Friday, August 28, 2009

Deals: Is it Christmas already?

Must be, since CVS is giving stuff away. If you've signed up with them, watch your e-mail for a coupon offering a free gift. Mine is either a bottle of hand soap or a package of nuts. It would be interesting to see if everyone has the same offer.

Other deals:

Yoplait is offering a coupon for a free Yo-Plus yogurt. if you send in a UPC and receipt from Dannon's Activia. Go to

Dannon's also offering coupons if you buy at least $15 in products. You'll need a receipt and possibly the lids or UPCs to prove you bought the stuff. Go to

YMMV, but I'll pass. I'm not going to buy $15 in yogurt to get $3 in coupons, especially when there are high-value coupons in this Sunday's paper.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Pay cut

While we managed to dodge three rounds of layoffs, we couldn't dodge a pay cut -- 10%

We'll survive. We'll still pay the bills, we won't lose the house, we certainly won't go hungry. But it's time to tighten the budget some more.

What next? Stay tuned ...

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

It's a girl!

We have a new addition to the family!

Our niece and her husband welcomed a baby girl (their 3rd daughter) on Monday morning. The little one weighed in at a little over 7 pounds! Mom and baby are doing well.

This little one, like the others, will get a package of goodies from us -- samples of diapers and wipes, and an assortment of coupons for baby items. (Our mail carrier probably wonders about us, LOL)

Monday, August 24, 2009

Travel notes

I'll admit that this poster isn't quite accurate: We only spent part of our vacation at home.

But that's a change for us ... usually, with a 2-week vacation, we'd be traveling the entire time. This year, we took a couple of shorter trips, meaning we were away only 6 out of a possible 16 days. So we saved on hotels, gas, meals and cat-sitting.

I also admit that in the past, we were big shoppers. At our favorite haunt in Michigan, we'd usually buy a case (or 2) of wines, a case of cherry jams, etc. (some for us, some for Christmas gifts.) But not this year. We bought a couple of jars of DH's favorite cherry butter. We didn't quite make a case of wine, either.

Part of that was the need to cut back, but also, inflation had something to do with it. I'm sure the $8-a-jar preserves are wonderful, but there are plenty of less-expensive alternatives that taste just as good. (and in case you're wondering, the cherry butter was not an $8 purchase.) We also passed on buying at about half the wineries we visited, simply because their prices had jumped past our budget. (and while I like a glass of wine, my palate isn't discerning enough that I have to have a $20 bottle.)

Sometimes I wonder if we're depriving ourselves. On the other hand, part of the fun of frugality is the adventure of trying new things. So for now, I think I'll just enjoy the hunt.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

No rinse agent for you

I guess the folks at P&G have decided we're all amply stocked with Cascade dishwasher rinse.

The last few times I've received a Home Made Simple coupon book, it's had a free coupon for that particular product. Not this time. In fact, the closest thing is a free refill if I bought a Swiffer product.

Sign of the times, perhaps?

On the other hand, I'm not complaining. The book has some very nice coupons ... and I'm sure they'll help me score some good deals!

Monday, August 17, 2009

When all else fails ...

One of our outdoor lights stopped working a while back ... and trying the obvious, a new light bulb, didn't fix the problem.

So, being the DIYers that we are, we tried all the obvious stuff: checked the circuit breakers, checked the connections in the fixture, replaced the inside switch, took off the fixture and hooked up an old one that we knew was working.


OK, time to call an electrician. And since we'd talked about installing a dusk-to-dawn light, we decide to buy a new fixture and have the guy install that when he fixed the other problem.

The electrician came, and guess what? He couldn't find a problem. Everything tested out just fine. Bad light bulbs, he suggested. So, he installed the new fixture, which of course, works just fine. (though we'll know for sure tonight.)

Grrr .... Though I suppose there's a silver lining ... if this one stops working, we can call the guy back.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

A really big .. gulp!

Took a little road trip recently to catch a baseball game at one of the new ball parks.

We don't do a lot of major-league-level events, but when we do, we have one frugal rule: Don't eat at the stadium, and no booze.

Instead, we do a bit of research on the nearby restaurants and eat before the game. This time, we found a nice place that had a happy-hour menu for both food and drinks, including $2.50 drafts.

It certainly paid off: A bottle of non-premium beer at this stadium -- $7.75. (this is a regular 12-ounce bottle, BTW) By way of comparison, the local supermarket is selling the same brand for $15.99 for 24 cans.

Apparently, I'm the only one bothered by this (what else is new?) because there were plenty of folks around us keeping the beer man busy. Though the tab for the folks in front of us was more than DH and I had paid for dinner and drinks an hour earlier.)

I just keep telling myself ... "It's their money, not mine."

Thursday, August 13, 2009

My $1.78 CVS trip

Another milestone - post No. 200!

Anyway, just wanted to brag a bit about my CVS trip earlier this week. Though from the looks of it, you'd think I was getting ready for Halloween!

The goods:
  • 1 Coppertone NutraShield sunblock: $8.99
  • 1 4-pk cartridges for Bic Soleil razor: $6.99
  • 8 Snickers bars (sale 2/$1): $4
  • 2 M&Ms (sale 2/$1): $1
  • 1 CVS brand chocolate-covered peanuts .99 cents
  • 1 CVS brand chocolate peanut clusters . 99 cents.

Total: $22.96 before tax


  • $4 off $20 CVS coupon
  • $5 IP on the Coppertone
  • $3 on the Bic cartridges
  • $4 (4 coupons for $1 off 2 candy bars)
  • $1 (coupon for $1 off 2 CVS candies)
  • $5 in ECBs.

Total: 96 cents, plus 91 cents in sales tax.

OOP: $1.78; $5 back in ECBs

I hadn't intended to buy so much candy ... I really wanted toothpaste, but discovered that the coupons I had didn't match the sale items. So, I punted. (and there will be no need for DH or I to hit the vending machines at work for a while, LOL!)

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Back to basics?

A note from the news ...

The Wall Street Journal reports that Procter & Gamble is trying a fewer-featured version of Tide.

The product, Tide Basic, is available in 100 stores throughout the Southern U.S. It lacks some of regular Tide's cleaning capabilities and costs about 20% less than the regular product.

This is being billed as a reaction to folks tightening their purse strings -- turning to less-expensive brands (not to mention the folks who make their own) and using more coupons. (And not just with detergent, apparently; P&G recently reported an 18% drop in fourth-quarter profits. )

Maybe we have a trend here ... new, and not-improved. Perhaps we'll go all the way back to ... plain soap?

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Garden report

I can't say I'm thrilled about the garden's progress right now. Perhaps it's the cooler, rainy summer we've had here, but the tomatoes and peppers are about a month behind in development.

My Early Girl has produced 1 tiny ripe tomato so far; not much going on otherwise. That's usually a very reliable producer. My Roma has finally set a fair amount of fruit, which is growing quickly. The other two are still stuck at the tiny fruit stage.

Same with the peppers ... I have one decent-sized one, and a tiny one. The others just have tiny fruits.

The beans have slowed, too, but are still producing ...

If we have a hot late summer-early fall, things may even out. I'll just have to be patient.

Friday, August 7, 2009

July freebies

It started off as a good month, but tailed off a bit.

2 Bic Soeil razors (FAC)
1 Great Value cereal bar
1 Crest ProHealth
1 Tampax
1 Zone bar
1 Vaseline Intensive Care
Old Spice body wash
Hefty 1-zip gallon bags (FAC)
Hefty 1-zip quart bags (FAC)
DiGiorno flatbread melt
2 Reach floss (FAC)
Poise pad
2 McDonald's mochas
Nineva body wash
Bodycology lotion

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

What we leave behind

I've always wondered about this ....
In its new issue, Consumer Reports did a bit of research on just how much of a product is left in the bottle when you can't shake any more out.

They bought products in six categories, emptied the container, then waited for a few days for the remaining contents to settle. Then they "pumped, poured, squeezed, shook, and tapped as much as any frugal but rational consumer might. Then we weighed how much was left inside."

And the results:
  • Skin lotion 17-25% of the product left behind.
  • Liquid detergent 7-16%
  • Condiments 3-15%
  • Toothpaste 1-13%
  • Bottled hand soap, 3-6%
  • Glass cleaners, 1 to 3 %

Perhaps the fine folks over at CR wouldn't consider me rational. My motto is: I bought it, I'm using all of it! So I'll swish a little water in the bottle if practical, or take a knife or a pair of scissors to it and scrape out the remainder.

And perhaps I'm a bit cynical, but I do think some packages are designed so they won't empty easily ...

Monday, August 3, 2009

Garage Sale Report

Well, ended up making a little of $30 at the sale. Not a lot, but I did get rid of a couple of big things ... so at least I have more room!

I noticed this time that people were interested in buying clothes (adult clothes, that is). A couple of people bought multiple items; one man bought jeans; a group of three women bought blouses and sweaters. Sign of the times perhaps?