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


My Kmart/Sears Shop Your Way  rewards program gave me $4.00 worth of Surprise Points the other day.

Not needing anything, I went looking for something as close to $4.00 as I could find, so I'd get it Free after Points.

I found a nice, brown, cloth - not vinyl - tablecloth on clearance for $2.99.

It takes me a little bit to find something sometimes, and in the meantime I saw the plastic tote bins on sale for $5.00 ($4.50 SYW Member price).

That's the cheapest I've seen these since about August School Starting Back days, so I decided I'd grab a few. I got (2) of the green and (2) of the blue ones, for a total of $18.00.

I'm not sure why I didn't just delete the tablecloth that I didn't really need at that point and use my Points off the bins.
Oh well, it was only $2.99. Great price for cloth tablecloths anyway. 

$18.00 (4) Storage totes
$2.99 Tablecloth

- $7.73 Points I already had
- $4.00 Surprise Points
- $3.72 left on my Gift Card
- $6.19 Paypal

Sunday, January 4, 2015

CVS, Kroger

Even during a no-spend challenge, you need things.

Though I didn't actually really need most of the things I bought right now, I know I will need them eventually, so I needed to go ahead and buy them while I could get a good deal.
If I didn't buy them now, I'd end up spending more to get them later, which would negate whatever I saved by not spending this month.

These purchases will count as my Grocery/Household budget.


Kroger is having a Buy 5/Get $5 off Mega sale.

$1.99 Pebbles cereal (Mega sale price)
When you buy 5 boxes (or more, so only buy 5 at a time), you get a Catalina coupon for $3.00 OYNO (off your next order).
Makes these large boxes of cereal $1.39 each.

I typically try to spend $1.00 or less for cereal, but these are big boxes, plus Post cereal doesn't have great cereal sales that often. Honestly, I would have paid $1.99 each for these. Just glad I didn't have to!

99¢ Clorox Toilet bowl cleaner (Mega sale price)
- 75¢
= 24¢ each  (24 CENTS EACH!!)

50¢ Tabasco Sauce (Mega sale price)
- 50¢
= Free

$2.79 Tropicana OJ (Mega sale price)
(No coupons, but cheaper than I usually pay for 100%, not from concentrate OJ)

$1.00 Ragu (non-Mega)
- .75/2 RP 1/04
= 63¢ each

$2.99 Milk (non-Mega)

Total $21.42 + tax


Phooey, I mest up at CVS this morning :(
I overlooked one of my $5.00 ECBs, so ended up spending more ca$h than I'd planned.
But oh well. Stuff happens.
I still have the ECB, will use it in the future, so I reckon it'll all come out in the wash.

According to the Sunday Coupon Insert Preview, this week there should/could have been (4) inserts: (2) Smart Source, and (2) Red Plum.
Where I shopped today is outside the Metro area and tends to get different coupons than the Metro area paper.
A couple of weeks ago, that difference did me good. I got a nice coupon the Metro paper didn't. Today, not so much.

The AJC paper only had (3) inserts in it (I checked them all, they all only had 3). The local paper had (4) inserts, but they were very thin and more ads than coupons.
I bought one of each, hoping between the two I ended up with some decent coupons.

Neither had the big $10/3 Bayer, Aleve, Alka-seltzer, etc. coupon that could have earned me overage at Publix.

$4.50 (2) Sunday papers

$1.00 Campbell's Noodle soup
- 50¢ CRT Red machine in CVS, scan your card
= 50¢

$15.61 CVS Brand Products (Flushable Wipes, Bandaids, Tussin DM, Peppermint candies)

- $5/$15 CVS Coupon
- $1.50 ECB- Quarterly spending reward
- $5.00 ECB

Total $9.11
Received $5.00 ECB (wyb $15 CVS Brand products)

Total cost $4.11 + tax

Saturday, January 3, 2015

No Spend January, Week 1

Week one was only actually 3 days, so it's been a pretty easy week to not spend, lol.

I didn't spend anything, and I sold an item I had listed on ebay that, after fees, netted me $17.06.

When I posted my "Starting" sums, I forgot the approx. $200.00 I had in my Paypal account!
Which is awesome because if we need anything for our kitchen remodeling project I can use my Paypal to pay in store at Home Depot.
I can also use it at Dollar General, which is just up the road from here, and is cheap on some things.

PS, when I posted 3 days ago I had 1,727 Swagbucks.
Today I have 1,843, just from letting my Swagbucks TV run on my Kindle Fire, a couple of internet searches, and watching a couple of ads.
That's an equivalent of four (4) $5.00 Amazon gift cards, or three (3) $5.00 CVS or other store gift cards.
For free!

Thursday, January 1, 2015

No-Spend January

No-spend January is pretty much what it sounds like, No Spending.
 Or, No Spending but the Absolute Necessities.

Different people have different No Spending goals, depending on their particular needs.

Some things I'll be doing (most I already do, so not a lot of change for me):
- Utilities: cut down on water and electric usage. Run washer/dishwasher during off-peak hours. Hang dry clothes instead of using dryer.
- Groceries: eat from pantry and freezer.  Homemake convenience foods.
- Gas: combine errands. Stay home. Don't make unnecessary drives.
- Entertainment: Free Redbox codes. Free books on Kindle.
- Earn Extra $$: Listing items I don't want from around the house, or things I make, for sale on Etsy, Ebay, Craigslist, and local Facebook Yard Sale groups. 

January is a good time of the year to do a No-spend challenge.
For one thing, it's cold, and makes me wants to stay home where it's warm.

Also, it's right after Christmas.
For a lot of last year, I contributed to my own Christmas Fund account, saving a little money here and there through the year.
By the time November, Black Friday, and all the Christmas Sales and deals came along, I had money to spend without taking a big hit to our checking account.

I not only got great deals on gifts and things we'd been wanting, on some things I earned Bucks, Rewards, Points, Rebates, etc.
So I'm starting out with a good bit of Gift Cards and Credits and Free coupons, so if I do need/want something, I can probably use what I have to pay for it.

What I'm starting with:

$10.00 ECB from CVS
$25.00 Gift Card from Hobby Lobby (Birthday gift)
$50.13 in Gift Cards from Best Buy  (Gift, Coke Rewards)
$20.00 Gift Card from Walmart  (Coke Rewards)
$31.11 in Gift Cards from Target
$10.00 $3.72 Gift Card from Sears  (Shop Your Way)
$7.73  in Points from Sears/Kmart  (Shop Your Way)
$15.00 in Gift Cards from Amazon (through Swagbucks. I also have 1,727 Swagbucks not yet cashed in, I can get more $5.00 Amazon Gift Cards for 450 Swagbucks each, or $5.00 CVS Gift Cards for 500 Swagbucks each.)

$10.00 Gift Card from Publix (Free $10 Gift Card with $50.00 Purchase Coupon)
FREE Artisan Fresh Spinach Artichoke Dip Coupon from Sam's Club

(2) FREE Small Sundae Coupons from Dairy Queen
 $20.37 in Gift Cards from Steak-n-Shake
$5.00 off Purchase Coupon from Steak-n-Shake
$33.18 in Gift Card from Chili's/Macaroni Grill/On The Border/Maggiano's

*Expecting $50.00 VISA Rebate Card from Kohl's

*No Ca$h, but I'm 12 weeks ahead on the 52 Weeks Christmas Savings Challenge:
 Most of the 52 week saving challenges start at $1.00 and go to $52.00, but I liked this chart better going backwards, saving the most money at the first of the year when I don't have as many expenses (and I'm saving money during No-Spend January!).

I actually had some money left over from this past year, so I rolled it back into the Christmas savings. I've already got saved the first two weeks, $52 and $51, plus I saved the last 10 weeks, $1 thru $10 ($55.00), because I usually start spending/stop saving about November/Black Friday when the Big Sales start.

*I also have another Savings account called a "Sink" account...
Not exactly sure why it's called that, but maybe it's so the expenses won't "sink" us at the end of the year.
That would be our Property Taxes and Insurance that comes due in November.
I "sink" about $25 a week into a savings account all year, starting as soon as I pay the bills in November, so a year later I have the money to pay them without taking a big hit all at once.

*I also have another savings account that's supposed to be Dave Ramsey's Baby Step #1 - $1,000 to start an emergency fund, but haven't been able to keep up with that one as well.
I plan to do better with that this year, and hopefully moving on to working on Baby Step #2 - Pay off all debt.