunteer.

4. Lose 30 lbs. This is total, not lose 5, gain 5, lose 5, gain 5, the way I usually lose weight Smile

5. Clean the whole house. Go thru every closet, drawer and cabinet and clean them out.

6. Read at least one non-fiction book/month

7. Stay out of the hospital. I don't know that I have control of this one, but sure hope so.

I went to Walgreens this morning to pick up a few deals. I did 3 transactions.

Transaction 1

8.99 - Oscillococcinum Homeopathic Flu Medicine
.62 - taxes
-5.00 - Walgreens coupon in January coupon book
4.61 - got back $9 RR, made 4.39, these will be donated to the food pantry

3.49 - 20 ct Finish dishwasher tabs
.24 - taxes
-2.25 - coupon
1.48 - got back $1.50 RR, made .02

1.99 - 4 oz Wheat Thins
-1.00 - q
-1.00 - WAG in-ad q
-.01 made a penny, will donate to food pantry

I did both the flu medicine and the Finish dishwasher deal a second time.

My third transaction was a $20 Walgreen gift card and a box of salt for .50. I used the two $9 RRs I got for buying the flu medicine to buy most of the gift card. I still have 2 $1.50 RRs to use. I have 4 more $2 flu coupons and 4 more $2.25 Finish coupons, so will try and do the deal some more during the week.

I went to King Soopers and got the following

1.00 - 1 bag Dole salad

2.00 - 2 pack Coast soap
.16 - taxes
.16 - will donate to food pantry

2.58 - 2 boxes Mom's Best oatmeal
-2.00 - 2 .75 q's doubled
.58 - will donate to food pantry

I met my parents at Texas Roadhouse for lunch. My lunch was 9.49. I used one of the $5 bonus cards I got for buying gift cards before xmas and it was only 4.59. With tax and tip I spent 6.36

I finished reading the library book Outlander by Diana Gabaldon. Historical - very good. New author for me, will try her again.

2010 spending totals

January 1st, 2011 at 01:58 pm

I spent 59% more in 2010 than in 2009. This was mostly in two categories. Property taxes, which I didn't pay in 2009, since I prepaid them in 2008 for tax reasons and Health care costs which were $6000 more than in 2009. I spent 22,728.61 in 2010 vs 14,326.32 in 2009.

My networth went up 29,832 for the year. More than double what I spent which is what I would like to see every year. If you add what I spent, I actually made 52,560.98 for the year.

Here's the category breakdown:

Groceries - 944.97. This includes all personal care, cleaning products, pharmacy items, paper products and 2 subscriptions to the Denver Post at @ $75. I include the Denver Post subscriptions in this category because the only reason I buy it is for the coupons, so in my mind it is a grocery cost. I got back $131.68 in rebates so the total spent is 813.29 or @15/week. This is more than double what I spent last year, but the grocery deals just weren't as good this year.

Eating out - 951.62 almost $200 less than last year.

Utilities - 2,375.76 includes heat, electric, satellite, phone/internet. About $300 more than last year.

Gas - 268.42 - more than $100 less than last year.

HOA - 1,980 same as last year

Xmas - 535.08 - $3 more than last year, but I didn't buy for my brother so actually more per person.

Gifts - 541.27 - $300 less than last year, oldest nieces graduation present was reason.

Insurance - 766.95 - $20 more than last year

Health - 9501.72 - insurance premium increased more than $200 month and paid $4500 out of pocket for deductible and co-pay for all surgeries. Last year spent $3175.82

Charity - 607.79 - I didn't start tracking this as a separate category last year until late August. $108.33 last year.

Misc - 4387.71 - includes everything else. I bought a new TV, new computer and 2 new tires this year as big expenses. Property taxes are also included in this category @$1300. Last year spent 2070.52

Overall considering what happened to me medically last year I am satisfied with the results. The main goal is to spend less than I make and I accomplished that.

I went to Walgreens this morning and made my first food pantry purchase of the year.

4.95 - 5 bags of Chex Mix @.99/each
-2.50 - 5 .50 coupons
2.45 I got back a $3.50 RR so made $1.05. All 5 bags will go to the food pantry.

I finished reading Raven's Shadow by Patricia Briggs. Sci/Fi - very good.