Saturday, January 31, 2009

I have a lot to learn, it seems

I've bought many things online over the years, and I've used coupon codes and rebate sites to my advantage. But ya know, it's never occurred to me to "stack" online coupon codes.

I had to buy ... er .... undies. And let me tell you, this hasn't been an easy process. The maker of my favorite style decided that I alone couldn't keep them in business, so they stopped making the style. And one can mend undies just so many times before they turn into raggedly lace.

So, after searching, I finally find a brand/style I like (courtesy of a freebie ... so if you're wondering, such marketing tactics do work). What I found is that stores don't carry it. And believe me, we don't want to talk about bikinis or thongs ...

So off to the manufacturer's store and my favorite rebate sites. But even with the rebate, the shipping was still the equivalent of another package of undies. So I went hunting for coupon codes. The first was a click-thru for $1.99 shipping. I lost the the rebate by doing this, but the $5 saved was well worth it. Another site offered a code for 20% off. So I entered it.

Whoot! It worked. I saved enough to cover the shipping and tax, bringing the price down to what the undies actually cost.

So I learned something, and I don't have to go round in raggedy .. well, you get the idea.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Anyone want some snow?

It's 10 inches deep at my house. Free to a good home, but you have to come and get it!
And God bless our mail carrier who delivered yesterday, even though we couldn't get the mailbox area cleared until today!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Works for me Wednesday: Under the sink

If you're like me, and keep cleaners and other things under your kitchen sink, here's a tip: Keep things like sponges, soap pads and scrubbies, or vulnerable boxes (like powdered dishwasher detergent) in plastic bags. Even a small plastic box would work.

After a couple of plumbing leaks .. and a leaking can of oven cleaner ... I've learned the hard way!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

We resume our regular blogging

I've been away for a bit, in part because of a death in the family. So, I'll be doing a bit of catch-up this week.

Right now, we're waiting to see if the local weatherman or the National Weather Service is right about how much snow we're going to get. At the moment, looks like the local guy is winning ....

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Works for me Wednesday: Johnson's Buddies

I've found that the life of the "scrubbie" case around Johnson's Buddies soap can be extended.

(and before you ask why a middle-age woman without young children is using a soap for toddlers ... well, I like a mild soap. And I like a free soap even better.)

Anyway, when the original bar got down to a sliver, I opened up the scrubbie and slid in a travel-sized soap. I used a needle and thread and tacked the opening shut.

I figure this is a good way to use up those tiny bars of soap we get while traveling ... and it would be a good way to use up slivers from other soaps, too!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Reclaimation projects

What's been going on at the casa de chaos:

A DIY project to replace the on/off sensor in our outdoor lamp post. Cost, about $3.88 for the sensor, and maybe a case of frostbite. But it works again. When the weather gets warmer, we'll go back to a CFL bulb.

I cooked up several apples that were about to go bad. Frankly, I thought they had an odd taste (perhaps because they were stored next to green peppers?).But dousing them in cinnamon definitely improved the taste, even if cooking them didn't improve the texture.

The loofa back brush came apart. (Can't say I'm pleased about this, since I paid a decent amount of $ for it. You'd think they'd use a better grade of glue.) But, since it's made of wood, it was an easy matter to glue it back together. Now if that doesn't hold, I'm getting out the drill!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Frugal returns

Brett Arends writes R.O.I. (Return on Investment) column for the Wall Street Journal Online. In one of his recent columns, he talks about small (non stock) investments that pack a big return.

Admittedly they're nothing new to those of us on the frugal path, but I'm going to highlight a few of them, and since I like to see if I can "do it for less," add a few comments:

Buy a bread maker. .... If it saves you just $4 a week on store-bought bread, that's $208 a year. A 280% return.

Doing it for less: It may be possible to get one at a thrift shop or a garage sale. Or perhaps you have a friend or relative who'd be happy to give you the one taking up space on their counters.

As for cost ... I've never paid $4 for a loaf of regular bread, and hope I never have to. (And at my house, we usually don't go through a loaf of bread per week.) When I do the math on bread making, I come up with about $1 per loaf for ingredients. That's what the cheapest loaf costs in supermarkets here. Do I get better quality bread for my $1. No doubt. So that alone is a good return to me.

Now, if you use the bread maker for other things, your return could skyrocket. If, for instance, you make pizza dough twice a month .. even if you spend $10 a month on ingredients, you could still save $20 or $30 a month over the cost of takeout.

Replace your premium cable package with a Netflix subscription and a $100 set-top box. You can download movies and TV programs as well getting DVDs through the mail. Cost: $100 for the cheapest set-top box, plus $17 a month for a three-movie subscription. If it replaces a $50-a-month cable package, that's a 98% return on investment

Doing it for less: The biggest return would come from ditching cable completely, watching TV shows online and using Redbox for your movie fix. There's enough free rental codes out there to keep your costs at a big, fat zero.

Admittedly, that's a problem if your shows aren't online. Or you have a sports fan in the house. I've never done Netflix, so I can't speak to their selection of TV shows. So the most practical solution might be to downsize the cable package (or try satellite) and go with Redbox.

Order a packet of seeds and plant them in a window box or garden. Growing your own herbs, spices, and even vegetables – depending on the amount of space you have – is a great investment. If you spent just $10 on seeds and saved a mere $50 in the year, that's a 400% ROI.

Doing it for less: Unless you're going to do tomato or other veggie seedlings, it's likely cheaper to pick up the seeds at a local store. Last season, WallyWorld had bean seeds for as little as 10 cents a package. Some of my gardening friends buy extra seeds to start plants the next spring.

Start making your own coffee to take to work ..... Cost: $20 for a Thermos, $10 for a filter and papers, and $60 a year for ground coffee. Then skip the $4 a day drive-thru. If that saves you $1,000 a year, the return is more than 1,000 %.

Doing it for less: If all you need is just one morning jolt, a good travel cup can be had for $5 or less. And of course, watch for coffee sales and coupons.

And while you're at it, bring along some tea bags, or a few cans of cola, or whatever else you like to drink during the day, along with your lunch and a few snacks. Stash them in your desk to avoid those wallet-bending runs to the vending machine.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Do good, get coffee

Starbucks is offering a free coffee to anyone who comes into a store from Jan. 21 to Jan. 28 and signs a pledge to pledge five hours or more of volunteer community service.

The “Are You In?” program is a partnership between Starbucks and HandsOn Network to raise one million hours of service across America as part of President-elect Obama's call for national service.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Get free Suave!

Go to today and register to get a coupon for a free bottle of a Suave product.

Works for Me Wednesday: FSA accounts

If you or your spouse have a flexible spending account through work, consider keeping your receipts for over-the-counter drugs in a separate envelope. Every month (or at the end of the year) you'll have them handy -- especially if you need to "spend down" the account in a hurry.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Free fruit

A milestone today: My 100th post!

If you subscribe to the Dish newsletter, and you're one of the first 50,000 people to respond, you'll get a free coupon for 100 calorie fruit.

Though come to think of it, I've never received the coupon for their last promotion.

A couple of other deals:
Today's SS has a rebate form for a free canister of Windex wipes, or a free bottle of its antibacterial multi-purpose cleaner. It's only good till the end of February. There's also a 40 cent coupon for the cleaner.

If you missed the Dannon Activa challenge (refund up to $12), it's on again. I don't know if you can try it again if you did it the last time. But there's also a $1 coupon on 4.

Friday, January 9, 2009

December freebies and 2008 rebate total

The end of the year brought a decent number of freebies. Here's hoping next year will be even more fruitful!

2 Tide Total Care
3 regular Tide (FAC)
3 Green Giant Steamers (FAC)
2 Celestial Seasonings tea (FAC)
Mini Mr. Clean eraser
Pantene shampoo/conditioner
Purex softener
Post-it Notes
2 microbrews
2 Dunkin Donuts coffees
2 bottles Dr. Pepper
Glad trash bag
Orville Reddenbacher popcorn
Christine A's fragrance
Suave lotion (FAC)
Betty Crocker calendar

2008 Rebate total: $240.71
Compared to some folks, I'm an amateur, LOL! But I'm happy to have that $$ back.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Works for Me Wednesday: Calendars

You haven't thrown out your 2008 calendar yet, right?

Before you do, consider a couple of possible re-uses:

  • Gift wrapping: The photo portion of many calendars can be used to wrap small gifts, say, a book, a CD or a small toy. Of course, the bigger the calendar, the bigger the gift. A few years ago, we got a calendar from a Chinese restaurant that had beautiful photos of goldfish. That made very colorful wrapping for birthday and anniversary gifts.

  • Big stuff: Bigger calendars, say the 3-month at a glance kind, can be used for other things. I use them to wrap packages for mailing (the paper is pretty sturdy, and it's plain white on the backside.) In a pinch, you could use them to line drawers or shelves, or wrap dishes and glassware for moving

Monday, January 5, 2009

More reclamation projects

Recent projects at my house:

  • Got a pair of DH's pants patched and ready to use as work-around-the-house pants. (One down, three to go ... we're not going to talk about the socks I have to mend.)

  • I buy those little net bath scrubbies (otherwise known as 'those poofy things') to use with shower gel. Unfortunately, they have a bad habit of unraveling .. I end up with a 2-foot-long scrubbie! This time, when it unraveled, I folded it back up, then ran a long basting stitch down the middle. (I did it by hand, since I was using very heavy thread. Suppose you could do it by machine if you made a couple of passes.) It's not elegant, but at least it's usable!
  • One of my co-workers brought a rather large tin of butter cookies to the office. The cookies have been devoured (and I admit to eating my share). If no one is claiming the tin, I'm going to snag it. I have some extra sewing supplies that could be stored in it.
  • UPDATE: Scratch the tin. The orginal owner took it back ...

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Free pancakes in February!

Head over to your nearest IHop restaurant on Tuesday, February 24 to celebrate National Pancake Day. Everyone gets a free short stack of pancakes in this promotion (drinks are extra).

This is a fundraiser for the Children's Miracle Network, so, if you go, please consider donating to the cause. And also, please tip your server ... this is a really busy day for them.

We've gone for pancakes the past couple of years ... the IHop is a bit out of our way, but it's worth it!

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Musings on New Year's dinner

My word, a pound of dried blackeye peas makes ... well, a lot of blackeye peas! (and yeah, you're right .. I've never cooked the dried version before, LOL!)

A quart went in the freezer, and what's left will serve for two more meals as a side dish.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Happy New Year!

Let's all hope for better times in 2009!