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Thursday, January 24, 2008

Productive morning

Before I went to bed last night, I tossed some boneless pork country ribs in the crockpot with a cup of water & a quartered onion. Put on low and let it cook overnight. This morning, turned it off, pulled out all the meat & onions & put on platter to cool. After it cooled, pulled off all the fat and onions and tossed. Emptied the juice from crock, added meat back to crock as I pulled it apart with fingers (ok, they say use a fork, but that just takes way too long!) ... added a bottle of bbq sauce, salt & pepper, a dash of liquid smoke, put cover on & will have kids turn back on low when they get home at 3pm. Peeled & chopped 6 taters. Boiled 4 eggs. Made a quick potato salad too. When I get home, will toss a can of baked beans in saucepan with a splash of liquid smoke & a few dehydrated onions ... toast up a few of the kaiser rolls I got on clearance that I tossed in freezer over weekend and we will have bbq pork sandwiches with potato salad & bbq beans. Umm Ummm. Oh, also vacuumed my bathroom floor & rugs (love my little dirt devil) ... will windex & clean tonight if not first thing in the morning. As we have the inspection tomorrow and I believe company for dinner, will spend the morning cleaning house. The floors are in need of a good mopping anyways (love my cuban mop too!).

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

My pantry challenge

Since I spent over $470 this weekend on food (ok, maybe $430 was food, rest was other stuff), and my freezers are packed and the pantry is stuffed, I figured that maybe I should put myself on a challenge to a) save money; b) prevent waste and c) clean up & organize. So, I'm going to see if I can't survive on $20 a week for the next 4 weeks for groceries. This will include milk, produce and bread. Hmmm. Think I can do it? I think so. Of course, this would NOT include the kids school lunches, that cost $2.50 each, per day, 4 days a week, there went my budget! Figure this: milk is $4.49 a gallon. BUT if I go the extra 2 miles to BJ's, I can get it for $3.79. Don't quite know if it's worth the extra gas (given the price of gas nowdays) to go a little further just to save 70 cents or so. If cvs or walgreens was to put it on sale, then it wouldn't be such a big deal. Bread, $1.19 for the cheapest store brand I can find. Even the bread store hasn't really been able to beat that lately. So, I can either omit sandwiches or use up the hamburger, hot dog and tortilla wraps I have instead of bread. Possible. OR, I can make it which I know how to do, with or without the breadmaker. Produce. Ok, this may be difficult. We eat a lot of salads during the week. Dd 'thinks' she's vegetarian (face it, she just doesn't eat). Head of lettuce is roughly $1.69 for ICEBERG, apples are around $2.09 a lb, bananas are around 59 cents lb. Oranges, not even going there, however there have been some decent sales that come out to about 50 cents lb. Just hate buying package bags of fruit. I honestly think that the the majority of my $20 would go towards produce :( The next step would be to menu plan, all 3 meals plus snacks each day. Sounds easy enough :) But really, need to do inventory first, as nothing is worse than finding out that you have all the ingredients except for ONE major thing :) So far this week, I've done pretty well with what I've had on hand (of course, just spent a buttload of money on food!) ... dh is out Tuesday to Thursday ... me & kids had soup & grilled cheese last night. Granted, it was tomatoe soup from can. Wanted to do the asian chix soup, but dd was at work & didn't want to make it just for me (ds would drop dead if he ate it). Breakfast today is a croissant with sausage patty & fried egg & slice of cheese. Lunch will be leftover pizza with a small salad. Snack of carrot & celery sticks. Dinner is to be loaded baked potatoes, already scrubbed and in oven with oven on timer to come on at 4:45 so they should be ready by around 6ish when I get home. Tomorrow will be same for breakfast, lunch will be salad & leftover tater, dinner will be bbq pork sandwiches ... will toss pork & sauce in crockpot in morning at 5am when I get up ... that way dinner will be ready when dh gets home. Friday, don't know yet. I'm off, kids are off, dh has dentist appt in morning, and we have an appraiser coming out at 4ish for Citi refi of 2nd mtg. Prime MINUS 3/4 ... pretty darn good since the feds dropped the rates this week. Will post when I get that far :)

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Kitchen happenings

We went to our friends for dinner on Friday night so no biggie there. Shopped at Costco on Saaturday and spent a ton of money. Had taken out the shepards pie from freezer on Thursday and we had that for dinner on Saturday & Sunday (it was a big tray!). Monday I made pizzas. I would normally make the crust too, but when at Walmart, saw the thin crust for $3.38 for 2. Picked up 2 packages and figured heck, I'll use one and see how it is. Not bad. Alot less hassle, and I figured it didn't really cost that much, $1.75 or so each for the crust. Still would keep the pizza under $3 I figured. One was just cheese & pepperoni. The other was cheese, parm cheese, pepperoni, chopped onion & brocolli. Because dd's b/f was here (didn't know he was coming!!), tossed in a frozen pizza I had in the freezer too. Keep telling the kids you can't invite when I'm in the MIDDLE of making dinner without asking!! 2 of the small dinner plates are chipped already!! I think it's from people putting them in the sink with water & not paying attention. I'm so bummed out. Ended up going to Walmart Monday to see if I could find any more. Of course not. I will continue to look. Knew I should have went back & grabbed a 3rd set!! Had thought we would work on the boat this weekend since dh picked up a bunch of supplies & parts. The weather turned pretty icky, windy, cold & rainy. So another day in the house doing not a whole lot of anything. Was wanting to make a cake or something, dd had taken the last cake mix to b/f house to make for his moms birthday. Could have been upset, but at least she did something nice for someone :). Could have made from scratch, but we were just being lazy on Sunday! Go figure! Ended up on the couch with a stack of papers (no joke, 12 inches thick) and my calendar for February to start my menu planning. I so need to get the recipes together in some kind of order. After my big shopping trip at Costco, I was extremely determined to do my menus and stay out of the stores. Yeah, right. Ended up going to Walmart on Monday and spent another $140. At least that was mostly pantry items that will be used. Spent a grand total of $470 on groceries and another $63 on liquor. Have enough beer to last a few weeks, enough vodka for the month and well, dh already shared his jack, so no jack for him :) Guess drinking will be next on the list of bad habits to give up! Back to the stack of papers, which really is recipes. Started going through, pulling out ones I haven't used in a while. Then tried to put in some kind of order. Now they are on top of the big stack of paper. Still sitting on the couch. Dh is traveling today, tomorrow & comes back Thursday, so that will give me 2 free nights of no interruptions (except the kids) to focus & get them in some kind of freakin order. Driving me nuts, trying to find stuff!!! Ok, enough. I'm going to get myself all worked up at 6:30am!! :) Actually, need to go get ready for work and wake up dd. They are out of school again today and she has an ortho appt at 11am. Since I will be at work (coworker off today), and dh on a plane, she will have to take a bus. Times like this, wish I had let her get her drivers license already. Then again, no.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Motivation and the economy effects

Kind of a strange header, I know. Things are looking grim as far as the stock market goes. The past 2 days have had headlines in the local news and newspaper about the rising cost of food & gas, especially here in south Florida. Duh. Where have they been?? DH forwarded me an email from the President of his company. No 401K matches for 2008. No salary increases for 2008 (Directors & up, which he's in) and 15% decrease in VP's & up (which he's not). Geesh. His company is very heavy in the tourist industry so ... yeah, makes sense! :( I know we are 'struggling' at my company. Not as much as others, and not enough to make me concerned that we would close our doors. My co-worker & I have already cut back our days, we rotate 4 day weends. Every other Friday and Monday I'm off. Nice, but shows on the paycheck too. We've become more diligent about billing our clients for all out of pocket expenses that we incur. Used to be a 'wash' but not anymore. So, with all this in mind, and the fact that DH company may make more cuts, I've really gotta get focused and stay motivated to be frugal. I've been good, then I fall off the wagon and kick myself for it. I know they always say not to totally deprive yourself or you resent it. So I'm trying :) Need to get back on the groceries ... seems like I'm spending more & more again. AND stop the eating out. Have to give myself credit, really was jonses for something for lunch, but stuck with my salad & veggies & candy bar that was stashed in the freezer. Odd combination, I know!! We still have some stocks that need to be moved to our new investment company. Unfortunately, they have to be sold since they are proprietory stocks (sorry for the spelling). We sold 1/2 in 2007 and will do the other half this year when the market picks up a bit. Only did 1/2 so we would only pick up 1/2 of the capital gains, which reflects HEAVILY on our tax returns :( But then again, like an accountant told us years ago, if you aren't paying taxes, you aren't making money...uh huh. Well, I'll post something a little more exciting & fun shortly!! In the meantime, need to deal with an estate attorney who has been a 'joy' to work with :)

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Time flies when you are having fun :) Went to the casino with g/f yesterday ... went in with $195, walked out with $125. Should have left hours before as I would have been much further ahead. For being a frugal minded person, I am shocked that I can play slots :( The neighborhood kitty showed up again over the weekend. Thank god, I can now stop worrying about it! :) Of course, last night, he chased another cat off the patio, down the road & haven't seen either one since. The other one is a male that's not fixed who started coming around Saturday night. The kids made the mistake of feeding him & now he strolls in the house if the slider is open :( Work is plugging along. Not any busier but not any slower either, so that's good. I certainly hope the economy picks up pretty soon though, all the news about recessions, subprime woes, etc. are not GOOD in my office. Being real estate lawyers is not exactly where you want to be right now, unless you specialize in foreclosures. No thank you. DH works for an automotive rental company. I think they are feeling the effects of the economy. Of course, the foreigners keep coming to visit, their dollars are worth more for once I think. DH told me to make sure I get to the doctors, eye exams, dental, etc. soon ... when I asked why, he said that somethings up at corporate again. Oh great. That's not very comforting :( If he was to get let go this time around, it would only be like a 6 week severance package, not the 6 months he got before. Actually, I think he got a year ... or maybe it was the annual bonus that really bumped it up. I don't remember but it wasn't scary like now :( So if thats the case ... things will definitely change in to full frugal mode which we CAN do. Even the kids :) I guess it's nice knowing that you can do it if you have to without feeling like you are depriving yourself. Been sticking to my menu plan pretty much. Had chicken thighs & cabbage slaw Friday, Saturday went to friends (made a cream cheese spread, sliced some cheddar & monterey jack cheese and served with whole wheat crackers). Sunday was pasta with special sauce taken from freezer and garlic bread. Monday was tacos ... tonight will be chicken again, will be stopping at Winn Dixie on way home to take advantage of the sale that ends tonight. DH and I had cocktails last night, which is unusual for Monday. No more beer left, but not buying any til Friday or even Saturday. With the 10 lbs I've gained since I quit smoking, need to lay off the beer & start being more conscientious of what I eat. More water, less junk, etc. And a little exercise wouldn't hurt I suppose :) Don't forget to to check out the other blog I have going ... been posting all incoming & outgoing $$ and wow, was doing well in the beginning but now, 15 days into it ... whew!

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

CVS shopping & its rewards

It's been awhile since I played with CVS shopping :) ... this morning, swung by there on my way to work as we are running low on shampoo and they had a sale going on. Bought 1 bottle of Garnier for $2.99. Used my $1 off coupon (have about 5 of these somehow), which lowered the price to $1.99. Final cost was $2.17 (since when do they charge tax on shampoo??) ... then the receipt printed out with my $2.00 rewards bux. Then I got a new lipstick (50% off) and an eyeshadow (75% off). Handed her my $2 coup and a $1.50 coupon. Needed to spend another 13 cents or something stupid, so picked up a hersheys bar ... paid 43 cents. Did not realize there was a hershey sale going on. Buy 4 for $2.00 and get $1 back. So, I have a reece whipped coupon of b1g1f, so will by 3 total for $1 and will get $1 back :) I kind of like this game!! Really need to pick up some toothpaste. Thought there was some sale, but have to look at the sale flyer a little closer. Been busy at work and haven't had a chance yet ... Frugal tip: combine manuf. coupon with store coup AND store sale and reap the rewards!

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Menu for week 1-6 to 1-12

I really do have the menu planned to the end of January but of course, a few open days and is always up for modification & changes! Sunday – salsbury steaks & egg noodles (plenty leftover for lunches) Monday – leftovers (basically, fend for yourself!) Tuesday – Chicken noodle stir fry – uses ramen noodles, frozen veggies, teriyaki sauce and peanuts or cashews Wednesday - perogies & fried cabbage (perogies were a great deal @ BJS) Thursday – tacos Friday – homemade mac & cheese with smoked sausage Saturday - chicken (not sure how or what type, most likely thighs as dh loves & we haven’t had in a while). Most likely will have friends over for dinner

Vitamins

I am not really big on vitamin and supplements. I think you should be getting all your nutrients through your diet, but apparently most people think that’s too difficult? The vitamins I do take are: Osteo Bi-flex Glucosamine chondrotrin msm with joint shield Life Fitness Calcium, Magnesium & Zinc I really don’t care about the name brands, just the 2 that I’ve been able to find. Both are expensive. Both were purchased with B1G1F deals. I take the Calcium mix because my BIL is a HS PE director and is always fighting colds once school is back in session. He started to take it and only had one cold last year. That’s pretty impressive. I have a friend who we call the pharmaceutical dude (that’s what his college major was in) and swears by anything with zinc when fighting an illness (swears by zicam, etc.) I’ve been taking it and even though I forget to take daily quite often (silly me, hate taking meds) for about 6 months and have only been sick once, which I think was mostly due to nerves more than anything. I’ve also heard that this mixture can help with PMS symptoms. That could be true as I don’t get as sensitive and crampy it seems. The bi-flex is taken because I have some pretty severe wrist pains. Its not carpal. In my wrist by thumb and first finger area. It seems to help ‘some’. I really can’t tell as the pain isn’t always as bad as other days. Don’t know what triggers it so have a very hard time pinpointing what works & doesn’t. So lets see, the frugal tip on vitamins? There really isn’t one. I mean, if you feel its necessary to take supplements & what not, fine. Just try to buy on sale & with coupons. These things can get real expensive as everything else!

Monday, January 7, 2008

Publix Tip!

Publix has Peter Pan peanut butter on sale for $1.00 Coupon in Sunday paper for $1.00 off any Peter Pan Peanut Butter. Total cost $0.00 Need to stop and pick up (we do use peanut butter a lot, for cookies J) and walk out with nothing else in my hands!! I can do it! I know I can!!

Movies - library vs blockbuster vs netflix

A few weeks back, I had went to the main library down town to meet the kids & give them a ride home (must have been Christmas eve, as I left the office around noon) and while waiting for them to finish up, was browsing the movies. Then my dd told me that the branch by us is better (Galt Reading Room) as its a very small branch but 20% is movies. So I said ok, we will check it out later then. We went and I ended up getting the first 4 episodes of Deadwood for dh (he loved that show) and Wayne's World for ds and then Kill Bill for all (ok, not really a family movie but we've all wanted to see it). Dd got 4 movies to watch (house of wax & some other weird things). Not one of the movies gave us any problems. We had a 5 day period before turning them back in. They have a 'decent' selection of movies, but not the most recent releases (within last 6 months). We also belong to Blockbuster by mail program. This cost $14.99 plus tax to $15.89. I can have any 2 movies mailed at a time. I can take the movies back to the store and exchange for another movie, which at that point, I recieve another movie in the mail within a few days. I can keep as long as I like. Problem: sometimes the movies are really messed up and can't be watched. Othertimes, I get movies that don't belong in the package. AND I've noticed the shipping time is taking about 5 days now, whereas it used to be 2 or 3 at the most (mail out on Monday, new movie by Thursday, now I'm lucky if by the weekend). And it costs. And I think they are raising the fees soon (I missed this time around). Netflix - never used. Was the original pioneer of movie by mail. Keep getting flyers in mail to try them for 30 or 60 days. May consider. Will have to wait and see. Frugal tip - check out your library!

Frugal Saturday

Convinced dh to ride along with me to the produce store & then walmart as he will keep my time and cash management under control :) The produce store was mobbed. And the produce sucked. Really didn't see anything that made me jump up & down with joy. Tomatoes were still green. Peppers were iffy. I still spent $20 there on lettuce (2 for $1.50) and a green & 2 small peppers, bananas, cilantro, snow peas, kiwis, and dh wanted some ground chicken and navy beans for his white chicken chili he wants to make next time it gets cold out. Then we went to Walmart. Not my favorite store, but needed to do a little grocery shopping, and also we both have $25 gift cards so I wanted to look at new dishes. All of mine are mismatched, chipped, etc. :) You know how it is when you have kids! We went straight to the household section. They had this really nice display on the end shelf. Told dh, that's the set I want. Found 2 boxes, unopened. Put them in cart, looked at the rubbermaid flexseal sets and individual pieces, decided didn't want to spend that much ($7 & $10 for the large bowls???) and shopped in the food section. Sent dh off to find a few things, what a good sport he was :) We ended up standing in line longer than it took to shop. That is the reason I hate Walmart :( Anyways, the dishes rang up as $15 EACH!!! Woohoo!! We thought they were $28 if not more (couldn't find a price tag for them). Our total was $70, minus the 2 $25, I paid $21 total. :) Good day. Came home, loaded up dishwasher (barely fit!) with new stuff, packed ALL my old stuff in the 2 boxes & then some and I am so freaking excited & happy! We even like the coffee mugs, which normally they are useless!! Ended up going to our friends for dinner that night, chicken on the grill! Frugal Saturday, all in all!

Friday, January 4, 2008

Moving money back and forth

I have the checking & savings account (mine) linked on line so I can view both when I log in ... which is really cool because I can transfer funds between the 2. Normally a good thing but found myself 'borrowing' from the savings account and then forgetting to pay it back immediately :) We all know how that is!! I moved $500 into the savings today and saw that I only have $529.21!! :( That is NOT good! Need to start feeding that bad boy to make him fat!! So, then I thought, what I really should do is take $20 out of each check I get & put it in ... that would give me at least $120 a month since I get 6 checks a month, sometimes more .... actually, no, now that I think about it, 2 big checks, 4 small checks, 1 to 3 bonus checks ... hmmm ... that really could add up. I am already saying that I HAVE to put $20 from each check, or minimum of $40 a week towards the credit card. $2500 balance and I don't even used the damn thing :( ... grrr. Did notice that they have moved my apr back to my initial rate. Was late ONE month and they slid that up to 19%. Good lord. So, here's my dilema. Do I continue to move money in by transfer OR should I make a separate check & deposit? The reason being is that I find myself thinking that it's ok to move the money OUT when I SEE the bigger balance of $1000 or more, yet, if I was to just make a normal deposit, I wouldn't really SEE the balance (I don't keep a balance book on savings account since nothing is suppose to LEAVE it). I am definately going to have to think about it. All bonus checks should be going to the savings account as that is not suppose to be a part of my daily living income. So that should be anywhere from $300 to $1000 a month. Ok, I'll admit it, been awhile since we had that many closings to be $1000 :( Need to really think about it...

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Frugal move for the day

Dh & I have had a membership at LA Fitness for about 7 years now. When we first got the membership, we used it 3, 4 sometimes 5 days a week each. Then dh had the motorcycle accident. Silly me didn't even think of putting the membership on hold until 6 months later and he still was not able to go to the gym, which meant I wasn't going either. Finally, we started going again. But nothing like we used to. Then I put it on hold for about a year. Late last summer, dh wanted to start going back to get a little more in shape before he started with the reconstructive surgery in November. So took it off hold & went back to the normal billing cycle. I SHOULD have put it on hold the last week of November, but forgot about it. Just did it today which means it won't start until January 31st. Putting the membership on hold still cost $10.60 (includes tax!?) a month, as opposed to the $67 a month for active membership. It's better than cancelling the membership in my opinion as nowdays you have to pay an activation fee of a few $100 per person! Figured that the extra $55 a month could be used to either put in savings OR pay extra on the one credit card I have. Hey, if I keep it on hold for the rest of the year, I'd save $605.00 So there you have my frugal tip for the day: If you pay for something that you are not using monthly, see what your options to cancel or delay it are! Jan

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

quick trip to Publix

Ended up running to the grocery store when I went to bank during my lunch hour. Aeromexico finally sent me a check for $500 to cover the lost luggage. Doesn’t exactly cover the cost of everything, but at least it’s a start. Publix has a coupon good through 1/11/8 for free grape tomatoe clamshell when you buy 2 dole salad bags. The dole bags were on sale this week 2 for $4. The tomatoes are $3.29 at my store. So even though I don’t buy the bags of salad often, I did this week, 2 times J The tomatoes really are yummy and heck, since a head of lettuce cost me $1.69 now, might as well buy a bag for a few cents more AND get the free tomatoes. The sale ends tonight though, but at least I got to utilize it a bit. Had to also pick up more milk. A gallon of 2% is $4.29. Geesh. I had picked up some last Friday at BJ’s for $3.79 I think it was. Remember standing there and just could NOT believe that was a good deal, but it was! L

Happy New Year!

Thank god I made it!! :) Everyone ended up leaving (except one couple who slept over) around 3am. Grrr. 3 bottles of champagne later (one from neighbor and 2 from me) we were pretty much wiped out. Spent the day on New Years laying around on couch watching tv (american pie - band, saving silverman (?? not sure if that was really the name of it?), video - kill bill (from library) and the 1st 2 episodes of Deadwood from library). Food was just left overs from the night before, what was left and lasagna from Sunday night. DH, such a sweetheart, got up & made scrambled eggs, fried ham & english muffins for everyone around 10am. Nice guy ... just what we needed! Dd colored her hair, the underside, purple. That was pretty bizarre. She assures me that it washes out in a few weeks. Better. :) Heck, she's 17 now (my baby!!!!) and I need to let her grow a little more. We will most likely take her to get her license this week or weekend. Not that she will be able to drive alone yet as she still needs to pay her insurance. It's only $375 every 6 months which is not too bad. Surprisingly! I pay $800 as it is every 6 months for 2 cars so not bad at all I guess. Cant' wait to see what it would be like for ds. Gotta go to work, have a great day!! Jan