Saturday, January 24, 2009

Happy Anniversary, Sweetie!

Twelve years ago I said "I do" to the man of my dreams. Our marriage has had it's share of ups and downs but there's no one I'd rather go through this world than with him. I am blessed to call him my husband. Happy Anniversary, Jon. I love you to the moon.

I'll be taking a blog break for a week or so.

Friday, January 23, 2009

A reason to be frugal

When I look in my closet I see clothes from Goodwill, yard sales, and super clearance racks. And I'm okay with that.

It makes splurging on beautiful handmade items even more enjoyable.

I just bought this gorgeous knit scarf from my friend Paige at Lenox Knits. I can't wait to get it in the mail!

Plans? What plans?

I was going to have two and a half blessed hours to myself today while both kids were at school. My plan was to turn on the Fiddler on the Roof soundtrack and get busy scrubbing the kitchen down.

Big Girl spent the night in our bed throwing up and moaning. Little Guy had bad dreams and a runny nose and cough. Even the dog is coughing. No one got enough sleep.

This morning I made an emergency run to the store for ginger ale. Both kids schools were called and there will be no special Spaghetti dinner at school tonight.
They are both sitting next to me sipping icy ginger ale.

Things could be worse. They could have diarrhea too.

Counting my blessings and ignoring the dog hair and the baggies waiting to be washed.

If you need some better blog reading, Gayle over at The Grocery Cart Challenge is hosting a Friday recipe swap. The only recipe I'll be making today is canned soup and maybe cream cheese dip and potato chips (I'm such a stress eater). Want to know how to make cream cheese dip? Take a chip and dip it into cream cheese. This is especially good with garlic flavored pita chips and a strawberry wine cooler. We're all about elegance and gourmet eating here today.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Need Fresh Ideas on Frugality?

Like most people who aren't new to frugality you've read the same tips over and over again-
Hang dry your clothes
Pack your lunch
Order water instead of soda when dining out
Don't dine out

Donna Freedman hosts a message blog dedicated to frugality. The latest topic is reader's sharing their frugality tips. I personally like the Mom who gives her young teen daughter a month's allowance worth of school lunches and she can spend it how she chooses instead of always bugging Mom for more money (if she packs a lunch from home that money is hers to spend on whatever she wants). Also, one reader only buys her kids two pairs of shoes each summer- one to wear for everyday play and one for outings. That's a lesson I can definitely use after cleaning, donating and sorting our kid's shoes. Immelda called and wants her shoes back.

Bend with the wind- Dinner & Trip Packing

Grandma and kids on our trip to the Great Smoky Mountains

I haven't perfected the "go with the flow" thing yet. My in-laws will be here a day sooner than expected which I am actually looking forward to despite everything I think I need to get done.

We spent $18 on Chinese dinner last night which I don't regret at all even though our budget is spent. It was delicious and the company was fantastic. And I'm back on the horse and ready to make our food again. Tonight we're having the tacos we were supposed to be having last night.
And I have leftover rice, a lot of eggs, and leftover peas so we'll have fried rice the next night.
This is why planning more than a day or two in advance does not work for me. I can't foresee what leftovers we will need to use up. Menu planning does help keep me from scratching my head about what's for dinner though.
The Beefaroni was a big hit with Hubby. I ended up using chunky spaghetti sauce instead of adding mushrooms and he really liked it. We topped it with parmesan instead of cheddar because that's what we had.
We are taking my in-laws to CiCi's pizza buffet for dinner this weekend. We have coupons and everyone likes it. Less dishes and stress for me.
Monday morning Hubby and I are flying out to San Francisco for a business trip mixed with pleasure and visiting with old friends. It's also our 12th anniversary and we're taking a tour of Alcatraz. I'm so looking forward to it! My goal is to pack as little as possible. I'm getting good at it and even hand washed my laundry when we stayed in Rome so I could minimize our luggage. I'm thinking I'll be doing that again to save on space. I'm probably going to be packing much of the same clothing. Neither hotel has a washer. And I'm okay with that. Washing your laundry by hand is sort of peaceful and cathartic. I have my make up needs down to an acceptable minimum with just powder, lipstick and mascara. Since I go most days with just lip gloss I feel I need make up less and less. Free samples from sites like WalMart and Start Sampling keep us in mini deodorants and toothpaste so I won't be spending money on 3 oz. bottles. I'll have more room in my luggage for the books I want to read while Hubby is in a meeting.

And now I have to attend to the laundry that needs hanging to dry and folding. Today is a better day!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Not so Great.

Internets, I have had better days.

Walgreens is disappointing me with their sneaky register rewards rules. The first time I used them I found out I couldn't use a register reward to buy something that gives register rewards. And you aren't allowed to use MFR coupons with a register reward. Today I had to buy last minute cough drops and a chapstick at the register to even use my $6 in register rewards. Turns out you can't put Register Rewards together either. I think I'll skip Register Rewards from now on and stick soley to combining coupons and getting freebates.

So, Walgreens:
2 packs of shredded cheese
1/2 gallon of milk
1 chap aid
2 bags of cough drops
=approximately $3

Grape Tomatoes
Bag of onions
Bag of apples
Can of Veg. Soup
2 Cans of mushrooms
Big container of Vanilla yogurt
2 small containers of yogurt
Bottle of iced coffee (for me)
Pancake Mix
Sliced cheese
Bag of bananas
Pringles (for hubby)
Creme Wafer Rolls
Gallon of milk


$1.77 over budget for food/household. Not bad.

This week is weird though because we have in-laws coming in a few days and I have to get ready.
I bought more food than I normally would and I spent $7 on a car wash which I am not taking out of my total because I'm not sure where that fits.

I'm also thinking I might sweet talk Hubby into bringing home some Chinese for dinner because I'm having one of those bad days. I have brown rice in the cooker to stretch our meal too.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

A deep sigh.

I'm facing my to-do list with joy right now. The boy is asleep. He went down without a fuss. Big Girl has been read to from the stack of things I need to return to the library. She's happily playing with her new Polly Pocket stage that she talked Grandma into buying her at the thrift store yesterday ($1).
I've got my laundry sorted for the day and I'm planning on hanging it to dry. I know what I'm making for dinner.
Although the election didn't turn out exactly as I hoped it would- it's been exciting to watch the new today and see our proud new President take his place. My hopes are high that he can live up to everyone's expectations and bring us through these tough times.

Now I'm going to take my Pepsi Max (this stuff is addicting) and my baskets of laundry and watch some Dr. Phil. I haven't seen Phil for months.

Menu for the Week

We have got a busy week here. I really need to make a to-do list. The in-laws are coming this weekend to stay with the kids and Hubby is whisking me away on a business trip to San Francisco. Girl, I am so busy I don't have time to talk to you.

Cinnamon Raisin toast with fruit
Scrambled Eggs

Ramens and veggies
Cheese and crackers
Grilled cheese

Beefaroni (made with tvp and veg. crumbles and using mushrooms instead of olives) steamed peas, applesauce (thaw applesauce)
Rice and Veggie Burger Tacos- Make rice- buy cheese
Roast with celery, onion, potato, carrot, and boca burger to clean up crisper
Friday- Spaghetti dinner at Big Girls school
Saturday- leftovers or frozen pizza
Sunday- Dinner out- the in-laws are coming.

New Week- New Budget- New Expenditures

Yesterday Big Girl and Grandma had the day off of school and work so we drove to visit her.

Before we went I had to stop and buy Pull Ups for Little Guy. We're only about half way potty trained and I am not ready to deal with a road trip diaperless yet.


Trail mix breakfast for Mommy- 2.00
Orajel Plaque Rinse for kids- (used $1 WAGS coupon and $1 MFR coupon plus I have a free after rebate certificate- so free)
Huggies Pull ups- 9.99 (minus $1 WAGS coupon and $2.00 MFR coupon plus $1 register rewards so it was actually 5.99)


Then we met my Mom at a thrift store on the way to her house.

Thrift store-
Purple hanging organizer for Big Girls Barbie Stuff- 1.25
3 books- .45 cents
1 pullover sweater for me- .50 cents

Total= 2.20

And one more stop at the Salvage Grocery Store.

Salvage Grocery-

2 Old El Paso Dinner Kit- .35 and .75
Taco Bell Dinner Kit- .75
2 bottles of 100% juice- 2.00
Slim Fast Meal Bars- 2.99
3 boxes of organic cereal- 1.29 apiece
2 cans of cola- .12 cents apiece
1 king sized Butterfinger- .55
Can of Spaghetti Sauce- .50
Barbie Birthday cake decorations- 1.29
Birthday candles- .65
Cake Frosting with Sprinkles- .75
Pack of Freedent gum- .10
2 four packs of fruit sauce- 1.00 apiece
Alka Seltzer cold medicine- 1.25
1 cup of fruit gel jello stuff- .10

Total= 19.06

We were driving home right during dinner time so we stopped for a costly drive thru dinner.

Take Out-

Total spent Yesterday= $37.08

$ 22.92 for the rest of the week. I'll be going to Aldis for produce. I also have $6 in Register Rewards to use at Wal-Greens to get milk and cheese for the week.
I plan on making yogurt this week too so right now we're sitting pretty if I cook the rest of the week.

I can't get everything from the Salvage Store and a lot of it is too beat up or too expensive to bother with. But, when I chose carefully I can definitely stretch our food dollars there.

To see how other people did with their grocery shopping- stop by Gayle's Grocery Cart Challenge blog.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Today's Tally

Total Spent today= $0

For breakfast we had scrambled eggs, sliced banana and raisin toast with cinnamon.

For lunch we had Mexican leftovers from our dinner out on Friday night. Our entertainment budget is gone for the month. I supplemented our one container of leftovers with scratch muffins I made to use up the crushed pineapple the kids wouldn't eat and part of a banana left from breakfast. We decided we don't like pineapple muffins much so I for sure won't be buying crushed pineapple again.

Snacks were muffins, Christmas chocolates, edamame, and a few Cheetos.

Dinner was spinach pizza made with Matzo crackers. For dessert, I made baked apples with the dregs from our crisper.

I consider it a successful day. Nothing purchased. Food was saved from the trash can.

Tomorrow I will be doing some grocery shopping. I have plans to Wal-Greens later in the week also to use my register rewards and get some Frito Lay items.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Money Spent today-

Me- $0

Hubby- $15 on a much wanted Buddy Mondlock concert ticket. Have fun sweetie! I guess it's an early anniversary present since I haven't thought of anything else to get the man.

It's been a lazy day here. I took a two hour nap with Little Guy while Big Girl played with a friend and Hubby supervised. A perfect day.. now all I need is for the kids to go to bed without fussing and a hot cup of cocoa and the Colin Firth movie,Another Country, that I borrowed from the library.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Schnucks and Dollar Tree

I'm over budget once again. Maybe Hubby is right and I'll never be able to do $60 a week but that is a defeatist attitude and I refuse to believe that however true it's proving to be right now.

1 Everything Bagel (my breakfast)- .50
1.08 pounds of red grapes- 2.15
1.15 pounds of bananas- .77
Small container of milk- 1.29
Total= 4.87
Dollar Tree: (here is where I went over budget)
Snack sized baggies
Window cleaner wipes
Hanes sweat pants for Big Girl
Mesh toy storage baggies
Baked Bean Candies for our Movie night
Snuggle air freshener ( for my stinky car)
2 pound bag of white rice
Spill grab wipes (for the car)
Total= 9.48

Over budget by $5.56

Total money spent for household and food this week is= 65.56

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Where haven't I been?

Since we started our new budget on the 1st of $60 a week for food and household I haven't been to McDonalds drive thru or any Dollar Stores.

It feels good. I'm thinking next month might be a good time to hit up Dollar Tree for some baby wipes and other pantry items but right now we're sitting pretty and I don't need anything. As for McDonalds? I haven't much missed it.

The kids and I ate fresh berry bread and fruit for lunch and it was way more satisfying that greasy french fries.

The Malt O Meal Magic Muffins reicpe works great for making a small pan of bread.

All You Magazine Subscription for less

One of the reasons that I occasionally go to Wal-Mart is to get a copy of All You magazine. It's loaded with coupons and articles that aren't fluffy and all about buying designer clothes and make up.

I just ordered a 2 year subscription for $18.00 so I don't have to go into Wal-Mart anymore.

I'm in the hole for next month's personal allowance but I think it's worth it. The All You Homepage lists the one year price as $23.88.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The Parenting Files: Mothering FAIL

The list I had to get done today- I haven't accomplished much.

Dinner is in the oven- check.

The laundry is sitting in the floor in front of me waiting to be folded.

Little Guy would not nap. In fact he had a kicking and screaming fit when I took him to his room for a nap. Potty training? Not so great. Two pee undies, one pee on the floor, and two poopy diapers. He pooped in his morning diaper before I changed it and he pooped in his nap diaper as soon as I put on him. I did hear what sounded like something being poured into the toilet and jumped up to see what he was up to. Mid trot I tripped on my pajama pant and fell down. I got carpet burn on my hand and leg and I tore my thumb nail. I turned around to see him sitting backwards on the potty (that's how he rolls) and looking at me like I was an idiot. He came to check on me and said, "Mommy, you fall!" which sounded more like "Mommy, you are an idiot" to me. And sadly, I couldn't argue with that.
As of fifteen minutes ago, I gave up for the day and put him in a pull up.

They've been self serve snacking like rabid hyenas since Big Girl came home too. Pretzels, peanuts, apples, the candy bowl before I put it on top of the refrigerator. The dog even got a healthy dose of peanuts when Little Guy spilled them on the floor. I got to him just in time to keep him from re-filling the canister from the floor. And apparently the dog is feeling better since she hoovered up the fallen legumes like a anteater at an all you can eat ant buffet. And I found a banana peel sitting all brown, rotty, and forgotten on the fireplace. No one would claim it. I think for a minute Big Girl wanted to argue that it was mine and I had left it there. Because I do that all the time. Whenever I'm done with a banana I just toss the peel over my shoulder. Right.

And fighting. They love to fight with each other. I don't normally spank but today I had enough of their bickering and they both got a swat on their butt after hitting each other. And do you know what I said after I swatted their butts? "This is a no hitting family." Way to go Mom. Do you know what they were fighting over? A throw blanket that Little Guy would not share. Apparently she was too tired to turn around and grab the other throw that was resting right behind her head.

Hubby will be home soon and I'll retreat upstairs for a moment of peace while I put laundry away and can actually scratch one thing off of my to do list for the day.
I think it will be an early night for all of us. At least I get another chance tomorrow.

Some Free Samples

Orville Redenbocker Flavored Popcorn


Head and Shoulders- click on the samples link at the top of the page.

What's Going on Today

No plans to shop or go anywhere other than school pick up and it feels great.

I just signed up for my free bottle of Suave since they are giving away bottles all day.

Doing laundry so I stay caught up.

Taking a bath with jr. so I can keep an eye on him while I clean up.

Taking care of my sick dog Abby, who may or may not need to go to the vet. She's been dry heaving all last night and she doesn't have an appetite which is very weird for her. She loves her Beneful that we just switched her back to. Poor baby. I did get her to eat a piece of cheese so maybe she just doesn't want dog food.
update: She's eating again and no more dry heaving. Still not spry so maybe she just ate something nasty in the yard like doggies do. Poor baby, I was beginning to really worry about her. She's only been with us a few months but she fits in so well and we're all so attached to her. The above picture was taken before Christmas when Big Girl was pretending to wrap her up like a present. See how docile she is... only a dog like her could survive with us.

Prepping dinner which will be cheesy rice and bean burritos and a big spinach salad. Turns out I just put the spinach in the burritos to save time and effort. I'm a big fan of one dish meals.

Picking up toys, sweeping the kitchen, scrubbing the bathroom downstairs, and keeping an eye on the diaperless wonder. He still hasn't pooped in the potty but I'm determined not to buy anymore daytime diapers.

Looking for the Affluenza library book that is now overdue. I have no clue where it is.

Last night Hubby took us to The Old Spaghetti Factory for their 40% off menu. The kids were so well behaved and we had wonderful food. Hubby took the leftovers for lunch. It took half of our entertainment budget for the month but it was worth it.

And now I must get to it after I read some more Grocery Cart Challenge links. I love seeing what people buy for food.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Dierbergs- Cherry Picking, Coupons, and a list.

What was on my grocery list:
Bananas- 3 at .67 a pound- .54 cents
Cocktail peanuts- $2.50 minus $1 MFR coupon
TVP- $2.99 not on sale
Cooking Spray- $1 from the dollar section
Pretzels- $1 from dollar section but Uncle Rays is pretty good

What was on sale today:
Pevely Farms Butter- $1.69 x 3
Blackberries- .99 cents x 3
5 pound sack of russet potatoes- .99 cents
Healthy White Bread- .88 cents x 5
Ragu Sauce- on sale for $1.39 but I had a .25 MFR coupon that was doubled
Pevely Farms yogurt cups- .44 cents x 2

What I had coupons for:
25 count Bounce- on clearance shelf for 1.49 but I had a .25 MFR coupon that was doubled and I'll cut the sheets in half and get 50 sheets out of the box.
Martha White Corn Bread mix- 2 for $1 but I had a coupon for $1/4 so .25 cents apiece.

Total: $25.27

$8.79 left in the budget for the week

See how Gayle and other did at Grocery Cart Challenge.

Monday, January 12, 2009

The difference between then and now

Hubby in college. Love the mullet.
Then is 1997. We are a newly married couple living in a rental home run by a slum lord company and saddled with about 30 grand worth of student loans and credit card debt. We had very little to our names but some cheap clothes, cheap furniture and one old car.
In a heartbeat I would have given everything (maybe even my custom designed engagement ring)to be free of debt.
And that debt was a small 30 grand that we paid off in three years.
The frugal family at the zoo. Summer 2008
Today is 2009. We own two nice paid for vehicles, have a few nice pieces of furniture and twelve years worth of accumulated treasures. Our credit card bill is paid in full every month and we live comfortably within our means. But, we owe 96 grand on our mortgage. 96 grand that makes me itchy when I think about it. Would I trade all of our material possessions to be rid of that debt? The truth is, I don't know. When I think about having to car shop again or look for second hand treasures to use as furniture I get stressed out. We could (and can) live with much less than we have. But, it takes a lot of time and effort to shop for cars, furniture, and even nice second hand clothing. Starting from scratch has it's appeal. Being debt free will be exhilarating I'm sure. But, if someone knocked on my door and offered to pay my mortgage for all our possessions I would probably say no. I want to be able to say that Hubby and I paid our mortgage by ourselves. It's a chore I look forward to completing- a mountain I want to scale.

Could you give away everything to be debt free?

$34.06 left in budget until Sunday and Thoughts on Furniture shopping.

Little Guy and I went shopping today.

5 packs of Diet Pepsi (5 for 15 and get $5 in Register Rewards and I had one $1 coupon)
Kleenex with lotion (.89 cent WAGs coupon plus .50 cent MFR coupon)
Aquafresh ($2 WAGS coupon plus one $1 printable coupon made it free)

$17.74 before I used up two Walgreens gift cards from Freebates. My total OOP was $6.64 plus I received $5 in RR's that I'll use next week for milk or something.


Turns out they weren't doubling any coupons today so I probably saved more money in the long run.
Febreeze Noticeables on Christmas Clearance ($3.99 minus $1 MFR coupon)
Kotex pads (1.29 but I had a coupon for free Cottonelle wipes (2.99) with Kotex purchase so I bought the cheapest pads I could for a donation box.)
Cottenelle travel wipes box- free after coupon
Two pack of pretty tapers on Christmas clearance- .74 cents
3 packages of Christmas clearance cloth napkins- $1.24 for each 2 pack.

Total after coupons was $9.30

The Febreeze Noticeables, tapers, and two packs of the cloth napkins will go into the gift tote for next Christmas. I need to make a list of the items in my tote so I don't over purchase for anyone like I normally do.

Now I think I've got bargain shopping out of my system. But, there's other potential spending opportunites on the horizon. Hubby and I have been discussing getting a real bedroom set for a few years. We don't have a headboard, one dresser was $20 off of Ebay, one was a garage sale find given to us by my parents, and our bedside tables are plant stands with drawers that I bought on sale from Now, having mismatched bedroom furniture doesn't keep me up at night but in some ways I would like to have nice things in our bedroom. We just haven't been able to find nice stuff that we both like second hand. Having said that- I know that new bedroom furniture is a want and not a need and in the end we will probably decide that we'd rather save our money but we're still going to look just in case.
We did this with our couch purchases too. We looked for the better part of the year for couches when our two garage sale sofas started to sag and fray from constant abuse and I just couldn't stomach readjusting our couch cover anymore. We sat on endless couches and decried the limited amount of firm pillowless couches without florals or plaids. We quizzed poor salesmen about their goods until I'm sure they were glad to see us leave. We finally settled on two plain reclining couches for $1500 with delivery. Yes, that's a lot of money but we sit on these couches every day. And never once have I regretted purchasing them.

That's what we're looking at when we talk about going bedroom set shopping- months of sales person interrogations, searching online for second hand options like Craigslist, and finally deciding on what we love and going with it. I'm thinking we might just end up getting a headboard and living with our dressers and bedside tables. Truth be told, I really like our bedside tables and the fact that I got them both for $40 is even better.

It's cheaper just to sit here in my pajamas.

Hubby and Big Girl just left for the day and Little Guy is snuggled next to me watching a Rugrats video (the new favorite from the Goodwill).

I have a few things calling my name at Walgreens. Cheap Kleenex and Pepsi with Register Rewards that I can use for the Frito Lay rebate namely. Do I even want to bother with that?

And K-Mart is doubling up to $2 today so I need to decide if I want to do that too. I'm considering food items, Huggies nighttime diapers, and dog snacks. We do go through a lot of dog bones.

I sent Hubby to Save A Lot for milk and other things last night. I'll still need to go get some fresh fruit later in the week. My kids love bananas and I can't argue with a healthy snack that is less than $1 a pound.
On a frugal note: I snookered my Mom into cutting Little Guy's hair so I could save $12 on his haircut. His hair looks better than the barber's job and I got to listen to him making funny raspberry noises when he took a wad of his hair and put it in his mouth. What he was thinking I don't know but it gave Mom and I a good chuckle. And now I think he knows- hair is not food.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Budget Bumps and Couponing

If you are a coupon hobbyist it seems like there are unlimited opportunities to find bargains or even free stuff. Just today I contemplated making a special trip to Walgreens for one more bottle of free hairspray that I won't need in the foreseeable future.
This is great if it's stuff you're buying anyway but it can be expensive if it's just to add to a stockpile. That's the question I've been asking myself a lot lately. Am I doing myself any favors by couponing if I don't need the stuff and my budget is spent?

Here's a list of more stuff that I bought yesterday:

Furniture 40% off so I bought a gaming chair and two kids toy shelves for the basement- $19
Two VHS tapes- $1
brand new Hanes socks for myself- .50 cents
A decorative tin for the toilet tank in my bathroom- 2.00
Two kids books- .60 cents
plus tax= 24.30

Two Thomas Trains for Little Guys birthday- 6.89 apiece
Red and White Decorating Sugar on Christmas clearance- .99 cents
New socks for Big Girl from the clearance bin- .50 cents
2 Johnson Buddies soaps- .99 apiece but free after MFR coupons
2 Christmas clearance finger tip towels- 1.00
2 Boxes of Kellogs cereal- 2.50 apiece but 1.50 after doubled MFR coupon
1 pack of Huggies Overnight Diapers- 8.99 after doubled MFR coupon
= 30.02

Taco Bell for Lunch Today= 5.65

I'm still not sure how I can budget weird things like Birthdays and Birthday parties.
Anyway, the total damage so far is 100.44 over the 60 dollar budget I set for myself.

And tomorrow a new set of deals starts at K-Mart (doubling up to $2) and Wal-greens (cheap Kleenex) so I'll have some deciding to do.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

A royal wardrobe on a peasant budget.

Add another $13.69 to my negative budget balance. But, I couldn't resist splurging on a new Princess dress for Big Girls birthday present next month.

She received a whole wardrobe of dress up shoes for Christmas and has been clomping around in them every day in the same tired too small and ripped dress. I let her choose her favorite from the $7.99 set of dresses on clearance. Now all I have to do is bake a cake.

Add ten more dollars to the total.

Little Guy and I did a quick run through the grocery today and spent 10.12 (after coupons).

I bought
3 boxes of Betty Crocker Potato mixes (on sale for $1 with double .25 and .35 cent coupons)
2 boxes of Pizza Rolls (a rare treat in our house- on sale for $1 with doubled .40 coupon)
1 loaf of wheat bread ( I used a .50 coupon)
2- 2 liter bottles of store brand soda on sale for .79 cents. My Mom is coming tonight and she likes pop.
A bunch of bananas (1.25)
1 big white onion (1.17)

Some Things just don't fit in the budget.

I found kids bath sets on clearance at Target for $3.48. I bought sixteen of them to use as party favors for the kids joint birthday party. I found cake plates on the clearance rack too and bought four packs of them. Add some marked down Christmas decorating bows and a tube of kids Colgate paste for .44 cents after double coupon and I spent $54.14. We had a ten dollar gift card from the pharmacy for a new prescription otherwise it would have been $64.14.

How do I budget for this? I could have done the standard baggie of toys and candy that I've done every year but after countless loot bags from the parties Big Girl has attended they have lost their appeal. Those crumby plastic toys get scattered and trampled until I just pitch them in frustration.
I think at least the bath set is usable and I didn't spend a lot more than on a loot bag.

I haven't even done our normal grocery shopping yet. I'm going today but this week is way out of budget.

$27.55 left in budget
$9.58 left from January 1st-5th.
Minus Target run =
$17.01 over budget for this week.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

That's Amore- Spaghetti for the Frugal Family

Check out the deals that Spaghetti Factory is having this month.

If you sign up at their site, Fazoli's will let you print a coupon for a free spaghetti dinner with the purchase of a drink.

Thanks Centsible Sawyer!

am I too cheap?

Plans for the Day.

No shopping today. Except for picking up Big Girl from school- I am not even leaving the house.

I've got a lot of little jobs to keep me busy. I've made my to-do list.

I'm making veggie meatloaf, mashed potatoes, and green beans for dinner. am out of onions but instead of going to Aldi I'll just soak some dried onion in veggie broth with the tvp burger stretcher.
While the oven is heating for the meatloaf, I'll mix up some Weight Watcher's Pumpkin muffins for tomorrows snacks and breakfast. We have an abundance of cake mix and clearance pumpkin cans.

The sweet tea I made yesterday was enjoyed by Hubby (and tolerated by me) so I'll be doing that again. And I finished off two boxes of tea from my pantry too. Yay!

We are finally out of tvp so I've added that to my grocery list. That might have to wait until next week though. Of all of the things in my pantry I think tvp and soy flour are the most handy and versatile. Those are definitely staples in my house.

I'm off to work on my to-do list. Today we're working on potty training and playing with our Christmas train table.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Today's Doings

I spent an hour last night matching Target store coupons with MFR coupons. I'm starting to consider couponing and bargain hunting my part time job. It can get really tiring trying to save a dime but then I think about how much money I would waste without them and I just keep on.

Little Guy and I went to Target this morning.

I bribed him with a popcorn/lemonade combo for $1.60. And I have leftover popcorn for the Netflix movie with Hubby tonight.

They had the Electrasol on sale for $3.25 with 5 bonus tabs. I used my $2.50 coupon and got the box for .75 cents.
I combined a .75 cent Kellogs Target catalina with a $1 MFR coupon and got a clearance box of Frosted Wheat Squares for .73 cents.
Boxes of Boca Crumbles were on clearance for $3.17 a pack so I bought the last three. That's a month worth of "hamburger" for us.
Hubby only likes Pantene so I combined $1 Target coupon with $1 MFR coupon and got a bottle for $1.79. Not great but I made sure to pick a bottle that had two travel sized bottles attached.

And I combined coupons for two big packs of Charmin. $5.74 for a dozen rolls. Please, someone tell me why toilet paper costs so much?

Then to kill time before school pick up we went to Goodwill. I found a Karen Scott twin set sweater with a half off tag for $1.50. And that's all we bought there.

We finished our bread after the pbjs at lunch. So, I am trying out the wheat bread recipe from my Breadmachine cook book.

And I found directions on how to make sweet tea so I whipped some of that up. We're running low on soda and I just don't know when I'll get around to buying or affording more. I hope we like this substitute.

Dinner is a dinner kit that's taking up too much space in the freezer. Sounds delicious doesn't it?

Monday, January 5, 2009

Learning to love tea.

I have to admit something. I like buying tea more than I like drinking it. I'd rather have a cold can of soda or a hot cup of cocoa. Both of those things are bad for my budget and my thighs. While I have no plans to get rid of my soda or cocoa drinking I'd rather they became special treats rather than my go-to drink.

So, I've been trying out teas from my pantry to see what I do like.

This Stash Vanilla Chai Decaf is a keeper. I added a packet of stevia and it is just right. Spicy without being bitter. Sweet without being too sugary. I imagine it would decadent with a splash of creamer.

Baking Day at Frugal Vegcafe

Little Guy and I are enjoying our day together since Hubby and Big Girl are back to their normally scheduled programming. So far we've had three successful potty trips and two sword fights.

I'm making Take-A-Break bars (they smell really good) and since the oven is heated I'm making corn bread to go with our chili for tonight's dinner. The Take-A-Break bars call for 6 eggs (ouch!) but I have a lot of eggs this week. I didn't try to substitute soy flour/water for any eggs but I might try that next time.
Martha White corn bread mix (.25) and reconstituted powdered milk.

This budget is really helping me to tighten my purse strings and work with my pantry. My Mom is coming up this Thursday and I promised her a thrift shopping trip. I'm trying to hang onto as many dollars as I can until then in case I run into something we need (like queen sized water proof bed padding).

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Walgreens Shopping Today

Total for all of this was $4.18 (used a Walgreens gift card from freebates)

Done by combining Walgreens sales/coupons from their add and Easy Saver booklet with MFR coupons. I also had a $5 Nature Made coupon and a free Crest product coupon.

$9.58 in the budget for the rest of the day.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Birthday Presents for the Frugal Party Invitee

I don't agree that you have to spend a lot of money to attend a child's birthday party- no matter what the party may have cost the parents.

The present my daughter and I just wrapped was less than $6. I spent $5 (not on sale) on a fairy Barbie and .50 cents on a clearance Barbie dress. We made the card with stuff from the Art of Childhood Crayola kit I received from a rebate. The wrapping paper came from my Grandma's stash. I'm lucky (or pack ratty) enough to have a collection of gift wrapping paraphernalia and card making material. But, you can always wrap your present in child decorated paper bags, Sunday comics, or a clean potato chip bag turned so the silver side shows. Even if you go the more expensive route of buying a .50 cent card and gift bag or roll of paper (my favorite) from Dollar tree you're still only spending $1.50. Find a nice $5 gift at a discount store and you're done.

When I was kid I was more than happy to receive a package of dress up jewelry that probably only cost $2-$3. And that was when we did have a birthday party. I think I'd like to return to that simpler time when gift giving wasn't a stressful, expensive endeavor. And if my gifts are too humble for the recipient- I will never know and quite frankly, why should it bother me? That's just not where my priorities lie.

In a month I will be hosting a joint birthday party for my own children and I'm not quite sure of the proper etiquette to let people know that small inexpensive gifts (or even none at all) are very welcome. After all, we aren't having a party to get a lot of loot.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Grocery Trip Today: WalMart Price Matching and Save-A-Lot

WalMart trip:

3.5 bag of 9 Lives cat food (free after MFR coupon)
2 Fresh Express Mediterranean Salad- (3.18 apiece- apparently WM does not price match bogo deals)
5 Lemons- (Price Match from Schnucks for 5/$1)
5 Kiwis- (Price Match from Dierbegrs for 5/$1)
Bounty Paper towels (Price Match for Dierbergs to .79 cents plus .25 cent MFR coupon)

Total: $9.31

Save-A-Lot trip:
2 yogurts- .88 cents (lunch)
30 count medium eggs- 2.99
Frozen oj concentrate- 1.39
Beechnut rice cereal- 1.29 (had $1 MFR coupon)
2 Beechnut banana cookies- $2.98 (had 2 $1 MFR coupons)
Combos- .50 cents (mommy snack for naptime)
1 Gallon of Skim Milk- 2.98

Minus store coupon for $3/10 purchase
Total: $7.46

Total Shopping Tally: $16.77

WalMart was crowded today and half the stuff I went in there for they don't even carry. This was my first time price matching and I think it will probably be my last. It's easier to do without or just go the the different stores and have a more pleasant experience. I'm also wondering if it will be possible to fit free range eggs and any organic food into our restricted budget. None of that stuff ever goes on sale here.
The baby food items will get donated to the school food pantry later in the month.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Free Latte Fridays at McDonalds

Just when I need a free pick me up.

My first purchase of 2009

$3.45 to paperback swap to buy one book credit for Mary Hunt's Cheapskate in the Kitchen book.

My only question is whether or not Hubby and I should have a token amount to spend freely (like 20 bucks) a month or not or if this should come out of the household budget?

Anyway, for now it's $56.55 in the budget until next Monday. And I think we're ordering Pizza Mia's from Pizza Hut tonight and that will be another $20 out.

It begins...

Rather than the Weight Watchers membership I was considering, Hubby and I both joined to help us with our weight loss and health goals. It's free and I received 25 mypoints just for joining. Now we just have to work the program.

I'm not even out of my pajamas and already I've debated a trip across state lines to CVS, a trip to Goodwill, and Dillards online clearance.

It's going to be a long year.

Lord, help me to look at these challenges as blessings rather than something to be endured.