Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Upcoming freebies

Just so we'll have something to look forward to:

On Jan. 14, go to http://www.suave.com/nomics/index.html. Everone who registers on this site that day gets a coupon for a free bottle of Suave shampoo or other hair product, body wash or body lotion.

On Jan. 16, go to http://www.quakertruedelights.com/. Fat Wallet's forum is reporting that we'll be able to get a free sample of the cereal bar.

Another deal:

OK, it's not a freebie. But the folks at H&R Block sent me a CD of Tax Cut. (Thanks guys, I really want to start thinking about income taxes at Christmas .. not.) Normally, the deal is, load the disk, then give them a credit card number so you can unlock the software.
But in this box, I found a coupon for a $10 rebate on my purchase of Tax Cut for federal and state taxes. Now, most of the office-supply stores and big-box retailers offer some kind of goodie with a purchase of tax software. (last year we got a nice music CD)
So, I'm thinking ... buy software at store with the best add-on, then use coupon to get $10 back. That should make tax time a bit less painful!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

It ain't over yet

Work schedules and nasty weather have forced us to spread out the family Christmas celebrations. Which is why I'm wrapping presents on Dec. 27!

I have stayed out of the stores so far, though I have to make a return, and grab some coupon deals before they expire.

It also looks like I'll need to pick up a roll or two of wrapping paper for next year. I'm wondering, with all the discounts I'm hearing about, if there will be anything left?

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas

From my house to yours, may you enjoy the happiest of holidays!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Use-it-up Chrismas

Like everyone else, I suspect (and hope), we've been trying to cut back in ways big and small this holiday. The biggest thing has been to use items we already have, rather than go out and buy new stuff.

What we haven't bought:

Wrapping paper: Last year was the first time in several years I didn't pick up a roll or two of paper at the after-Christmas sales. We still have plenty to take care of this year's gifts. (Though I may need to hit this year's post-holiday sales).

Cards: We committed to using the leftovers from the past several years. When we ran out, we dipped into our paper stock and did a few computer-made cards. Also, we expanded our use of e-cards. (at least to those we know actually look at their e-mail.) About a third of our list went electronic this year. I'm hoping to expand that next year.

Presents: Calendars are a "usual' present from us. This year's were made with the paper we had on hand and were stapled, rather than sent out for binding. Also, I used our gift pantry to provide some nice add-ons for some folks on our list.

Decorations: Yeah, well, I sort of cheated. I bought some inexpensive ornaments on vacation this year. But instead of buying new ribbons for our outdoor light fixtures, I used some that I had bought for another craft project (which I never started).
Somehow, I also managed to coax our tree lights back to life, (maybe it was just a loose bulb) saving us the expense of replacing them.

And the nicest thing -- besides saving money -- using things up gets them out of the house!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Over the hump, we are

At least I hope so. The way things have been going, you'd think Christmas was next week.

I'm declaring my shopping done. The tree is up and decorated, finally. The cards are out, finally. Now I have to wrap.

The stores here were madhouses, as one might expect. (not helped by bitter cold over the weekend, and snow/freezing rain predicted for Tuesday. The supermarket self-serve machine was unhappy that I bought adult beverages, and even more unhappy when my doubled coupon was more than the price of my frozen veggies. It all eventually worked out - the clerk's override gave me the overage.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Possible WAGs deal

Sunday's Walgreen's ad (in Central Indiana, your mileage may vary) offers a free shaving cream (Gillette Satin Care or Fusion) with the purchase of Fusion or Venus razor cartridges. The 12/14 P&G insert has a coupon that offers a free Gillette shampoo with the purchase of Fusion cartridges. Another coupon offers a free body wash

So it seems you could buy the cartridges and get a free shaving cream and shampoo to go along with it...

Update: I decided not to go for the deal. Paying $12.49 for the blades isn't worth it .. even with shampoo and and shaving cream thrown in.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Quick, need a photo?

Need an 8x10 photo? A Christmas gift perhaps? Walgreen's is offering a free 8x10 if you order online and use the code FREEGIFT at checkout.

I've gotten photos through Walgreen's and the process is fairly easy. And you usually can pick up the photo at the store.

The offer, however, is only good through Saturday, so hurry.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Adventures in Cooking

We haven't gotten the hang of this slow cooker thing yet ...

We recently tried a very nice pork stew recipe. Followed directions (Well, sort of. Instead of parsnips, we used turnips and rutabaga and sweet potatoes.) Loaded up the cooker with meat and veggies and turned it on.

Unfortunately, our cooker was smaller than what the recipe had intended. ... I walked into the kitchen to find that the liquid had overflowed the cooker and was dripping onto the counter. I ladled out some of the broth, which helped ... for a while.

After about the third ladling session, we realized that this wasn't going to work. So the stew was transferred to a dutch oven and finished on the stove. It still tasted pretty good. And we learned an important lesson: Don't overload the cooker, LOL!

The recipe:

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Works for Me Wednesday: Batteries

I've found a good use for those batteries that get pulled out of cameras, radios and the like. You know, the ones that still have some juice .. just not enough to power the original device.

Anyway, I've been using them to power my Christmas decorations .. the lighted gingerbread house, the plastic candles that sit in the window. The batteries have plenty of juice to run these low-level devices. And when they die, well, you know they've been used up!

Certainly better than breaking out new batteries, or throwing out half-used ones.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

To the rescue!

When last we chatted, I mentioned that the living room curtain rod broke and would need to be replaced. But DH came up with a frugal solution!

What broke was a L-shaped plastic bracket that held the front and side pieces of the rod assembly together. Of course, you can't just buy a new plastic piece. And apparently, the contraptions are built differently anyway.

So DH decided to bend a coat hangar into a L-shaped piece that approximates the bracket. A bit of duct tape to hold it together ... and it works! It's not the tightest fit, and it's certainly not elegant, but hey, the curtain covers it very nicely. And neither of us plan on tugging on the curtains, LOL!

Admittedly, it's not a permanent fix, but for the moment it saved us $$. More importantly, it saved us the time and aggravation of buying and putting up a new rod. Hooray!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Christmas is on the way

Took advantage of a mild day ... around 50 F here, to help DH get up the Christmas lights outside. Well, OK, he did the biggest part of the work. Not many folks are putting up lights this year .. don't know if time or money is the problem.

Can't do the tree yet ... the curtain rod holding up the living room curtains gave up the ghost, so it has to be replaced before we do anything else. Love those unexpected expenses! (not)

Friday, December 12, 2008

Bye, bye Mr. Pumpkin

We dismembered the second of our two pumpkins, and the grand total was:

  • 8 cups of puree

  • 1.75 cups of roasted pumpkin

Not quite as much as our last pumpkin, but it's certainly enough to work with. That batch so far has made 3 pies, a pot of soup and a batch of waffles.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Works for Me Wednesday: Rollling out dough, II

Another hint on rolling out dough:

If you use wax or freezer paper, tack it to your counter with a bit of masking tape. It keeps the surface from scooting out from under your rolling pin!

But please don't try this directly on a varnished surface ... there's always the possibility you could hurt the finish. (It does work on tablecloths, though :)

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Patience, grasshopper

I was really bummed earlier this week when I went to Walgreens. I saw a deal that, with coupons, would give me a box of Celestial Seasonings tea for 75 cents! Unfortunately, their selection was pretty lean ... nothing I wanted to drink, even at that price.

But patience, or disappointment, paid off. This week, Kroger has the same tea at $1 a box. So, with my $1 coupon, it's free tea!

Any my 55-cent coupons will bring 45-cent-a-box tea as well! Woo hoo!

Update: Well, I'll get 45-cent tea eventually. Had to get rain checks ... the shelves were bare!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Arby's freebie

Just got an unexpected freebie from the local Arbys ... the restaurant is handing out coupons for a free small curly fries between now and Friday (12/12). 1 coupon per person. Doesn't mention anything about a purchase.

Apparently, they have a lot of coupons to get rid of ... the clerk stuffed more than a dozen in the bag!

I can't find anything on their Web site that says if this is a local or national deal, but it might be worth popping into your local Arby's to find out!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Reclamation projects

I've been busy trying to "reclaim" a couple of items lately:

The first is a string of Southwestern-style beads I bought several years ago on vacation. Loved the necklace, but unfortunately, it broke, so it's spent the past couple of years in a drawer. I pulled it out the other day and thought, "Hey, maybe I can restring this."
So far, I've learned a couple of things:
  • Copper wire is not a good stringing medium. It's nice and stiff, but the finished product doesn't lay right.
  • Tiny beads can - and do - escape, no matter what kind of container I put them in.

I finally got smart ( I hope) and bought silk cord, complete with a threading needle, at the craft store. This should also allow me to use the original clasp, too. I'm half finished with the stringing .. we'll see how it goes.

The second item is a long-sleeve T-shirt that DH pulled out of his shirt drawer. He hasn't worn the thing forever .. it had yellowed, and there was an odd stain all over one sleeve.

So I used the trick I learned when I was selling vintage linens ... I crushed a dishwaster detergent tablet (normally, I'd use powder, but I didn't have any), dissolved it in a bucket of hot water and put the shirt in to soak.

I've found that dishwasher detergent does a great job of whitening fabric and removing set-in stains, so I have high hopes for the shirt. We'll see how that goes, too.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Works For Me Wednesday: Rolling out dough

Since the holiday baking season is upon us:

If you're rolling out pie crust, or pastry dough, If you don't have a large cutting board, or a plastic rolling sheet (I don't know if that's its real name, I just made that up ;) use a sheet of freezer paper, waxed side up. I find it's a lot sturdier than waxed paper.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

November freebies

A little better than October ...

Post-it easel paper
Post-it notes
Bear Naked granola
Folger's coffee
Immodium tablet
Dove shampoo/conditioner
John Freida shampoo/conditioner
4 Crest Whitening Expressions
3 Jergens lotions
bag of Yesterday's News cat litter
4 Green Giant Steamers (FAC)
Vaseline lotion
Orville Reddenbacher popcorn
Orville Reddenbacher popcorn cakes
2 Powerade FAC
1 lb cheese (from pitch-in at work)

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Saturday savings!

Dropped by Marsh for something I haven't bought in quite a while -- beef!

Got 6 pounds of ground beef at $1.57 a lb. (I still dislike that price, but it's the best I'm gonna do these days.)

My best bargain though was at the markdown counter: 2 sirloin tip steaks, normally $5 or so each, marked down to $1.34 and $1.29! Guess what's for Sunday dinner?

Friday, November 28, 2008

High finance

Hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving!

Unless the Black Friday crowds are making a run on the bank, I won't be joining them.

This visit to the bank could be a little odd: I read in the paper yesterday that the bank has been sold to another bank. Allegedly they weren't in financial distress, they just wanted out of the market??

This shouldn't surprise me .. many of the banks here are on their 3rd and 4th owners due to mergers and buyouts. So we shall wait and see what the new folks are offering ... I just feel badly for the bank's employees, who may be out of a job very soon.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

Hoping you have a day filled with the warmth of family and friends ....

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Odds and ends

We're busy cooking today at the casa de chaos, putting together our contribution to the family Thanksgiving dinner. (Which is elsewhere, so I don't have to clean house!)

Feeling like homesteaders here ... we're making soup from our very own pumpkin, and dessert using mulberries from our very own tree. (Hey, nice case of frostbite, DW. Yeah .. I stemmed 4 cups of frozen mulberries!)

At least I'll be able to eat dinner on both sides of my mouth. The new crown went in with a minimum of fuss. (Though I may be gnashing my teeth over the bill.)

Friday, November 21, 2008

An unexpected blessing

I stopped into Meijer to pick up a gallon of milk and scored a bargain: Fresh sweet potatoes, which the weekly ad listed at 69 cents a pound, were marked down to 29 cents a pound.
I was pleased, but I think it really made the day of the elderly woman who was standing next to me. "This is a real blessing," she said as we both filled a bag and traded cooking tips.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Works for Me Wednesday: Trash bags

I live in a community that doesn't mandate the type of bags we can use for trash. And while I do buy 13-gallon bags to hold garbage, when it comes to things like paper and non-recyclables, I've learned to be creative.
So here's what passes as a trash bag at my house:
  • 25lb paper sacks from cat litter and cat food. (these are very good for yard waste).
  • Large plastic bags from mulch, top soil, etc.
  • Large shopping bags (the bags used for big or multiple items at stores)
  • Plastic bags from the multipacks of TP, paper towels. (these aren't the strongest, so I save them for lighter materials.)
  • Dry cleaning bags. (I use my meal sealer to put a seam across the area where the hanger goes. The result is a bag strong enough to hold a pile of leaves)

We make sure any bag we use can be twist-tied or sealed up somehow. And with paper bags, we take special care during rainy weather...

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Mr. Pumpkin must die, Round 1

The annual dismembering of the pumpkin began yesterday at the casa de chaos. Since there's not a lot of room in the freezer right now, just one of the pumpkins went bye-bye. The other one remains in a cool, dry place (which, I suspect is how most folks kept them back in the day.)

The total: 12 cups of roasted pumpkin and 61/2 cups of puree. This was a rather watery pumpkin. I think we must have drained at least 3-4 cups of water out of the puree.

I was hoping for a bit more puree, but we certainly have enough to make pies, soup, muffins, etc, for a while!

As a bonus, I have about a cup and a half of pumpkin seeds soaking in salt water .. they'll make a nice snack after they're toasted.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Free calendars

If you receive the e-mail newsletter from bettycrocker.com, you should be getting an e-mail offering a 2009 calendar with recipes. Doesn't say if it has coupons, but hey, who can't use a free calendar?

Also, just a reminder that the 11/09 SS carries a coupon for a free calendar from Tylenol (well, free for the price of a stamp.) This one does have coupons, so it may be worth the investment.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Free veggies!

Among the best deals this week:

Central Indiana Marsh stores have the Green Giant Valley Farms Steamers on sale 5 for $5. You don't have to buy all 5 to get the price, so if you have $1 coupons from the 10/05 SS, (alas, I think the printables are gone for now) you get the veggies for free.

Update: There are $1 coupons for the steamers in this Sunday's SS!

Also, Marsh again has meat on sale for 98 cents a pound. This week it's pork picnic roast. I've never cooked one, but I think at that price, it's time to learn..

On a related note, looks like Costco beats out Aldi on walnut and pecan prices this year. I picked up a couple of pounds of pecans for my holiday baking

Saturday, November 8, 2008

My mouth hurts: Let's talk!

I'm a bit sore from the poking and prodding and the numbing shots that came with getting a temporary crown. I may have skated by the root canal, but I got nailed for the $100 visit that my $$%! # dental insurance won't pay for...

Odds and ends:
When the Wall Street Journal talks about folks turning to private-label and store brands, you know something is up... from a recent story:
  • Still, about 40 percent of primary household shoppers said they started buying store-brand paper products because “they are cheaper than national brands,”
  • Sales of private-label detergent rose 12 percent over the 52-weeks ended Sept. 6.
  • Meanwhile, private-label versions of soap and other bath products are up 23 percent in the 52-weeks ended Sept. 6, to $168 million, according to Nielsen Co. Private-label versions of skin-care items are up 16 percent to $182 million during the same period.

I'm certainly a big fan of store brand stuff; we have a family joke about the "Meijer Christmas Dinner." I do have to wonder if this is good news for us who play the coupons/sales/rebates game. Could a drop in name-brand purchases bring more sales, or maybe more and better coupons?

Friday, November 7, 2008

Markdown madness

My best deals this week came from poking through the clearance sections. My haul:

  • Package of Italian-style turkey sausage, $1. Enough to serve with spaghetti one night, and for lunch another day.
  • Cherry coffee cake, 99 cents.
  • Bakery-style hotdog buns, 75 cents (to use for sausage sandwiches).
  • And the best deal ... a set of 4 napkins and 4 matching placemats for $3.20! (Kroger had linens and pot holders marked down to 40 cents each.) These go in the Christmas present stash!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

October freebies

I'll be occupied in the dentist's chair today, so I'll leave a list of freebies...

Not the biggest haul, but not bad:

Kotex tampons and pad
1 bag Iams Premium Protection cat food
1 pouch Wholesome Goodness cat food
American Greetings card
Quaker Simple Harvest granola bar
Pantene shampoo/conditioner
Bounce softener sheets
Excedrin express gels (FAC)
Degree for Women
Airborne table
Airborne Pixie
2 Taco Bell tacos

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

A rising deal

If you need yeast for baking, Kroger has the 3-pack of Fleishmann's yeast on sale for $1.49. There's a 65-cent coupon in Sunday's SS good for the 3-pack or a jar. That brings the total to 84 cents.

And if you get the package with the "Run for the Cure" logo (and a pink stripe), you'll get a Catalina worth 50 cents off your next purchase.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Please vote!

It's Election Day here in the U.S. Whatever your political affiliation, please vote!

Friday, October 31, 2008

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Works for me Wednesday: Time change

Just a reminder that daylight saving time ends on Sunday. While you're running around changing clocks (and why does everything seem to have a clock?) be sure to reset any timers you have in use (indoor lamps, outside lights, sprinkler systems, etc.)
And be sure to check your computer clock, too.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Happy Hollowmas or is it Merry Christween?

It's that time of year again ... when the Christmas decorations have to share space with the Halloween decorations at every store.

Actually, it's a good time to start taking stock for the holidays:

Have any gifts stashed away? Now is a good time to see what you have and figure out what you need.

Cards? (if you send them) Need printed cards or cardstock? For those who have photo cards made, it's a good time to check out sales.

Decorations? Some of our lights gave out last year; now's a good time to check prices for replacements.

Wrappings? Have enough paper, ribbon and tape? The dollar stores are stocked, and I've seen paper at Wally world for $1.

Baking supplies? Stores in my area have been running sales on flour and sugar. (I'm hoping for egg sales next) Time to look at prices for other necessities, such as nuts and cranberries.

Holiday meals? Turkey sales have started in my area. If you have freezer space, it might be a good time to pick up a bargain. Also, consider buying an extra meal item or two now when you shop -- makes it a bit easier on your wallet.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Meat counter bargains

Whenever I'm at the supermarket I make it a point to poke around the meat counters in the hopes of finding some good markdowns or bargains.

Last time, I found a interesting deal: a package of 2 pork cutlets for only $1. Since there's just the two of us, this was a perfect size. We had them breaded and pan-fried for dinner the other night.

Earlier this week, I was back at the market, poking around again. This time I found a last-day-of-sale package of (2) cube steaks, marked down to $1.26. Not sure what we'll do with them, but they'll keep in the freezer until we figure it out.

Now if I could just find a deal on some lamb ....

Friday, October 24, 2008

Go, Taco ..er .. Team!

As I mentioned a few days ago, Taco Bell planned to give away free tacos if a player stole a base during this year's World's Series.

Well, thank Jason Bartlett of the Tampa Bay Rays, and head over to Taco Bell on Tuesday between 2 and 6 p.m. for your free taco.


Thursday, October 23, 2008

Closing the garden

The overnight temperatures are dropping a bit too close to freezing for my tastes, even though we haven't had an official frost just yet.

So I gave in and pulled all the green tomatoes and tiny peppers and brought them inside. I think I have more than 3 dozen tomatoes in a paper bag right now. They'll ripen (well, most of them will ripen) and will be fine for cooking.

Sad, though, to realize that gardening is over for another year...

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Works for Me Wednesday: Hand lotion

  • Here's one way I use those foil-packed samples of hand cream: I empty them in a small pump dispenser that I keep next to my sink. It doesn't take up much room, and it's easier to deal with than the individual packets.
  • I also keep a small sample-size tube of hand lotion in my car. (along with a small bottle of hand sanitizer) It's nice to use for an extra bit of protection during colder weather, or if I've washed my hands along the way.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Gee, I'd like to kick myself

I'm gonna need that free Excedrin ...

I had a bit of a run-in with a concrete post at a parking garage ... nothing dented, but I managed to rake a portion of the (plastic) front bumper. Arrgh!

Unfortunately, the only "real" fix is probably a new bumper, and I don't even want to think about that cost. ...

So .. I'm working on the smaller scrapes with some of the wipe-on scratch filler. (it's taking a few coats, but it's doing a pretty good job.) I'll visit the dealer to get some touch-up paint -- maybe I can cover some of the deeper spots, then go over it with the scratch filler.

I know I can't make it look "like new," but maybe I can camouflage it!

Monday, October 20, 2008

This will be a big hit

The World Series begins Wednesday! And to celebrate, Taco Bell is giving away a free taco if a player on either team steals a base during any game in the series... So, root, root, root for a taco ...



Sunday, October 19, 2008

Excedrin deal

There's a possible moneymaker with this week's Excedrin deal at CVS. In this week's ad, a 20-count bottle of Express Gels is on sale for $1.99. This week's SS ad has a mail-in rebate of up to $6.99 for the product.

Now, if your CVS takes printable coupons, use this $2 on 1. (If not, check a coupon database to see if there are any insert coupons available in your area. )

Result: $1.99 overage from the rebate.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Garden's last hurrah

Some of Saturday's forecasts called for a light frost, so I decided to take some precautions.
I picked off the riper tomatoes and peppers, then covered the pepper plants with plastic bags. (which looks mighty strange, I tell you.)
I still have a couple dozen green tomatoes on the vine .. I'm hoping they're covered by enough foliage to withstand any light frost. Temps next week are supposed to be in the 60s, so I'd like to keep them on the vine, and in the sun, for as long as possible.
After that I picked what will be the last harvest of green beans. I didn't bother to pull up the plants .. I'll wait until after the colder weather kills them off.
Of course, the bucket of tomatoes and peppers means I have some kitchen work to do!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Mr. Pumpkin Must Die

One of the fall rituals here at Casa de Chaos is the annual Dismembering of the Pumpkin.
We don't do the jack-o-lantern thing, (Well, actually, I do have a jack-o-lantern: he's made of foam and has a a nightlight in his gut.) but I do like having a pumpkin as part of the outside Halloween decorations.

I just can't see chucking all those potential pumpkin breads and pies into the trash. So after Halloween, we'll carve up our squashy friend and turn him into puree and roasted chunks.

I've read stories and blogs that say jack-o-lantern pumpkins aren't good for eating, and darned if I can figure out why. It's perfectly tasty. Two things to remember, though: The fruit is brownish-orange, not the deep orange of canned pumpkin. It's also a bit more watery, so I always make sure to drain it thoroughly before we make pie .. or soup.... or bread .. or whatever.

This year, the supermarket was having a sale, so we have two pumpkins to chop up. Last year I lucked out when the market decided to give away its surplus pumpkins after the holiday.

At least in my slice of the Midwest, pumpkins aren't taxed. Last year, there was a big flap in Iowa when the tax folks decided that since most pumpkins were used for decoration, they weren't food. So pumpkin buyers had to pay the state's sales tax. The gov finally stepped in and "squashed" the tax...

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Works for Me Wednesday: Keep those receipts

My public service message of the day ;)

If you have anything ( a small appliance, CFL bulbs, etc.) with a warranty or a replacement guarantee, here's a good way to keep track:

Set up a folder that you can keep with your other important papers. When you get the item, save the part of the packaging that lists the company's name and the guarantee. Keeping a UPC code could be helpful too. Staple the receipt (or a copy of the receipt) and stash it in the folder. Should the item die before it's time, you have the company's address and proof of purchase so you can stake your claim.

I mention this because I forgot to do it.

Since March, we've lost 2 CFL bulbs that we bought in 2006. I've been held up on getting a replacement because I couldn't find the $%!&*!! receipt. Spurred by the failure of bulb No. 3, we staged another hunt, and finally came up with the receipt. Now I get to chat with the company ...

Monday, October 13, 2008

Got the coupon blues

I've been reading about the free Lindt chocolate deal available at WAGS .. as I understand it, you combine a couple of coupons from the Sunday paper and a WAGS Easy Saver coupon and get 2 bars free.
Sounded like a good deal, so off I went in search of the Sunday coupons. No luck.
Maybe the date is wrong? So I check a coupon database and discover that the particular coupons were never available in my state.
Drat. It happens (and it's happened to me more than once). Coupons (and their amounts) are tailored to different regions. And since we folks in the blogging community come from all over .. it's only natural that we'll hear about deals we can't take advantage of.
So, best I can suggest is to find a site with a good coupon database, and when you come upon a coupon deal, use it to see if the coupon was available in your area.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Show and Tell: September freebies

I'm a little late with this, I know. All in all, September wasn't a bad month for freebies, though I am seeing a drop in the number of offers available. Perhaps we're swinging more into the "free-after-coupon" (FAC) deals.

The lineup:

PullUps training DVD
Fiber One cereal
Fiber One cereal bar
Stride gum
Avdea firming cream
roll of Scott TP
Pantene shampoo/conditioner
Coke (Coke Rewards)
Purina Natural cat food
Mr. Clean eraser
GeoTrax DVD
Curel hand, foot cream
Gerber Graduates yogurt
12 oz Kraft Singles (FAC)
Pkg Ball Park beef hotdogs (FAC)
Kraft Asian Sesame dressing (FAC)
3 Johnson's Buddies (FAC)

Odds and ends: Looks like the weather here will be unseasonably warm this week, so my tomatoes get a little more time to ripen before first frost hits.

Friday, October 10, 2008

That fresh rebate smell

We're still painting around here .. but while I'm doing the touch-up work, here's a couple of moneymaking free-after-rebates deodorant deals.

Sure Max Clinical Power and Sure with Natural Extracts

www.trysurefree.com/ click on the buttons to get the rebate forms.

Then pair up with these coupons: (A reminder: coupons and their amounts can vary by region.)

For Sure Max Clinical power
$2.50 in the 9/7 SS (expires 10.15)
$2.50 in the 8/3 SS (expires 10.31)

For Sure with Natural Extracts
$1 in the 9/7 SS (expires 10/15)
$1 in the 8/3 SS (expires 10/31)

Thursday, October 9, 2008

A little paint won't hurt..

The Casa de Chaos is living up to its name this week. We've got a bit of room painting going on, so stuff is all over the place.
The big advantage to painting, I've found, is that it gives us a good excuse to really clean the room. And on the frugal side, it's a good way to use up those stockpiles of sample erasers and paper towels, not to mention the free-after-rebate cleaners.
Not so frugal though when you overshoot the amount of non-returnable paint you need. Oh, well, I'm not sure what room we'll paint next, but I'm pretty sure what color it will be ;)

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Works for Me Wednesday: In the car storage

This is actually my DH's idea. My new car has a hatchback, and DH suggested I get a plastic tote to put in the back. I wasn't sure about it, but it's turned out to be a very handy thing to have.

Most of the time it holds my emergency kit and my reusuable grocery bags. When I shop, it's good for holding those full grocery bags in one place. I've also found that the enclosed box helps my frozen and chilled foods stay cooler during the summer. (I've put one of those frozen blue ice things in too, to help things along. ) And if anything does make a mess, it's a lot easer to hose out the box than clean a carpet.

And if it's not too heavy, it makes unloading easier: Just grab the box and take it inside. (And if it is too heavy, I call DH ;)

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

We're on the sauce

Went to a friend's house over the weekend to help her can homemade applesauce. Since I'm a very novice canner, this was a good chance to learn some things.
We also did a bit of research to figure out just why my attempt at jelly making fell flat ( I got a lovely sauce, but I wanted jelly!)

In terms of frugal .. I don't know if buying produce to can, freeze, etc, is that big a cost savings (unless you get a good deal). On the other hand, we know what's in this sauce: and it does taste different than commercially made applesauce.

And hey, I got a chance to catch up with a good friend I don't get to see too often. So it was well worth it.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Use it up: Fun with tortillas

Been working on ways to use up the bits of leftovers that have taken residence in the fridge.
After a batch of Mexican Lasagne, I had several leftover tortillas and a chunk of pepper jack cheese. So, lunch was ham & cheese quesadillas, made with garden tomatoes and my free deli ham.
I didn't have any plain sour cream to serve with it, so I used the ranch veggie dip I got from the neighborhood cookout. (that nicely took the edge off the pepper jack.)
I still have a few tortillas left to use ... and DH just made a batch of his chili. Think I'll just use some of that to make a chili burrito or two .. and use up the leftover rice in the process.
Do you have any tricks for using up leftover food?

Saturday, October 4, 2008

It's fall

The temperatures are cooling off, and the nights are definitely getting colder. We had to turn the heat on one evening just to take the chill off the house. (ugh.)

The garden is slowing down, too. The bean plants are starting to dry up, and what will likely be our last batch of tomatoes is starting to ripen.
The peppers, however, still want to bear fruit. Unfortunately, our first frost will likely hit within the next week or so ....

Friday, October 3, 2008

Show and tell: a 'hot' pepper deal

My best deal this week wasn't at a chain store. It was at our local international market. This is a huge market (housed in a former Kmart). And while I'm not quite willing to try the fresh sheep heads, it's a great place to pick up produce.
Their special that day was red and green bell peppers at 99 cents a pound. This came out to about 50 cents or less per pepper. We use lots of bell peppers in cooking, so I like to buy several and freeze them. Since we're growing green ones, we picked up some red peppers for variety.
I didn't realize how good of a deal this was until I picked up today's ad for a local grocery: Green peppers were 88 cents each. Red bell peppers -- 2 for $4! (yep, you read me right, $2 each...)
Sorry I didn't buy more ....

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Is it just me, or have we returned to the 60s?

From two recent stories in the Wall Street Journal:
  • On Monday, Kellogg Co. is beginning a new advertising push for staple cereals such as Corn Flakes and Rice Krispies. Kraft Foods Inc. has begun advertising its Kool-Aid powdered beverages on national radio for the first time in 11 years.
  • Campbell Soup Co. is partnering with Kraft Foods for a coming insert that will carry coupons for Kraft cheese singles and Campbell's soup side by side in an effort to promote the idea that consumers can put together a low-cost meal -- made up of a grilled-cheese sandwich and a bowl of tomato soup -- right at home.

Wow ... cornflakes for breakfast and Kool-Aid served with grilled cheese with tomato soup for lunch? Excuse me, I think I hear my childhood calling ...

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

When life bites back

A couple of days ago, I was looking at the amount in my medical flex account and realized that I had enough to cover my planned expenses, and then some.
You know where this is going, don't you?
Yep .. got back from my dental checkup. The tooth that's been giving me a twinge for the last month is likely cracked. So there may be a root canal and a crown in my immediate future. My share of the crown would be around $375 .. don't know about the root canal costs yet.
So it doesn't look like I'm in any danger of losing the flex-plan money this year ....
I suppose there's one good thing: I do have a coupon for a $25 gift card from CVS if I bring in a new prescription. So if the dentist has to prescribe some, er, strong painkillers, I'll get something back.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Apples, Apples

The other part of our weekend included the annual trip to the apple orchard. I stopped climbing trees long ago, but I always like to pick up a peck of nice, tasty apples. Even though the prices have gone up, it's one thing I don't like to compromise on -- there's just no comparing the taste!
Also picked up some squash, which will go nicely with those fall meals. Now I'm on the lookout for a pumpkin!

This is always a bittersweet day for me .. My family's been going to this orchard for nearly two decades, and I have great memories of going with my mom, and my aunts and uncles. They've all passed on now, but I, at least, get to keep the memories.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Fall activities

Our weekend plans include a visit to a local art fair. One of the nice things about fall, at least from a frugal standpoint, is that there are plenty of free or low cost activities. Some suggestions:

  • Check your local daily or weekly newspapers for a list of festivals in your area. In my corner of the Midwest, there's usually something going on every fall weekend either in my city, or a nearby one. (There's lots of festivals around the state, but let's face it, $3-plus gas does put a damper on travel.)

  • Do you have high schools or colleges in your area? I've been checking the calendars of the area colleges for free/low cost performing arts events. Also, most of my area's colleges have football (one only charges $5 for admission), so we can take in the occasional Saturday afternoon game without breaking the bank.

  • Take a walk. Do you have parks or walking trails? That's a great way to check out the turning leaves and get some exercise at the same time. Just don't forget to wear the proper shoes and take along some water.

What do you like to do during the fall?

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Things that make you go hmmmmm

(or am I dating myself by admitting that I used to watch Arsenio Hall?)

On the day that Washington Mutual declared bankruptcy and was bought out by Chase, I get a credit-card offer in the mail ... from Washington Mutual ... hmmm ...

Friday, September 26, 2008

Oops, I did it again: Kroger deal

I was going to write a post about how my pantry is full after a week of chasing coupon deals ... then the Kroger ad came out, and we needed cheese and lettuce, and I had freebie coupons burning a hole in my organizer .... So, my best deals:
  • 2 Progresso light soups, $1.25; 50 cents off 2 coupon, doubled: 75 cents each.
  • 2 Kraft Easy Macs, 79 cents each; $1 coupon off 2: 29 cents each
  • 1 lb package Oscar Meyer honey ham, $6.39; free with Kroger Catalina coupon
  • Kraft salad dressing, $1.69; free with All You coupon (with 2 Kool-Aids and the ham.) Oscar Meyer beef hot dogs, $4.29; free with All You coupon (with 3 Kool-Aids)

My out of pocket cost: $10.83; savings of $14.17 with coupons.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Upromise bonus

Marsh Supermarkets in Central Indiana have been heavily advertising their Food Club house brand of products. Starting today and running through Oct. 18, they'll deposit 5% of the retail price of Food Club items into your Upromise account.
The Upromise program isn't a bad deal ... heck, I have one of these accounts, and I don't even have kids. (though admittedly, I don't have a lot in it.)
The money doesn't have to go into a college account .. I know of folks who use it for other educational expenses. Personally, I'm seriously considering going back to school, so I'm planning on taking my $$ out then. Maybe I can buy half a book ;)

Odds and ends ...
P&G sent the coupons they promised when I took their Everyday Solutions survey. It appears to be this Sunday's coupon insert. That's something new .. but hey, I don't turn down coupons.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Works For Me Wednesday: Making wipes

I work in an office where we share equipment, so disinfectant wipes are a popular item. To cut down on the cost and the waste, I make my own.
I bought some inexpensive microfiber-type cloths and cut them into sixths. At the beginning of the week, I take the number I need, pop them in a zippered sandwich bag and douse them with rubbing alcohol.
The used cloths go into the washer and dryer with my towels ( or they can be hand washed). I've found they can last for months before they finally start to shred. ...
The savings are startling: Three month's supply of wipes can cost nearly $10. Using reusable cloths costs around $3 ($1 for the cloths if bought at the dollar store and $2 for 2 bottles of alcohol.
Oh, BTW, the store-bought wipes be washed out and "reloaded." Depending on how sturdy they are, I can get one or two extra uses out of them...

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Campbell's labels

If you shop at Kroger or its related stores, head on over to http://www.elabelsforeducation.com/ to register your shopper's card to participate in an electronic version of Campbell's Labels for Education.
How it works: When you buy any of the Campbell's Labels items at Kroger, the school - or schools - you choose automatically gets 1 point for every item purchased. (that doesn't mean you shouldn't clip labels, though)
I'm a bit puzzled as to what schools are included on this list. I tried to choose a school in a different city than mine -- it wasn't listed, though several other schools in the city were. And I'm positive this school participates in the regular program. Then I tried the elementary school in my neighborhood -- no luck there, either, even though other schools in the district were listed.
I did finally pick a couple of schools ... I'll keep an eye out to see if my first choices ever make the list.

Thanks to Saving Our Cents for the heads-up

Friday, September 19, 2008

Show & Tell: my Marsh trip

Hit the sales at my local Marsh today. Saved a little over $10 with coupons; 15 cents with reusable sack credit; and .98 from the e-mail promotion offering 5% off. Guess I did well, the cashier and bagger complimented my savings, LOL!

My best deals:

  • 2 Green Giant Valley steamers: $1 each, had $1 coupons. Both free!
  • 8.9 oz box regular Cheerios: $1.98: had $1 coupon. 98 cents
  • 12 oz box Apple Cinnamon Cheerios, $3.69. $3.25 coupon, 44 cents. (I think there was a screw-up here. The coupon was for a free box, but it ran up the price of regular Cheerios. On the other hand, I won't argue with 44 cents.
  • Frosted MiniWheats, Blueberry Muffin: $3.89, $1 coupon, Free after rebate - $1 overage.
  • 2, 12-double roll Scott Tissues: $.4.99, $1 coupon. $3.99 each.

After the rebate, my total will be $15.57. I still have more "regular" groceries to buy this week, but this wasn't bad for a stock-up.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

This burns me up

Oh, ouch! The natural gas utility here has announced that our heating costs will go up about $180 for the next heating season. (that's not a month, thank goodness.)
This is one of those areas that has me beating my head against a wall. Over the past few years, we've tried to cut back on the amount of gas we use. Our house is insulated, as are the windows. We've turned the thermostat down. We caulk. We use plastic and window quilts to cut out extra drafts. We even suppliment with wood heat.
So, the usage goes down, and our bills go up. .. Sigh.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Cheap dishwasher detergent

Meijer in Central Indiana is currently selling 20-count Electrosol at 2 for $6. Use the 9/7 SS coupon for $2.25 off to get a box for 75 cents!
They're also selling DanActive at 2 4-packs for $4 .. another opportunity to use those $1 coupons in the 6/24 SS.

Bad rebate day

Off to WAGs to get this month's rebates ... it was a bust. They were out of everything except the Excedrin. The cashier apologized .. said they'd ordered a good supply in, but apparently the warehouse doesn't have stock .. Fortunately, I have another week or so to try again.
I did pick up the soap that's 4 for $1. Noticed that they're downsizing the bars from 4.5 oz to 4 oz. Think I grabbed the last 8 bars of 4.5 oz soap ...

Oh, and if you're doing the DanActive challenge, keep a close eye on the package when you buy yogurt. The eligible packages have the two-week challenge logo ... some of the newer packages don't have that. I had to do some hunting....

Monday, September 15, 2008

beans on my pizza?

It was a quiet, rainy weekend here as the remnants of Ike hit the Midwest. Good news from our friends in Texas -- they did evacuate and are safe. As for their house, they don't know.

Anyway, it was a good day to do some cooking. Not wasting food is a big priority these day, so Sunday was a "clean up the leftovers day."
DH made croutons with the leftover (and now stale) bread.
We also had pizza that used up some leftover ham, some garden produce and a few stray .. green beans. Actually, it wasn't bad .. under the cheese, it sort of had the consistancy of a green pepper. Maybe if you chopped them real small, you could pass them off as peppers. :)

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Kroger deals

Be CentsAble Button.

I'm posting this as part of this week's BeCentsAble's Grocery Gathering. Central Indiana Krogers are having a big 88-cent sale. Among this week's deals:

  • 1 dozen medium eggs
  • 1lb California peaches or necatrines
  • bunches of fresh spinach, green or red-leaf lettuce
  • Correction .. a sign in the store says the price is 88 cents per pound, not bunch
  • 16 oz Nesquik chocolate milk
  • Armour LunchMakers, or 6 oz sausage links
  • 14 oz SpaghettiOs
  • 15 oz VO5 shampoo or conditioner

Coupon matches:
8 oz Eckrich bologna or loves
$1 on 2, 8/10 SS.
Kraft EasyMac
$1 on 2, 9/14 SS. (also a possibility for those of you using the All You coupons for free Kraft and Oscar Meyer products)

For those of you doing the DanActive yogurt challenge

2 4-packs for $4.
Use the 6/15 SS. coupon for $1/1

Saturday, September 13, 2008

August freebies

Just a list of the samples and free stuff I picked up last month. I have noticed that the free sample offers have slowed considerably ...

Powerade (free with coupon)
Purina Natural cat food (FWC)
Oatmeal crisp
Gillette shampoo
Sunsilk shampoo/conditioner/styling
Biore scrub, lotion
Dove shampoo/conditioner (2)
Glad trash bag
Kotex tampons, pads
Playtex tampons
Orville Reddenbacher popcorn cakes
Snuggle fabric softener
Dove deodorant

After the storm

Hope everyone with friends and family in Ike's path will get good news. We're awaiting word on friends ... and the loved ones of friends .. who live in Galveston.

Update: So far, the news is good on everyone's safety. I do hope everyone filled their gas tanks before the storm hit: I just read a news report that prices are up to $4.99 per gallon in Knoxville. It's up to $4.15 in my neck of the woods.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Back home again

Whenever anyone asks why I'm frugal ... I tell them it's (in part) to have the money to see things like this. This is a photo of the Hubbard Glacier in Alaska .. one of the sights we saw on our first-ever cruise.
I'm still trying to get life back in order here (as if it ever was, LOL) and I'll post more on this as we go along. I'll say this: I enjoyed the trip , but for someone who tends to be careful about spending, I found some aspects of cruise life to be a bit staggering.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

On the road

We're off having an adventure, so things in blogland will be quiet for the next week or so. See you soon!

Friday, August 29, 2008

Samples and more

Our work lunches had a little extra treat last week -- got my carmel popcorn cake sample in the mail. (Fortunately, DH is a good sport about trying out the freebies.)
I admit to being a freebie 'fiend.' The mail carrier probably wonders about us, but it's like Christmas morning when those little boxes and envelopes arrive.
Now, it's nice to do a couple of loads of laundry with free soap, or eat a new cereal. But there's one area where these freebies have been a real cost-saver -- my travel budget.
I cringe when I see "travel sizes" that sell for 99 cents and more. It's nice to know that I can pack two travel kits with shampoo, deodorant, toothpaste, antacids, razors and the like for free. And since I have enough to pack an extra item or two, it's saved us a couple of mid-trip "oops, ran out of toothpaste, gotta hit the drugstore" detours.
And oh, yeah, those snacks. If there's a trip on the horizon, I squirrel away those energy bars and other small snacks to take with us. Definitely a money-saver when we're waiting on a flight ... or even on the flight.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Free food!

We went to the annual neighborhood cookout over the weekend, and stayed to help the organizers clean up.
Our good deed didn't go unrewarded -- we came home with 5 large, uncooked chicken breasts, a large veggie and dip try and an assortment of chips and sodas.
So what to do with this windfall? DH's answer: Put the chicken and most of the veggies in a cooking bag along with onion soup mixed into chicken broth. Cook at 350 degrees for an hour. Presto! Baked chicken and veggies!
We had enough food for dinner, plus enough to put in the freezer for two more dinners. And as for the dip ... well, a couple of tablespoons mixed with bit of water or milk makes a nice ranch dressing for salad.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Garden news and some freebies

A busy garden day at the D&W household ... picked off another dozen tomatoes and a bucket of green beans. We're enjoying all the fresh veggies and herbs now, and with a bit of freezer work, we'll be enjoying them later, too.

Meanwhile, here's a couple of freebies ...

Check today's newspaper for a coupon for a free 12-pack of half-liter bottles of Nestea if you buy 4 12-packs or 2 24-packs of Coke products. In my area, the coupon is in the paper, not part of the inserts. Seems like a nice add-on if you can find a soda sale.

If you didn't catch it the first time, there's another link for a sample of Fiber One Honey Clusters cereal, a Oats and Chocolate bar and a coupon book with $3 in savings. To get this you have to sign up for the "eatbetteramerica" e-mail newsletter. Here's the link.


But if you signed up previously, trying this link will just get you a "sorry - one to a household" type message.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Still working

The layoff list went out today at work. I'm still here, but a few of my co-workers won't be any more.

Monday, August 18, 2008

A serious note

Back in my introduction, I mentioned that I always had the nagging worry that one or both jobs would go away. Today, I'm being nagged a bit harder.
The word has come down from corporate: Layoffs.
Don't know how many or what departments just yet ... I have enough time in to protect me if it's a standard layoff. If it's anything else, well, who knows.
I keep reminding myself that if the worst happens, we'll be fine. All those years of living below our means can help us weather anything. My major worry would be health insurance.
But still, it's not a good thing to contemplate...

Coupon redux

Well, WalMart responded to my latest e-mail about the expired coupon by offering to send me another free greeting card. I accepted, so we'll see what happens next.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

It's tomato time!

I'm pleased to announce that it's tomato season here at the D&W household! I've been eating fresh 'maters off and on all week, and still have a pile to put into the freezer.

I may not be all that enthusiasic about it in a couple of weeks, but right now, it's nice to have the payoff from all that work!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Grocery deals

Hit the Kroger "blowout" sale today .. thought I did pretty well for $22!
My best deals:

  • Dozen eggs, 79 cents

  • 1/2 gal milk, 99 cents

  • 4 lbs sugar, 99 cents

  • 1lb bacon, $1.49

  • loaf bread, 69 cents

  • bag of salad greens, 79 cents

  • 2 Pillsbury cinnamon rolls (5ct), 40 cents each (10 for $10, with 30 cent coupons, doubled)

  • 2 Pillsbury pizza crust dough, 30 cents each (10 for $10, with 35-cent coupons doubled)

  • 6 boxes Kleenex (120 ct), 54 cents (88 cents each, 50 cents/3 coupons doubled)

I do have to give kudos to the store manager. I couldn't find the Kroger brand sugar, which was on sale. When I asked, he went to the back to check for more stock. He came back and apologized for being out and agreed to substitute another brand for the same price. He even passed the word to the cashiers!

Friday, August 15, 2008

Er, it's a little late

I was quite pleased to get the free American Greetings card from WalMart yesterday. I was even more pleased to get a BOGOF coupon -- until I took a look at the coupon.
Seems it expired July 31 .. a good 14 days before the card ever hit my mailbox!
I've sent an e-mail off to WalMart ... let you know if I hear anything.

This is WalMart's reply:

We are writing to let you know that we are not able to accept manufacturers' coupons through Walmart.com at this time and we do not have access to it. Please be advised that you may need to contact the manufacturer directly.


Thursday, August 14, 2008

A sweet sale

For those of you in the Midwest who shop at Kroger, be sure to check Thursday's newspaper for their coupon deals. Among them:
  • 4 lbs of sugar for 99 cents
  • half-gallon of milk for 99 cents
  • a dozen eggs for 79 cents
  • 16oz of bacon for $1.49

Me, I'm definitely going to get the sugar -- holiday baking season is right around the corner!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

A little night music

We went to a nice jazz concert over the weekend ... best of all, it was free. We live in an area where the parks departments offer a full slate of concerts -- jazz, show tunes, what have you. I'm pretty sure that someone really dedicated could find a concert somewhere every night of the week.
It's fun to watch the folks at these concerts. Most folks bring a picnic basket and a couple of chairs; some folks pull out all the stops -- they make it a two-and-three generation family gathering (including the dogs) and bring a whole spread.
But we all spent a very nice couple of hours on a perfect summer evening listening to some good music .. and the price was certainly right!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

But I didn't want the rebate

Got my WAGs rebate yesterday -- have to admit, the online submissions really speeds things up!
But one line jumped out at me: "$15 M&M candy, incorrect quantity purchased. Rebate denied."
Umm .. I just bought a couple of packs of candy on sale to throw in the lunchbox. I really didn't expect a rebate here. But thanks, anyway.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Inbox deals: Gotta glue?

Both Staples and Office Depot's weekly e-mails offer a peek at next week's ads, and a couple of freebies.
Staples is offering a 4oz bottle of Elmer's School Glue, limit 2, in case you need to stick lots of stuff together.
Office Depot is offering a Sharp scientific calculator, worth $7, FAR.

Since we're talking about office supply stores, if you buy printer ink from Office Max, be aware that they've changed their recycling policy. They no longer are giving the $3 per cartridge credit off your order. Now, you can take in up to 10 Dell or HP cartridges per week (another change) and a rewards card will be sent to you.
I've been buying my Canon cartridges there, since I have a printer that pitches a fit if I try to use compatibles. I do have a Dell that likes compatibles just fine. So, new game plan: I'll buy Dell compatibles online and see if I can use them to get credit to buy Canon cartridges.
Now what the heck do I do with all these Canon cartridges?

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Let's go to the fair!

It's state fair time here in the Midwest -- time to see giant tomatoes and big pigs and chow down on elephant ears...
The fair can be a lot of fun, but it can be a budget-buster. I've learned a few tricks over the years to keep the costs down to a dull roar:

Look for discounts: In most cities, the fair teams up with drug stores, groceries or AAA to offer advance-sale admission or ride tickets. Most of the time, "advance-sale" is a loose term; tickets are available through the entire run. Some fairs also have special admission days: show your grocery store or drug store loyalty card and get $$ off. Also, in my city, the local newspaper has been known to run 2-for-1 coupons for select days.

Parking: In my state, you can get free parking on the grounds until the lots are full. If yours does too, be sure to get there early.

Food and drink: As far as I know, nobody offers discounts on deep-fried Twinkies. (and I've found that food prices don't vary much from booth to booth.) But, if your fair allows it, you can always bring in some portable snacks -- fruit, energy bars, crackers and the like.
DH and I make sure to have one square meal during our stay. We've found the pork, beef, lamb and poultry producer's tents offer good-sized meals at a reasonable price. And hey, it isn't the fair without a nice ear of roasted corn ... dripping in butter, of course.
As for drinks, our fair is cool about bringing in a bottle of water, which can be refilled at the water fountains. When I was a kid, my mom used to bring those collapsible cups to use for splitting drinks or filling at the fountains.

And if you gotta have that elephant ear or funnel cake, consider splitting one with your DH or companion. Your digestive system and your wallet will thank you.

Rides: We're not midway fans. But if you are, again, look for the discounts. Check the fair schedule for 2-for-1 days, or all you can ride for 1 price days.

And if you're a fan of free samples (and other assorted plastic dodads), then grab one of those plastic bags and fill'er up. Last year, we wandered by a booth offering antacid samples (appropriate, don't you think?). Business must have been slow -- these guys gave us handfuls of samples. I still have enough to get me through the most fire-filled chili suppers!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Small but mighty: My CVS deal

Stopped by CVS yesterday to use an ECB that was about to expire:
Bought 4 of the Dawn dishwashing detergents at 88 cents each. Used 4 of the 50-cents off coupons, bringing the cost down to 38 cents each. Paid for them with the $1.49 ECB.
Total out-of-pocket cost: 17 cents!

And the free gift: a 24-count bottle of ibuprofen. I wonder if everyone gets the same thing, or if it's random? (Or did it just look like I really needed a painkiller?)

Rabbit stew, anyone?

I'm feeling Elmer Fuddish today ... there's a rabbit out there that's made my hit list.

Normally, I don't mind living in bunnyland (neither do the family of coyotes that live behind the neighborhood, but that's another story). But not when the little #%&!!! raid my garden.

I checked on my garden the other day to find that one of the cottontails had breached the fence and chewed the top off my best-producing bell pepper plant. And left a .. er ... calling card. Apparently, he'd heard that peppers are nearly a buck each at the grocery.

So I pull out my supply of onion bags and proceed to net all 6 plants. The next day, I discover that the net had protected the leaves .. but now the little beast had chewed into the biggest pepper!

Looks like I'm going to have to pull out the rest of the chicken wire and create cages for my plants ... after I douse them with some red pepper. (which seemed to work last year when they developed a taste for my geraniums. )
If that doesn't work ... well ... rabbit stew sounds pretty good.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Who am I and what am I doing here?

I know, another frugality/living below your means blog.
But stay with me. Life here at the D&W household (also known as the Casa de Chaos) is a bit different that those in the usual family/frugality blog.
So, who am I? A middle aged (gulp) woman in a double income, no-kids marriage. By many measurements, we should be home free. And we have been blessed: We pay the bills, get an occasional treat, and indulge our yen for travel.
But there are storm clouds on the horizon: Rising costs are squeezing our paychecks, and the raises just don't keep up. Add to that nagging worry that either or both jobs could go away at any time.
Then there's that retirement thing: Somewhere in the middle of my career, some joker kicked two of the legs out of the "3-legged stool" that was supposed to fund those non-working years.
So how to cope, or at least stay even? A lot of dodging and weaving, friends.
Want to join me on the journey?