Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween!!!!!

I hope you all have a truly spooktacular day!!!!!! I'm still trying to come up with a costume for my volunteer gig at the police department! Here's hoping the creativity bug bites me in the next 8 hours!!!!
Have a fabulous and safe Halloween!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Watch Those Due Dates

For the past 11 1/2 years, I have been with the same cell phone carrier. I've always been happy with them, but lately, not so much. My lack of satisfaction started last January when I had to replace one of our phones. I went in to the cell phone store and got one, it had an advertised rebate and the salesperson told me exactly what to do and gave me the forms and everything else I needed, and told me I had 90 days to submit for the rebate - I added that date to my calendar in the store. Sounds good right? I procrastinated around a bit and went to fill out the rebate information to submit, 32 days after I bought the phone. That's when I realized that I not only did the sales person tell me wrong, as the form said I had 30 days, but the rebate had expired on 12/31/10! Four days before I bought the phone! Strike 1.

Then, I needed another phone for the other line. I went in to get it, and the first phone I got wouldn't "unlock" my SIM. They ordered me a new one, but never called if/when it came in so I didn't get that phone. They said I could get one for $9.99, but I had to pay an $18 "upgrade fee" for a phone that was not nearly as good as the one I had. I'd lose my ability to buy the phone I wanted at a reduced rate later on. Or I could claim the "insurance" and get that same phone for a $50 deductible. Yes, that makes TONS of sense! I ended up buying the same phone for $30 at Best Buy. Strike 2.

So, I get online to pay my phone bill today. And I noticed that my bill was "past due" and the next month's payment was listed on there too AND a late fee. WTH? Ever since I've been with this carrier my bill has been due on the 2nd of each month. Today is the 30th. So there's no WAY the bill could be late. So, I looked closer. The due date had changed to  10/23. I looked at last month's statement. It was due on 9/28, but I had paid on that date so it didn't change anything. I looked at the month before, and the month before. Apparently, back in May the due dates had started changing, but I never noticed it. I wasn't paying late, but barely on time. Eleven years with the exact same due date and NOW they change on me, it never even occurred to me that it would suddenly change. Its definitely my fault, for not looking closer at the bills. I was checking the charges, but not the due dates. Crap. I'm thinking this may be Strike 3.

Yes, I should have looked closer, but its very frustrating to me that after 11 years of being totally happy with the way this company has done business with me, their WAY of doing business has drastically altered. I've been less than satisfied on several other occasions this year, but haven't dwelled on it too much. However, when my contract is up, I'm definitely looking into other carriers. I'm just not a happy camper.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Setting the Vacuum on Fire

So I have been in a cleaning frenzy since about 6 a.m. -- Why? Because I've got a house full of people coming over tomorrow and the house needs to be sparkly. So, I removed the couch cushions and got busy vacumming underneath them. Apparently, when I moved something I managed to knock a dust cloth onto the floor, and in moving the vacuum, put it right on top of the dustcloth without noticing. The vacuum attempted to suck up the dustcloth. And I was oblivious. Until smoke started pouring out.

Joy. I turned off the vacuum and unplugged it from the wall and removed the offending object. And the smoke continued to billow. I'm not sure if I've just seriously messed up the belt (its kind of a rubbery smelling smoke) or if I've melted the inner workings. Either way, this was NOT something I planned on.

The Princess is heading over to BFF's house to borrow her vacuum so that I don't have to worry about trying to get that handled today. Its frustrating because with either a repair or a replacement I wasn't planning on this expense at this time!!!! And I LOVED my vacuum! Its lasted longer than anyone I've ever had! Okay, I'm going to go sulk a bit more now.

Oh, and just so you know, the moral of this story is to not start vacuuming before you've had a full pot of coffee. Because apparently, you just end up setting stuff on fire. Sigh.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Shopping for Staples

I tend to do a lot of coupon shopping. It works for us, but there are obviously times that you just can't everything you need with a coupon. With grocery prices not just creeping up but blasting up like they are rocket propelled, it really does "pay" to do the grocery shopping at multiple stores instead of just one. Sunday afternoon, I'm hosting a pre-holiday "Open House" for my side gig. So, I needed to pick up some items specifically for the foods I'm serving there. I could have gone to a higher priced grocery store, and would have paid dearly. Instead, I had an hour between work and another meeting last night, so I made good use of the time, traveling from work to Aldi, getting in and out of there, home to put everything up and to my meeting on time. It was a quick trip, and I had a list -- which definitely made it easier. My point is, that if you can work the extra grocery trips into time that would otherwise be a bit wasted, it can definitely pay as my estimation of the savings for this trip, versus paying regular grocery non sale prices is close to $20. Not bad for "rush hour" savings! Anyway, this is what I picked up:

1 Quick Oats
1 Whole Chicken
1 Baking Soda
2 Dried Cranberries
3 Cream Cheese
1 Bag White Onions
2 Bags Chocolate Chips
1 Shredded Cheddar
2 Yeast Pack Strips
1 Bunch Celery
1 Box Golden Raisins
1 Wheat Thins

Spent: $30.61

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Filling the Freezer

Generally speaking, I don't normally buy a ton of multiples even when I'm shopping the sales, four of the same item is "usually" the most I purchase at a time with the exception of canned goods. I'm quickly realzing however, that with the costs of food skyrocketing it would be to my benefit to stock up as much as space and finances allow --- especially on those items that seem to get devoured (aka pizza, chicken fingers and other junk food) when Princess and her friends are hanging out over here. With that being said, this week's Publix trip called for a massive reorganizing of my freezer!

So, here's what I picked up:

3 Pillsbury Grands Biscuit Sandwiches
6 Totino's Stuffers
2 Tyson Chicken
2 Tyson Quedadillas
10 Betty Crocker Fruit Snacks
2 CoffeeMate Creamers
1 Airwick Candle
4 Campbells Soup
1 Publix Peanut Butter (Penny Item!)
3 Ramen Noodles
1 Keebler Cookies
2 Grands Biscuits

Spent: $52.88
Saved: $81.45 or 61%

I've got an Aldi run planned for later this week to pick up produce and hopefully I'll have time to post that! How's your grocery managment going this week? Are the rising prices making you re-think and re-organize?

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Unplanned Expenses

Don't you hate it when unplanned expenses creep up on you? Take this past Saturday, for instance, I now need to purchase new gloves since all of ours are seemingly MIA. And then I found another expense that I wasn't planning for. As I was getting ready, I was trying to decide which shoes to wear -- I really needed something that was going to be warm enough for the cold gametime temperatures, but that wouldn't have my feet all icky during the day. I pair of leather ankle boots fit the bill. Problem is, all of my boots have high heels (I'm 5 feet tall, so I usually have heels on!). So I sent the Princess a text letting her know I was borrowing her flat ankle height boots, she said that was fine so I went to put them on. Problem was, the sole and boot were separating --- and I don't mean just a little --- I mean about a four inch gap!

Princess had mentioned that she "needed" new boots, but hadn't showed me what was actually going on with hers, so I had assumed her "need" was that she just wanted new boots. Apparently, I was wrong. I put on a different pair of shoes to wear to the game.

So last night, right after work we had to go out to a hotel for a information session put on by her first choice college. The hotel happens to be attached to a mall. We left home early because rush hour traffic can be a real pain in the you know what and arrived about 30 minutes early. That was plenty of time to go into one of the department stores --- which lo and behold had a 30% sale on boots! Plus, you could text them for a coupon code for an additional 20% off, which would put the boots at close to 50% off! We looked at the boots and the Princess found the pair she wanted at $80 regular price. After all was said and done, I paid $43 and change for the boots. Still trying to figure out where I'm going to trim expenses to cover those, but I'm happy with the deal we got on the boots. And since they are something she will literally wear until they fall apart, I really can't complain.

Back to number crunching, I suppose!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

A Tale of 3 Gloves

So, this morning we've been preparing to head to Tuscaloosa for the Alabama/Tennessee Game. We've been beyond excited! Princess has already left with some friends (and their parents) and I'll meet them down there later today. As she was getting ready, it occurred to us that while the temperatures will be nice during the day for tailgating, that won't be the case for the actual game itself. We're looking at mid 60s today and low 40s tonight. A twenty degree shift minimum.

So, I went to the drawer where I keep hats and gloves. And I found 3 single gloves. No mates. And both of my two favorites were not in the drawer! WTH? Of course since the last time I had gloves on was probably in FEBRUARY, I have NO CLUE where the gloves are. Princess managed to borrow a pair from the friend she was riding with and I was at least able to put together a right and a left glove that are both  black so that at least my fingers will be cozy. But sheesh! New gloves were NOT on my shopping list this winter!!!!!!

I THOUGHT I Was a Morning Person

In my adult years, I've always considered myself a morning person. Generally speaking, I'm much more productive at work between the hours of 8 and 2 than from 2-5. That is completely opposite from most of my coworkers who often can hardly speak until after 10 a.m. but function really well in the late afternoon. We have an unspoken system, I take the hard stuff in the mornings and the deal with that type of stuff in the afternoons. It works for us and makes our department function pretty seamlessly.

However, after three straight mornings of waking up at 4 a.m. for no reason whatsoever, I'm starting to doubt this morning person thing. Apparently, I don't function well when its dark outside. And the almost three hours between waking up and the sun rising are becoming wasted hours. And to add insult to injury, I'm completely worthless in the evenings by 8 p.m.! Ugh.

I have gotten a few things accomplished so far this morning. A load of laundry, some paperwork and the dishwasher is running. All in all though, I am completely frustrated with my new and completely unwanted sleep schedule. I have a HUGE day ahead as I will be heading to Tuscaloosa for the Alabama/Tennessee game and I need to shove a bunch of chores in before I hit the road. And if I don't find some energy SOMEWHERE, its just not going to be pretty! I'm hitting the coffee hard, but even that doesn't seem to be clearing out the cobwebs. Sigh. I really want to sleep like a normal person!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Stocking Up on Halloween Candy and Other "Essentials"

It's that time of year when we can stock up on all that stuff that is completely terrible for us! Like CANDY! Publix had several different kinds of candy BOGO this week. We get very few trick or treaters at our house, so each year I volunteer at the Police Station for their Halloween Event which provides a safe place for kids to do their trick or treating --- Princess Penelope is far beyond the age of wanting me to take her trick or treating, so this way I still get to have the fun of it! The event has a tight budget and couldn't provide a fun trick or treat alternative without the help of donations, so I picked up a couple of bags. Other than that, the sales this week were kind of "meh". I'm hoping next week will be better as certain items are getting low and I'd really rather not pay full price! So, here's what I picked up today:

1 Smart  Balance Milk
1 Pack Nestle Toll House Cookies
2 Bailey's Coffee Creamers
2 Reynolds Baking Cups
1 Wonka Assorted Candy
1 Hershey's Assorted Candy
2 Eight O'Clock Coffees (RAIN CHECK!)

Spent: $23.84
Saved: $25.71 or 52%

Thursday, October 20, 2011

4 a.m. Is Not Fun

4 a.m. - that's the time my eyes opened this morning. I stared at the ceiling for a while. I pulled the covers over my head. I rearranged my pillows "just so". And apparently, I wasn't going back to sleep. Normally, as soon as I stir a bit in the morning, Thing 1 and Thing 2 are pouncing on me ready to go out. Apparently, even THEY thought the hour was ridiculous. But after tossing and turning for a while, I decided sleep wasn't happening so got up to start my day.

And the start to this day is COLD. I caved last night and turned the heat on. I was kind of pouty about that because I was still thrilled with my el-cheapo power bill and I know that now the utilities will be creeping back up. It would have been nice to enjoy that just a bit longer. So now the debate begins. What temperature is optimal for us? I have no problem piling on extra clothes and blankets, but at some point you do need the heat to not be completely miserable. So, what temperature will work best? What do YOU set your thermostat on in the winter (or fall)?

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Not Ready for the Cold

Over the weekend, I was commenting on how much I was really enjoying the completely mild temperatures we've had lately. I've been able to continue air drying my laundry, I haven't turned the heat or AC on in over a month. All in all, its just been fabulous! To top off my enjoyment, my power bill arrived Monday and I was so excited (yes, I'm a dork that gets excited over a power bill) --- but the bill was only $62 and change! That's $95 LESS than the previous month! So, definitely something to get excited about!

And..... apparently I spoke too soon! This mornning I woke up to 46 degrees. Rain last night ushered in a cold front and now this southern girl is lamenting the loss of those gorgeous temps and perfect days! The heat hasn't kicked on yet, as apparently the house held enough of yesterday's heat for it to not need to come on, but I don't see that continuing. I'm also afraid I'm going to have to turn on my dryer when I do laundry this weekend. I just don't think I'll have enough room, or SPACE to dry it all by air in any decent kind of time frame. But, I'm going to give it a shot!

For now though, I'm going to bundle up this morning, because to me, it just dang COLD outside!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Cleaning Out Doesn't Have to Mean Throwing Out

I've been doing a lot of cleaning out and decluttering lately. My kitchen cabinets were overstuffed and just about bursting at the seams. It was hard to get to ANYTHING I needed. Plastic containers with no lids. Sports waterbottles with leaky caps. Five -- count them FIVE cheese graters!. Four completely different sets of mixing bowls (not counting my super big stainless bowl or the one that attaches to my Kitchen Aid mixer). Five pie plates (and I rarely make pie). Silicone bakeware that I never use. Sheesh.

So I've cleaned out the cabinets --- gone are the mismatched plastic containers. And the waterbottles. Good riddance. The other stuff was divided up into what I use and don't use. The stuff I use was reorganized back into the kitchen cabinets and drawers. The rest was divided up. The bulk of the duplicates went into a plastic storage box. This stuff will be saved for when Princess Penelope gets her own place. While she will not have an apartment her first couple of years at school, the dorm we are hoping she gets will have a kitchenette and she will need some basic kitchen equipment there. It seems foolish to have duplicates now and get rid of them to only turn around and buy them again in a year or two or even three. So that stuff is now in a storage box clearly labeled --- Princess (kitchen) which has found a home in the basement.

The rest of it has been divided into a box for donation and a few things are going to a friend who has just gotten a divorce and is starting a kitchen from basically scratch. The easiest thing, of course, would be to just throw it ALL in a box and haul it up to the curb for the city to take off to the dump. But, that would be SO wasteful! More crap in the landfill, more people purchasing new, more manufacturing, etc. So, by taking the time to sort it all out now, I'm giving the Princess a head start for when she has her own kitchen, I'm helping out a friend on a tight budget, and hopefully I'm helping out someone else that might need a cheese grater when they are shopping at the thrift store. And all of that stuff is staying out of the landfill until it has reached the end of is useful life.  That is hopefully a win-win-win-win for all.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Way Too Much To Do.....And Not Enough Time To Do It!

This weekend has come and gone SO fast, but its been a really good one! Friday night, I pretty much piddled around the house, straightening here and there, but for the most part, just chilling out. Saturday, I got most of the laundry done --- washed, dried and folded. Cleaned the rest of the house from top to bottom, save for the office and Princess Penelope's room (she's on her own in that disaster! but she got it done, too).

After my cleaning fit, I met friends to watch Alabama stomp all over Ole Miss then came home and went to bed. This morning, the pups actually let me sleep all the way to 7:30 ---- whoo hoo! I got up, had my coffee, read my paper, and then got busy again. Last load of laundry done. And I started working through the disaster I call my home office. At the beginning of the day, you couldn't walk through it. Now, while not complete, you can see the floor! We made about 15 trips up to the curb for "stuff" to be picked up by the City. And I also have four big boxes full of "stuff" to take to the Salvation Army. I've got a huge box full of stuff to be shredded (my shredder and I are about to become BFFs!). And the garbage can will barely close.

After I finally cleaned and sorted just about all I could, I got busy on dinner --- which has now been consumed and cleaned up. And all I can saw is "whew!" I am worn out! Hope y'all had a fabulous weekend!!!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

What's Going Right

Fall is definitely setting in around here with cool nights and mild days. This is the first year I can remember in a while though that it seems like we've actually had a true fall --- where the temps didn't go straight from hotter-than-hades to cold-as-a-you-know-what in a matter of days.

The fabulous temps are having a positive effect on my power bill. Well, I hope it is, I haven't gotten the bill yet. But I really think it must be having a good effect because we haven't turned the AC on except once this month. Same goes with the heat --- we've only had one morning where it was cold enough inside the house when I woke up that I was tempted to turn the heat on.We got through that though and as of yet, I still haven't turned it on!

The good temperatures have also made it possible to continue to air dry our clothes. Four and a half months and I still haven't turned the dryer on! I'm still not sure how long I'll be able to continue that once the really cold weather comes into play. Space is very limited inside for air drying and I don't exactly relish the thought of CONSTANTLY having clothes hanging all over the house. However, I'll experiment with it some and see how much tolerance I do have!

We've also had enough rain this month that I haven't needed to water my gardens outside. My fall bloomers are doing great without any help from me. Given the astronomical costs of water and sewer service around here, that is a definite blessing!

With grocery prices constantly rising, utility rates rising, and the absolutely wicked costs of Princess Penelope's senior year, I'm completely thankful that the weather, at least, is giving me a break!

Y'all have a fabulous weekend! I'm going to hang some clothes up to dry!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Grocery Shopping For The Deals This Week

My grocery shopping often looks very unbalanced. Let me assure you that I don't consider this type of trip to be balanced or enough to sustain use every week. I don't always blog every trip to Aldi I make (which is where I get most of our produce) because I don't my blog to just be showing my grocery trips. When I do blog the grocery trips I generally do my BIG trips to Aldi and my awesome coupon saving to Publix. I also have a nice stock of fruits and veggies in the pantry and freezer. That being said, this is what I got this week at Publix taking advantage of sales and coupons:

3 Half Gallons Hood Simply Smart Milk (this is ultra pasteurized so it will last quite a while)
1 Soft Soap Hand Soap
2 Propel Water 6 Packs
1 Emerald Almonds
2 Glade Candles
1 Crystal Light
3 Kibbles N Bits Dog Food
4 Bailey's Coffee Creamers
1 Publix Gummi Bears (penny item!)

Spent: $28.26
Saved: $38.03 or 57%

One thing I found interesting was that when I added it all up, if I had paid "regular price" with no coupons for just the milk and dog food (which would qualify as very basic and necessary groceries) I would have spent just about the exact same amount. So by combining the coupons and sales, I got the soap, propel water, almonds, candles, coffee creamer and gummi bears too! Not a bad deal all in all.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

$10 Here and $10 There Add Up

In addition to all of the graduation expenses that have hit me hard this month, I've been nickel and dimed quite a bit, too. We started off the month with a Lee Jeans Day for Breast Cancer at work. A $5 donation, and you get to wear jeans to work. This is completely "optional" but I'm also well aware that it is noticed by the powers that be who participates in the various fundraisers. so I participated. Then we also had the United Way pledge drive. And of course I participated in that too --- that will start as a payroll deduction in January. Also this month we have a canned food drive. All are worthy causes, no doubt about it, but those, combined with other things this month are eating into my bottom line deeply. (I have a separate budget category for the causes I regularly contribute to, so these are over and above my normal level of giving).

Next up, we have departmental birthdays. For each person in the department that has a birthday, we each chip in $10 and the birthday boy or girl gets a nice wad of cash. While it is fun to get that wad of cash, basically we are just getting back what we put in over the course of the year (unless of course someone leaves after they've had their birthday so they are no longer contributing) so I really see no point in it. Trading money to me just has no purpose. Each year I try to be the voice of reason, but majority rules. This month we have 2 birthdays, so there goes another $20. Add in 2 funeral plants for extended family members of a coworker and another former coworker and there's another $20.

I know I sound completely UNGENEROUS (is that a word?). But I do give to causes I find worthwhile over the course of the year --- I budget it in. I also give a lot of time to worthwhile organizations over the course of the year, too. Giving, to me, is an important part of a balanced life. I'm just not sure I like this month's "Giving Til It Hurts" phase. We're only 13 days in and I've put out $55 in unplanned giving. (Yes, I forgot about the birthdays this month and didn't include them in my budget!)

And wow, this post sounds SO much more stingy than I intended.... I'm just trying to figure out where I'm going to cut my budget to absorb those things I hadn't planned for --- my "Misc" category was already consumed, and then some, with the graduation expenses! Back to tweaking the budget!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011


We sat down and tallied it all up last night and wrote the check. The final cost for the cap and gown fees, the announcements, namecards and tissue inserts came to $241.11. That's $8.89 less than I expected! Yes, I know, in the grand scheme of things, $8.89 isn't much but it is SOME savings! That's $8.89 that I don't have to come up with from somewhere else. And that's a very good thing.

That's $8.89 I can put towards debt this month since I didn't think I was going to be able to make the full debt payment I wanted to make. My minimum due per month is $150, however, in my quest to get out from under that debt before the Princess goes off to college, I'm currently putting $500 per month towards it --- and hoping that after this debt free Christmas, I can hit that harder because the $500 per month will NOT get that debt eliminated by August 2012, however short of never leaving the house, I can't cut any more than I have from the budget!

And in other related news, I spoke with Princess Penelope's step-mom last night when we were tabulating up the final numbers for how many announcements they wanted to send. She told me she was going to run her numbers this week and send me a check to help cover some of the costs. That makes me VERY happy because I didn't even ask! It will be fantastic to have some relief from some of these costs. I don't care if it's $10, $20 or $50, that's $10, $20 or $50 that I can put towards my debt. So.... Yea!!!!! And here's hoping!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Replanting Alabama

Yesterday, I spent my afternoon planting trees. One of my friends, Singer Girl, works for a local television station. That station teamed up with the local board of realtors for a project called Replanting Alabama. The goal for this project is to replant trees in areas that were hit hard by the April 27 tornadoes. On that day, the tornadoes came in waves throughout the state. Although many know of the devastation wrought on the afternoon and evening of April 27, not as many know of the ones that came through that morning. So, Singer Girl rounded up some of her friends to participate in the project. Given that I actually love to plant things it was only natural that I said "Sign me up!"

The Cahaba Heights area, southeastish of Birmingham was hit particularly hard just shy of 6 a.m that morning. If you look at the houses in the background of this picture, before the tornadoes, you could only see the ones that directly faced the street. You certainly couldn't see the sky in the background. This neighborhood was built in the 1950s-1960s and had a very well established canopy of trees. That is definitely not the case now.

So, yesterday this group of volunteers planted 25 trees. And next Sunday, 25 more will be planted, and the Sunday after that, and the next one. Its a small thing, and it will take years before these trees mature to the point where they actually fill in for some of those that were lost on April 27. But its a start.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

College Acceptance and Reality Setting In

Yesterday afternoon the mail arrived later than normal for a Saturday. I was getting cleaned up to go and watch the Alabama/Vanderbilt game with friends when I saw the mailman stop in front of the house. I scooted out to the mailbox and pulled out a big stack of mail. There amongst the bills and junk mail was a big fat envelope from the admissions office of Princess Penelope's first choice school. Princess Penelope was not at home and was a good hour away at a Pumpkin Patch with friends. I laid the envelope on the dining room table. And there it sat, taunting me. I finished getting ready. And still it sat there.

I tried to call the Princess on her cell phone, but alas, she had no service at the Pumpkin Patch. I tried again. And again. And still the envelope sat there. I knew that I would be leaving the house before the Princess got home. So I tried Princess's friend's cell phone. No answer. Crap. The envelope still sat there. I finally gave it and began to open it just as the Princess called back on her friend's phone. So, I opened the envelope --- a quick scan and the word "Congratulations!" popped out! She had been accepted to her first choice! Squeals from both of us abounded and sent Thing 1 and Thing 2 into a flurry of barking and jumping (can't blame them since minus the barking I was doing pretty much the same thing!). The Princess and I chatted on the phone and then she hung up to get back to the business of the Pumpkin Patch. A minute or two later she called me back, asking me not to tell her Dad because she wanted to. I stood in the kitchen and started trying to call my friends since I couldn't call family because Princes wanted to. And you know what?!?!?! No one answered. So here I was, ready to burst, and NO ONE was answering the phone! Couldn't post it on Facebook because family might see it. So, I posted it up on Google+ since my friends group is much smaller there!

Anyway, after posting it up, one of my friends asked me on Google+, "And how is Mom?". And that's when reality set in. I looked back over the information in the envelope and gulped audibly. This is going to cost a very pretty penny. Time to get serious regarding scholarship searches. Time to buckle down with the spending. Time to start researching laptops. Time to start putting aside the college essentials. Time to figure out exactly how we're going to pay for this. I've got some money put aside, but not nearly enough to cover 4 years at a reasonably priced state school. Time to figure this all out. I know we can do it. Its just a part of getting us there.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Saturday Shopping at Aldi

My cupboards were getting bare on basics so a quick run to Aldi today was definitely in order. I love shopping there because although I simply ADORE the Publix sale prices, often times their full prices are a bit heavy on the wallet. Another plus with Aldi is that since it is so small in terms of square footage, I can get in and out of there in a pretty short amount of time.

So, here is what I picked up:

2 Boxes Dog Treats
2 Shells & Cheese
1 Pumpkin Quick Bread Mix
1 Frozen Pizza
2 Boxes Toasted Ravioli
1 Bag Frozen French Fries
4 Bags Shredded Cheese
1 Refrigerated Pie Crust (have a new Pampered Chef recipe I want to try out!)
Flour Tortillas
Swiss Cake Rolls (did I mention I was hungry when I went)
Nutty Buddy Snacks (ditto)
Light Sour Cream

Total Spent: $46.96 --- Saved??????

Nice Weather = (hopefully) Lower Power Bills

During the Summer, I made quite a few adjustments in how we were consuming power. My house was built in 1957 so the energy efficiency is terrible. Add to that that we have relatively no shade on the house and that generally equals outrageous power bills in the summertime months. This summer, I made a few adjustments that I think really helped keep the power bills down: I air dryed all of our clothes (and so far, I'm continuing this), I cooked more in the microwave and toaster oven than in the oven, we wore tank tops and shorts around the house, and we made better use of fans than we have in years past.

Those efforts helped generate summertime power bills than I've seen since I moved in to this place. And now moderate temperatures are helping me to keep those efforts going. While it is still getting into the 80s in the afternoons, the cooler overnight temperatures are cooling the house off sufficiently that we aren't having to turn the air conditioner on during the day. And although we've had a couple of nights were the temperature went down into the 40s outside, we've only had one morning where we were tempted to turn on the heat, but we just gritted our teeth and got through it. The still warm days are letting me continue with air drying the clothes, although it is taking longer than when it was 100 degrees outside. I'm continuing the practice of cooking as little as possible in the large oven and still relying on the microwave and toaster oven (with a family of just two, it can be very easy to cook small things in the toaster).

I've really been happy with the way this has worked out, and my budget has certainly appreciated it! Any suggestions for reducing our heating bills as the temperatures continue to cool will be most welcome!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Of Bedsheets and Togas

Yes, bedsheets and togas were what kept my mind occupied last night. Each week during football season, the high school has a different theme for the pep rally and the students dress up accordingly. So far this year they've had tie dye, cowboy, pajama, mix match, hip hop and the list goes on. Also, every year, they do a "Honor Thy Senior" Friday --- which for some reason they do not do the day of the Senior Pep Rally which features the Seniors in a more prominent role. (That was last Friday --- and yeah, it makes no sense to me, either).

As part of Honor Thy Senior, the Seniors dress up in togas. (Yeah, still not making a lot of sense to me, either, but I just go with it). So, when I got home from work yesterday, Princess Penelope told me we had to make a toga. Fun. So I scoured the linen closet for a white sheet. I managed to come up with one, a twin bed sheet, which is not ideal, but the only other white ones were the 406 thread count egyptian cotton sheets on my bed (which were a gift, by the way) and those were NOT going to be transformed into a toga! If you ever have to make a toga -- skip the rest of the internet and go straight to youtube --- it will save you TONS of time.

So we wrapped, and adjusted, and rewrapped and readjusted and finally got that twin size sheet into a suitable toga. Then there was the olive wreath or whatever it is that goes on the head. My first thought was to go snip some rosemary and wrap it with wire and such to make the wreath. However, it was now almost 10 and I didn't feel like trudging out to the garden, so i improvised. We had weighted balloon anchors that were covered in green mylar and green mylar palm leaves that needed to be thrown out. So I snipped the leaves off, wrapped them around green pipe cleaners, stapled them securely and ended up with a sparkly wreath thing. It works, and for all that she's a pretty mature for her age teen, the Princess still likes the sparkles so it got a thumbs up from her.

Now, to rewrap that toga again!!!!! Fun.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Phew! That Was Close!

Last week, I posted about how I only had $100 left til payday and after meeting a couple of obligations, that had me down to $63 to last roughly nine days. I figured out that I also had an additional $24 coming in due to expense reimbursements at work. That gave me a grand total of $87 to stretch for NINE days.

It really was not easy! Over the course of those 9 days I spent $63.81 on groceries (two publix runs and an aldi run for apples and cheese), $10 on gas (had to add a bit yesterday as I was woefully low) and $10 on eating out. That comes out to $83.81 --- $3.19 left.

It was tight, but I made it through. Barely. One thing I figured out is that when you are hyper aware of your spending, you really really second guess those impulse purchases and whether or not you really need to make those trips to the store. Or to the mall. Or to the bookstore.

Today is payday so I can breathe again. I promise, however, that I"m not going to go all crazy today. Although, I probably do need to actually fill up my car with gas!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Weekday Grocery Shopping

Did a quick trip to Publix after work today to take advantage of this week's penny item --- COFFEE! As I was going past the clearance rack, I noticed that they had Nivea Lip Balm on clearance - 2 for $2.99 --- and I had a coupon for $3 off 2 --- that means free lip balm!!!!!! Woo hoo!

Anyway, this is what I picked up today:

1 Angelsoft Toilet Paper
2 Mueller Pasta
3 Quaker Instant Oatmeal
1 Publix Cheddar Cheese
1 Dove Antiperspirant
1 Stouffers Famil Sized Meal
1 Velveeta Shells & Cheese
6 Campbell's Condensed Soups
1 Publix Coffee (penny item!)
2 Nivea Lip Balm (FREE!)

Spent: $26.41
Saved: $36.68 or 58%

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Spook-tacular Fun!

I simply adore Halloween! I have always just loved decorating for Halloween almost as much as I do for Christmas! However, in the past year or so, I decided I didn't want quite so much hassle, and I also realized I was not using all of my stuff, so I started scaling back a bit. Not a ton, but a bit, and I promised myself I wouldn't purchase anything else until I was out of debt. (I think I fibbed to myself a bit).

Anyway, I spent part of Sunday afternoon getting the decorations up and out. I always have so much fun doing it, and thought I'd share a bit. The trio of ghosts coming out of the pumpkin was added to our collection when we moved into this house five years ago. Princess Penelope had ALWAYS wanted the inflatable yard decorations, but previously we had lived in a condo and so therefore that was impossible. We love our ghosts!

The bushes adorning the front of the house have orange lights twined through, with several sets of "peeping eyes" blinking out. I love the effect of those!

This throwback to yesteryear guy was my fib to myself. I found him at a garage sale this summer (along with a similarly styled Frosty the Snowman) --- got the pair for $5! I LOVE kitsch!

My mom picked up this smiling terracotta jack o' lantern at a arts & crafts show when I had my first apartment my junior year in college. He has followed me around for the last 20 years! He's one of my absolute favorites! He's seen a lot of Halloweens.

And last, my all time favorite -- Baby Boo! (Who I realize needs an iron taken to him!) My Mom made him for me the same year she bought me the jack o' lantern. We had one on our front door every year when I was growing up, so my Mom made one for each of us and our homes. He brings back  a lot of fabulous memories of both my own childhood and Princess Penelope's. Every time I consider putting something else up on the door in October, I always go back to Boo.

What's around your place this month?

The Costs of the Senior Year


Yesterday at Princess Penelope's school, they had a full class assembly just to go over ordering the graduation announcements, name cards, cap & gown and the various and sundry other items. Princess Penelope brought home the information packet and I thought I was going to have heart failure. Just to get the basics we will be spending approximately $250 --- the cost of renting the cap and gown alone is $60. Wow! They really have you where they want you, don't they? And I'm not talking ordering the foil lined envelopes or deluxe name cards or return address envelopes! I'm talking about JUST ordering the very basics.

And of course its all due on October 12 --- yes, just over a week to come up with that kind of cash. Time for some serious number crunching as I wasn't expecting it to be quite this much! Jimineez!!!!!!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

A New Month and (hopefully) a New Attitude

Today is October 1. Woke up to a cool, clear, crips morning and I must say it feels fabulous! I also woke up feeling renewed and revived! I'll be heading off shortly to work an event for my side gig and I'm really excited about it! I'm truly hoping that today will jump start my month and make it really profitable! I could definitely use the extra income!

After that I'll get some things done around the house and then head off to watch football with friends. Part of my chores today will involve making a Get It Done List. I've got so many things that NEED doing that I'm almost overwhelmed by it all. I look around and start a task, then get side tracked and then finally give up. That is over! OVER I tell you! I'll make the list of what needs to be handled, then I will cross those tasks off as they are completed! Hopefully that will help my focus.

For spending, I have a new attitude, too! I am going to track every single penny --- last month was just way too out of hand!

So, new month, new attitude, new excitement about the side gig ---- Happy October Everyone!!!!!!