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 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?