Saturday, January 31, 2015

No-Spend January: Week 5

Last week of No-spend January.

(4) Newspapers $6.00 (used rolled coins)

Dollar Tree, $3.09 (used rolled coins)

Aldi, $11.38

Walmart, Groceries & Craft Paint, Used $20.00 Gift Card (free from my Coke Rewards)
and paid $11.38

Wendy's Frosty & Fries $2.97
Frosty Jr. Keychain $1.00 (roll of dimes I forgot I had in my purse)

$0.00 eBay sales :(

I think I did pretty good, overall. Although we probably could have eaten more from the pantry/freezer than we did.

My total grocery bill this month was $171.52 (avg. $42.88/week).
About 3/4 of that was stockpile/bulk items that will last the next few months.
Stocking up on items at their lowest prices is what helps keep my grocery bill down the most, things I'm not having to buy at full price later.

Otherwise, this month, wasn't that great as far as not spending.
A large homeowners insurance bill due.
A not huge, but not small either medical bill. 
There were a good many unexpected expenses like a doubled electric bill, car repairs, twice or triple as much gas cost on account of my husband's father being ill and having to go into a Home nearly an hour from here.

My husband says I jinxed us with this "No spend" month thing.
I hate to say it, but it does seem like it. 

I don't plan on my spending habits to change very much into the next month, but I don't think I'll be calling it "No spend February"!

Saturday, January 24, 2015

January No Spend: Week 4

I had a fairly frugal week this week.

Sunday I bought (3) papers for the coupon inserts. I went to the $1.50 paper sellers, so I saved $1.00 per paper. And, I used a roll of dimes to pay for them, so no money from the Budget.

I spent more of the dimes at CVS paying the cash part ($1.84) of the deal, even though it ended up being free (ish) in the end.

At Target I spent $11.44 from gift cards I already had.

At Publix I spent $31.71 stocking up on cereal, and that was my total grocery purchase for the week.

I sold items on ebay that netted me $26.57.

I was lazy with my Swagbucks earnings this week (and really, that's pretty sad because all it involves is turning on my kindle and running the app, then going on about my business), so I only have 641 SBs.
Enough for (1) $5.00 Amazon gift card, though.
I'm up to a total of $30.00 worth of Amazon gift cards, and $10.00 CVS gift cards (that I need to remember to print and take with me next time!)

$202.00 in Christmas Savings fund (+$55.00, last 10 weeks)
$100.00 "Sink" fund (for property taxes/insurance)
$100.00 Dave Ramsey's Baby Steps #1: Emergency Fund 

We had a couple really nice weather days earlier in the week, which we took advantage of one of the days to get some more work done on the chicken coop we've been trying to build for awhile.
We're - so far - building it completely out of re-used building materials, so it takes some time while we get some free wood here, free this here, free that there.

We also finished tearing the rest of the kitchen ceiling out.
What a mess. Spent the following two days pulling nails out of the ceiling, and cleaning everything up.  What a mess. 

Sunday, January 18, 2015

CVS, Publix

Today I headed East instead of North to do my shopping.
Found the paper seller guy out and paid $1.50 each for my (3) newspapers (total savings of $3.00).

Then headed to CVS to get free deodorant.

2/$8.00.....Get $6.00 ECB when you buy $12.00 (worth).
Buy (3)
- $4.00 BOGO Coupon from 1/18 SS
- $2.00
Pay $6.00 + tax

I used a $5.00 ECB
paid $1.00 + .84 tax = $1.84

Received $6.00 ECB
Makes it free. (Ish. Because, tax, but we usually don't count tax.)

Next we stopped in at Target to look for some decorative cutting shears.

I'm trying to make some Putz houses this year to maybe sell around Christmas, and the fencing was giving me troubles. I don't make very good/neat fences. So I looked around on the internet and saw another Putz house maker used decorative shears to make hers.  What a good idea!

They had a 2-pack for nearly $4.00, and this 10-pack for just over $10.00 which seemed like the better deal to me. More variety.

Total with tax was $11.44. Paid with gift cards I already had.

Next we stopped in to Publix to stock up on some more cereal.

My boys love these cereals, but they don't go on sale that often.

The price is $2.99 BOGO, or $1.49-$1.50 each.
I didn't have coupons, but even the small Aldi brand box of their version of Golden Crisp/Honey Smacks cost $1.99, so this was great stock up price.

 I bought 20 boxes, plus a bottle of chocolate milk for my son that was driving me around today.

Total $31.09 + .62 tax = $31.71

I think we might be good on cereal for a couple of months, lol.

(Pardon the ceiling, we're remodeling.)

Saturday, January 17, 2015

No Spend January: Week 3

Starting out this week, I bought one Sunday newspaper at $2.50.

I had planned a CVS chopping trip, where I would buy (5) newspapers, plus the free after rewards Gas Relief, plus the Garnier (free after reward wyb 5 with the $2.00 coupon in Sunday's paper).
I needed a total of $40 to use my $10 off $40 coupon.
The Gas relief and Garnier would have been free after coupon/rewards, so the $10 off would have made my papers cost $2.50.

However, first of all, it was a gamble that I'd find (5) papers w/ coupons at one store.
It was also a gamble that the coupon would even be in our papers.
And then, I'd have been spending about $15.00 (+ a crapload of tax on $40.00) in cash, to get $15.00 worth of ECBs back.

It was a good deal, and it wasn't a good deal at the same time.
In the end, I decided to skip it. I didn't really need shampoo or Gas relief.

When my kid went to Walmart later I asked him to pick me up a couple of papers - but to make sure to check them for both coupon inserts before buying!!!  Good thing I told him that. He only found one single paper out of two stacks that hadn't had the Red Plum stolen out of it.

Idiot(s). Don't they realize Karma will bite them in the butt for that? 
No, of course not. People never think anything that goes wrong is their own fault.


Later on I was looking through the Popular, Everything, and Home Decor boards on Pinterest, and this picture popped up:


It's a remodel of a 1930's bathroom, and looks a lot like my bathroom(s)/home era.
I have arched doorways like that coming out of the livingroom downstairs, and off the (future) den upstairs.
I said, I totally need those arches in my bathrooms.

I searched (Swagbucks) to see just how hard it would be to create arches, and found out that I could buy arch kits for about $20 bucks a piece.

Well, I was all over that. Bought 2 sets and some arch-flex corner bead stuff for the sheetrock, for just over $50 bucks.
Only $50 bucks to be able to have those cool arches in both my bathrooms. (I already have sheetrock upstairs from other projects.) As expensive as everything usually is, that amazes me.

I paid for it from my Paypal account, so I'm still counting it as a No-spend item.

Otherwise, I spent on groceries:
$4.00 (give or take) at Walmart for 2 gals of Milk (priced matched $1.99 at Kroger)(I keep forgetting I have a Walmart gift card.)
$32.05 at Sam's Club (stocked up on 5lbs of shredded cheddar cheese, 72ct sliced Kraft cheese, and box of 30 corndogs, which will last us a few months)
$37.65 at my local Grocery store (about 9lbs of ground beef at $2.99lb, about 3lbs of ground pork at $1.99lb, which will last us about a month, and a box fudgecicle ice cream bars)

And $10.00 at a local Food Pantry.
It's a Church sponsored program, that gets bulk food items donated, which they in turn give out to poor and needy Citizens.
Or, you can donate $10.00 and get 2 brown paper bags to fill from the selection of food items.

It's not a typical grocery store, they have what they have, and a lot of it was snacky items.

Still, I think I got $10 worth with the buns, grapes, potatoes, carrots, sweet potato fries, dried beans, and rice, plus a jar of peanut butter, can of of Sloppy Joe sauce, can of blackeyed peas, box of gluten free pancake mix and a big box of Cream-of-wheat.

There was also a bottle of Canada Dry ginger ale, 2 bottles water, 2 bottles Starbucks drinks, can of tomato sauce, jar of garlic chili sauce, bottle of teryaki marinade, bag of Vegetable soup mix, box of Little Debbie cookies, bottle of pancake syrup (sugar-free, has artificial sweeteners, we won't use it), 24-pack of Quaker Chewy granola bars, 2 rolls of toilet paper, and lots of candy and chips.

I also got a spray bottle of 70SPF Sunscreen that us redheads will get good use out of, and a bottle of non-DEET insect repellant spray which will come in handy this Spring/Summer here in Mosquito Country.

So yeah, definitely got my $10 worth, but that said, they said I could get my 2 bags free if I volunteer, so I plan to check on doing that. I don't really do anything else, and I like to help (sometimes). 

I had 1,417 Swagbucks, and cashed in 450 sb's for a $5.00 Amazon gift card, and 500 sb's for a $5.00 CVS card.

I sold (5) items on ebay that netted me $23.69.

$153.00 in Christmas Savings fund (+$55.00, last 10 weeks)
$75.00 "Sink" fund (for property taxes/insurance)
$75.00 Dave Ramsey's Baby Steps #1: Emergency Fund 

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Convenience Foods

In an earlier post, I mentioned that one of the things I was going to do was home-make instead of buy convenience foods.

Convenience foods are called that for a reason, they're convenient. For working people, people with not a lot of time, etc. it's easy to grab a box of this or jar of that and whip up a quick meal or snack.

I don't work outside the home, and I have plenty of time to do whatever I decide to do, so I don't really have an excuse for not home-making more of our food products.

One thing I have started home-making regularly is pie crust shells.

Frozen pie crusts are so expensive compared to the ingredients in them - ingredients which I already have at home anyway, so buying pre-made pie shells is like renting a car to drive while the one I own sits in my driveway.

I also make my own bread crumbs and Shake 'n Bake, dehydrated onions and onion rings, hashbrowns, plus I do a lot of canning and freezing when I get a good supply of something like potatoes or apples.

The newest DIY I've added to my repertoire is homemade Chocolate Milk Syrup.
(Scroll to the end of this post for a printable recipe.)

The only ingredients are ones pretty much everyone probably already has in their kitchen - water, powdered cocoa, sugar, vanilla extract, and salt.

That's it. No high fructose corn syrup, glycerides, sorbates, artificial flavorings, perseratives, etc.  

I whisked the powdered cocoa, sugar, water, and salt in a larger sized pot and heated it over medium heat.
(If you're using a non-stick pot, use a wooden or plastic spoon.)

I whisked constantly, bringing it to a boil, and let it boil for a minute to two minutes.

Then I removed it from the heat and added the vanilla extract.

After letting it cool down some, I used a funnel to pour it into the empty Aldi brand chocolate syrup container.
You can store in a mason or other glass jar or any empty plastic squeeze bottle you might have on hand.

It turned out delicious, and it was so easy to make, I'd say it was as convenient to make at home as it is to buy it in the store.
(Not to mention, way cheaper.)

The website I got the recipe from says it'll last several weeks in the fridge.
We know it's good for at least 2 weeks, lol.

Printable recipe Via BabySaver$.com

Saturday, January 10, 2015

No Spend January: Week 2

For this 2nd week of No-spend January:

I sold (2) items on ebay that netted me $21.92.

Spent $33.35 (groceries/stockpile)
Spent $5.25 (drug store/coupon shopping)
Spent $3.18 (Lunch out for son after Dr. appt.)
Spent $1.00 (Free Wendy's Frosty w/ purchase all year Keychain)

Spent $6.99 Hiline Coffee K-cups (made it 29¢ a cup) from Paypal
Spent $6.19 Kmart, Storage Totes from Paypal
(Zero'd out of Points and Gift Card for Kmart/Sears)

Had 2,110 Swagbucks
Cashed in 950 for a $5.00 CVS gift card and a $5.00 Amazon gift card

Earned $101.18 in credit card rewards through my bank.
Applied $100.00 to credit card bill.
(That's a "free" $100.00 we wouldn't have had if we'd still been only using our debit card, like we did for years and years and years and years before I decided to break down and apply for the credit card. I've had big trouble with credit cards in the past - strictly my own fault - and thought it better to just resist temptation. But since I started the coupon/deal/frugal shopping/living, I've gotten a lot better, more in control of the money, so hopefully that won't happen again.
Now we use the charge card for purchasing, the same as we used to use the debit card, then I pay the balance when we get paid every two weeks. So no spending/charging more than we have in the checking account. And paying the full amount, not carrying a balance, means paying no interest.)

$103.00 in Christmas Savings fund (+$55.00, last 10 weeks)
$50.00 "Sink" fund (for property taxes/insurance)
$50.00 Dave Ramsey's Baby Steps #1: Emergency Fund 

For those who are wondering, no, my husband isn't really participating in the No-spend challenge.
Not that he's not participating, he just works 2 jobs, has the house and cars to take care of, helping his brothers/family, dealing with his Dad's being ill and in the nursing home, to have to worry about watching and pinching every penny. 

I just don't count his spending against my challenge.
He falls under regular household expenses, for example:
Mortgage payment(s),
Car insurance,
Cell phones/Internet,
(Husband's) Expenses

Friday, January 9, 2015


My son had a doctor's appointment this morning so, armed with new coupons and deals, I made another CVS visit while I was out.

$9.49 Clear Care Contact Solution
$9.49 Opti-free Contact Solution
- 5.00 x 2
- $3/$15 Eye Care CRT (Red Machine coupon)
Buy 2, get $5.00 ECB

$8.29 Nature Made Gummies or Vitamelts
- 2.00 1/04 SS
Get $5.00 ECB

$7.00 Sundown
- 3.00 1/04 RP
Get $3.00 ECB

-$2/$12 Vitamins CRT (Red Machine coupon)

-$5/$15 CVS coupon
- $5.00 ECB
Paid $4.27 + tax

Received $5.00 Contact Solution, $5.00 Nature Made, $3.00 Sundown

$4.00 Finish Dishwashing Packs x 2
- 2.15 1/04 SS x 2
- 3.00 ECB
= 70¢ + tax

Final Total: About Break Even, Everything Free